this is my trip report from MAD to FRA on New-Years-Eve. I hope you'll enjoy it.
All begin in the night from the 2nd to the 3rd Dec. I was celebrating my birthday and had a lot of fun with all my friends in one of Frankfurt’s most beautiful locations. The party ended when the birds began to tweet. Thanks to all of my friends I got a lot of beautiful and individual presents. They all know that I am an aviation nerd and so these presents’ deals with something about the aviation. For example my girlfriend gave me the newest addition of Flight Simulator X deluxe even though my computer doesn’t fulfill the requirements. But the most individual present this evening was the one of Samo, my best friend, and Harun, my cousin. They present includes an one-day trip to Madrid in the evening of New Year’s Eve. “Wooooow” I said and was very thankful to all of them.
So guys, this is the prehistory of my trip report. The December past and “the day” approached. Every day we were getting more excited. But than! Terrorists made a bomb attack at the Terminal 4 in Madrid airport one day before our flight and paralyzed the aviation. In this moment my enthusiasm was nearly zero. I watched all the news in the TV and was pleased that nobody was killed (later I heard that two men died). At the same time I was getting more afraid, because LAN Airlines is serving from Terminal 4 and there were no more information regarding the situation. In the evening of this day I had my last shift for that year and also for that company. I left my old company to begin a new job in the new year with Lufthansa. At my shift I hoped to get more information from LAN Airlines if their flights are affected and so on, but unluckily without success. And as I looked at the boards that evening I saw LA705 had a delay of almost 2 ½ hours. I was very, very frustrated and saw me celebrating New-Year in the air My shift ended, I said good-bye to all my colleagues, took my stuff and went home. Without watching the news I went straight to the bed and fell asleep.
The next day it was also our Islamic festival – Eid al-Adha. So I woke up very early to go to the mosque and pray. After that I went to my parents and we spent the whole morning together, having breakfast and talking about everything. I told them that we will (hopefully) depart at 19:40 and come back in the early evening of the next day. Than, a very smart thought of my dad made me very happy and promising. He asked me with which carrier we would fly, I responded with LAN. He didn’t know that LAN has traffic rights between FRA-MAD, because the flight continues to Santiago de Chile. I told him that I was afraid of a delay, because of the bombings to T4. My father asked me than why I don’t check the website of SCL regarding the flight status. The flight from SCL to MAD would take some time and could be already in the air. So I switched on the pc and looked at the website and at this moment I was very happy. The SCL website showed a 20minutes delayed departure of LA704, but on the MAD website there was an on time arrival shown. I called Samo and Harun immediately and a told them to be punctually at the airport.
So we met just 1 ½ hours before departure at the airport. LAN Airlines departs from Terminal 2 at FRA, the terminal I used to work at more than two years. So I know all the facilities like the back of my hand. In hall D we got our boarding passes from Cecile, a girl we already know before. She also checked us in for the return flight tomorrow. I asked her for the crew seats. I didn’t know that before LAN has 4 crew seats on their A340-300 in row 12 and 13 on the right side. Thanks to two a.netters who gave me this tip, I asked for 12-13JL and Cecile managed it. After having a quick lunch at McDonald’s with vouchers I got from my old company and I didn’t use before, we made our way straight to gate D3. After passing the security, it was something like 30 minutes prior to STD, we heard our names announced on the terminal PA. So it was clear to us that we were the last people they are waiting for
Arrived at the gate, again Cecile asked us to board the aircraft very quickly. We jumped into the aircraft and after us they closed the doors. A quick look inside the cabin showed us a very low load. Later I asked, there were only 60 passengers onboard this flight. We took our seats in the very first row. Minutes later the security instructions were made and eventually we left our position almost 20 minutes before STD.
Our taxi took us to runway 18. It was the first time for me to flying onboard of an A340-300 and I was very impressed of the take-off - very smooth, calm and elegant. It is definitely different to all the other take-offs I experienced before. Soon after climbing we reached our cruising altitude heading to the south-west in direction to SXB and BSL. Then the crew turned on the PTV and start preparing for the in-flight service. Meanwhile the pilot came on the PA, but I hardly understand him, because I don’t speak Spanish and his English is very expandable. Never mind! We had our PTV and all information’s are shown there as well.
The very friendly crew served a little snack including a sandwich, a tortilla, fresh fruits (pineapple and cantaloupe) and a chocolate bar. We couldn’t taste the tortilla, because of pork inside it, but the others things were very tasty. Another plus point for LAN is that you could almost drink so much you want.
After that quick lunch I played with the PTV. Bad was that the movies didn’t play, but I didn’t care much because the games, the music and the info’s satisfied me much on this short two-hour flight. In the flight we made a short meeting about what we are going to do in Madrid that night. Believe me or not, we hadn’t thought about that before. And now it was the same. Nobody of us had any idea of “what we are going to do?”, “where we should go?”, “how we get there” and so on. Without any concept been built up we ended to make spontaneous decisions. This would be very funny and hilarious.
Soon after that with the entering into Spanish territory our descent to Barajas began. We left BCN to our left, passed ZAZ, entered MAD approach from the north-east and circled to land at runway 33R. Again this aircraft impressed me much. Such a smooth landing I didn’t expect. After a 10 minutes taxi we reached our final position at Terminal 4. We were the first to disembark and made our way directly to the passport controls. It was around 10pm. so approximately 2 hours for us to get there where the party is. Because this flight continues to SCL, the sector between FRA-MAD is operated as non-Schengen, so there are passport and custom controls. We passed them very quickly. There were no queues and the whole Terminal was very empty and like sleeping. Terminal 4 is very huge. You have to take a train to get to the baggage claim hall and the exit. This is for sure the biggest terminal I ever saw. Outside the terminal we saw how incredible and destroyed the parking lot was. Also the windows of the terminal were destroyed and the whole area in front of the Terminal entry was affected by blast of the bomb.
We asked the young people there and soon after we were inside a bus which should take us to a metro station very near to Plaza de Sol – our target tonight. At this metro station we changed to a taxi which took us as near as possible to the party zone where everybody is going to celebrate New-Year. I am not sure, but I think it was something like the city centre of Madrid.
The minutes past and 12 o’clock approaches. Finally everybody was jumping, dancing, shouting and celebrating New-Year. The same goes for us. Quickly we got to know new people and made a very good party till 2am. Something interesting I didn’t know before is that the Spanish have a ritual at New-Years-Eve. They wear colorful perukes and eat grapes together with sparkling wine. A “need to know” to all of you!
We had a great party the whole night long, we were in several locations and met different people from all over the world (USA, Argentina, South Africa, Japan, India and almost every European country). We enjoyed the whole festival and at the same time I was so thankful for such a great birthday present.
About 7hrs in the morning the parties were getting calm and we searched for a location where we could have a breakfast. Finally with the help of 4 Madrilenian we found one and these 4 girls accompanied us. They were from Madrid and they study there. The morning soup was very tasty and the croissants, too.
After exchanged the emails we said good-bye to the girls. We decided to hang around in the city centre, but our feet were very tired so we quickly changed our target to the airport. Now we took the metro straight to the airport. Arrived there we went to Terminal 4 and saw the crowd. It seemed like that everybody did the same like us, get Madrid, celebrated New-Year and go back home the next day. The queues in front of the check-in desks were very long, but we were already holding our bordingpasses, so the way through the security checks were open for us.
In the security area we hang around and found a quiet zone with benches. With moving them together we built up our “bed” for the next 2-3 hours. And so we did. We were very tired and felt asleep very fast.
After woken up we freshen up at the lavatories and had a lunch at McDonald’s. At this point I have to say that this McDonald’s is the cheapest one at an airport I ever saw before. Our return flight was scheduled for 14:10 and after checking the boards it seemed that we will be on time. Arrived at the departure gate our aircraft – CC-CQF - was already standing there and looking at the crowd in front of the gate it seemed like to be a full flight.
When boarding began first the transit passengers from SCL to FRA were asked to board. Soon after that they did the regular boarding announcement according to seat rows from the rear to the front. As we were holding 19/20 JL we were the last one to board. Next to our aircraft a B767 of Avianca was standing there. Boarding was completed soon and I took a look behind me and didn’t saw any left seats. So my guess of a flight was getting true.
We left our position (btw. it was the very last gate of the terminal) almost on time and taxied to runway 36R behind several Iberia planes. Cleared for take-off and airborne we were heading to the north / north-east again over Zaragossa. I was very, very tired so I felt asleep right after reaching cruising altitude and woke up as we were descending to FRA. The recline, the seat-pitch and the calming music over the headphone of my PTV gave their best to made me comfortable. And indeed they managed it very well.
We approached over STR from the south-east. A little bit bumpy because of the bad weather over FRA we landed 10 minutes ahead of schedule at runway 25L. The landing itself was like a truck-race. While we were landing/touching down the beautiful A321 of Lufthansa with the retro livery (D-AIRX) was taking of the parallel runway. For almost 30 seconds it was a neck-and-neck race. Very impressing for me. We vacated the runway and saw the regular FRA traffic landing at this time of the day: Korean Cargo, Varig and several Lufthansa jets. We had to wait for a while, because we needed to cross runway 25R. Finally we taxied on to gate D3, where all this adventure began the day before. It was a great trip and I had a lot of fun. I want to go to Madrid again, because it seems to be a very beautiful city and I hadn’t enough of it this night. Also the people there are very friendly and nice. I liked it very much to be there.
I am very sorry that I couldn’t write more about the return flight. But how I described I felt asleep and don’t know what happened the flight. My friends told me that it was almost the same like the FRA-MAD leg.
I hope you enjoyed reading this trip report. I really appreciate all of your comments, suggestions for improvements or critics.
Greetings to all people in Madrid!
PS: this is to all aviations nerds of you
DATE 31DEC 06
FLIGHT LA 0705
ROUTING FRA - MAD
AIRCRAFT A340-313X (CN. 429)
STD 19:40 STA 22:15
ETD 19:40 ETA 21:45
ATD 19:40 ATA 21:48
DATE 01JAN 07
FLIGHT LA 0704
ROUTING MAD - FRA
AIRCRAFT A340-313X (CN. 442)
STD 14:10 STA 16:40
ETD 14:10 ETA 16:30
ATD 14:26 ATA 16:31