Mo 16-7-07 Clickair 09.40-11.45 A-320 EC-ICR AMS-BCN XG1067 (my 571th flight) seat 22D, sched. 09.40-11.45, actual 11.51-13.50
Photo © Eelco Vonk
The whole feel of this first flight was a bit chaotic, I arrived a bit late at the airport because on Internet at home I saw that the flight was delayed for 45 minutes (to start with!) but arriving at the airport, the check in desks were closed already, luckily I asked a staff member and I could still check in. I didn’t see the online boarding system which was supposed to be on the website, I later read in their inflight magazine, so I ended up with an aisle seat in the packed 180Y aircraft.
Also compared to the later Vueling A-320 which also had 180 seats, the seats felt particularly cramped, I (6ft 4) really had problems squeezing my legs in between. Although the aircraft was a bit older, it was cn 240, a former Iberia machine, it didn’t show its age, the cabin looked fresh and clean, with leather seats, like
Photo © Julio Sousa
A thunderstorm started around 10am just after we boarded and all take offs were cancelled for a while. Most passengers were Dutch and those who can’t speak Spanish couldn’t really understand the ‘English’ announcements from the crew, so the cabin started to get a bit impatient but remained quiet. The flight attendants hardly appeared in the aisle to avoid questions about the delay again. But at least compared to the prison wards at mainline Iberia, the flight attendants here were young and bubbly.
The prices of food and drinks were already a bit high, and they didn’t have the ‘free chocolate snack’ you’d get if you take a menu, compared to the loose elements of it, so I only opted for a coffee. I didn’t bother to take pictures this segment.
Considering the storm, the flight itself was smooth and the weather around Spain luckily was very nice all week. There was no IFE, the Airbus either didn't have or they didn't use the drop down screens not even for the safety demo. Except for the delay, the Clickair experience was fine, they just brought me to Barcelona for an affordable 60ish euro, I like the colors, and I think there is actually no difference then if it would have been mainline Iberia.
Mo 16-7-07 Air Nostrum 15.50-17.10 BCN-Leon CRJ-200 EC-HHV, IB8758 sched 15.50-17.10, actual 16:15-17:28 12F
As I took quite some margin, also to spend spotting at Barcelona airport, I was at no time worried I’d miss my afternoon flight. To be more flexible, I only had hand luggage so right after coming out of the bus, I took the stairs up to ‘transfers’ and upstairs there was a transfer desk where I could get my boarding pass within a few seconds. I found Leon after browsing the Air Nostrum website for a while. I wanted to take a longer flight on Air Nostrum, but it was quite hard to find flights below 120 euro, often their non stop flights to anywhere in Spain were much more expensive then the one stop flights via Madrid on mainline Iberia.
The flight was full, we boarded at 15:46, we could walk as it was parked next to the ground floor Air Nostrum terminal.
We had two flight attendants. I didn’t particularly like them as they forbid me to take pictures during the taxi run where we passed the whole airport and the ramp with interesting cargo aicraft. Our taxi to the runway took us past the new terminal of Barcelona which is being built and took loooong, comparible to Schiphols Polderbaan. But 15 minutes later off we went. The weather was good.
Of course I would not have expected a hot meal on this flight, but given the high appraisal of Air Nostrum, their usual high fares and the mouth watering pictures you can find on airplanemeals.net I must admit I had hoped for some more service, like a good sandwich, some tapas or an extended liquor selection. There was only a choice of water, soda and juice, but it was served in a real glass. The last 10 minutes of descent to Leon were a bit bumpy. Probably the north west mountainous area of Spain is more turbulent as I also would find out the next day.
Tue 17-7 Lagunair 13.00-14.45 Leon-Salamanca N7290, S-340A EC-IRR, seat 10A, sched. 13.00-14.45 non stop to Jerez, actual 16:57-17:26 to Salamanca
When I arrived around 12.20 at the deserted airport, I saw noone at the check in counter, I worried a bit if check in was closed and I enquired at the sales desk. They asked surprisedly if I didn’t got their call that the flight would leave at 16 instead. I didn’t check my email this morning and indeed later I found a short email “Good morning:
You have a flight with our company from Leon to Jerez at 13.00, we have a change and the departure of your fligth is at 16.00h . thank you” (no signs or addressing). Also my secretary back home said someone called around 10 am from Spain throwing up the horn when she picked up the phone in Dutch. Anyway, without asking they gave me a coupon for a lunch at the restaurant in the airport. Around three, me being Dutch of course I used the coupon to its fullest extent and took a nice two course lunch with wine and ice cream, all in all not to bad an act. I also filled in a form complaining about the almost 4 hours lost I wanted to spend in Jerez sightseeing. Leon is a quiet airport, nothing happened for a while. Then the first Lagunair plane, an Emb-145 bound for Ibiza, comes in empty. That flight was heavily delayed as well. The empty arrival hints on a sub or some major operational problems with Lagunair.
A new flight crew rushes in with a service cart and they start boarding 5 minutes later.
Then finally ‘our’ Saab arrives.
It was boarding time. The flight attendant welcomed us in the door. There were only about 10 passengers
The pilots and flight attendants announced something about a broken plane, and an additional stop at Salamanca, I didn’t catch all the details as it was in Spanish. The flight attendant confirmed to me that we would first make a short flight to Salamanca.
Even while the sky looked quite clear with only some scattered clouds, this short flight was VERY bumpy. I almost considered escaping off the plane if we survived it and landed in one piece in Salamanca. Of course I didn’t. I read earlier that the Saab 340 tends to be a bit shaky in turbulence? Still the flight attendant managed to make a quick round with a cart with juice and water.
A nice surprise in our landing at Salamanca is that it’s the base of some CL-215 firefighters and Spanish Air Force C-212s. Here are EC-GBP, EC-GBQ and EC-GBR.
Lagunair Salamanca-Jerez N7290, S-340A EC-IRR, actual 17:45-18:55
Quickly after landing, cargo was added and the plane filled up to capacity with extra passengers. The pilot made a walk around the aircraft to check the props and wingtips. Maybe there was something during the turbulence he didn’t like? But all seems well as we were back in the air in 19 minutes. This flight was smooth and we had good view over central Spain approaching the south. As this is a longer flight, the service consisted of a sandwich, there was choice between ham, cheese and as the flight attendant explained to me “Local specialitee, ham from thee cow.” I am sure if I would look confused at her she would form horns with her fingers on her head and say “moo!” The sandwich was small but nice indeed and unlike at Air Nostrum there was also booze. Although the later time of this flight can also have been a factor. Later they passed with candy, so actually the best domestic service I got. Still I wonder about the viability of Lagunair. Their operations are a bit marginal, the tickets are not particularly expensive (usually around 100 euro for a segment) and especially if they are have delays more often I guess they only survive due to sponsoring of local governments of Léon y Castilla and so.
At Jerez I saw that the flights from Jerez and Salamanca were supposed to be two different ones. Maybe they just merged them together as there were not enough passengers, or because of the technical problem they (probably) mentioned.
At wednesday I visited Gibralter (overland), here a picture taken of the terminal while crossing the runway. It seemed quieter then I thought, both on the way out and back no flight activity.
Thursday 19-7 Air Nostrum 12.25-13.25 Sevilla SVQ-Valencia CRJ-900 EC-JTS IB8843 seat10F, sched. 12.25-13.25, actual 12:31-13:14
Unfortunately I couldn’t make a decent picture of the line up of C-295s, CN-235s and so at CASA’s factory at the airport as I sat on the wrong side of the aircraft and during take off we went to quick already. The new CRJ-900 looked fresher and the lower floor gave it a bit more a roomier feel then the CRJ-200. It was LONG of course with about 23 rows the tube like cabin is as long as a 737-300. Unlike the CRJ-200 it had a small business class in front. Always interesting as I never flew on a CRJ-900 yet. The windows were a bit higher after complaints about the CRJ-200, but what I didn’t like is that there were relatively widely spaced apart, some seats hardly had a window in their wall panel besides them. I wondered if it would have been like this in a DC-8.
The CRJ-900 was an able climber, the airport, only a few seconds after take off the terminal was far below; see another CRJ-900 now parked at the spot we left less then 10 minutes ago.
The airplane was full, and on this short flight we got comparible service to my earlier Air Nostrum flight. Juice, this time from a plastic cup, and nuts. Quite some passengers were young Spanish guys going to Ibiza on a connecting flight and incredibly noisy, but actually sort of amusing to watch at. For the rest the CRJ-900 flew us comfortably to Valencia in less then 45 minutes.
Here we approach Valencia over some hilly terrain. A few minutes before landing, we were actually quite close to the mountainous valley, but then we seemed much higher again when we came over low land around Valencia.
Unfortunately here my batteries died out so I couldn’t take pictures of the five derelict A-300s parked at Valencia, or the cool almost full 1:1 (oh I exagerate, probaly maybe 1:2) scale model (or blow up balloon?) of an Air Nostrum CRJ-900 near the ceiling of the domestic departure hall.
Vueling 12.20-14.55 Alicante-AMS A-320 EC-JVV VY9863, seat 22F, sched 12.20-14.55, act 12.:38-14.50
Photo © Spencer Wilmot
We would depart from Alicante with another new airline for me, the hyped Vueling. At the airport I saw some interesting stuff like this new Emb-195 of Flybe and a Swearingen Metro.
. After a powerfull take off in the direction of the sea, we turned back land inwards over Benidorm. We had some chops before passing Toulouse. Compared to my Clickair flight, the seats seemed giving a bit more legspace although when some moronic front neighbor reclined his seat I really had too little space for my legs as well.
It was the first of my flights I saw mainly male flight attendants. Their English was better then on Clickairs. Also the captain was quite chatty in his announcements, also telling the cities the crew came from, he was a Frenchman from Toulouse. The paid service wasn’t too bad, I got these items for 3,25 euro, I think the same would have cost 5 euro on Clickair. Besides me was a young student type guy with whom I chatted a bit about airplanes (he saw me making notes and pictures) and who reads Airliners.net as well but is not a member.
Here we overflew Paris about half an hour before landing
All in all Vueling as expected seemed to give the better product compared to Click Air; there was inflight entertainment (music and small screens with the typical Friends, bloopers and sports thingies), the buy on board menu was cheaper and more attractive and overall the athmosphere seemed a bit more cheerful. After landing on the far out Polderbaan, we were back at the gate relatively quick and back in rainy Holland.