Having taken quite a few trips in 2008 and not writing many trip reports, I thought I’d do a quick summary of all my trips last year (with photos of course!) Hope you enjoy …
Airlines flown for the first time in 2008:
Airports flown from/to for the first time in 2008:
Sao Paulo (GRU)
Sao Paulo (CGH)
Santiago de Chile (SCL)
Rio de Janeiro (SDU)
Aircraft flown for the first time in 2008:
Longest Flight in 2008: SIN-LHR – 6765 miles
Shortest Flight in 2008: MAN-LHR – 151 miles
Total miles flown in 2008: 89,540
Ok lets get started …
LGW-INN Thomas Cook B757-200 (Y class)
INN-LGW British Airways (GB Airways) A321 (Y class)
The flying year started with a pretty disastrous photography day trip to Innsbruck. Unfortunately due to heavy fog in the valley at INN our Thomas Cook 757 (G-FCLD) only made it as far as MUC which meant a bus transfer to INN arriving just in time to fly back (with the sadly missed GB Airways). Managed to spend around 5 minutes in the viewing area:
BRS-FNC easyJet A319 (Y class)
FNC-STN easyJet A319 (Y class)
Next up was a quick day trip to Funchal (FNC) courtesy of an easyjet £10 all in offer. Flew out from BRS first thing in the morning and then back to STN in the evening. Was great to be back in FNC 11 years after my last visit on a family holiday and this time I decided how long we spent at the airport and on the viewing balcony and not my parents! Photos from FNC:
LTN-DXB Silverjet B767-200 (Biz Class)
DXB-LTN Silverjet B767-200 (Biz class)
I spent the whole of February in Dubai for work, flying the (again) sadly missed SilverJet from LTN. I don’t have any pics from this trip but I have to say the Silverjet service was very good, especially on the ground at LTN. On the return from DXB the flight was full as the Watford Football team were onboard returning from a training camp in Dubai. I sat next to one of the players (whose name I didn’t recognise), although I did see some more familiar faces on board too (and some interesting gossip!) Only thing I didn’t really like about Silverjet were the sliding seats and having nowhere to put the digiplayer but for the price they charged this was a minor problem.
My next trip in March was the one I had been waiting for. I was finally going to South America (SCL, EZE, SDU) and I’d be doing it in First class as well (on LX and LH). I did make 2 trip reports on this so to see the photos (including crossing the Andes) and more detail about the trip click below:
LGW-INN easyJet A319 (Y class)
INN-LGW easyJet A319 (Y class)
I did make a second attempt at an INN day trip in April with easyJet, although by this time of year Saturday afternoons in INN were a lot quieter than January. I did however get to experience the rare sight of an easyJet aircraft (in this case an ex GT A320) with less than 20 pax on board - Its always nice to have 5 rows to yourself! This was my only trip in April which was pretty quiet. Photos from INN:
LHR-OSL SAS B737-800 (Biz Class)
OSL-KEF SAS B737-700 (Biz Class)
KEF-LHR Icelandair B757-300 (Y class)
May was quiet too but at the end of the month I took another long awaited trip, this time to Iceland, a country I was visiting for the first time. On the outbound I redeemed some of my bmi miles and flew business class with SK LHR-OSL-KEF and on the return I flew Icelandair KEF-LHR on the 757-300 in Y. I don’t really have many flight photos from this trip. I will say that I thought the SK biz class service and comfort was quite mixed. On the LHR-OSL sector the seats on the 737-800 were pretty comfortable and were the expander type so more width. Service was also very professional and it did feel like I was flying a class higher than economy. On the OSL-KEF sector the flight was operated by a Braathens 737-700 and the seat was just a normal Y seat with no extra width and no table in the blocked middle seat. Service was like Y used to be a few years ago with a light meal. Anyhow they got me there alive and on time. Arriving at KEF:
I must say to anyone who hasn’t been to Iceland they should go now (or next spring/summer) while it is such good value as it is a very beautiful country. Weather was just perfect too at that time of year. I stayed at the Icelandair Hotel Loftleidir which overlooks Reykjavik Airport. I asked for a room with a (airport) view and was duly obliged:
Return flight with FI was unspectacular and standard Y offering for a European airline for a flight of 3 hours.
LHR-MAN bmi A319 (Y class)
MAN-DUB Ryanair B737-800 (Y class)
DUB-MAN bmi A319 (Y class)
Come June I was starting to calculate how many bmi miles I would earn before my membership year ended in October and I found that with planned travel I was going to be just under 700 status miles short to re-qualify for gold. I couldn’t let this happen so I hastily arranged a quick mileage run to DUB, flying LHR-MAN on BD (300 ff miles), then MAN-DUB on FR (£1 all in!!) then DUB-LHR on BD (400 ff miles). This was a pretty good trip as I got to spend the morning watching the aircraft at the viewing park and on top of the T1 MSCP which I hadn’t done for quite some time since I moved to London. Bmi flights went off without a hitch although the LHR-MAN flight was VERY empty, probably no more than 30 on the A319. DUB-LHR flight was completely full. FR flight was an experience. I hadn’t flown FR for many years before this and I was quickly reminded why. Boarding was a total scrum. FR usually use one of the gates at the end of T1 pier B at MAN so before the inbound arrived I camped out there to get to the front of the queue (no gate was mentioned on the monitors). Eventually a gate was announced and it was gate 23 on pier C which is a fair walk from where I was. As soon as I go there the inbound aircraft landed and parked up at the end of pier B where I just was and an announcement was made that everyone now needs to go to gate 9! In the stampede I was quite slow getting there and ended up at the back of the queue. Only saving grace they did make 2 queues, those who had priority boarding and those that didn’t. Since I checked in online that somehow gave me automatic priority boarding so I got a good seat. Was shocked how tight the seat pitch was but at least the seats didn’t recline which stopped the seat in front crushing my legs any further. Once airborne about 30 minutes late the flight was uneventful but we did get a good view of Liverpool as we flew over. A few pics:
LHR-OSL SAS B737-600 (Y class)
OSL-LHR SAS B737-600 (Y class)
My only flights in July was a return trip to Oslo, a city I had never visited before. This was just a one night job and 2 very uneventful SAS economy flights. The LHR-OSL flight was notable however as it was my first trip on a B737-600 which was the last in the set for me (apart from the -100). SAS lineup at OSL:
LHR-SEA Northwest Airlines A330-200 (Y class)
SEA-FAI Alaska Airlines B737-800 (Y class)
ANC-SEA-EWR Continental Airlines B737-800 (Y class)
EWR-LHR Continental Airlines B767-200 (Y class)
In August I decided to cash in my Delta Skymiles on a trip to Alaska as I really enjoyed my time there a few years ago. Managed to find outbound availability on NW’s new SEA service connecting to AS to FAI. I liked the timing of the NW flight as it meant I could work in London until 3pm before heading to LHR for the flight. On check-in the KLM agent couldn’t check me in all the way to FAI and said I would need to collect my onward AS boarding pass at SEA.
Even though it was a Friday in August the load factor was no more than 50% in Y which is really unusual for any transatlantic flight (no surprise to see the route later dropped). Annoyingly the window seat next to my aisle seat was occupied by a man who’s partner was occupying the aisle in the middle 4 section and they were talking over me. I asked if the lady wanted to swap so she could be next to her partner but she wanted to keep the 4 seats to herself. Luckily I spotted a vacant window/aisle combo so moved. I was very tempted to move to the seat next to the woman in the middle just to annoy her but that would just be cutting of my nose … I always enjoy flying on the NW A330 over the pond and actually prefer NW to any other US-based carrier transatlantic (but not domestic!) Flight was uneventful and we approached over downtown Seattle just as the sun was setting. Immigration was a breeze and I arrived in plenty of time for my next flight. I picked up my boarding pass and was back airside in no time. In fact I noticed there was an earlier FAI flight to the one I was booked on so I ran to the gate and managed to get on that one which ended up saving me around 75 minutes.
I drove from Fairbanks to Anchorage via Denali NP and 4 days after arriving in FAI I was at ANC for my flight home. CO have moved to the North terminal at ANC in the time since I last flew from there and there wasn’t much to do or eat in this terminal. The flight to EWR was via SEA and I was impressed that CO still has catering on the relatively short flight to SEA. If my memory serves me right it was a cheese pizza that was served. When we landed in SEA I took the opportunity to disembark and grab some more food as I knew the overnight flight to SEA would not be properly catered. Unfortunately Sbarro was closed as were most places so I ended up with something overpriced from *Bucks.
I tried to get some sleep on the flight to EWR but didn’t really succeed and we arrived around 7am if memory serves with 2 hours before my flight to LHR. Load on the LHR flight in Y was close to 100% with maybe 1 or 2 empty seats. I really don’t like the CO meal offering in Y transatlantic especially as a vegetarian. In common with most US carriers they don’t offer a vegetarian special meal instead only offering a vegan option. I ordered this and really wish I didn’t bother. I have actually stopped ordering special meals on US carriers now as I get more food by eating around the meat on a normal meal than having to try to stomach vegan cookies and chickpeas. Landed at LHR pretty much on time and headed home on the tube and straight to bed at around 11pm as I had to be up for work at 7:30 the next day.
LHR-SIN Singapore Airlines A380-800 (Y class)
SIN-SYD Singapore Airlines B747-400 (Y class)
SYD-SIN Singapore Airlines A380-800 (Y class)
SIN-PEN Singapore Airlines B777-200(ER) (Biz Class)
PEN-SIN Singapore Airlines B777-200 (Biz Class)
SIN-LHR Singapore Airlines A380-800 (Y class)
September and it was finally time to fly the A380! The purpose of the trip was to attend the Singapore Grand Prix and of course I made sure to book on the SQ A380. Looking at the prices I saw that for £150 more than the cost of LHR-SIN I could fly to SYD with a 3 day stopover in SIN for the Grand Prix. So I did! On the flight from LHR we rode on 9V-SKF which the captain proudly announced was only 2 weeks old. I took a lower deck window seat on the completely full flight. Even though I was expecting a lot I was very impressed with the A380, particularly how quiet it is on take off. There were a few things I didn’t like such as the small windows (compared with my expectations) and the fact that the ceiling started leaking water on me when we landed in SIN! The SQ service was great as always and made the trip literally fly by.
The flight to SYD on the 747 showed just how good the A380 is as the cabin was in a pretty poor state with fabric hanging off the seats and a comparatively poor entertainment system. The flight back to SIN on the A380 was again a good one although the catering on this flight and the flight to SYD was of a noticeably lower standard than the catering out of LHR. This time I was on the upper deck and the legroom seemed to be more limited than on the lower deck but I did appreciate the box by the window to store my bits and pieces.
To break up the trip back home I took a 3 day stopover in SIN and flew to Penang, staying in the very handy (and cheap) transit hotel at T2. This time the trip was in business class. Not too much to comment on for this short flight. The flight from SIN-PEN was on a spacebed equipped aircraft and the return trip was on the *A liveried 777-200 which has the regional seats.
Flight home to LHR was again on the A380 and this time I took an upper deck aisle seat. Very rare for me I managed to get some sleep in a Y seat before arriving around 05:45 and heading straight to work in London.
LHR-IAD United Airlines B777-200
IAD-MIA Ted A320
MIA-IAD Ted A320
IAD-LHR United Airlines B777-200
To finish the year I took 2 trips to Miami which I booked at lan.com when they were omitting the fuel surcharge from tickets. I therefore got the above UA MIA trip for £170 all in and another trip on AA for the same price (plus a trip I am yet to take on BA to LAX for £135 all in!) The UA trip was a bit of a disaster as I missed my connection at IAD due to a delay and then spending over 1 hour in the immigration queue. The nice ladies in the Red Carpet Club tried to book me on another flight the same night but nothing was available so I had to made do with an amenity kit and a discount hotel voucher as I spent the night at the IAD Hilton, not arriving in MIA until 17 hours after I should have done. Flights with UA were same as usual, nothing special but acceptable. Channel 9 was only offered on 2 out of the 4 flights though. All 4 flights were full.
LHR-MIA American Airlines B777-200
MIA-LHR American Airlines B777-200
I originally booked the outbound flight routing via DFW to maximise miles but a schedule change left me with a very short connection time so I decided not to risk it and changed to the direct flight instead. Compared with the UA flights I though AA was inferior, except for the IFE. Food on AA was very poor (with the exception of the pizza) and the service was not as friendly as on UA. Leaving MIA was a complete joke as our flight left from the high E gates and the train thing to the satellite was not working. Everyone therefore needed to catch a bus over there which created complete chaos in the terminal and I arrived at the gate around 10 minutes after scheduled departure. All flights from the high E gates were delayed though due to the fact that all the pax were stuck waiting for buses.
That is all from my quick review. Hope you enjoyed. I hope to do some more detailed trip reports this year and I already have some interesting trips booked with some more firsts in terms of airlines flown and airports visited. Planned trips include:
JAN: LHR-AMS-LHR (BD Y class)
FEB: LHR-LAX-SLC-LAS-LAX-LHR (UA/DL Y Class)
MAR: LHR-LAX-LAS-LAX-LHR (BA/US Y Class)
APR: LHR-YVR-AKL-WLG-AKL-PEK-ICN-LHR (AC/NZ/OZ Biz class)
NOV: LHR-LAX-HNL-MAJ-KWA-KSA-PNI-TKK-GUM-CNS-BNE-CNS-GUM-NRT-HNL-LAX-BOS-LHR (AA/CO/QF/NW Y class) Really looking forward to finally taking the Island Hopper!
Happy new year!