A couple of weeks I was asked by fellow anetter "vandenheuvel" (Tim) to come along and visit BTS, and VIE. I was a little surprised to see him try out a LCC for a change! We would be flying from NRN. However I decided to fly back via PRG. I wanted to try out OK, and the scheduled ATR42, and Fokker 70 weren't on my list yet!
I was picked up by Tim early in the morning and we drove to NRN. A pretty large FR base just over the border in Germany. It was a pretty long drive in the early morning, but at least we would be flying for 15 euros. We made it to the airport pretty quick as there was hardly any traffic on the road at 0500! The airport parking was terribly overcrowded but Tim managed to squeeze in the car in a small open spot. It was a 3 minute walk to the terminal. We had no checked luggage so we immediately proceeded trough security. All the FR flights leave within a one hour timespan, so the gate area was incredibly busy. Luckily after 20 minutes only our flight was left and the terminal was empty. After getting some coffee we waited for the gate to open and board a Cobus 3000 to the aircraft.
Photo © Sven Ole Niwek
We boarded via the airstairs where the F/A insisted that I would shut off my camera, and even checked that the lens cover was on! She told me I could not make any pictures at all on board the aircraft. I never heard that before! EXACTLY at the STD 07:10:00 the packs were switched off and the push began. (My watch sets itself to an atomic clock in germany so I can say exactly as +- 2 sec) After a short push we taxieed to the active.
After a while the onboard sales started. But I didn't buy anything. The flight attendants seemed friendly enough. I could see the Alps on the right side of the plane and lots of people moved over to take pictures. After a while the captain informed us about the weather at BTS and that we'd be descending soon.
The approach took us south of BTS and we got a good view of the city. After a 180 degree turn we lined up for the runway.
After getting off we got onto a Cobus 3000 which drove us to the airport exit. I think it took less then 2 minutes from disembarking, to leaving the airport! At that point we took a bus to the main station and from there we would be seeing the city. Some of the things we visited:
The weather was sunny and very hot. Tim and I are used to some walking and we basically saw all the city's landmarks and buildings. We checked into hotel Kyjev, which is said to be a former communist hotel. It certainly had the building style! The room wasn't anything special but it was clean and very cheap. The next day we would be traveling to see Vienna. We had already purchased a boat ticket. We'd be taking the train back to BTS. When we arrived at the dock there was a Russian hydrofoil waiting for us. It was an absolutely amazing experience! Lovely old fashioned interior, and the forwards folding seats as seen in some Russian aircraft. I made a video of all the pictures and video's I took if you are interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RRb3wRpTSY&feature=channel
We took the subway to the incredibly crowded city centre and saw most of the very big and impressive buildings. The temperature was about 33 degree's so it wasn't an ideal day for walking. Apart from the heat I found VIE a very nice and clean city. I loved the subway system! It was a relief to finally understand everything written again! (I can read most German, but no Slovakian!)
After we saw most of the landmarks we headed towards the Sudbanhof, and purchased a train ticket to BTS. The train was incredibly hot and the seats were modern, but terrible! It was a long hour and 10 minutes! We got back to the BTS hotel and planned our trip to the airport the next morning. We'd take the tram to the station and then the bus to the airport. KL/OK's wonderful "online check-in" wasn't possible from flights out of BTS. And I could not select any seats due to an error in the booking system. (Not over the phone either) I was persistent to get seat 1D in the ATR, in order to fly in a rear-facing seat! Luckily the check-in lady was able to put me there. I loved how everyone I encountered in BTS speaks good English! The weather was nowhere near good, grey and rainy, but at least it was cool.
The BTS terminal was a little hectic with a lot of flights leaving. Free Wi-Fi is offered which was a nice break! After clearing security my plane was just arriving. The plane Tim would be taking followed shortly after. It was time to say goodbye to Tim as he'd be flying back to NRN. I looked at the gate agent's computer and saw A:37 C:0 and I:0 so no screaming kids on this flight It was raining heavily as we got on yet another Cobus 3000 which took us to the OK-JFJ which was waiting at the ramp.
The J arriving
Tim's plane arriving, the EI-DAS
Photo © Ondrej Smrtka
I was one of the first on board and made my way to the front. I was welcomed by a very friendly flight attendant and took seat 1D. Seat 1C would remain emtpy and seats 2C/D were occupied by a young couple. Row one on this aircraft faces the rear and I wanted to try this. If your traveling with 4 people you can sit face to face which is pretty cool. However the leg room has to be shared with the person sitting in front of you which I guess can cause some hassle. Luckily the girl in front of me seemed friendly enough!
Jumpseat neatly stowed
One of the flight attendants sat next to me on a foldable jumpseat which slides into a closet on a rail. Therefor I could not film the very interesting take-off. Engine 2 was started using the hotel mode. A propeller brake holds the propeller and the running engine will serve as sort of an APU while on the ground! Pretty soon engine 1 was started and we taxied to the runway. Instead of being pushed into my seat on take off power, I was actually moving out of it! I could see the runway disappearing below, and I was literally hanging in my seatbelt during climb! An awesome experience! During the climb the service started and the FA's passed out sandwhiches and drinks. I ordered a coffee which I had to hold because it would slide down my foldable armrest table! The sandwhich was pretty good but the coffee was like any other skyteam-coffee I had. Once established in cruise the ATR was pretty quiet and it was a very comfortable flight. An elderly man which arrived to the plane in a wheelchair made his way forward to look for the lav. Luckily he could laugh about it when I told him it was in the back, because the poor guy had to walk all the way to the rear!
Doing some reading and music
My bag, strapped in as well
The captain informed us about the flight status and wx at PRG. Pretty soon we were descending and this time it was me who was being kept in my seat and the rest of the pax hanging in their seatbelts Pretty soon we descended trough the clouds and we had some icing on the nacelle and wings!
After floating a few feet over the runway the left gear touched first, followed by the right and main. We took a high-speed taxiway and were actually still reversing when on the taxiway! When the plane was docked I had a chat with the very friendly (and cute) FA seated next to me. It was a very nice and comfortable flight, and I liked the OK service on the ground and in the air!
Nice line of ATR's!
After getting on (yes another Cobus 3000) and driving to the terminal, (I spotted the Norwegian Air shuttle 6K 737) I made my way to the OK/KL transfer desk to secure seat 16F on the F70 (next to the engine) After that I had a 4.5 hour wait ahead of me. Some fellow airliners members had informed me about the possibilities to kill time, and I decided to take the bus and subway to the historic centre. 24 minutes after leaving the airport I found myself underneath Prague Castle. I crossed the bridge to see a busy square and some historic buildings, and to have a bite. After that I climed the hill to Prague Castle. It was incredibly busy up there but it was worth the trouble!
I got back to the airport and went to the viewing deck and a small exhibition about PRG's history. I proceeded towards C8 and even managed to get a quick nap while waiting for the plane! The main reason for me to fly via PRG was to get a Fokker 70 which wasn't on my list yet, I guess it's a little Dutch pride to fly on Fokker I walked to the end of the terminal in time to see the PH-KZO land.
KL was advertising at the gate about their terrific online check-in, which would save me so many time. Yeah right! I tried! After a short wait were boarding the flight to AMS. I made my way to the rear. I always like sitting next to the engine! The FA welcomed us aboard, and made an additional welcome to all flying blue members (Thats me!)
OK4628 (KL1356) Operated by KLM Cityhopper
Fokker 28 Mark 70
Photo © Roger Oldfield
My view, there was one row behind me (17) which did not have a window AT ALL! They were just staring at a blank space!
The seats and legroom were perfectly fine and pretty soon we were pushed back and headed towards the active. Take-off vid:
As with some people, the little plane made up what she lacked in size, with a big mouth! That little Fokker made the most noise of any plane I ever flew! After a very steep climb to FL350 the engines went to cruising power and with my headphones in it was manageable, but still pretty loud!
Pretty soon the service started. The flight attendants were very polite and friendly. There was a choice of a cookie (prins koek) or salty crackers (tuc) nearly all the pax chose the crackers, including me! I ordered a coffee and the FA asked if I wanted to drink something next to my coffee, a nice gesture! The coffee was again, a skyteam standard hehe.
Nice, large windows!
The captain informed us that we'd be descending into AMS in 25 minutes, but that we had to leave FL350 when entering Dutch airspace. This made for some nice views over the Netherlands. We would be landing at RWY18R, the infamous Polderbaan. This means at least 10 minutes taxiing on the ground, where other runways have much shorter taxi times. In fact, one runway next to the KLM Cityhopper has so little taxi time that the planes roll right off the RWY and onto the ramp! However we arrived 6 minutes ahead of the scheduled time.
On the ground
We were told to wait on board until the pink labeled baggage would be put next to the stairs to be collected. After that, we got on a Cobus 2700 (wow, a 2700 for a change ) and drove to the terminal.
After that all that lasted for me was a long trip home!
FR: No frills, my 4th experience on board FR without any troubles. For 15 euro this was a great deal!
OK: Nice plane, loved the service both in flight as on the ground.
KLc: Decent service in flight and a neat plane. Only downturn was the online check in trouble.
It were 3 long days but I had seen 3 wonderful city's in Europe! Got to fly on 2 new aircraft and a new carrier! A special thanks to the people who helped me in my post about what to do in PRG, it all worked out perfectly I would recommend any of these airlines to anyone, but be sure to read the small letters on FR to avoid any costly surprises!
Thank you for reading, and any comments are appreciated!
[Edited 2009-08-23 12:53:20]
[Edited 2009-08-23 13:03:53]