Welcome again, yet another tripreport of me. Now featuring my latest travel done in January, which was my second trip for 2010 actually. Flightnumbers 3,4 & 5 are counted for, and this one includes 1 new aircraft type for me, and also the main reason for this trip.
Nevertheless, I would like to give this report the extra name:
Travel distance between the cities is roughly 25 minutes by train, 45 minutes by car,… or just fly.
Booking was done in late December for all segments, with still the best fares available with all airlines to fly that day, January 20, 2010.
The day started a bit early. My clock went off around 4.45am, to catch my bus 1 hour later, arrived at the airport just after 6 o’clock that morning. Still a little of an hour till my flight leaves.
I checked in at home already, and my first flight will take me across the Northsea again, to the UK. No security check, since I use the normal international terminal in AMS. Only I pass passport control to leave the country and can proceed to my gate. Gate D8 was mine, not a far walk.
Since (pre)boarding didn’t start yet, I looked around a bit more and to my surprise I found yet another Starbucks which recently opened at AMS. So, the airport now has 4 locations of this brand, and the one located halfway down the D-gates is one of the larger examples with a good seating area too. I grabbed my first coffee of the day and sat down for a while, watching some early traffic.
Departure Lounge 3 at AMS
Upstairs between Lounge 3 and Lounge 2, you’ll find business class lounges
An airport still sleeping…?
Starbucks no4 at AMS, location D-gates
After my coffee was done, at 645am, I went to the gate. Security check was in progress, just the normal x-ray check of bags and body. No bodyscanner or so, for those who wonder. I stopped to take a few pictures but groundstaff called me to proceed for the preboarding/passport check.
Judging by the amount of passengers in the waiting area it would be a quiet flight.
Gate display / Flight Information
BA Cityflyer G-LCYE waiting for boarding
More interesting, this was to be my only second Embraer 170 flight, and it was a new entry for my personal logbook. I flew on the inaugural day of service with BA’s G-LCYD, but now it’s follow-up was to operate my flight. Boarding started at 7.00am sharp, finished in 8 minutes.
Flight No.: BA8450 Date: 20JAN10
STD: 0720 ATD: 0728
STA: 0730 ATA: 0734
A/C: Embraer 170 Reg No.: G-LCYE
Seat: 18F – Economy Class (moved from 18A)
Photo © Rafael Nunes
Once everybody was seated, which went very quickly and organised (the majority of travellers on these flights are very frequent flyers to the City, and know how to behave), the captain was on the PA. A technical error let them to reboot the systems in the cockpit. This would result in all lights off for a while. He expected to be ready on time, but in the end they had to reboot 3 times and it resulted in a slight delay. Our takeoff runway (24) was consequently also changed now, resulting in a few minutes more delay due longer taxiing.
We left 8 minutes late, and the 2 male cabin crew did their manual safety demo. I counted 26 passengers on this particular flight, roughly a 30% loadfactor. Not good, and this route sees a lot of competition from AF/KL with their Cityjet RJ85’s. I wonder about the future timetables …
As mentioned, taxiing took longer now, runway 18L was given to us, and an intersection departure was apparently not granted either, so we crossed the inactive runway 09/27 and lined up via E6, the beginning of the runway. A short takeoff roll followed and this ‘junglejet’ quickly found her way into a thick layer of clouds. Views to the ground were gone and would not return until final approach for City Airport.
Said that from my experience already, I wonder why the captain gave his enroute info and said about the weather in London to be very good, and offering very good views on the city. This was definitely not the case.
BA Cityflyer still offer a sandwich service for Economy Class, and so was I given a prepacked sandwich and 1 drink. I had an orange juice.
For those interested; BA always gives interesting names to their dry and ‘not so special’ sandwiches. The one I got was called “Smoked Salmon & Soft Cheese on an oat topped square roll” The package was nearly too small to provide space to all this text
As you might understand, the filling was a little, the bread too much and a bit on the dry side. Not the best offering today.
Cabin view on this early morning BA8450 flight
Sandwich service for breakfast
Seats on the BA/Cityflyer Embraer 170’s (31’’ pitch)
Enroute in the darkness
The rest of the flight was just a normal cruise. Speed was reduced by ATC order, and we would land just on schedule. It took forever until we came clear of the overcast clouds over London, and it was only a minute of sightseeing before we touched, uhm smashed on the concrete of runway 09. This landing was really, really hard to be honest. BA, be gentle with your new purchases!
Anyway, the gear was able to absorb all the forces, and we even made it quickly to the terminal, parking position near spot 2, next to the UK Immigration point. I entered the UK after about 5 minutes waiting time in the queue. That’s the convenient and big advantage of LCY over any other London airport!
I had a transfer of nearly 90 minutes for my second flight that day. Check-in had to be done at LCY, since the airline (FlyBaboo) does not offer online check-in. Airline logo-signs near the many self-service kiosks tell you to use them, but for my case it did not accept my passport, neither my booking reference, neither my e-ticketnumber. So, it was queuing at the Cityjet/AF/KLM desk for Y-class. This desk is also taking care for FlyBaboo.
Why, you think? Because FlyBaboo will be next in line to integrate with Cityjet. First VLM, then this Swiss niche airline. And finally, all competition will be out of the market, and the customer will have to pay a higher fare in the future.
I asked the lady for a seat in the back, and she handled it very good. I got row 20A, assuming that it was good enough, taking in mind the aircraft type to operate on my flight, the Q400! A first for me.
Cityjet check-in desk handling the FlyBaboo flight
Despite the logo of FlyBaboo, these machines didn’t work for me (note all the waiting people upstairs)
I had to pass the security check now, and that would be a real issue on that morning. The queue was so long, even the escalator to first floor was out of use, since it was completely packed with waiting people upstairs. I took the elevator, and moved into the queue. Now my most terrible LCY experience began. I waited for nearly an hour. Until my flight was switched to ‘boarding’ on the FID, I jumped the line following an order from a groundstaff. Just before the x-ray machine I jumped the line once again, since it was ‘final call’ on the screens. UK security officers do their job thoroughly that morning. Everybody shoes off. People complaint a lot. It took ages. And a bad impression. If this is the future for this airport, LCY will have no further success!
As you imagine, the whole departure lounge was empty. Passengers leaving the security area were running to their gates. No time for shopping, no time for the lavatory. A good gate for me, 4, so a short run only. Boarding was just started so I was able to continue. I took a picture on the ramp, and was immediately warned by a passenger groundstaff. Something to hide for me? I got my pictures anyway…
Boarding of HB-JQB from gate 4
Engine view before boarding
Boarding finished at 0854am. Let the next flight begin!
Flight No.: F7 902 Date: 20JAN10
STD: 0900 ATD: 0915
STA: 1155 ATA: 1205
A/C: Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 Reg No.: HB-JQB
Seat: 20A – Economy Class
Photo © Alejandro Pérez
No information from the flightdeck, and cabin crew was providing 2 mothers with infants the additional safety belt and instructions. Meanwhile our departure time passed, probably caused by ATC/Airport operational reasons. LCY is a bit congested from time to time, and there is not always adequate room to taxi-out and wait for the runway. In the end we counted up for a 15 minute delay on block-out, one that counts actually. We used runway 09 for takeoff, which the Q400 was flying 6 minutes after block-out.
Taxiing out, passing this little sistertype operated by Air Southwest
And airborne, heading for GVA!
Climbing out of LCY
The load today, 26 passengers, 2 infants, nearly 35%. Also not the best performance, but let’s take in mind the recent opening of this route for FlyBaboo. It’s codesharing with AF.
This Swiss Q400 was fitted with nice lightgrey leather seats, ample legroom too. Service started after a while and the 1 female/1 male cabin crew came into action. First a kind of smoothie drink was given, in a tiny bottle.
A while later the crew came with a tray of muffins, nicely decorated. Coffee/tea was provided also.
Again after a while, a tiny swiss chocolate and wet towel (in a state of the art package) was given.
In the seatpocket…
Meal/Beverage service on FlyBaboo is included
Wet towel and swiss chocolate
The service was given with attention to the passengers, in a very friendly way. This does a lot, and makes the flight to succeed. Once the crew took their position in the rear galley, it was my turn to make a few pictures of course, and also had a quick chat with the crew. They told me to worry a bit about their future, since it is expected that Air France/Cityjet will take their airline over, comparable with the happening to VLM from Belgium/Flanders. They said that it would mean the end of their current service level, pricing and niche network. I wished them luck in their career and future with Baboo, and they did the same to me, since I also have hard times at work at the moment.
They promised me to call the captain to grant me a visit to the flightdeck after landing.
Inflight cabin view on HB-JQB
The flight continued for a while, quite boring in the end, since clouds were blocking any views on Earth. Until we descended for GVA, clouds got a more open character and views on the Alps were becoming more and more. Even that nice, that the female flight attendant took a seat behind me and watched outside. We chatted a bit more, and I made my pictures. It was not a problem for her at all, even when we were already on initial approach now, turning in over the lake for a landing on runway 23. Though also a layer of clouds over the lake, but at low altitude, but quickly all views were gone again and I was back in a grey and dull world.
Finally some views outside…
… and more, during approach for GVA
The Swiss Alps
The landing itself was very smooth, and we parked within a couple of minutes on a remote position. A bus waited for us, so I had not much time to take my picture of the flightdeck of this prop. Friendly crew, and even when I stood in the bus, the male cabin attendant waved to me from his door. Bye bye Baboo, it was a pleasure to be your guest!
Captains side on this Q400 after landing
The friendly wave,… Bye Bye Baboo!
I did the normal arrival procedure, since I needed to check-in also at the airport, for the next flight. With about 3 hours to spend in GVA, enough time to grab some food at the convenient store, and a few minutes later I was outside, eating lunch on the bench, with snow falling from the skies.
Geneva International Airport
The next flight, would be the final leg to make it in Rotterdam that day. I didn’t know in advance, but by coincidence I found Dutch airline Transavia operating a couple of weekly flights between GVA and RTM, with a good timetable for me on the Wednesday. The flights are sold as ‘ski-charter’ and GVA is not a usual destination in their network.
Upon booking I noticed a low fare on this route, telling me that it would not be so successful.
On the ‘easy to navigate’ Transavia website, you can purchase your selected seat for an additional charge, between EUR 7,50 for any general seat up to EUR 20,- for a emergency exit. Since the fare itself was low enough, and also no additional charge for creditcard payment was asked for (they did usually!), I decided to get myself in the back of the plane at 24F.
Check-in opened exactly 2 hours before departure time, 1 desk got manned and I was the second to check-in. My seat 24F was printed out, I asked about the loads and to keep the seat next to me empty if possible. She said, no problem. The flight will not be busy. Good news, since I know from experience that the legroom on Transavia is really bad.
A view from upstairs
GVA is under renovation. I noticed that the airport is now managed by Dnata, if I remember well from the UAE, also very active in DXB. GVA was always an old, dirty, badly organised airport in my opinion, but the new security checkpoint looks nice. It was busy though, but no problem since I had some time… After the check, a new area with shops awaited me. It looks good, various expensive brands have shops, and even I spend again my money by buying some presents to bring home. Beware though, renovation work is not fully completed yet, so it is a bit messy in some areas.
New shops for GVA
… enough places to spend your Swiss Francs
Views on the apron are very bad now, since the windows have some stupid dotted sticker on them, so you can see through it, but photos are impossible.
Windows are not good for spotting/photography
Departure Lounge A
Some 45 minutes before departure my gate became visible on the screens: D25. That was at the end of the terminal, meaning a bit of walk. The area of D-gates serve a lot of easyJet now, and is still in the old style. D25 is via the corridor under the taxiway, to a satellite on the apron, were the gates are located. My aircraft was already on spot and disembarking from the inbound flight.
Boarding gate and PH-XRA in the background
This aircraft was going to fly me back to RTM
Soon enough boarding started, 230pm it was. No gates here, so walking over the apron to the aircraft. Always nice to do, except that day, with wet snow falling from the skies.
Flight No.: HV6016 Date: 20JAN10
STD: 1500 ATD: 1454
STA: 1625 ATA: 1612
A/C: Boeing 737-7K2(WL) Reg No.: PH-XRA
Seat: 24F – Economy Class
Photo © Javier Bravo Muñoz
PH-XRA was mine. I was a bit disappointed since I flew this particular aircraft already before in 2007. It was also the aircraft in T-mobile colours, followed by ‘Delfsail’ special livery in 2009, but now it was back in the normal colourscheme.
Boarding completed very early, and the 3-female headed spontaneous crew prepared the cabin quickly. No wonder, the load was bad with only some 50 passenger. In the back of the aircraft were most seats still available. I had the complete row for my own.
Take note: Transavia B737-700 last row 26F/Righthand side, has no window and recline!
(B737-800 last row do have a window though,… for future travellers )
I was first on board, here a cabin view seen from the front
Seating on Transavia. Note row 26 being windowless…
We left even early by 6 minutes, and during taxiing the safety demo came on the screens that dropdown from the overhead ceiling. And we had no de-icing, so when we reached the runway (23), we were ready to go immediately.
Once airborne I noticed a quick climb to higher levels, I guess 36,000 or 38,000 feet, but no info was given. Only the route was mentioned by the cockpit crew, being via Luxemburg and Brussels, straight to Rotterdam.
I dozed off a bit during this flight, with my music on. Seat reclined, and my legs at seats E and D.
Cabin crew had done 1 round of inflight sales, the buy-on-board menu. Drinks, sandwiches, instant soup, magazines, puzzle books, … the selection is large enough. Prices are on the higher side too actually.
Beautiful coloursetting in the late afternoon
Not much more to say about this flight. I was a pleasant experience this time, mainly caused by the light load in the cabin. After passing Brussels we started descend to RTM, for runway 06. If you do an approach for this runway, you will overfly a part of the Rotterdam harbour and a few cities which are located immediately next to Rotterdam. It gave me some good views, and we finally landed with rough touch on the surface.
Final approach, over the port of Rotterdam
Over the highway…, almost there!
After landing, taxiing to the parking apron
Rotterdam Airport is a small airport, and has 1 terminal building. It has no passenger boarding bridges, so you always leave via stairs. Due to the distance with my flight, a bus was provided for the 30 seconds ride, but if traffic is slow, you might have to walk yourself.
HV operates quite a few services from RTM, as well do VG (Cityjet), Skywork Airlines from Switzerland. TK is looking to startup a route from SAW to RTM also. We’ll have to see if this can be materialized.
Since I had no baggage on this trip, getting out of the airport was within a minute, and a bus to Central Station was waiting and ready to depart, so really within 3 minutes after leaving the aircraft I was on my way by public transport to the trainstation, to catch my train back home.
To finish the report, let me say that BA is the airline of choice between AMS and LCY nowadays. The Embraers are very nice to be on, legroom is not the best but sufficient enough and the 2-2 layout wins always above the RJ85’s offered by the AF/KL-group and operated by Cityjet. The Cityjet RJ85’s have a 3-3 seating inside and are really cramped.
FlyBaboo is a nice niche player, but will probably be eaten up by AF/KL-group as well. Probably they will integrate in Cityjet also, following the story that happens with VLM at this moment. A shame, really! FlyBaboo is very much comparable with the old VLM. Attentive and good service for a reasonable price. I was really pleased with this airline and they delivered me my first Q400 experience. I think the Q400 is not my favourite. LCY-GVA is quite a long flight too, and the aircraft annoyed me a bit. It wins from the ATR72 anytime though, but instead give me the Embraer 170, which is in the same category of course.
Transavia is good if you need them to fly. Not really cheap with their fares usually, and on board also not the cheapest. Legroom is very tight. The crew is young and spontaneous, and the cabin has a greenish/fresh look. But they will not win the match if I compare with German carriers X3 or AB.
It’s a positive point that HV dropped their creditcard fee upon booking.
Anyway, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed the read of another way to get from Amsterdam to Rotterdam. So, if you are in Holland, and you’ve the time, you can always consider doing the same.
Thanks also for leaving your comment, I would appreciate it. And questions are welcome of course!
Cirrus Airlines Dornier 328
Transavia Boeing 737-700/800
Swiss Airbus A320/321s
British Airways Boeing 757
ArkeFly Boeing 737-800s
Malaysian Airlines Boeing 747-400s / A330 / B737-400
And more to come,…
[Edited 2010-01-31 03:47:29 by airbuseric]