Sorry for some of this board to keep you waiting for some time. I really didn’t have amount of time to write a long story, so I made this one as short as possible for me, hopefully still giving you sufficient information about the whole trip.
I was already for a long while that I tried to get on board one of the more interesting propeller machines flying these days. A type which I always liked, and which was common at my homebase at AMS for a long time, when introduced by KLM and flown with the ‘KLM alps’ brand. I always thought,… I get on one some day, but then suddenly they stopped operations, became Air Alps, stopped flying to AMS etc. Some of you already know where I’m talking about now: the Dornier 328.
I decided to fly one in 2010, and not to postpone this plan further into the future, so bookings were made about 8 weeks in advance for very reasonable fares.
The day started with a long train journey to my starting point in Germany. Since my flight would leave from City Airport Mannheim in Southern Germany in early afternoon, an early departure by train out of the Netherlands was my only option.
Some checking gave me a good fare on the direct ICE105 highspeed trainservice (which will only get to high(er) speeds after passing Cologne, but that’s just side info.
A local train and transfer on regular Dutch IC/Intercity service to Utrecht Central was necessary to get on the ICE105. Enabling a smooth tranfer, gave me basically an unnecessary 1 hour to kill in Utrecht Central Station, but the newly opened Starbucks branch made my day with a tasty brewed coffee for EUR 2.50, with a refill available for EUR 0.50 if you can’t get enough.
I couldn’t finish my first one, so took it onto the train, which left the station punctual (!) at 08:29am. Of course, my reserved seat was occupied by some half kind of criminal (this man was caught later during the right by German borderpolice and taken out of the train), but a short order from me to him to leave my seat made him move up to elsewhere in the carriage.
I travelled in 2nd class this time, giving the seat layout a 2-2 setting, good seatpitch, blue cloth seats, and large windows. You can adjust the seatback by sliding forward a bit also. Convenient enough, even for long journeys.
ICE105 called enroute at Arnhem, Oberhausen Hbf, Duisburg Hbf, Düsseldorf Hbf, Köln Hbf (Cologne), Siegburg/Bonn ICE, Frankfurt Flughafen and my final destination Mannheim.
I arrived 25 minutes delayed in Mannheim, and speeds did not get that high after Cologne either, maybe caused by the snow. Weather was not favourable at all in that week.
I got off the train around 12.50pm, bought some fresh sandwiches by a German bakery, and took them with me to eat later. Since I wanted to get myself to the airport first.
A roadtrain/tram line number 6 is going to a point near the airport. That is also basically the only good way to reach it. A large area with tracks and many lines are running from the front of the trainstation. But not line 6 of course.
So I asked at a DB information counter in the mainhall, who said to walk further into the street and at the second crossing turn right. There I would find the stop for line 6. So I did, and indeed after walking for about 8 minutes, I found my place. A ticket needs to be purchased by EUR coins from a ticket dispenser. Since you travel within the city-zone, a regular fare (EUR 2.20) is what you need. And take line 6 roadtrain to it’s final destination ‘Neuostheim’. Get off at Neuostheim and then you can walk to the airport within 5 minutes (actually you can see the building already when you get off the tram).
I entered the small terminal building and was surprised by it being really small. A small bar and seating area was serving some businessmen, 2 non-staffed check-in desks for the local airline Cirrus Air, and a Cirrus Air ticket/charterflight office. Good for me with a few more seats in front of the glass facing the apron, but as you would expect, no traffic. Here I enjoyed the sandwiches that I bought earlier, and got to see a German army helicopter which came in for a fuelstop.
About one hour before departure, one female staff opened her check-in desk, where I obtained a real copy of my boarding pass and went back to my seat. I wondered when my aircraft would come in for landing, but I was more surprised to see it being pulled in by a tractor. My aircraft came out of the hangar, and was really clean and shining like a new aircraft.
Not long after the door to the next seating area opened, 1 x-ray machine to take for handluggage and myself. Of course, a bag full of electronics caught attention of the Germans (it happens all the time to me at German airports), and an additional ‘explosive’ check was performed. It took a few minutes for me to proceed, but everything was fine and friendly in the end.
Boarding started at 2.35pm, walking about 10 meters to the aircraft and boarding. A friendly female flight attendant is welcoming at the entrance, and I stepped into the small cabin. Seating layout 1-2, large grey leather seats. Luxury looks. Mirror wall in the back of the cabin, and use of wooden panels in some parts of the cabin. My seat was 12A, and had no overhead bin. And my bag didn’t fit under the seat, so I positioned it behind my seat at row 13 (last row, and used as storage room for the cabin attendant also). I got her attention by doing this, but she was ok with it. On the other side of the aisle was the mini-galley and emergency exit. Also the tiny lavatory. I was still not seated when I noticed the engine were fired up already, and I quickly positioned myself for the ride.
Flight No.: C9 1566 Date: 03FEB’10
STD: 1445 ATD: 1442
STA: 1600 ATA: 1550
A/C: Dornier 328 Reg No.: D-CPRW
Photo © Ralf Meyermann
We taxied out quickly. And the flight attendant was doing the safety demo in front of the cabin, by use of the audio system. The taxi route included backtracking of the runway, and at the end a 180° turn for takeoff. The engines were powered up first, before breakes were released, which made it an interesting takeoff. Soon we got airborne from runway 09 at 2.46pm.
Due to the clouds, climb and beginning of the flight were a bit rough. But once we got clear of the clouds and climbed to a slightly higher altitude, the ride became smooth for the duration of the cruise at 23,000 feet. The flight attendant came to the galley, and I talked a bit with her. She was ok with my picture taking and asked if I already wanted a drink (she didn’t start service yet). I got a Warsteiner 0,2l bottle, which was very nice of her. She then disappeared for her service and I enjoyed the views outside. Once the flight attendant came at my row again, she exchanged my bottle for a new one, and gave a bag of crisps. I confirmed if it was ok to move to row 1 for a few minutes to make a few more pictures, and she was ok with it as well.
After I was back in my seat, we talked a bit more, about Cirrus Airlines and her job. And my hobby. It was a good chat. When descent started for Berlin, she got to clean the cabin a bit, and handed out candy to everybody. She finished with me, and I got the whole box; take all she said. Of course I didn’t take all, but she was joking a bit. Nice touch, since we were really on a not so casual route, mostly used by businessmen.
Approach was over Berlin city. Really stunning sights. Loads of snow in the city. And strong winds too, meaning very rough air to fly in with the small Dornier. We encountered quite a few heavy bumps which was a nice extra. Landing was smooth though, runway 26R used.
Parking was on a remote position, which was not really well cleared from snow. A wet and blurry remains of snow was on the ground, and I had to walk through it to get in the bus. This is not the way to do it; Berliner airport management should take action in such cases, since it’s not customer friendly.
Arrival was well ahead of schedule, so overall a very good performance by Cirrus Airlines.
At TXL, too much time to kill. And since the airport is not very nice to be around for a long time, a closed observation deck (closed at 4.00pm), I made the choice to take a bus to Berlin Hbf, main train station. It’s a very new station, and has a lot of shops and food courts. Since I like trains also, it was a good opportunity to see this station in more detail (I was here before in late 2008 with Flieger67 & BA319-131, but just transferring from THF to TXL).
I didn’t stay long on the tracks watching the trains. Temperatures were about –8°C, and the wind was strong. It felt much colder. So it was good to finish at a table in a fish-restaurant inside the shopping centre, where I got a good meal for a good price.
Back to the airport just after 7.00pm by TXL-bus. Check-in for my last flight to home opens 2 hours before departure. After arrival some time left, and I noticed a X3 (TUIfly) flight to RTM, not common at all. I went to the gate to check it out, and by surprise found an acquaintance of me handling that flight, which was a charter. I inquired if I would be able to join on that flight to RTM, but it was not possible. So I really had to make my way back to the counters at gate A07, for my transavia.com flight to AMS.
Check-in opened 20 minutes late, at 8.00pm , and I was first to check-in. Last row window, left side. To make sure a window seat on the B737-700 operating on that flight (beware, HV B737-700 last row right side has not a window).
After checking in, I went upstairs for another visit to Starbucks and my evening coffee. I too my magazines to relax a bit. At 9.00pm I went back to the gate, and passed security. Had some words with the security officer who thought to be the most interesting person on earth. He didn’t speak English apparently. Good for him that I speak a few words German, so that discussion was ended quickly by me.
The gate seating is never sufficient at TXL. And it seemed to be a busy flight tonight. Boarding started at 9.28pm, 12 minutes before departure time. I wonder…, and we were just not making it.
Good for me, seats B & C remained unused, so I was assured for enough space on this flight, which had a load just over 80%. Safety demo was on the drop-down screens, and meanwhile also our pushback was done.
Flight No.: HV 6876 Date: 03FEB’10
STD: 2140 ATD: 2144
STA: 2300 ATA: 2311
A/C: Boeing 737-700 Reg No.: PH-XRV
Seat: 24A – Economy Class
Photo © V. Javier Del Olmo Gomez
A new log for me on this flight, which was good since the day before still PH-XRA was scheduled to operate the TXL run that night. Since I had XRA many times before, the confirmation of XRV was a good score.
Legroom is poor, seating in cloth, limegreen coloursetting in the cabin. Friendly young crew, but cabin a bit dirty and not cleaned. The cabin was a bit of a mess, apparently crew didn’t care for the last flight that day.
Cockpit crew announced a flighttime of 1:10 hours, de-icing was not needed, and we would arrive delayed due to runway use at AMS. I knew enough, that would a runway 18R landing…
Since this HV flight was the last takeoff from TXL that day, we had no delays, and a rolling takeoff was performed on runway 26L. We were in the air quickly, and darkness was all around.
Enroute calm conditions, buy-on-board service from the menu was possible. I declined, and listened to my MP3’s for the duration of the flight. No pictures for you, since it was not too special.
Landing was on runway 18R indeed, followed by a 20 minute taxiing to the arrival gate, D43. Quite a bit of walk to arrivals hall also, when I deplaned. After taking the bus for the final leg, I arrived back home at midnight. Mission Dornier 328 accomplished.
For those who want to read/see a bit more on HV/Transavia, please refer to my previous report which features a GVA-RTM run on PH-XRA, another B737-700.
FlyBaboo & The Q400: From The City To GVA + 2 More (by Airbuseric Jan 31 2010 in Trip Reports)
I hope you enjoyed this report also, and your feedback or comments are really appreciated! Thank you for reading. When time permits, next report is due soon. My next 4 flights are on March 8, 2010 bringing me to Italy!