Dear fellow A.netters,
My partner was flying to Austria for a business trip in March. This would have not been anything special until I found out that he would fly back from Munich to Amsterdam with one of the recently acquired Lufthansa’s Embraer 195 jets! Oh my god, I was dying to be able to get onboard of those birds and my partner got booked with it just like that! So, I went all the way on the internet looking for the best possible price involving my partner’s return flight from MUC.
Unfortunately, I did not manage to find any suitable routing. I had even nearly got ripped off when I in my enthusiasm made a booking involving the LH Embraer flight and ended up paying for more than 500 Euro’s in Y! Luckily I still managed to cancel the whole booking without penalties. I could better have controlled myself!
Eventually I just had to make a kind of compromise. Perhaps by booking a cheaper option with arrival time in AMS around my partner’s. Then I came across a Vueling flight with arrival from Barcelona at exactly the same ETA.
But why Barcelona? Well, the Spanish delicacies I brought along from Madrid had ran out too soon and I regretted it. Therefore I just had to go back and return home with a more considerable amount. But somehow I was not to keen on flying back to MAD within such a short time. I searched beyond to other cities in Spain and came out with BCN. I have been there in 2004 for a long weekend trip.
Booking with Vueling has eventually turned out to be a wise decision. I will tell you more about that.
My first time flying Vueling had been almost three years ago. I still could remember how VY booking engine was ahead of the time, crisp and easy to navigate. Though the VY website features like flight changes, seat pre-assignment or invoice inquiry have become more and more common nowadays, there are some added features I had not yet experienced before.
For instance, I could book a so called XL seat online instead of buying at the airport ticket counter. These XL seats are really a necessity for tall people. I could recall my first VY flight to Valencia where I were unpleasantly squeezed in at a regular seat for more than two hours and at the end disembarking with stiff legs. The XL seats are available at an additional price of 13 Euro’s each leg and I must say, it was well worth it. A booking confirmation was delivered soon after my credit card was verified.
Even after three years, I still noticed the VY Customer Service has been equally reliable. Each inquiry of mine were responded and handled adequately at least on the following day. Good job, VY!
One of the striking features was that I could subsequently check in online for both AMS-BCN and BCN-AMS upon the booking confirmation. I gratefully made a use of it and my boarding passes were issued immediately. Impressive!
Outbound and inbound boarding passes
Another feature was every time I consulted my booking, a confirmation would follow up even if not a single detail had been altered.
My trip to BCN would certainly be a nice opportunity to meet fellow A.netter Roger (aka Rogerbcn) and therefore I got in touch with him. I was pleased to hear that Roger would be happy to keep me a company. He then asked which places I might be interested to so that he could arrange a touristic route accordingly. How about that? I also told him about my plan to buy bocados. This word was supposed to express ‘delicacy’ in Spanish according to my Dutch-Spanish dictionary. I could see a smile at Roger’s face in my imagination as he replied that Spanish people do not use this expression. Darn, sometimes you just cannot simply rely on a translation! But since that, Roger referred every time to bocados. So I have decided to use the term further in this report.
Hotel L’Antic Espai Barcelona
Even I would be staying only for a single night in Barcelona, I wished to have a good night sleep. Therefore I consulted TripAdvisor for a suitable hotel and got attracted to Hostal L’Antic Espai.
When I checked directly with the hotel website, I found a discounted price at 52 Euro’s and immediately jumped at it. Their online booking engine was simply amazing. In the matter of seconds, I got the booking confirmation along with my user ID and password for my next visit.
After I told Roger where I would be staying, he went out to check the location by himself and told me that my hotel is well centrally located. He proposed a meeting at Casa Milà and afterwards going out shopping together. That was such a great idea and I agreed immediately. Before I knew, another exciting A.net meeting had been arranged!
The evening before departure, I had to attend a company farewell dining. As I would expect that this event would be running late, I decided to book a room with citizenM schiphol. I had got the best rate of all airport accessible hotels at 84 Euro’s. Considering Sheraton or Hilton nearby would have not charged less than 200 Euro’s, this citizenM was really a bargain.
The online booking was a swift and I could have my room and personal theme preset. It is very interesting, especially for the personal theme you will get a choice within the subthemes of temperature, color, sun screen position, music and language (no Dutch though!). The booking confirmation was delivered promptly to my mailbox. In the morning of my arrival day, I got a message on my mobile containing the reservation details in short. Impressive!
I got dropped off by my colleague at Schiphol and made my way to the hotel.
Schiphol by night
HOTEL CITIZENM SCHIPHOL AIRPORT
As far as I know, this is the first hotel who offers fully self-service check in facility to its guests. Just like at the airport’s self-service check in machine, there is an attendant (so called ambassador) around to help you out if needed. But it would not be that necessary as the touch screen would point your way out. A choice of two rooms would be offered. In my case, I could choose between a room on the first floor and a room on the fifth facing the apron. Not a difficult one!
Upon checking in, you just have to hold the key card in front of the scanner, a receipt would be printed out and you may proceed to your room. By the way, you may keep your key card for your next visit or just as a luggage tag. Unfortunately, I have lost mine somewhere at the airport.
Rather narrow corridor
Shower with mood lighting
Open toilet with mood lighting
Bedside table with the Citizen mascot on the mini couch
Welcome greeting on the touch screen equipped remote control
Window view before bedtime
Window view after bedtime
After trying the rain shower, I prepared myself for the journey and made my way to the terminal building at half past eight. You could have your breakfast at the hotel, but I decided to take a pick out of the restaurants past security.
Food and beverage corner
Sitting corner just on the opposite
It was just a short walk to Schiphol Plaza.
Some shots of Schiphol Plaza
I went upstairs towards the check-in area of Terminal 1.
Vueling check in line
I was number seven in sequence. There were two desks being opened at that time. The line was moving pretty quick. I got attended in about ten minutes.
Check in screen
The check-in lady printed out a new boarding pass and handed it over while saying, “The home printed boarding pass does not work sometimes at the gate, so let me give you this one.”
I asked her whether my flight were fully booked and she nodded. “It surprises me,” she said.
While leaving the check-in desk, I heard the colleague of my check-in lady saying, “We are still missing fifty people right now. We shall see that all of them will appear together at the same time!”
Additional boarding pass
The security was a breeze. Within less than ten minutes, I proceeded to the passenger area.
Lounge 1 overview
I went upstairs to the food court and bought myself English breakfast.
Window view from the food court
After finishing my breakfast, I made my way to B pier.
Bar at the conjunction of B and C piers
Date: 11 March 2010
ETD/ATD: 09.45 / 10.00
ETA/ATA: 11.55 / 12.00
Flight number: VY 8301
Plane: Airbus 320-216
Registration: EC-KCU, named “My name is Ling, Vue Ling”
Delivered: First delivered 26 April 2007 to Clickair as EC-KCU
In charge: Captain Fernando Varete
Photo © Inal Khaev - RuSpotters Team
Photo © Georgiy Shvetsov - RuSpotters Team
At 09.10, my plane were docked at the gate.
My name is Ling, Vue Ling
At 09.14, the first boarding call was made to passengers holding seats from row 25 until 31. The remaining passengers were requested to remain seated.
Line of passengers seemingly assigned in row 25 until 31
Ten minutes later, the passengers sitting from row 20 were allowed to go on board. From row 15 were called five minutes later. My turn came after another five minutes.
Sara greeted me at the door and upon scrutinizing my boarding pass, she told me, “Your hand luggage has to be stowed in the overhead locker as you are sitting on the emergency exit row.”
Inside the cabin
When I shot the cabin photo, Sara blew the whistle on me, “Sir, it is not permitted to take pictures inside!”
Her remark had set the tone of the entire flight and unleashed something inside me.
Putting Sara’s remark aside, the VY cabin attendants were ready to help and assist passengers stowing their luggage.
Another cabin attendant, Manuela came to my row and went over the security measurements before performing safety demonstrations.
When we left the gate, I was starting to jot down the registrations which came into my sight at the B pier because of the prohibition. You know what? It was killing me!
Photo © Jan Vet
Photo © Gerry Stegmeier
Photo © Joost de Wit
By that time, I decided that I did not want to miss valuable window views anymore and had to take pictures somehow when there were no attendants watching.
When we made our way to Zwanenburgbaan, all of the attendants got seated and I did not wait any longer to grab my chances as we accelerated down the runway at 10.10.
Taking off shots on discretion
My XL Seat shots on discretion
When the fasten seat belt signed were switched off, I stood up for an obligatory lavatory visit.
When I came out, the buy on board service were already on the way. Sara and Manuela were in charge of the front half of the cabin while Tania and Olga the remaining half. They were blocking the aisle and I could impossibly return to my seat without jumping over Tania and Olga. So I remained standing in front of the aft lavatory at least for twenty minutes. Sara did notice me waiting and made an apologetic gesture. Even after Tania and Olga had finished their duty, I still could not get through with Sara and Manuela at the aisle.
Unexpectedly, Olga poured me a glass of mineral water for free as a compensation of the inconvenience I was experiencing. I was pretty thirsty at that time and gladly accepted her offer. When I finished, Olga topped my glass up. Well, what do you know? I was impressed! After the second round, Olga did not hesitate pouring the third round. By that time, Sara and Manuela were joining us at the back.
“I am so sorry for the inconvenience. I just hope we did not make you waiting too long,” Sara said.
“That is fine. I am well taken care of here,” I replied and while hoping Sara getting milder after this occasion, I proceeded to ask whether it was allowed to take pictures through the window.
To my disappointment, Sara replied, “Due to safety regulations, it is still not permitted. I am so sorry for that,”
I just said OK and thought by myself while returning to my seat, “Well, in that case…”
Ten minutes later, the rubbish were collected. I must say, I did feel pretty uneasy with the attendants going up and down the galley at that time.
Cabin view on discretion
Window view on discretion
About one and a half our into the flight, Olga appeared through the cabin to collect the last rubbish. Five minutes later, the descent were commenced. We were engulfed by the thick clouds. The cabin were prepared for landing.
Landing view on discretion
We safely landed at 07L/25R runway of BCN and turned left towards the new built Terminal 1.
Tarmac view on discretion
All I wanted was the freedom of taking pictures, so I said goodbye to Sara at the door and made quickly my way to the aerobridge.
View from aerobridge
Last glimpse of EC-KCU
I was quite excited as I entered Terminal 1 and could not help taking pictures.
I proceeded to the baggage claim area to collect my empty suitcase ready to get stuffed with bocados.
HOSTAL L’ANTIC ESPAI
My hostel is located just six minutes walk from the last bus stop of dedicated airport bus line (so called Aerobus) from Terminal 1.
Street view nearby the hostel
Upon arrival, I were greeted by a friendly lady who turned out to be the jack of all trades that early afternoon. She showed my assigned room 106 and told that Sergio, the proprietor, would be arriving at four o’clock.
My room 106
Inside the cupboard
The mini terrace accessible from room 106
The sitting area
The breakfast setting in the sitting area
During breakfast I got a delightful company of a couple from New York, Barbara and Gary. Interestingly, they had made the booking upon recommendation on TripAdvisor as well.
Plaça de Catalunya
Roger and I were supposed to meet up at Casa Milà but due to some circumstances, we got eventually together at seven o’clock. Roger picked me up at the hotel. More on that after I show you some impressions of Casa Milà (or La Pedrera)
TO BE CONTINUED
[Edited 2010-03-13 14:04:54]