Soon after bringing my previous report online here Air Dolomiti & The Embraer 195 Visiting BLQ (by Airbuseric May 11 2010 in Trip Reports) it is time to present you the next travels completed lately.
My last flight on the beloved Boeing 757 was in August 2002, back then operated by Transavia Airlines and even the ‘famous’ PH-TKC that once went off the runway at AMS after experiencing crosswinds. I was not on that unlucky flight though, but it was the same frame. Before my flight, I once had the pleasure to fly ACE-AMS on the jumpseat in the cockpit, also on PH-TKC. The B757 is a great aircraft. Time to score one again!
Booking were completed a few months in advance, using several booking engines to get hands on the best fares. Also I agreed with fellow reporter OA260 to meet up along the road and have a few champers before taking the ride of the day.
Wednesday May 12, 2010
My alarm clock went off at 04:25, way too early after just completing 4 hours of sleep that night. But with no choice, I got up on the rainy morning and dressed up quickly. I made a few sandwiches to take with me and, just in case I would arrive delayed in the late night for some reason (volcanic ashes?), I decided to take my car to the airport which is a 10 minute drive away for me. And it was so bad on the roads with the heavy rain and start of the morning rush already that early. Anyway, I made it rather quickly (small car, young driver), and stored my car on the airport parking I can use.
I arrived in the terminal building about 75 minutes before my flight. Check in was done the day before, but nevertheless I wanted a real boardingpass, so went to check-in counters at row 21 to reprint mine at the selfservice kiosk. This succeeded and I went through passport control. No security check yet, since I was going to the UK first.
Now I was in departure lounge 3, used by the intercontinental flights also, and always generating a nice mix of people and cultures. Shops were open, and I checked some prices, bought a little Dutch snack for OA260 (to fill up my bag, lucky him!), and walked to the D-gates. My gate was D16 on this flight, quite a bit of walk actually, but I even managed to save time somehow, and went to the nearby new Starbucks located at the split of the D-concourse. It was quiet there, so I got a brewed coffee and enjoyed the view on the wet apron. Oh yes, the own-made sandwiches went nicely with the coffee.
Pre-boarding was in progress for some time already, but the D-gates have a limited waiting area after the security check, so I decided to go just before actual boarding would start. So I did, and after snapping a picture of my plane, I was called for boarding.
Boarding was by row-numbers, of course Gold members and Business Class were able to board at their conveniences. It was 6.55am now, 25 minutes prior departure time.
Boarding finished a quarter past 7, nice on time. I was in the last row, middle seat remained empty, were the aisles seats on both rows were taken by Dutch BA-crew in uniform, deadheading to LHR before their duty started.
Flight No.: BA 423 Date: 12MAY’10
STD: 0720 ATD: 0719
STA: 0735 ATA: 0749
A/C: Airbus A320-200 Reg No.: G-EUUK
Photo © Fredrik Granberg
A new registration for me, which is good for my logbook. But the 23rd time on the A320 already (not counted rides on A319/321 btw).
Load on this flight: about 95%
Classical music was playing during boarding and before block-out, until the captain came on the speakers with a friendly welcome. This was followed by the safety demo, on dropdown screens from the ceiling. Crew was in the aisle to watch the cabin during this video. Meanwhile we left the gate ahead of schedule, but taxitime would be long and create a delay on this flight.
As one can expect now, we taxied to runway 36L, yes that’s the ‘Polderbaan’, and had several other departures in front of us or using intersections to pass.
We were airborne 24 minutes later since we left the gate, still raining in AMS.
A few minutes later, already over the Northsea, clouds were open and there was no rain at all anymore below us. Weather on the sea would’ve been good that day. The flight was calm and enjoyable, even more because the 2 BA crewmembers were chatting in my language and openly about the current BA situation, how the managers treat them, and how they behave towards the company. Interesting to hear also some words on BA’s –apparently very bad- First Class product on the B777s, re-configuration planned for the B767 with BA (?), and much more.
It was 10 minutes before landing when I got my Sandwich (smoked salmon/cream cheese), my coffee and juice. The milk in the cup was completely frozen (!), so I had to ask the crew for fresh milk. They gave me right away. The crew was very friendly though. No complaints at all, only that delivery of the ‘meal’ was very last minute and I had to hurry to finish it. The captain was informing us meanwhile about no delays on approach, so a straight in for landing in Easterly direction.
Unsurprisingly we landed on runway 09L, which is exactly pointing East of course, and strongly braked to vacate the runway quickly. No wonder, with a BA 777 on very short finals behind us. I love LHR traffic!
We used terminal 5A (spot 515) for arrival, but had to hold short for some 5 minutes since the gate was occupied by a company A321. The captain came on the speakers another time. He apologised for the inconvenience. Also, he gave OK to make phonecalls during this stay, he joked ‘we made it already to the ground, so I can’t harm us anymore’, and he joked that it would be time to finish the work on T5-C. Nice words, good job!
My transfer was hassle free. Just down the escalator to take a bus to get myself to another terminal (T3 in this case). I had to take the second bus, and had some time to use the very modern lavatories in T5. Good job BAA! How long before you finish T1-3 and 4 reconstruction works?
The transfer bus was packed, but I managed to grab a single seat in front. LHR bustours always allow to see some nice traffic, for me including the SQ A380 preparing another trip from T3.
And after arriving in T3, the necessary security check again. A group of Brits behind me. Speaking loudly, dirty jokes, very bad smelling and used quite a bit of alcohol already in the morning. Exactly my view on this kind of Brits. Kind of stereotype I guess…
It took about 15 minutes to pass the check, but in general went fine and in a friendly way.
A quick visit to BA Customer Service to get also my boarding pass reprinted for a real one here. No problem at all and friendly service also here.
I had a bit of time to spend for waiting, and apparently also some money to spend at HMV. Looked around at Dixons and then took my seat near the Harrods shop, where I read my ebook for about an hour. Meanwhile OA260 texted me that also he was on the way.
After quite a while OA260 showed up. We had a quick talk and decided to go to the BA First Galleries in T3. There we spend a few hours, enjoying some drinks. Also, when we arrived, we were just in time to order a breakfast menu (until noon), and also later, we got a 3-course ‘dinner’ in the dining room. The pictures will show the lounge to you:
Nice design isn’t it? Do you see what I mean? It’s Concorde!
At 2:40pm, “gate open” was announced on the screens. For your info, BA does not make calls for boarding in the lounge, so beware yourself. Don’t drink to much wine, otherwise you might not notice you flight leaving. On the other hand, some more time spending in that lounge wouldn’t bother me neither.
We checked the walking time to gate 24A, apparently a bus-gate, and the staff told us 10 minutes. In the end -including a photostop for OA260 checking out the new MS B77W-, lasted only 5 minutes until we were at gates 24. Busgates indeed. And we would not make it to the first bus, but got ourselves on the second one leaving to the apron.
Since quite a lot of people got re-seating (due to an aircraft change), we worried about our seats, but it turned out to be fine for us with no changes. Aircraft changed from A320 to B757 according the staff. Strange, we thought. Ever since we booked the flight, it was listed as B757-equipment. The reason for us to fly on this leg!
The bus was economy-less style. Overcrowded. The Indian driver maybe thought he drove the bus at Calcutta or Mumbai Airport. Come on, we are in Europe, and the next bus was standing by already. Some more space would’ve been nice. But on the other side, the ride only took 2 minutes maybe. Not too bad in the end.
Life became even better when the beautiful Boeing 757-200 was waiting for us on stands 186. Boarding via a single stairs, via ‘L2’ door, just in front of the wing.
Flight No.: BA 480 Date: 12MAY’10
STD: 1525 ATD: 1537
STA: 1830 ATA: 1853
A/C: Boeing 757-200 Reg No.: G-CPES
Photo © Rodrigo Carvalho
Boarding finished on time. After we got on the plane, a few more buses came bringing more passengers, but I was happy to be in the last row, middle seat remained empty. The aisle seat occupied by a very friendly Asian lady. OA260 was on the other side and one more row forward, also he had good (older) company in his row, and a vacant middle seat. Other rows were mostly completely occupied, so I guess the load was nearly full on this service.
The safety demo was done manually, since these 757’s have not the modern equipment on board as we found earlier that day on the A320. And after this was completed, the captain came on the speaker mentioning about a short start-up delay by ATC, since many other aircrafts were queuing up for the departure runway, and for environmental reasons it would be better to stay on stand for a while then running the engines for nothing, he said. A very fair and understandable statement I would say. Good to hear the crew sharing this info with the passengers.
With 12 minutes delay on block-out (officially still ‘on time’), we left the stand and taxied around at LHR to departure runway 09R. Lot’s of traffic. QR, PK in 2 different colours (old and new), BG (with A310, not B777?). It’s always a pleasure to see the nice variety of airlines.
We followed another BA 757 to the runway, a BD A319 came in between via an intersection departure, and then it was our time to go. And I experienced what I wanted, the very powerful RollsRoyce engine spooling up on the mighty 757. A bit shaky on the runway maybe, but no problems at all. A steep climb brought us in the air at 4.07pm, bound for, hopefully sunny, Spain.
Clouds over the London area resulted in a bit of shakers until we reached above the cloud tops. It’s always sunny up there, that’s what I like.
With no route information at all on this flight, I still managed to find out our route came over Le Havre (on the picture a town North of it, Fécamp) and the impressive coastline of France. The rest of France was cloudy again.
Service on this flight was a sweet or savoury snack, and a drink. I ordered a coke, it came with ice. And later on, I got myself another can. No problems at all for the crew, delivered to me in a friendly way. The remainder on the flight I read a bit more, and made a few pics.
Approach to BCN runway 07L was rather interesting, since a thunderstorm was around. We detoured for about 20 miles to get around of the showers, giving me some nice photo opportunities. Also approach was slightly rough air, which is expected with this kind of weather of course.
Landing was at 6.46pm local BCN time, with a block-in at the new terminal 1. I don’t know the gate, but parking spot was 210. The crew was nice enough to let me into the cockpit for a minute, a quick chat with the copilot about the plane and the approach, and our jobs. Until the cleaning came in, and I had to leave. Anyway, thanks BA for the great flight!
After we were in the terminal, we enjoyed it’s architecture a lot. It’s an impressive building to say at least, especially the check-in area on departure level. Very airy and bright. The automatic immigration/arrival procedure is not working fine yet though, but at least those Spanish officers are friendly and very helpful to me. We had a joke about it. I promised them to try again next time.
Our next and last flights that day would leave from the old, terminal 2. That means, a ride on the shuttle-bus running between the terminals. It takes about 15 minutes to transfer. Once in the old terminal, we were disappointed. Once a beautiful living terminal, with lots of shops (in the secure area at least), now it was deserted:
OA260 got his boarding pass at the quiet EI counters, while I had to queue at 2 busy lines for HV, counters 6 & 7. It’s always nice to see minor mistakes made, as we had 2 desks, with both another HV signage. One current sign, and the other used the previous livery sign.
Before I forget to mention, HV does not offer online check-in from BCN, but seat selection is available for about EUR 7,50 for any regular seat, up to (I think) 20 Euro for a bulkhead or exit-row. I think there is no need to do so on the nightflight in dark, as long as I don’t end up in the middle.
But, todays flight was going full apparently. With rebooked passengers originating from airports like ALC in the South of Spain which were previously affected by the closure of volcanic ash, I think. I saw quite some rebooking-forms in the hands of other people. Nevertheless, I asked for a window in the back, I actually asked for the exact last row, but that row didn’t excist according the lady at the desk. So, I asked ‘any’ last row on the left side, but she had no last row. Anyway, we didn’t understand eachother (I should really start learning Spanish someday, I actually like the language a lot), but I asked her the best A-seat available. She showed me the screen, and I took 16A. It’s not good anyway on HV. Legroom is poor as always, especially noticeable on full flights.
So with my boarding pass in the hands we went up to security and the shops (which we hardly found, most of them are gone to the new terminal now). On the way there a few more snapshots of course. Security was a breeze for me, where OA260 got his ‘private’ lane for a second time. I guess he got some attention of these Spanish officers. Or was it just his notebook?
Not much later, my Boeing 737-700 came in from AMS. Unfortunately an example I flew on numerous times before. Where some other registrations never seem to come on my path. And also the leased Enerjet/Transavia PH-OEJ was becoming difficult since it operates mostly out of RTM only.
It’s my bad luck. OA260 had to wait a bit longer, so we said goodbye and thanked eachother for the nice day and successful trip, and I boarded at gate 42. Too late actually, because groundstaff started too late with the boarding. This was also mentioned by the crew on the intercom. Delay due slow ground handling service they said.
My seat was tight. A mother and her daughter came next to me filling up the row, and they told me immediately to be a bit scared of flying. So I offered the daughter my window seat, I took the aisle seat instead.
Boarding finished late, hence the delay on departure. Loadfactor let’s say 99%.
Flight No.: HV 5134 Date: 12MAY’10
STD: 2135 ATD: 2147
STA: 2355 ATA: 2355
A/C: Boeing 737-700(WL) Reg No.: PH-XRA
Photo © Stefan Sonnenberg
My 3rd time on this particular machine, last time flown in January 2010 and reported here also. And I’m > 100 Boeing 737 flights, didn’t check the exact amount this time.
Safety demo on the dropdown screens here, in Dutch, with English subtitles. On one of the most modern aircrafts in the world. Always nice to know, when we just knew about the brandnew A330-200 that crashed with also 70 Dutch citizens on board. That A330 was more modern at most if not all points, but crashed anyway. Good for my seatmates, they didn’t know about this yet
The takeoff was from runway 07R, with a few short views on the city of Barcelona, before flying through clouds. No views at all for the remaining flighttime to AMS.
HV does not offer free service on board. Everything is on sale, headphones for 3 Euro, taxfree stuff, magazines, puzzle books and sudoku games, instant soup and various sandwiches or even a pasta meal. I went for the coca cola for EUR 2,50 and asked some ice which was free of charge. Lucky me. BA was my food supplier with some Scottish cake, which went well at late evening. And all the time, a good talk with my neighbours.
Approach to AMS was the nighttime ‘Soksi’ approach followed by the ILS on runway 06. With lot’s of special altitude and speed restrictions as noise abatement procedure. But no views at all until we were 1 minute from touchdown. Quite a low ceiling and cloud base here tonight. Landing was smooth, and the crew welcomed us back home. Always nice to fly on a Dutch carrier when arriving ‘home’.
And to finalize the flight, the standard no staff available for docking in the aircraft, and no bridge operator. We waited 5 minutes on the taxiway until KLM was providing staff to handle our flight. Arrival gate D55 was ours, resulting in a long walk to the arrivals hall and exit of the building. Still, despite the delay on departure, we made it ontime in AMS. Ash clouds permitting, not for OA260 and me that day. We had a great day and good flights!
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed my report. No pics for the HV flight. It was dark anyway, and HV is not too special to report. Please refer to my previous report FlyBaboo & The Q400: From The City To GVA + 2 More (by Airbuseric Jan 31 2010 in Trip Reports) for more info on HV and a cabin picture of PH-XRA.
Your comments and other replies are always welcome and appreciated. Thanks again!
Next report due in second half of June…
Last Flight On The BA Boeing 757/BA F Class Lounge (by OA260 May 15 2010 in Trip Reports)