I was asked to edit my last trip report, and to put all the non-aviation parts of it in the non-aviation forum. I feel that I have failed to understand the political sensitivity and emotions about Cypriot cinflict. I apologize if anyone was offended from the previous TR, it was not my intention. I want to mention that I tried to be fair and balanced and not take side in the conflict. For all those who lost thier reply - I'm sorry, but there was nothing I could do. You are all welcome to reply again. Anyway, all the non-aviation part of this Trip Report is right here: Photographed Trip Report To Northern Cyprus (by EL-AL Jun 3 2010 in Non Aviation)
(I will add another link at the right place after the flrst flight)
I won a round trip flight to Cyprus for $1 US, what combined perfectly with my desire to visit Northern Cyprus. Welcome to my 7th Trip report.
As a political science student, I have long wanted to visit Northern Cyprus. I thought about going to a place that was isolated from the world for 30 years, in combination with the well known Turkish hospitality got me to search for options to visit the nearby Island, before all the tourists discover it and make it a over-developed magnet for tourists with bars and hotels that all look the same, like in the south. The opening of the border between both countries in 2004 is causing a fast development of the TRNC (GDP grew up 5 times since 2004), thus I didn’t have much time. I planned to go there around October, but Arkia were ahead of me:
On Thursday, May 6th, I was getting ready to go to the gym with the TV open in the background, then I saw on pre-time news show (מה קורה) that arkia open the summer season with special sale: 260 tickets to Larnaca (Republic of Cyprus) will be sold for 1 USD for the first 260 persons that will answer 2 questions correctly at arkia’s website, starting at Sunday at 18:00. During the weekend, there wasn’t another mention of the sale anywhere in the media, except for 1 economy newspaper website.
On Sunday, I called Arkia asking if the sale is still on, and I was told that yes, and it will start at 15:00. On 1500 I got online to www.arkia.co.il but there was no mention of the sale. I called them again (10 minutes waiting…) then I was told that it will start ‘sometime this afternoon’. Only at 18:45 I managed to see it online and till 19:00 I answered both questions and gave my name and my e-mail, so as other names and e-mails (family, friends…) to increase the chance of winning. Also called some friends who I thought may be interested. Since when I was done it was already 19:00, and only 260 tickets were on sale, I thought that I have no chance to win, it was on TV after all, and I forgot from it.
Arkia’s webpage about the sale:
Arkia’s PR were doing pretty bad job: no one I talked with know about this sale, and even on the same Sunday there was no mention of it on Arkia’s regular advertisements. On Wednesday, no less then 4 days after the sale started, I saw ad for it on Israel Hayom (Israel’s 2nd popular newspaper) then I understood that they don’t have 260 winners yet, and that I can start packing. TRNC – here I come!
The next Sunday I got an e-mail from arkia to both e-mails I used that I won the option to buy TLV-LCA-TLV tickets for 1 USD. I sent SMS to a good friend of mein, Anat, writing her something like this: "I won 2 flight tickets to Cyprus for this weekend. Google “North Cyprus”, if you are interested – let’s go”. 5 minutes later I got an answer “we’re going” (הולכים), then I faxed arkia the 2 forms they sent me, called the reservation center and got us the cheapest full fare plane ticket ever.
I got to the airport at 17:45 (SDT:19:20) to find a completely empty airport. On Friday night, El Al is not flying, and there are only the transatlantic night takeoffs (after 23:30) and the afternoon Europe takeoffs (which end at 17:30) so between those hours, on Friday evening TLV is empty.
Empty drop off area:
From the departure drop-off road, El Al jets getting ready for the Shabbat rest on D wing:
I passed security with no one but me in line, and then went to the check in desk with, again, no one but me in line. Empty check in hall:
At the check in counter I asked how full the flight is, expecting that due to the "flight for a dollar" sale the flight we be 100% full, but not – I was told that the flight has just 30 passengers! I had a small talk with the check in agent, told her that if I was Arkia's CEO I would fire public relations section – no one know about this sale!
After check in (I asked for a flight on the right side of the plane with a window and got 25F, I was told that I can move after takeoff anywhere I want) I went, via Shakim hall, to the passport control area. Coffee with a view at Shakim hall:
At passport control I found myself alone in line, again. After passport control, heading for the gates:
Empty airport all over. Empty duty free:
Empty B wing:
Empty C wing:
Empty D wing:
2 American B772s that will cross the Atlantic later tonight:
El Al land:
End of B wing:
My ride for today – E195 4X-EMA, my second ride on this plane this week:
We heard the boarding call, and on our way from B wing to C02 gate we already heard the last call, meaning that boarding took something like 5 minutes. We pushback 22 minute before scheduled time and landed 25 minutes ahead of scheduled.
Airline: Arkia Israeli Airlines
Airplane: Embraer E195 4X-EMA (built 2008).
Route: Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Israel -> Larnaca International Republic of Cyprus.
Gates: C02 (T3) -> 68
Runways: 30 -> 22
Seat: 25F -> 5F
Full stop: 19:50
Airborne time: 39 minutes.
Gate to Gate time: 52 minutes (scheduled 55 minutes)
I was greeted by the FA and got to me seat, I was the only one in my row with Anat one row ahead. Legroom:
El Al B757 & CO B777:
Taxi view – east wing:
Biz jets area:
We took off from RWY 30 and airborned after no more then 500 meters on the RWY. Airborne:
Last rays of sun over Tel Aviv after takeoff:
Crossing the coast line heading north-west:
View backwards, to TLV airport:
After Takeoff, I moved to seat 5F to get a better view of the wing:
Cabin view from 5F. Load factor, just 30/122 (24.5%):
Modern overhead panel:
What is this?
Heading to Cyprus:
We were given a muffin and mineral water. This flight is so short, what when the pilot addressed the passengers we were already during decending…First view of Cyprus:
Evening falls on Larnaca:
Descending is done from the southwest, flying northeast, then making a 180 left turn over the sea, and descending to RWY 22 along the city coast line:
We landed on RWY 22 and taxied to gate 48, the last one in the new LCA terminal, opened last year. Baggage Claim hall:
All the non-aviation parts of the trip, with photos, is right here: Photographed Trip Report To Northern Cyprus (by EL-AL Jun 3 2010 in Non Aviation)
Mandatory stop at Ercan Airport – the air gateway to the TRNC. External view:
Inside the terminal – xray inspection for everyone, like in Turkey:
FIDS – all destenations are in Turkey, or via Turkey, because the international isolation of the TRNC doesn’t allow to any airline to fly direct to ECN, excluding airlines from Turkey:
[Edited 2010-06-03 15:38:56]