Just a general note before we start: I only have my trusty Canon compact camera, so please excuse the quality of the pictures. I can only wonder how some of you guys manage to take your great pictures…. And how you guys always manage to get the clean windows to take pictures through! .
With the Pentecost holiday on the horizon, my girlfriend and I decided it was time to plan our „big“ vacation for 2010. We really did not know where to go and started surfing the web.
You might think I go to expedia and the like, nooo: Google Maps!
Since I am terribly uncreative, I usually just browse the globe to find an interesting place to go to.
This time it was particularly hard, having been fortunate enough to have visited a lot of different places before. A very good friend of mine lent a helping hand: “Why don’t you go to La Réunion?” he asked. That was a great idea, as we were in the Caribbean last year and in Asia the year before. So now it’s straight down the middle (well almost), looking from my home .
I though it would be a great idea to also go to Mauritius while we are in the neighborhood.
We found suitable Hotels online and I was thinking about the most important part, the flight.
I wasn’t really successful, so I decided to go to a travel agent and have him do the searching. Apparently they had some sort of template for this exact holiday-combination, because they produced a roundtrip covering both islands from Germany in no time.
I already laid to rest any hopes of finding any *A-flights to the islands. This is my 2nd holiday without being able to collect *A-miles. Oh well, I thought, BUT: I will be able to have three firsts in (almost) one sitting: 1st time on AF, 1st time on UU, 1st time on MK!
Yes indeed, I have never flown on AF. I usually fly *A (because of miles) and have a couple of others under my belt as well, too.
FRA-CDG, ORY-RUN, RUN-MRU, MRU-CDG-FRA
After having booked the vacation, I immediately asked the travel agent for the airline booking codes. Apparently this was an unusual question, as I had to explain what I meant.
The agent was also very insecure regarding our golf luggage. So I tried to explain to them what was stated on the AF website, but they still asked me to provide the measurements and weight of the bags, so they could relay the info to AF….
I tried to reserve seats using the AF booking code on the AF website, which failed miserably. I was always told to come back later, because of “technical problems”. So I called them up and reserved the seats on the two long haul legs of the flight along with a special meal for MrsStrange. A few days before the our departure, the travel agent called me up and informed me that AF had changed their schedules and my return flight from Mauritius was no longer available.
That was refreshing, I thought, and asked for suggestions. They said I could go on Thursday instead of Saturday (effectively cutting my vacation short by 3 days) or Sunday. Sunday was not an option as the return flight was also a red-eye and we needed to be at work on Monday. So I asked them to change my booking to the MK(which was an AF codeshare) flight on Saturday.
I had to call AF again an change the seating and order a special meal. Luckily I got the last available twosome in the A343.
Finally departure day arrived and off we went with a great invention they call “Rail and Fly”. You even get old IATA-style paper tickets for the train! I usually ask someone to drive us to the airport, but this time we had to go from Stuttgart to FRA, which has very good high-speed train connections. I was reminded at the platform that the Pentecost holiday started…
In summary, the train was crowded and we had to stand all the way to FRA (1:15h) with luggage and people everywhere. I was felt kind of like being on an Indian bus, just without people hanging to the outside of the car. .
Airport (still pre-flight):
The long-distance train station in FRA is located at Terminal 1. AF leaves at Terminal 2. This means we had to take our rather heavy luggage and make our way to T2. This was no as easy as it sounds, because of all the little escalators and corners you have to take to get to the tram connecting both terminals. I looked kind of silly handling two golf bags and a large suitcase. I worked up quite a sweat, but the views from the tram compensate somewhat. (Love the VN 777).
Arriving with ample time, we checked in using the quick check-in kiosks and dropped off our bags. This is the reason for not having taken any pictures up until now. I simply could not handle everything and was focused on getting rid of the luggage.
T2 “domestic” does not offer a whole lot of shops or restaurants, so we had a coffee at the only Café there with a nice view of the tarmac.
An IB 319(?) was parked right in front of the Café being prepared for takeoff.
The FO dropped a note to one of the rampers, but I could not make anything out of it. The ramper read the note and just walked off.
We watched the planes pass by, so I included some for your viewing pleasure:
Finally it was time for boarding, which also gave me a better view of this baby:
Saturday, 22nd May 2010
Frankfurt(FRA) to Paris(CDG)
Air France - AF1919
Photo © Sebastian Sowa
Photo © Andre Oferta
We were greeted by the purser, who checked our boarding pass again.
After I took my seat I took a quick picture of the EK 77W already being pushed back:
Legroom was ok, I guess. Please note that three week-end editions of newspapers push the seatpocket out somewhat.
Load today was about 60% and boarding was quick and efficient.
Pushback commenced shortly afterwards and we started to taxi towards Rwy 18. For those of you who don’t know FRA by heart: it’s a long taxi from Terminal 2. Which is good, because you get to see a million planes standing at the gates.
Good old Frankfurt:
Special livery LH B744
Busy afternoon at Terminal 1:
Our cute little A318:
El Al B762:
And something I could not make out, it appears to be a Somon Air B737-800.
Finally we arrived at Rwy18 and took off through some traffic:
When we reached cruising altitude, a drink run commenced. I opted for tea and some salty snacks. MrsStrange chose to go for the sweet biscuits (real surprise there… ).
Both were actually quite tasty and we were happy to be on our way.
After a short while we reached Paris and started our descent.
Now if you squint, you can make out the Eiffel Tower….
We approached into one of the 26s and I took some pictures of the heavies parked on the ramp:
What is she doing here waiting all by herself??
It took us a while to reach our gate on the other side of the airport. We deplaned and went on to collect our luggage. I actually forgot to take a picture, but I bet you guys know what a baggage carousel looks like.
We had to change to Orly, which is kind of a pain, but AF manages it well with its courtesy bus service. We actually got a real boarding pass for the bus. The bus leaves at certain stops all along Terminal 2.
The transfer took us about 1:15h and we arrived at ORY.
Now ORY is the kind of small holiday airport I expected (never been there before). It has kind of a LGW-feeling to it.
Check in Area:
Check in was fast and painless, even with our Golf luggage. We had to drop the bags at oversize, which is not unusual of course. The interesting thing is finding someone to operate the oversize baggage drop and actually take your bags. Breaks seem to be big in ORY.
After another quick security check we arrived in the holding pen for the flight to La Réunion, which was pretty crowded. I started to wonder where all these people were going to sit, as we were “just” using a 77W…
Unfortunately I had forgotten on thing. But you’ll see that in a minute. First a picture of the mighty 77W into the sun and through a window, which probably has never been cleaned:
Boarding time came and went without any announcement by the gate agents. (There were 6(!) of them.) People started queuing up, even though no announcement was made. After another 10minutes an announcement was made in French. Now I don’t speak French, I only remember some words and sentences from school. But I can tell the reaction on the other peoples faces. The PA was also very quiet for that matter. It took me a while to repeat the words in my head to find out that apparently there was a maintenance issue and boarding would be delayed by another 15-20 minutes. Finally boarding by rows commenced and we made our way into the plane, again being greeted by two friendly flight attendants.
Saturday, 22nd of May 2010
Paris(ORY) to St.Denis, La Réunion(RUN)
Air France – AF 3580
Departure 20:55 (actual 21:30)
Arrival 09:45 on the 23rd of May 2010
Forgot to note the rego, so I’ll just pick two pictures of the type
Photo © Paul Carlotti
Photo © Mario Serrano
We made our way to our seats, when it struck me: High density 77W!! I thought to myself: “Hellooooo DVT!” and took my seat. This was my first time on a 3-4-3 77W and my expectations were met. Less legroom than on my 1st leg on the A318.
I took out the papers after takeoff to give myself some room to breathe. I am 188cm tall and this was not so good. I actually thought it would be better to not have the footrest (I can’t use it anyway due to my long legs), so I can have more room to put my feet.
I started to explore the seat.
It was kind of worn and in some places you could still find the remainders of my predecessors meal.
I always take a picture of the wing. I like wings. And I like sitting slightly behind the wings….
Boarding was fairly slow and people started fighting over the overhead bins. I was glad, we had a high seat number, so we could board first and find space in an overhead bin.
Fast-fwd to takeoff: Takeoff was very powerful as expected, even though the plane was probably at its maximum weight. Load in Y was ~100%.
This picture is very hazy, and I apologize for that. I had to clean the window, as someone had apparently been sleeping with his face stuck to the open window….
Love the airshow:
Dinner service commenced as soon as we reached cruising altitude, with the special meals served first.
Vegan Meal for MrsStrange:
And the Chicken in mustardsauce for myself:
It was actually quite tasty and I was hungry so I ate everything. The same goes for the Vegan meal of MrsStrange.
I watched Sherlock Holmes on this way-to-small-screen, but it was entertaining nonetheless. The trays were cleared and I took a picture of the moving map before trying to get some sleep.
I actually fell asleep and slept more or less for 6(!) whole hours. Only waking up occasionally to move my legs and feet in circles to get the blood to flow again. I was really amazed to see this when I woke up and turned on the airshow again:
Yay, only 1,5hrs to go and breakfast ready to be served! Nice.
I got up for the first time and went to the lav. It was actually quite clean (especially the floor) for such a long flight. That’s probably due to the red-eye.
Yummy breakfast over the Indian ocean.
The breakfast was ok. The only thing which was not ok was the fact that there was no special meal “left” for MrsStrange. We asked the FA to go check, but they did not have any more special meals. Strange. She just handed the tray to MrsStrange and left right away. There was no apology, which I did not like. But I thought this is probably due to the fact that they only spoke a few words of English and did not think about it anymore. It was a domestic flight after all Luckily breakfast consisted mostly of things which could be eaten by MrsStrange. I took care of the Yoghurtdrink. Btw, do you guys know what one orders, if one is lactose intolerant? I always choose Vegan for MrsStrange, because that is a safe bet and she also can’t eat meat, only fish.
Starting our descent:
Touchdown was very hard, the pilot slammed us into the ground, but that was good, because everybody needed to wake up properly after such a long flight .
Passing a UU 77E, very pretty:
The baggage claim was crowded and we managed to get our bags and to leave the airport to pick up our car.
Curb side was really busy, because an UU77W arrived from Paris a couple of minutes ahead of us.
Conclusion of 2nd leg:
Apart from the legroom and the mishap regarding the special meal for breakfast, I found this flight rather enjoyable, especially due to the fact that I slept for 6 hours. There were no drink runs (I could tell, because MrsStrange cannot sleep on airplanes unfortunately), which is not that big of a deal, I think, because it is a red-eye. I remember my countless LH red-eyes and they had water and juice runs during the night. The AVOD-IFE was ok, although I had hoped for a larger screen and some more games. But I am SQ-spoiled, I must admit.
When deplaning I realized that the cabin was extremely dirty with newspapers, cups, pillows, plastic wrapping all over the place. I have not seen such a dirty plane in a long time. Now if all planes get trashed like that, I can understand why my seat was a little dirty and worn.
The only thing I would wish for would be slightly better English skills. That would help us strangers a lot. This goes for ground staff, check-in agents etc. (I tried to get an upgrade, but that was not possible due to our “package fare”.) It’s funny to step off a longhaul flight of ~11hrs to the tropics and to be greeted by a “Bonjour”
Finally we could start our vacation! Yes! And for those of you who are still thinking: “W$# are they doing in Réunion???” I’ll just leave you with two pictures:
Think Hawaii, think Hawaii with French people, French food and …. You get the idea.
I hope you like my first trip report. I totally enjoyed the trip to La Réunion.
Part 2 will cover our trip to Mauritus and back home to Frankfurt.
[Edited 2010-06-11 02:15:10]