Hello guys, welcome to my second trip report here on this forum! For me it is some kind of novelty towards my first one and also the ones I have written in other forums; I always considered reports about short intra-European flights as more or less pointless, but the many great reports here on this froum have taught me better. While my flight combinations may not be as exciting and exotic as the ones from other members here, I hope you still enoy the report, as I enjoy writing it.
In march this year the small Austrian airline Welcomeair started flying three times weekly to Cologne, returning to Graz via Innsbruck, using their Dornier 328 (both the prop and the jet engine version). This directly caught my attention and I have been following their webpage in search of adequate days and fares. It turned out to be quite difficult as their fares were slightly above my budget for fun flying, but in the summer they came across with a great 39,- € (oneway) deal. I of course did not hesitate to book, especially as both legs all the way down to GRZ
were included in the fare, adding the scenic approach and takeoff of Innsbruck to the itinerary. At that point of time I had no idea of how to get back, as I was not planning to add a hotel night to the trip. The only reasonable return options were departing from Vienna, so I searched a bit of how to get there. Domestic flights were rather unattractive from their timings, so I settled for the ÖBB
train and the evening Germanwings flight back to Cologne. Not excactly the perfect way to visit Austria, but at least a perfect day "on the road".
Flying time 1:05 hrs
Short way to the airport for me, I arrived there at about one hour before departure and with my self printed boarding pass I passed security fast, luckily before a large tour group of rather senior people which were assembling in front of the checkpoint; they were on a charter flight to Antalya on TUIfly. Boarding started already 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time, with a load of 18 persons of a more casual nature, not many business-like looking passengers. I wonder how many persons were using the special fare and which ones paid the higher standard fares.
The bus took us to this neat looking aircraft, OE-LIR
; a very nice one although I would have preferred the jet engine version, but I guess that is complaining at a high level.
There was free seating on board and I while most people were staying in front, I settled in the back with plenty of seats to choose from. Seating was 1-2, I went for 9C
in the last row. The captain informed us about a small delay because we were waiting for an ATC slot, but 5 minutes later we were ready to go.
Quick picture of the full terminal, note the retro-painted TUfly 737-800 in the middle and also the Embraer 195 of Lufthabnsa CityLine. First time I see them in Cologne, they now operate CGN
instead of the usual 737/319/320 and is definiately on my to-do list.
The takeoff feld really powerfull and we were in the air quickly, giving a nice view into the now deserted UPS cargo area. During the night, around 40 freighters populate the tarmac, hubbing around 250,000 parcels in a sort window of 3 hours.
View of the storage area, with the WDL fleet of Fokkers and Avros, and also some Lufthansa CityLine CRJ100/200...
Troisdorf visible after departure
Cruise at 28.000 ft. with 660 km/h, 60km/h tailwind.
Okay, time to speak about the service. There is one flight attendant on board, and she is very nice and friendly and really pretty; one of those countryside beauties you usually don´t find in cities. But more about that later
Service consists of a sandwich and a small bowl of yogurt, some cookies, small chocolates and two rounds of drinks. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I tell´ya what, it really makes me hate todays low cost style of flying. Talking about personal service in a small airline, I see one of the passengers in front ask the flight attendant about which bus he should take from the airport to downtown Innsbruck, and guess what, he gets the bus line plus all departure times
... is clean, quiet and comnfortable, with a huge legroom. I am really starting to like this small plane
Some 45 minutes into the flight the flight attendant is in the rear part of the cabin, stowing away the the service cart, so I approach her and ask if she could make a recommendation about which site would be better to sit during the approach to get the best views. While I am expecting something like a "usually its better on the left" or so, she starts like this: "Hm, the latest weather report was showing winds from the east, therefore we are most likely to approach runway 08, then you should be sitting on the left side." I am truly impressed and start to like her even more
As the approach begins, I am sitting on the left side as she recommended, but the views seem to be better on the right hand side. Quite a stupid situation, as the flight attendant is still in the galley and I would feel weird to ask her and then not following it. But as we come closer to Innsbruck, she was right and the views are truly great.
At one point during the approach, the plane all of a sudden makes a very hard bump with this feeling of freely falling down for a short moment. Some passengers even scream. I never experienced that in such a hard way, luckily everyone is already buckled up. However, the flight attendant just smiles and says something like "Yeah, this is how flying is fun!" which calms down the passengers in front and really makes me fall in love with her
Note the train tracks in this picture:
Touchdown after 1:05 hours
Out of the 18 passengers that boarded in Cologne, 12 leave here, six stay in transit. While the aircraft is being refueled, we are allowed to stay onboard. The cabin crew changes here, but the flight deck crew stays the same. The captain sees a small boy among the passengers and invites him to the flight deck. After he leaves, I decide to stick my head into the door and ask him: "I do not look like a small boy but I am interested aswell!" He smiles and asks me in. The flight deck looks great and the crew is very friendly, chatting about how much he likes flying this rare type of aircraft. When I say how much I liked the approach (and by that I meant the scenery), he is quite embarassed and mumbles something like "Well, sorry for the bumping, we had to go fly straight through it..."
Flying time 0:47 hrs
Seven new passengers board the plane and I decide to take a different seat for the next leg, 3C
this time. Takeoff is from runway 08, like we landed.
Downtown Innsbruck, in the center of the picture you can see one of the famous ski jumping bases.
Service was one round of drinks, more then enough for this short flight. Open flight deck door during, nice view of the action upfront...
During the approach into Graz I was sitting on the wrong side to get some views of downtown, but I was too lazy to switch...
In Graz, our ramp agent came by bike; never seen that before on any airport. But why not...
Perfect weather in Graz...
Graz is quite a countryside airport surrounded by agricultural land. Despite the cow dung smell, it looks really nice around here, a very cute airport. Great feature is that plans for local activities, attractions and transportation are available, looks like the region of Graz is investing heavily into promoting the area. And it sure works, I am planning to go there again in the future, then with more time for the region. Some pictures from the city:
Unfortunately I have only about three hours for the city which is just enough for a small round of walking before I head back to the main station.
Being interested in trains (well, at least a little bit) I was hoping to get one of the Taurus driving units. On time, indeed a Taurus enters the platform...
...but apparently it is not for persons...
Our train comes in around 15 minutes late... Looks old, but still nice....
Nice and comfortable cars here on this one.
The train takes 2:30 hours to Vienna and passes through some nice landscapes, but it is really challenging to take reasonable pictures as there is always something that comes in inbetween; trees, electricity masts whatever. After a couple of tries I skip the idea and take a nap, waking up shortly before we arrive in Vienna Meidling station. I take the metro to Westbahnhof...
from where there is an airport shuttle bus for a reasonable 6 €. Quite a cool looking long range bus.
The bus makes quite a nice tour through Vienna so I get to see at least some points of interest before we head to the airport. But not that important, I already have been in Vienna this year, so I am not that keen on it. The ride takes about 45 minutes.
I already checked in online, so I head directly to the gate. As I reach it, I am quite disappointed to see that 4U
still uses that cramped bus gate area they use already since a couple of years. I had hoped they would have changed that in the meantime, it really gets full, there are not enough seats and it gets too hot with sticky air. Blargh. But finally we board the two busses that bring the passengers to the plane. Looks like a full flight today, my guess goes with 80%.
Germanwings A319 D-AGWD
Flight time: 1:19 hours
The aircraft on the remote stand is D-AGWD. Not sure if I have flown with her before, but I guess I have the whole fleet in my log, I have to check that.
My seat is 24F. The seats next to me stay empty. The flight is a very normal routine flight. Takeoff is via runway 29 and the route goes above Linz, Prague, Fulda and Frankfurt, according to the captain.
During the flight I decide to buy one of the sandwiches on offer. The inflight magazine advertises it as a special creation of the highly rated cook Mr. Holger Stromberg, who also cooks for the German national football team. It is supposed to be a special creation with exotic herbs and exotic combinations, but it actually tastes like a normal turkey sandwich with fresh cheese. While it tastes fresh and good, I guess I could have "especially designed" it too in my kitchen. But "just a good, fresh sandwich like you could do it at home" doesn´t sound as special as a - I may quote the ad - "multi grain baguette with juicy beef ham and apricot and rosemary spread" which "lets your taste buds celebrate" and the meditteranean flair will conquer your tongue... Well... Whatever, as mentioned, it was ok.
Landing is in the dark so there are no more pictures. We land on runway 32R so there is only countryside during approach anyway.
Well, that was the short trip to Austria. It was a very nice one and I enjoyed it even without seeing much of the cities visted, but I think that is a pretty fair excuse to book some more flights and come back. I really liked Welcomeair and also the Do328, truly a perfect performance on this day. And not to forget about Germanwings, which offered a solid on time performance here.
Any questions or comments are welcome,