(After a couple of requests, I have now moved what was a previous add-on to my BA Nod to the North (http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/173004/) into a new thread. This action was mostly incase people might have missed it. I must stress, there are alot of reports already on this, but perhaps you'll enjoy reliving the tale. I have left it in it's original format - happy reading)
If you see truth in the phrase ‘an elephant never forgets’ , then no doubt you’ll have overlooked a promise I made in garish green font somewhat earlier in this trip report. And if your eyes are dim, or scrolling is a chore on your miniscule laptop, it went a little like this; -
|Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 25):|
For the more discerning readers of my reports, I am pleased to announce that I will be doing a 'mini-report' on the AF A380 (~sigh~) as a reply to this one. It will be basic and will come online in a few days as I am off to Africa on Friday!
… and since elephants are not a major user of this forum, I was never pulled up on this false promise. But after living in a land of these lazy and cumbersome beasts (elephants… Africa) for the last 14 months, I shall now pick up the baton and fulfil my part of the promise. Please enjoy the reply segment to my BA Nod to the Northeast, to which I have dramatically created the title ‘BA Nod to the Northeast ‘Part B’ ’
Back in the dim caverns of my prematurely aged mind, I recall quite a buzz generated out of Air France’s rather crafty promotional use of the A380 on their LHR-CDG routing during some balmy months in the Summer of… let me see…. 2010. The forum was abuzz with lists… lists as usual of criticisms, compliments atypical to A.Net and a rapidly increasing list of members that would be partaking in some of the various departures. In the same vein as my maturing noggin, so had my use of aviation matured. Through my hazy university days, the focus had been bagging lots of sleazy Ryanair hops for a dime, of getting rather pissed before such flights and it was quantity, not quality.
However my graduation heralded the summer, the so called new beginning, and a revolution in turning my back on FR. Instead, I was drawn to more prestigious trips with full service carriers. Sadly, the only ones I could afford were the special occasions where airlines were putting foolishly large aircraft on economically short routes. Perfect for the student loan. It sort of smells of 5th-freedom, but my overdraft doesn’t have that remit. Hence why I am plonking this AF A380 Adventure at the end of BA’s Nod. Churchill. Furthermore, there were a plethora of fantastically documented and detailed reports on this identikit AF hop.
But I’ll forge on….
Welcome to my 5th Trip Report – PART B!
I don’t live in London. I live, as you’ll mostly know, in Scotland. So getting down to London had to be factored in. As such, I booked National Express coach down, and a megabus back up. Since I had word of the flight well in advance, it did not add too much extra cost to the trip. My parents have learned to accept my slightly nerdy tendencies with aviation with silent comprehension. Dad casually asks “Where are you going again?” … shortly followed by “When will you be back” … and finally a mystified “why?” Still, he’s easier to placate than by mates.
I take my very unracey ‘Silver Bullet’ Peugeot 10 (enter low denominator) to Glasgow late in the evening, an approximate 2 hour drive, and which google incorrectly estimates will cost £17.69 in fuel.
The Silver Bullet Glasgow bound alongside Loch Lommond
Park in a scummy wee council estate in Townhead. National Express will have 3 buses journeying South through the night, and it’s a scene of disorganised chaos. We finally depart, I sleep mostly, and the other youth beside me is unremarkable. Bit peeved they won’t let me get on the service that goes via LHR, but my ticket states London. Next morning, Victoria Bus Stn is the usual hotch-potch of undesirable characters and smoking overseas workers leaning on the ‘No Smoking Sign’ written in 6 different Slavic languages. I waste little time in getting to LHR on the Tube.
The efficient Tube out to LHR
I have a little snooze in a quiet corner, before checking in at Sky Team’s pretty busy check-in desks. Once the officialdom is complete, then I tuck into my cider, my pre flight tipple. Check-in polite, almost verging on curt, but lets not read too much into a 3 minute interface with a bored blonde.
Quiet skyteam check-in area[/i]
Helping contribute to my feeling BAA has bucked its ideas; terminal 4
The buzz of T4 Airside.
Skyteam seem to be trumpeting, but this to me is a little like a sandwich without filling.
Security at LHR is fast an efficient. As ever I feel impressed with Heathrow. Terminal 4’s exterior was smart and linear, but not cold. Whats that word? Chic. Perhaps, though BAA and chic can’t really be used in the same sentence too much. My first in-the-skin views of the A380 are astonishing. Only enhanced as Raulph Vaughn Williams tinkles away through my Sennheisers. It’s the true non-Americanised-youth meaning of awesome. Her swollen, robust shape and unproportional loftiness gives the eyes a lot to compute. I was truly excited. Plenty of spotters scribbling down details. Weather is wet, with dramatic clouds of vaporised spray exploding forth from decelerating heavies on the runway.
My first views of this impressive bird…
Some of the spray, but not the heavy, I mentioned…
Photo © Ryotaro Shinozaki
Photo © Zaninger Jonathan
Seat………………..42A (Voyageur class / Window)
Departure time......12.50 (14.01)
Arrival time……….15.05 (15.28)
LF: 98 %............. Economy
Distance….. …….217 miles (1hr 15 min)
Spotters! Can’t blame them, she’s a stunner
Boarding begins as if we might leave on time. Quite buzzing as I walk down the airbridge towards this mighty lady. I have seat 42A. There are a couple of Moroccan men beside me who are harmless enough, though not tempted to chat. It appears we are having some delays. This suits as it gives a good opportunity to ascend to the upper deck mingle amongst the snooty business men trying to bury their faces in Financial Times. She is a beautiful bird, and feels modern and well designed. That is if you overlook that god-awful museum part. Seat comfort is good and the navy-blue polkadot thing is inoffensive to the eyes. A removable handset for the IFE has plenty of other snazzy features that would excite a modern man, or lady for that matter.
Boarding begins in earnest from the rather obscure Gate 6b
Doon the air – Bridge
Enjoy my side views…
Yes, try not to stare at the gormless economy class passenger.
The seats, all comfy enough.
Removable IFE handset
Taxiing to active after lengthy waiting game
The whale lumbers into the moist London skies.
The joy of flying…. Its never wet above the clouds.
By god I love the French. For many things; food (or gastronomy), the old alliances against the English (all now forgiven and forgotten of course), making kick-arse aeroplanes (such as the one gentle humming below by bottom) and …..erm….. neon lights. You’ll see aviation hospitality doesn’t make an appearance there. I anticipate the worst, I’ll handle these icy ladies with gloves. Their all rather… prim. Yes, prim and neat. Little neckscarfs poke out at jaunty angles, thick-framed trendy glasses are de rigeur and they don’t exude any warmth. Still, they’ve had the brief; this flight will be to showcase the AF product to potential customers who have perhaps shyed away from the company. As such please perform your duties to the highest possible standard and if things are going really well, you could try a smile. And so they do. They are efficient and polite, I get my bottle of red wine with a brief ‘de rien’. And a wee pack of crappy wheat snacks.
The icey French FA’s conducting their fast and efficient service.
Over UK coast
Appropriately meagre inflight catering.
Oh God, is that really descent I feel already? That was as brief as the FA’s boarding smiles. But France is at least sunnier…. Meteorologically speaking.
France comes into site all too soon
A mighty wing
Descent is smooth, but as so often reported, the actual touch-down of this A380 is jolting and heavy. We pull up 25 minutes late, and exceptionally, 2 days later I get an e-mail with words to the effect of
Dear Mr ADDIS,
I write to you further to the delay to your flight on the August 14, 2010. Please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of Air France for any inconvenience this delay may have caused. Let me assure you that the delay you experienced on this occasion was not in line with the high levels of service we aim to provide.
As gesture of genuine regret for the inconvenience suffered on this occasion, I am pleased to inform you that 1000 Miles will be credited to your Flying Blue account within the next few days.
I very much hope you will give us another opportunity to welcome you on our services and that your future flights with Air France will be to your entire satisfaction.
Customer Relations Department
Good customer service right there!
Probably the only airport windows that actually enhance the view. Bye JC!
It is my intention to head into Paris. Frankly the airport transport options astound me. The bus is as overpriced as RER, and having been to Paris on a few other occasions, I decide to veto that plan, and instead take the only local bus heading out of the airport. Takes me an age to find the bus-stop mind, on some rooftop road. The driver is polite, and drops me off at a supermarket. Here I go and purchase my little pic-nic, remind myself of how poor I am at French etc. I am not sure what the area is called, I am tempted to say Little Morocco/ Africa/ Tunisia. Little something, I know that. I buy an absolutely mindblowing rotisserie chicken, and some fresh crusty bread and enjoy it in the park. The sun is setting when I get the bus back to the airport.
Stairway to heaven…
The obscure Little xxxxxx the local bus (351 perhaps?) took me to.
Great ethnic shop selling kick-ass roast chicken.
Simple but bloody satisfying picnic in the local park.
Sun setting gloriously on my return to CDG
This is what I term as ‘on the roof’
Spend a lot of time tottering around CDG in a slight daze. Out on the rooftops, I enjoy the pretty sunset. CDG is sprawling and quite interesting, and I really appreciate the graceful, flowing architecture prevalent throughout. Note, departing from Terminal 2E! The actual set-up could get confusing… say for example, like if I went overboard with this TR and decided to form PART 2A-Z and placed them randomly around the Anet forum. That’s how the terminals felt to me, also I was directed at times by staff who also plainly did not understand the layout either.
Continuing the picnic in the airport
That night, as the airport quietens down, like the silencing of the aircraft engine, the terminal reveals itself more clearly and calmly to me. Flight details slowly disappear off the oval departures board, rowdy crowds disappear to wherever rowdy crowds all go. I like airports at this time, just like I like touristy cities in the winter. I find a table outside a suave eatery that has closed, and munch on the remainder of my picnic.
In the quiet of night… admiring the wooden roofs.
The departure board gradually empties.
Peace at last
Then as the hour approaches 2am, I make my bed …. Unfortunately its only floor available, but very clean floor, and I have material to provide a little insulation. At some point a couple of policemen gently wake me, ask my flight details, and passport, and wish me ‘Bonne nuit’. Bonne nuit….
My bed…. And camembert