For quite some time now I had my mind set on doing one or another 5th freedom flight in Europe. As you all know, there are some flights to choose from although I would not say they are in abundance. Among the more popular ones are definitely LAN’s services from/to MAD/FRA and MAD/CDG and Singapore Airlines’ service from/to MAN/MUC. Now the last one is as well on my personal list, but due to bad timings in winter season, I have postponed this one to the summer season.
Kuwait Airways as well has 5th freedom rights, amongst others between FRA and GVA. On Friday you can fly from FRA to GVA in the late afternoon and on Saturday you can fly from GVA to FRA around noon. I chose the first option. All tickets were booked far in advance:
BRU – FRA on Lufthansa for € 49 (as part of a return ticket with the return planned somewhere in May 2012)
FRA – GVA on Kuwait Airways for € 111 oneway
GVA – BRU on easyJet for € 24 oneway
Timings were favorable but the connection in FRA was a a bit on the tight side: 1h25 mins to go from T1A to T1B in FRA, with no OLCI possible ex-FRA so I had to check in somewhere along the way. A few weeks before departure I received an email from Kuwait Airways announcing a minor schedule change which shortened my connection time with another 20 mins. Also a few weeks prior I noticed an equipment change from A343 to A300-600. Well in this case I’d rather have an equipment change than a schedule change!
Fellow users PlaneHunter (see Fifth Freedom Tidbit: Kuwait Airways A300-600 (by PlaneHunter Dec 2 2010 in Trip Reports)), Luxair747SP (see Personal Service On A Classic Plane: KU Business (by luxair747SP Mar 9 2011 in Trip Reports)) and LXM83 (see A340 Switzerland-Germany To Meet Trip Reporters (by LXM83 Jul 15 2011 in Trip Reports)) amongst others (forgive me if I have forgotten you) as well have profited from this carrier’s 5th freedom thing to score a ride.
On my way…
So on a sunny November’s Friday, I once again hopped on my bike for the half an hour’s drive to BRU. Once parked I went to the LH service desk to enquire whether they could check me in for KU’s FRA-GVA flight (LH does KU handling at FRA). Some furious typing later I was told a ‘no can do’ and went on my way. A dive into the tunnel leading to terminal A – wow something new at BRU: automated access through scanning your bp – followed by a quick check of my belongings and I was in no time at the gate. No plane yet, so I sat down and enjoyed the free wifi to surf some and pass the time away.
A47 for my flight today:
A quiet period this time of day:
A stroll around yielded not much special but this one (I really like these SN heavies): the last Africa bound flight of the day to Monrovia, ready to roll:
In due time, the expected A319 rolled in and was vacuumed onto the finger, an on time departure being very likely so I was getting a bit more comfortable regarding the connection:
BRU → FRA
I took my seat in 25A, window last row, 3 for me and a healthy load of about 80%. Now I will not go into much detail on this flight: it’s your bog standard LH flight with all the things that come with it and we all almost know by heart
Legroom and delicious Toblerone:
And liftoff Rwy 25R:
A quiet Brussels Ring road:
BRU overview after a lefthand turn:
And another one:
An airport but I’m too lazy to look it up…:
Coffee with a layer of milk :
Coming in for an arrival on the 07’s:
Cars and ICE:
Yes! A landing on the new rwy 07L today:
Passing this LH B747 with special color scheme commemorating the 50 year partnership of Boeing and LH:
That’s where we came in from:
I’m definitely at the right airport, although not yet at the right gate. I was hoping for a finger gate arrival to speed up deboarding and connecting but that was to no avail. We kept on taxiing…:
And taxiing…(dedicated to SloAir!):
And taxiing… (dedicated to volvair!):
And taxiing… (dedicated to FlyingFinn!):
Until we finally turned into V115 on the apron, right across terminal 2. (Hey Petteri, there’s your Dash!)
Bye bye my friend:
Oh, ‘Tübingen’ is your name!
We all hopped into the bus which drove us right to the separating point of terminal 1A and B, just next to the border and security control. Great! I was relieved since I only had to walk 100m to be landside and do my checkin at the desk.
From the FIDS it was clear I had to go to checkin counter 538-544 to obtain my bp. Upon arriving at the dedicated desks, there was no one there. Also on the panels above there was no sign of ‘Kuwait Airways’ checkin. Desk 537 just to the right was occupied by a lady reading a newspaper and above this desk was a sign indicating checkin for Air Moldova and Cyprus Airways.
Me: ‘I’m sorry, but I’m looking for the checkin desk for Kuwait Airways, which is supposed to be at counter 538-544.’ I gave her my passport and the booking reference.
Lady: ‘You have come to the right place, I was waiting for you.’
Lady: ‘Yes, you are the last of 6 passengers on today’s flight. Here’s your boarding pass and enjoy your private flight’, she smiled while handing me back the docs.
Me: ‘Thanks, I sure will.’
Wow, how great is that, a whole widebody to myself? With a big smile on my face I walked off. Then through customs and security and onto gate B26:
Walking through some dreary corridors:
Finally at the right place!
There she was, glowing in the late afternoon sun:
I still had some time to kill, so I sat at the window and enjoyed the excellent FRA views.
How much more ‘head on’ can you get?
At about 15 mins past scheduled boarding time, boarding was announced. I was the only one to get up and have my bp scanned to allow my entrance to a little part of the Middle East. Needless to say I was thrilled…
FRA → GVA
9K-AME ‘Al Rawdhatain’
Walking through the jetbridge:
Upon entering I was greeted by 2 f/a’s who directed me to the very back of the plane. About halfway the cabin, I encountered f/a Mustafa (from India I later learned) who was a bit surprised that I was seated in the last row.
Mustafa: ‘Sir, we have a very light load today, if you want to switch seats, just pick any other available seat you desire.’
Me: ‘Thank you for the offer, but this seat will do just fine’, I replied.
The tone was set for what was going to be an outstanding flight with this lovely crew!
My view to the right, all seats were equipped with pillows:
Seating was a bit on the tight side. The leather seats in itself were comfy but the legroom was somewhat cramped. For a +6h maybe just adequate? All seats had PTV’s but the image quality and the overall function left a lot to be desired. Some units were working, some were not. But that did not bother me, I was not here for watching TV
Overhead panel on this old bus:
And looking down from the back:
A plethora of newspapers, all of them in Arabic:
The headrest cover, and yes, it’s a non smoking flight lol!
PTV controls on the armrests:
Contents of the seat pocket:
If you need to go, you can check the availibilty here:
We were getting ready for departure, the safety demo was played in Arabic and English on the PTV’s:
And a refreshing tissue was handed out as well:
After a most warm welcome for the captain, we pushed back and made a beeline for rwy 18. In the back galley, I overheard the crew conversating and laughing. I also heard Spanish speaking by one of them. It was a mix of nationalities: Mexico, Philippines, Tunisia, India,…
During pushback I managed to nail this one:
Passing by some commuters:
It looked like the captain was in a good mood today: we made a rolling takeoff and went off like a rocket. I’ve never had such a powerful and steep takeoff before. E Viva light loads and old birds lol!
After a while, engine power was reduced and we levelled a bit until after a minute or 2, the engines spooled up again and the captain pulled the yoke further up which resulted in a 2nd powerful climb. I was smiling from ear to ear, this was really great!
Finally leveling for real:
The crew was released and went to their duties, although I guess with only 6 passengers they were very light today. No trolley was rolled out, in stead they brought me a tray with a snack by hand: a tuna sandwich, a piece of cake, some OJ and water. Good catering for a 1h15min flight and tasty enough:
A female attendant came by to ask if I wanted some other drink and I asked for a coke. It was the Arabian version and nicely chilled:
After the snack, f/a Mustafa came by to collect my tray and we started off a conversation. He asked me where I came from etc. I explained I was just taking this flight for fun, to sample a bit of the Middle East with Kuwait Airways and to fly this older aircraft type. He was surprised and very enthusiastic about my intentions. I guess he was happy that his company was put in a positive light as well.
I asked if it was allright to take pics, and he said no problem. I was invited even in the galley to have a chat with his colleagues.
The rear galley:
A part of the lovely crew of KU177
Suddenly we felt a massive G-force taking a hold of us, indicating the crew upfront performing a steep turn. Not long thereafter landing was announced shortly, so I returned to my seat and thanked the crew for their kindness and hospitality.
Back in the seat, a great vortex was witnessed:
And the Alps came in sight; always amazing:
The light outside was quickly fading as it was nearing 17h00:
Landing on GVA’s rwy 23:
A quick taxi later we came to a halt at the terminal:
I packed my belongings, wished the crew a good flight back tomorrow and made my way out. To my surprise the plane was not connected to a finger but a bus was waiting outside in stead. A last goodbye shot through the windows of the bus. Damn, even the buses in GVA have this annoying anti-photo pattern on the windows:
After clearing the border control (a very friendly officer makes all the difference!) I made my way to the departures area to obtain my bp for my easyJet flight home.
Last sign of KU177:
BRU at 19h15, that’s for me:
Some moments later, bp in hand, I proceeded through security and was airside in minutes. Boarding from gate D21, one of those annoying satellite gates:
5 mins away, my a…:
Anticipating a full flight, the gate agent made some announcements that due to the expected lack of storage space in the overhead bins, some volunteers were asked to check in their large carryons for free! Not too much reaction came on that so the gate agent took it in her own hands and chose herself some bags that had to be checked in. Boarding was 15 minutes late.
GVA → BRU
Quite acceptable legroom. The seats did not stay free unfortunately…
Free for all: you know how it goes on these LCC’s. I took a seat in the back at the window. A young Spanish couple came sitting next to me, immediately taking out their smelly sandwiches and a pack of very crispy and even more smelly chips. On top of that, they had quite some noise from their own. Getting a little irritated by the noise and most of all the smell there was nothing I could do but pop in my ear plugs and breathe only the necessary amount of oxygen to stay alive
Cruising over Belgium, the best lit up country in the whole wide world:
And finally arriving safe and sound on home soil, hallelujah! ET is already home, he did not have to use his phone:
Great, why do we have to use the very last gate at the A concourse when there are plenty of others available? Nearly a 2 km walk later through a deserted A concourse I was back at the start and as well at the end of a great day!
Thanks for reading and feel free to drop a line or more!