Welcome to my 2nd trip report on Airliners.net. This report will cover the last two flights during my 4 months of travelling the world; see my 1st trip report (Propping to Paradise on Bangkok Airways) for a brief introduction to that. Flights covered in this report are Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) to Zurich (ZRH) on KLM, and back to AMS from Bern Belp (BRN) on Sky Work Airlines. As I was originally not planning on writing a trip report, I must apologize for the lack of inflight pictures.
Since I’m a frequent flyer in the Air France/KLM Frequent Flyer program Flying Blue, I took my long haul flights to and from the USA and Asia on KLM and Air France. And with most of my domestic flights in the US being on fellow Skyteam member Delta, I actually made it to the lowest status level in their program, Flying Blue Silver/Skyteam Elite. This level has most post perks of the more senior levels (such as priority boarding, business class check-in, extra luggage allowance, bonus miles) with the most notable exception the lack of lounge access – this is only available at a fee. Anyway, AF/KL is somewhat flexible with their open jaw routings. As mentioned in the earlier trip report I flew to Bangkok on KL, and left Asia from Singapore, once again on KL. My outbound ticket was booked with departure city London, which meant I had to fly back to the UK, or another European country, except the Netherlands or France. Kinda weird, I know. I initially planned the simply fly back to London as well and take a one-way flight back home on BA, WX or U2, but then I realized small Swiss Bern-based regional airline Sky Work Airlines started a daily flight between Bern and Amsterdam in the winter time table, with a mix of Dornier 328 and Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 equipment. Since I had been meaning to visit the city of Bern and Bern Airport, and the cute Dornier was missing from my log I decided my return flight from Singapore would be to Zurich (via Amsterdam), from where I could take a train to Bern. This report will cover the flights between Amsterdam and Zurich, and Zurich and Bern. For those who like to see this visualized:
Friday, December 2nd 2011
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Flight KL1953
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) – Zurich Airport (ZRH)
151st overall flight
17th flight on KLM
11th flight on a Boeing 737-700 (29th flight on an Boeing 737)
2nd flight on a KLM Boeing 737-700 (8th flight on a KLM Boeing 737)
45th visit to AMS (22nd take-off from AMS) and 8th visit to ZRH (5th landing at ZRH)
Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 07.00 / unknown
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 08.30 / unknown
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 1.30 / unknown
Flight duration: unknown (approx. 1 and 10 minutes)
Mileage: 375 nm
The flight from Singapore to Amsterdam arrived perfectly on-time, at around 5.30 in the morning. I slept quite well; since the flight was in the dark all the time (leaving SIN at 23-ish) I elected to pick an aisle seat on the Boeing 777-200, with 3-3-3, with the seat next to me still empty. I was seated in 42F, and it turned out that both me and the guy in seat 42D asked the check in agent to block the middle seat. Always nice to have some extra space on a 13+ hour flight. Anyway, passport control and security between the non-Schengen and Schengen area was quick at this early hour, and I relaxed at the nice recliners seats between the D and C gates before heading to gate C10 for my flight to Zurich.
I arrived at the gate around 6.20, with not that many people hanging around. Boarding commenced at 6.35 and Business class and Elite pax were invited to board first. I made my way to my seat in the back of the bird where the friendly and talkative FA told me to spread out, since there would only be about 50 passengers this morning. Around 6.50 all passengers were on board, and we pushed back right on time.
During taxi the captain welcomed us on board, and announced a flight time of around 1 hour and 10 minutes. With a long taxi to the remote runway (the illustrious Polderbaan) and take off to the north this would mean we would arrive right on schedule in Zurich. Routing would be Dusseldorf-Frankfurt-Stuttgart-Zurich, with mostly clouds above the Netherland and the Western part of Germany, but mostly clear skies in South Germany and Switzerland.
Catering-wise, KL serves a snack (cookies, pretzels, stuff like that) on flights less than 1 hour and 30 minutes, unless they depart before 09.00 in the morning. These morning flights actually have a cold breakfast, consisting of two sandwiches. They were quite tasteful, although it also felt good to eat some true European/Dutch sandwiches after eating mostly rice and noodles for 2 months Both coffee and juice were offered as a refreshment. With the light load, the 2 FA’s working the Economy section were quickly done, but kept reappearing in the cabin. And this being a flight to Switzerland, a non-EU country, duty free was also offered. I didn’t see anyone buying anything though. After about 50 minutes of flying the sun had risen completely and most clouds had disappeared, given a wonderful view of the landscape below.
Landing in Zurich was to the southwest, on runway 14. Once again a lengthy taxi, since we were going to the remotes stands at the south side of the airport. I did get a good look of the re-opened A-gates. Deplaning and into the waiting busses was quick, with only 50 pax. Baggage reclaim was in the new arrivals hall near the A-gates, very nice looking and felt very new. My bag was one of the first on the belt, nice to see that priority baggage handling sometimes actually works. I decided to see if it was possible to visit the (also re-opened) observation deck above the A-gates, but my backpack was too big to fit in the lockers there, and I didn’t feel like going to the paid luggage storage. This picture of my plane was taking from the roof before the entrance of the observation deck.
Zurich to Bern by train
The Swiss railway company SBB operates two direct trains per hour to Bern, via the city of Olten, taking only about 1 hour and 15 minutes. However, for only a few Francs more you can take the way more scenic route via Zug and Luzern. It takes a little longer, but it was only 10.00 in the morning and I wasn’t in a hurry. A few pictures from the trip to Bern, and from Bern itself.
Saturday, December 3rd 2011
Sky Work Airlines Flight SX300
Bern Belp Airport (BRN) – Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS)
Bombardier Dash 8-Q400
152nd overall flight
1st flight on Sky Work Airlines
3rd flight on a Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 (4th flight on a Bombardier Dash 8)
1st flight on a Sky Work Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 (1st flight on a Sky Work Bombardier Dash 8)
1st visit to BRN (1st take-off from BRN) and 46th visit to AMS (24th landing at AMS)
Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 11.25 / unknown
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 13.00 / unknown
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 1.35 / unknown
Flight duration: unknown (approx. 1 and 30 minutes)
Mileage: 392 nm
As mentioned, Sky Work Airlines (SX) operates a mix of Dornier 328 and Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 equipment. It’s hard to keep track of which route is flown with what aircraft. It isn’t listed in their timetables, and flight tracking sites such as flighstats.com simply list D328 as the operating equipment for all flights. When SX first requested slots for AMS they listed the equipment as a Dornier 328, but in the final slot list Q400’s where mentioned. However, when browsing several airline photography websites, D328’s where definitely spotted at AMS in november, so I kept hope. And yes, when using online checking on Friday afternoon I was treated to a seat map showing 12 rows in a 1-2 configuration, that’s a Dornier 328 all right! However, when checking again in the evening, there were suddenly 20 rows and 4 seats in each row… that ain’t no D328!
After having a great breakfast with several fresh breads and homemade jelly in my hotel in Bern, the Hotel National, I made my way to the train station to catch the bus to the airport, a bus ride that takes about 30 minutes. I arrived around 09.30, quite on time for an 11.25 departure.
The small airport terminal:
510 meters above sea level… And a Cirrus Dornier in the fair distance:
View of the apron. Two Bombardiers and a Dornier:
And the departure lounge:
Check-in was quick and easy. No queue at all, and the agent quickly checked my bag and printed me a boarding pass. I had picked a seat somewhere in the back when checking in on-line, and since my seat assignment hadn’t been changed my last hope for a Dornier went down the drain. Security was closed, since there were no flights between 09.00 and 11.00. A note said it would open at 10.30. So I strolled around a bit, taking some of the pictures posted above. At around 10.40 I went to security, which was off course also efficient at this small airport. The departure featured a small souvenir shop, and free international newspapers. I picked an International Herald Tribune, which by coincidence had an interesting story about Singapore Changi Airport, where I was just 36 hours ago. Whilst reading the paper two more Dorniers from SX landed, and with departures at 11.25 (AMS), 11.30 (BEG) and 11.35 (BUD) it almost looked a small connection bank
Anyway, since the checkpoint didn’t open until about 15 minutes before boarding an announcement was made asking all AMS-passenger to proceed through security towards the departure lounge. A few minutes later the same announcement was made for the Belgrade and Budapest passengers. Boarding commenced at about 11.10, and myself and the other pax walked over the apron and were directed towards one of the Bombardiers. We could only enter to the front door, where a female flight attendant in her mid-twenties welcomed us aboard. In the back a second flight attendant was waiting for the boarding process to complete. In the end I counted about 30 other passengers, so that meant I rather light load, less than 50% I guess. Safety demo was done manually while still on the apron, and after a small taxi we made a powerful take off to the north.
As you might have seen on the pictures, low cloud ceiling and not much visibility today. Shortly after take-off we headed into the clouds and flew through a thick layer of grey-ish clouds for most of the flight. After about 10 minutes the crew started the inflight-service. First the famous Ipads were handed out to those that were interested. In return they asked for your boarding pass receipt. I gave one a try. It had some interesting contents, about 40 songs, 10 music videos, some games and destination guides for all SX destinations – unfortunately these were only in German. After that, it was time for lunch. SX has an interesting catering concept. They serve a free meal from the destination you’re going to. Tapas on flights to Spain, pasta salad on flights to Italy, you get the picture. The ‘Dutch’ meal they had going was a potato pancake, I believe they called it. I think I know what dish they were trying to make, but unfortunately, it wasn’t all that tasty. You get a bottle of water with this meal, and should you have to need for anything else to drink, it’s BOB. I purchased a coffee for 2 CHF, an okay price.
At around 12.30 we began our descend, which ended with a very nice low approach over the Dutch coast line from the south to the north, and making two 90 degrees turns near the city of Ijmuiden to line up with runway 18R. Yes that is indeed the remote Polderbaan where I also took off the day before. Guess the wind direction had changed. Fortunately runway 18C was not in use, which means aircraft taxing from 18R towards the airport don’t have to go around this runway, but can simply cross it. This can save up to 10 minutes. Parking was on the B apron, between a bunch of KLM Fokkers and 2 Air France Regional Embraers. Deplaning, and hop into the waiting bus towards the arrivals hall. I was home again!
Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are welcome!
[Edited 2011-12-26 03:33:05]
[Edited 2011-12-26 03:33:46]