This is also my first TR here, so any CC is welcomed...
I had to go to London for a meeting, Olympic Village tour and visit my aunty, and whilst planning a little while ago, I came across a cheap ticket using Qantas into/out of Australia and Aeroflot into/out of LHR via SVO. I had not flown SU before, so I thought, what the heck, I'll give it a go. So here is my journey...
4th December 2011 QF21 (VH-OJH) SYD-NRT B744
Boarding commenced a little earlier than planned, and was relatively quick as well. I've done this flight (QF21) before, and this was my first time on a B744 (other being a B743). I have also done many a late departure out of SYD using EK A380, and the difference between boarding procedures is stark to say the least! Upon hearing the call for ground staff to vacate in order to close the doors, I had thought, 'beauty, I have a spare seat' which was the case for the flight...
We departed off 16R (22.39) and tracked out over the bay headed slightly west of home before heading north for Japan!! The flight itself was uneventful, I got fed, had some drinks and got some sleep had breakfast prior to landing... (excuse the iPhone photo quality)...
Dinner QF21 by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Breakfast QF21 by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Sunrise QF21 by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Pretty normal stuff really. Arrival into Narita was smooth, and we arrived on the fragmented 34R. If you know NRT, and its history, it was subject to many a protest and an obstinate farmer who did not want to give up his farm, and this property still remains even though construction of the runway is either side of his property.
After deplaning I had to transfer from T2 over to T1. I’ve been to NRT about 6 times now, and this was my first time over into the T1 terminal. I much preferred T2! I had 5 hours to kill, so I got something to eat (once shops started to open) and did some spotting through the glass as I wasn’t sure if there was an ob’s deck within T1. Also being northern winter, I had my jacket in my bag, so I wasn’t prepared anyway… But I got to see a few things, Korean A380 (again) and it never ceases to amaze me just how good it looks in blue!
IMG_6981.jpg by AussiePomm, on Flickr
IMG_7012.jpg by AussiePomm, on Flickr
NARITA Hedged Sign As a horticulturist, I found this interesting...
IMG_6996.jpg by AussiePomm, on Flickr
NCA Cargo B774F
IMG_7031.jpg by AussiePomm, on Flickr
5th December 2011 SU582 (VQ-BEL) NRT-SVO A333
Lining up to board my first Aeroflot flight was, let’s say… Interesting! Not for the way in which it was done as the Japanese are both very formal in the way they do things and very efficient, but the looks I was seeing for some of the fellow passengers. Now I am pretty tall at 6’3”, but I felt somewhat small compared to the Russian Volleyball Team that had just won the world cup! But more on that later… Seats were comfy; seatback entertainment unit was excellent as with the selection of English movies/TV shows! We got pushed back late, thanks to the inbound flight being nearly an hour late, and in typical Japanese style, we got the wave goodbye by the ground crew – always pleasant to see!
Departure this time was off the much longer 34L, for the 10.5 hour flight to Moscow – Sheremetyevo Airport.
After we were airborne, a late lunch was served. Aeroflot were weird in the way they did this, and I am at pains to work out its methodology. First, it was a drinks service, ok I get this keeping fluids up etc, but it was nearly an hour later that they served lunch! Now I had already drunk my juice, and would’ve killed for another, but it was well after collecting the trays that they did another drinks service. This time, I ordered a juice AND the coffee that was offered!
Aeroflot Seatback Entertainment
Aeroflot Seatback Entertainment by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Aeroflot Lunch (NRT-SVO)
Aeroflot Lunch (NRT-SVO) by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Aeroflot Dinner (NRT-SVO)
Aeroflot Dinner (NRT-SVO) by AussiePomm, on Flickr
After the meal, this is where things got interesting… I started to recline, and I barely got 5mm back when I got an almighty thump in the back from the passenger behind… Yep, I had one of those Amazonian volleyball players behind me. In his limited English, and my zero Russian, I explained I had a bad back after surgery, he said he has long legs (well hello, so do I) and before long we came to an agreement (after I called for a hostie WHICH I cancelled). I was allowed to recline about half way… All was good! I am not sure of the tracking, but there wasn’t much to see and we were instructed to close our blinds and sleep…Instructed was polite by the way! I watched a movie, and got a little sleep, I didn’t want to much as I wanted to sleep when I got into London!
Arrival into Sheremetyevo 07L was incredibly smooth, and we were quickly escorted to the gate. As we were leaving the forward door, an airline official was there with a board with my name, and three other passengers as well, in order to make the flight to LHR. As we were late, and we actually lost time in-flight, it was now an extremely tight connection! We did not even go through the immigration procedures, we did not clear security, and when we boarded (I was last on) the door was closed behind us. This flight had to make it into and then out of LHR before curfew, and I think it was going to be close!
5th December 2011 SU582 (VP-BWH) SVO-LHR A320
Although it is the same flight number, it is also a change in equipment in SVO, so down from an A333 to an A320. This example was also showing its age a little! After pushing back we departed from the same arrival runway of 07L. It was a spirited take-off, and I noticed from my aisle seat, a few tight banks to the right, before a heading towards the west and onto LHR.
Aeroflot Dinner (SVO-LHR)
Aeroflot Dinner (SVO-LHR) by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Another drinks service, delayed dinner service and a delayed coffee service was had, and before to long, we had started our decent into LHR. We arrived on runway 27L and taxied to terminal 4, bay11. Again, on this flight as with the prior long-haul flight, the Captain came over the PA, told us the name of the aircraft and who/why it was named after the person. He thanked us for using Aeroflot, and wished us a pleasant stay or onward journey. The crews on both flights were friendly, and pleasant enough as well! Whilst waiting to see if my bag had made it into LHR, I was optimistic at best given the tightness of connecting in SVO, I with my fellow passengers escorted through SVO headed for the lost luggage desk. I waited to last, no point being angry at this stage I thought, filled out paperwork and assured they be delivered the following day to my hotel. I was told that if I need any emergency items, I could spend/claim up to 60EURO, so I was good. The Heathrow Express had me in Paddington in no time at all, ready for bed! My bag arrived the following day as promised!
London itself was good, the meeting itself went well, and I got in some spotting at 27R, which is always a good location! I met up with a few spotters that were out there, and swapped contact details for if/when we visit each other.
AEROFLOT A320 VQ-BAX
AEROFLOT A320 VQ-BAX by AussiePomm, on Flickr
ALITALIA A320 EI-DSI
ALITALIA A320 EI-DSI by AussiePomm, on Flickr
ICELANDAIR B752 TF-FII
ICELANDAIR B752 TF-FII by AussiePomm, on Flickr
AIR ALGERIE B738 7T-VKD by AussiePomm, on Flickr
I also had to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew (work thing…), and it was my first winter visit there, and as usual, loved it!
Pagoda RBG Kew by AussiePomm, on Flickr
A380 Flyover RBG Kew by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Next up, was up to Liverpool and Manchester – Liverpool is where my dad’s side of family came from and I visited and stayed with my aunty, whilst I had arranged a meeting with a turf colleague who came down from Newcastle. I also managed to fit in some spotting (of course) at Manchester Ringway, where I visited the spotting park. I found out, it has a bus running to it ever hour, and it was a pound each way (I think). It is so easy to get to, and as a viewing park, historical centre, Sydney could take a leaf out of its book (with exception to the parking rates which I hear are quite large – but its fed back into the park itself, which is good!).
There are a few grassy knolls within the area, with sealed standing areas with binoculars as well, which get you well above the fence line. It gives you that sense of being very close to the taxiways in-front and of course, the main runway itself. The day itself mind you, was bitter, and I mean brass spanner!! Winds were straight off the Irish sea, hitting the snow covered Pennines and straight back over the airfield! But, the lighting was good…
SWISS Bae-146 HB-IXT
SWISS Bae-146 HB-IXT by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Thompson Fly B738 G-FDZG
Thompson Fly B738 G-FDZG by AussiePomm, on Flickr
G-URRU by AussiePomm, on Flickr
US Airways A333 (Heavy) N278AY
US Airways A333 (Heavy) N278AY by AussiePomm, on Flickr
US Airways A333 (Heavy) N278AY (rear) by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Monarch G-MAJS A300B4-605R
Monarch G-MAJS A300B4-605R by AussiePomm, on Flickr
United B752 N14121
United B752 N14121 by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Germanwings A319 D-AGWK
Germanwings A319 D-AGWK by AussiePomm, on Flickr
G-GMPB by AussiePomm, on Flickr
EK A388 A6-EDQ
EK A388 A6-EDQ by AussiePomm, on Flickr
The rest of my time up north consisted of visiting my aunt and a trip to Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club!!
It was soon time to head back to London on the train, which a good experience. The return in First Class was 35GBP in off-peak times (which suited me to economy at 187GBP in peak). Virgin trains were comfy, fast and efficient and the meal service on both legs was good! London, upon my return, was again cold and wet as it had been when I left, but at least the winds had ceased. They were recorded up to 165mph up in Scotland!
16th December 2011 BA 556 (G-TTOB) LHR-FCO (A320)
This was to be my first BA short-haul flight. AND, my first flight out of T5 at LHR! The terminal itself was quite nice, access into it was easy thanks to the Heathrow Express from Paddington! Clearing immigration was a breeze thanks to my UK passport, and I found a spot to watch the FIDS for gate information and to have some lunch at Waggama (Katsu Curry). Soon enough, it was time to board, and from gate 23 right out the back of T5A thankfully!! It appeared that domestic short-haul and International short-haul leave her, whilst long-haul operations are out of T5B & C respectively, so no connecting train for me!
Luckily, my window seat request was still available, but alas, I had a junior Miss 7 with mum and junior Master 5 behind with dad to contend with. Arguments over iPad were frequent, whilst both mum & dad slept… Meal was a ham and cheese roll, with a coffee. We taxied out for a lengthy wait at 27R departure, tracked out towards Bristol and headed for the coast over Portsmouth district and tracked south/East for Rome. We had more than a few bumps along the way, with the Captain having the lights on more than a few times! Arrival into FCO on runway 16R, would have to have been the smoothest landing I have experienced – EVER! Clearing immigration in FCO was nothing short of a NIGHTMARE! On the European Union line, there was a single immigration officer processing. Luckily for me, the line was not that long, and I got through in around 40 minutes. However, the line for non EU was back to a set of escalators, where airport officials were stopping people at the top, as there was no room for them at the bottom! Again, a single officer was there. Smiles were non-existent, and about the only word (if you can call it that) was a grunt to go through! It pays to be a dual citizen!
Getting from the airport into Rome was a breeze, the Leonardo Express was my journey! I found my hotel in no time, tucked away in a little alleyway of cobblestones in a district of cafes, restaurants and bars. It was an old hotel, with a spiral well worn stone staircase to the third floor.
This was my third time in Rome, and yet again it was raining off and on. The following morning, I did a bus tour, saw the sights to be seen (Coliseum etc…), and I got to catch up with JP and his dad for dinner and a walk to the Trevi Fountain. Had a great diner, great company, thanks JP for the offer to catch up in Rome, and it was a pity of your delays!!!
18th December 2011 BA 555 FCO-LHR (G-EUUO) A320
Time to head back across the ditch to London, this time aboard another A320. We departed off the cross runway 25 straight over the water! Again, meal service was the ham and cheese roll with coffee, sans irritable children fighting over an iPad! Flight itself was uneventful and we arrived on 27R and headed for bay 15 in T5. Now here was the best experience I’ve had in an airport, especially LHR. Deplaned and out of the airport in just over 5 mins!!!!!! No-one was at immigration, and as I had no bags, I was out in record time! I had a brief stay in London, so not much to say really…
20th December 2011 SU248 LHR-SVO (VQ-BEE) A321
I had already checked-in online for this flight, so for me, it was a simple matter of bag drop, right? NO! I joined the line with all of the other people, but my position in the line was just about perfect… The then opened the line for ‘Online Check-in’ so I was first at this gate. I showed him my QR code on my phone, he got my details and that’s where the troubles started… Although I had a single PNR, they could only check me through to Hong Kong, even though he could see I was going to Sydney. To cut an already long story short, three phone calls, four boarding passes, it was sorted, I was now checked all the way through to Sydney for my bag. Clearing immigration in T4 was a little slower than in T5, also darker, and not as pleasing to the eye. Boarding was called, and I was very pleased when entering that it seemed to be a near new bird! The flight was FULL, not a spare seat to be had. The lady of an older appearance to me arrived and took of her jacket, and subsequent jumper and sat down next to me in a singlet top. Now, I was hot, it was stuffy and I had my vent opened… She proceeded to close it as she was cold. We had words, her ‘neit’ my ‘go to hell’ fell on deaf ears and a stewardess was alerted to the situation. In the end, she was given a blanket to cover up…
We taxied out to runway 27R, had a short delay and had another spirited climb out. Meal service was of the same order as previous mentioned, and was actually quite good. It was a four and a bit hours to SVO, departing LHR at 22.48 arriveing into SVO at 06.15. We were in our final part of descent, and the hostess was walking up the aisle checking for seatbelts when we landed, I guess the Captain forgot to tell the crew what was happening! There was snow everywhere, the place was white, and it was falling heavily! We taxied through to Terminal D. Again, the Captain told us about the aircrafts name and thanked us for our patronage. Clearing immigration and security was pleasant enough, if not a little slow for that time of morning. Most of the shops inside the terminal were still closed, but I was more interested in seeing the operations out on the ramp. I had never been to an airport in snow, and the whole de-icing thing was interesting to see. AND, as I had an extended 13.5 hour layover, I had plenty to see!! Here are some shots throughout various times of the day…
VQ-BHL (A320) Sitting in snow at SVO airport
VQ-BHL (A320) Sitting in snow at SVO airport by AussiePomm, on Flickr
De-icing - Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
De-icing - Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Terminals F-D - Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
SVO snow covered field
Ramp Overview - Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
ABC Cargo B743
Air Bridge Cargo B743 - Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
Aeroflot A330 Skyteam
Skyteam at Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
SAS Retro A319
SAS Retro - Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
IL96 parked for the night as the snow softly falls...
IL-96 - Sheremetyevo by AussiePomm, on Flickr
21st December 2011 SVO-AND OLD: Hong Kong - Kai Tak International (HKG / VHHH) (closed), China - Hong Kong">HKG (VP-BWU) SU595 B763
It was soon enough, ‘Time to fly’ but this time it was on an (aging) B763 to Hong Kong from runway 07L. The seat was more than comfy, and I had two widows for my view pleasure! We pushed back for de-icing, and I got to see it from inside on the wings, and also to the rear (if I strained my neck al little)! It was great seeing it! I had what appeared to be a bunch of scool kids heading over to Hong Kong for some shopping. They seemed to be excited to be going, but after a bit settled down most likely due to no IFE. Same service again, drinks, meal drinks and I headed ddeeply into the land of nod, only to be woken for drinks, breakfast (ok, I’ll call it that) drinks. This time though, the crew were also seated for the touch-down into AND OLD: Hong Kong - Kai Tak International (HKG / VHHH) (closed), China - Hong Kong">HKG on runway 07L (again). Touchdown was a little heavy with a fair amount of reverse thrust and brakes… We taxied to the terminal in no time at all really. The line for immigration wasn’t as bad as when I was here with JL in August, and I got through fairly quickly. Once through, I caught up with a AND OLD: Hong Kong - Kai Tak International (HKG / VHHH) (closed), China - Hong Kong">HKG spotter CJ. It was great catching up with him again. We went back to his apartment where I left my camera bag (with laptop) and headed out to see the local area and his complex. He’s got a fantastic view from the 57th floor that overlooks Check Lap Kok. He can shoot from his balcony 07 departures or 25 arrivals! I also met his wife and we had lunch down in Tung Chung before heading to the KA bridge for some spotting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a great deal leaving during this 9 hour visit, so we headed back home and had ‘sweet rice B A L L S’ to welcome the Chinese Winter Solstice. These were yumm by the way, looked like eyeB A L L S, and were in a ginger soup. We caught a cab back down to the airport (10 mins) where I bid farewell, until next we meet, hopefully not to long!
22nd December 2011 QF128 (VH-OJF) AND OLD: Hong Kong - Kai Tak International (HKG / VHHH) (closed), China - Hong Kong">HKG - SYD B744
Checking in at the QF desks was easy, but the line getting through immigration was terrible! They now have a study happening where you get a ‘chipped card’ upon entering the line, and you scan it as you get called to monitor peak flows of passengers. I hope it can improve it, as they have plenty of desks just not enough people manning them! Flight was good, meal served and I got some shut eye. I had the row of seats free, so I laid down on them… It was good!
Arrival into Sydney was 16R, after we did a loop (or two) up near the Cessnock in the states north due to ATC requirements…
So, all up, a good set of flights. Service on most occasions was good to excellence. Aircraft were almost in top condition (exception being the SU B763 SVO-AND OLD: Hong Kong - Kai Tak International (HKG / VHHH) (closed), China - Hong Kong">HKG). I’d happily fly Aeroflot again, and next time, I will get the visa to see/stay in Moscow!