Being an avid reader of trip reports, I decided to leave the readers-only zone, and join the writers club.
I had once started writing a trip report on a BRU-JFK-ATL-SCL-LSC trip, but never published it. Since many trips I've been wanting to note down my travel, but everytime I realized I either did not pay attention to details, and never took any pictures.
For work I've been travelling quite a bit lately, and since I'm doing something more "exotic", I decided to at least detail out one of my trips. The pics are a bit blurry, sorry for that.
As a Belgian currently working in Ghana, my work allowed me (or forced me...) to fly BRU-ACC back and forth for the past weeks, but since I get bored, I try to diversify my flights, so I've done:
BRU-FRA-ACC (LH A319 & LH Privatair 737 BBJ type)
ACC-FRA-BRU (LH Privatair & LH A319)
BRU-LHR-LOS-ACC (BA, VS, W3) >> visiting the VS club house at LHR, and my stop at Lagos made me start thinking about writing a trip report
And now thus,
I arrived around 1.40h before departure at Brussels Airport, and directly went to the Aviapartner check in desks. No queue in front of me (no surprise, given the low load I would figure out later), and I was swiftly checked in by a friendly young lady.
After check-in, I did challenge her (sorry if I came across mean to her ) for not checking my visa. I had had massive issues with my visa during my first trip, and was surprised she didn't even look at it.
At this time of the day, BRU is very calm, since we have almost all our long haul travel in the morning. Only departures are Etihad, Ethiopian, and the flights to TLV and Moscow)
Ethiopian uses the Brussels Airlines lounge, and I must say I was pleased by the offer. It's not the VS club house by any means, but it's better than what I found for BA 2 weeks ago, or the pityful lounges AZ etc are using on the A pier.
I stayed in the lounge until 19h30, when I suddenly saw the "Last call" on the screen, so rushed a bit to the gate, and walked right onto the 763. The A pier has really nice full-window jetways, whilst the B pier has those claustrophobic tunnels unfortunately.
|SN lounge at BRU non-schengen pier|
|Ok-ish food on offer at this time of day (salmon and cheese sandwiches)website|
|Quiet BRU airport at night|
ET 705 - BRU-CDG
The business class is dated (what a surprise...), and was quite empty. 5/24 seats occupied for this first leg, with only white people (nothing bad intended, on the other flights I flew, I always saw a nice mixture of races).
Before take-off service was good. FAs offered drinks (typical OJ/water/Champagne, with champagne being no special brand at all), a hot towel, as well as a selection of magazines and newspapers.
After start up, the cabin was pressurized and heated, and the air had an impression of being not so fresh. Although I may have been paranoia about things, I had the impression that this plane must have know the days of smoking vs non-smoking, and that air filters may not be cleaned as often; or maybe I just need to get to know "old plane smell".
Take-off was awesome. for a 250km leg on a 763, with a super light load, we were able to use maybe 1/4th of the runway. We lifted off very early, and climbed at a steep angle to our FL180.
Nice little airplane shaped snacks during first leg
Empty economy class
View on Paris (the good eye can spot the eiffel tower, see the bright light on the pic)
During this first leg, a drink service was offered with some plane-shaped snack. I also started experimenting with the seat, just in case it was broken (buttons looked a bit broken) and I would want to switch before we landed in CDG...
The seats would recline to an ok degree (I thought the recline was as good as my KL seat on the MD 11 of the week before), but they were mechanically controlled. This was a bit of a trick to understand. It seems as for each moveable part there is a spring that pulls the seat into the "landing" position, and it is up to you to get it into the sleep position.
For a moment I also, without success, looked if I missed any presence of PTVs. Unfortunately, I would need to rely on my laptop for this flight to entertain me, and unfortunately, that battery would die quite soon.
During approach to Paris we had a very nice view over the city, including the Eiffel tower.
ET gives the in flight documents in a folder, and also offers the eat or sleep stickers
During our short stop over in CDG, a whole load of pax joined us, with remarkably a lot of white people, and families with children (also white). (Again, please do not read me wrong, I'm just so curious why the racial imbalance is so much larger than earlier flights I took to Africa).
We headed out for an on time departure to ADD, for what was going to be an uneventful flight. A decent amenity kit was handed out, and dinner was served. A small entree of salmon and shrimp, not too bad, and 3 options; chicken, beef or fish for main. The beef itself was good, but the sides were a bit poor.
Realizing it was already 11.30 PM after I finished the main, I decided to skip the dessert, and go to sleep right away. Similarly, I skipped breakfast, and tried to sleep just until landing.
The amenity kit on offer was quite nice actually and better than what you get on DL e.g.
State of the art seat controls...
Impressive selection of toilet stuff (or not)
Flashy green amenity kit was good though
Sunrise over Ethiopia
Dry Ethiopia + local huts
On short finals we had some interesting views on the dry terrain around ADD. When landed I was positively surprised by the looks of this airport, and the activity levels. We parked at a remote stand, where we were welcomed by a large team of people. (On the first pic you see the crowd of workers, of which half ran to our plane to service us. Quite a diference vs the 4 man crew you see in Europe)
Welcoming us at the bottom of the stairs was a guy with a sign for "HON", a special bus for the "cloud nine" business class pax, and a regular bus. I liked the separate (faster leaving) J bus, but it was a bit packed.
After a 2 min ride, we reached the terminal, where after a 5 min walk, I reached the lounge. Thusfar ADD had a top score on my card. Before heading into the lounge I quickly walked around the terminal, and found a cheap duty free store, selling rayban sunglasses for 95 USD. Not too bad, and since I needed a pair for a while, I took it. (and they are really solid, so assume they are not fake).
The lounge impression was a bit dated, not so very clean, but spacious and with a variety of food on offer. I decided to try several options, but only finished the waffel and one of the loumpias. They actually had a chef cooking the waffles... quite a nice feature, but not convincing of better food quality.
Terminal and airport looks good (from a first distant impression)
blurry picture of *A 767
The J only bus
Tailskid on the *A 763 (I had never seen this before, do all airplanes have this?)
I wouldn't want my luggage to be handled there... seems like a bit of a mess
Lounge food, waffle was so so, cake was not good
Lounge view with me and my private computer system trying to do some work
Departures out of ADD - seems like they do have a nice bank of departures in the morning. Any idea on how they are doing in general to make this hub work? ET has arrivals from LHR/FRA/CDG I believe
Smoking lounge... don't see how this saves the other pax from cancer. Also I noticed some people were smoking just in corners of the terminal.
(flight duration: 5h:45min)
Around 7.50 boarding was announced in the lounge for ET0921 to ACC. I headed to the gate, but was surprised that I still had to go through security. The set-up of the queues gave the impression that there should be a priority line, but that it was not in use, or at least, was used by just anyone.
After about 10' in the queue, a lady came and ask for pax to ACC, and I quickly jumped the queue. At the front of the queue though, I ended up in a horrible smell of smelly feet. Not sure if it were the Chinese people before me (a lot of Chinese queuing here, bizarly enough) or it was the carpet that hadn't been cleansed for years.
With some scepticism I took of my own shoes, and quickly passed through the check point. No taking out of laptop, no taking out of liquids, aaah, what a breeze!
I proceeded right away to the gate with no queue, headed down the stairs, and was ready to board the bus. They had an interesting set-up to line up people to allow 2 checking points. When checking my boarding pass, the agent noticed I was in cloud nine, and wanted to call a special bus for me. Since there was a fairly empty regular bus, I sort of thought it would be faster, and as convenient to take that one, so politely thanked him for the offer.
State of the art queuing lay out before bussing
modern busses are used in ADD
ET 772 and its cargo
https://picasaweb.google.com/115022667763496483937/ETBRUACC?authkey=Gv1sRgCJPmxLGgtICDFg#5714705348192876290 ET772, its cargo, and the bags
Our 752 to ACC
After 5' we left off the terminal and by 8.15 I was seated in 3A. Here we had an extremely light load. Only 2 other "pax" in J; with 1 being the dead-heading pilot, and another probably also an ET employee, since he would chat all flight with the FAs.
Seats and interior of this 757 was not much different from the 763. As dated, but as comfortable. Again I managed to have a fairly good sleep here.
I was expecting to get a breakfast + a small snack before arrival, but instead, just one large meal was offered, which was exactly the same as what I had for dinner the night before. With just 3 pax, I was surprised that they still had the chicken/beef/fish option on offer actually. I opted for the chicken this time, which didn't taste so good.
Given that the two meals were so similar, I really wondered who was doing their catering, and how they manage to have it so alike. Anyone has a clue?
I wanted to work on my laptop, and asked the crew if there were any plugs available, even in the galley or so, but the answer was "sorry sir, this is an old airplane, we only have this on our new airplanes".
I also asked if it would be possible to visit the cockpit, but "since 9/11 this is unfortunately completely impossible".
752 J class - dated seats, but still ok comfortable
More legroom than in the 763 !
But the same controls ...
And impressively, the same food
More empty J seats
Anyways. After some 5h30s flight, we descended to Accra, for a smooth landing. Stairs were put at L2, and strategically positioning myself quickly, I managed to be first off the airplane. This helped a lot, since at ACC they let you walk quite far across the apron, and walk into the arrivals hall. A quick check if I had my international vaccination certificate, passport control, and with no luggage checked, I was in the van taking me to my hotel in 10' after exiting the plane.
Landing at ACC
Nice heli (eurocopter? I'm not good at spotting helicopters )
VS had arrived before us
Airport terminal with the arrivals where you need to walk into
bye bye ET 752
Wanted to be the first one at customs
Welcome! But be good Reason to travel without luggage: you don't need to wait here
Overall this was a very positive trip. Several reasons I think are key:
- punctuality: all flights landed and departed perfectly on time
- ADD is a breeze to transit through, and when arriving at 7 am there, the day light and sun gives the energy to wake up
- although very old, the seats allowed for a good night sleep
- expectations were quite low
- the 7 + 6hr flights allowed for some decent sleep, in contrast to the typical 6h overnight flights I take.
- This got me 12k miles, vs the typical 8k I would get
So, all in all, I would recommend trying ET in J. Old planes, not so fancy lounges, but I had a much better trip than my BA/VS/W3 overnight travel 2 weeks earlier. (although I arrived 3 hours faster with that one, and it beats all rational thoughts ).
Hope you enjoyed the read! I'm happy to answer questions on this or other trips. And hope I'll find the courage to post more trip reports soon!