DSCN0816 by KrisYYZ001, on Flickr
I travel to Budapest almost every year to see my family. This year I decided to take a friend with me so he can experience Europe. My friend is a pretty nervous flyer, he found the concept of crossing the Atlantic in a plane that “only had 2 engines” rather appalling. I tired, in vain, to explain the reliability of modern day engines and ETOPS procedures to calm his nerves, the only thing that made him feel better was that we were taking a 747 on the return leg. I started looking for tickets about 3 months before my intended travel date, I looked at AC/LH, BA, KL, OS, LO and AA. KLM had the best deal by far, beating AC/LH by $300 round trip and BA by about $600, OS was by far the most expensive option. I flew with KL/MA a few years ago and found their service to be very good and AMS a very nice airport to connect through. In the past I've flown with AC/LH, BA and MA from YYZ to BUD.
The day before my outbound leg from YYZ, I checked us in online and printed both boarding passes. We headed to YYZ's Terminal 3 since all non-Star Alliance members fly out of T3 at Toronto. I also checked www.turbulenceforecast.com and saw that there was a strong jet-stream coming from the arctic and arching towards the European continent. The NAT tracks were organized to the north and south of the jet-stream but I was pretty sure we would encounter some turbulence so I prepared my friend for the bumpy ride. Check-in was quick and so was security. T3 is pretty quite in the late evening hours. The weather in Toronto on that Monday evening was not the best, it was rather cloudy and very windy with gusts up to 80km/hr, this did not make my friend feel any better about our flight.
The gate next to us had BA B744 departing for LHR. During the boarding announcement the gate agent apologized for the late departure from Toronto and explained that the aircraft was late arriving from LHR due to strong winds over the Atlantic.
KLM 0696 YYZ-AMS
April 16th 2012
(PH-AOD, Named Piazza del Duomo Milano, delivered 04/2006)
Scheduled Dep: 22:55 (on-time dep.)
Scheduled Arr: 12:10 (early arr.)
Actual Flight Time: 06:35
Flight Levels: 390, 410
Estimated load factor: 90%
Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures on this leg as it was dark outside.
Photo © Josh Frizzell - 4A7 Spotters
The first thing that struck me about the A332 was how small and crammed it felt. Perhaps KL's blue interior contributed to this impression. We sat in seats 34J and H, apparently KL's A332s have an extra inch of pitch compared to the rest of KL's long-haul fleet. I noticed that my friend's IFE screen wasn't on, I looked around and every other IFE seemed to be working fine. We stopped the first FA and asked if the IFE worked, she replied “it should start working during the safety video”. The Captain announced that we would have quick flight across to AMS, but that we would experience some turbulence over the Atlantic due to strong winds. We left the gate on time and the safety video started on my IFE but not my friends. YYZ was using runway 33L for departures which is the second shortest runway at YYZ, departing ahead of us was an AC 763 and a Fedex MD11F. The A332 performed a powerful take-off, the pilot's rudder inputs in order to keep the aircraft centred on the runway were quite evident and we experienced some moderate turbulence on departure. The A332 made a direct climb to FL 390 and headed east towards Montreal. After take-off we asked our great FA about the IFE, she told us that she would asked the Chief Purser to rest my friends IFE. Drinks and peanuts were served shortly after take-off, our FA asked if the IFE was working, but it wasn't. She offered my friend another seat if he wanted to watch a movie but I decided to switch seats with him since I had an Ipad with some video's loaded on it. The dinner options were quite unique, Salmon pasta or a curry vegetarian dish. I opted for the pasta and my friend picked the curry dish. Both tasted pretty good. I fell asleep soon after dinner and woke-up about 2 hrs prior to landing in AMS. For breakfast we got a box with OJ, yogurt and a muffin. The FO gave us arrival information, the TOD was over the North Sea and we made a very soft landing on Runway 18C about 40 minutes ahead of schedule.
Over the North Sea
IMG-20120417-00016 by KrisYYZ001, on Flickr
Amsterdam is a great airport, especially for making connecting flights. We cleared Passport Control and Security and still had over an hour before our flight to Budapest.
A view only possible at AMS, 4 MD-11s getting ready to depart.
DSCN0573 by KrisYYZ001, on Flickr
Apri 17th 2012
(PH-BXZ, Named Owl / Uil , delivered 03/2008)
Scheduled Dep: 14:30 (on-time)
Scheduled Arr: 16:30 (early)
Actual Flight Time: 01:35
Estimated load factor: 98%
Our 737 Arriving to the gate
IMG-20120417-00019 by KrisYYZ001, on Flickr
A little off the mark?
IMG-20120417-00021 by KrisYYZ001, on Flickr
The aircraft arrived at the gate about 45 minutes prior to our scheduled departure, we board this very spacious and clean B738 and took our seats, 19 E and F. We pushed back on time and headed for the runway, I was very tired even though I slept on the flight from YYZ, I must have fallen asleep shortly after the safety demo because I woke to the engines spooling up for take-off and I passed out soon after we were airborne. My friend nudged me awake during the drink service, when the FA got to serving me she asked “what would like sir, besides a good night's sleep” I smiled and asked for some water. We were also given a rather large sandwich, half was egg salad and the other half of the sandwich had turkey if I remember correctly, some biscuits were also distributed. I was somewhat disappointed that KL didn't install the overhead TV's in their B737s. We started our descent over Slovakia and made a pretty good landing on Runway 31L at BUD. As most people know, Malev stopped flying in early 2012. I was heartbroken when I heard of MA's demise, I grew up in Hungary and my sister, brother-in-law and many other family members worked at MA. I knew I was going to be depressed seeing BUD without MA dominating the apron. BUD lost a massive chunk of their passengers and almost all of their transit customers. The first indication of how slow BUD has become without MA was when we landed on 31L and instead of using the taxiways, our B738 was cleared to backtrack the entire runway towards the terminal. BUD's T2 had a mere 2 aircraft parked on the stand, a QR 320 at a gate and a small regional prop on the stand. I did see a LH A319 on the approach as we pulled up to our gate.