Berlin Tegel "Otto Lilienthal" Airport (TXL) is the main international airport in Berlin. It lies in Tegel, a section of the northern borough of Reinickendorf, 8 km northwest of the city centre of Berlin. Tegel Airport is notable for its hexagonal terminal building around an open square, which makes for walking distances as short as 30m from the aircraft to the terminal exit. In 2010, the airport served just over 15 million passengers, making it by far the biggest airport serving Berlin and the fourth busiest airport in Germany. Nowadays, it operates way over capacity.
Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF) is an international airport located near the town of Schönefeld in Brandenburg, directly at the southern border of Berlin and 18 km southeast of the city centre. Today, it is the smaller of the two Berlin airports that are still in operation. This airport as well has reached it’s capacity limits.
In 2006 began the construction of a new airport: Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), located at the existing Berlin Schönefeld Airport site. The terminal infrastructure of the existing Berlin Schönefeld Airport will be closed in 2013 while some of the airport's infrastructure will be incorporated into the greatly expanded airport area to the south. The airport will inherit Schönefeld's existing southern runway, which will become the new airport's northern runway.
The much-publicized opening date was scheduled for Sunday, 3rd June 2012. As this was an event not to be missed, an a.net meet was planned this weekend to celebrate both the end of the TXL era and the start of the new BER operations. Most attendees to this meet booked flights to arrive on Sat at TXL and leaving Sun at BER. I as well booked some flights to this grand event, giving me another opportunity to log some new types and of course airports:
BRU-TXL on Brussels Airlines’ A319
TXL-AMS on KLM’s B738
AMS-BER on KLM’s B737
BER-BRU on Brussels Airlines’ RJ100
The Brussels Airlines flights set me back some € 120, the KLM flights some € 90. It would also be my first time in TXL and BER of course and my first flights on mainline KLM. The night in AMS was spent in the intra-airport Yotel Hotel (more on that later).
And on a map (thanks to the excellent www.gcmap.com, copyright Karl L Schwartz):
Of course things weren’t meant to be. A few weeks (!) before the grand BER opening, the news was announced that due to technical difficulties - primarily dealing with fire safety and smoke exhaust systems - the opening will be delayed ‘indefinitely’. A major setback, not only for us enthusiasts but as well for Germany and German aviation in general. Well, nothing to do about it so the meeting was kinda rescheduled to TXL and TXL alone. As a bonus we now had the opportunity to sample one more currywurst at the famous ‘Essbahn’
Meanwhile a new opening date is scheduled for March 17th 2013...
What changed then for me particularly? No landing in BER but in TXL on Sunday, a fact that also the captain in charge of the AMS-TXL flight would comment on (more on that later as well).
Thanks to my ever trustful taxi and father I find myself at a calm and peaceful Sat afternoon at BRU’s terminal A. Security screening is light as ever nowadays:
And the usual occupants at the T gates acknowledge my presence as well:
The weather is quite good. Some medium easterly winds which will hopefully translate into a runway 07R departure, a nice change!
For the 3rd time in a row, the flight is serviced from gate A50. All good things are 3, remember, so my mind is uplifted right away.
With OO-SSV having the honors today I’ll have a new entry in the log as well:
BRU to TXL
Photo © Mark Mahu
The crew however is not all smiles, I’m greeted because ‘I have to be greeted’. I guess they all want to be somewhere else today. No cockpit announcements whatsoever as well on this flight...
Not that is matters much to me, I have my window and 2 nice older ladies next to me. In contrast to my flight to CPH a few weeks ago: Brussels And Scandinavian: BRU-CPH-BRU (by Sultanils May 7 2012 in Trip Reports), this plane is equipped with the thinish seats. The seat pocket features the usual contents:
And legroom is quite good as well:
We get our push a little behind schedule:
And make our way to the expected 3211m runway 07R, passing BRU’s petrol station on the way. There’s no sign with petrol prices posted luckily:
We pass by the Sabena Technics hangar. Sadly this company was in the news again last week announcing another wave of people probably getting the sack... Competition is hard as well in the sector of aircraft maintenance:
Shouldn’t this one be flying somewhere over Congo?
The engines spool up and off we ride:
We get some nice views on climbout east of the city of Brussels:
These people get most of the final approaches and some departures over their houses:
Some more nice views as we cruise over the Belgian countryside:
The city of Leuven:
Hello Düsseldorf airport!
Meanwhile the crew has rolled out their goody box cart and when they make a pass, I decide to once again have the muffin/soft drink combo for the grand total of € 4:
The flight meanders along and I entertain myself with some music and the views on the fluffy clouds outside:
The closer we come to the Berlin area, the thicker and more violent the clouds become. Eventually we dive into the murk and into some nasty turbulence as well:
Our approach path leads us to the north of Berlin. After passing the city on the right hand side and a few more right turns we are on finals for 3154m runway 26R.
I’m on the right and left side and get treated to some fine Berlin city views. We pass some reminiscents of the past:
THF behind the TV tower:
Very near now:
Some 5 minutes ahead of schedule we make contact with terra firma again:
After which we taxi to a parking spot at the D-terminal - or rather D-hangar...
Parking brakes on!
Some stairs are rolled onto the front cabin door and people start to disembark. At the very last instance also the rear door is opened which gives me a good oppotunity to sneak out by the back door and shoot some more shots. No doubt about the identity of this plane:
After a 100m busride, we are dropped at the E exit and a few steps later I’m landside at TXL for the very first time. Some more a.net member should be arriving around the same time as me, so I set off in search of some fellow plane geeks. Not that I have so much time because I’m only here today for an hour or 2 before going on to AMS.
TXL’s market lane, which is quite familiar to many of you I guess:
After some (data) roaming (around) I eventually manage to hook up with parton87 and later on also with airbuseric, akhmad and MEA-707 who came in on the KLM flight that is supposed to take me to AMS. A few minutes later, also captainred and rogerBCN come to join.
Not much more time for me than just shaking hands and saying ‘hi’ at the moment because I urgently have a flight to catch.
A SSK nearby provides me with a boarding pass and after a security check - which annoyingly has me obliged to take off my shoes - I find myself back again airside at busgate 14D.
The waiting area is much too small and totally outdated:
When boarding is called, the crowd dashes own the stairs like a bunch of mad bulls, everyone being determined to be the first passenger on the bus. Oh my...
TXL to AMS
Photo © Darren Wilson
The bus delivers us at PH-BXM, a new entry for the log:
The mad bulls continue their rage. I don’t let it get to me and strategically position myself at the back on the queue to get some more photos:
This one obviously is parked at the wrong airport!
And this one is about to leave for (probably) some cooler climes:
I climb the stairs, the captain of ‘Kluut’ is in dire need of some fresh air:
Once inside I’m greeted by 2 enthusiastic ladies who comment me nicely on my summery outfit. Yes, even us men appreciate some flattering comments once in a while And what a contrast in crew attitude with the Brussels Airlines crew! I feel very welcome.
I settle down in 5F and am instantly amazed by the given comfort: nice blue cloth seats and lots of space to stretch out. Just lovely!
The cabin has a cosy feel with the blue tones. There are 2 rows of business class but they remain empty:
A second bus drops off some more passengers and when everyone is settled in the captain comes on the horn announcing that ‘we are ready to go but are still waiting for the pushback truck to release us from this parking spot’.
Some 5 minutes later, the plane shakes some, indicating that the pushback truck has been connected to the nose wheel. After a push back some minutes after schedule, we taxi off via the taxiway on the other side of the terminal, passing by this sign. I guess McDee’s is trying to find new sources of income:
Turning onto the active 2540m runway 26L:
See you again tomorrow!
The views on climbout are again quite nice, overflying the ‘Volkspark Jungfernheide’:
And the ‘Tegeler See’:
We establish cruise:
It has been quite some time ago since I had a seat in the front part of any aircraft cabin. A nice bonus that comes along with that is not only the better legroom at times but also the fact that the food and drinks cart reaches you first.
And hungry I am for sure, not that the catering is overwhelming, but the offerings are good enough for a flight of this duration. ‘Zoet of hartig meneer?’
The nice cover of the current edition of the inflight magazine ‘Holland Herald’:
And of course no photo collection is complete with a winglet shot:
Some 20 minutes from touchdown, the front office comes on once again explaining our arrival route in detail: arrival from the south on the easterly runway, meaning the 3400m ‘Aalsmeerbaan’ or 36R.
With the evening being quite clear, the views are once more very good:
Water in sight, yes this is Holland:
The ironed out and flat Dutch countryside:
Greenhouses used for flower cultivating (methinks...):
Luck has it for me today: once again my calculations prove me right and have me sitting on the ‘right’ right side of the plane. We pass by AMS on the eastern side:
And make a righthand turn for a northerly bound approach and landing:
Some serious wing dipping. I wonder if they were allowed to do a visual approach?
Touchdown a few minutes ahead of schedule at AMS. We vacate the runway quite quickly:
And make our way to gate C10:
The ‘Patrijs’ next door sees mr Captain trying to hold a sneeze
Being in no hurry at all, I wait as the last person to disembark. I take one more cabin shot...
… and sweettalk the purser into a cockpit visit which is granted by the guys inside:
At about 20h50 I step out of the plane into AMS airport. With my stomach still rumbling I go on a foodhunt. A lot of shops and alikes are already closed but I manage to find a place which even still has some nice hot sandwiches on offer. I seat myself at the window and finish the meal after which I come to the conclusion that I’m in desperate need of some sleep.
I have a booking at the Yotel Hotel, which is located airside but in the non-Schengen zone. After a passport control and a nice chat with the immigration officers - who have no more work apparently, the place is totally deserted - I head out in search of my place for the night. Then I come to realise that I’m actually in a walhalla of widebodies that is AMS non-Schengen. A glance at the FIDS however reveals only 2 more longhauls to depart: KLM to Shanghai and EVA Air to Taipei. I quickly make my way into the E section where the only thing I see is this:
Through the window I manage to see the remains of a lonely T7 taxiing out (must’ve been the Shanghai flight) so now there’s only 1 flight left to depart:
I’m glad that at least I have 1 nice widebody framed! For a moment I get this vision telling me to get up at 5 to go and spot some more but my common sense - yes, I do have that - tells me to just go and find my room.
The fancy looking Yotel:
The guy at the reception is very friendly, I’m given a keycard and a wifi code for the free hotel wifi:
The rooms are small but have everything you need for a good night of sleep:
There even is mood lighting!
After a mediocre and not so long sleep I find myself back in the non-Schengen zone at around 5h45. The flight to TXL should be boarding at 6h35, so I have some time buffer to go through immigration again. Quite a line there already with lots of pax trickling in from destinations over the world, but as luck may have it once again, a new booth is opened and European passports are invited to cut the line. Thus my anticipated 30 min wait is reduced to a 2 min one, good job!
Through security once again - a painless affair - and I’m in search of some desperately needed eye opening caffeine. The place is quite full and lines at the various food courts are long...
I decide to skip and find myself a nice relaxing seat at a window:
The view outside depresses me a bit, what a contrast with last night’s weather...
I doze off for some minutes and when I wake up, my watch tells me it’s near boarding time! I better get going then. Gate C8 is used for the departure to TXL this morning:
The anticipated and warm welcomed B737 is at the other end of the finger:
AMS is very much an oiled machine: the gate agent presses a button and a whole-lotta-automated message comes out at the gates’ P/A system. I join the queue and make my way into the finger and down to the aircraft.
AMS to TXL
Photo © Jeroen Schonewille
The guy which is already in the aisle seat in my row is asleep (!) and looks at me from another world when I tell him I have the seat at the window. He doesn’t get up but moves his legs into the aisle, thereby causing a fellow passenger to nearly fall over his feet. I squeeze in and accidently step on his backpack which lays right down at his feet. I nearly fall as well... Thanks man for being so kind to let me in
Yes, there is a plane standing next to us!
This crew as well is in good spirits and Mr Captain himself does the welcome speech in the front galley. He also mentions the fact that normally we should’ve been flying to BER but since that one is not open yet, today’s flight will end in TXL. Tell me about it The security show is done from the dropdown monitors:
This one seems prepared for some IFE. If it’ll ever come? Don’t know...
The weather has changed, but the winds apparently haven’t as we make our long way to the ‘Polderbaan’ or 36L for a takeoff in northerly direction.
Just landed at 36R. Where do you come from my friend?
Yes, I know it rains... We hold for a while at the runway threshold and next thing we rocket off into the murky Dutch skies:
I particularly like this one:
The TV monitors switch to the beloved ‘mmm’ (moving map mode) and I go in ‘hm’ for a while (hibernation mode):
A ding dong later, a crew member comes round and hands out our brekkie, a brown sandwich with some thinly sliced chicken filet and some sweet cake-like round well... thingy. All quite tasty and filling enough:
The comfort on this plane is pretty much comparable with the B738 from last night, there’s ample room to stretch out. I don’t complain
The remainder of the flight is flown smoothly with no earthly views whatsoever:
Another crew member comes around and asks me to fill out a survey form which I gladly do. I’m quite positive on filling it out as I truly felt ‘at home’ on these KLM flights:
A while later our most informative captain announces the descent into TXL. We basically follow the same path as yesterday:
In the last straight line we get this painful view, in the distance is BER where it all should’ve been happening today...
Here’s another shot of Tempelhof, oh how I wish I had take one of the SN flights a few years ago...
Berlin city once again, probably all you a.netters around were still asleep on my arrival
And so it happens I make my 2nd appearance at TXL in 2 days, albeit on another carrier:
Some nice engine action going on right next to me after landing on 26R:
The apron looks quite busy this morning with mainly Air Berlin planes:
This one’s for akhmad and RvXKaz, sorry lukeyboy...
We reach our parking spot - the same as yesterday, and probably the same one every other day - and upon disembarking I thank the crew and the captain - who is saying goodbye to the pax from the galley as well - in particular for the nice flight. I hand over the survey form and ask for a visit of his desk to which he kindly agrees:
What follows is a little bit of a longer busride than yesterday and 10 minutes after arrival I’m out in the public again. Since no a.netter can be seen at this ungodly hour, I head inside and treat myself to another breakfast and some nice hot tea and lemon. Next thing I head for another walk to explore my surroundings - something I couldn’t do yesterday due to a lack of time.
This Continited 752 is being readied for a departure to EWR:
F/O making some prep’s:
And there’s PH-BGE once more, the one that brought me in from AMS. It looks like the window cleaners are doing there thing on the inside:
To be history soon?
I send text messages to some a.netters to let them know I’m already at TXL and some time later they all start coming in. We have a general assembly near the ‘Essbahn’ currywurst house and chat some of this and some of that and of course some aviation as well. We decide to enter the viewing deck but since the automated ticket machines don’t work and the woman manning the scanning machine clearly doesn’t bother, we all enter for free. And to be honest, the bag scanning procedure is a laugh as well. I beep on walking through but the woman says ‘no problem, go on’. Fine by me! We chat and spot some with the catch of the day being this Mongolian flight from SVO/ULN:
And one more:
It’s quite windy and chilly on the viewing deck and summer hasn’t arrived yet so after a while we call it a day and head inside for some beers. The remainder of the afternoon is spent at the bar in good spirits. One by one, people start leaving to catch their flights home. Too bad that some of us needed to get to the far away SXF airport. In that aspect, BER would’ve been much more convenient!
I as well have a flight to catch of course, so some 10 mins before boarding time, I make my way into the shack that is terminal D at TXL. The place is rather packed:
Not before too long, the expected Avro comes rolling in and parks right in front of the terminal:
I’m hungry again but the bar in the terminal only has these pretzel thingies on sale - the rest is sold out (!) - so by the lack of anything better I settle for that.
The flight came in on time but still a delay of 10 mins is announced without any reason given:
A few seconds after the delay is announced boarding starts Quite some passengers queue up so I expect quite a full flight.
TXL to BRU
Avro RJ100 OO-DWE
Photo © Peter Klytta
I walk down the covered walkway and in the pouring rain to our aircraft. Both the front and back door are available for boarding. Nobody at the back door and everyone standing in the rain at the front door So of course I head for the back door, I’m seated window last row anyway!
Quote: ‘Under the wing, you know’
Full house as I expected and my neighbour is the type that needs a lot of space. His arms are on both armrests during the whole flight. Oh how I hate that... Still the amount of space is acceptable, not more:
Here’s a cabin view prior to departure, the lady in front is not very keen on the ‘aircon forte’ blowing in her hair:
The cabin is well used on this one, especially the armrests:
I’m glad to know this plane is insulated:
And it even features some antiquities!
The crew seems a bit stressed as well but later in the flight it turns out they’re actually a nice bunch (of 2 ladies). Departure from the stand is a little late but the captain promises us an ontime arrival in a rainy BRU. We taxi out the same way as we did on KLM yesterday, via the back of the building and on to runway 26L.
Niki takes off before us:
And Air Berlin after us:
Flaps set? Ready, set,...
Goodbye TXL, I’ll probably never see you again...
The skies are grey and overcast so the visibility diminishes quite fast:
In desperate need for some healthier stuff than beer, I order myself a blueberry smoothie from the BOB, which hits the spot quite nicely:
This is the only view outside that’s worth photographing this evening:
After a flight time of 1h20 mins we touch down on runway 25R in a misty, foggy, rainy, dreary Brussels...
MSS658 and 717Flyer’s easyJet flight has already landed as well and they wait for me in the terminal.Together we disappear in the catacombs of BRU...
A very nice weekend with some excellent company and some nice flights thrown in, what more does one need?
SN, well they left me with some mixed feelings: the crews were average to say the least and on the way to TXL there was absolutely no communication from the cockpit whatsoever. Not that it matters much but compared to the lovely and talkative KLM captain giving us his welcome speech in front of all pax is quite a contrast in customer approach. Flights were on time sure enough but the Avro’s are starting to show quite some wear and tear. I’m not a big fan of the type either, the cabin has a somewhat cramped feel, especially in the back. Next time I’ll choose another seat.
KLM was a most positive surprise. Excellent and talkative crews - being Dutch they are more extravert than the Belgians anyway - and great comfort on board their Boeing -700 and -800 series, especially in the forward part of the cabin. Free catering as well, not too much in amount but substantial nevertheless.
And as for the reason of this trip: a to all attendees of this a.net meet and everyone I have met and re-met in person. It was great and it has to be done again, for sure!
Thanks for reading and comments welcome as always