An Airbus and a Boeing to and from Berlin
Hi there. Thanks for dropping by at my 5th Airliners.net trip report, which will cover my visit to Berlin during the infamous Berlin A.net meeting during the first of weekend of June. When I first booked this trip, I had already came up with the perfect name for this trip report: An old Boeing and a new Boeing to the old and new Berlin
. Follow along to find out why things didn’t go as planned.
In February intentions were made by the A.net community to visit the opening weekend of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Located near the site of the Schoenefeld Airport (SXF
) it would replace that airport, as well as the Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL
) and the already closed Berlin Tempelhof Airport (THF
). I was eager to go as I was very interested to see this new airport – it doesn’t happen every day that a new major airport is opened in Europe – and I was also looking forward to meet some fellow trip reporters. However, there were some time and budget restraints, so I wouldn’t be able to go crazy on flights.
When checking for fares from Dusseldorf Airport – which can easily be reached from Amsterdam by ICE train – I found a perfect fare on Lufthansa for the evening flight to Berlin on Saturday. This would be excellent, as I had been meaning to find a new way to visit Terminal A (exclusively used by Lufthansa and friends) at Dusseldorf. Added bonus would be that the flight would be operated by a Boeing 737-500 and so far I had only flow this type with winglets (on Continental). A second added bonus would be that – this being the last flight of the day – it would not operate to Berlin Tegel (TXL
) as usual, but to Berlin Schoenefeld (SXF
) to be positioned there for next day’s opening of Brandenburg. That would have been pretty unique, a flight to SXF
on Lufthansa. For the return trip I had a choice of two carriers that could directly bring me back to AMS
, either Easyjet or Transavia (HV). KLM also operates the route, but isn’t fond of selling cheap one way tickets. I settled for Transavia, as they have allocated seating instead of the ‘run for a seat’ policy at U2
. And I like their happy sunshine branding and I felt patriotic for choosing a Dutch company. Later on I learned that fellow A.netter Globalflyer would also be on the flight. So in summary, I would fly on the old and classis 737 to the old SXF
, and return on a new 737 NG
from the new BER down the road.
That’s when the changes began. First in March, when I heard Transavia was opening a new route in May between Eindhoven (EIN
) and Berlin. This fitted perfectly in their strategy of opening new city destinations from the airports in the regions, such as Rotterdam (RTM
) and Eindhoven. I was disappointed at first, as I had not flown to EIN
yet and this would be a perfect way to sample that airport. However, a week later I learned that the AMS
route would be cancelled in favor of this new route. This would actually make sense, as Berlin has become somewhat of an oddball route for Transavia ex-AMS
. Although AMS
is Transavia’s main airport, it mainly serves beach, sunshine and Mediterranean (and winter ski) destinations from AMS
, and moved most of the city destinations to the likes of RTM
. Most likely to avoid direct completion with parent company KLM, who has over the last few years started to offer very competitive prices on popular city destinations. This is clearly illustrated on their route map.
A few weeks after the change was announced, an EIN
was bookable on the website from April-something and AMS
wasn’t anymore. However, my ‘Manage my booking’ still showed that I would be flying to AMS
. On two occasions I called their call center but they said the booking was still correct and I would be flying to AMS
. Sure. At the start of April I was getting worried. Prices were going up, and I didn’t want to be stuck with just refund and having to buy a more expensive ticket. So when I was at AMS
for another flight, I decided to drop by their ticket desk. The friendly gentleman over there confirmed that the AMS
flights were indeed cancelled in favor of EIN
, but that he couldn’t help me as it was a Sunday – and their head office was closed. But he assured me that I would most likely be rebooked, so that I shouldn’t worry and try the call center somewhere in the coming week or wait to be called. To my surprise, the next morning, I received a call from Transavia Customer Service, who told me that they heard about my visit to the transfer desk and about my complaint. The agent on the line apologized for the inconvenience caused and inquired whether I wanted to rebooked or be refunded. I of course opted for the rebooking. The Customer Service lady told me she would pass along this request to the Ticketing office immediately and once again apologized. And indeed, a few minutes I received two e-mails: a new e-ticket, and a personal e-mail from the Customer Service agent once again apologizing, and also the announcement that she would a voucher for an onboard purchase to my home address. I have to admit, I was happily surprised with the way they handled this. Globalflyer told me he was notified a few weeks later, and did went for the refund, and booked himself one of the KLM flights.
Change number two was of course the most dreadful one: the postponing of the opening of Brandenburg This would mean that both my flights would operate to TXL
, and turn my trip report title in A old and a new Boeing to Berlin
. The third change I only noticed 23 hours in advance, when I did the only check-in for the Lufthansa flight and I saw 30 rows, which a bit too much for a 735. And indeed, the flight was changed to an Airbus A320. No biggie, but a 737 Classic would have been more fun than the oh-so common Airbus. And it turned my trip report title in An Airbus and a Boeing to Berlin
. Anyway, this is the journey I embarked on, courtesy of the one and only Great Circle Mapper:
Saturday, June 2nd
Lufthansa Flight LH2742
Dusseldorf Airport (DUS) – Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL)
160th overall flight
9th flight on Lufthansa
15th flight on an Airbus A320 (40th flight on an Airbus A320 series)
3rd visit to DUS
(3rd departure) and 4th visit to TXL
1st time flying DUS
Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 19.25 / 19.20
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 20.30 / 20.22
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 1.05/ 1.02
Flight duration: 51 minutes
Mileage: 292 nm
To get to Dusseldorf I took the ICE train running from Amsterdam Central Station via Utrecht, Arnhem the border station at Bad Bentheim towards Oberhausen, Duisburg and Dusseldorf. After that, the trains continue towards Cologne and Frankfurt. Tickets can be bought for as cheap as E19, when bought in advance. I took the 12.34 train, which would get me into Dusseldorf about two hours later. As the Dusseldorf Airport station is located between Duisburg and Dusseldorf, one can also exit at Duisburg and take the regional train to the airport from there. However, as I had time enough I continued to Dusseldorf Hbf, spent some time there and then headed to the airport.
It was a great day at Dusseldorf. Lovely blue skies and some great temperatures. Excellent conditions to pay a visit to the observation deck, located next to the train station at the threshold of the runways. I spent some time there, not all that busy today, but some nice traffic nonetheless. From my previous visit a few years ago I remembered a lot more regional traffic from Lufthansa though. Has LH
cut back on the regional flying from and to DUS
After about an hour on the observation deck I continued towards the terminal. I took the famous Skytrain and arrived in the great looking departures hall. Lufthansa has its own separate check in area, which is quite convenient. No bags to check, so just a visit to the machine to print out my boarding pass. Then onto security, which was quite swift. Only a few flights were leaving that Saturday evening, so not busy in the terminal at all.
Now I have to admit, I am writing this three weeks after the event, and I can’t find my notes anymore. So I’m afraid I won’t be able to share much details on the flight with you all. Suffice to say that it was an ordinary domestic Lufthansa flight, with efficient service along the way. We left and arrived early, so some extra brownie points for Lufthansa there. Anyway, on to the pictures:
ICE awaiting departure at Amsterdam Central Station
Dusseldorf Central Station
View from the Dusseldorf observation deck
A Lufthansa 737-500 taxing by. Sure, rub it in
Dusseldorf Airport departures area
Lufthansa’s dedicated departures area. Shared with some of their Star Alliance friends of course
After security awaits… a duty free shop
Lufthansa’s terminal at Dusseldorf basically consists of one long pier, with shops and cafés in the middle, at gate and waiting areas on each side
LH A321 and a maintenance hanger. The second tail is from my A320
FIDS. As said, not that many flights from Terminal A this evening
No, I won’t be flying with you today
FOTO The gate for today. No agent has arrived. Also note the self-boarding gates here
The earlier pictured A321 is now pushing back for its flight to Munich
Yeah, that’ll be my flight for the day
View from seat 18A. Looking back towards the main terminal building. The two seats next to me remained empty. I’d say the load was be about 60%.
Excellent legroom. And yes, it’s an A320, not a B735
When boarding was completed, I noticed that there were quite a bit of empty seats in the back, so I moved to 26A. I had the entire row to myself.
Manual safety demo. Great looking cabin.
Pushing back and taxiing out
Lining up on runway 23L. A brother/sister from Air Berlin is next in line.
Great view of the airport during take-off. I departed from the terminal most to the left.
Terminal C, mostly used for long haul flights
The city and the river in the distance
Banking and turning towards a flight path to Berlin
Partly overcast along the way
Inflight service. Coffee, juice and some pretzels.
More clouds as we make progress towards Berlin
And descent has begun
More clear skies as we reach Berlin
Going lower and lower. We should be making a 180 degree turn by now, to line up for the runway
And indeed we did. First sights of Berlin.
Always sit on the right side when flying into Berlin
That’s Berlin allright!
Welcome to Berlin Tegel Airport
Reaching our stand
So far, I had only arrived in TXL once, and that was in the separate terminal D. So this was my first chance to arrive in the original terminal, where I noticed that each gate has its separate baggage belt, just like they have their own check-in and security check. A unique airport indeed.
Sunday June 3rd
Transavia Flight 5002
Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) – Eindhoven Airport (EIN)
161st overall flight
7th flight on Transavia
12th flight on a Boeing 737-700 (34th flight on a Boeing 737 series)
5th visit to TXL
(3rd departure) and 1st visit to EIN
1st time flying TXL
Departure Time (Scheduled/Actual): 16.05 / 16.57
Arrival Time (Scheduled/Actual): 17.30 / 18.12
Block time (Scheduled / Actual): 1.25 / 1.15
Flight duration: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Since I arrived at around 20.30 on Saturday, I knew most A.netters would not be at the airport anymore, so I had high hopes of meeting them on Sunday. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. Due to some bad time management on my side, I arrived at Berlin Tegel a little later then I would have wanted, around 14.00. Most of the A.netters were at that time already on their way to their gate or their flight. Better luck next time I hope!
So I arrived at the airport at around 14.00 hours. My flight was scheduled to depart at 16.05 hours, which meant that check-in would be opening soon. Now strangely enough, Transavia doesn’t offer online check-in from except from their bases in Holland and France, plus few exceptions. Which mean queuing up. Knowing the type of passengers usually fly Transavia – holidaymakers – this can be quite a hassle. Especially if you are only carrying hand luggage, such as myself. Transavia uses Terminal C at Tegel, which is the separate terminal mostly used by Air Berlin. When I arrived there, check-in was not open yet, and there were already a few other people wandering around waiting for check in to open up.
At around 14.15 a few staff members finally showed up and opened the counters. I was one of the first to be helped, and was issued my boarding pass with pre-selected seats (3A, for a small fee). Unfortunately the check-in agent announced a delay of about one hour. Bummer. She said I could still already go airside, as there would be a shop and a restaurant in the terminal. I’m glad I didn’t do that, as that would have been the most boring place to be for over two hours. Instead, I decided to go the – rainy – observation deck, as well as try one of those famous S-bahn curryworsts, something I hadn’t tasted on my two previous visits to Berlin.
Terminal C, Air Berlin counters on the left, common use counters on the right. HV would be using the two counters to the outer right
The main Air Berlin check in area
Air France and Alitalia A321’s. I believe the AF flight had some A.netters on board.
At around 16.00 hours I went back to Terminal C. Security was quick, as there was only the Transavia flight and an Air Berlin flight to Graz leaving around this time. Airside, this area of the terminal was small and sparse. A small café, a duty free shop and limited seating. But lots of windows, so great views. Boarding started at 16.30. Advantage of flying a delayed flight is that most people are already at the gate, so boarding went pretty smooth. Again, not much inflight details here due to the lost notes. Captain welcomed us on board before departure, and apologized for the delay. It was caused by a technical problem on the plane earlier that morning. Flying time would be around an hour and 15 minutes, which would mean we would arrive about 45 minutes late. He also announced that it would be raining, and be around 10C in Eindhoven, way too cold for this time of the year. The flight itself was okay. Friendly smiles from the crew, and as far as I could tell quite a few people made a purchase from the buy-on-board menu. Not too much to see outside, as the weather both in Berlin and Eindhoven was pretty horrible. So I mostly read my book, and watched the Friends episode that was shown on the drop down tv screens. Alas, on to the pictures.
Small departure lounge in this area of Terminal C
Large windows though. And look, the 767 is departing.
Transavia touching down
And Transavia at its stand
Rain, rain, rain. This made picture-taking quite difficult, unfortunately.
Tight legroom! Okay for a this short flight, but barely bearable on a 4+ flight to somewhere sunny
The Tegeler See. Look at that grey weather.
View outside for most of the flight.
Continued… Very bad visibility and low clouds here
Finally the ground can be seen, and we’re almost landing
Parking next to a bigger brother. That plane was accompanied by several ambulances, perhaps a medical diversion?
Exiting the plane and walking towards the terminal. Fortunately it was mostly dry now.
Looking back towards the apron. I arrived in the plane in the middle.
Wizzair taxing out to a Central/Eastern European destination
A bit blurry, but this is the terminal (landside) at Eindhoven
Thanks for reading. Comments are appreciated!