Anyone who might have read one of my past trip reports will most likely be aware that I am a huge hockey fan and that I in the past few years, have been taking trips to see the NHL Premiere games in Sweden.
Back in September, with clearly no NHL Premiere the signs of a lockout looming; we decided that it was time to look towards seeing a league game within Europe.
Lots of options were available, (Russia being one however the whole visa cost was very off putting) however the destination that stood out was Berlin; as the city ticked all the right boxes.
was in the running for choice of airline, however when the price was totalled out it worked out considerably cheaper to go with EasyJet and the reality was they offered a much better schedule maximising my time in Berlin.
Arriving at the airport, I was pleased at how tidy Gatwick is looking now. It seem that the new owners really are investing in the place and that it looks more complete each time I travel though. The EasyJet check in desks were clearly signposted, though really all you need to do is look for the orange. With more time to spare than planned, we were hoping to check our suitcase in and go grab something to eat for breakfast; sadly this was not the case as the agent behind the counter informed us that we would need to return in 45 minutes or so as we were told we were “too early” in a less than customer friendly orientated manner – This surprised me as I am used to Bag Drop with other airlines being open a lot earlier.
Forty-Five minutes later we returned and got a different agent, one who was a lot more friendly and helpful and when I asked to have my boring printouts replaced with boarding cards; I was told it would be no issue and that I was in possession of something quite rare now given most peoples use of the online check in service.
Clearing security moments later (Gatwick really does have fast moving lines) I was airside and traipsing through the Duty Free store. I really dislike being force fed straight into the Duty Free store as I find you are immediately assaulted with perfumes, drink samples and people stopping to look at stuff.
Once through the seemingly never ending duty free store, I noticed the huge building site of the lower area showing more investment into the airport and then headed upstairs to grab breakfast at one of the few places to see outside.
Today’s view offered a decent view; visible were a couple of Virgin Atlantic 744’s, an Aegean 321 and several EasyJet 319s. During the time I was eating I also saw the soon to be gone US flight depart, a Vietnam Airlines flight and most interestingly; the arrival of a Belavia aircraft from Minsk.
That US Airways plane needs a clean!
Would much rather be on that VS
At 12pm the gate for our flight appeared and unfortunately it was the nearest gate (number 10); so I would not get the chance to see many planes on the way to my gate.
Boarding started at about 12:15 where they called forward all passengers in speedy boarding and other rows through to 10. As I had prebooked row 6 we went and joined the bundle of passengers trying to force themselves through the gate and onto the plane. On walking down the airbridge the queue suddenly halted and there we waited for about 15 minutes or so whilst various people went past in an assortment of high vis jackets. Thankfully this airbridge was mostly glass and offered a decent view outside.
Not our plane.
The obligatory legroom shot
Sched Dep: 1245
Sched Arrival: 1540
Finally boarding commenced and we were let on to the aircraft. EasyJets cabin is nothing special to comment on – the seats actually felt a little tighter than the Air Transat ones; and legroom felt quite tight. Sadly at this point I also noticed that my window was fairly dirty and this is reflected in the following photos.
Boarding completed quite quickly and we were informed that our flight was running about 15 minutes late; however due to the shortened flight time (1hr 35mins) we would be arriving on time or slightly ahead of schedule.
The safety demo played – I think. I am not sure as it was somewhat hard to hear and from the looks around the cabin no one was actually paying any attention to the recording. Pushback then commenced and we joined the relatively short queue for take-off.
Soon, we were up and over the snow filled fields of England heading out towards the North Sea where visibility disappeared until we were over the continent. During this time a cabin service was started and I noticed most people seemed to be buying something; I passed up this opportunity as I had brought lunch with me having seen the EasyJet BOB prices before the flight.
With the cloud now cleared I was able to sit back and watch the world go by; however all too soon we were landing.
Norwegian Air Services
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Snow covered fields
More of the landscape
More landscape, this time as we head towards the sea
Above the clouds
Over the Thames Estuary
This I believe is the River Rhine. Please correct me if I am wrong
Nothing but forests and snow
Starting the descent
Town quite close to the runway
Looking cold down there
Condor and EasyJet planes parked away from the terminal
Stairs were used for deplaning (there really weren’t many airbridges here) and then through passport control and to baggage reclaim. SXF
felt remarkably small and its nice to know that the grotty buildings days are somewhat numbered.
Thanks to the low amount of baggage people had checked in our suitcase appeared almost instantly and we were out and through the airport in roughly 30 minutes at the most and onto the train heading towards the city.
Berlin is an amazing city with some excellent memorials, a great transit system and so many places to buy beer. During our three and a half days we took in many sites, avoided the tourist traps and caught a couple of hockey games. The atmosphere of these games was outstanding and they were really enjoyable to watch (more so the one where Berlin actually won).
One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip was a visit to a small steakhouse in the suburbs where an excellent quality steak, fries and beer with desert cost about €15 – a real bargain. Here are some photos from my time there:
The view from a bridge near our hotel
Outside the o2 World just before our first DEL
View from the cheap seats (pretty damned good imo)
Sadly Berlin lost this game
Late night currywurst and some mezzo mix – the end to a great day
tower is certainly casts an interesting shadow on the city, especially at night
The tower is less visible when low cloud covers it
Some of the Berlin Wall at the Wall Memorial
All this for less than €20
Some interesting art work on these removed sections of wall
Line between the East and the West
The snow and grey sky increase the impact of the sadness of The memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe quite a bit
So glad I am not the owner of this bike
Our second visit to the o2-World
We had slightly more expensive front row seats this time
Sched Dep: 2140
Sched Arrival: 2245
Sadly the weekend came to a close and on the Monday evening we headed back towards SXF
. Taking note of the airports size we deliberately left the city a bit later than planned. At the airport we joined the short queue for the bag drop desk then went and grabbed a quick dinner.
Noticing the long security queue had shortened a bit we deciding it was a good time to go through. Whilst we queued I did see several things unseen anywhere else – firstly a bag weighing station that actually charged a euro to weigh your bag and secondly a vending machine charging a euro for a plastic bag to store your liquids in.
Beyond this there was nothing to unusual in the process to report however I must comment that the staff were fairly rude, and perhaps that the scanners were slightly more sensitive here as pretty much everyone (except me) seemed to be getting directed to a second check. Notably I did realise after clearing security that a small tube of gel I had previously forgotten about had remained in my bag through the security process; leaving me questioning their scanning abilities.
Once in the departure lounge (if you can really call it that) we thankfully didn’t have to wait long and were told to pretty much immediately head to gate 56.
However, down at gate 56 there was a queue heading quite a way along the hot and stuffy corridor. This was moving, albeit very slowly and even once through into the gate room there were no spare seats and it was still uncomfortable.
Noticing our plane wasn’t even in yet I expected a delay followed by a very quick turn around, and sure enough when our plane did make an appearance everyone appeared to be ushered off quickly and we were soon cleared to board.
Once again people were shoving and rushing to get onboard (not sure why as the seats are now allocated) and I noticed what looked like a 90% load. According to the stickers on the cabin equipment at the front our plane today had visited Milan and Luxembourg.
Flight to Bristol
Our ride home
Quickly taken whilst boarding
The De-icing begins
Same problem before with the safety announcement in that we couldn’t hear it; although this time it was made even less audible by the loud group of people in front of us. The cabin crew on seeing this actually paused the demo and told the people in front to either shut up or get off (quite embarrassing for them I imagine) and then the lights were dimmed as we pushed back.
We were then informed that due to a frost build up we would be de-iced before taking off, this was all done pretty much immediately and we were soon rolling down the runway into the night sky.
Once departed the crew seemed extra keen to advertise the BOB service and once again I noticed many people taking advantage of this – possibly due to the limited options offered by SXF
The flight back was estimated to take about 1hr 40 and at points was quite turbulent with the seatbelt light being illuminated more than once.
The outside view was mostly clear and on reaching the UK it was possible to see the lights below all the way to LGW
. Landing was quite smooth followed by a fairly long taxi to our gate where we once again deplaned by stairs.
EasyJet offer good fares and a pretty standard a to b service. I wouldn’t be comfortable flying longer than 4 hours with them however all flights were close to on time and were everything I expected. EasyJet certainly fit the cheap, short weekend break category well and have an excellent network for this. Allocated seating in my opinion is great as it eliminates the mad rush to find a space on board however many passengers still seem to act like it is unallocated through boarding. Berlin is a fantastic city and I encourage anyone who hasn’t been there to visit if they get the chance. Even if it is just for a few beers.
I hope you have enjoyed my Trip Report and I look forward to hearing your comments.
My next flights at the moment will be with Air Transat to Toronto and Montreal (back on an A310) in October.
If you haven’t read any of my previous reports on here you can find them here:
Air Transat -New Cabin (LGW-YYZ-LGW) + Photos (by FlyKev Jun 24 2012 in Trip Reports)
In Search Of Hockey Again- BA LHR-ARN-LHR (Photos) (by flykev Oct 11 2011 in Trip Reports)
Gone Hollywood. VS A346 LHR-LAX-LHR In Y (Photos) (by FlyKev Jun 14 2011 in Trip Reports)
In Search Of Hockey. BA 767 LHR-ARN-LHR (Photos) (by flykev Oct 11 2010 in Trip Reports)
AA LHR-ORD-LHR In Y + Pics! (June 2010) (by flykev Jul 4 2010 in Trip Reports)
VS19/20 LHR-SFO-LHR + Pics (Y) Long (by Flykev Jul 4 2009 in Trip Reports)
Zoom Airlines 757-ZX1/ZX2 LGW/JFK LongLots Of Pics (by FlyKev Jul 3 2008 in Trip Reports)