This report is the second and last part of a trip some a.netters and I did a while ago, for the first part please see: 3h In Tokyo, A Joint A.net Odyssey: BRU-MXP-NRT (by sultanils Jan 21 2013 in Trip Reports)
Tokyo Narita airport
And thus I’m in Japan!
While FlyingFinn76 decides to stay airside and airbuseric wants to do some shopping, it is gabrielchew, tobbry and I who go outside to the observation deck to see some action.
It is chilly, some 7 degrees and the sun is not out but there are some interesting things to see. The deck is cordoned off with a hard metal fence which has an occasional hole to put your camera through.
And in the land of electronics, lots of Japanese spotters carry quite some impressive (camera) equipment with lenses that physically reach the runway. Or almost. I try to shoot some more or less decent shots with my pocket camera:
2 for knightsofmalta:
2 for airbuseric:
After a while we head back inside and wander around a bit. As tobbry is staying in Japan for a short while, we say our goodbyes and I go for a quick tourist shopping frenzy.
No Ninja shoes for me but I do buy some ‘luck-bringing’ fliers.
After that, airbuseric joins in again and we head for the checkin desks. Now on the Alitalia website is a mention that you can buy an upgrade to the Classica Plus cabin (Y+) for the sum of € 150 oneway. Sounds reasonable for us, so we enquire. Alas, the upgrade costs some € 2250 more so no dice this time. I guess it’ll only be ex-Italia?
We check in and ask for an empty row with the middle seat free but the lady says ‘No can do, we are full’. Hmm, that’s not too good. So we all stick with are pre-selected seats for the moment. The gate is 24 and that’s the very same one as we have arrived on. Bugger that as it means we will be taking the same plane out of Japan...
Security is next and airbuseric is able to guest me and gabrielchew through the fast lane. Thanks again for that!
With that taken care off, it is off to the lounge, the Delta Skyclub, which is conveniently located on top of our departure gate.
Scoot blasting away from 34L and the Alitalia MXP flight on EI-DBL:
Another big thanks to my fellow travellers to guest me in. Definitely a nice place with excellent apron views and - as important - very good showering facilities:
After the shower we hang around some and have a bite to eat.
So where does the name ‘Delta Skyclub’ come from?
As the FIDS in the lounge flashes our flight as ‘boarding’, we head downstairs and enter our chariot again.
NRT to FCO
Photo © Bruno Bevivino - Roma Spotters Club
Once inside, it is quite apparent that this flight will definitely be nearly full. I decide to wait for a better seat and meanwhile ask a Japanese FA if there are per chance any empty rows or rows with the middle seat free. She gets the passenger list from the back galley and confirms that yes! there is one empty row, 41 on the right side. But that’s it. Before any other pax can take advantage of this, I take the window seat and airbuseric the aisle seat. Perfect! Unfortunately, FlyingFinn76 and gabrielchew have to do with an aisle seat in a full row of 3.
First impressions of the cabin are pretty much the same, there’s a blanket, headphones and a pillow on the seat, all wrapped in plastic. First impressions of the crew are much different than on the outbound, they seem to be more reserved.
Finally we’re all settled in and ready to go:
The captain announces the flying time as a lengthy 12h35 mins, as opposed to under 12h on the way here. He also does his welcome speech in - at least in my perception - fluent Japanese.
Outside, the weather has improved and the apron is full with interesting machinery. There’s an abundance of DL of course:
Some Korean stuff:
Both meeting face to face:
And then we join in as well:
Here’s the observatory deck where we were some hours ago:
Stand 24, all clear now:
We make our way towards 34L for departure, tailed by some other heavies:
And there we go, another full day in a plane
Takeoff is pretty much how it has to be on a 777, fast and furious
We are treated with some good airport views:
The other - oddly shaped - runway:
After a few gentle turns we level off, next stop Rome:
Again we pass the Japanese Alps, before entering the sea of Japan and the mainland of Russia:
The routine on this flight is pretty much the same as on the outbound. The grissini snack and a drink first, followed a while later by a hot meal and another drink of choice. The choices are again ‘pasta’ or ‘Japanese’. I go for the pasta while my seatmate airbuseric is in favour of the Japanese meal (which turns out to be fish):
Alitalia branding on the trays:
After this mediocre meal, the light stays on for a short while which gives me a last oppurtunity for a post-dinner cabin shot:
As darkness sets in outside as well as inside, there’s not much more to do than listen to some music and play some with the IFE. airbuseric challenges me for a game of Tetris but it’s clear that he’s no match for me. Or is it the other way round
I also complete watching ‘Madagascar 2’ and ‘How to train a dragon’. The tiny screens have a bad resolution which makes watching quite tiresome.
I don’t sleep on this flight. I’d figure that it is better to say awake and have a good night’s sleep in the hotel in a few (or more) hours.
A second snack is presented as well with a choice between a sandwich and onigiri
(O-nigiri (お握り or 御握り; おにぎり?), also known as o-musubi (お結び; おむすび?) or rice ball, is a Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular or oval shapes and often wrapped in nori (seaweed), thank you Wikipedia ).
I go for the latter which imho is revolting. Lucky for me I took some green tea to wash away the taste. Brrr!
Due to the fact that we travel against the time, it gets dark, it lightens up again and gets dark for a second time. Quite cool but pretty confusing!
At about this point in the flight, the lights are switched on and we are treated to another meal.
A cold meal, accompanied with some hot and very tasty buns:
After finishing the meal, the trash is gathered and the cabin further prepared for arrival. The crew is rather sloppy in checking if the cabin is secure for landing. airbuseric tests the crew on this and they fail twice in detecting his unfastened seat belt. Of course airbuseric fastens his one immediately thereafter The crew also misses some not upright seats...
The final descent for runway 16R is made in full darkness:
We land in Rome about half an hour early...
… and a short taxi later we dock at the satellite gates, in the vicinity of this company A332:
And next to this one:
Rome Fiumicino airport
Deboarding is swift and efficient and I think we are all glad to being able to exit this plane. My fellow travellers are (again) hungry and they decide to visit McD’s for a burger and fries. I’m not hungry but join them anyway for a final get together before our ways part.
They do part eventually and I’m off to my reserved room at the Fiumicino Airport Hilton Hotel. During my walk there I can’t help but noticing what a mess of an airport FCO actually is: it’s dirty, old and generally unpleasant.
I don’t have a boarding pass yet for my Swiss flights the next day so I pass by the check in area to try to pick it up. The desk is manned (wo-manned) but the lady tells me it is not possible to check me in now. ‘Come back tomorrow morning’. There are no SSK’s to be seen neither so I admit defeat and make a beeline for the airport Hilton in search of some much needed shuteye.
The way to the hotel goes through quite some meters of these unpleasant walkways:
I arrive at the hotel at about 20.15pm and check in. A computer is available ‘free of charge’ to do OLCI for the next day. The computer seems to be the only item in the hotel which is ‘foc’. When I take a look at the prices of the minibar or cable TV I go in shock It seems one has to pay the price for convenience...
After a solid 8 hours of sleep, the alarm wakes me at 5 in the morning. A shower later I’m already more human than human and without further due I walk my way back to the terminal for the 6h40 flight to ZRH.
The FIDS are also present in the walkways in the parking lot:
Inside, landside, it’s still rather quietl. No wonder at this time on a Sunday morning:
5 minutes later I’m through security and inside, airside it is all peace and quiet as well:
I stroll around some but there’s is really nothing to see, shops are still closed and apron views are nearly non-existent or very bad. And it’s dark outside.
Luckily, it’s not long before the flight is called for boarding:
FCO to ZRH
Photo © Andri Cueni
It immediately strikes me how smooth and relax the boarding process is. Of course, it is still very early morning but the crew and cabin have this immediate calming effect on me.
I take my seat, the middle one stays empty and the aisle seat is occupied by an older gentleman:
We leave our stand a few minutes early and take off from 25 towards the west and the sea:
As the flight is relatively short, the brekkie service is started asap. A muffin, mineral water and tea and lemon. Dare I say that this combo hits the spot nicely
Don’t forget this most important item on any Swiss flight:
Magazines & legroom:
Good to see a recent flight map in working order here:
Slowly but steady The Darkness makes way for The Daylight:
The folks up front give some more flight info on our arrival into ZRH. Snow is forecast thus delaying a bit the arriving and departing traffic. Our arrival route is a circuitous one, taking us over the Zürichsee:
We land 10 mins before schedule on 34...
…and taxi to the designated gate at terminal A:
Passing the E gates with heavy morning activities going on:
And finally here we are:
Disembarkation is swift. One last look onto the seating: I like the Swiss cabin very much!
Our chariot is already being refueled for it’s next mission:
Zürich Kloten airport
I’m glad to be back in ZRH which is one of my favourite European airports. And the contrast with FCO couldn’t be bigger: it’s clean, modern and well laid out. It now also offers free wifi (as it should be!). But let’s not talk about prices at shops and eateries...
Oh yes, and the windows are clean as well. Bye HB-IPX:
“Now where’s that infodesk? Oh yes, I remember! It is on holiday and is supposed to arrive later today. Bugger that, I’ll have to fill in my remaining time here on my own...”
The last flight of my odyssey most conveniently leaves right opposite the arrival gate where I just came from. So it’s upstairs, a 180° turn and a few steps later I’m where I should be.
I’m delighted to see that Swiss decided to transport me in the *A Avro to BRU this morning!
Well, time to go now and to be honest, I’m glad to be going home on this final flight of the weekend...
ZRH to BRU
Photo © Andreas Loenner
With only 22 pax this morning, we are set to go in no time. For this flight I deliberately violated the ‘window last row ‘ policy. It is quite apparent that these LX Avro’s have a better looking cabin than the SN ones, at least in my opinion. Legroom in the back is thus marginally better as well and there’s no nasty draught this time!
We leave our gate position a few minutes after schedule:
Passing the E terminal again on the way to 28:
The captain comes on the blower and informs us of the fact that we (= the aircraft) need to be deiced, which happens promptly. I find it very cool that these deicing trucks are remote controlled from within the crane. The whole operation goes as smooth as a Swiss watch:
HB-IPY getting the full load!
And we as well:
You see, no driver
Departure from 28 takes place in rolling mode but too bad not ‘Bromma style’.
I’m allowed very few photo moments but after that we disappear in the murk...
...to emerge from it a few minutes later:
Service this morning consists of the following items:
Too bad there are no seconds offered on the croissants like on one of my previous Swiss flights.
Empty cabin this morning:
After an hour or so, descent is initiated. The captain even mentions our arrival runway, 2. That means an approach over the ‘Zoniënwoud’ and it’s quite a while ago since I got to arrive on this runway so extra brownie points for that one.
Brussels capital city in sight!
We touch Belgian soil 15 minutes after schedule. It’s also years ago since I arrived back in BRU before noon...
…and that means that the non-Schengen terminal is a bustling beehive:
Jet is supposed to bring back some 777’s to BRU but I haven’t seen them around yet:
Parking is as expected at the beginning of the A terminal.
I thank the crew on my way out and high speed myself to the train station only to see the train riding off in front of me. Bugger that! No better reason then to go back to the departures level and spend the last €’s of my travel budget on a Starbucks coffee.
Brussels Airlines provided me once again with a solid and on time flight. However, I wouldn’t use that Plusgrade upgrade system anymore. In fact, it is purely a money maker and that is of course good for the airline. An upgrade this way gives you only the benefit of free meal and drinks, early boarding, a newspaper, a seat upfront and fast lane access. No extra flexibility nor extra miles. I’d rather buy me a cheap as possible b.light ticket and spend some €’s on a drink and something to eat. En plus, if you compare the overall cabin comfort to that of Swiss’ RJ100’s, the latter gives you more and better. But hey, I do still have my soft spot for the national carrier so will I continue to fly with them? Yes!
As for Alitalia, they were a positive surprise. I didn’t have high expectations but I must admit all were met and even more. The outbound flight was most wonderful, great FA’s, good cabin comfort (when you have more than 1 seat for you ). On the lesser side, the food was mediocre as well as the crew on the inbound. I did however have a long and nice conversation with a flight attendant in the back galley and must admit that behind the facade, they sure are all a nice bunch of motivated people with a heart for their airline.
Will I fly Alitalia again? Sure if the price is right and I’m most sure that will be the case any time soon
Swiss is Swiss. It runs like clockwork. A carrier I always have liked and probably always will. I can’t wait when they will finally introduce the Bombardier C series as a replacement for their Avro’s. Nothing bad to say about those but this all new developed jet sure looks like a good replacement for those ageing Jumbolino’s.
A big ‘thank you’ goes to my travel companions: you guys rock
Also my thanks to you, dear reader. Your comments are most welcome!