Germanwings, a near miss and a smart upgrade!!
June 2012, After being invited by fellow member and friend Daniel (LH4532) to meet somewhere in Europe in the middle of August I decided to look into possible options. This particular airport is a stopover point of two foreign airlines that makes a round trip in Europe before heading back to their homebase in Asia. A particular flight came into mind and the price was reasonable. So I decided to go ahead and book that flight. Due to pricings on my last leg out of Brussels I would have to depart from Dusseldorf or Cologne to Manchester. Both options involved new carriers, eventually I decided to opt for Cologne due to better timing and price. I would be flying Germanwings for the first time. The aircraft type would unfortunately be on a standard Airbus A319 aircraft. The Dusseldorf option would have contained a flybe Embrear 175. Oh well, we can’t have all in life.
Germanwings policy regulate that only one carry on bag is strictly allowed on board. Even more do Economy passengers pay 10 EUR to check in a bag. With the added costs an Economy ticket between Cologne and Manchester only costs a few Euro’s lesser than Economy plus (no bag fees, free snack). So I was more than lucky to treat myself to an Economy plus (Smart) ticket.
Day 1: 16 August, 2012
Fast forward to sunny August, 24 Hours ahead of the scheduled departure time I received an email inviting me to check in online which I gladly did. However out of habit I selected one of the regular Economy seats instead of the smart seats with additional legroom up front. Oh well, can always sort this out at the airport, can we? You can reach Cologne on different ways, due to inconvenient timings on my return I opted to drive the 300km ride which would take me 3hours to get there. Since my flight only left in the afternoon I did not have to leave too early in the morning.
Thursday August 16, A new day is born. Time to head back in the air again. A very gently wake up at 7:45 and some packing I was on the road at 9:30. The first stop was the grocery store to buy some boxes of the chocolate that would be distributed to the crew. Before continuing on to Cologne I had an appointment with my dealership to refresh the oil. A simple 20 minute task and still enough time to drive to Cologne in well time for my Germanwings flight to Manchester. However sometimes things do not go as you really want them to go. Instead of 20 minutes I spent 1 hour and 30 minutes in the garage due to another technical failure with my brakes. After a nerve-wracking time I was finally allowed to start my drive at 11:45.
The ride to Cologne was about everything but relaxed. Huge amounts of traffic, a lot of trucks after Brussels made it a very slow drive as well. Half way I had to pull over for a very quick pit-stop before the Dutch border. The second part of the journey did not go hassle free, road works in the Netherlands and Germany added to the delay and really made me start thinking about alternatives to get me into Manchester incase I miss the direct flight. Thankfully the last segment went a bit smoother with courtesy of the German Autobahn. Soon I was relieved to see the Dome of Cologne in the distance, but I still needed reach the other side of the city before arriving at the airport. At 14:35, a well 40 minutes before my scheduled departure time I arrived at the airport. I parked my car as close as possible, and ran towards the airport building.
Leaving Cologne/Bonn International airport
Cologne has 2 terminals, Terminal 1 which is used for Lufthansa (plus some Star Alliance carriers) and terminal 2 which is used for Germanwings and other airlines. Well, in the rush of the moment I found myself in terminal 1. So a quick run to the correct terminal was to be made. In the meanwhile it was already 14:42. Just a mere 30 minutes before my Germanwings Flight was due to leave, after another run I arrived in the correct terminal. When entering the lane I was asked my boarding pass, explaining my situation they still told me that I had to go to the kiosk. This kiosk gave me an error,.... It’s like Murphy really wanted to make Very quick pic of the Germanwings check in area.
After explaining the situation again I was allowed to pass. Germanwings divides it’s counters between German domestic flights and International flights. Since Manchester is in the United Kingdom, I can let you guys do the guessing. Finally at 14:47, 28 minutes prior to departure I reached the desk. After being lectured that I was late I could check in my bag and was soon on my way to the second mad dash to gate B40. Security was a breeze since there was only 1 person who let me pass, a fast peek at the FIDS. Germanwings 342 to Manchester is still on time but has not started boarding yet..
From what I remember the schengen area of terminal 1 looked pretty nice with quite a bit to do, Would like to explore this area again when I have a bit more time. Next stop on the list is passport control, By now it was nearing 15:00. 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time of our A319, A bit desperate I asked an elderly German lady if I could pass and explained the situation. I got responded with a firm No. Thankfully a bunch of Englishman overheard me and they were more than happy to let me pass. I said I owed them all. There was one last hold-up at the passport booth due to departing from Germany to England with a Belgium ID, don’t know what that point was all about. My last obstacle was to find gate B40 ASAP. This was located just behind the passport control, but there was no plane at the gate. However a huge relief when I realized that all the MAN passengers were still waiting. On the other hand If I had known it I wouldn’t have to pass the line or rush. A it more embarrassing was that the English group I passed was all booked on the MAN flight as well. Shortly thereafter our A319 arrived as 4U 961 from Rijeka. Too bad this was the only view I could get of my airframe but just enough to see that D-AGWP was going to take to Manchester this afternoon
Unlike in the schengen area, there was not too much to do in the non schengen area, and waited until the boarding process began at 15:20 or 14:20 in the UK. A few minutes later I was onboard of.
16. Germanwings flight 4U 0342 from Cologne/Bonn to Manchester
Thursday, August 16 2012
Cologne/Bonn (CGN/EDDK) - Manchester (MAN/EGCC)
Germanwings 4U 0342
Airbus A319-132 D-AGWP (SN: 4227) Economy (with smart service) 16F.
Delivered to Germanwings at 15 March 2010
15.15-15.38 (Terminal 2, Gate B40; wheels up on runway 24 at 15.43)
15.45-16.00 (Terminal 1, Gate 25; wheels down on runway 23R at 15.57)
Announced flying time: 1hr 33 mins
Cruising Altitude: FL 360
Load factor: 75% in Y
171th registered flight
16th flight in 2012
1st flight on Germanwings
18th flight on the Airbus A320 series aircraft
10th flight on the Airbus A319-100
1st flight on D-AGWP
Videos related to 4U 0342 from Cologne/Bonn to Manchester.
Takeoff in Cologne/Bonn:
Landing in Manchester:
When boarding I was greeted by 2 business friendly flight attendants and I did made my way to seat 16F. Before getting settled I distributed one of the chocolate boxes and got thanked friendly. A few moments after getting installed my seatmates arrived. 2 Persons of the group that I overtook at the passport line. After apologizing several times they did understand the situation and laughed.
Boarding was soon completed and the door was closed. The captain came on apologizing for the delay due to a late inbound. However I wasn’t mad at all that the flight was slightly delayed. Pushback started soon and we started our taxi. Last chance to see those (the final flight on these jumbolino’s was a week or so later)
DHL Cargo Boeing 757
Nearing the threshold
At 15:43 in Germany, 14:43 in Manchester our nice yellow/silverjet climbed into the German skies. Barely one hour after arriving here:
Cologne from the sky, a sight I was afraid I wasn’t going to see today.
Standard legroom in Economy:
We levelled of above the Belgian province of Limburg, backtracking the same route as I took to get in CGN, at a certain point we were actually 15kms away from my house...
Soon it was time to visit the restroom. Underway a quick peek of the cabin, I found the Germanwings seats to be pretty comfortable. Especially for an LCC carrier.
Just in case you forgot for a moment which airline you are flying while attending your business
The whole ordeal about almost missing my flight made me forget a moment about that I actually was booked in the Economy plus ‘SMART’ section. A quick walk through the cabin and found there were no window seats open anymore. However I was able to snatch an aisle for a moment to see how it was. Quite generous legroom
The Belgian coastline and the Zeebrugge port
At 16:20 German-time, 15:20 UK time the service commenced. Economy passengers were treated with Buy on Board where the price-quality wasn’t that bad in comparison to Brussels Airlines or any US carrier. When the crew reached my row they informed me that there was a voucher for me and I could choose between a free roll or cake. I went for the roll and some water with lemon.
Cruising above the English countryside.
After enjoying my delicatesse I felt the plane gradually decent. It was already 15:35 in Manchester and 16:35 back in Cologne. The weather looks nice above the English countryside.
A bit bumpy however above the mountains, does anyone know the correct name?
After enjoying the various sights above the Manchester area we started our final approach.
Close up of the sharklet
15:57 in Manchester or 16:57 in Central Europe our A319 kissed the soil of runway 23R, giving us a great view of the aviation viewing park. You can find more in the video. At 16:00 D-AGWP came to a full stop at gate 25 in terminal 1. Just beside a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-800 registred TC-JER. Ready for her 3,5 hour journey to Istanbul. On the way out I was able to spot another nice bird.
Upon disembarkation I was granted one more picture in the flight deck. The captain apologized for the delay. When I responded that I actually was happy and why he responded back. “Well, we knew you were coming”.
After bidding the crew goodbye I was in the terminal by 16:10 Manchester time or 17:10 Cologne time.
Arrival in Manchester Ringway airport
After disembarking I had a chance to make a pic of D-AGWP before her return to Cologne as 4U 0343 at 16:25. Really like this livery, too bad it’s gradually disappearing.
My first impressions of the airport where rather dull, a few dark corridors led me to the passport control where there was not too big of a line. Carrousel 6 assigned for my Germanwings flight from CGN
Carousel display, only a few moments later my bag appeared. I was happy since I did not really believe that my bag would make the flight in Cologne.
Very remarkably FIAS.. Origin points were alternated with the actual status..
I exited the customs area at around 16:30. First some time to explore the area. Like these walkways actually..
A bit of a hint towards my next report
Before heading to the hotel I opted for a dinner in the arrivals area of terminal 1. It tasted great
Soon I ordered my shuttle to the Britannia country hotel in Northenden, a nice little hotel just a few miles away from the airport.
The Room was showing some signs of age however.
Day 2: 16 August, 2012
The next day started off with a traditional English breakfast. Yummy, but not for everyday.
Soon I headed off to the viewing park. It was raining at first, but it soon cleared up.
Another hint to my next report:
One of the few european airports where the 767 is a common sight, like this TUI Nordic
No MAN without BA
Another massive Boeing 777, just love those planes.
Overtaken by a smaller 757
The Dash, a common sight here at Manchester
Former-CO Boeing 757
Could have logged you as well?
Our national pride, operated by flybe
Qatar is present here as well
Hint 3 towards my next report .
Bmiregional Jungle jet. Maybe too log on a future trip to MAN?
Nose-to-Nose with the Cittyhopper
Another regular visitor in MAN
To enter the log in a few days, to enter in a report a bit later
Thomas Cook UK A330 lifting away to some vacation destination.
My most flown airline and most flown type together.
the Green logojet
Another departure to the U S of A.
At 1100 I booked a Concorde Tour.
Entering the cabin
The sharp nose:
The 50 seat cabin, it’s roomier than it appears:
Last but least, the Front office:
Another well known scheme at MAN:
A rare bird from Canada
Thomas Cook Boeing 757-200
Back to BRU with a significant delay.
This color scheme is one of my favorite ones:
I can’t keep count of how many different 767’s I’ve seen here
BA olympic sheme:
PH-BGW from Amsterdam
The highlight of the day approaching Manchester:
Straight from the UAE, we present you the big and the beautiful.
The Star Alliance logojet is here as well
The Weather went for the worse again and it was time to hit town:
Some trainspotting to be done as well.
MAN piccadilly station, almost looks like an airport.
Soon I met up with fellow member and friend Lee (AlwaysOnAPlane). While talking about aviation and non aviation stuff we strolled around the city a bit.
Table with a tap, why not?
Soon Lee and I decided to head for dinner. We chose for asian cuisine, great start with dumplings.
And a great Nasi Goreng for dinner.
After a wonderful talk and a great meetup it was time to head back to my hotel. I thanked Lee for everything and soon started to walk back to the station. Since it was late already I decided to take the cab back to Northenden
I was asleep shortly thereafter at 2130. It wasn’t going to be a long night.
How will I get back to Cologne?
Will I have nicer weather?
Will I find my car?
Who else will I meet underway?
Will the hints given be useful to guess my next report?
Too start off with I was very happy to make this flight and to write this review. Arriving about 30 mins before your STD is definitely far from comfortable. Thankfully Cologne isn’t a too big of an airport at all making the departure process a bit easier. I was fairly impressed about Germanwings, comfortable and relatively new aircraft. The seats were very comfortable and a more than sufficient pitch for Economy plus (the actual seat, not the Y seat that I was in). The free snacks were good as well, judging the menu the BOB did not look that bad neither. However Germanwings is a Low Cost Carrier. So when getting the cheapest I can advise you to add all costs you want to spend (luggage check in, seat selection,...). One may be surprised how much difference it is to pay the extra for a very SMART upgrade.
Germanwings 0342 from Cologne/Bonn to Manchester (Total score is 77%):
Departure: 70% (Despite the situation pretty smooth, no announcement however concerning the delay.)
Aircraft cleanliness : 90% (Clean and fresh)
Seat Comfort: 80% (Good legroom and lumbar support (based on the actual SMART seat))
Crew: 70% (Business friendly)
Catering: 80% (choice between a Danish or a cake roll)
Arrival: 60% (Dull and crowded)
How did todays flights compare?
1. Short Haul Premium Economy
Best score: Germanwings 77%
Germanwings score: 77%
4U 0342’s score (CGN-MAN): 77%
Worst score: US Airways 68%
Conclusion: Germanwings is the new BEST AIRLINE flown in this category and cabin!
Best Airports: Toronto YTZ, Geneva, Detroit and Columbia 90%
Cologne Bonn Average: 75%
Manchester Average: 70%
Worst Airport: Berlin SXF 30%
Conclusion: Both the Cologne/Bonn and the Manchester airport scored within the average box between 70 and 80%. Today’s experience scored lesser than on other occasions in these airports.
3. Aircraft Types
(Average rating per type)
Best rated types: Q400 85%
4U 0342 CGN-MAN: 77%
A319-100 Average: 73%
Worst rated types: ATR72 60%
Concusion: Today’s flight scored better than the average result on flights operated by an Airbus A319-100.
As a bonus I would like to give a list of regs I spotted in Cologne/Bonn and Manchester
Cologne/Bonn International airport
Manchester Ringway Airport
Total facts in this trip report
1 New Airline (Germanwings)
2 New Airports (Cologne/Bonn and Manchester)
1 New registration (D-AGWP)
Thanks for reading and viewing this trip report, I hope you enjoyed reading it. As usual, comments and feedback are always welcome.
Stay tuned for my next trip report:
A 5 star meet in the Bavarian heat!!
Past trip reports:
Flying The 274 Narrowbody Jet To Mallorca! (by MSS658 Mar 17 2013 in Trip Reports)
The Easy Way To (Air) Berlin! (by MSS658 Feb 16 2013 in Trip Reports)
Brussels-Frankfurt! The Kuwait Way! (by MSS658 Dec 17 2012 in Trip Reports)
Avrojetting To And From Copenhagen! (by MSS658 Nov 26 2012 in Trip Reports)
Toronto, Niagara And A Delayed YYZ-CDG! (by MSS658 Oct 22 2012 in Trip Reports)
Toronto City Centre? But Not On Porter! (by MSS658 Sep 23 2012 in Trip Reports)
To Canada? On Air Canada If Course! (by MSS658 Aug 31 2012 in Trip Reports)
SAS, Stockholm And The A.net Meeting! (by MSS658 Jul 29 2012 in Trip Reports)
Spectacular Southeastern Sunset Takeoff With US! (by MSS658 Jun 17 2012 in Trip Reports)
US Airways A332s, A Step Forward In The Fleet? (by MSS658 Apr 26 2012 in Trip Reports)
Going Home, The Star Alliance Way! (by MSS658 Mar 21 2012 in Trip Reports)
Jetting The Blue Way To New York! (by MSS658 Feb 4 2012 in Trip Reports)
Chasing The Storm On US Airways! (by MSS658 Jan 24 2012 in Trip Reports)
A Trip On A Classic Silverjet And Some Trains! (by MSS658 Jan 4 2012 in Trip Reports)
Losing My Southwest Virginity! (by MSS658 Dec 18 2011 in Trip Reports)
Au-revoir Continental! (by MSS658 Dec 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
SATA, The Azores And The A310 Part II (by MSS658 Nov 13 2011 in Trip Reports)
SATA, The Azores And The A310! Part I (by MSS658 Oct 16 2011 in Trip Reports)
Sun, Snow, Rain And ... Lufthansa! (by MSS658 Sep 4 2011 in Trip Reports)
Propping Around The Upstate! (by MSS658 Aug 7 2011 in Trip Reports)
US Airways And Irregular Operations! (by MSS658 Jul 17 2011 in Trip Reports)
Lufthansa, There Is No Better Way To Fly! (by MSS658 Jul 5 2011 in Trip Reports)
A Short Hop On A Big Bird! (by MSS658 Feb 27 2011 in Trip Reports)
A West Side Flight On The East Side! (by MSS658 Jan 9 2011 in Trip Reports)
Wifi And Condensation On US Airways! (by MSS658 Dec 10 2010 in Trip Reports)
Air Canada, North America's Hidden Jewel? (by MSS658 Nov 6 2010 in Trip Reports)
A Ride With A Rare Blue Bird! (by MSS658 Oct 31 2010 in Trip Reports)
US Airways A333's.Are They Really That Bad? Part 2 (by MSS658 Oct 23 2010 in Trip Reports)
US Airways A330-300's. Are They Really That Bad? (by MSS658 Oct 16 2010 in Trip Reports)