About half a year ago, a proposal was made by fellow a.net member MSS68 to hold a meeting at MAN airport. Boasting a pretty nice viewing park next to the runways, an aviation shop and some plane oldtimers - with a Concorde amongst those - made this venue and event quite an interesting one to attend. Not in the least supported by the fact that I would be able to see some (many) friends again after the meeting in TXL in June 2012.
Thus my name was on the ‘attendees’ list pretty soon and the one and important thing remaining was of course figuring out a nice and circuitous itinerary to get there as well as booking a place to spend the night.
Many of you probably know that Singapore Airlines has a SIN-MUC-MAN flight for sale, with full traffic rights for the MUC-MAN or vice versa sector. This 5th freedom flight is quite popular with us a.netters and is a good way of sampling Singapore Airlines’ very fine onboard service. A no brainer really and MAN-MUC was booked for € 122 one way. Not cheap, I know, but totally worth it imho! Further on I connected the dots with a MUC-STR flight on Augsburg Airways or Lufthansa Regional if you will for
€ 59. I might as well try that airline before it gets dumped by Lufthansa in Oct 2013, sadly enough. Finally, a seat on STR-BRU was secured by another member of the Lufthansa group, namely Germanwings. Price: € 49. It looked as if these flights were there for each other, complementing perfectly with good timings and connection times
So I was able to get home, but how to get in MAN then? Well, since some 8 months now, BMI regional has filled the gap that Cityjet left when ending its ANR-MAN flights about 1,5 years ago. It’s really good to see this route back in ANR as the airport is really close to where I live thus making it very convenient. I initially booked a Sat morning flight to MAN on BMI regional for € 59 but a few weeks after the booking I received an email informing me that the Sat flight was cancelled for good leaving me with a rebooking or refunding option. A rebooking it was, for Fri evening, of course at no extra cost.
At last I booked a bed in the Holiday Inn Manchester Airport and another one in the Radisson Blu Manchester airport for the next night. The Radisson is in fact situated in the airport itself, making it an ideal place to stay for the early departure on Sunday morning with Singapore Airlines.
In this report I will only cover the ANR-MAN-MUC flights. I think this is also the 1st report on the ANR-MAN flight operated by BMI regional.
To sum it up here’s the overall itinerary::
ANR-MAN on BMI regional Embraer 135
MAN-MUC on Singapore Airlines B77W
MUC-STR on Augsburgs Airways Q8/400
STR-BRU on Germanwings A319
And the flights featured in this report on a map (thanks to the excellent Great Circle Mapper, copyright Karl L Schwartz):
After a full day at work and a bite to eat at home, I leave for the airport by the local bus. 20 minutes later
Antwerp International Airport - ANR
I enter the terminal building only to see that checkin hasn’t opened yet (BMI regional has no OLCI possibility at this moment).
These are all of todays flights. On a normal weekday - it is Easter holiday week now - there’s one more Cityjet flight to LCY at 7:50am.
At 6:10pm, the checkin is declared ‘open for business’ and I’m the 1st passenger to be served by a friendly young woman. I ask for a left side window seat as far forward as possible. She says the best best she can give me is 8A, the exit row. Weight and balance purposes you know So 8A it is. I do like exit rows but I also like an obstructed view down so I’m in dubio here
Luckily I have ample time for a beer so I had to the adjacent café annex restaurant called Belair to start the weekend off on the right foot. This place has nice apron views but unfortunately the apron action in ANR is very, very limited with only a few movements per day.
All of a sudden, my plane taxies in and I didn’t even hear or see it land It’s just what I was after: an Embraer 135
...and parking right in front of the café window:
I finish the beer and head airside. I overhear the gate agent saying that the load is 21 pax (out of 37 seats), so that makes a 56% load factor.
At 19:20pm sharp, the doors are opened and we are allowed to walk our way to our vessel.
ANR to MAN
Embraer ERJ-135 G-RJXL
seat 8F + 3F
Photo © Andreas Loenner
She’a a beauty and one of the not so many ERJ-135’ers flying around in Europe.
This way, she looks like an MD-80. Well, at least a little bit
Type designation on the fuselage:
One male steward on this service to MAN greeting the incoming pax at the door. First impressions are really good, the cabin is small - as expected - but the leather seats are quite comfortable and more importantly, the windows are very large:
The overhead panel from a different angle:
The legroom in the exit row is good as well, too bad about the wing obstructing my view down.
In the seat pocket is an ‘exit row safety instruction briefing’, the FA also passes by me to make sure I know what to do. Yes, I do!
Some more paperwork and then we’re good to go. The captain is over the mic with a warm welcome and mentions the flight time as 1h05 mins with smooth conditions all the way.
Here we go:
Takeoff is from 11. As opposed to my flight CPH-RNN last week, I can’t help noticing how quiet this little baby is.
There are some familiar down, we even fly over my house but I’m at the wring side for that to see. This road we overfly is about to be tunneled to allow for the contruction of a longer runway and safety perimeter. Lot’s of discussions going on over that topic
As the seat belt sign is extinguished, I get up for a lavatory visit which is located in the rear of the cabin.
The exit row seats have a brown headrest as can be seen here:
I decide to switch places and take seat 3A iso 8A. Much better viewing, but the space is less as well of course (still acceptable though). Next to me is the luggage compartment. The overhead bins are not able to accomodate large trolleys and apparently they’re not put in the hold either?
Service is next: a free cheese of bacon sandwich, hot and cold drinks, spirits, sweet or salty snacks,... it’s all there. I take 2 cans of soda, a cup of tea and lemon, salty bites and a bacon sandwich. The tray table is too small to accomodate it all
Some reminiscents of the past:
Although I’ve already eaten @ home I’m able to finish the sandwich. It’s a tight squeeze!
Here’s what’s in the seat pocket:
I don’t bother to look in the magazine and listen to some soothing tunes on my tablet.
Outside it is overcast:
Not before long, the descent towards MAN is initiated. The front office comes on again explaining we will be a while later due to having to circle around a few times as a consequence of busy arrival traffic this
evening. We do are guaranteed an early arrival on stand though.
During the turns the sun plays some games and this gives some nice effects:
Some traffic going up whilst we are winding down:
There also appear to be some snow leftovers down there:
The UK landscape unfolds as we come under the clouds:
Preparations for a party of some sorts?
An impressive 25 mins ahead of schedule, we pass the perimeter of MAN and land on 05L after flying for 1h05. A short ride later, we make a halt at a seemingly strange parking spot. Now I’m not familiar with MAN but a look on Google Maps afterwards revealed that this indeed was a designated parking area for 1 (small) aircraft.
We have to wait a while because the cars block the way for the bus to come through
Taken from the bus:
Manchester Ringway Airport - MAN
After disembarkation, we drive to the T3 arrivals area and after a quick visit to the immigration folks, I’m out in the public and meet up with some other participants who dripple in from all over Europe. Definitely very nice to see some familiar and some new faces again! We have some drinks in the bar area of the Radisson Blu Manchester Airport where you have excellent apron views. After that, it is to Holiday Inn Manchester Hotel for a good nights sleep!
The next morning features an English brekkie, and a nice walk in the sun to the Runway Visitor Park which is an excellently laid out facility to watch planes come and go. Luckily the weather is all good and we have a great few hours of talking and photographing.
Here are a few shots taken with my pocket camera:
Virgin Atlantic aka ‘Little Red’:
Virgin Atlantic aka ‘Big Red’
BA’s dove, how I like this scheme!
And the last but not least, here’s the KLM, loaded with another bunch of a.netters who’ll be joining the meet:
In the late afternoon yet again, we head for some more drinks in the bar of the
and go the city of Manchester for a nice meal at the Zinc restaurant. All in all, a day well spent in good company!
The next morning sees me flying ‘the long way’ home again. The first flight today is on Singapore Airlines, going to MUC. Some other a.netters have also booked a seat on this flight, amongst them are makeree, PlaneHunter, luxair747sp and Emek96.
Singapore flies out of T2, which is not overly busy at this time of the day (around 7:00 am):
I like the way how the information is projected onto the screens above the desks:
My class of travel today and I’m quite happy with that:
Terminal area airside:
No gate info yet:
After security we head for the lounge, where makeree kindly guests me in (thanks again!). The others also join after a while and we have a nice morning chat with coffee and a bite to eat.
The view from the lounge:
Then it’s time to head for the gate. The inbound is being serviced. Good to see that Singapore sent in a B77W version today by the likes of 9V-SWQ:
Judging by the amount of people at the gate, the load will be rather light this morning. Boarding begins well on time and is structurized. Families and children, status holders and then the others. Isn’t this a bit weird:
As I’m seated in the very back of the plane, I can board fairly quick.
MAN to MUC
Boeing B777W 9V-SWQ
Photo © Gary Claridge-king
A warm welcome at the door and I turn right at the second aisle, through the business class cabin - where PlaneHunter shall reside for the coming 1h30m. Such luxurious seats and the IFE screens are just huge:
The first part of the economy cabin features blue and brown tones:
And large PTV’s in every seatback:
There’s a a change of colours for the second economy cabin, but my seat is a mix of all colours used
Looking accross from my seat. Note that I’m seated in the last row, in the only pair of 2-seaters in the house (in Y), and that the recline of these seats is limited. However I was aware of that because during the OLCI this was clearly indicated on the seatmap. Also windowless seats are indicated on the seatmap
The legroom is really good and footrests are present although I find this feature not of much use.
During boarding some soothing classical musical is played, luxair747sp, who is seated just in front of me, even knows the composer Here’s the PTV up close and personal; it can be tilted horizontally to a large extent. There are 3 buttons just below the screen, the left one activates a led light that illuminates the tray table, how clever is that!
Lots of power and other sockets are present:
And a mirror on the back side of the foldable tray table:
I’m sat no longer than 2 minutes and I’m impressed already. I’ve never seen a cabin and seat with so many useful and clever features.
Looking outside, there’s some interesting activity as well. This Privilege Style B752 operates a flight to BCN this morning:
And this Swiss bus has fellow a.netter SloAir on board if I’m not mistaken:
Now let’s get back to the order of the day. The usual welcome and other annoucements are made and let’s not forget the (very) hot towel service which is greatly appreciated:
Headphones and menus are handed out as well:
And last but not least, the seat pocket holds a library of magazines to satisfy ones reading hunger:
First impressions of the crew are very good as well, they are friendly and courteous. I also notice throughout the flight that all onboard procedures, going from the boarding and safety demo to the meal service and disembarkation, are carefully minutiously executed. It gives a bit of an ‘automated process’ feeling. Luckily the crew also takes the time to interact with the passengers and make them feel at home.
An extended welcome from the cockpit crew this morning. Also during the flight they manage to take the time to talk to us passengers and keep us updated on the flight progress
We leave the gate before schedule and taxi to the runway. Etihad has sent a logojet into MAN today and quite an appropriate one:
And the Titan is also on its way out:
There’s no shortage of Thomson planes...
23R for us this morning:
I would rate the takeoff as ‘moderate’ for a T7, but afterwards the PlaneHunter assured me that ‘it wasn’t that bad!’. As he’s a lot more experienced than I am in that matter, I give him the benefit of the doubt. The opinion of The777Man would’ve come in very handy now Well, at least we got off the ground and that’s what counts.
There’s the viewing park (where that cutoff nose section is)!
For our viewing pleasure, the pilot makes a nice turn over the airport. Good views galore!
We fly again over the area where the BMI regional flight passed over and the snow is still there:
Meanwhile, the cabin crew is released and the carts come out with the brekkie. I get the IFE in working order and switch it to the ‘inflight map’ status. I didn’t fancy looking at all the other items. Besides, there are more than enough extensive reviews on the KrisWorld system here on the board.
It is difficuly to take a decent pic without a mirror effect. I didn’t succeed, so that’s yours truly behind the Lumix:
Breakfast is a choice between a chicken sandwich and something else - can’t quite remember. My question for a morning ‘Singapore Sling’ is met with a friendly “Certainly sir, I will get that for you”.
Metal cutlery in economy class? And no, I didn’t liberate any of those!
Enjoying my breakfast over the Channel, the sandwich is really good and filling and goes well with the Singapore Sling
The trays are cleared and I spend the remaining time listening to some music and gazing out the window...
The weather at destination is not really good, overcast. This becomes quite evident when we enter the last stage of the flight on descent into MUC.
Eventually we touchdown on 26R (I believe, PlaneHunter, correct me if I’m wrong ). After taxi we hold a while on the taxiway for our parking position to become vacant. Also here, the cockpit crew keeps us well informed as to why we have stopped
It’s my first visit to MUC and due to an almost symmetrical (well, sort of) layout I’m having difficulties orientating myself
Finally, we turn into the gate, next to a Lufty and a Qatari:
I disembark and thank the crew for the most excellent flight. And with that, my maiden voyage on Singapore Airlines has come to an end
Munich Franz Josef Strauss airport - MUC
Out in the terminal, I rejoin my fellow travellers and we all agree that this flight was top notch in every aspect. Once in the arrivals zone, I say goodbye to luxair747sp and Emek96 who will continue their journey by car.
I have 3h in MUC and as a bonus, PlaneHunter proposes to take makeree and me for an airport tour in his own ‘777’. That’s an offer too good to refuse so we gladly say yes!
We visit the 2 main spotting places around the airport, here are a few pics:
The grassy hill to the other side is a spotter’s place, and a quite nice one too!
After the tour, PlaneHunter kindly drops us of at the terminal again as it’s time for me to continue my journey home on Augsburgs Airways and Germanwings. I will not got into detail on these flights anymore, I just leave you with a few impressions:
A sight soon no more...
Prop view (for fellow a.netter palmjet):
Landing gear view:
A reminder of my previous report:
A Bit Of This And DAT: CPH-RNN-CPH (by sultanils Apr 4 2013 in Trip Reports)
Luckily I got one in the old livery!
BMI regional has very well filled the gap that Cityjet has left. The service to MAN is a very good alternative to the SN one from BRU. Free catering, attractive fares and ANR is as convenient as it gets. On top of that you get to fly in a rather exclusive plane type - probably most pax don’t care about that - which makes it in total an excellent value for money deal. Yours to take while it lasts
Singapore Airlines, a great way to fly? It certainly is, if not one of the best! The cabin comfort is top notch, the Y seat has more amenities than a standard C class seat on any other airline (or nearly ), the catering is very good and the flight attendants are very (perhaps a bit too?) professional and friendly as well. If I ever get the opportunity to fly them on longhaul, I certainly will, even if that means paying more. 2 !
As for the MAN meet, thanks to all for attending, there’s too many names to mention and I don’t want to offend anyone that I might forget See you hopefully all again sometime, somewhere (else)?
I’ll leave you all here, if you got this far, I thank you for reading and feel free to leave me a comment