That is the last part of my trip this summer....
A340-642 EC-IOB "Julio Romero de Torres" Seats: 6K&L
A320-211 EC-FLQ "Dunas de Liencres" Seats: 1A&3F
Going back home started in a cold rainy morning in Buenos Aires. A taxi took us from our Buneos Aires B&B to the airport: long way... it's about 40 km from the city.
It was raining and cold when we arrived at Ezeiza-Ministro Pistarini Airport. We stored our jackets and raincoats into the suitcases and prepared for the Mediterranean summer again. It was supposed to be at about 25ºC when we would arrive to BCN the next morning.
|Rainy morning to say goodbye to a wonderful country and its people|
|AR watching over passengers from Terminal A|
Some days before we were watching TV and saw some news about the 'abrevalijas' (baggage snatchers), when they were scanning your luggage. My nephew was very concerned about it and did not want to miss his FC Barcelona (Visca el Barça!) shirts once home. It is interesting to see teenagers interests when you travel, 10,000 km away from home he bought several for his friends and himself, a lot cheaper than home, or so he said.
With all this background he decided to have his backpack wrapped.
While he was waiting in line I looked around terminal B. This terminal is the one used by all companies except by AR. It is modern, fresh, well lit, with good signing... Really a pleasure to fly from.
|Terminal B at EZE: roomy and crowded|
There were lots of people when we arrived.. . All major companies have flights to Europe in the early afternoon to reach Europe in the early morning: AZ, LH, BA, as well as IB had their desks at full with long winding lines for check in.
We were walking towards Business Plus desk as we were stopped by a security guard who asked us to show our ticket before proceeding to check in. Once he saw we were on the right line we reached the desk and in no time our three bags were checked home. We were reminded to pay our taxes before proceeding to security and given an invitation for the IB lounge. The lady there did her job nicely and smiling.. the last one we would see for the rest of the flight.
Two hours to kill: walking up and down the terminal until we decided to pay our departure taxes and go upstairs to proceed through security, a breeze, no lines and have our passports checked.
Once you are done with all the process you go through, it is the only way, through all Tax Free stores. Be careful, prices are displayed in US Dollars. We got some 'alfajores' (exquisite Argentinian cakes) and some minor stuff. Then we proceeded to IB lounge. It has improved since the last time I was there: it is well stuffed with all sorts of drinks, a couple of PCs and nice furniture all around. Toilets are outside, though. Food in the lounge is reduced to some sandwiches wrapped in plastic foil and some cookies... a little more choices would be nice: fruit, soup... are my suggestions.
|Great neighbor in a rainy day|
|Our neighbor in a closer view bound for GRU and FRA|
|Our 346: bar, restaurant and B&B for the next 12 hours|
Our flight was announced and soon we started boarding. We reached the plane are were shown the way to our seats by the flight attendant at the door.
|Crowded gate in this 100% full load flight|
We sat with a lot of room around; you could stretch your leg and not reach the in-front seat. Really roomy!
|Very generous seat pitch|
|Roomy Business plus|
|My nephew relaxing... he then slept solid for 4 hours|
As the other passengers were boarding one of the flight attendants came around with a tray stuffed with cups of orange juice, water and cava. We went for the last one to celebrate our trip home after wonderful holidays.
|The best way to start a flight: cava + learning to use seat controls|
Then came the menus and the amenity kid.
Five minutes prior to the announced time the door were shut and were taxiing to take off. It was still raining and the way to the runaway was quite fast, we were still turning when full power was applied to the engines and the plane started running along. The camera on the tail was showing the plane and after 46 seconds the front wheels took off, luckily the rest of the plane followed and we were airborne. It was very cloudy and soon the only thing you could see from the camera were the clouds, soon the rain transformed into snow and after about 15 minutes going through the clouds we could see the Sun again.
We reached our cruising altitude and service started right after. More drinks to come with roasted nuts. As they were served we were flying over Florianopolis; the starters came over Rio de Janeiro and the main course over Brasilia... nice views for a lunch.
|Cheers over Florianopolis|
Toast with virgin olive oil
Smoked salmon marinated with vermouth
Mesclum leaves salad and grapefruit
Virgin olive oil and Sherry vinegar
Beef sirloin grill with bacon onions and red wine sauce, potatoes with red peppers
White tuna with tomato and olive sauce, green asparagus sauté
Agnolotis of spinach and cheese with carrot tarragon sauce
|Starters... usually the best meal of the day|
|Beef today was excelently cooked...|
|Cake and cheeses with some sweet wine... Very tatsy|
The non-smiling service, as usual for IB, was conducted with efficiency and then it was cleared before lights were dimmed.
Time to watch movies. I personally did not like the selection they had on today so I turned to music and route map. My nephew was sleeping like log when he reclined his seat fully. I tried to imitate him but there is no way I can sleep on a plane. The seat reclines fully and once you lower the armrests it is really wide and comfortable but there is a little angle that disturbs me every time I move.
|Sweet dreams at 360FL|
The IFE, a very modern AVOD system, shows a selection of twelve movies, about a hundred music selections and some other general information channels. They are displayed in a 14" on-touch TV screen. I think IB has done a great job in upgrading their Business Plus product: great food, excellent selection of wines and spirits, very comfortable seats, nice cabin atmosphere. I think they could do better if you, the customer, does not always have the feeling that crews are doing you a favor when assisting you.
As I was listening to some music the IFE died out, both mine and my nephew's. some minutes later they came on again. I talked to the purser who had no idea about what was happening. The incident happened a couple of times later but it restarted automatically.
During my non-sleeping night I walked around the cabin: had some munchies at the mini-bar. I have to admit that the selection was better than in our ongoing trip to EZE: first there were fruits and sandwiches; then some yogurt were displayed and water and juices were always available. I think it was nice for a night flight. Not many people were around, most of the passengers were sleeping and some were chatting with the crew at the galley.
|Best way to spend flight time: looking at flight map|
Somewhere over the Canary Islands we were woken up by the lights were turned on and breakfast service was started. It was around 4.00 am; if you ask me, not the best time for breakfast but after 10 hours on the plane it was about time to see some action. The night had turned clear and we could see the whole island of Gran Canaria with all the cities lights on. Really spectacular.
|Wake up! Breakfast is coming|
First cleaning of all the leftovers from the night bar, then breakfast came; in my opinion it could be better: the chicken sausage was tasteless and the piece of what was supposed to be a potato omelet was surprisingly small.
"Röesti" potato and mushroom sauté
Fresh orange juice
Seasonal fresh fruit
Toasts and virgin olive oil
Colombian coffee anad herbal teas
|Full breakfast... quality needs to be improved|
|Breakfast before reaching the Spanish coast|
Once service was finished we were already descending towards Madrid. We went around for quite a while and finally we touched down in the most gentle manner I have ever experienced, it was like we were still flying. Breaking was hard though, full breaks and really hard stopping.
We reached the terminal and disembarked through the front door and we went through screening for our plane to BCN in a matter of minutes. The airport was deserted at this early time, around 6.30 am, and most of the shops were still closed.
We reached the lounge which had only about two more guests. I asked for the showers and I was handed a key that let me in the best experience after a long flight. The bathroom was spotlessly clean and fresh looking. The towels were as soft as they were brand new. I was lucky this time; last January, almost a year, after the opening of the new terminal they were still not working.
|Clean and well stuffed toilet.|
|Time for a shower: Best thing after 12 hours flight|
We had some drinks and after our flight to BCN was called we proceeded to the gate.
|Help yourself at any of the two bars|
|IB lounge at MAD... empty at 7.00|
Boarding system was curious, to say the least, they asked all passengers from Buenos Aires to board first, then the ones from Bogotá... and continued with all the American flights that connect to BCN in this thing IB calls Catalunya-America flights; same flight number changing planes in MAD.
The flight was so packed that some of the hand luggage had to be carried underneath. Service was again the same breakfast we had just had on our previous flight, well we had a tomato that again disintegrated in the oven.
Flight was excellent except for some mild turbulence at the beginning as we were reaching our cruising altitude. Then the rest of the flight was uneventful until we landed in BCN. We approached the city from the north over the sea which gave us a great view as we crossed over it.
We were parked at a remote stand so we were bused to the terminal and dealt with immigration procedures. There was quite a lane as some other flight from Morocco had arrived shortly before ours. The bags came in no time and finally our trip was over.
Just my last words to all the wonderful people we met in Argentina. From the customs officer that checked our passport at arrival to the taxi driver that took us to the airport all of them have contributed to make this a wonderful trip. ¡Gracias a todos! ¡Hasta la próxima!
Please feel free to leave any comments. Thanks in advance.