VLM’s now gone RTM-LCY-MAN flight reported: Early kick off to Manchester!
This is the first part of my daytrip to catch another B777 ride. I had to fly to Manchester first, and since KLM was overpriced, and bmibaby not my taste, it made me decide to book with VLM.
VLM offered a non-stop RTM-MAN flight in the morning, as well a tag-on via LCY. Price: exactly the same. Of course I opted for the flight via LCY…. Much more fun for the same price!
It was a Monday when I travelled. First I had to get in Rotterdam. My car was no option, since my returnflight would bring me to Amsterdam. Public transport was my choice. Not too many options in the early morning. I had to connect from a bus to a train to a bus. And I had to build in some spare time to cover up with possible delays on the railway. It’s was a Monday morning, everything can happen during the morning rush!
My bus connected very well to the Intercity-Brussels train at Schiphol Airport. But we did not leave the station. My worst dreams came to reality, when the train manager reported that the train was broken and the service was cancelled. Everybody had to leave the train. Lucky enough, another normal InterCity just came in on another platform, direction Dordrecht. Of course calling at Rotterdams Central station too. And I was even able to secure a seat in that now very busy train!
Once in Rotterdam, I faced with too many contruction works going on at and around the station. Nearly everything was to be done at the same time. All buses, roadtrains, were situated somewhere else. It took me 5 more minutes to find out my way, but I managed it quickly enough to secure planned bus. On the other side, I can imagine that foreigners might need more time in such situations and miss the bus. Which would mean the next bus 15 minutes later.
Welcome to Rotterdam. In front of Central Station (contruction works going on)
The bus is a direct line to the airport, driving through some populated areas. It takes about 20 minutes in total. The final busstop is next to the terminal building.
Rotterdam Airport was a serene place. Very windy conditions made the temperature feel cold, so I went inside the building quickly. Nearly no passengers at that moment. The VLM check-in desk was unmanned, but when I approached the area, a lady from behind the ticketsales counter quickly came to me and checked me in. She explained to me the situation at LCY. Since I enter the UK in LCY, I had to clear immigration at LCY, so I could not stay on board the plane. She gave a transfer-boardingpass to me, and told me to be quick at LCY. Free newspapers are on offer at the check-in counter.
Security was a real breeze. I was the only passenger using it, so no hurry and the staff was very friendly. I wonder how it would look like when one or two HV charterflights are leaving and they have to deal with 400 passengers!
Rotterdam Airport, terminal inside, public side
Rotterdam Airport, terminal inside, airside/clean area
The departure lounge was a deserted area. A few business men were talking, the staff from the coffee bar were chatting too. The taxfree shop was completely empty. I decided to get the ladies back to work, and ordered a latte machiato, took my seat and read the newspaper. The only flight before mine was a VLM to LCY. It would leave nearly empty…
Boarding was at gate 2, and I had to go through passport control first. Done in seconds.
The departure lounge offers good views on the apron, but it’s not so interesting with no traffic. An public observation deck is situated on top of the terminal too.
Since the LCY flight left meanwhile, it was obvious that the Fokker 50 in front of my gate would be mine. Boarding started at 08:55am without announcements.
My Fokker 50 being catered and filled up with JET-A1
Flight No.: VG203 Date: 11MAY09
STD: 09:10 ATD: 09:16 RTM
STA: 09:10 ATA: 09:21 LCY
STD: 09:40 ATD: 10:05 LCY
STA: 10:55 ATA: 11:11 MAN
A/C: Fokker 50 Reg No.: OO-VLN
Seat: 05A Single Class
Photo © Alfredo La Marca - SpotIT
Before I boarded the aircraft I made some pictures of OO-VLN, called Spirit of Reenstar. A friendly British captain was waving to me from the cockpit.
Total amount of passengers on this flight was 25, making it a load of 50% to LCY. Cabin crew was British too. Due LCY congestion, we left a few minutes late from Rotterdam. Our flightlevel over the Northsea would be 16,000 feet according the captain. And weather in London would be fine, with a bit bumpy approach to be expected.
Boarding by feet on the apron
One more look on the terminal building, just before boarding
Good morning! Welcome aboard
The engines were switched into running mode during the manual safety demo. But most of the passengers found the financial page in their newspapers more interesting. It seems that I was the only one giving at least some attention to the crew.
The short taxiride brought us to runway 24 for takeoff. This would mean a nice left turn back to the southwest and hopefully some good views! Takeoff was really quickly today, it seemed that I was almost flying on a paper plane.
Airborne & gear up!
Up and away… climbing out of Rotterdam
We turned left indeed and flew over the western part of the Netherlands, quickly towards the coastline. When we started our crossing over the water, crew started their service too. They delivered a large sandwich with Gouda Cheese and lettuce. Coffee and tea also of course, or anything else. I had a coffee, with a refill later. The sandwich was really fresh. Made and pre-packed by Erasmus Catering in Rotterdam. I think they’re entitled to cater the airline on flights out of Rotterdam.
Breakfast time : sandwich and coffee
The crossing over the Northsea was smooth. I read some more words in the morning news, and watched down on the rough water.
The Fokker was flown into London via the estuary of the River Thames, and over the South part of the City. Final descent was a bit bumpy, with quite a few shakers. Not enjoyed by some of the passengers. Meanwhile I enjoyed my views during our final turn for runway 10.
Overflying the British coastline/River Thames estuary
Buckingham Palace in downtown London
More downtown London
Landing was followed by some heavy braking and a 180° turn on the runway. This is necessary since no parallel taxiway is available at the small airport. We taxied on the apron, which was full with morning traffic. It was packed with other Fokker 50’s, several RJ-85/100’s and a few ATR aircraft. Also 1 Fokker 70 was present (OS). We waited a few more minutes before we were finally being pushed back into our parking stand.
Taxiing to the stand
The bus for the terminal was waiting already. I also had to take it, to clear immigration for the UK here. And back up to first floor/departures > security check > boarding. I managed to do all of it within 7 minutes (!). Can you believe a complete check-out and re-entering in such a short time? It’s all possible at LCY… Boarding was from gate 2A. So a short walk only after security.
The bus was waiting already for me, most of the passengers were already in. Not much later I was back with the same Fokker 50 for second part of the trip to Manchester.
Before boarding, another interesting approach of ‘The Green Machine’
The bus that brought me here again…
Once the quick boarding completed, a nice welcome from the flightdeck. A delay for startup was expected due to busy traffic at the airport. The cabin crew came around with some sweet candy.
Load on this flight was 21 passengers. The seat next to me was blocked off.
When it was our turn for startup and taxi, we were off almost immediately. Since our parking position was directly located at the entrance for runway 10. We followed a Transwede/SAS RJ-70 aircraft.
Soon it was also our turn and the very quick takeoff was followed by a bumpy climb towards the North.
Following Transwede/SAS to the active, runway 10
After turning away, we said bye, bye to City Airport
Why not, a cabin view from seat 05A on OO-VLN.
We flew nearly right over Luton Airport, land of easyJet. At this moment also the sandwiches were handed out. A real English sandwich now, with Red Leicester and tomato on a focaccia. It was really fresh and tasted nice! I got a (real) glass of orange juice.
Once we continued overflying the beautiful British landscape, coffee and a chocolate (Leonidas) was offered.
Good morning London Luton. A bit of orange down there?
This sandwich was really tasty!
Smoothly flying on the ‘Made in Holland’ Fokker 50
That is an interesting railway bridge… Anybody?
Final approach for Manchester
The ride was over too soon. Landing was at 11:05am on runway 05R. The aircraft for my next ride arrived just in front of us apparently. I’ll report that trip later in a separate post.
Taxiing was rather time consuming, to spot 17 (terminal 3).
After landing, the aircraft for my next ride is also ‘on schedule’
Deplane was via the aircraft stairs onto the platform. A friendly goodbye of the crew. The captain waved to me also. One more picture was made from inside the terminal building before I headed to check-in for the next flight that day on something bigger.
The Fokker arrived. Bye, bye and see you next time!
Overall I can conclude that VLM still offers a very good product. It reduced the catering a bit with previous years, e.g. the yogurt is gone now. And the food is not given on a plate anymore.
But still, large and fresh sandwiches, with original taste. Crew is very attentive, as well very friendly ground service. I really wonder what they will become when fully intergrated with CityJet/AF-KLM group. I will soon test it out, in a few weeks I will fly VLM F50 again, back on CityJet RJ85. I will compare both and report again.
Thanks for reading. And your feedback is always appreciated.