This is my first Trip Report so go easy! Any advice, insights, or opinions are more than welcome. Not too many photos as some refused to upload. I would like to thank a.net members OA260, debonair, and all other members who contributed to my thread asking for advice on this trip.
The Airbus A340 appears to be an endangered species these days so I thought it was about time that I tried to log the type and experience my first Airbus quad jet. The obvious choice to log the type was with Iberia on their evening flights to and from London Heathrow from Madrid. This routing offered me the chance to fly the A340 on a short haul sector at a reasonable price, and with the help of fellow a.net members I managed to pick dates that would allow me to have a weekend in Madrid and log both the A340-300 and A340-600.
My day began in Edinburgh where I would pick up my flight down to London to meet my flight to Madrid. I decided to take an early flight that would give me a few hours photography time at Myrtle Avenue outside Heathrow. I would usually try and book BA1441 when I fly to Heathrow, always like to take advantage of the domestic Boeing 767-300 services, however this time I decided to fly to London City on BA8713. I chose this because firstly it would allow me to log a new type and secondly because it only cost £29. Who could turn down a new type at that price?
Airline: British Airways
Flight Number: BA8713
Aircraft: Embraer ERJ-170
Flight Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Date: 05th March 2015
After an early drive from Dundee to Ferrytoll Park & Ride I arrived at Edinburgh Airport with two hours to spare. This presented me with two options. Option one was to go and find somewhere to eat and have a hearty breakfast. Option two consisted of running up and down the airport photographing some of the movements. Needless to say I chose the latter.
Despite flying on a small regional jet I was very excited to get on board. I had flown an Embraer ERJ-175 with FlyBe and was eager to compare both aircraft and service. Our flight left on time and made excellent progress towards London City Airport. The seats were comfortable for such a short flight and the legroom good. The service consisted of the usual BA domestic fare. Too late for a hot breakfast but we were presented with a choice of tea/coffee, soft drinks, and savoury snacks. I had an apple juice to get me going and a nice nutritious bag of crisps. The in flight service was over quite quickly as the flight was only about 75% full, most of the rows from my row back had at least two vacant seats in them. Our flight made good time and landed at LCY ahead of schedule. As ever it took next to no time to get out of LCY to the DLR station.
TRANSFER TO HEATHROW:
We arrived at a sunny LCY but it looked like patchy cloud over LHR. I decided to get through LCY quickly and onto the DLR as soon as possible in order to maximise my time at LHR before the light began to fade. I took the DLR from LCY to Bank, changed onto the Central Line to Holborn, and settled into the journey on the Piccadilly Line to Hatton Cross. When I emerged from the darkness it was indeed patchy cloud. Not bad conditions but not the best. I picked my spot at Myrtle Avenue and started snapping away. The highlights of the day were; EgyptAir A333, China Southern B788, Air India B788, Royal Jordanian B788, Tarom A318, Ethiopian B77L, AeroMexico B788, and Philippine A343. In what seemed like no time at all the time was 1500 and the runways changed. It was time to head along to Terminal 5 where I would pick up my flight to Madrid.
|China Southern Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner B-2788 Approach|
After arriving in T5 and clearing security, which took all of ten minutes, I decided that it was time to get some food and review the afternoon’s photography. T5A is not very good for photography so food won the battle this time! I plumped for standard pub grub and a few pints to wash it down. I then received a notification from the BA app that the flight would depart from the B gates, so I settled my expensive tab and left the restaurant. I double checked the departure board which listed my flight leaving from the A gates which contradicted what the app had told me. I knew that an A340-600 would be leaving from B or C so went to double check with the customer service agents who confirmed that it was departing the B gates and seemed disinterested that the departure board stated A gates.
Flight Number: BA522
Aircraft: Airbus A340-600
Flight Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Date: 5th March 2015
When I arrived at the gate it was like a ghost town. Other passengers were obviously struggling with the departure board and were waiting at the A gates. I was pleased to see that I would be flying on an A346 that was still in the old Iberia livery, one of the best liveries around in my opinion, and not the ghastly new livery that is becoming all too common these days. The rest of the passengers soon came streaming through and the boarding process began soon after.
|Iberia Airbus A340-642 EC-IOB On Stand|
|Iberia Airbus A340-642 EC-IOB Nose|
Upon boarding it felt like a long walk to seat 50L which was almost at the back of the plane. However this gave me an opportunity to see how the aircraft was filling up. The loads were good but there were a number of free seats in the rear cabin. This meant that I was getting a set of two to myself as my seat mate had moved to the centre section where she could have four to herself. I found the interior very clean and modern and it was a pleasant change to have seat back IFE on such a short flight. The captain informed us that there would be a twenty minute delay closing the cargo doors so this gave me the opportunity to get a photo with Diego Costa who was only a few rows in front of me. My brother is a Chelsea fan so this gave me the chance to best him in the smugness stakes! The flight eventually departed and we climbed smoothly out and started heading south towards Spain.
The service on board this flight was the standard buy on board service and as I had filled up earlier in the terminal I declined to take up their offer. The flight on board the A346 was surprisingly quiet and was very smooth. Many on board took the opportunity to sleep, or to annoy international football players. I decided to put the IFE screen on to the moving map and fire up the iPad. I stretched out across the two available seats and settled into the flight watching a couple of episodes of The Sweeny (Definitely born too late!). Before I knew it we had cruised over the Bay of Biscay and were descending over northern Spain towards Madrid. It seemed like a calm night as we descended towards the airport but the landing was one of the roughest I had ever experienced. The aircraft slammed onto the runway and immediately lurched to the right throwing many across their seats. The pilot then abruptly corrected and we lurched to the left before the nose gear touched the ground. We taxied to Terminal 4S and disembarked into a deserted terminal. It took all of 15 minutes to get through passport control and within an hour I had arrived at my hotel.
|Iberia Airbus A340-642 EC-IOB Seat Back|
|Iberia Airbus A340-642 EC-IOB Seat|
|Iberia Airbus A340-642 EC-IOB Seat Back Screen|
WEEKEND IN MADRID:
This is airliners.net, not Whicker’s World, so I will keep this section brief and stay on the topic of aircraft and flights. I found Madrid a very interesting city with lots of interesting architecture, museums, and open spaces. The weather was a comfortable twenty degrees Celsius which was fine walking around weather. I tried to see as much of the city as I could in the short time that I was there but I could not. So luckily for me I will have to make a return visit. It was very cheap to get around on the Metro system, costing only two Euros to go anywhere except the airport. Eating and drinking out was also very cheap and a weekend in Madrid certainly represents good value for money. I enjoyed sampling the tapas when I bought a beer! I would recommend taking a phrase book with you. Many of the locals don’t speak much English and appreciate you making the effort to converse in Spanish. I also took the time to go to the airport to do some spotting and get more photographs of the wonderful Iberia livery before it is consigned to the history books. I went straight to the spotters mound that is only a short walk from Barajas Metro Station. The weather was comfortable for sitting out for an extended period of time but was starting to get a bit hazy in the heat of the day. All in all I very much enjoyed my time in Madrid and would highly recommend it.
After a couple of very enjoyable days in Madrid it was time to head home. I once again went to the spotters mound for a final time that morning before heading from Barajas to Terminal 4 to catch my flight. It was very nice to see Madrid airports spectacular Terminal 4 in the daylight. It truly is an impressive structure. I couldn’t stand around admiring all day however as I had a flight to catch. The automatic check in machine was obviously having an off day as it decided to give up half way through checking in. So it was over to the desk to do it the old fashioned way and deal with a human being rather than a machine. The staff were very helpful but when my boarding pass was printed I noticed that it was not the seat that I had reserved. I informed the lady that I had reserved 9A, a nice window seat just in front of the wing. She informed me that this was not possible and that I would have to pay an additional twenty Euros to get a window seat. As there was a language barrier I decided just to pay the money to ensure that I got a window seat and deal with the issue at a later date. I proceeded to security, which was a bit of a scrum, and onto the train to Terminal 4S. When I arrived I made sure that I went up and down the terminal trying to get as many photos as I could of the widebodies there. T4S is quite difficult for photography but there are some good vantage points. I managed to photograph a LAN B788, TAM B763, two Avianca A332s, Iberia retro A319, and a number of Iberia heavies.
Flight Number: IB3166
Flight Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Date: 8th March 2015
We boarded on time and I found my way to my newly purchased seat just behind the wing. The flight was lightly loaded and I again found myself with a vacant seat next to me and the middle section in my row was also empty. So it may have been somewhat unnecessary to pay for the window seat. The interior was somewhat dated compared to the A346 but it was bright and comfortable none the less. We pushed back on time and had a short taxi out to the runway.
|Iberia Airbus A340-313 EC-GGS On Board|
The take off was quick considering the load and I was quite surprised by how quiet the cabin was. After flying the A346 I was expecting the A343 to be a bit nosier inside but it was still relatively quiet. We climbed out north and flew over some spectacular scenery. The snow capped mountain ranges were impressive and we continued towards northern Spain’s impressive coastline. The in flight service was again a buy on board affair. I bought a can of Fanta just to refresh myself but did not try any of the hot food that could be purchased. A lady in the row behind did and the hot food did look quite nice considering it is airplane food. There was a lot of high cloud around that gave horizon a rather hazy appearance so the photographs out of the window were not the best. The flight was comfortable, the aircraft clean, the staff attentive, and before long we were crossing the English Channel and were preparing for our descent.
|Iberia Airbus A340-313 EC-GGS Banking over Alcobendas|
|Iberia Airbus A340-313 EC-GGS Climbing over Colmenar Viejo 1|
|Iberia Airbus A340-313 EC-GGS Descending Towards London|
We approached Heathrow on time and did not have to hold for very long before we were cleared to land on 27R. The approach was a bit bumpy but the landing was smooth compared to the landing at Madrid. The A343 glided onto the runway and slowed down promptly. We taxied to T5C and parked at one of the gates with the excessively long air bridges. Sadly this meant that I could not get a photograph of the aircraft that provided me with a very enjoyable flight. I had plenty of time between arrival and my connecting flight so I headed for flight connections and though of what I could eat.
The final part of my trip was the short hop back to Edinburgh. After clearing all of the connection checks I decided to sample more of Heathrow’s expensive eateries and treated myself to a full English breakfast. No alcohol this time as I was driving upon arrival at Edinburgh. I had a rather long wait at Heathrow but I found a nice magazine in WHSmith on the Vickers VC10, my favourite aircraft, so this passed the time nicely.
Airline: British Airways
Flight Number: BA1464
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
Flight Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Date: 8th March 2015
This is my flight of choice whenever I am heading back from London. Again it is one of the domestic flights operated by a Boeing 767. Widebodies on short haul seem to be a bit of a novelty these days so any opportunity to fly one is a good one. As ever the shuttle flight was quite busy. I had managed to secure one of the better seats up in the front cabin and there were a few spare seats. Once again my seat mate went to sit in the middle section so I had two seats to myself. I must put these people off but I am not complaining as it is more room for me. Our flight left ahead of schedule and we were in the air in no time. I received a free can of Sprite and a bag of crisps, the standard domestic service on BA. We reached our cruising altitude and began to descend. As ever it was a comfortable flight with BA, the staff were very welcoming and friendly, and the flight smooth. At this time of night there was not a lot of traffic around so we flew straight in on time. Edinburgh is one of the easiest airports in Scotland to use and in no time we were off the plane and on the shuttle bus back to the Park & Ride.