CityJet/Brussels Airlines |Fokker F50/A319 | LCY-ANR/BRU-LHR

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Once I had returned from my trip to Australia, and booked my trip to the A.Net meet in AMS, I started thinking where I could go next. I looked around a few places of interest, most notably Madeira, but prices were more than I wanted to spend – much like Xmas, they were north of £300 return. Way too much for a Euro-Hop. I was chatting to somebody at work, and was telling them this and he reeled off a list of places – Spain… been there. France… been there – and recently. Then he said ‘I suppose you’ve done Belgium too’. Um, well yeah but not for a while, and only Brussels. Hmmmm. I knew CityJet ran their F50’s from LCY to ANR, so during tea break I took a look on their website.

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So far so good. Rather than do a straight return though, I decided to take a look to see if Brussels Airlines still used their Avro’s on the BRU-LHR. They did, and again the price was much more reasonable.

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And with that, a trip was born – it came in at a decent(ish) price, I got to log a new airport, a new type ( the F50) and visit a new city. Another bonus was that not only did it not contain any A32X’s or 737’s, it didn’t contain any Airbus’ or Boeing’s full stop! Or at least that was the theory…

During OLCI, The outbound flight didn’t seem all that full:

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I set off a little early so I could grab some breakfast, then made my way to the station for the the thirty minute or so journey to London Waterloo.

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From Waterloo, it was the tube and the DLR over to LCY. As I arrived a little early, and it was a nice day, I took a walk out to the end of the runway.

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I hung around for about ten minutes, but with not much going on, I headed indoors again.

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Once inside, I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass before heading through security.

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Once through, I grabbed a drink, watched a few of the movements and browsed the web on my iPad.

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Once I was finished, I headed down to gate 22.

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WX233
LCY-ANR
June 2014
Fokker F50 / OO-VLP Spirit of VLM
Seat: 5D / Economy
Scheduled: 12:20/14:25
Off Stand: 12:22
On Stand: 14:19

I was welcomed into the holding pen and took a seat on one of the toadstools, in front of there OO-VLP was waiting.

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I caught a quick glimpse of the computer screen and saw that there were just 22 on board today – so a nice low load.

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Boarding was announced a few moments later and I made my way across the Tarmac.

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Things were delayed a little by somebody insisting that her huge bag would fit into the overhead locker, despite it clearly being too big. In the end, the crew member took charge and said it would have to go in the hold. I was welcomed on board by the one and only cabin crew member and took my seat.

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Good legroom here

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Overhead

Soon after, boarding was completed and I managed to score a free seat next to me, as did most people in fact. The crew member announced a flying time of 45 minutes, but the flight deck didn’t get in touch at all.

The safety announcements were completed and we made our way out to the runway.

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There was a bit of a hold, until the engines spooled up, the brakes were released and we shot out over East London.

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On the way up there were a few bumps until we cleared the clouds

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Once we were clear, the crew member rolled the trolley to the front of the cabin and started the service. I asked for a G&T, but the crew member said the only alcoholic beverage they serve is wine. So I took a coke instead, along with some crisps. I was also offered tea or coffee, but declined.

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Not too long after, we had crossed the channel and were flying along the coast.

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The flight deck finally did get in touch – and simply said “20 minutes”. A few seconds later, it felt like a parachute had come to from behind us, and we were heading firmly back towards earth again.

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We made our approach and touched down a few minutes ahead of schedule.

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The door was opened pretty quickly and I was out on to the Tarmac amongst all the other resting Fokkers.

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Passport control was pretty quick and it was then out into a deserted airport to wait for a bus.

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Annoyingly, the buses didn’t go to the central station and there wasn’t an option to take a taxi – because there weren’t any. So I took my chances with the bus – once it eventually turned up.

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I ended up a little nearer to the city, so headed off in the general direction of my hotel.

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Around an hour or so later I finally arrived at the Radisson Blu.

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I then went out to see what Antwerp had to offer, before meeting up with fellow a.netter MSS678 for dinner.

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I’m led to believe this burger place is A.Net ANR tradition?

After arriving back in town, it was time for another brief walk.

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After an interesting visit to Antwerp, it was time to head off to Brussels on the train.

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After around 45 minutes or so, the train arrived at Brussels Central

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Brussels’ most famous peeing resident

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After a few visits to Brussels, this area is finally complete

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Sampling a couple of Belgium’s most famous delicacies

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A few hours later it was time to head off to BRU on the train from Brussels North.

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Once I arrived, I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass from a machine.

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2×3 seating… still the RJ (so far)

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I Then headed up to the car park. I remember the views being better before however, so only stayed for a few minutes.

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I headed through passport control and had a bit of a look around the shops.

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I was tempted by a very reasonably priced MacBook Pro (£850), but having nearly everything in the iThings lineup I couldn’t really justify it. Instead, I had a look through a few of the windows around to see what was about.

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Once I’d seen what was around, I headed through security and up to the Diamond lounge.

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The views were reasonable, but no good for photos.

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The food selection was pretty good.

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This was one of the better third party lounges I’ve been in. It wasn’t too busy, had comfortable seats, free flowing cold drinks, a decent enough food lineup and a good enough view out of the window, even it it wasn’t too great for photography. The only downside was that the alcohol options were a little lacking, but that didn’t bother me too much.

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The FID mentioned that there was a delay to my flight, but that boarding was also underway. Rather than run the risk of missing my flight, I reluctantly made my way down to the gate, even though if the delay was to be believed it was still a little early. I took the scenic route and saw this along the way.

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Predictably, there were no signs of life outside.

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Eventually, an A319 pulled in. So either a last minute change or we would be heading off to a remote gate. As it turned out, there was a last minute change of plane, and we were ushered down towards the A319. The plus side of this however was that all the B seats remained free.

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SN2095
BRU-LHR
June 2014
Avro RJ100
Airbus A319/OO-SSE
Seat: 17A / B.Light
Scheduled: 16:40/17:05
Off Stand: 17:16
On Stand: 17:13

I took my seat whilst the pretty busy flight filled up. There was an announcement of the flight details, however it was so loud on board I couldn’t hear any of it.

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A few moments later, the captain came on the PA and said the delay was caused by an aircraft change. The original one had a technical issue, therefore we had to wait for this one to arrive from Faro to operate this flight. He mentioned a quick flying time of 45 minutes.

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I never knew Corendon had a Belgian arm?

We pushed back, the crew performed a quick safety demo and we made the short taxi over to the runway.

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A few moments later we lifted off into the sunny skies.

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After quite literally just a couple of minutes in the cruise, I got that parachute feeling again, and we were already heading back down to earth.

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The crew performed their service run reasonably well, mainly because there didn’t appear to be too many takers.

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Ex Iberia? Turned out this one had spent most of its life in the USA.

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Over the UK now

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Passing LCY

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We flew past LHR, before spinning around on to finals.

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Upon touchdown, we hit the brakes pretty hard in the last few metres in order to have a quick taxi over to our stand.

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Despite the delay, we pulled on to stand just eight minutes late – and three minutes before we even left.

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It was then through the endless corridors of T1 to passport control.

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Passing a LOT classic along the way

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I used the e-passport lane, although it seemed a little slower than the normal lane. Once I passed through, it was over to the central station for the coach home.

CityJet once more were pretty good, although I’m led to believe service has slipped slightly from previously.

Much the same can be said for Brussels Airlines. Their cabin was comfortable enough, much like my last trip on them. It was a little annoying I missed out on their RJ 100 (for the third time…) but at least they were able to find an aircraft to operate the service with minimal delay rather than cancel and cause a few issues.

My next series of reports will feature my trip to the USA and St. Maarten in August/September 2014:

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Lufthansa/Brussels Airlines | B733/E190/A319 | LGW-FRA-BRU-LHR

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Maps generated by the
Great Circle Mapper –
copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Not long after I booked my trip to Frankfurt, I was already thinking of somewhere else to go. I had been to Brussels many years ago but didn’t really do much sightseeing. I remember it being a nice city though so I made some investigations. Brussels Airways seemed like an interesting option considering I’d already booked to fly with British Airways to Frankfurt. I saw there was an option to return on one of their Avro85’s and as it was at a good time and I’d not flown on this type before this appealed the most to me. The price was a very reasonable £96 return. As is always the case though, when I came to book a week or so later, the price of my preferred return had gone up and made the total price of the trip £130. I decided to explore other options. I looked on Expedia and noticed that there was a 1-stop flight for £112. This immediately grabbed my attention – further investigation told me it would be on LH from Gatwick to Frankfurt on a 737-500, a flight I had wanted to try, LH regional E190, a new type for me from Frankfurt to Brussels and the return trip direct from Brussels to LHR with SN on the later A319 flight, a new airline for me. I booked almost straight away, but even in that short time the price rose to £120! Maybe just for once it would be nice if the price could go down?! Still, it worked out cheaper than SN direct and took in 2 new airlines and a new type so I was pleased.

The Lufthansa check in app was much more successful than the BA one I had tried 2 weeks previously. There were a range of options to identify yourself and once you had selected your seats etc. there was an email confirmation. Plus the fact I managed to do it over 26 hours in advance rather than the standard 24 gave it extra brownie points from me, as for the first, and second, time I’d managed to secure seq.1.

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The day starts out in a similar place to where my last trip did. Although earlier. I caught the first train of the day to Guildford where I would change for a train to LGW. As expected it was pretty quiet at this time of the morning.

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At 6:50 the train arrived at Gatwick and I headed off to collect my boarding passes.

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Then I headed straight off through security. I hadn’t travelled through Gatwick since they had re vamped their departures area. I was impressed! The last time I had gone through the regular security channel it was a nightmare – it must have taken a good 30 minutes. But not this morning. There was no queue at all. In fact for the first time ever I had actually made it through before my bag did! Soon after, it was over to one of my favorite spots at LGW South. The Bridge Bar. The views from here are excellent and there’s a quiet corner you can ‘hide’ in so you can get some photography without fear of being hassled. Shame there didn’t seem to be too much going on this morning:

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The breakfast had a very microwaved taste to it… And it cost how much??!

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While taking photos, I looked on flightradar24 too see if I could track my incoming plane:

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Seems like the flight has been upgraded from the scheduled 735 to a 733, which was good for me as it was a new sub-type.

About an hour after I’d finished breakfast, I was starting to feel like I’d outstayed my welcome at the Bridge Bar, so I went for a wonder.

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Spent a good few hours in here a few years back waiting for a very delayed (9 hours) flight to LAS.

At 9:05 boarding was called at gate 12. Seems like Gatwick had gone through quite a bit more of a refurb than I though. I remember these passageways being very brown looking before. The new owners seem to be trying very hard at this and although it’s further away than Heathrow, it’s now my airport of choice.

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I was surprised I managed to get a reasonably good shot of my lift this morning, with there being a lack of windows at the holding pen.

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LH897
LGW-FRA
24th March 2012
Boeing 737-300/D-ABEC
Off 09:41 Local
On 12:08 Local

After taking my seat at row 14, I was immediately very impressed with LH. There was so much room on this 737 classic compared to BA’s A319 I flew on the other week.

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Boarding was completed pretty quickly and we made our way down to 08R. That’s now the 5th time in 5 flights I’ve made from LGW where I’ve departed off the lesser used runway. Seemed odd though, as according to flightradar24 earlier, LHR was landing and departing to the West. After pushback all the cabin lights were dimmed, which I thought was unusual for a daytime flight. They didn’t come back on for the duration of the flight either. There was a reasonable load. I’d say about 70%. I did have a seatmate but the middle seat was free so in theory there was plenty of room. Although he decided that the spare seat was his. Not too worried though as there was enough room.

On our way I managed to snap these.

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Here for maintenance?

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LGW’s newest operator

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I was on the lookout for ‘Super Turismo’. It had returned from its 18 month secondment from Bolivia just last week and was back at VS maintenance before heading off for a refurb in HKG. It will be the first LGW based VS 747 to get the new cabins. Shame the pic didn’t come out that well.

Once airborne the service started pretty quickly. The captain had previously announced a flight time if an hour so this was to be a shorter journey over to FRA than it was the other week. Nothing significant happened during the quick crossing. Although I will comment on how attentive the cabin crew were. I am very impressed with LH so far!

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Chocolate Danish pastry – not bad for a 2nd breakfast!

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After about 30 mins we started our descent. Due to there being less cloud around than before I could see a little bit more scenery but not a huge amount. There was quite a bit of turbulence on approach but nothing too major. One thing I did notice on final approach was a bird fly past very close to the wingtip – could of caused a few problems if it was any closer. It was picked up on the landing video at about 3:14 minutes in.

Landing was made on the new runway and we made a very long and slow taxi to a remote stand opposite T2

A good 15 to 20 mins later we pulled up on stand.

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I was off on my 3rd bus trip of FRA in less than 2 weeks.

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The connection at FRA was pretty simple. I knew that my next flight would be departing from gate A2 so it was simply a case of following the signs to concourse A. It was quite a walk, but having felt quite under the weather earlier in the week, there’s nothing like a long walk and a run up and down 3 flights of stairs to blow the cobwebs out.

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Once at cafe, I mean, gate A2 I was treated to a pretty good view. The weather seems to have improved in the last couple of weeks too! Lufthansa were continuing to impress me with their free coffee at the gate. Although I didn’t have one. I just enjoyed the views instead.

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LH1014
FRA-BRU
24th March 2012
Embraer E-190/D-AECH
Off 13:58
On 14:42

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At approx. 13:30 boarding started. I scanned my boarding card at the train station style gate and headed downstairs to the waiting bus. I could tell this would be a fairly empty flight as we waited around on the bus for about 10 or 15 minutes but nobody else showed up after the initial rush. If the bus wasn’t even full then the plane wouldn’t be either. And I was correct, as I had the whole of row 18 to myself.

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Once again the legroom was impressive – much better than on the E170 of BA I was on last time round.

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Once on board, the captain came on and told us that we we’re running well ahead of schedule and that we would have a flight time of 45 minutes. Shortly after we taxied away from our stand and made our way down to runway 18 for a short and powerful takeoff.

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Shortly after take off the inflight service started

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Relatively empty cabin on this short hop.

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And not too long after that we were making our way back to solid ground again. Gotta love the efficiency of the cabin crew on these short hops! To be honest I didn’t really notice descent had started. There was no change in engine tone at all and it was almost like we had just cruised our way down to the runway. Again there was quite a bit of turbulence but not enough to cause any major problems. I was surprised at how green it was around BRU. Does anybody actually live here?! It’s all fields!

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Thought I’d walked a long way…

After a long but pleasant walk through Zaventem, I was at a new looking train station. I must admit I was impressed with BRU. Out of the 3 airports I have visited today, it had made the biggest impression on me. It’s almost like it was brand new and very airy and spacious.

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The better Schengen area of BRU.

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New looking train station

A quick train ride later and I was at Gare du Nord. My hotel was a short walk away.
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My room for the night.

I read a report on here last week, saying that the area around Gare du Nord wasn’t that great. To be honest I found it no problem whatsoever. Even wondering around after dark was no issue – apart from the fact everything was shut.

I used the hotel Wi-Fi to check in for my flight back to LHR. Again, using the Lufthansa app was no problem. I had a pick of every seat on the plane too – what a choice. I was hoping being a quite late departure, it would be relatively empty.

A few pics from a sticky afternoon and sunny morning in Brussels:

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Very busy Saturday evening in Brussels

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The other ‘pis’ statue

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I’d read about this place on Trip Advisor – and I can only agree with all the positive comments.

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After seeing what the city had to offer I ventured out to the atomium. Wow what a structure! For some reason I’d thought it was just a statue. When I got there I was blown away with the size of it.

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At around 4:30 I decided to make a slow trip back to the airport. My flight wasn’t until 21:20 but after what I’d seen of BRU yesterday, I wanted to explore some more. I thought it would be more interesting to take the tram rather than the metro back, as it get to see a bit more!

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Outside Gare du Nord

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Only a 10-minute journey to BRU station.

Once I arrived a BRU I went to a self-serve check in machine to get my boarding pass. Although a message came up saying there had been an error and that I needed to go to a manned check in counter. I’d been having problems since I booked this trip – the SN website was saying all along that it didn’t recognize my booking locator number. However, I went along to a check in counter and got my boarding pass issued with no problems.

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After that I went for a wonder outside, as it was such a nice evening. I saw some spotters on the top of one of the car parks and made some investigations on how to get up there. Once I made my way up, I was able to get some good pics.

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On loan from Fly.Be

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After about 20 minutes, my stomach was telling me it was time to eat, so I headed off indoors again.

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BRU landside overview.

I went to investigate the Wingtips restauraunt but I wasn’t impressed with the selection landside. I headed through security. And this is where my impression of BRU dropped. I remembered afterwards that I had come in to the Schengen area yesterday, and as I was heading direct back to LHR I was now in the non-Schengen area. This area didn’t seem as impressive as the one I had been to yesterday. The food wasn’t up to much either. Still, at least there was a decent view.

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After dinner I went for a wonder and noticed the Star Alliance logo jet pull in. Could this be my ride this evening?

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Pretty quiet this evening.

I headed through security. It was a painless affair and I was through without any issue – must be getting good at this now!
It turned out I was on the Star Alliance A319. I was quite pleased about that. Only once before had I been on a plane wearing a special livery – Virgin Atlantic’s G-VFAB in the 21st birthday livery.

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SN2103
BRU-LHR
25th March 2012
A319/OO-SSC
Off 2122 local
On 2138 local

Boarding started at 21:00…

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… Or so we thought.

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After about 5 minutes of waiting, a ground worker walked up, rolled his eyes and removed the tape. Once on board, my first impressions were that SN is pretty similar to LH although it didn’t seem the legroom was as generous.

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Shortly after the boarding complete announcement was given, and once again I had a row of 3 to myself. Of the 5 flights in Europe I’ve made this year, only once did I have somebody next to me. I guess this proves that air travel in Europe isn’t as popular as it once was.

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We pushed back at just after 21:20 local and made quite a slow taxi out to runway 02. Just before we lined up, the very jolly sounding captain came on for the first time saying we we’re number 2 for departure and that our flight would take 45 minutes. A couple of minutes later, at 21:35 local we were off.

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The flight went by without any issues. The cabin crew went to work shortly after departure. 10 minutes after takeoff we had reached our cruising altitude and 10 minutes after that we had started our descent.

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We were making a few left turns on approach and I suspected we were probably in a hold. After seeing the O2 arena and the new Olympic stadium 3 times my suspicions were confirmed. It was now 21:15 and we were nowhere near landing. Not long after the captain came on again and said we were in a hold above Heathrow and that we would no be landing at 21:35. By my calculations that was a 15-minute delay.

We approached LHR from towards the East and at 21:35 made a smooth touchdown on 09L. LHR was very busy tonight. As we left the runway the following aircraft was almost touching down and there was a long line on approach behind. That would explain the long hold. As we were arriving at T1 the taxi in was very short. We pulled up alongside a Swiss A320.

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Then it was down into the endless corridors of LHR T1:

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Then I was in a long queue at immigration. Only in the UK have I spent more than 5 minutes waiting at immigration! Some 20 minutes later I was officially back in the country and in a bit of a rush to catch the coach back home. I made my way through the underground tunnels to the central bus station to get the National Express coach I’d had a few issues with on my last trip.

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I got to the bus stop to find a coach with no driver – so I needn’t had bothered rushing after all.

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A few minutes later a driver appeared and we were off. We stopped at T5 but not T4 – seems like the drivers just seem to pick and choose where they go on this service. Last time round they didn’t want to go to T5 and now the people wanting to get on at T4 had to go without. Oh dear! After we got off the M25 we made a trip around the local hospital – how random! We pulled into the station at 23:00 and I was off for the short walk home. And that brings this trip to an end.

Overall I thought Lufthansa were very good for a short flights. I’ll definitely be using them again. Brussels Airways were good, although I’m not a fan of the whole buy on board system. I guess that’s just the way things are though. I enjoyed Brussels very much and glad I made another trip there to see more.

Next stop, Dublin!