Videos for this report:
British Airways BA918 Video report: http://youtu.be/8c-DHKLoEFw
Air Berlin AB8342 Video Report: http://youtu.be/PJbFflWOiQE
For quite a while now, I’d wanted to give Air Berlin a try. Due to the fact they’re in the One World alliance, it seemed the time was right to give them a try as I had recently acquired British Airways silver / One World Sapphire status. However the task would prove a little difficult due to the fact they only serve London Stansted airport – which is possibly the furthest of the London airports from me, meaning I would not only have to travel up to London, but travel across it and then take another train for an hour or so to get to the airport itself. This coupled with the fact that quite a few AB flights leave early in the morning meant flying them on an outbound sector would be a little awkward to say the least. Therefore I looked at flying them on a return sector from Germany. A destination that AB served in Germany that looked pretty interesting to me was Nuremberg. I studied dates in July and on the weekend of the 27th/28th, they had a NUE-DUS-STN sector on a pair of Q400’s for just £60, versus around £100 for all the other weekends in July and August. Without much hesitation, I booked.
Now I needed to sort out how I would get to Nuremberg. As there are only limited flights from the London area (Ryanair from STN and CityJet from LCY) I had to look at other options. Sure I could have gone with either of those two airlines, but where would be the fun in that. I checked out Lufthansa, but their prices were pretty ridiculous.
Next up was BA. I looked to see if there were any reward seats available to STR, FRA, MUC, and ZRH… basically anywhere within a reasonable train journey of Nuremberg but no luck there.
So in the end I parted with some of my hard earned cash to fly to Stuttgart – another new airport on my growing list.
I linked Stuttgart and Nuremberg with a pretty cheap ticket on the DB.
A few weeks prior to departure, I decided to check the seat maps on airberlin.com. Despite showing as a pair of Q400’s as expected, there were two different seat maps. Upon checking the checkmytrip app, it confirmed that I would instead be on an ATR72. This suited me as I hadn’t been on anything by ATR before.
Check in for the BA flight was made the day before departure on my phone from work on the sly.
Hopefully the cabin stays this empty.
And then I checked in for the first of my two Air Berlin flights via their pretty easy to use website once I had got home.
Once again, I managed to convince a friend that it would be a good idea to give me a lift to the airport – therefore giving me a bit more time in the lounge for breakfast. We set of at around 6AM, arriving at just past 06:15.
I made my way to check in to grab a souvenir boarding pass and made my way through security, where a family of Americans walked into the automated gates then proceeded to faff around for their boarding passes, holding everybody up.
Once through, I made my way up to the South lounge for a bit of breakfast. I’d like to say I was welcomed back, but that wasn’t really the case like it was before – maybe it was too early for them?
Once I had my fill of the South lounge, I decided to head up to the North lounge. I hadn’t planned on this, but as I had arrived earlier than expected, I figured I could take a walk up there anyway. I did consider heading over to the lounge in T5B, but not being 100% sure of the way back, or how long it would take I decided against it. I much prefer the South lounge to the North however.
Quite a few charters today – the first Saturday of the Summer Holidays.
Pretty much as soon as I arrived gate A10 was announced. I still took a seat and watched a few of the arrivals though.
At 07:30, I made my way down the escalator to the gate, where boarding was already in progress.
As it was at ground level I came to the conclusion that we would be heading off from a remote stand. I bypassed the queue by using the fast track, ruffling a few feathers in the process – “Erm… there’s a queue here” and “Mr. I’m too important to wait in line” were a couple of comments that I heard. OK, well maybe if you shell out a fair few pounds to fly many times a year and gain a bit of status and/or fly in Club, you’ll get to jump the queue too – until then, shut up!
The priority line was the empty area towards the left of the main queue
It was then on to a bus for a tour of T5B, and then making our way out to the remote stands past T5C. Once there, G-EUUC was waiting.
I made my way on board, and an announcement was made that the flight was to be pretty full… at least in Euro Traveller as it turned out.
27th July 2013
A320-232 / G-EUUC
Seat: 2F / Club Europe
Off Stand: 08:12
On Stand: 10:52
It was amusing how many people thought that they could just sit themselves down in the Club section – I witnessed at least three, only to be moved on, including a mother and a young child who proceeded to climb all over the seats (the child, not the mother) . There were also the comments of people passing through ranging from, “Wow there’s actually room for your legs – how spacious”, to “all you get is proper cutlery, what’s the point”. Pretty vocal bunch on today’s flight – or maybe it was the same people from earlier that had finally made it through the queue that I had allegedly jumped.
This one brought me back from ATL in April.
Boarding was completed and the doors were closed at 08:05. It might have been a full flight at the back, but there were just four of us in Club – so the seatmap from online check in was indeed accurate. Hot towels were handed out shortly after.
Never noticed the in seat power until now.
The 787 that caught fire in July. It’s still there as I type this in early October
We pushed back a minute or two behind schedule, and made a slow taxi over to 09R.
Spot the intruder…
Takeoff was at 08:35 into some very clear skies.
Passing Biggin Hill
It wasn’t too long however before there was a total white out.
Shortly after the breakfast service was started. Due to the light load in Club, there wasn’t a trolley in sight – the purser brought every tray around by hand, and also came around and took drink orders before delivering them on a tray. Great personalized service once again from BA – much like my last experience in Club World back in December to Larnaca.
I noticed during the flight a pretty constant stream of Y passengers heading through the curtain to use the washroom at the front of the cabin. Interesting how the purser seemed to allow this on this flight, yet on my flight from LGW-AGP last year, one person tried it and was quite assertively sent back. I guess there’s no official policy on this, it’s just down to crew preference. The only time it bothered me is when I wanted to go and I had to wait, despite the other four passengers in Club being in their seats.
Just as I was finishing breakfast, our initial descent started. For the rest of the flight, I took advantage of the fact there wasn’t anybody in the seat behind, put my seat into full recline and watched the German landscape below me. I was actually impressed at how far the seat reclined actually, although it was a little worn – as soon as I sat up, so did the seat! Also, when I put the magazines, safety card etc. back in the seatback pocket, they fell straight out of the bottom of it. Bit of a refurb needed I think.
Shortly after the captain was on the PA giving a very short update – saying it was a very nice day with no clouds or wind, and that we will be arriving on schedule. We flew past STR before turning 180 degrees on to final, hearing the autopilot disengage on short finals.
We landed pretty much on time and made our way over to the stand after a very relaxed hour and twenty minutes. We pulled in alongside an albino A319.
Once on stand, there was a wait for a couple of minutes before a knock on the door, and everybody was able to disembark.
It was then through to passport control. I asked for a stamp in my passport and this was met with a bit of a huff and a few words in German – not that I understood any of them. I was eventually given what I had asked for though.
Once through customs, I was met in arrivals by fellow trip reporter Markus (Flieger67). He took me on a tour of the terminal before heading out to the car and driving me to the local spotting area, over the other side of the runway.
The albino jet departed in the opposite direction to the rest of the movements.
After around thirty minutes, Markus was kind enough to drive me into the city. Thanks Markus, and great to meet you!
As I still had over an hour until my train, I had time to look around central Stuttgart.
This went down a treat considering the temperature was well into the 30’s.
Around half an hour before my train was due to depart I took the walk back in the direction of the HBF. As it turned out, my train was delayed by fifteen minutes… Well it wouldn’t be one of my trip reports without some sort of delay involved!
After a few moments the train did pull in – and it was baking on board. Either German trains don’t have air conditioning or it just wasn’t working on this train. It turned out to be the latter. We then set off in the direction or Nuremberg.
Around an hour or so into the train ride, some water was brought around.
Weather this is standard practice or just because it was so hot, I don’t know. Either way things were becoming pretty unpleasant for everybody on board. I did try and move, but the other carriage was completely full and I was stopped from entering any of the others for some reason – so just had to put up with the heat.
I decided to have some recently purchased chocolate with the water…
…although it appeared to have turned to liquid already. Instead I had some crisps that I’d borrowed form the lounge.
After a very uncomfortable two and a half hours or so, the train arrived in Nuremberg. I remember reading about Hannah’s flying sauna. Well this was a sauna on rails. On the plus side, it did actually make the temperature outside seem quite reasonable. As I was making my way out of the stifling carriage, I saw the guard fixing this sticker to the door.
Upon arrival in Nuremberg, I made the short walk to my hotel, the NH. I was hoping to cool off a bit, but the Air Conditioning in my room wasn’t overly effective either.
I spent an hour or so attempting to cool down whilst watching the end of a film on TV and then took a walk around the city. There was a great atmosphere in town with bands playing on pretty much every corner and people just having a good time in general.
Along the way I stopped for a very German dinner. The sausage’s and beer were good, although the sauerkraut didn’t float my boat.
I then headed off in the direction of the hotel, stopping for quite a while to watch Nuremberg’s finest Arctic Monkeys tribute act.
After a few hours walking, I reluctantly headed back to my hotel for the night. I wanted to stay out longer, however my feet were telling me otherwise! Unfortunately the air-conditioning still wasn’t working all that effectively in my room, so not much opportunity to cool down other than to take a cold shower.
The next morning, I was awoken by my alarm at 07:30, and I made my way to the station in order to catch the U-Bahn to the flughafen, arriving at just past 08:30.
I made my way around to the Air Berlin check in area where I was met with a huge queue.
Luckily, there was a priority lane nearby.
I remember from reading Gabriel’s report earlier in the year that the lounge here in NUE was a self-service affair, so I made a point if asking if there was any lounge access here. The guy said he would have to check, and asked what the card was that I had given to him. He pulled out a folder with pictures of all the One World status cards, then spotted mine and attached a sticker to the back of my boarding pass. He gave me directions to the lounge, wished me a pleasant journey and with that I went on my way.
I headed through security, which was through some corridors that were half inside half outside… It’s difficult to explain! Looked a bit WIP though.
Then it was past a few bus gates – strange how they would have gates before security? Unless they’re no longer used of course.
Security was painless. I was asked if I had a laptop… No, but I have an iPad – that’s fine, leave it in the bag. Anything in your pockets? Yes, in the box. I set of the metal detector, and unlike at Heathrow yesterday, I was able to leave my shoes on, and they just waved their magic wand over me. Simple. I took a walk through the concourse as I made my way down to the lounge.
Not much happening here for a while yet.
It reminded me a little of the Flybe lounge at BHD I visited last year, only smaller and unstaffed. Still, it was a decent enough place to wait for the next hour or so. There were two other people in here, who headed off to catch the KLM flight around fifteen minutes later. So as I had the place to myself, I got a bit camera happy.
Good view, although not much to be seen.
At around boarding time, I left the lounge as I fancied a change of scenery. Although I saw online that the inbound aircraft was a little late, so boarding was still a few moments away.
Once boarding was called, at 11AM, I made my way down to the bus.
I hung around as the bus emptied in order to grab a few pictures of this ATR. Interestingly, this was one of the rare ATR’s that had boarding by the front door, rather than having a cargo hold there. Shame, as I fancied boarding via the rear and being seated towards the front.
28th July 2013
Seat: 6A / Economy
Off Stand: 11:30
On Stand: 12:38
Once on board, I took my assigned seat. It turns out I picked perfectly – right next to the prop! I didn’t have a seat mate on this sector.
There were three crew on board today – two from DAT (or DOT) and a singe representative from Air Berlin. Plus another guy in Air Berlin uniform who was just a passenger hitching a lift.
There was a bit of a wait while the final checks were completed, but the engines were finally started and we pulled away at 11:30. No word from the flight crew or a flight time was given. It was a pretty quick taxi over to the active, passing an AB 737 in the One World scheme and a World MD11 on the cargo ramp. At 11:35, we took to the sky.
No less than ten minutes after departure, the service began – which surprised me as I wasn’t expecting anything on this sector, and I was led to believe that AB were a LCC – at least back in the old days anyway. The two DAT (or DOT) crew members dished out the drinks while the Air Berlin member did the snacks. The choice was between some chocolate biscuits or ‘something salty’. I took my chances with the ‘something salty’ option and ended up with something that was very salty, and almost teeth breakingly hard. The juice was ok though.
The rest of the flight was spent watching the clouds and listening to the whine of the prop next to me.
Eventually, the flight deck did get in touch – stating that this flight was operated by Danish Air Transport (really, or was it DOT?), this was an ATR72 aircraft, we were flying at 6000 meters and we were due into Dusseldorf at 12:35. Descent started and we made our way down into a cloudy DUS, landing at 12:35. We rolled out to the end of the runway and pulled on to stand within a couple of minutes.
As I exited, the Air Berlin crew member handed everybody a chocolate heart. Nice touch.
It was then on to a bus to the terminal.
As there was a viewing terrace here, I decided to go landside and take a look at that for half an hour or so as well as taking a look at the other side of DUS that I missed on my visit last October due to having a tight connection.
On the way up, it was through a row of travel agents – interesting how I’ve only seen this in Germany. Frankfurt also has a similar area.
At the end, there was a toll both and I pad the entry fee before going on to the pretty big observation deck.
The prop that had just brought me here looking pretty lonely.
The main attraction of the day it seemed then arrived.
Once I was done there, I headed back through security. There was a fast track lane that I was able to use, and I’m ashamed to say I was the one who slowed things down today. I’d forgotten some loose change in my pocket – oops.
Once through, it was up to the second lounge of the day, the Hugo Junkers lounge. Or was it the entrance to the washroom?
I was swiped in with a smile and I grabbed some lunch. It wasn’t a bad lounge – better than the one in Nice, but the selection of food wasn’t quite as good as the one in Nuremberg earlier – just a few sandwiches and a couple of hot items. It was also pretty busy. On the plus side, the view was good. I spent the next hour or so abusing the sandwiches, meatballs and Haribo on offer whilst watching the Hungarian GP.
The views were decent.
I decided to leave the lounge at just after 3pm as I had developed a bit of a headache. And I was also feeling a little full after all the food I had eaten! After a brief wander through the B pier, I headed through passport control. Prematurely, as there was absolutely nothing beyond it. Luckily there were a couple of windows.
Must mean boarding is near
Boarding was called at 15:40. Being in the right place, I was called forward and I was the first on to the bus – therefore grabbing a seat with a good view.
I’m quite a fan of these banana jets.
Good view from the bus.
We made our way around to the remote stands where a lone Dash 8 was waiting. In fact, it had been there the whole time, as I had spotted it from the terrace earlier.
I made my way on board and took my assigned seat of 7A – once again, right next to the prop. Although credit for this seat assignment has to go to the check in agent back in Nuremberg.
28th July 2013
Dash 8 Q400 / D-ABQH
Seat: 7A / Economy
Off Stand: 16:10
On Stand: 16:28
I did initially have a seat mate – a teenage boy who took up far too much space for my liking, however once the boarding complete announcement was given, he moved to he free row in front – meaning that for the third flight this weekend, I’d end up with a free seat next to me.
The captain informed of a flight time of an hour – five minutes less than my NUE-DUS sector earlier today.
The engines were started and we made our way out to the active where we had to wait for three departing CRJ’s and a few arrivals. Eventually though we powered down the runway, passing downtown Dusseldorf of the left hand side.
Once we had reached our cruising altitude the service began, and the friendly crew dished out the same savory snack as on the NUE-DUS leg or a Mars bar. As the salty snack on the previous sector almost broke my teeth, I elected the Mars bar this time around, although still feeling full from my binge in the lounge, it went straight into my bag.
Once the rubbish had been cleared, the crew came through the cabin offering tickets for the Stansted express. I already had a train ticket for my journey home however.
Just as this was occurring, the nose dipped, the engines got quieter and we headed back down to earth, crossing into the UK at a pretty low altitude and passing through a pretty localized rainstorm on short finals.
Its only from this angle do you realize how close the UK and France really are.
The seatbelt sign then came on and the crew disappeared.
Landing was made at 16:25, and we made a reasonably quick taxi over to a satellite terminal. A few moments later we were off and through to arrivals.
Not a view you get every day. Unless you’re a dispatcher.
It was through a few corridors before making my way on to the shuttle over to the main terminal, passing the Ryanair farm on the way.
First sign of STN’s new owner (MAG)
I used my E-passport to bypass most of the queues, most from FR flights unsurprisingly, and then I made my way downstairs to the Stansted express.
It was then on to Liverpool Street, arriving around fifty minutes later – easy enough.
Then onto the Underground to Waterloo. Easy enough in theory. But as the northern line was closed, and there weren’t any announcements on the train, this made the journey more complicated, due to getting off the Central line train twice unnecessarily.
I eventually made it to Waterloo, and pretty much straight on to a train home, arriving around twenty-five minutes later.
So, BA was pretty much as usual really, although the light load in Club made things a little more personalized. T5 seemed to cope well with the extra traffic the school holidays brought on.
Air Berlin was a big surprise. I had pretty low expectations if I’m honest, but I found they were actually good. The chocolate hearts upon leaving them on both flights were a great touch – and very good chocolate too. Just a shame I seemed to be the only person that took one! I’d like to say I’d use them again, but the fact they use Stansted, which is probably the most difficult of the London airports for me to reach, says its probably unlikely – at least on flights from the UK. The problem with using them to the UK is that they nearly always throw up BA codeshares so I’ll have to get pretty creative with the routings if I were to use them in the future!