Swiss/Lufthansa | RJ100/B737/A321 | LCY-GVA-ZRH-FRA-LHR

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

Around mid 2013, after the success of the airliners.net meet in MAN, it was decided that a further meet would take place in October in Zurich. As I wasn’t able to attend the meet in Manchester due to being in the USA at the time, I was glad that the dates chosen would work for me and I’d finally get to meet a few of you that had I had got to know online. There were a few options to get me to Zurich, including quite a few direct flights – although it would be sacrilege to attend my first a.net meet using a standard BA/LX A320 return from LHR route! Although BA had some pretty attractive fares in Club to be had… There were quite a few other direct options, including a Helvetic F100 from BHX which really appealed. However due to it departing at 08:50 meant it was pretty difficult – and catching a train up to Birmingham the night before then staying in a hotel would cost more than the flight itself! That was most definitely on the B list. In the end, I found a nice schedule from LCY routing through GVA with LX on their RJ100’s and back on LH through FRA, with the ZRH-FRA sector being operated by one of their classic 737’s. Perfect.

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Another bonus would be that I got to depart LCY for the fist time. I’d flown into there before, but was yet to fly out of there. There was also an option of selecting which type of seat you wanted in the flight preferences. If you’re not able to select your exact seat, this is a great compromise and I wish more airlines would do it!

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Check in was made 24 hours before departure and my request had been fulfilled, however I had been allocated seat 7A – which is a row with a missing window. I moved back to 8A later on.

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The following morning, I set off a little earlier than needed, as I had to pick up something important:

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It was then on to the train for the thirty minute or so journey to London Waterloo. As I was running early and the weather was pretty good, I took a walk up the Thames walkway:

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I then took the boat to the O2 Arena, in order to catch a train to LCY. This definitely wasn’t the quick option, but a million times more scenic. The journey from The London Eye to the O2 took around an hour or so.

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(Very) Slowly edging towards the Docklands area.

I finally arrived at the O2 where I could pick the train up – and I was starting to feel a little on edge as boarding was less than an hour away, and I still had to make two train journeys to reach the airport!

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I arrived at the airport at 11:30 – some 20 minutes before boarding. I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass, passed through the very quick security check and had a brief look around.

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As I reached the end of the terminal, my jet was pulling in – HB-IYV, in the Star Alliance scheme.

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Almost immediately, the gate was opened and I made my way down to the holding pen, and perched myself on one of the toadstools. I like how I can turn up so late, and yet still be here in plenty of time.

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Boarding was called at 12:00 and I made the walk across the Tarmac.

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LX435
LCY-GVA
October 2013
Avro RJ100 / HB-IYV
Seat: 8A / Economy
Scheduled: 12:15/14:55
Off Stand: 12:18
On Stand: 14:45

When I reached my assigned seat, there was a guy already sat in it. I asked him to move and the reply was ‘you can take my seat, it’s 7F’. Well no that doesn’t have a window, so shift! He reluctantly moved with a few huffs and puffs.

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The engines started and we made the very quick taxi to the runway – taking about a minute at most. Then the engines powered up to full throttle before we went hurtling down the short runway.

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During the climb, my seat mate got up and moved over to the spare window seat on the other side of the aisle. Suited me. With the generous legroom offered, I now had plenty of space!

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Around ten minutes after departure the service was started. The snack was a pretty small salami roll. There wasn’t a vegetarian option, and quite a few were actually handed back. Tasted pretty good although was a little on the dry side. The two crew members were like chalk and cheese. The purser had plenty of smiles to go around where as the other had a face like a slapped arse for the most part.

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The famous Swiss chocolates swiftly followed.

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I relied on angry birds to keep me entertained for the remainder of the flight.

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The business class cabin on this flight seemed to be entirely LX crew heading back to GVA. The engines spooled back at 14:20 and we made a definite nose dive back to solid ground.

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The crew made their final checks before being seated for landing.

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We made a reasonably rough touchdown, before heading over to a remote stand.

It was then on to a waiting bus to clear passport control and head over to my next gate.

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It was a pretty long walk over to one of the satellites.

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Once I reached my next gate, I was greeted with a very familiar sight.

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Pretty busy Satellite – serving mostly U2 flights it seemed.

Boarding was called at 15:40, and I made a wet walk over to a familiar jet. In the last few years I’d been lucky not to get any repeat registrations… Now I’ve had repeats on my last two trips!

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LX2813
GVA-ZRH
October 2013
Avro RJ100 / HB-IYV
Seat: 14F / Economy
Scheduled: 15:40/16:35
Off Stand: 15:50
On Stand: 16:39

The flight was pretty full, but the middle seat remained empty. There wasn’t quite as much room at the back of this jet, but the legroom was still pretty good.

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It would appear there had been a crew change between flights on this one. And once again there seemed to be quite a few LX crew positioning back to ZRH, but no familiar faces from my LCY-GVA hop just over an hour ago.

The flight time was announced as 35 minutes and we pulled away from our stand a few minutes late.

During taxi the flight crew came over the PA and said we were number one for take off – so not that busy at GVA today it would seem.

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We took off at 16:00 and made a U turn, passing GVA on the right before a complete white out.

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A few moments after departure the seatbelt sign was switched off, and the drinks trolleys were rolled towards the front of the cabin. The choice was water and the Swiss chocolate or nothing. I went with the water and chocolate. I did notice however there were rolls handed out in business. Impressive – not only do LX offer a business class on a domestic flight, but also offer a decent looking service.

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There were no views to be had at all on this short hop until we reached the Zurich area.

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We made a smooth touchdown and made a pretty long taxi over to the stand at the A gates.

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I then made my way through arrivals and up to the service center where I met up with Eco, who had arrived on the KL flight just a few moments after my flight landed.

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We spent the next hour or so on the observation deck, courtesy of InfoDesk who had arranged free tickets for the group – thanks again!

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Useful FID’s

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Where the rest of the group were…

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Something more familiar heading back to LHR

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My ride from LCY via GVA preparing to head off to HAM

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My only two RJ100’s in the log in one shot

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At around 18:30, we both made our way back downstairs to meet up with the rest of the group and head over to the Runway 34 restaurant for a great meal.

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Great tasting cheese dumplings

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In loving memory of PalmJet, who couldn’t attend.

A few hours later, after many chats about all things aviation related, we made our way over to the Hotel Allegra.

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The rest of the evening (and maybe just a bit of the following morning) was spent in the bar with the rest of the group who were staying at the hotel – minus The777Man who headed off to bed after a LONG day!

The following morning, I made my way downstairs and checked out – and just happened to bump into RogerBCN who was having breakfast. MSS658 followed shortly after and we took the shuttle over to the airport. Marc went on his way and I took a train into the city for the next couple of hours.

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View from my rather chilly balcony.

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Our chariot for the ten minute or so journey.

Double decker trains are still a bit of a novelty as they’re non existent in the UK.

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In central Zurich now.

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Autumn was definitely approaching after a pretty decent summer.

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After a brief look around, it was time to head back to the airport.

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Of course, I had to grab a couple of souvenir boarding passes…. Especially since I’d forgotten to screenshot my mobile ones – and with no internet connection, it rendered them useless.

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I met up with the rest of the group and made my way through security with luxair747SP, Emek96 and LH4532, who would also taking the Lufthansa flight to FRA.

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It was then up to the Swiss lounge where SloAir guested me in – thanks for that, much appreciated!

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The F&B selection here was pretty good:

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After quite a while in the lounge, we made our way down to gate A65 – where a ten-minute delay had occurred.

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We saw our jet, D-ABEA land and taxi over to the stand. At approaching 23 years old this one is definitely a classic!

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Boarding was announced a few minutes behind schedule and we all made our way on board. As we boarded we were handed the in flight meal – which was a first.

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LH1191
ZRH-FRA
October 2013
Boeing 737-330 / D-ABEA
Seat: 14A / Economy
Scheduled: 14:50/15:55
Off Stand: 15:05
On Stand: 15:55

Boarding was soon complete, with the middle seat remaining free. With the three other guys sat in the row in front, I hope the guy in the aisle knew what he had let himself in for! Although he stayed buried in his paper throughout.

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We pushed back and made our way over to the active, making a pretty loud and bumpy take off a few moments later.

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There were then a few sharp turns to the right before being buried in cloud.

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Retro

A few moments later, the drinks service began, with three crew members blitzing the cabin.

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Pretty much as I took my last mouthful, descent started and the seatbelt sign was switched on.

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We made a rattily touchdown at one of FRA’s older runways and made a pretty quick taxi over to a remote stand.

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It was then on to a bus, for a journey that seemed to take twice as long as the taxi in.

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I was under the impression that I had quite a while before my next flight, but Johannes pointed out the time to me and I realised that things were a bit tighter than I first thought! Luckily, the bus pulled up at the B gates, which just happened to be where my next flight was departing from – so things weren’t quite so rushed after all. I bid farewell to the guys, and made my way off to my next gate.

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I took a bit of a walk through the terminal, grabbed a LH branded souvenir boarding pass, and my now traditional Ritter Sports (to make up for the melted ones from my last trip to Germany).

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Following this, I made my way to the gate, just as D-AIDJ, just over two years old, was pulling on to stand. So it would appear this flight was slightly late too.

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I took a seat at one of the café style tables and watched the goings on outside.

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Boarding was called at 17:00, and I managed to avoid most of the crush. There were two jet bridges attached to this jet – can’t say I’ve noticed this before. Felt odd boarding a narrow body and not having the flight deck immediately to the left though!

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LH916
FRA-LHR
October 2013
Airbus A321-200 / D-AIDJ
Seat: 35F / Economy
Scheduled: 17:10/17:50
Off Stand: 17:28
On Stand: 18:12

As it turned out, despite the flight being reasonably full, the middle seat remained free once more – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever had a seat mate on LH?

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Decent legroom, even down the back.

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The captain came over the PA and announced a flying time of an hour and five minutes. This was actually my second female captain of the weekend after my GVA-ZRH sector yesterday. We pushed back around twenty minutes behind schedule and made our way over to the startbahn.

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As the previous departure was a LH A380, there was a bit if a wait until we were cleared for takeoff. We finally made it into the air around 35 minutes behind schedule.

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The service was started shortly after departure. The sandwiches were dished out pretty quickly, however it took an age for the drinks to reach my row. By the time they did we had already started our descent!

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The new Airbus cabins are a good improvement over the older ones.

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Is this mood lighting or paint? I couldn’t tell.

During descent, the first officer came over the PA and announced that due to congestion over London, we would have to hold for fifteen minutes. I’m used to five minutes, but fifteen?!

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After many laps north of London, we broke through the cloud cover and were treated to the scenic approach to 27L.

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On short finals, a pretty big gust caught us and the right wing dipped quite considerably. Yet the flight crew did a great job of catching it and still made a smooth touch down. Nice work!

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It was then a lengthy tour of Heathrow as we made our way over to T1.

As I was exiting, the crew member manning the door said he’d noticed I was taking quite a few pictures during the flight – and wanted to know if I had taken any of the crew. I replied I hadn’t and I made sure not to take pictures of anybody. He was fine with that and I went on my way. See Flybe, that’s how it’s done….

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Following this, it was the usual walk to passport control, through customs – with not one person manning it – and through the tunnels to the central bus station. Of interest, the huge area with nothing in as your exiting passport control in T1 now does have something there – a pretty lonely looking Heathrow express ticket stand!

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Overall it was a great weekend being able to put faces to usernames. Although I’m still kicking myself for taking the later flights out to ZRH and missing out on the SR technics tour! On the plus side, I thought LX were pretty good – having only experienced them on a short MXP-ZRH hop previously. LH was also decent enough. Surprisingly, these were my only two flights with the airline in 2013 despite them being my joint most flown airline in 2012.

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Swiss/Lufthansa | RJ100/B737 | MXP-ZRH-DUS-LHR

This is the second part of my trip down to Milan. The first can be found at:

Part 1: 5 Flights 3 Airlines LHR-BRU-MXP in theory

Todays route

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

The entire planned journey.

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And the modified journey after I was sent via Munich due to a delay on the first flight.

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This part will cover my return journey – from Milan Malpensa, Zurich, Dusseldorf and back to London Heathrow.

Now where were we?

After yesterday’s fun and games, I was hoping today would go a lot more smoothly. Due to my late arrival into Milan, I hadn’t got anywhere near the city, so that was on the agenda for the morning.

I checked out of the hotel around 08:30. Shame, because for probably the first time ever I had actually managed to get a decent nights sleep in a hotel.

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After coming out of the front doors of the hotel, I was immediately at Malpensa station and on to a waiting train for the half hour or so journey to the city for a return price of €15 – the most expensive train ticket I had brought on a trip this year, although still cheaper than the UK.

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I arrived in Milan around 9:30, and spent the next few hours seeing what the city had to offer. And being hassled by Senegalese/Rwandan/Ethiopian’s to take their ‘free’ bits of string. If they’re free then why are they so insistent for you to have them?!

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Guess they don’t like their neighbors?

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Duomo


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Lemon and cheese. Odd combination, but actually quite good!

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Strangest thing I’d seen since a lemon and cheese croissant…

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Liking the retro trams!

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At 12:15, I decided it was time to head back to Malpensa. I was hoping everything would go to plan today. I’d been in contact with Infodesk (Hannah) earlier in the day to see what the weather was like in Zurich, and she said it was foggy, but it should clear by the end of the day. I hoped so, as due to missing out on the RJ100 yesterday, I really wanted this one to go to plan.

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Pretty clean trains here – reminded me of the new Fyra I went on in Amsterdam

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Sure sign that the train was almost there

Once I arrived, I headed off to check in to try and finally check in for my final 2 sectors of the trip. This was met with more confused looks as to why I was taking such a strange routing. I also overheard one of the other check in agents telling another passenger the flight was completely full.

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There were quite a few windows in the departure hall, which offered some good views.

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After that I went to grab a bite to eat. Figured I’d try an Italian pizza.

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I was expecting a slice, not a quarter of the pizza

On my travels, I saw my plane land, along with a couple of others.

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Then it was off through a busy, but amusing security.

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Once the security guard saw my name he translated it into Italian. I replied, “Thanks I’ll remember that”. At which point, he shouted to all his colleagues “It’s Jacamo Bianci! Hey, it’s Jacamo Bianci!” Good to see the Italian security officers are human.

As I arrived out of security something caught my eye

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I figured as I’d had pasta and pizza this weekend, it would be rude not to have gone gelato. Not actually had it before, but I’m sure I’ll be having it again.

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Whilst eating i made a slow walk down to gate A20, taking a few more pictures along the way.

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Even LH passengers heading for the lounge don’t escape the duty free here

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As it was a bus gate, there were a grand total of about 4 seats, all of which were taken.

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Just before 14:30, I saw a bus pull up and then reverse up to the doors – and a couple of second’s later general boarding was announced.

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A few moments later, we were off on a pretty good tour of the airport before arriving at HB-IYT. This one had seen service with BA Cityflyer before joining the Swiss European fleet in 2006.

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There was a bit of a wait on the tarmac, which was fine with me as it was nice and sunny and the SkyTeam AZ 777 was starting up pretty close by – which can be seen in the video below.

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LX1629
MXP-ZRH
21st October 2012
Avro 100/HB-IYT
Seat: 19A
Scheduled: 15:00/16:00
Off stand: 15:07
On stand: 15:56

The check in agent wasn’t joking when she said this flight was completely full. First impressions of the RJ100 were that it was pretty roomy, even despite the full load. As expected, I had a seatmate. When he noticed all he picture taking and writing, he asked if I was keeping a travel log. I told him about airliners.net and we had a brief chat about our travels. He asked my opinion on Virgin Atlantic, and I told him about my flights to JFK with them last month. He said he flew with them from SYD and wasn’t impressed. He also mentioned he wasn’t to impressed with BA on that route either. He seemed to know his stuff as he knew the RJ100 was British built and he said he flew a lot of them with Ansett.

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The engines were started at just past 15:00 and we made our way out to the runway. During the taxi, the flight deck came over the PA and welcomed everybody on board, although no flight time was given. Take off was a just past 15:10 – I was surprised at how loud this little jet was! And to think, it used to be the only jet allowed at LCY because it was so quiet.

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Then there were some spectacular views. A lot of cameras were out for this part of the flight.

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No sooner had we taken off it seemed, the engines spooled back. At around the same time the crew had reached my row. No food offering on this flight, except the Swiss chocolate, although to be honest on a flight so short I wasn’t really expecting anything.

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At just before 15:40, the flight deck was on again, saying we had started our descent and that he expected landing in around 20 minutes. During descent info was given for connecting flights, although they were all Swiss flights. So no use to me!

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Cabin during descent

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Touchdown was at 15:50, and we made quite a long rollout before heading off in the direction of the A gates, arriving on to stand at 15:56.

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It was then on to a waiting bus, before checking the FID’s. Annoyingly, they said my gate wasn’t due to be announced until 17:25, so I wondered around in the A pier, checking out some of the views along the way.

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Told you these doves are getting common!

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Interesting

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Still no gate announced

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No mistaking where I was

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The jet that had just brought me to Zurich

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This seems to be the Dusseldorf gate, although I was due to be on the next flight

A few weeks before my flight, Hannah kindly said she would arrange a free pass to the observation deck for me… But I figured an evening towards the end of October would be a cold and wet affair so I turned it down. How wrong was I – it was a very sunny and warm day outside. Luckily there were more than enough windows to keep me entertained for the next hour or so.

After seeing most of the A pier and the endless LX A320’s, I went for a wonder and ended up in the part of ZRH I recognized from the pictures I’ve seen.

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No familiar faces today

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Impressive – this part seems much newer than the A pier

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At 17:25 gate A62 was announced, although the previous flight, also to Dusseldorf, hadn’t vacated it yet. Out of all my flights this weekend, this was the one that couldn’t go wrong, as I only had a 45 minute transfer time in Dusseldorf. Although I guess if Lufthansa cause the delay, I’ll get an extra night away at their expense. Also of note is that if all goes to plan this will start a run of 3 737 classics. At 18:00, with less than an hour before departure, there was still no sign of a Lufthansa 737. Or any other Lufthansa plane for that matter.

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At 18:15 I spotted a Lufthansa 737 over in the distance.

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And shortly after it was on stand

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At which point I headed upstairs to the gate.

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Boarding commenced at 18:35

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LH3139
ZRH-DUS
21st October 2012
737-530/D-ABIE Hildesheim
Seat: 14F
Scheduled: 18:55/20:05
Off stand: 18:53
On stand: 19:55

The flight seemed pretty full to me. There was somebody sat in the aisle of row 14, but nobody in the middle seat, so there was still a fair bit of space. The boarding complete announcement came at 18:47, before pushing back 5 minutes later a couple of minutes ahead of schedule. A flying time of 55 minutes was given.

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Luckily the plane wasn’t on a stand too far from the runway and we took off at 19:00. Very good work of the ground crew to get this one turned round in 38 minutes.

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After takeoff the meal service began. And it was once again time to play Lufthansa meal roulette. Tonight it would be a cheese croissant.

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Quite tasty actually

Not much more can be said about this sector really. No watching the world go by this evening.

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Just your standard Lufthansa flight, but with no decent views as it was now dark, although the other side of the plane had a very good sunset by the look of it. The meal service was very quick and efficient though. I asked if they knew if this aircraft would be docking anywhere near where my connection to LHR would be leaving from, but they said they didn’t know but as DUS is so small and we were on time, I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I had a quick browse through the in flight mag to pass the time.

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Reminds me of the Air Europe 757 I went on to Mexico for some reason?

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Interesting that this exact aircraft is featured.

Shortly before 19:30, descent started.

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Passing Dusseldorf on finals

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Touchdown was at 19:52, and we made our way over to the terminal.

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Then it was on to a bus for a quick tour of DUS. I’m guessing this one would now be stopping for the night, as there were jetbridges available.

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Almost under the wing!

After a quick bus ride I was in the terminal and heading for gate A76.

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Once at the gate, it was clear that the aircraft had only just arrived as all the previous passengers were only just disembarking. Although this flight could now be as late as it wanted as this was my final sector.

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There’s always one who thinks the plane will get there quicker if they’re on first.

My short time in DUS was spent sitting at the gate, as once through passport control there really isn’t much to see or do. Just a sandwich bar really. Also there were 5 or 6 British tourists that seemed amazed with the vending machine, as they hadn’t heard of any of the brands in it. Guessing they don’t go abroad much… Boarding started at 20:37. I’d imagine that it would be a bit of a push to be away by 20:50, but surprisingly this was achieved.

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LH3388
DUS-LHR
21st October 2012
737-330/D-ABEB Xanten
Seat: 23A
Scheduled: 20:50/21:15
Off stand: 20:50
On stand: 21:16

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Interesting to note was that this one had been upgraded from the scheduled -500 to the -300. The same thing happened on my flight from LGW to FRA in March. Also, it means that my run of 737 classics would now be a -300, -400 and a -500. Amusingly (and somewhat amazingly), during boarding the crew came over the PA and pointed out that this aircraft was going to London Heathrow, and that somebody just got on thinking this was the Munich flight – how did that happen?! It was a reasonably full load – which will explain the bigger than anticipated plane, and it was a similar situation to my previous flight, just under an hour ago – the middle seat remained free whilst there was somebody on the aisle. A flight time of 1 hour was given.

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Not a huge difference in legroom from my previous flight.

Pushback was at 20:50 local and we made our way over to the same runway that I had touched down on just under an hour ago.

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Take off was at 21:00

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We made a 180 degree turn to fly back past DUS

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Last view of the ground until the M25!

Tonight’s Lufthansa roulette meal threw up a cheese sandwich. Delivered with a smile. And an OJ.

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The rest of the flight was much like the last. Uneventful until, descent started at just before 20:30 UK time.

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Another cabin view just for the sake of it.

The captain came over the PA during the descent to inform us that we were to be put into a holding pattern for 5 to 10 minutes. This came as no surprise though. The weather update was no surprise either – windy and wet!

Descent was a pretty dull affair. Due to the cloud cover there wasn’t much to be seen until around 1000ft.

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The view for most of the descent

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Then it was a pretty hard touchdown on to 09L, and a short taxi over to T1 pulling up alongside a freshly painted BD/BA A319.

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After waiting round for about 5 minutes on stand, the cabin crew came over the PA and announced we would be disembarking through the rear doors. Unusual, but a nice surprise.

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There was a ground crew member shouting at me while I was taking these pictures but it was only because she was holding the door open for me and I was taking my time – a quick “sorry” and she gave a smile and said that’s fine and I was on my way. A world away from the ground crew I experienced at BHD back in July.

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After this, it was through the numerous corridors of T1 to immigration.

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Good to see a 737 classic at LHR

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Explored pretty much every corner of this place yesterday…

Passport control was pretty quick, then through to arrivals.

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Surprised they haven’t seen an opportunity to stick a duty free shop in here.

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Departures area is pretty empty at this time of night.

And finally, out to the central bus station for the coach home, arriving at around 23:00 pleased that today’s flights had gone exactly to plan. Now it was time to hang around for 45 minutes for the coach home.

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Lufthansa | Airbus A319 | LHR-MUC-MXP

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Overall route

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

This will be the first of a 2 part series covering my trip to Milan. This part will cover my outbound flights between London Heathrow, Brussels and on to Milan Malpensa. The following part will cover my return sectors between Milan Malpensa and London Heathrow, stopping in Zurich and Dusseldorf along the way.

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Sectors covered in this part

Before I’d managed to get over my trip to Madrid the previous weekend, it was time to set off again. This time on a much more interesting routing down to Milan. As I mentioned in my Madrid trip report, I had initially wanted to go to Rome that weekend but it proved a bit on the expensive side. However I still wanted to go to Italy as id never been. Initially I had looked at AZ, and they had a pretty attractive fare – £128, with the outbound flight from LGW on an Air One A320 and returning on one of their new E-Jets to LCY. Admittedly I wasn’t too bothered about the Air One A320 but I did want the opportunity to fly into LCY again. While studying my options I decided to take a look at what LH had to offer. I’d managed to get a good deal to [url]http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/213173//]Brussels in March[/url], so wondered if I could get a similar deal again. I typed in the route I was after, plus a couple of stops and in the end came up with going out via BRU and back via ZRH for a reasonable £148. Then I tried another option I saw: there was a route back that made a stop in DUS on a pair of LH 737’s. I selected this option instead of the ZRH-LHR leg and only bumped up the price another £14! So that was the flight options sorted – I had wanted to try Swiss mainline, but the opportunity to squeeze an extra flight in on a pair of rapidly disappearing 737 classic’s and taking in another new airport proved too much to ignore! Incidentally the first leg of this trip would also be my 100th flight, and my 20th of the year. Shame it was on yet another A32x, but my 101st flight later in the day would be on the RJ100 – a new type for me.

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As usual it was then time to look for a hotel. Most seemed pretty pricey and didn’t seem too great. Eventually I settled on a Best Western – it got so-so reviews on trip advisor and was around the price I was willing to pay without having to pay stupid money.

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A couple of days before departure, I received the following reminder.

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The morning before my flight, I remembered that by using the Lufthansa app back in March, I was able to check in before the 24 hour mark. The same applied to this flight too.

Then my boarding passes were issued

Once again the Woking Railair coach would get me to Heathrow

Not the best conditions to fly in.

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It was still no better the nearer to LHR we got.

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The coach arrived at 09:00, and I headed off to Terminal 1.

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Looks like LH have taken over the old BMI premium check in.

I then made my way down to get my souvenir boarding passes.

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When the check in agent got my details up on the screen, she sat there wide-eyed and mouth wide open. She then says “So, you’re going London to Brussels… Brussels to Milan, Milan to Zurich, Zurich to Dusseldorf and Dusseldorf back to here”. Yes – que a rather confused look from her!

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And after a brief wonder around departures, it was through security, which was a little busy but faster than the BA fast track I went through last week at T5. Also, it was everybody else holding proceedings up this week rather than slow security staff.

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Feeling hungry, the first stop was to get some breakfast.

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Breakfast – one of the better ones I’ve had in an airport.

The next 45 min was spent wondering around T1, as on my previous visit I had access to the BMI Great British lounge.

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My flight’s gate was due to be announced at 10:15, so around this time I was keeping an eye on the FID’s.

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Then at around 10:20 I heard my name called out over the PA telling me to go to the Brussels Airlines service desk. I headed over to the SN service desk, told the slightly uninterested girl who I was, handed over my passport and without saying much she got on the phone. Her next move was to give my passport to the other uninterested girl sat next to her and say, “Can you offload him”. Erm did I just hear that right??? Offload? Excuse me? She carried on her phone call, pulled out a scrap piece of paper and started scribbling down LH flight numbers and times. During this a few people started hassling the other girl as to when the SN flight would be boarding but all she really had to say was she didn’t know as the plane hadn’t left Brussels yet and that she’s off on her tea break. This unsurprisingly caused a bit of annoyance to the other passengers, who were mostly Belgian. To be honest I’ve come to expect that sort of customer service (or lack of) from most 16-20 year olds in this country so wasn’t overly surprised. Although they were still just abut a step up from the IB ground staff from my previous trip. When the girl who was dealing with me had finally got off the phone, she basically said the SN flight is late and I’ve been booked on to LH via Munich, as I’ll miss my connection. She handed my passport back, along with the bit of scrap bit of paper and sent me off to the LH transfer desk, as I was now their problem. Well, LH is an upgrade over SN, and MUC is a new airport… But I will have a five hour layover there and I won’t get into Milan until 22:30 now. At the LH transfer desk, an older and friendlier looking BMI agent greeted me and rebooked me on to the Lufthansa flight with no problem. I asked if there was any way I could get a food voucher of some sort to use due to my now unexpected layover but she said I’d have to ask once I get to Munich, but not to get my hopes up unless the MUC-MXP leg is delayed as Lufthansa had got me to my destination on time. Little did I know at the time, I was on full price tickets for both rebooked sectors so I ended up with a decent haul of miles in my miles and more account. Not that they’re ever likely to see any use before they expire.

Flight number 100 in the log


SN2094
LHR-BRU
20th October 2012
A319-100/OO-SSW
Seat: 19A/Economy
Scheduled: 11:05/13:20
Off Stand: N/A
On Stand: N/A

The revised maps:

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So I found my self a window with a view away from the masses and set about trying to cancel my original hotel for something nearer the airport, as taking an hour long train ride to the city late at night didn’t really appeal. The Sheraton was the only airport hotel I could think of that was connected to MXP so I investigated prices there. It came in at €115 – around €20 more than my original hotel, but it was worth paying the extra for in my opinion to avoid travelling across the city for around an hour late at night to Milan Central station. The only issue was that I had passed the cancellation point for my original hotel in the city. I tried to phone, but they told me to email as the manager was away and they would have to check with him to see if I could cancel without penalty. Only once the phone call had ended I realized I didn’t actually have their email on any documentation… so another phone call to Italy it was.

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T2/Heathrow East progressing

By the time I had phoned and emailed the hotels in Milan I figured it was about time to head to the departure gate – so I left my quiet haven feeling a little stressed and back into the hustle of the main T1 area. I waited around for a bit, checking the FID’s until a 30 minute delay flashed up. Will I ever get on board my 100th flight?! Annoyingly, my original flight to Brussels was now boarding.

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A couple of seconds later a text confirmed that my flight was indeed delayed.

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Might have done this if I’d seen it earlier just for a change of scenery

The remaining time was spent sitting and waiting, until I got another text.

Although the FID’s didn’t confirm this, I thought I’d take my chances

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Why 13:37? Seen this in the US, but not in Europe before.

So I made my way down to gate 19. As expected, there was no mention of my flight although a few more people turned up shortly after so I’m assuming they received the same message I did.

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There was a nice mural to look at though

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Around 10/15 minutes later we were let into the holding pen.

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Eventually at around 13:45 boarding started.

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The actual flight number 100 in the log


LH2475
LHR-MUC
20th October 2012
A319-114/ D-AILX Fellbach
Seat: 6A/Economy
Scheduled: 13:15/16:05
Off stand: 14:02
On stand: 16:41

Once on board, the captain came over the PA and gave a little information about the flight and the delay, saying it was down to a crew change, although no flight time was given. Shortly after the boarding complete announcement was also given and it turned out that I no seat mates. I was surprised at this due to the fact I was sitting at the front and load was fairly high – maybe around 70%.

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I’m a big fan of this livery

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Bit of a queue forming

At just past 14:00, we pushed back, although after last weeks experience and today’s delays, I wasn’t getting too excited yet!

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You wait hours for one…

We made a quick taxi out to 27R and were off the ground at 14:10 – finally!

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These doves are getting pretty common

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After a few bumps, the cabin crew started their service. What would LH meal roulette throw up today…

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Curry wurst!

A few moments later the drinks were handed out.

Unfortunately there weren’t many views to be had while watching the world go by today

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Instead, I browsed through the in flight mag.

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Wonder if they sell these onboard?

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See any problems with this one PlaneHunter?!

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Didn’t expect to see a VS jet in the LH magazine.

At just after 16:00 local, the first officer made an announcement, saying that we had just passed Frankfurt, were just starting to descend and should be landing in 30 minutes. Also given was a weather update. It cleared up a bit but then got much worse as we neared Munich.

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The weather was pretty bad – no views to be had at all on approach. In fact this was the first flight I’ve been on where the landing gear was lowered and locked in position whilst still above the clouds.

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We arrived at gate H30, and as I had such a long wait I decided to head through security and landside to see what MUC had to offer. I also had a brief flight deck visit, but I was told that I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures. Interesting that they had a touchscreen displaying the map of the airfield, and other charts I presume fixed permanently to the sidewall just above the side stick. Following a very brief chat I was out into MUC

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There’s something not quite right here

The next few hours were spend exploring MUC. It was much better than T1 at Heathrow for sure.

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Impressive

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May as well stock up while I’m here

On my travels I did manage to find this…

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…well that ended that idea.

I also grabbed some dinner. Munich wasn’t quite my intended destination for dinner tonight, but if I tried hard enough, I could pretend I was in Milan!

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Wasn’t proper Italian pasta, but tasted very good, and that’s the main thing.

After dinner, I went for another wonder.

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Not liking the look of this weather

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I made a pass of the departure area to check in for tomorrow’s flights.

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Although this was a non starter. The self serve check in machines only showed todays flights, online check in put me through to Brussels Airlines, Brussels airlines put me back to Lufthansa and the Lufthansa service desk looked pretty abandoned.

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After that I headed through security. The 2 doors ahead of check in we’re pretty busy, but no more than 10ft to the right there was an empty lane, and I was through in about 30 seconds.

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Once through I killed a bit more time abusing MUC’s free coffee and Internet

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Whilst using the free Internet, I decided to double check what sort of plane I was due to be on. I’d checked earlier at Heathrow and it said it was due to be an E195, however upon checking again it was now an A319. Shame as I would of preferred something different.

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I wanted to be on one of these!

I headed down to gate G46 and spent the rest of my time in Munich waiting and reading a newspaper that I stole from an abandoned BMI stand at LHR.

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No doubt there will be another sale on Thursday morning

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My final roll of the dice for checking in for my flight tomorrow – and hopefully getting my preferred seats – was to ask the gate agent. At first she said of course, but when she realized she couldn’t, she was very apologetic and said she couldn’t help me. I told her the story of my day, as by this point I was glad to have somebody to talk to, and she was very sympathetic. Great customer service from Lufthansa again. A million miles from my experience with Iberia last week.

As there was no sign of a plane on stand, I figured it would probably be a bus gate. And I was still holding out some hope of something other than an A32x.

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Amusingly, just after I took this picture, a couple of Japanese tourists from the ANA flight also came up and took pictures of a stand with no plane. More trip reporters perhaps?!

At just before 20:45, an announcement was made in German, and I thought it was to say that boarding was starting, however keeping with the theme of this report, it was to announce a delay. Due to the late inbound arrival of the aircraft, boarding had been pushed back to 21:25. Just as this announcement was made, an E195 pulled on to the adjacent stand. Here’s hoping.

My hope was short lived however

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Boarding eventually started at 21:15

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LH2475
MUC-MXP
20th October 2012
A319-112/ D-AKNF
Seat: 7A/Economy
Scheduled: 21:10/22:20
Off stand: 21:28
On stand: 22:26

Interesting to note that this one had the older style seats

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The only time I had sat in these types of seat previously was on a BMI aircraft back in May. It seemed to me that the legroom was a little better on this one?

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This flight also seemed pretty full. Mostly Japanese tourists that I suspect came from the ANA flight that arrived a few hours previously. Surprisingly though, despite the heavy load, I had no seatmates.

We pushed back, and taxied out into the murky night.

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Take off was at 21:39.

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And around 30 seconds later, we had broken through the clouds – giving an interesting looking blanket effect.

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Shortly after the crew started their service. LH meal roulette on this flight threw up some happy mix. Admittedly it was a mix, but I didn’t feel any happier.

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The captain was over the PA during the snack service saying we were cruising at 31,000ft and we were just passing Bergamo. He also mentioned the delay was due to the bad weather in Munich. However the expected weather in Milan was much better.

Then it was time to descend. The destination I’d spent the best part of 12 hours trying to get to ended up taking the grand total of around 50 minutes on this final sector.

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There wasn’t a great deal to see on short finals. Touchdown was at 22:22 local and we made a short taxi over to the terminal, arriving on stand at 22:26.

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As usual the whole plane got up as the parking brake was applied, however I could see something that meant that we wouldn’t be getting off any time soon

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Shortly after, the captain was over the PA and in a final insult to the days proceedings said that a jetty driver couldn’t be found.

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This one taxied past while waiting

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Eventually a jet bridge driver turned up and we were let off at around 22:30.

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It was then a case of following the signs to the exit

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Least I was able to get a (semi)decent shot of my ride in Milan

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Then to my hotel – the airport Sheraton, where I know a few a.netters have stayed before. Pretty big spacious room, but thought it was a bit off that they pre authorized my card for €35 more than the quoted price – and at the time of writing still hasn’t been put back. Good job I wasn’t planning on going into Milan for a big spend up!

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And that’s where this chapter of the story will end. It was a shame that I missed out on the A pier at BRU after a brief look around in March. The same goes for the SN RJ100 – which I also missed out on in March after the prices shot up at the last minute. Although on the plus side I did get to fly with Lufthansa again, which is undoubtedly a much better airline. I was also pleased I managed to get a very good look around MUC, which I found was a very decent airport. I did consider going into the city, but figured if something went wrong I’d end up a bit stuck. Also, I guess it was good of SN to rebook me at LHR than send me out to BRU only to find I was stranded. Although it was a little frustrating at the time, in the long run it was the best option.

Stay tuned for part 2!

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!