As some of you may remember from my previous report, I had cause to visit Brest, France to undertake a training course for my company. Cue three years later, and in January 2012 I was asked to go to another course, this time being held in Bratislava, Slovakia. Naturally, my first thoughts turned to what routing I could take to get there, and I was disappointed to note that the only flights directly to Bratislava these days are on Ryanair, running once or twice a week. Since this course was due to last two weeks, this would really not work out, so I turned my thoughts to planning some flights on proper airlines. Work agreed I could return home for the weekend, meaning my four flights would turn into eight, and I could set about finding a medley of interesting flights.
I had a choice between SkyTeam and flights with KL/AF, or Star Alliance and a much wider choice of flights. SkyTeam would mean a KLM F70 and ERJ195, and a second flight on an A318, but it would also mean at least one way flying through Paris due to the flight timings, and after my last experience of connecting at CDG I decided I’d rather not go through this experience again!
Expedia offered a good choice of flights on Star Alliance, and thanks to the summer season beginning in the middle of my two weeks, this meant more choice for a variation of flights and equipment. My flights were scheduled as follows:
18MAR 13:45-16:30 BHX-ZRH LX423 Helvetic F100
18MAR 17:10-18:35 ZRH-VIE LX1582 Swiss A320
23MAR 18:20-20:15 VIE-BRU SN2906 Brussels Airlines A319
23MAR 21:25-21:35 BRU-BHX SN2049 Brussels Airlines RJ100
25MAR 15:20-17:35 BHX-DUS LH3447 Lufthansa CRJ900
25MAR 20:05-21:45 DUS-VIE OS156 Austrian A319
28MAR 18:20-20:15 VIE-BRU SN2906 Brussels Airlines A319
28MAR 21:25-21:50 BRU-BHX SN2049 Brussels Airlines RJ85
As the day drew closer, I had a notification from Expedia of a couple of equipment changes. The Swiss A320 was swapped for an A319, the CRJ900 for a CRJ700 (to make a new type for me), the Austrian A319 for an A320, and the biggest change of all, the RJ85 was swapped for a FlyBE DHC8-400! I hadn’t realised that BE were operating some flights for SN, so although I already have two sectors on the Q400, it would be nice to get an extra one in the logbook.
Altogether, my final flights looked like this:
18MAR 13:45-16:30 BHX-ZRH LX423 Helvetic F100
18MAR 17:10-18:35 ZRH-VIE LX1582 Swiss A319
23MAR 18:20-20:15 VIE-BRU SN2906 Brussels Airlines A319
23MAR 21:25-21:35 BRU-BHX SN2049 Brussels Airlines RJ100
25MAR 15:20-17:35 BHX-DUS LH3447 Lufthansa CRJ700
25MAR 20:05-21:45 DUS-VIE OS156 Austrian A320
28MAR 18:20-20:15 VIE-BRU SN2906 Brussels Airlines A319
28MAR 21:25-21:50 BRU-BHX SN2049 FlyBE DHC8-Q400
All in all, it would be 8 flights, 7 airlines (6 new), 6 types (1 new), and 2 new airports (VIE and DUS).
The day before departure I checked in online, bagging seat 13A on the Fokker 100 (lucky for some – but not for me as I found out later), and a window seat on the ZRH-VIE sector.
The day of departure wound around fairly quickly, and at 11am on 18 March I found myself saying goodbye to my family for my first flight. Being Sunday lunchtime, the roads were fairly quiet, and I arrived at Birmingham Airport at 12:05. I parked in the multi-storey car park opposite the terminal, and made my way across to the terminal.
The terminal was very busy today, with many holiday flights leaving, as well as an Emirates flight to Dubai. As is normal for this flight, the airport was full of passengers heading for Asia, laden with boxes, TVs, and all manner of other electrical goods. I’m sure if they could take a washing machine onboard they would do!
First stop was to the Swiss bag drop to drop off my suitcase. ‘Are you just heading to Zurich?’ the lady enquired. ‘No, Vienna’, I responded. ‘Hmmm’ she said. ‘Bear with me a moment please’. She shouted to the chap on the next desk. ‘I’ve got one here for Vienna’ she said. ‘You’ll have to ring them to see if we can take him’ came the response. My heart sank. What was happening?
‘Oh hello there, it’s Birmingham checkin here. I have a chap here on the 423 that is heading to Vienna – what are we doing with this one? Ok, I’ll hold’. I asked if everything was OK. ‘Well with the delay on your flight, it means you won’t make your connection in time in Zurich.’ ‘What delay’ I asked, as nothing was showing on the screens. ‘There’s a 30 minute delay, and your connection is only 40 minutes, so there isn’t time for you to change planes’. Great, this was all I needed – not even dropped my bag off for my first flight and I have already missed a connection!
‘The 19:50? Great thank you’ the lady responded on the phone. ‘Right, well the good news is we have managed to book you on the flight leaving Zurich at 19:50, so you will now arrive into Zurich at 21:15’. This may have been good news for her, but it could hardly have been worse for me. I would miss my pre-booked taxi in Vienna with no way to let them know, and my first evening relaxing in my hotel would be substituted with hanging around Zurich airport for a few hours, arriving in my hotel at gone 10.30pm instead of the 7.30 I had planned.
‘You’re very lucky really’ she said, ‘most airlines wouldn’t have arranged this for you at this stage, they would have let you arrive in Zurich and then you’d have had to pay for another flight’. Considering this was the main reason I booked a full service carrier such as Swiss, it wasn’t a particular bonus for me. But there was nothing I could do, the aviation gods had done their magic and I had to accept it.
I headed up to security, to be confronted with a massive queue. In front of me were a family heading to the Mediterranean for a holiday. After a 20 minute queue, it was my turn. I went through and didn’t set the beeper off. My bag however wasn’t so lucky. It came out of the machine and took the diversion route to the ‘further scan needed’ queue. There were around 6 people in front of me, their offences mostly being of the ‘chocolate in bag’ variety. One lady had the nerve to try and carry some E45 in her bag! Finally it was my turn, and the kind lady apologised for the wait. ‘Lets see’ she said, whilst looking at her screen. ‘Oh dear. This isn’t good’. Great, I thought, what now. ‘It’s a complete empty and re-pack I’m afraid’. ‘You have quite a lot of metal in your bag, and it needs completely emptying and everything within it swabbing. You’re welcome to help me if you want, or if there’s anything you’d rather I didn’t handle’. So out came everything – camera, lenses, hard drive, cables, CDs, camcorder (x2) – yes I could see why this might look a little suspicious on the screen. She took a swab of everything and went to place it in the machine. It came back clean, much to my relief. As much as I’m the last person to carry anything dodgy, I just worry that it’ll do what the machines do on ‘Nothing to Declare’ and start beeping. ‘There you go’ she said, ‘Sorry about the hassle, are you OK repacking it yourself?’. ‘Yes that’s fine thank you, I’ll let you get on with helping these patient people behind me’. ‘Right answer’ she said, ‘Have a great flight’. At least she was civil about it.
Once everything had been repacked in my bag, I was spat out into duty free, and after dodging tables full of overpriced booze I emerged into the departure lounge. First stop – ring the other half and explain why it had taken an hour to call her after arriving at the airport! I gave her my new flight details before heading over to Burger King for a bite to eat. Once that was done, I sat down to see what aircraft I had been swapped to for my next flight. ‘A320’ according to Flight24 – but sometimes downgraded to an F100. As I had seat 25F, I doubted it would be the Fokker (unless they are towing a caravan behind them!). I went through to airside, and was surprised to see my F100 already sitting on stand! How strange I thought, we were still an hour before scheduled departure time and it was already here. Perhaps it had gone tech and we had a replacement?
I took a few photos of the aircraft on the ramp.
Not around for much longer…
Captain shouting to the ground crew – perhaps he should get a haircut!
My aircraft sitting in the sunshine
I headed back to take a look at the departure screens to see if my gate had opened yet. ‘Final call’ said the screen. Crap I thought, legging it through to the gate where my F100 was awaiting. I was welcomed by the check in agent who served me earlier. ‘Hello again’ she said, ‘Please take a seat and we’ll be boarding shortly’.
I went to the window to watch for a while, and soon with no announcement the doors were opened and after a quick boarding card check, we were walking down the airbridge to our aircraft.
Date: 18 March 2012
Airline: Swiss Airlines (op by Helvetic Airlines)
Flight Number: LX423
From: Birmingham Intl (BHX)
To: Zürich (Kloten) (ZRH)
Aircraft: Fokker 100
STD/ATD: 13:45 / 14:23
STA/ATA: 16:35 / 16:50
Flight Time: 1:27
This aircraft was delivered to American Airlines as N1458H almost 20 years ago in 1993, and was delivered to Helvetic in September 2004.
This is my 108th flight. It is my third Fokker 100 flight, and my first with Helvetic.
A female flight attendant welcomed me aboard. ‘Grüezi’ she said. ‘Guten tag’ I replied, getting a confused look. I hadn’t been expecting that word – I must check it later. (sidenote – I did, and it means Hello in Swiss German). I made my way down the aircraft to seat 13A.
In common with my Brit Air flight a few years ago, the aircraft has that ‘old aircraft’ smell often associated with aircraft in museums. The fittings are yellowing and showing their age a little, but the seats and furnishings are in very clean condition. The aircraft is fitted with nice grey leather seats, with a red carpet throughout. There is ample legroom at 33” on most seats, but arriving at 13A I was very pleased to discover it was an exit row seat. At 6’4” I could stretch out fully with my feet not touching the seat in front. Once again I had snagged a comfy seat for my ride!
My window view on the ramp
In no time at all, ‘Boarding complete’ was announced. The aircraft was only around half full, and nicely I didn’t have a seat companion for this flight.
A Swiss flight attendant came to my row. ‘Good afternoon sir’ he said. ‘Just to let you know you are seated in an exit row – and as such, in the event of an emergency you’d have to operate this door. Are you happy to do this’ he said. ‘Of course’ I responded. ‘So to open the door in an emergency, you put your left hand on the bottom handle, break the panel up here with your right hand, pull the door in then put it outside the aircraft. You will have to be the first person off the aircraft’. That sounded fine by me!
The captain came on shortly after. ‘Welcome onboard this Helvetic Airlines Fokker 100 to Zurich. Due to heavy congestion at Zurich we have to wait on the ground for another ten minutes before we can start our engines and get on our way.”. Aha, I guess that would explain the delay with the aircraft already being here then.
We sat and waited. And waited. The cabin crew came around and handed out chocolates.
After a while, but bang on the 10 minutes announced by the captain, we started to push back and the safety briefing commenced.
Our engines were started and the cabin was filled with the beautiful noise of two Tays starting up just behind us. We began our taxi at 14:15, exactly 30 minutes behind schedule.
We taxied out to runway 33, before lining up and commencing our take off run.
Takeoff was steady, the noise from the engines excellent as always on the Fokker jets. We rotated just before the golf course with a loud bang emanating from the undercarriage, but there were no photographers there today. The gear came up and was very loud from this position. We climbed ahead before turning onto a right downwind leg, heading towards Coventry.
We entered the cloud and a few bumps later we emerged the other side.
Distinctive Fokker window
The overhead panels showing their age a little
Before long we had reached our cruising altitude of FL350, and we were heading towards London. We passed to the west of London, observing Gatwick Airport through a brief gap in the clouds below:
We continued to the south passing the south coast overhead Brighton.
At this point came that unique moment when you can see both the UK and France at the same time – the French coast from Boulogne to Dieppe is in the distance here.
Overhead the English Channel, the cabin crew began their service. Drinks were served first, with a range of alcoholic and soft drinks. Since it was lunchtime I just took a Pepsi.
Next up was the food trolley. ‘Would you like chicken sandvich’ the flight attendant enquired. ‘Certainly’ I replied, and received my chicken sandwich.
I munched away as the French coast got closer, and we entered France overhead Dieppe.
Mouth of the Somme, just north of Dieppe
I noticed at this point our shadow on the wing. As we cruised along, the aircraft gently oscillated from left to right, left to right, very gently, but constantly, all the way through the flight. I’d never noticed this before – perhaps a feature of the F100?
As we entered France, more heavy cloud rolled in below, blocking any view of the ground for much of the remainder of our flight. We continued south towards Paris, before taking a left turn towards Basel/Mulhouse. This was a very convoluted routing as normally this flight heads down to Dover and follows the Belgian border down to Strasbourg.
View of the cabin from my seat
Brief break in the cloud overhead eastern France
As we approached Basel we began our descent towards Zurich the cabin crew came on to announce gates for onward connections in Zurich. It seemed that this flight connected onto quite a lot more across Switzerland and Germany.
Lake near the Swiss border
The clouds soon came very overcast again just as we began our descent.
We entered the cloud at around FL200 and this continued all the way until final approach. The approach was extremely bumpy. The aircraft rolled and bounced, dropped and bounced a bit more, feeling very much like a rollercoaster. I tried all I could not to harness a massive grin on my face, but to no avail. After all, this was great fun!
Our view from FL200 right down to final approach
The fasten seatbelt sign came on early due to the turbulence, and the cabin crew took this chance to finish their pre-landing checks early. At this point we entered a holding pattern in the cloud, before commencing our approach after one lap.
After a while, we emerged at around 5000ft, the landing gear coming down soon after. ‘Cabin crew, please prepare for landing came the announcement from the flight deck, only the second time we’d heard from them since boarding.
We came down the approach for runway 14, beginning overhead Germany and crossing into Switzerland, getting a good view of the town of Bulach.
We touched down firmly onto the tarmac, on what was a very rainy day in Zurich. Our landing roll was very long, with no reverse thrust and hardly any brakes used. I began to wonder whether we would use all of the runway to stop, but the taxiways to exit are right at the other end of the runway so no need to slow down too early.
We were welcomed to Zurich and we made our way to a remote stand, getting a glimpse of activity on all of the other runways as we taxied in. We held short of runway 28 whilst a Swiss RJ85 departed, before we quickly crossed towards the terminal.
Once on stand, our engines shut down, and steps were wheeled to the aircraft. The passengers began the mad rush to get up and obtain their baggage, but anticipating my long wait at the airport I decided to hang fire for a few moments. I eventually made my way forward, and was bid farewell by the captain and one of the flight attendants.
I made my way down the covered steps into the rain, almost slipping as it was very wet, onto the waiting bus, where I grabbed a quick snap of my ride.
What a contrast in the weather since Birmingham!
The bus made the short journey to the transfer doors where it dropped us off. I looked at the large screen and noted my gate would be A72. However, I also noticed there was an Austrian flight to Vienna departing in 30 minutes from A74. Perhaps I could play a blinder and catch this one? I headed to the transfer desk, explained my predicament, and asked if there was any chance to be moved to the earlier flight. The lady tapped on her computer, looked at a few sheets of paper, before writing ‘A72’ on my boarding card, and handed it back to me. ‘You are going from A72, but you have a couple of hours until departure yet’. I take it that was a negative to me changing flights then!
I decided I’d try to head to gate A74 anyway, and ask them if I could change there. I went through security again (which I wasn’t expecting), before passport control to enter the Schengen area of the terminal.
With some haste I negotiated the terminal, arriving at gate A74 where an Austrian 737-600 was waiting.
It would be excellent if I could get on this one I thought. I explained my predicament to the gate agent. ‘There are seats available’ she said, my heart missing a beat for a moment, ‘but I cannot change this here. You would need to go back to the transfer desk, and this flight leaves in five minutes and you wouldn’t have time’. Damn, I thought, as boarding commenced for this flight.
I stood and watched the flight go without me, before deciding to head back to the shopping area to try and grab a bite to eat. I wasn’t really hungry, just thirsty, but couldn’t find anywhere in the airport where I could grab a cheap bottle of water or something. The only shops around were the likes of Breitling, Swarovski and Ducati shops, and I couldn’t afford any of those today. I walked up and down taking a few photos as I went, pondering my fate. I couldn’t get to the viewing deck as I was still airside. The weather was foul, and worst of all there was hardly anywhere to sit. This really was not a relaxing airport to transfer in.
I took a few more photos.
I decided to head for the Sports Bar in the terminal and pay for an over-inflated beer. Over 6 Euro for a 500ml beer!
I then thought it was probably for the best that I hadn’t got the -600, as my luggage would not have gone until the later flight, which would have caused problems in Vienna.
More wandering up and down the terminal – Ducati had an exhibition of motorbikes around the terminal.
Probably quicker than waiting for my flight….
As it got dark I eventually conceded defeat to finding something interesting to do, and headed to the gate, where I pondered further.
Artistic shot of me pondering. I don’t think I’ll be the next top model.
I decided to try for a bit of excitement and check my phone to see what Austrian were sending in for my flight. Would it be an F100? Could it even be the earlier 737-600, feeling guilty after leaving me upset standing at the window, coming to reclaim her lost passenger?
Nope. It was an A320.
Damn. Might as well look at the photo of it in all its boring, French glory, now I’m already disappointed.
Why hello – what is this? My heart skipped a beat and I may have inadvertently let out a little shriek of delight. It was the Austrian Airlines retrojet! Coming especially for me! I hadn’t even seen this aircraft before, let alone fly on it. Come to mention it, I have never flown on a special liveried aircraft before. Perhaps some good had come out of my delay!
Now I was all excited about my next flight, and I sat watching the flight approach on FlightRadar24. It soon disappeared from my map, meaning it had touched down. I went to the window to eagerly await Neusiedlersee’s arrival onto the gate.
Here she is – what a beauty!
Unfortunately I seemed to be the only person excited about the prospect on flying on this wonderful aircraft, nobody else seemed to even notice the beautiful colours. I guess this is the age we live in.
Flight deck preparations for our flight.
Pretty soon, the cordon was removed from across the gate and we were beckoned forward, me third in the queue. I made my way down the airbridge to the door of the aircraft, where a flight attendant was standing. ‘Guten abend’ I said to the flight attendant, my greeting returned with a stern nod.
Date: 18 March 2012
Airline: Austrian Airlines
Flight Number: OS566
From: Zürich (Kloten) (ZRH)
To: Vienna (Schwechat) (VIE)
Aircraft: Airbus A320
STD/ATD: 19:50 / 20:06
STA/ATA: 21:15 / 21:00
Flight Time: 0:54
This is my 109th flight, my 19th Airbus flight and 4th A320 flight, and my first on Austrian Airlines.
This aircraft was delivered new to Austrian in March 1998 where it has worn every livery since, including this very special one to commemorate Austrian’s 50th Anniversary.
My first impressions of this aircraft were wonderful, the aircraft has the new slimline Recaro seats, which are much thinner than I had imagined, less than 2cm deep. I said good evening to the flight attendant near to the emergency exit, again receiving a stern nod, with no smile. I took my seat in 25F.
View of the seats from my seat
The atmosphere was calm. Classical music played quietly over the PA system, the overhead monitors showing Alpine landscapes. An air of tranquillity filled the cabin, and I sat back and closed my eyes as my fellow passengers boarded.
I was just starting to think that this was not so bad after all, and perhaps this would be a wonderful flight, when the air of tranquillity was shattered by a screaming baby coming down the cabin in his mother’s arms. His screams were piercing. I have a 2 year old and I have never heard noises like this before. The screaming continued as they got closer and closer. Please not this row I thought. I felt like somebody hiding from capture, trying not to raise attention to myself. She got to my row, and stood for a moment reading the row number. That moment lasted an eternity. My heart raced, suddenly filled with the prospect of having this for over an hour. She finally took a seat right in front of me. Great.
The screams continued once she had sat down. A flight attendant came to see what the fuss was all about, no doubt convinced that the poor kid was being viciously attacked in front of me with the amount of screaming there was. She gave the mother a lap extender belt and gave her instructions on its use. The mother then sat trying to calm the little monster down. After a few minutes the baby was asleep, and I could relax again, albeit now concerned about how it would react once we took off.
The captain came on to announce our flight time would be 1h05m, and the weather in Vienna was 14C under a clear sky.
I felt the tug being attached, before feeling the aircraft start to tip backwards as the nosewheel was lifted up by the tug – very strange.
The safety video started on the overhead monitors, quite possibly one of the worse I’ve ever seen. Cheesy doesn’t begin to cut it, it really is terrible. It is an awful cartoon seemingly narrated by Stephen Hawking, with the cartoon guy sporting some horrible massive smile like you’d see in a horror film. It truly is the stuff of nightmares, and went on for an eternity as we pushed back.
This was then repeated in German, all the cheesiness in the same places, and finally in French as well. By the time it had finished we had pushed back, both engines started and we had began our taxi. Up until yet we had no communication from anybody over the PA.
As we pushed back, I noticed two stands down was the SAS MD87 I’d flown on my last set of flights to Copenhagen and back, SE-DMK - why hello again!
We taxied in the rain to runway 32, and began our take-off roll into the rainy night.
As we lifted off the wind caught our aircraft and made for a pretty bumpy climb out through the cloud again.
As soon as the fasten seatbelt sign went off, and with the baby not long asleep in front of me, the mother decided now was the perfect time to go to the bathroom. She stood up and carried the baby to the bathroom, naturally waking the poor little mite up, when the screaming began once more. For crying out loud.
The cabin crew began the food and drink service, led by the stern lady who greeted me at the door. Down the cabin she walked, thrusting a Panini into every seat. Whether you wanted one or not, you got one, she strolled down the cabin like a paperboy delivering the morning news, thrusting food onto every passenger. If she cracked a smile it would probably have killed her. Mine was delivered, ‘Thank you’ I said. No acknowledgement, she simply continued on to the row behind me.
Shortly afterward the drinks trolley followed, at least some conversation could be had here. ‘Vat vud you laak to drink’ she snapped. ‘A beer please’ I responded. ‘There you go’ came the response, handing me a can of ‘Gosser’ Austrian beer. ‘Thank you’ I said, again no acknowledgement as she continued onto the next seat. Today’s crew must surely have missed out on going to the charm school.
My food was a ham and cheese Panini melt, which was actually quite nice. The beer was also good, I made a note to try this again next time I come out in a week’s time.
I sat back and watched our progress on the overhead screen, as we headed towards Innsbruck, the onto Salzburg, before passing to the south of Linz.
Before too long I heard the engines throttle back, and we began our descent. The flight attendant announced that we had ‘already’ begun our descent into Vienna, and we would be landing soon. The captain announced ‘Cabin crew 10 minutes to landing’ and the lights of Vienna appeared on the horizon. We approached the city from the northwest, getting a fabulous view of the entire city lit up. Many other passengers were mesmerised by this view, one of the few times I’ve seen other passengers fully take in the views as we approach our destination.
We curved around the city, forever getting closer to touchdown. Soon, the lights of the airport appeared and we touched down with a gently bounce on runway 16. We vacated to the right and the classical music began again, much louder this time than on boarding. We were welcomed to Vienna as we made our way in. The overhead screens showed details for connecting flights, of which there were quite a few for this time of night, mainly to Eastern Europe and Russia. We eventually pulled on stand next to a company A321 and the engines were shut down.
Even though we were at a gate, the airbridge was not used and steps were bought to the aircraft. We were ushered to the rear of the aircraft where we deplaned, onto the waiting bus.
I took this opportunity to grab a couple more shots of our bird:
The bus waited for the entire plane to board before driving the short distance to the terminal, where we entered the arrivals hall. I headed to the baggage belt where I had to wait around 20 minutes for the bags to start coming through.
Finally my bag came through and I made my way straight out into arrivals, no passport control of course as we are firmly within the Schengen area now.
The arrivals hall was a little dated, very low ceilings and lots of corridors and shops, it reminded me of a 1980s shopping mall. I found my way to a taxi company who said they’d take me to Bratislava for 86 Euros. My originally booked one was only 66! But what other choice did I have, I didn’t want to take the bus. The driver led me out into the parking lot to a waiting minivan, which sped me towards the border at 180kph! We stopped at the border so the driver could buy some cigarettes, but the shop was closed so he stopped further along at a service station. We eventually rolled into Bratislava at after 10pm, and I was surprised at how busy the city was for this time on a Sunday night. Buses were packed solid, streets bustling, and traffic busy. The driver dropped me off at my hotel, the Mamaison Residence Sulekova, hands down the best hotel I’ve stayed at by the way.
Some photos from my week in Bratislava:
Soon it was time to check in online for my return flight to the UK, if only for the weekend! I checked in online with Brussels Airlines and managed to get seats 14A on the A319, and 6A on the RJ100.
Friday rolled around and my colleague from the training course took me on a tour of Vienna, on the way to the airport. We had a drive around the ring road, as well as stopping at a coffee shop in Vienna, where I sampled perhaps the strongest coffee I’d ever tasted, and of course Strudel!
We drove back to the airport via the town of Schwechat, after which the airport is named, before he dropped me off at departures in terminal 1.
I bid farewell until Monday, and headed into the terminal which was absolutely packed on this Friday afternoon. There were no signs advising on where to go, only that all Star Alliance flights should head to the Austrian counters for baggage drop off. I went to the Austrian line and showed the agent my boarding pass. She studied it carefully, before saying ‘You are flying with Brussels Airlines – you have to go to terminal 2’. ‘But it says all Star Alliance carriers are at terminal 1’ I responded. ‘Terminal 2!’ she said.
That told me! So I plodded through to terminal 2, where a desk had a sign indicating that check in would open in 20 minutes. I headed to the Brussels Airlines desk to ask if there was any chance of an earlier flight. ‘There is an earlier flight sir, but sorry all flights are almost full so it would cost you 300 Euro to change flights. Maybe it would be cheaper to get a coffee or a beer for the sake of one hour!” . He had a point, the entire itinerary had only cost £257!
I went across to the check in desk and waited. Before long a couple of gate agents came over and opened the check in counter. I dropped my bag off which had mysteriously gained 5kg since leaving Birmingham, but was still only 18kg and well under the 23kg allowed. Must be the excessive Borovicka and Vodka packed tightly within!
Once I’d dropped my bag I headed straight back outside, to parking house P4 to be precise, in order to catch some nice photographs of arrivals into Vienna. Level 8 was closed, but level 5 was open and I got some nice photographs across the apron and of some arriving aircraft.
When I saw the Brussels Airlines A319 I knew it was my time to head back inside – after all I would be leaving on this very aircraft soon!