Archive for the 'B737' Category



Flight Review: Ryanair

I was lucky enough to spend this weekend in Liverpool, which was definately a great fun. We saw a Liverpool vs Fulham football match (2:0) among 47 000 people, I heard them singing songs for Steve Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Fernando Torres and even the coach, Rafael Benitez. I heard them singing “You’ll never walk alone” (which is a translation of a song from a Hungarian vaudeville) and I saw what a great job the English do in order to avoid agression and fighting inside and around their football stadiums. I visited the Beatles museum and heard people singing in a karaoke bar in the city of the Beatles. Liverpool will be capital of culture in 2008 and it is 800 years old this year, so if you haven’t been there yet, it is a must to go there.

A RyanAir Boeing Aircraft

On the ground 

I took the direct flight of Ryanair between Budapest and Liverpool. Officially it left Budapest at 5.10 pm. In practice doors were closed in time, but then we had to wait about 30 minutes on the ground. All low costs in Budapest take off from the older terminal 1. About 2-3 months ago a new train stop was built outside the terminal, so it is very easy to reach that terminal, whil e terminal 2 for network carriers is still harder and more expensive to get to. This is not the ususal practice in case of low cost carriers. It took us about 20 minutes to get from the Western Railway station to the airport by train. For some reason it is impossible to check in online for Ryanair’s flights departing from Budapest, so we had to stand in the long queue to be checked in. About 20 minutes before the gate was opened, people started to queue up for boarding, because boarding cards were not assigned to seats, so everybody wanted to get the best seats possible. This is a very good strategy from low cost carriers, this way everybody rushes into the plane and there is no need to wait long for passengers getting lost in the transit area. After gates were open, we could not simply board the aircraft, we had to get into a bus that took us to the plane and again we had to wait in a queue until we could finally board.

On the way back it was a little different. There passengers could check in online, so there was a priority queue for passengers who paid online fot this service. There we could immediately walk to the aircraft and board, so it was worth it to be at the gate in time.

In the air

In the aircraft we could see commercials of a phone card company on all hand luggage containers. After take-off
on both ways flight attendants first served hot and cold drinks, snacks and sandwiches. On the way back we bought a boxed triangles sandwich with roast chicken and salad for £3.45.

In the second round we heard a commercial from the loud speaker saying we can win zillions of pounds, we just need to buy scratch cards from the flight attendants. Then they took the cards around, but hardly anybody bought them. Again a commercial told us about those phone cards advertised on the lockers and again flight attendant ran around selling phone cards.

Then came the duty free part. Perfumes, watches, usual duty free stuff. I bought a Ryanair plastic aircraft model for £8.30 (I collect aircraft models). After the duty free again refreshment and snacks, then preparations for landing. On both ways we were told not to leave any garbage, newspapers or magazines around ourselves, because due to short turnaround time there will not be any cleaning. True. There was no cleaning. There was garbage around the seat on both ways. On the way back even one of the flight attendants helped the ground handling staff in the boarding process. At Malev flight attendants were always complaining that they have too many things to do. I think they should serve on a Ryanair flight for just one day.

Conclusion

From John Lennon International Airport we took a bus for £1.40 each to the city center. It is again peanuts taking the facts network airlines always frighten passengers with high ground travel costs. In Budapest the train costs HUF 300 per person which equals $1,5 or £0.8, so again we cannot call it a high price. The ticket was USD 150 return for 2 persons, including taxes and other costs. The only inconvenience of a low cost airline was the boarding process, but besides that everything was perfect, we were on time, there were no hidden costs and the whole weekend was a great experience.

Finally a nice little addendum to my story. When we arrived at John Lennon Airport, the first thing I saw was a doormat. It said “Welcome to John Lennon Airport”, there was this very famous scatch of Lennon from the cover of the Imagine album and a quote that tells everything:

“Above us only sky”

By Szafi 
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Flight Review: British Airways

We have been considering writing flight reviews for some time, and now finally here is the first one.

British Airways Logo

Route: BUDAPEST-London/Gatwick-ATLANTA
Operating Airlines: oneworld: British Airways and Malev Hungarian Airlines
Travel Date: 06NOV2007

Ticket Purchase

I have bought the ticket through www.ba.com, which was a very nice experience. The website provides you with lowest price options on and around the days you have searched for showing the options in an easy-to-understand, coloured format. After selecting (confirming) your travel dates, it gives you a detailed list of all the available flight combinations, also colored so that you can easily recognize the cheapest option. What I really liked about the flight descriptions, that it explicitly tells you operational information after or between the concerned flights. For example it would tell you “Warning – your connection will involve travel between airports by coach or bus, the cost of which is not included in your fare.” And this text would be displayed between those two flights, where one arrives at Heathrow, while the other leaves from Gatwick. Really easy to understand, and very visual. After selecting your flights and providing passenger details you can pay for your trip with your credit card and upon successful payment, you receive a confirmation email immediately (as expected). The site also takes you immediately to the “Manage My Booking” section, that provides very usefull information and allows you to manage your booking. For example you can save time at the airport by filling out the APIS data (required for entry to the USA) online, you can also add frequent flier number if you forgot to add it at the time of the booking, and can change or upgrade your flights right from here, but can check the online entertainment options, including the movies you will be offered, too.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions 

You can also follow a link from the “Manage My Booking” page to offset your carbon-dioxide emissions with Climate Care (http://www.climatecare.org/britishairways/calculators/) using a pollution calculator. For this particular return flight my emmission is 1,86 t of CO2, which costed me EUR 20,75 to offset. Climate Care has also sent me a British Airways co-branded Certificate to certify that I have offset the CO2 generated by my return flight.
(Being curious I have also checked the Lufthansa website partnered with myclimate.org, launched a few months ago, and to my surprise for the same route it calculated: 1,705 t of CO2, and suggested a compensation of EUR 34. Where the difference comes from, I don’t know…)

Check-In

To be in control of my seats, I chose to check-in online. It opens 24 hours before the actual flight (each flight opens individually). Unfortunately check-in for the BUD-LGW segment was not available on the BA website, as it is operated by Malev Hungarian Airlines. But for the British Airways flight, I could check-in flawlessly, where I got a pre-assigned seat, which I could change while using a seat-map of the actual aircraft that I was going to fly. The process is very straight forward, and easy to understand I think. After the successful transaction I printed my boarding pass on a normal A4 size paper, that included a bar code for later identification at the airport. The website also gave me check-in summary after completing it. Unlike some other airlines, BA did not replace this home-printed paper with a magnetic stripe “traditional” boarding pass at the airport, this was the only boarding paper I used to get on my flight.

Due to the above mentioned situation I also used the check-in desks at Budapest, where they checked me in quickly for the Budapest-London segment, but they had no information of my other already self-checked-in segment. They could not confirm if I actually have 35A as my seat or not, but she said she can not do anything with my second flight (the systems blocks her) and suggested that I look for a BA transfer desk at Gatwick. She could check-in my luggage all the way, though. Upon arrival to Gatwick I contacted BA Ticket desk in the transit area, and the lady there was also very nice, told me that indeed I have 35A, but even though my luggage was checked-in all the way in Budapest already, she does not see it in the system. So I gave her my bag-tag, which then she recorded in their system.

Malev B737-700 (HA-LOL)

1. BUDAPEST – LONDON GATWICK (BA 4450 operated by Malev: MA 612)

Aircraft: Boeing 737-700NG (HA-LOL), new, clean, comfortable aircraft operated by Malev Hungarian Airlines
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived exactly on time.
Boarding: After a long-long queue at the security (airport’s responsibility) I had to rush to the gate, otherwise it was OK
Seats: Full leather seats in both classes, with average legroom
Flight Attendants: There were 4 of them, 3 young girls and 1 older purser. Two of the girls were very good looking, all of them were very friendly.
Meals: We got hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and a wurst as well as freshly warmed/heated buns. Also got orange juice and tea, could have gotten a wide variety of soft drinks, or wine or beer.
Entertainment: There are LCD screens above the seats per every three-four rows in the aircraft, which play Malev and Hungary PR material throughout the whole flight.

G-VIIF Boeing 777

2. LONDON GATWICK – ATLANTA (BA 2227)

Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 (G-VIIF), not so new, at some places worn-down aircraft operated by British Airways
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
Boarding: The security at Gatwick was very long, I was happy I had a three hour layover so I didn’t have to run, and I could relax while standing in the line. It was confusing that when finally they put up on the screens that we need to go to gate 55, while walking there I caught the last few words of an announcement saying that passenger flying to Atlanta should proceed to gate 59. It doesn’t sound that bad, but the gates are on two different sides of Gatwick, so it would have caused a running excercise if the announcement proves true. As I wasn’t sure if it was about my flight (there was another flight to Atlanta about an hour after mine) I went to the gate which was on the screens – it was a good decision as that was our gate. After the gate-boarding pass check-in there were seats available for only about half of the passengers, so either be there early or arrive late! Other than that, boarding went smoothly.
Seats: Full leather seats with proper legroom, as comfortable as a regular economy seat can get. Tip: if legroom is important for you don’t get a window seat, as the entertainment cables go on the window seat’s chairleg, which reduces free legroom. It doesn’t really leave you the option to put a laptop bag under the seat in front of you for example.
Flight Attendants: They really did their job of serving meals and overlooking the passengers for security. That’s all they did. No special smile or service, dry English manner.

Main meal on BA2227  Snack Meal on BA 2227

Meals: Not so long after take-off we received a small pack of snacks with drinks and later on the main meal. The choice was chicken or pasta, I took the chicken with assorted vegetables (potatoes, broccoli and mashed carrots). The taste was good, just like that of the standard salad (with fish) and the blackberry pie. The Twix chocolate bar tasted as everywhere around the world. The bun was not fresh and not warmed, not tasty at all. The white wine was OK, but it’s probably not award winning, either. Shortly before landing we got another “meal” which was a small pre-packed sandwhich with a small carrot-cake with raisins and a pack of dried fruits. Drinks were served once again. During the flight if somebody wanted to get snacks or extra drinks, the kitchen in the back of the plane was always “open”.

Dangling armrest on BA   Dangling armrest on BA 2.

Entertainment: Every passenger in economy has their own LCD screen and built-in remote control in the armrest. My armrest was really worn-down and actually broken. The dirty looking plastic cover was living it’s own life, as you can see on the pictures above. It should be dangling around like this, it was annoying. Just like the fact that I tried 2 headphones where each had only one side working, then I put on my own headphones which just worked properly. As it is a Skype enabled one, the flight attendants spotted it and brought a third one to try, which finally worked on both sides! It may only be me, but I always get a half- or non-working headphone set on my long-haul flights at first… On the other hand, the radio stations were OK, and the movies, too. The movies start at un-announced times, all movies starting at the same time. I watched three of them: Die Hard 4, Ocean’s Thirteen and Knocked Up.
Amenities: Each economy passenger received a bag of socks, and toothbrush-toothpaste.

Overall Experience

Despite the minor glitches on the BA flight with the entertainment (armrest and headphones) I would take this flight again, I had a good time onboard both oneworld flights. A big advantage was the convenient schedule (leaving Budapest at 7:10 and arriving in Atlanta at 16:25) and the pricetag: this return flight costed USD 1072, with the purchase taking place exactly one week before the departure (so relatively late).

by balint01

Boeing 737 Engine Falls Off During Take-off

Nationwide Airlines Flight CE723 yesterday departed from Cape Town (CPT) to Johannesburg on schedule at 15:50. At take-off it was reported that the right hand engine separated from the wing. The aircraft continued to climb out. The aircraft returned and landed at Cape Town International Airport without further incident. No passengers or crew were injured.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that ZS-OEZ was the airplane involved in the mishap.

Passengers were disembarked and taken to a holding area where Nationwide Airlines representatives as well as trauma counselors were on hand to lend assistance.

Nationwide Airlines 

Nationwide Airlines 737-200

Nationwide Airlines is registered in Zambia. It started its operation in 1991 as a charter operating domestic flights in South Africa and international flights between Zambia and South Africa. Its fleet consists of a 767-300, 2 737-500s, 11 737-200s and 3 727-200s. The one involved in the accident is a 737-200 (see drawing above)

Mandala Airlines B 737 Overshoots Runway – 5 Injured

A Mandala Airlines Boeing 737-200 has overshot the runway at Abdul Rachman Saleh Airport, East Java, Indonesia after a domestic flight from Jakarta. Five passengers were injured in the accident, none of them seriously.

The aircraft’s nose landing gear is understood to have seperated in the incident, in which the aircraft skidded 260 feet from the end of the runway. Five of the 89 passengers and seven crew on board received cuts and bruises during the emergency evacuation that followed. It was raining heavily at the time, although it is not known if this is considered to have played a factor. The accident is currently under investigation. One potential cause being looked at is the fact that the forward landing gear axle is beleived to have snapped upon landing, setting off the chain of events.

Airport official Suradi described the scene to Reuters via telephone: “The plane now lies abandoned on the runway … Its head is slightly tilted down because the front wheel broke off.,”

About Flight Safety in Indonesia

The Indonesian aviation industry has been the subject of much criticism this year over safety concerns, sparked by a string of accidents including Adam Air 574, which crashed into the ocean, killing 102, Adam Air Flight 172, a nonfatal accident where a plane snapped in half, and Garuda Indonesia Flight 200, which overshot a runway at extreme speed, killing 21. All Indonesian airlines are on the list of air carriers banned in the EU, and the United States Federal Aviation Administration has downgraded Indonesia to it’s lowest safety rating.

Mandala Airlines B737-200

About Mandala Airlines 

Mandala Airlines was founded in 1967 and attained “First Category” of the Indonesian Aviation Safety Rank October 5, 2007. Their only fatal accident was the crash of Mandala Airlines Flight 091 in 2005, which killed 112 people. They are now under the implementation process of IATA’s Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) expected to finish in March 2008. After it Mandala will be the second airline in Indonesia with IATA certification. Its fleet consist of 10 planes: 4 B737-200s, 2 B737-400s, 1 A319 and 3 A320s. They have order for 25 A320s.

 Source: Reuters, Wikipedia 

By Szafi

SkyEurope And Wizz Air: Different Strategies

SkyEurope B737 at BUD   Wizz Air A320 at BUD

The Central and Eastern European market of low cost airlines is going through some very interesting times. Let’s not talk about the low-cost airlines who operate to this area, but are of other origin, such as RyanAir, easyJet, Sterling, Germanwings, Norwegian, etc., etc., but focus on those which are based in this region!

There are a number of low-cost airlines operating out of Central and Eastern Europe, some smaller ones like Smartwings (Czech Republic, part of the TravelService group with 2+8 aircraft), Niki (Austria), Centralwings (Poland, part of the LOT group with 5 aircraft – planned 15 by 2010) and Blue Air (Romania, with 4 aircraft). The two bigger ones are SkyEurope and WizzAir, who are following a totally different strategy as revealed in the last few days, even though until recently they were direct competitors of each other.

SkyEurope Logo SkyEurope is pulling out of its hubs in Hungary and Poland, and will focus purely on Vienna, Prague and Bratislava from the upcoming winter schedule. The goal for them is to stabilize their financial base. They are on the stock exchange, and can not maintain their losses over a long period of time. They plan to station 6 B737-700’s in Vienna, and 4 in Prauge (up from 4 and 2 respectively), which shows the focus is clearly on Vienna and Austria, where the demand is more stable and financially set, compared to the other countries around Central Europe. SkyEurope plans to operate 15 aircraft in Vienna in 2-3 years time. Currently they operate 14 airplanes, and plan to add another 16 Boeing 737 New Generation planes in the coming years. However, it was also in the news last week, that SkyEurope is selling two of its new Boeing 737-700’s, to raise funds for operations in the upcoming winter schedule. The airplanes were due for delivery this month and in November. Giving up their Budapest base, they also plan to sell their airport handling unit at Budapest Ferihegy International airport, for about USD 3.5 million. This will be an interesting sales process, as the only customer of this handling company was SkyEurope, so what is up for sale is basically only the right to carry out gound handling activites at Budapest Ferihegy Airport, and some equipment. We have witnessed a similar situation at loss-making Malev, when assets and rights need to be sold in order to survive the weak winter travel season… This is not a good sign in my opinion, but we’ll see in a year, whether if it has paid off for SkyEurope or not.

WizzAir On the other hand, the younger, more dynamic, Hungarian WizzAir announced a major Airbus order today, for 50 new A320 family aircraft!! Wizz Air already flies 13 Airbus A320s and earlier said it plans to maintain a uniform fleet. It had earlier predicted operating 53 aircraft within three to five years. Over the last two years Wizz Air, which flies 70 routes in Europe, ordered 32 Airbus A320s that fly up to 180 passengers. “The new deal increases the total order made by Wizz Air for A320 to 82,” the companies said, while they also agreed on an option to buy 25 additional A320’s by 2016. The 50 new planes are to be delivered in 2011-2014, while the option covers the period 2014-2016. This is the largest order for Airbus in Central and Eastern Europe, and would make Wizz Air one of the largest regional carriers with narrow-body aircraft.

So the two strategies are totally different! One budger airline selling off assets to survive the upcoming winter period, while the other one placing the largest Airbus order in Central and Eastern Europe! While SkyEurope predicts to have 30 aircraft in a few years, Wizz Air will have 32, and will start receiving the 50 new ones announced today! While SkyEurope is backing out from Poland and Hungary, and is focusing on Austria and the Czech Republic, Wizz Air agressively gains markets, and focuses on Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, but keeps out of Austria and the Czech Republic. By only looking at the facts and this latest news, it looks like Wizz Air is winning on the Polish and Hungarian markets in the competition against SkyEurope, but it also looks a little bit like if the Central and Eastern European market of budget airlines has just been split up between the two…

by balint01

Plane On The Street in Mumbai, India

This story is not really fresh news, as it happened some three months ago in May, 2007, but I have come across an article about it, and found it really “bizarre” as one of my Australian friends would call this situation.

The story is the following: There was a B737, that used to fly for Air Sahara, in India, but is not in use anymore. They removed the wings, engines, tail, etc. and wanted to transport the fuselage part to a new location in Delhi where it was planned to be used for trainings/entertainment. They put it on a trailer and headed out on a probably planned route over the weekend. So until now, it is as it should be.

BUT, the driver of the trailer got lost a little bit, and ended up driving the truck on the highway in a suburb of Mumbai, which had a bridge crossing, which was way too low to pass underneath. In the meantime he realized he can not back out from that location, so he chose the easiest solution (for him): he left the trailer there with the plane on top of it, and walked away… Perfect solution for him, annoying solution for all the people living nearby as more and more tourists show up in the area only to touch and to see the left behind plane.

B737 Left Behind On A Mumbai Road

Quote from BBC: “Saturday night I shut shop and go home and everything is fine,” he told the BBC news website. “Sunday morning when I get here, this aircraft is here near my restaurant!” Can you imagine such a situation? I think it’s really bizarre!!

And what really amazes me: they were moving a 737 around, on a specialized trailer, and according to BBC, the driver, and the actual owner of the aircraft could not be identified for days after it was left behind on the street…

Here is a video about it (in “Indian English”): http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/39687/air-sahara-jet-parked-on-highway.html 

by balint01


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