Posts Tagged 'London'

Flight Review: easyJet

Route: BUDAPEST-London/Gatwick
Travel Date: 05OCT2008

Ticket Purchase

I have bought the ticket through www.easyjet.com, which was very simple and straight forward. After selecting your departue city on the homepage, it narrows down the list of destinations which are directly served from there. Also there is an option to indicate if you’re flexible about your dates. As I was on a business trip, this was not an option for me, I had to leave on a Sunday as the Monday schedule from Budapest to London pretty much destroys the full business day, thus it’s not an option… (I think with the winter 2008 timetable this flight has been rescheduled as an evening flight.) The Search Results still show 3 days, even though I have opted not to be flexible with my dates…

The least fair step of the booking process, comes after selecting your flight, where additional services are already added to your flight by default and the price of course is increased. This page looks very crowded, with loads of information presented in a number of different stlyed boxes below each other, making it hard to read and find the important information (“I’m charged with extra stuff”), which seems to be lost among the colored text and symbols. Third party taxes are of course OK, but why do I have to be automatically opted-in to Travel Insurance and 1 checked-in luggage with their associated costs? I can somewhat understand the luggage as probably the average traveller takes 1 larger, non-carry-on bag with them, but the insurance is really something that should not be opted-in by default! I can still add other items to the service, such as Speedy Boarding, additional luggage, and special sports equipment. This is the step when I can also opt-in to compensate my CO2 emmissions of the flight(s) booked. After having actively removed the Travel Insurance and the Checked-in luggage fee, I can continue to the next page to provide my traveller details, etc. Based on my preferred credit card type, I’m again charged with the extra Credit Card Transactional Fee. Only Visa Electron is transaction fee free… Once paid, I can already check-in if my flight is within 3 months from now! This is a very nice solution!

Offsetting Carbon Emissions 

Offsetting Carbon Emissions is very easy and simple with easyJet. As I already mentioned after selecting your flight you are presented with a very loaded page where you can opt-in for extras. One of those is the CO2 offsetting schema, that has already calculated the amount you should pay for this “service” and you can opt-in with just one simple click.

easyJet Airbus A319 (G-EZBU) c by Martin Stephen on airliners.net

easyJet Airbus A319 (G-EZBU) c by Martin Stephen on airliners.net

Check-In

I chose to check-in online, immediately after finishing my booking. It opens 3 months before the actual flight, it’s very simple, and you can print your boarding pass at the end of the process. It is very convenient as you can proceed straight to the gate with that piece of paper. The only worry I would have is that if I’m checked in 3 months in advance for a flight, I may simply forget about it… 🙂 As easyJet is using “Open seating“, there are no seats assigned to the passengers, you can look for a free seat you like and just take it once you’re on the aircraft. With the internet check-in, one is placed in boarding group “A”, that supposedly gets on board after those who have purchased the “Speedy Boarding” service – to guarantee themselves as among the first people to enter the airplane. There is another group following “A”, which is “B” and includes those who checked-in at the airport. They are the last ones to get on the plane and can only select from “left-over” seats.

1. BUDAPEST – LONDON GATWICK (EZY 5444)

Aircraft: Airbus A319 (G-EZBU)
Class: Economy (one class layout)
Punctuality: Flight took off 2 minutes late, arrived exactly on time.
Boarding: By bus, thus the above described boarding groups were hard to coordinate I think. As I took the aft door of the plane after getting out of the bus, I probably entered the plane with my “A” group Boarding pass earlier than some of those going through the front door and having “Speedy Boarding”… I got a window seat without any problems. Flight was less-than half house, with plenty of free seats, I was the only one in my row on my side.
Seats: Regular seats with less-than average legroom
Flight Attendants: There were 4 of them, 2 young girls and 1 guy plus 1 older purser. Two of the girls were good looking, all of them were very friendly.
Meals: Meals are offered at an additional cost, you can select from a range of sandwiches and drinks including alcoholic drinks. Those who selected a warm sandwhich, had to wait about 20 mins before they got their heated up food.
In-Flight shopping: In-flight shopping contains a selected range of items. I have purchased a limited series easyJet model plastic aircraft only, as the parfume I wanted to buy for my wife has already ran out.
Entertainment: No LCD screens or such, only the In-Flight magazine of easyJet plus the In-Flight Shopping guide of course. Bring your own reading material and music player!

Onboard easyJet

Onboard easyJet

Overall Experience

It was exactly what I paid for: transportation from Budapest to London Gatwick, in a timely, correct manner without any frills. I would take this flight again, but only if I ever want to leave on a business trip on a Sunday afternoon as the schedule is not really good for travellers originating in Budapest. Totally wrong schedule for any Hungarian business travellers, as the flight leaves in the afternoon and returns from London in late morning, but probably suits London business people just OK. The pricetag: this one way flight costed HUF 41.400 or USD 255, with the purchase taking place 10 days before the departure.

by balint01

Advertisements

1,000 Airbus A380 Flights at Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has announced yesterday that it has completed its 1,000th Airbus A380 commercial flight on Monday, when its scheduled service from Singapore to London Heathrow touched down in the United Kingdom as flight SQ 322. Singapore already operates five of the superjumbos, and claims that all aircraft have performed “remarkably” since entering service last October. In reality there were a few incidents indeed, but nothing major – and these kind of small glitches are normal in airline operations, especially when rolling out a new type into everyday operations.

Singapore Airlines A380 arriving at London Heathrow - c by Allan Huse on airliners.net

Singapore Airlines A380 arriving at London Heathrow - c by Allan Huse on airliners.net

The five airplanes have accumulated 8,500 flight hr. and carried nearly 400,000 customers. More than 220,000 have traveled on the Singapore-Sydney route, with the rest shared between Singapore-London and Singapore-Tokyo. This is really good news after the scandalous road of the Airbus A380 entry into commercial services. The sixth A380 is scheduled to arrive in September, with a further 13 to follow in the coming years. Singapore Airlines has options on an additional six and has been the first and only operator of the type until last week, when Emirates took their first Airbus A380.

by balint01

BA Executives Were Fired For Terminal 5 Chaos

As Airline World reported earlier, huge chaos followed the grand opening of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport. At that time probably the whole world thought it was going to be some temporary inconvenience and after a few days everything would turn out right. But it has not happened. 3 weeks after Terminal 5 was opened for British Airways’ passengers exclusively, still baggages get lost due to technical problems.

Heathrow Terminal 5Although it is still not quite clear who is to blame for that as the planning went on in cooperation with British Airport Authorities, British Airways CEO Willie Walsh had some tough moments in the past few weeks in front of tv cameras and microphones of reporters. (The toughest meeting with the shareholders of BA is yet to come for him….) Again a lot of people expected him to resign. Instead he released two high-level executives: operations director Gareth Kirkwood and customer service director David Noyes.

The next big step will be the long haul flights to depart from Terminal 5. Originally this move was planned for April 30, then a delay for June was announced, but yesterday (April 15) Mr Walsh said it was more probably to happen only in October.

By Szafi

London Heathrow Terminal 5 Opens

The biggest construction work over the last years is finished and the largest standalone building of the UK has started its everyday business today. The UK’s flagship building is solely to be used by British Airways (BA), the UK’s flag carrier. BA promises that connections will be much faster (~20 mins), and also time spent at the Terminal while departing will also be significantly reduced (~10 mins), as they plan with most of the passengers checking in online before arriving to the airport and then “flying” through the Departures area very quickly. To allow this, 96 fast-bag drops have been installed with the same number of self-service check-in kiosks for those who had no time to check-in from their office, home or mobile phone. According to the website of British Airways, all passengers must be ready to fly (passed check-in and security) 35 minutes before their flights, which means on a normal operational day you can arrive at the airport only 45 minutes before your flight (but this is a theoretical minimum, we believe this means 55-60 minutes in reality…) – if you’re an experienced self check-in kiosk user or have used online check-in and do not have any baggages to check-in.

Terminal 5 banner on ba.com

A Green Building

Following the first idea about a fifth terminal in as early as 1982, construction finally started on the £4.3 billion pound project in September 2002 (5.5 years ago) and has been on time and on budget. 2006 Stirling Prize winner the Richard Rogers Partnership designed the 40 metre high, 396 metres long and 176 metres wide, 5 level Terminal 5. It is built between Heathrow’s two runways, on reclaimed land previously occupied by a sludge works. The project has successfully moved 9 million cubic metres of earth and two rivers have been diverted to create space for the new building. The area now is home to 30.000 woodland plants and 4.000 trees and is planned to have more in the next two years. On top of this green initiative, the building will be operated with as small environmental effects as possible:
  • Water conservation – 85 per cent of the water that falls on T5 will be collected and reused
  • Recycling – 97 per cent of the construction waste was reused and passengers can contribute by recycling their waste at special facilities around the terminal
  • Lighting – the predominantly glass constructed building allows in natural sunlight, reducing the need for artificial lighting (30.000 square metres of reinforced glass and 5.500 glass panels also guarantee the light and airy feel)
  • Heat – 85 per cent of the heat required by the building is provided by waste heat from the existing airport heat and power station

The terminal housing the longest baggage carousel system in the world will be able to handle 30 million passengers every year, raising the total capacity of Heathrow to 90 million from 68 million currently (while the airport was originally designed for 45 million…). The main terminal building is home to Concourse A, while the satellite Concourse B has been finished as well (with dedicated stands for the Airbus A380 superjumbo – already on order with BA), and is connected to the main building by an underground people mover system. The opening of Concourse C is scheduled for 2010. Alltogether, Terminal 5 will have 60 aircraft stands.

All sorts of traffic means are connected to the building, including Heathrow Express rail service as well as the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line. 4.000 cars can be parked in the new Parking Garage, but there are bicycle routes up to the terminal as well, with free bicyle parking in car parks 1 and 1A.

BA will use Terminal 5 as the only one carrier, but Terminal 5 will not be the only one terminal used by BA, as they are forced to keep some of their services on Terminal 3. You can find the list of destinations served by BA and their Terminals here. There will also be a frequent coach service launched between Terminals 3 and 5 to allow BA passengers to easily transfer between the two terminals used by the British carrier.

The first flight to arrive is BA 026 from Hong Kong, piloted by BA’s first woman pilot, Captain Lynn Barton, due to touch down at 4.50am. She has described the role as “a huge honour”. The first flight to depart is heading for Paris at 6.20pm with a further 380 (what a coincidence with the A380…) flights due to arrive or depart at the terminal on its first day. The BA move will involve a convoy of more than 1,000 vehicles, including 360 baggage trailers, 240 cargo containers and 27 short-haul aircraft. More than 2,500 ground staff will also make the move, with another 3,000 to follow on the 30th of April.

Once airside, BA passengers will be able to kill time in an enormous shopping mall and a range of cafes and restaurants – the list of outlets includes Harrods, Prada, Bulgari, Wagamama, Gordon Ramsay, Paul Smith and Carluccio’s as well as Starbucks among many-many others.

by balint01

New A380 Routes – by Emirates

Airbus A380 in Emirates livery

The first operator of the A380, Singapore Airlines is bringing the A380 to London in two weeks, but in the meantime, the second airline to receive their first A380, Emirates has announced the planned new routes where they will fly the aircraft initially. Emirates will receive 5 Super-Jumbos this year, and they will roll them out on the following routes with the following dates:

  • New York JFK (starting 01OCT2008 – starting 01AUG2008 )
  • London Heathrow (starting 01DEC2008 )
  • Sydney (starting 01FEB2009)

This really brings two new destinations to the growing network served by the A380: Emirates’ home in Dubai and New York JFK, the first A380 destination in North-America, as London and Sydney will be served by Singapore Airlines by that time. Emirates has also announced that the aircraft flying on these routes will have the following seating arrangement:

  • 14 seats in First Class
  • 76 seats in Business Class
  • 399 seats in Economy Class

Just as a quick comparison: Singapore Airlines is flying the following configuration: 12 in First, 60 in Business, and also 399 in Economy. The total difference is 18 seats surplus for Emirates, which probably means slightly larger space on Singapore, though, but let’s wait to see Emirates’ product when they reveal their first interior. Emirates has also announced, that as the leading customer of the A380 (with 58 airliners on order), they will have several cabin layouts for the type:

  • 489 seats in 3 classes (described above and used on international routes mentioned in this article)
  • 517 seats in 3 classes (for medium-range routes)
  • 604 seats in 2 classes (also for medium-range routes)

Also they hinted that they are still in negotiations about the first commercial A380 route, which then suspects that their first aircraft will have one of the higher seating arrangements and will fly on (a) medium-haul route(s).

by balint01

New A380 Route to London

As we reported earlier, Singapore Airlines has already received their second Airbus A380 super-jumbo, and is planning to take the third one by mid March. While the second one currently serves training purposes and completes a few scheduled flights to Hong Kong, in reality she is only waiting for her sister to arrive so they can start to serve the first European route of the A380: London Heathrow directly from Singapore Changi airport.

The first flight with flight number SQ 308 will take off from Singapore at 9:00 am on 18MAR2008 and will arrive in London at 15:05 the same day. Then late afternoon at 18:55 it will head back to the home of Singapore Airlines (SIA) as flight SQ 319 and will arrive to its Asian destination at 15:35 on 19MAR2008. These two flights mark the official launch of the second route served by SIA after Sydney since October 2007 with the first super-jumbo. This will also be the first commercial flight of the A380 involving a European airport.

Following the special first day flights, the schedule will be similar to other flights on similar routes, please see the table below as provided by Singapore Airlines. The first one is about the interim time between 18MAR and 30MAR (the last day of the Winter schedule for the airline industry) the second table shows the schedule for the Summer season.

Scheduled A380 services (Northern Winter 2007/2008)
 
Flight number Commencement date Departure Time Arrival Time
SQ 322 Singapore-London Daily from
18 March 2008
2320 hours 0525 hours
next day
SQ 317 London-Singapore Daily from
19 March 2008
1100 hours 0740 hours
next day

Scheduled A380 services (Northern Summer 2008)
 
Flight number Commencement date Departure Time Arrival Time
SQ 322 Singapore-London Daily from
30 March 2008
2330 hours 0555 hours
next day
SQ 317 London-Singapore Daily from
30 March 2008
1155 hours 0745 hours
next day

According to the airline, those passengers who already have tickets for these flighs, will be able to fly on those flights, even though they originally purchased their flights not knowing that it would be served by the A380. Those, who already have a booking but not yet received a ticket for it, “may need to check if there have been changes to their fares as a result of the aircraft change.” In other words, their fares have probably been increased at least due to higher demand on these flights. If you manage to get on board the inaugural London flights (SQ308/319) on 18 March, you will receive personalised certificates recognising your participation in the milestone event, as well as limited edition Singapore Airlines A380 souvenirs and exclusive premium giveaways.

The introduction of this route flown by the A380 also marks the first case when a passenger will be able to connect from a flight on the A380 to another flight, also flown by the A380 if they travel between London and Sydney with a transfer in Singapore. In this case they will actually have to spend almost 13 hours in Singapore, but it may very well be worth it!

by balint01

British Airways Boeing 777 Incident at London Heathrow

British Airways flight BA 038 inbound to London Heathrow, from Beijing, China today at 12:42 pm local time (12:42 GMT) has crash landed just a few meters off the beginning of Heathrow’s Southern runway (unlucky?). From another point of view, it crash landed just a few meters off of a congested two way road, just inside the boundaries and fences of Heathrow Airport (lucky!!).

BA Boeing 777 after emergency landing at Heathrow - by CNN.com

According to the first reports by BBC and declined to be commented by British Airways, the aircraft has lost some (or all) of its power and avionics systems while descending to the airport, and it equals to a miracle that the pilot managed to reach the territory of the airport by gliding this huge bird “nose up”, and not crash-land into the heavily populated residential areas of West-London. This is the FIRST Report, only a few hours after the crash, so as investigations will take place, the findings may change the descriptions of the cause.

All 136 passengers and 16 crew escaped the aircraft, with 13 of the passengers (among them 7 British and 3 Chinese) reportedly being treated in a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

Scotland Yard has quickly stated that the incident is not terrorism related.

BA chief Willie Walsh, while praising the crew for doing an “excellent job,” declined to comment on the possible cause of the accident, which is being to be probed by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). He further added that “The captain of the aircraft is one of our most experienced and has been flying with us for nearly 20 years,” he said.

What is known at this moment, is a few eyewitness explanations:

Eyewitness Neil Jones, who has a general aviation pilot’s licence, said the plane had been making a “very, very unusual approach,” and the engine sounded louder than normal. “The aircraft was banking to the left and it was coming in very low over the surrounding houses. The plane was significantly lower than it would normally be,” he told the BBC. “You could see the pilot was desperate, trying to get the plane down. The aircraft hit the grass and there was a lot of dirt. The pilot was struggling to keep the plane straight. He did a great job,” said Jones. Another witness said the Boeing had come in at a “funny angle,” and, with its undercarriage down, had slid along the grass in a “plume of smoke.” The plane had hit the ground with a “big impact and a loud noise.”

The 6 year old Boeing 777-200ER, registration G-YMMM, was built by Boeing in 2001 and is one of 43 in the British Airways fleet. The plane is powered by two Rolls-Royce Group Plc Trent 895 engines and had accumulated 23,476 flying hours as of Dec. 31, 2006, (according to data on the Web site of the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority) and was immediately surrounded by emergency vehicles, including fire engines and ambulances, as a carpet of foam was sprayed. The wheels of the plane, which had a routine maintenance check in December, were still in the field where it crashed, several hundred meters from the runway.

Officials said delays were expected after one of Heathrow’s two runways was closed for almost two hours with an air exclusion zone imposed to help regulate traffic at one of the world’s busiest airports. The runway has since been reopened for take-offs only.

Update: first good resolution pictures on airliners.net:
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318128/L/
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318132/L/
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318205/L/

Update: Video of the Crew’s Press Meeting on Telegraph TV, so you know who made sure that such an emergency situation was handled as best as possible: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1137942530/bclid1155254697/bctid1381652074 

Update: In the preliminary report The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the flight had been normal until that point but then the Boeing 777 descended rapidly. The report states: “At approximately 600ft and two miles from touch down, the autothrottle demanded an increase in thrust from the two engines but the engines did not respond.” This means that so far the first theory has been confirmed by pre-liminary investigation findings. This was the first ever crash involving a Boeing 777 aircraft, which is considered as one of the most advanced jets in the sky today.

by balint01


Blog calendar

August 2019
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Archives

Advertisements