British Airways / Air Berlin | A320/B737/A321/E170 | LHR-FRA/CGN-TXL-ZRH-LCY

 photo map-4.gif
 photo map-5.gif
Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
For the last couple of years or so, I’d been aware of Air Berlin offering some semi decent fares from Cologne to London with a couple of stops thrown in for good measure. Although I hadn’t got around to booking the flights remained on the radar.
 photo aboptions.png
Fast forward to early 2015 and I finally got around to booking the trip I’d been researching for the previous couple of years.
 photo abitin.png
As usual on Air Berlin, they only offer free seat selection to their own frequent flyers.
 photo abseats.png
And as usual, one of the other OneWorld members was able to rectify this.
 photo ABseatsIB.png
Next up was a way to Cologne. I had planned on taking Germanwings on a direct flight from LHR, as prices were around the £40 mark. Annoyingly though, when I came to book the prices had gone up to over £110. So instead I looked to British Airways. They don’t actually fly to Cologne, but flights to Frankfurt more reasonable – still four pounds more, but at least I’d be able to get some dinner in the lounge.
 photo BAitin.png
Seat selection wasn’t an issue on this flight – at least when I booked.
 photo BAseats.png
Yet another no so special offer. They used to be reasonable at under £100 but now they just seem to be the same price as you’d pay for Club anyway.
 photo BAUPG.png
To link Frankfurt and Cologne I’d turn to the DB. I’d wanted to try the ICE train so this seemed like a good enough excuse. I’d also wanted to visit the viewing deck at FRA for a few years (on all of my previous visits, it had been closed) so I was ticking more than a few things off on this trip.
As mentioned at the beginning of my South America series, I was exploring options other than the National Express coach to get me to Heathrow. This time I figured I’d try out the hourly bus service – it took over an hour and a half, but cost a fraction of the coach – so you get what you pay for I guess.
 photo IMG_3782.jpg
Upon arrival, I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass and took a look at the fast track security. It looks more than a little busy from what I could see, so I made my way through the regular security instead. And I was through in about two minutes. So as I’ve suspected, the fast track isn’t quite that fast.
 photo IMG_3785.jpg
 photo IMG_3787.jpg
I made my way up to the lounge for a tasty dinner of macaroni cheese.
 photo IMG_3813.jpg
 photo IMG_3801.jpg
 photo IMG_3790.jpg
 photo IMG_3791.jpg
 photo IMG_3792.jpg
 photo IMG_3793.jpg
 photo IMG_3794.jpg
 photo IMG_3805.jpg
 photo IMG_3800.jpg
 photo _MG_0003.jpg
 photo _MG_0004.jpg
After this, I headed out to my favourite spot on the terrace and grabbed some juice.
 photo _MG_0005.jpg
 photo IMG_3809.jpg
But no sooner as I’d say down, I was being told to make the trek over to the C gates – typical, as just a few weeks after they stopped giving you £15 at Starbucks, I get my first departure from T5C in nearly three years. No big deal though as I wasn’t all that hungry anyway.
 photo IMG_3810.jpg
I made a couple of laps of the satellite to see what was around.
 photo _MG_0006.jpg
 photo _MG_0007.jpg
 photo _MG_0009.jpg
 photo _MG_0011.jpg
 photo _MG_0014.jpg
 photo _MG_0018.jpg
Upon returning to the gate, I saw a massive queue so figured it would be a good idea to join it. Boarding started a few moments later and I was welcomed by name and asked how I was by a friendly ground agent.
 photo IMG_3824.jpg
 photo IMG_3825.jpg
 photo IMG_3828.jpg
 photo BAlogo.jpg
BA916
LHR-FRA
May 2015
Airbus A320 / G-EUYB
Seat: 19F / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 19:35/22:10
Off Stand: 19:37
On Stand: 22:17

I took my seat, immediately followed by my two seat mates. The flight looked completely full.
 photo IMG_3832.jpg
 photo _MG_0019.jpg
As boarding was finally completed, the captain gave the usual welcome speech and announced a flying time if an hour and ten minutes. We pushed back a minute or two behind schedule and made a rough ride over to 27R. Once there, we had to wait for a string of heavies to depart before it was finally our turn.
 photo _MG_0025.jpg
 photo IMG_3842.jpg
 photo IMG_3846.jpg
 photo _MG_0027.jpg
The crew handed out the snack and drinks whilst I watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm on my iPad.
 photo IMG_3854.jpg
With around forty minutes to go, the first officer announced we had started descent. Seemed a little early to me, but I guess he knows more than I do on the subject. Meanwhile, the sun was setting behind us.
 photo IMG_3860.jpg
We descended through the clouds and the light faded completely.
 photo _MG_0028.jpg
It was then a great view of downtown Frankfurt before making reasonable contact with one of Frankfurt’s older runways.
 photo _MG_0030.jpg
 photo _MG_0036.jpg
Then came a lengthy taxi over to a remote stand where we arrived a little later than scheduled.
 photo IMG_3870.jpg
After a further ten minutes or so I made my way towards the rear exit and down the steps.
 photo IMG_3871.jpg
 photo IMG_3872.jpg
 photo IMG_3875.jpg
A bus tour followed before heading over to the Hilton for the evening.
 photo IMG_3884.jpg
 photo IMG_3886.jpg
 photo IMG_3888.jpg
 photo _MG_0037.jpg
The next morning, I paid a visit to the viewing deck.
 photo _MG_0052.jpg
 photo _MG_0054.jpg

Very pleased to see this one

 photo _MG_0056.jpg
 photo _MG_0065.jpg
 photo _MG_0073.jpg
 photo _MG_0081.jpg
 photo _MG_0084.jpg
 photo _MG_0085.jpg
 photo _MG_0094.jpg
 photo _MG_0110.jpg
 photo _MG_0133.jpg
 photo _MG_0146.jpg
 photo _MG_0155.jpg
 photo _MG_0156.jpg
 photo _MG_0164.jpg
 photo _MG_0179.jpg
 photo _MG_0185.jpg
Before heading off to catch my train to Cologne, after some essential shopping and lunch.
 photo IMG_3890.jpg
 photo IMG_3893.jpg
As my train was delayed by around thirty minutes, I headed downstairs to the lounge. Hardly a patch on any airline lounge, but it was better than a platform.
 photo _MG_0191.jpg
Finally on the train to Cologne:
 photo _MG_0192.jpg
 photo IMG_3929.jpg
A few pictures from my time in Cologne. Pretty much as soon as you exit the station, you’re faced with the massive cathedral.
 photo _MG_0193.jpg
Walking along the river
 photo _MG_0199.jpg
 photo _MG_0200.jpg
 photo _MG_0205.jpg
Paying a visit to the chocolate museum
 photo _MG_0206.jpg
 photo _MG_0207.jpg
 photo _MG_0208.jpg
 photo _MG_0210.jpg
 photo _MG_0214.jpg
Out at the cathedral once more
 photo _MG_0218.jpg
And my room at the Hilton, just a few steps away.
 photo _MG_0218.jpg
 photo _MG_0232.jpg
As usual, the best pictures come after dark
 photo _MG_0234.jpg
 photo _MG_0242.jpg
 photo _MG_0243.jpg
When it was time to leave, I made my way across to the station, where most trains appeared to be delayed. I jumped on one that said it was going to the airport, only for an announcement to be made after a few stops that I had to change to an S13 train. So I hopped off, only to find that was an S13. By the time I’d realised the train was leaving – so no option but to wait thirty minutes for the next one at a pretty remote station…
 photo IMG_3994.jpg
Upon finally reaching the airport, it was up to check in to grab a boarding pass. The agent didn’t say an awful lot, bit did do quite a bit of typing – eventually handing me one boarding pass for all three flights.
 photo IMG_3996.jpg
 photo IMG_3997.jpg
 photo IMG_3999.jpg
I then made my way through security, where for the first time ever I was told that my camera would also have to be screened separately. New rules apparently… Following this was a few steps to the Air Berlin exclusive waiting area – not quite a lounge but not quite the general waiting area either.
 photo IMG_4002.jpg
 photo IMG_4005.jpg
 photo _MG_0252.jpg
 photo _MG_0253.jpg
 photo _MG_0256.jpg
At around 10:00 this mornings ride pulled in. I was glad to see it was still the scheduled 737-700 as this is a new sub type for me. And also a new operator as this one is operated by TUI fly.
 photo _MG_0257.jpg
 photo _MG_0258.jpg
 photo _MG_0259.jpg
Boarding was announced, and I was the first on board – due to the fact there wasn’t a mass charge towards the gate. It was actually very civilised with everybody waiting their turn!
 photo IMG_4011.jpg
 photo IMG_4017.jpg
 photo ABlogo.jpg
AB6500
CGN-TXL
May 2015
Boeing 737-700 / D-AHXF
Seat: 18F / Economy
Scheduled: 11:05/12:10
Off Stand: 11:21
On Stand: 12:31

As I boarded, the cabin crew offered me a form to sign up to their Top Bonus program – but I didn’t see much point in taking one.
 photo IMG_4018.jpg
 photo IMG_4020.jpg
 photo IMG_4021.jpg
 photo _MG_0262.jpg
The cabin filled up very slowly but the flight seemed pretty full. The captain gave his welcome speech and mentioned that we were still waiting for some more passengers – shortly followed by an announcement saying their bags were now being offloaded.
 photo IMG_4025.jpg
As it turned out, one of the very few empty seats was next to me so I was fairly comfortable.
 photo _MG_0260.jpg
We finally did push back around fifteen minutes behind schedule, and then made a long taxi over to the runway – passing quite a few cargo jets along the way.
 photo IMG_4030.jpg
 photo IMG_4032.jpg
Luckily we were given an intersection departure so we didn’t have to go quite down to the end if the runway before departing.
 photo IMG_4035.jpg
 photo IMG_4036.jpg
It wasn’t too long before we were into the clouds and the view disappeared.
 photo _MG_0263.jpg
Service on this sector was more or less the same as what was handed out in my first AB flights back in 2013 – something “sweet or salty”.
 photo _MG_0267.jpg
 photo IMG_4041.jpg
Descent started as the clouds cleared- meaning there were good views of the area on approach.
 photo _MG_0268.jpg
 photo _MG_0270.jpg
 photo _MG_0272.jpg
 photo _MG_0273.jpg
 photo _MG_0274.jpg
 photo IMG_4055.jpg
On short finals, a gust of wind caught us, putting us somewhat off balance and leading to a very hard landing – possibly the hardest I’ve experienced.
 photo IMG_4056.jpg
It was then a brief taxi over to the terminal – and I was glad to see that we were arriving at the main terminal as opposed to the shed that I experienced last time I flew into TXL in AB. The AB chocolate hearts were handed out upon leaving.
 photo _MG_0276.jpg
 photo IMG_4062.jpg
As I’d arrived in terminal A, it was a short walk to the BA lounge, I did consider heading up to the viewing deck as it was such a nice day, but I figured as I’d been there but not visited the lounge here I’d go for the unknown option.
 photo IMG_4064.jpg
 photo IMG_4065.jpg
 photo IMG_4078.jpg
 photo IMG_4074.jpg
 photo IMG_4075.jpg
 photo IMG_4077.jpg
It was a little on the busy side, but luckily I spotted a side room with nobody in it. So grabbed a plate of food and set up camp there for the next hour or so.
 photo _MG_0277.jpg
 photo _MG_0278.jpg
When boarding was near I headed down to the gate. Despite there being a fast track, the layout meant that I’d probably upset a few people by using it – so I didn’t bother.
 photo IMG_4081.jpg
The hold up didn’t matter anyway, as pretty much as I cleared security the ground crew announced a forty five minute delay. So I headed up to the Exclusive waiting area, as the gate area was packed.
 photo IMG_4089.jpg
 photo IMG_4082.jpg
This time there was an airport security guard manning it and he demanded to see my card. I handed my BA card over and he was a little dubious. I mentioned that it’s all OneWorld so it shouldn’t matter, and he consulted a chart that was sellotaped to a post. A few moments later he let me pass through. It was a little bigger than the Cologne version but the offerings were still the same.
 photo _MG_0279.jpg
A few moments later, an A321 pulled on to stand and an announcement was made saying boarding would begin as soon as the passengers on board had left.
 photo _MG_0281.jpg
 photo _MG_0282.jpg
Boarding began, and once more I was the first on board. Although I was stopped in my tracks once I reached the aircraft do as they hadn’t quite finished hoovering.
 photo IMG_4090.jpg
 photo IMG_4092.jpg
 photo ABlogo.jpg
AB8568
TXL-ZRH
May 2015
Airbus A321 / D-ABCF
Seat: 29F / Economy
Scheduled: 14:15/15:40
Off Stand: 14:59
On Stand: 16:14

As boarding was completed, I once more ended up having the middle seat free despite it being a reasonably full flight.
 photo IMG_4094.jpg
 photo _MG_0283.jpg
The captain welcomed everybody and apologised for the delay, blaming the late inbound arrival of the aircraft and the fact that he was a little late himself arriving from Düsseldorf. He did mention a shorter than usual flying time though of just fifty minutes so we weren’t due to arrive too late. Lucky as I was meeting somebody in ZRH…
 photo _MG_0284.jpg
 photo _MG_0286.jpg

A flight I’d unexpectedly end up on a few weeks later

We pushed back and sped over to the active.
 photo IMG_4099.jpg
Upon reaching the runway, the captain could hardly contain his enthusiasm as the throttles were advancing as we were pulling on to the runway.
 photo IMG_4104.jpg
Unlike this mornings flight, it was clear skies throughout.
 photo _MG_0288.jpg
 photo _MG_0289.jpg
 photo _MG_0292.jpg
The crew started the service and this time they elaborated a little more on the “sweet or salty” line – introducing the snacks as a chocolate or potato chips.
 photo _MG_0293.jpg
 photo _MG_0290.jpg
Once this was done, there wasn’t too much flying time left – so I relied on Tom & Jerry on the overhead for entertainment.
 photo _MG_0294.jpg
We made a cloudy approach to Zurich before touching down a little softer than earlier.
 photo _MG_0297.jpg
 photo _MG_0299.jpg
 photo _MG_0300.jpg
 photo IMG_4126.jpg
 photo IMG_4127.jpg
A brief taxi to the B pier followed where I was met by Infodesk.
 photo _MG_0301.jpg
We spent the next hour or so chatting before she headed off home after a day at work and I ventured up to check out the OneWorld lounge.
 photo IMG_4137.jpg
 photo IMG_4138.jpg
 photo IMG_4146.jpg
 photo IMG_4147.jpg
I wasn’t planning on eating anything as I’d spent most of the day eating and drinking it seemed, but I had a hard job turning down the pasta.
 photo _MG_0302.jpg
 photo _MG_0303.jpg
After around thirty minutes I headed to the gate, which was down in the basement area.
 photo IMG_4151.jpg
There initially seemed to be quite a few people waiting around, but only once the LHR flight started boarding from the adjacent gate did quite a few people disappear.
 photo IMG_4153.jpg
General boarding began – no priority boarding here, unlike on the LHR flight.
 photo IMG_4155.jpg
 photo IMG_4157.jpg
 photo BACFE.jpg
BA8768
ZRH-LCY
May 2015
Embraer E170 / G-LCYG
Seat: 16D / Euro Traveller
Scheduled: 18:20/18:55
Off Stand: 18:26
On Stand: 19:00

I was somewhat half heartedly greeted at the door and I made my way towards the rear to take my seat.
 photo IMG_4158.jpg
 photo IMG_4160.jpg

One thing I don’t like about the BA E-Jet is the misaligned windows

Boarding was completed pretty quickly and it turned out this flight was pretty empty.
 photo IMG_4165.jpg
 photo _MG_0304.jpg
I decided to take a look at the inflight mag, but it appeared a dog had beaten me to it…
 photo IMG_4163.jpg
The flight deck gave their usual welcome although I couldn’t understand most of what was being said due to the poor sound quality of the speakers. I did make out the fact he was apologising for the delay though. What delay?
 photo _MG_0305.jpg
We pushed back before the LHR flight and made a very slow taxi over to the active.
 photo _MG_0306.jpg
 photo IMG_4169.jpg
Luckily, takeoff wasn’t quite as slow and we were off the ground within a few seconds.
 photo IMG_4177.jpg
 photo _MG_0307.jpg
 photo _MG_0308.jpg
 photo _MG_0309.jpg
Not too long after departure, the on board service began. There were no less than four options to choose from – a salmon salad, a pasta salad plus the crisps and biscuits found on the BA mainline domestic runs. I chose the pasta salad.
 photo _MG_0310.jpg
This was followed by the drinks run, where I chose a G&T.
 photo _MG_0314.jpg
With an episode of Family Guy for entertainment.
 photo _MG_0313.jpg
Nice low load this evening.
 photo _MG_0312.jpg
 photo _MG_0316.jpg
 photo _MG_0317.jpg
Not too long after it finished I felt the nose dip, so I figured we had started descent – so I ought to start paying attention again.
 photo _MG_0318.jpg
The captain came over the PA and mentioned that it was a pleasant evening in London, but from where I was sat, I wasn’t in agreement.
 photo _MG_0320.jpg
Descent continued until the rollercoaster ride began.
 photo _MG_0323.jpg
 photo _MG_0324.jpg
 photo _MG_0325.jpg
 photo IMG_4196.jpg
 photo IMG_4199.jpg
We touched down and pulled almost immediately on to stand.
 photo IMG_4200.jpg
 photo IMG_4202.jpg
Disembarking was delayed by around ten minutes due to the LX RJ100 next door starting up. When we were finally released, it took around five minutes from plane to the DLR station – aided by the fact LCY have installed E-Passport gates since my last arrival in December 2013.
 photo IMG_4206.jpg
 photo IMG_4207.jpg
 photo IMG_4208.jpg
 photo IMG_4210.jpg
 photo IMG_4212.jpg
British Airways: Standard. Nothing more to be said.
Air Berlin again offered a couple of pretty decent flights. It was a bit of a shame that they were both delayed but it didn’t cause any issues. The crew were friendly and the exclusive waiting areas were a good idea for an airline that doesn’t offer a business class product in Europe.
BA Cityflyer continue to show their bigger brother how it should be done, with a range of small but tasty on board catering choices – and can they really cost that much more than the pre packaged sandwiches found on board the main line?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: