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Another weekend, another trip – this time I would be traveling to Amsterdam. After researching destinations earlier in the year, Amsterdam was one that was high on the list, due to it being an interesting destination, having a good spotting terrace and from what I have seen, a decent airport too. There was only one way I wanted to get there – with KLM!
This was due to the fact I could catch the F70 and a next generation 737 – both new types for me. August seemed like the best time to travel as that would be when the weather would be at its best (in theory). Only downside would be the potential high cost due to it being the summer holidays, however this wasn’t a problem in the end. The most reasonably priced option was to fly out on the only F70 flight of the day from LHR and back on one of the last flights of the day, the following day. The problem with this was that it would be quite a late arrival into AMS, so therefore no realistic chances of getting much done when I arrived. Therefore I thought it would be a good idea to book an airport hotel – the CitizenM at Schiphol.
As usual it would be the National Express coach getting me to the airport for an expensive £19.50 return. And that doesn’t even get me to my final destination. If I wanted to book a ticket to Terminal 4, it would involve changing at Terminal 5 and waiting 40 minutes for another coach for the 10 minute journey… oh and charging me an extra £5 for the privilege. The quicker and cheaper option was to change at Heathrow Central and catch the free and more frequent Heathrow Express train over to Terminal 4 instead.
The next stage in the process was to check in online. Must admit I like the way you can change your seat as many times as you want whilst online check in is open, so if you get an unwanted seat mate, you can move elsewhere!
Once this was complete, my boarding pass was issued and I noticed I had secured seq.1
Unusually for one of my trips, departure was late in the day due to the only F70 flight from LHR departing at 18:20. Therefore due to KLM’s 30 hour check in, I was able to do so for my return flight just before I set off.
Just afterwards it was time to head off to the local station to catch the coach to the airport. The afternoon coach was certainly better than the first one of the day – it even offered free Wi-Fi!
Just as the coach was leaving I noticed it was getting quite breezy and there were some mean looking clouds around – which would mean some interesting conditions to fly in! And just a few moments later the heavens really opened reducing the speed of the coach to around 30mph on the M25 as it was more resembling the river Thames by now! There were also a couple of lightening bolts and claps of thunder thrown in for good measure too.
Luckily by the time the coach had arrived at Heathrow, the weather had cleared up a bit, so I didn’t get too wet! Definitely a very eventful trip already and I was only 35 minutes in!
I was interested to see how terminal 4 looked these days as the last time I travelled to/from there Concorde was still in operation! But first, I would have to pay a visit to Heathrow central station in order to catch the Heathrow Express over to terminal 4.
Once at Terminal 4, as expected, it had changed beyond all recognition from what I remembered. Annoyingly, I couldn’t see any actual KLM check in desks to get a proper boarding pass from – just self serve check in machines and a line for bag drop – so I made do with that and got a thermo paper type.
Security was the usual affair – full of people not really knowing what they were doing – including the person in front of me proceeding to unpack their bag and place every item in a separate tray…
Once through, nearly all the shops, gate areas etc. had also changed completely from how I remembered it. So I went to explore. Luckily one of the parts I remembered the most remained – the various windows throughout the terminal allowing views across T3 and runway 27L.
Whilst on my wonders I spotted my plane taxiing in.
Then it was off to find somewhere for some dinner. The tried and tested Garfunkel’s.
Then I headed back down to take a few more pics out of the window at the end of the terminal, as I suspected this would be where my flight would be departing from.
Just afterwards gate 15 flashed up. I also noticed somebody else snapping pictures and taking down numbers sat just next to me – another a.netter??
Wonder why there’s 2 KLM flights within 10 minutes of each other?
25 August 2012
Fokker F70 – PH-KZI
Off Stand: 19:23
On Stand: 21:24
Boarding started pretty promptly at 18:00
When I reached my seat, I was immediately asked by the guy sat opposite if I wanted to swap… Erm no sorry, I want the window.
Shortly after boarding the heavy rain that had made an appearance earlier re appeared.
At 18:25, the jet bridge pushed back and the captain came over the PA, first making an announcement in Dutch and then in English. And unfortunately the news wasn’t good. We were all ready to go however due to the severe weather Heathrow was closed for the next hour, so all we could do was wait. And once we were underway, there was likely to be more delay due to the backlog of departures. Oh well, guess there’s nothing that can be done except wait. Much like Gabriel did on his way back from Glasgow. Although unlike Gabriel’s trip back from Glasgow, the cabin crew were nowhere to be seen, which was a little annoying as I was getting quite thirsty.
It seemed as though everybody was in the same situation however as our neighbor was also sat at the gate, with it’s jet bridge detached.
The load seemed pretty high – after initially having a seatmate, they moved further forward and I couldn’t see any other spare seats, although I think there may have been a few in business class.
Shortly after, another KLM Fokker F70 pulled in alongside – funny, as when I booked this flight it was 737’s all day except this flight, and yet the previous flight was operated by an E190.
At just past 19:00 local the captain appeared at the front of the cabin to make an announcement. It was first in Dutch then in English. Again it wasn’t good news. He firstly apologized for the delay, and followed up by saying that things were going to get more interesting still. We had been delayed by a further 50 minutes and therefore the current crew would be out of hours by the time we were airborne. Although, he followed up by saying that luckily the crew of the F70 that had just arrived next to us would be taking over this flight shortly. However there was still a long delay – although apart from the brief pour down nearly an hour before, the weather had brightened up – so not too sure why the weather was still being blamed?
Not long after, the relief crew boarded and the original crew left.
At just after 19:15 local, the English captain came over the PA and said we had just been given clearance to push back and start – phew! Cruising altitude was given as 24,000 ft. and a flying time of 45 minutes was also given.
And at just after 19:20, we did exactly that. The engines were started, and we made a quick taxi out to 27L, and pushed our way to the front of the queue. At just before 19:35 we were off into some dodgy looking skies. To be honest being sat at the back of this little Fokker wasn’t as loud as I was expecting.
The cabin crew seemed a little slow at getting the service started. In fact I was having my doubts weather we would be getting any service at all due to the short flight time. I did see a couple of trays of goodies go towards the front eventually however so I remained optimistic!
Eventually the ‘meals’ were handed out.
Then it was time to descend. Due to the bad weather, this flight was much like my flight between Glasgow and Belfast last month – entirely in the clouds. I did manage a couple of snaps however.
Descent into Schiphol started at 19:56 UK time, and things got a bit bumpy. I guess the weather in Amsterdam wasn’t any better than in the UK.
The Dutch first officer confirmed this a couple of minutes later and confirmed we would be landing on the Polderbaan in around 15 minutes.
Landing was at 21:15, and it was probably one of the smoothest I’ve experienced. There was no bump at all. Following this was a lengthy taxi in to the Fokker farm.
Why am I always the only person to pay attention to the seatbelt sign?
Retro seating on this Fokker
Then it was onto a waiting bus. As I was disembarking, I noticed the first officer standing at the flight deck door, however on this occasion I didn’t ask for a flight deck visit as we were running late – all I did do was compliment him on the very smooth landing, to which he thanked me and said he would pass along the compliment.
Security was an easy affair, although I’m glad I didn’t have any bags to collect as the reclaim area looked pretty busy!
I had a brief look round the terminal, then made my way over to the hotel.
It was very futuristic! Self serve check in presented me with a key and a receipt letting me know my room number.
And the room itself, although small, was certainly very different to anything I’d stayed in before!
The entire room was controlled by this remote.
Had a good view too
I then went downstairs to grab a treat to have whilst enjoying one of the movies included in the price before settling down for the night.
Bit like an airline lounge – except you have to pay!
The first thing I did on Sunday was grab the camera and open up the blinds.
This Continited jet was being very rained on
I think SkyTeam have the best looking logojets.
Then I took a look at the weather – I had originally planned to go up to the panorama terrace in the afternoon, but as there was a thunderstorm forecast, I thought it might be a better idea to go sooner rather than later.
At 09:00 ish I checked out and headed back to the airport.
I was amazed at how many DL flights there are to AMS. I counted 10!
List of airlines using AMS
Then it was off into town, as it had started clouding over.
Arriving at Amsterdam Centraal
Once I reached the city, the heavens really opened.
Once it calmed down a bit, I left the station only for it to tip down even more about 10 minutes later, and leaving me to take refuge in a bus stop. Although I still ended up getting soaked in the process. Luckily after that the weather cleared up a bit and I was able to take a few more pictures.
Just before the massive downpour
This version was better – less tourists climbing on it…
After a tiring (and wet) few hours walking round Amsterdam, I decided to head back to the airport.
I decided to head through to check in and get myself a proper boarding card, although my mission failed again. Seems like KLM only offer self serve check in machines at all destinations now. The boarding card I did get though was a bit more interesting today though. One thing I didn’t like though was something that flashed up on the machine – I decided to take a look to see if I had a seat mate and a message came up saying that it wasn’t possible to change seats as there weren’t any available. So it looked to be a full flight.
Then it was a quick look at the [email protected] shop – they didn’t have what I was after though.
As it wasn’t raining I decided I would pay another visit to the panorama terrace, as well as seeing what the airport had to offer.
Kicking up a lot of spray
G-DOCA – The oldest member of BA’s 737 fleet
I stayed for around 45 minutes, however there wasn’t too much going on, so I decided to head through passport control to see what was there – quite a bit as it turned out. The complete opposite experience of Belfast city that I had a few weeks ago!
After grabbing a quick bite to eat I headed down to gate D10. Security checks were carried out at the gate – I’m undecided weather this was a good or a bad thing to be honest.
26 August 2012
Boeing 737-800 – PH-BXV
Off Stand: 20:46
On Stand: 20:58
The gate opened on time at 19:25, however I couldn’t help but notice that something important was missing…
A few moments later PH-BXV pulled onto stand.
Panorama terrace from the other side
The holding pen didn’t seem overly busy and I was hoping that the earlier message saying there were no spare seats was a false alarm. I was also hoping that tonight’s flight would be less eventful than last nights. Unfortunately for one person it would be – I noticed an ambulance pull up, and somebody was taken out the back of it on a stretcher and loaded onto the flight shortly after the previous passengers had disembarked.
As time went on, the holding pen filled up. Boarding was slightly delayed due to having the stretcher on board with us. Pre boarding was finally announced at 20:15. I was amazed at how many sky priority passengers there were – almost the entire aircraft in fact!! It was also announced that there was a 20 minute delay as expected departure time was now 20:50. Interestingly there were no further boarding calls made – I guess they didn’t see the point as most passengers had already boarded.
First impressions of the 737-800 were that it was very roomy, although I might just be imagining that due to all the regional jets I’ve been flying lately. Made a nice change to be able to stand up without banging my head on the storage bins either way! Legroom was about average.
We pushed back at 20:46 and made a long taxi out to the Polderbaan. We pushed in front of and F70 and took off at just after 21:00 local.
All 5 of the crew were quicker at getting going compared to last night, and they began with handing out landing cards. I thought this was unusual for and inter Europe hop, but remembered I had seen a lot of China Southern boarding cards in the holding pen, so I’m assuming there were a lot of connecting passengers.
There was a choice of ‘meal’ on tonight’s flight.
At 20:25 UK time, the engines spooled back and the nose was heading in a downward direction. The flight deck hadn’t advised of any delays at this point, but from experience Heathrow is a pretty busy place on a Sunday night. Shortly after, the flight deck came over the PA and amazingly announced that it was quite quiet this evening. However as we would be landing on runway 27R, he did announce a long taxi to stand, and expected to be on stand by 21:00 local. There goes my chance of catching the 21:15 coach!
Looks like there’s some sort of event going on down there?
As promised, we touched down at 20:50 and pulled on to stand 8 minutes later.
The one and only VS A346 in the current livery
Also as promised Terminal 4 was very quiet. I was amazed at how quickly I got out – even quicker than LCY in fact. When I turned my phone on, I noticed KLM had sent me this txt:
Good idea in theory although not much use once you’ve just got off the plane at your destination. I also had an email saying a similar thing.
Unfortunately I still wouldn’t make the earlier coach home as I’d have to catch the Heathrow express over to Heathrow central.
The only part of T4 that’s the same as I remember!
Whilst I was on the train, a friend of mine txt me saying he had followed my flight for the entire duration on flightradar24, and sent me a couple of pics!
Then it was up to the central bus station for the coach home.
Things appear to have changed here in the last couple of months. Before the coach used to depart from this area:
But now they all appear to use the central coach station:
Once again it was a higher quality coach than I was used to. Hopefully they have phased out the older type and would be using the newer type on all future services. Hopefully though they don’t put the price up.
The ride home was made less interesting by some guy telling anybody who was conscious about his trip to everywhere in eastern Europe then his project at work. After a long 45 minutes I arrived back at the station and made the 10 minute walk home.
And that brings to an end to another trip. Bit hard to have an opinion on KLM as the flights were so short although they didn’t seem any better or worse than the likes of BA/LH.
The hotel at Schiphol was very futuristic – a bit too futuristic when the remote control battery died and I was sat in darkness while it charged up! It was maybe a bit pricey but the location and facilities were good.
And Amsterdam I found hard to love although that was mainly due to the bad weather. If it had been sunny my opinion would probably be different. Seems like a good excuse to go back though.
And whilst I was waiting for my coach I decided to get a sneak preview of my next trip in just a few weeks.