Once I had returned from my trip to Australia, and booked my trip to the A.Net meet in AMS, I started thinking where I could go next. I looked around a few places of interest, most notably Madeira, but prices were more than I wanted to spend – much like Xmas, they were north of £300 return. Way too much for a Euro-Hop. I was chatting to somebody at work, and was telling them this and he reeled off a list of places – Spain… been there. France… been there – and recently. Then he said ‘I suppose you’ve done Belgium too’. Um, well yeah but not for a while, and only Brussels. Hmmmm. I knew CityJet ran their F50’s from LCY to ANR, so during tea break I took a look on their website.
So far so good. Rather than do a straight return though, I decided to take a look to see if Brussels Airlines still used their Avro’s on the BRU-LHR. They did, and again the price was much more reasonable.
And with that, a trip was born – it came in at a decent(ish) price, I got to log a new airport, a new type ( the F50) and visit a new city. Another bonus was that not only did it not contain any A32X’s or 737’s, it didn’t contain any Airbus’ or Boeing’s full stop! Or at least that was the theory…
During OLCI, The outbound flight didn't seem all that full:
I set off a little early so I could grab some breakfast, then made my way to the station for the the thirty minute or so journey to London Waterloo.
From Waterloo, it was the tube and the DLR over to LCY. As I arrived a little early, and it was a nice day, I took a walk out to the end of the runway.
I hung around for about ten minutes, but with not much going on, I headed indoors again.
Once inside, I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass before heading through security.
Once through, I grabbed a drink, watched a few of the movements and browsed the web on my iPad.
Once I was finished, I headed down to gate 22.
Fokker F50 / OO-VLP Spirit of VLM
Seat: 5D / Economy
Off Stand: 12:22
On Stand: 14:19
I was welcomed into the holding pen and took a seat on one of the toadstools, in front of there OO-VLP was waiting.
I caught a quick glimpse of the computer screen and saw that there were just 22 on board today - so a nice low load.
Boarding was announced a few moments later and I made my way across the Tarmac.
Things were delayed a little by somebody insisting that her huge bag would fit into the overhead locker, despite it clearly being too big. In the end, the crew member took charge and said it would have to go in the hold. I was welcomed on board by the one and only cabin crew member and took my seat.
Good legroom here
Soon after, boarding was completed and I managed to score a free seat next to me, as did most people in fact. The crew member announced a flying time of 45 minutes, but the flight deck didn't get in touch at all.
The safety announcements were completed and we made our way out to the runway.
There was a bit of a hold, until the engines spooled up, the brakes were released and we shot out over East London.
On the way up there were a few bumps until we cleared the clouds
Once we were clear, the crew member rolled the trolley to the front of the cabin and started the service. I asked for a G&T, but the crew member said the only alcoholic beverage they serve is wine. So I took a coke instead, along with some crisps. I was also offered tea or coffee, but declined.
Not too long after, we had crossed the channel and were flying along the coast.
The flight deck finally did get in touch - and simply said "20 minutes". A few seconds later, it felt like a parachute had come to from behind us, and we were heading firmly back towards earth again.
We made our approach and touched down a few minutes ahead of schedule.
The door was opened pretty quickly and I was out on to the Tarmac amongst all the other resting Fokkers.
Passport control was pretty quick and it was then out into a deserted airport to wait for a bus.
Annoyingly, the buses didn't go to the central station and there wasn't an option to take a taxi - because there weren't any. So I took my chances with the bus - once it eventually turned up.
I ended up a little nearer to the city, so headed off in the general direction of my hotel.
Around an hour or so later I finally arrived at the Radisson Blu.
I then went out to see what Antwerp had to offer, before meeting up with fellow a.netter MSS678 for dinner.
I’m led to believe this burger place is A.Net ANR tradition?
After arriving back in town, it was time for another brief walk.
After an interesting visit to Antwerp, it was time to head off to Brussels on the train.
After around 45 minutes or so, the train arrived at Brussels Central
Brussels’ most famous peeing resident
After a few visits to Brussels, this area is finally complete.
Sampling a couple of Belgium's most famous delicacies
A few hours later it was time to head off to BRU on the train from Brussels North.
Once I arrived, I grabbed a souvenir boarding pass from a machine.
2x3 seating… still the RJ (so far)
I Then headed up to the car park. I remember the views being better before however, so only stayed for a few minutes.
I headed through passport control and had a bit of a look around the shops.
I was tempted by a very reasonably priced MacBook Pro (£850), but having nearly everything in the iThings lineup I couldn't really justify it. Instead, I had a look through a few of the windows around to see what was about.
Once I'd seen what was around, I headed through security and up to the Diamond lounge.
The views were reasonable, but no good for photos.
The food selection was pretty good.
This was one of the better third party lounges I've been in. It wasn't too busy, had comfortable seats, free flowing cold drinks, a decent enough food lineup and a good enough view out of the window, even it it wasn't too great for photography. The only downside was that the alcohol options were a little lacking, but that didn't bother me too much.
The FID mentioned that there was a delay to my flight, but that boarding was also underway. Rather than run the risk of missing my flight, I reluctantly made my way down to the gate, even though if the delay was to be believed it was still a little early. I took the scenic route and saw this along the way.
Predictably, there were no signs of life outside.
Eventually, an A319 pulled in. So either a last minute change or we would be heading off to a remote gate. As it turned out, there was a last minute change of plane, and we were ushered down towards the A319. The plus side of this however was that all the B seats remained free.
Seat: 17A / B.Light
Off Stand: 17:16
On Stand: 17:13
I took my seat whilst the pretty busy flight filled up. There was an announcement of the flight details, however it was so loud on board I couldn't hear any of it.
A few moments later, the captain came on the PA and said the delay was caused by an aircraft change. The original one had a technical issue, therefore we had to wait for this one to arrive from Faro to operate this flight. He mentioned a quick flying time of 45 minutes.
I never knew Corendon had a Belgian arm?
We pushed back, the crew performed a quick safety demo and we made the short taxi over to the runway.
A few moments later we lifted off into the sunny skies.
After quite literally just a couple of minutes in the cruise, I got that parachute feeling again, and we were already heading back down to earth.
The crew performed their service run reasonably well, mainly because there didn't appear to be too many takers.
Ex Iberia? Turned out this one had spent most of its life in the USA.
Over the UK now
We flew past LHR, before spinning around on to finals.
Upon touchdown, we hit the brakes pretty hard in the last few metres in order to have a quick taxi over to our stand.
Despite the delay, we pulled on to stand just eight minutes late - and three minutes before we even left.
It was then through the endless corridors of T1 to passport control.
Passing a LOT classic along the way
I used the e-passport lane, although it seemed a little slower than the normal lane. Once I passed through, it was over to the central station for the coach home.
CityJet once more were pretty good, although I’m led to believe service has slipped slightly from previously.
Much the same can be said for Brussels Airlines. Their cabin was comfortable enough, much like my last trip on them. It was a little annoying I missed out on their RJ 100 (for the third time…) but at least they were able to find an aircraft to operate the service with minimal delay rather than cancel and cause a few issues.
My next series of reports will feature my trip to the USA and St. Maarten in August/September 2014: