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Flying SN to the ILA

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  • sab319
    THF is indeed truly amazing, pity they want to close it down would be a shame to see it go lost

    Here's a selection of the pics Bram took, enjoy them!

    Leave a comment:

  • uy707
    Nice report. Nice gallery on landmark THF which was decades ahead when open to traffic in 35/36 !

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  • sab319
    started a topic Flying SN to the ILA

    Flying SN to the ILA

    Saturday 20 may the day had come I finally would be able to visit the ILA in Berlin and see the A380 in real-life for the first time. But since it was in Berlin, I first had to get there. After searching several possibilities i chose to fly SN Brussels Airlines from Brussels to Berlin Tempelhof. They didn't only offer the cheapest fare but also the chance to visit one of the most spectacular airports in the world, Berlin Tempelhof where the planes park under a roof.

    After having to get up early, Bram's dad (Bram joined me on this trip) picked me up to bring to the airport. After arriving at the airport we immediately went to the SN Brussels check-in area. We queued at a desk where there was only one group in front of us so we where checked-in in no-time. The extremely friendly agent issued us boarding passes for both the flight to Berlin as for the return flight. One odd thing I noticed is the fact that they tagged our carry-on luggage with baggage labels, if anyone knows why they do that, please tell me.

    With our boarding passes in hand we went through the boarding pass control where there was a small queue since the passenger in front of us had checked-in online and there where some issues with clearing him with his own printed boarding pass. Luckily they decided to open a second check-point and thus where cleared to got to Pier A through the catacombs in no time.

    in the Basement of pier a lines for security where extremely short, we just walked to a check-point where no passengers where, only staff which was extremely happy to see a passenger using their line. Security was over with in less than a minute, a personal record.

    since we still had some time to kill we walked a bit through the A-pier and watched departing traffic. at this point runway 20 was in use for both landing and take-off's. We sat a while in the gate area of A72 which offers an excellent view of the threshold of rwy 20 before we went over to our gate A59. when we arrived there's was no plane in sight at our gate so with every SN plane turning onto the taxiway before our gate we hoped it would be our ride.

    In the end OO-DWC turned up, an RJ100 while the flight was originally scheduled to be operated by (a rather rare for SN standards) Bae 146-200.

    Flight SN2581
    Departure Brussels (scheduled) 09:35 (actual) 09:35
    Arrival Berlin Tempelhof (scheduled) 11:00 (actual) 10:50
    Seat 12F
    Operated by Avro RJ100 OO-DWC c/n E3322, delivered to DAT (Delta Air Transport) on 27/02/1998

    Boarding started at 09:10 and was completed in no-time thanks to the light load. Because of the AA code-share there where a few Americans onboard this flight too, with their typical large carry-on bagagge and they where of course assigned seats under the wing where the tiny overhead bins are...
    Good thing the flight wasn't packed so they could put their carry-on's a few rows back.
    The seats on these flying chickens are extremely soft and comfortable and offer plenty of legspace, I also had the impression they where slightly wider than the average Y-class seat. Another special feature on these planes is the fact that the window blinds are made up of 2 parts, one above and one below which has probably something to do with the curvature of the fuselage.


    Push-back occurred right on time, during which the extremely friendly purser read the safety demo performed by the flight attendant. Which is performed only in English at SN and not in our local languages Dutch and French which is a bit odd...

    After a quick taxi we turned onto runway 20 and made a rolling take-off, rotating in no time. Climb-out was a bit bumpy because of the bad weather, but once we broke though the clouds the flight smoothened out and we where heading for sunnier places.

    After a while in-flight service started and we received our Brussels Bistro boxes containing a tasty piece of apple pie and water. The crew served other drinks separately and I chose a coke. The snack was sufficient for a flight of this length and time of day (too late for breakfast, too early for lunch).
    to give an idea of the meal you can check this picture:

    All too soon we started descend into Berlin, so it was time for the crew to come around with the typical Belgian chocolates before landing.

    During descend we could already see that the weather in Berlin was way better than in Brussels, and that we would have a nice day. Approach into Tempelhof is always a unique experience. THF is located in the middle of the city, which means there are buildings all around it. During approach all those apartment blocks come closer, closer, closer, closer and closer until you are on the runway. Pretty spectacular especially combined with quite some crosswind through which the pilot had the fight his way down.
    The approach alone is worth it to fly into THF once in your life.
    Because of the short runway the Avro showed off his braking power to make sure we would be slow enough to turn off the runway at the end. after a short taxi we parked under Tempelhof's famous roof and headed to the magnificent and interesting terminal building.

    After walking through the impressive main hall we exited the airport and went to see if the direct ILA bus shuttle would be something interesting. But since it only left once an hour we decided to go by U-bahn and thus saw a bit of the enviroment of THF after which we could say that it didn't look like an airport at all.

    Unfortunately time to return came way too early, especially when visiting something as interesting as the ILA. We headed back to THF using the U-bahn again and arrived there an hour before departure. We walked around in the main hall for a bit watching the airline offices and went into a bar so Bram could eat and drink something. Here you could clearly see security isn't the highest priority at THF, even though the Bar was landside it was only separated from the airside by a glass wall with a door in it, right after security...

    Here in THF security was a breeze aswell with security staff being happy to see some passengers pass by (THF is a rather quiet airport)

    We made our way through the small corridor to the small gate area of gate A4, where we could see OO-DJG waiting to take us back to Brussels.

    Flight SN2586
    Departure Berlin Tempelhof (scheduled) 17:15 (actual) 17:15
    Arrival Brussels (scheduled) 18:40 (actual) 18:27
    Seat 3A
    Operated by Bae 146-200 OO-DJG c/n E2180, delivered to DAT (Delta Air Transport) on 24/12/1990

    this flight was scheduled to be operated by an RJ85 (originally OO-DJS was scheduled), but had a last minute equipment swap to a Bae 146-200.

    Once again boarding went fast, and i had the honour to sit in the first row of Economy class, in one of the rows that could be used as business class aswell, meaning a lot of legroom. I could fully stretch my legs and didn't even touch the seat in front of me. The load factor in this flight was about 95% in economy but non-one was travelling in business class, so the 2 first rows remained open.
    This flight Bram was lucky enough to get a jumpseat, so I'm sure he'll tell you more about his experience himself .

    Once again pushback and the usual safety lecture followed before starting our long taxi to the active runway 27L. At the runway the plane backtracked a bit to make sure it was at the end of the runway. Than it put on it's brakes, engines to full power than releasing brakes and off we went. This was surely one of the most powerful take-off's I experienced, but this is needed of course because of the short runway at THF. even the small Bae used the entire runway to get airborne, immediately followed by a beautiful panorama of Berlin on take-off.

    After we reached cruising altitude meal service started by distributing the Brussels Bistro boxes. this time they contained tasty 2 sandwiches (Bacon-egg and emmental-carrot), the usual water and a small "speculaas". (similar to this, but without the wine and candy)
    Event hough it looked quite small the meal was nice and filling for a flight of this length. This time the crew served the Belgian chocolates after the meal service instead of before the landing (different crew, different approach I guess).

    After the meal I enjoyed the nice views of clouds below us and all too soon we where descending into Brussels. By now winds had changed and we landed on 25L. Since the runway in Brussels is slightly longer than in Berlin the plan could slowly slow down after a nice fully manual landing of the extremely skilled pilots.

    Since this was the plane's last flight of the day we parked at a remote position on the place where the former pier c used to stand. We where bussed to the Terminal schengen arrivals at the main terminal building, which saves us a big walk compared to docking at the A-pier
    Unfortunately this was the end of our extremely nice SN Brussels Airlines experience.

    I recommend SN Brussels to everyone since it is a truly top-class airline with a very good economy class service and certainly worth to pay a bit more for. I will certainly fly SN again in the future and I hope that their merger with Virgin Express doesn't mean they will reduce service but keep their current outstanding customer service.

    I hope you liked my report, comments and remarks are always welcomed!

    P.S.: more pics will follow