I am sitting in the lounge at Zürich airport feeling rather excited, I must say. I am about to board a KLM flight to Amsterdam. Admittedly, there is nothing much really to get excited about there. But it is the next flight from Amsterdam that I am really looking forward to. For two reasons. First of all, this shall be my 1000th flight ever, quite a milestone, me thinks. And as faith would have it, the mighty aviation geek gods have decided to look upon me with favouring eyes.
From Amsterdam I am travelling with Tarom to Bucharest. Originally a Boeing B 737-300 should have operated the flight. But there appears to have been a last minute aircraft change and now, instead, I shall be travelling on a veritable veteran, the granny of all Airbuses, so to speak. Yes, after a hiatus of – I am not quite sure how many years – I shall finally set foot on an Airbus A 310-300 again. A very worthy aircraft to celebrate my 1000th flight on.
No need to worry though, I will not bore you with an agonising trip down memory lane of my aeronautical exploits that will leave you feeling comatose and me feeling decidedly past my sell by date. I will also refrain from giving you yet another KLM trip report. And so, my narrative will begin as I step of the plane in Amsterdam and make my way to the D concourse for the connection Bucharest.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
We arrive in Amsterdam with a bit of a delay. In fact, the aircraft taking me to Amsterdam already arrived in Zürich with a slight delay. But then four passengers who had already checked in for the flight failed to turn up so eventually their luggage had to be offloaded.
All in all, by the time I enter the terminal building in Amsterdam it is already 11:25. My onward flight to Bucharest starts boarding in five minutes.
I received both my boarding passes for the flight to Amsterdam and the onward connection to Bucharest when I checked in this morning in Zürich. I am travelling with hand luggage only.
My flight will be departing from a gate on the D concourse, which means that I will have to go through immigration and then passport control again. From the bus drop off point to passport control it is only a five minute walk.
Location: The non-Schengen Crown Lounge is located above the F gates, if you are walking at a leisurely pace it may take you about ten minutes to reach the D gates.
Type of Lounge: Dedicated KLM lounge.
Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, quiet rooms, work stations, hot and cold snacks, bar.
Internet: Free wifi, the code changes daily and is displayed in various locations throughout the lounge.
No time to visit the lounge this time though. Got a plane to catch you know…
A leisurely walk down the length of the D concourse I arrive at D53, from where my flight will be departing. The security check in done at the gate and by the looks of it, there would be a separate queue for SkyPriority passenger. However, but the time I finally arrive at the gate, there is barely anybody left there anyway.
I take a few pictures of this very special aircraft taking me on this very special journey – at least for me. But the gate dragon is obviously totally oblivious to any of this, that this is the granny of all Airbuses and that I about to embark on my 1000th journey.
Configuration: 2 + 4 + 2.
Seat: I am sitting on 18A.
Facilities: Reading light, ashtrays, plug for earphones, there are no air vents.
I must say that despite its age, the aircraft appears to be in pretty good condition. It is only little things that give away her true age, things like the monitors displaying the flight information. Forget about flat screens, here you have those heavy old school tube monitors.
But apart from that, leg space on this bird is truly excellent. Before we boarded I was worried for one horrible moment that my colleague would eventually end up with deep vein thrombosis with his longs legs, but in fact there is more than enough space to stretch out. Of course it helps that the aircraft in no more than half full.
There are pillows and blankets available in the cabin.
Another thing that strikes me about this aircraft is the noise, which is different to what you get on the younger Airbuses. On this bird, you can hear the sound of the brakes be released, the motor driving the flaps sounds, well, like a motor really.
There are seven cabin crew working the Economy Class cabin.
The crew seem friendly enough and quite willing to engage with the passengers. They are also very attentive. During the drinks service, the flight attendant asks me what I am having. I ask for sparkling water. When she realises I will not be having any alcoholic drinks, she asks me if then perhaps I would like a second cup of water, which I gladly accept.
Pre-meal drink: No.
Delivery: Trolley service.
Type of meal: Full hot meal.
- Sweet and sour chicken with vegetable rice.
- Bread roll with butter.
- Some tasty Milka chocolate thing.
- A selection of hot and cold drinks.
I think I rather like the way the meal is served on Tarom. Every passenger receives a plastic bag containing all the items except the hot meal. The idea obviously being that the bag should be used for waste once emptied. The hotmeal is served separately, of course.
The meal serves its purpose, although I must confess that once I have finished, I am still feeling quite hungry. But I guess that is not really Tarom’s fault. Ever since I started doing more sports I tend to need more food. In fact I feel hungry most of the time. But this will have to wait until we are on the ground in Bucharest.
We land. And to add the icing on the cake, we are deplaning via stairs, instead on an airbridge. I always prefer this as it give you a chance to glance at the machine you have just travelled with at close quarters.
We go through passport control and just as we reach the conveyor belt for our flight, the suitcases have already started arriving.
GETTING INTO TOWN
Journey time: About 20 minutes.
We are picked up in Bucharest by the company for which we will be running the course in Bucharest this week. The journey to the hotel is only about 15 kilometres, depending on traffic it should take between 20 minutes and half an hour.
All in all this way a great flight, in fact I think it was certainly worthy of the occasion. I liked Tarom a lot, much better even than on my previous flight with them. I found the crew friendly, hospitable and very attentive. And the cabin really was very comfortable. And now for the next thousand…