Asia-Trip – AB,AZ,AF,NH,MU,KA,TG,RJ – Part 1 (Y)

Read this report on


Hello and welcome to my 6th trip-report, part 1!


This map and all other maps in this TR created with, copyright Karl L. Swartz.


This trip was not planned. Really! I had no intention to go on a holiday in 2012. I wanted to save up some money for future trips and had already planned to spend my 3 weeks off work in September 2012 at home, perhaps going on one or two fly-for-fun-trips for a few days or a short golf-trip. And what happened? In June 2012 Alitalias booking system offered us that incredible error-fare or fuel-dump-fare which a lot of other trip-reporters wrote about already. Here are two examples of airbuseric and grabrielchew. You’ll find more examples of the flyingfinn86 and others if you use the search function.
To make a long story short: You could book tickets from MXP to BRI or back with a stop in either SIN or NRT. And you could book these tickets for prices of a domestic fare within Italy. The downside was that you could not stay at either NRT or SIN, the time at the destination was not longer than 3-6 hours, depending on the booked flights. The round-trip to SIN was available for 130 EUR (170 USD) and the round-trip to NRT for 86 EUR (120 USD). BTW, as there is no intercontinental flight from BRI, all flights operated via FCO, making the NRT-flight a 3-stop “domestic” flight. The SIN-flight was a even crazier 5-stop flight routing via FCO and CDG twice, booking the long-haul segment on the AF A380.
Some a.netters booked the trip to NRT or the trip to SIN, but I was one of the crazy guys booking both trips for late November 2012. I just couldn’t resist booking two long-haul round-trips for 210 EUR (290 USD), especially because I haven’t flown long-haul since 2008. And to make it worse (in the eyes of the normal traveller) I booked both trips back-to-back with one night in BRI before leaving Europe again.

After booking both trips I was looking forward to a long weekend of flying, five days to be exact. But as the time passed I repeatedly thought how stupid it would be not to use the flights as a cheap one-way to Asia. So I pulled out one of my many prepared travel-plans and thought about how I could fit these flights into them. As I had booked the round-trip to SIN first, followed by the RT to NRT the only option was to dismiss the return to Europe and start my trip through Asia from NRT. I wanted to visit Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Hongkong and Singapur and I wanted to do it in less than 3 weeks. In the end I did not stay in SIN, but opted for staying a week in Phuket, Thailand to relax after two hard weeks of flying and discovering new cities for me. I spent about 10 nights on Kayak searching for the cheapest fare, most interesting flights and best hotels within my financial limits.

I won’t discuss my hotels here, but mention them later in the report, review them and show you some photos. Regarding the flights, I searched for hundreds of options, I really tried to get the most for my money. So I tried a lot of combined flights and multi-stop-flights, too. This is how I came up on a fantastic fare on MU routing NRT-PVG-PEK-HKG for just 210 EUR (290 USD). NRT-PVG-PEK was one flight number, but MU allows you to stay in PVG for multiple days, so this ticket was perfect for my plan, this way I got to see Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and Hongkong as planned. A bonus was the MU A333 on NRT-PVG.

Like mentioned before I first wanted to go to SIN from HKG and use the UA 744 between HKG and SIN. But as I found no affordable hotel near the beach in SIN I changed my mind and found a great all-inclusice deal in Phuket, so I searched for options to go there from HKG and the options seemed endless. KQ, EK, RJ and a lot of other carriers offer 5th freedom flights between BKK and HKG and most of them have interline/resale agreements with either TG, OG or OX to channel passengers to other airports in Thailand. I ended up spending some more money and decided to book tickets with TG via BKK. This offered me the option to fly the TG A380, 744 (twice) and A330.

Why four aircraft? Well, while booking a huge amount of flights for the trip and all of them in Economy I had decided to fly back to Europe in style and had booked myself a ticket on RJ in Business. And this ticket was cheaper when booked from HKG instead of BKK, despite being longer and stopping in BKK on the way to AMM. Additionally the round-trip on TG was cheaper compared to the one-way ticket to HKT. Again, crazy, what are the airlines thinking? Nevertheless, good for me, more flights, take-offs and landings for less money.

Four weeks later, when everything was booked I read an thread about the NH 787 on domestic Japanese routes, so I added a HND-ITM-HND round-trip on my arrival day at Tokyo for 130 EUR (170 USD). What a normal price compared to the AZ fuel-dump-fare. These were 21 flights, but MU decided to make it 22; four weeks before my trip they informed me that I was rerouted PEK-KMG-HKG. More interesting, I wasn’t complaining.

This is Part 1:



Not mentioned above is the outbound flight, but there was only one option anyway, as I needed to get a 11:00 AM flight out of MXP. So I booked the earliest possible flight with AB from TXL to MXP at 6:35 AM. It was available for just 48 EUR (65 USD) and offered me enough time in case of winter delays and to pick up my baggage at MXP and drop it off again at the AZ counters.

I had checked-in on the morning before for the AB flight, but could not check-in for all AZ flights. I parked my car at my company at 5:30 AM and was dropped off at ABs C-Terminal at TXL around 5:40 AM. I headed in side and dropped-off my baggage at the friendly AB staff (photo taken after baggage drop-off at 5:51 AM):

A hurried up and passed the security which took just under 3 minutes, passed the duty-free-area and arrived at my gate:

Seems like a light load, few pax waiting at the gate 10 minutes prior boarding-time:

Boarding started right on time at 06:05 AM, 30 minutes before scheduled push-back. All pax had to board a bus for a 90 seconds bus-ride to the aircraft which was parked 30m away. It took btw 10 minutes before the few pax had boarded the bus, so I took my time taking photos of the apron outside of the bus:

Here are some photos of my A320-200 from the outside, while waiting for the masses to clear the stairs; i wasn’t really in a hurry with that low number of pax. I love it that noone got an ego-trip and tried to stop me taking photos around the aircraft:


Date: 23 November 2012
Airline: AirBerlin
Flight: AB 8430
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Aircraft Reg: D-ABFG
Departure Airport: TXL / Berlin – Tegel
Arrival Airport: MXP / Milan Malpensa
Scheduled Departure Time: 06:35 / 06:35 AM
Actual Departure Time: 06:35 / 06:35 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 08:15 / 08:15 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 08:15 / 08:15 AM
Class: Economy
Seat: 09F (window)

The cabin on taxi-out, it took more than 10 minutes until everyone was seated, there seemed to be a huge percentage of inexperienced travellers onboard, families with little kids, who took forever to stow their hand luggage and find the right seats, very uncommon. Nevertheless, after being greeted by the cabin crew and from the flight deck afterwards, with a announced flightime of exactly 90 minutes, we pushed back on-time:

We taxied to the westernly end of the airport and took of in easternly direction, offering me a nice view of my hometown in the early morning hours, still under a cover of low, thin clouds, lightened up by the cities lights. This was the moment I won’t be seeing this city for the next 24 days, a great trip was lying ahead of me and I was hoping to everyting would work out as planned:

Climb-out of the Berlin area, still some stars visible at the sky, the towns and villages below lightened up, I love flying at night:

Shortly afterwards the cabin crew came around with the expected breakfast service, a tasty, but too soft pretzel, filled with butter and as always two OJs for me:

Recaro slimline seats and a row for myself:

The sunrise in the West:

Legroom, sufficient for a inter-European flight:

Just enjoy the view, a flight over the Alps, descending to MXP, wintertime, clouds hanging between some of the mountains, just wonderful:

Final descend into MXP, loved the North-Italian villages:

Touchdown and vavating the runway. Why is it always foggy in Milan?

A few parked aircraft, Livingston, Etihad A340 and a company 737-700:


My first time at MXP, the terminal looked very dated, but it turned out to be very clean and efficient, except for the restrooms. We were 5 minutes early at the gate and the baggage arrived after just 3 minutes, great! (North-)Italian efficieny?



Before my next flight I had to leave the secure airside area on the Ground level and took the elevator to the second floor which serves as the departure / check-in level at Malpensa airport. The AZ counters for my flight were still empty, no AZ staff around, as I found out the check-in counters open just 2 hours before scheduled departure time. I thought that this is very odd for a major airport, especially for the the busiest route in Italy between MXP and FCO.

As online-check wasn’t working properly I had little hopes the self-service machines would work any better. And I was right, again I only could print my boarding passes to CDG.

While waiting for the counters to open I took this photo of the apron with the AA 752 and AZ A330 being prepared for the next flights.

When the counters finally opened I could check-in my baggage, but again could not get a ticket or seat assignment for my AF-flight to SIN. I was told to check-in at CDG. Bummer…

Some more apron pics here, international remote parking with CZ 77W, DL 763 and a Monarch A330.

Close-up of the Swiss Jumbolino:

FIDS, Gate A06 for me:

Breakfast at the Golden M with five Hamburger plain, what a healthy morning!

Passing security, waiting of around 6 minutes, effiency again…

No gate change, still A06…

The AA 752 being pushed-back for her departure to JFK:

Passing through MXP which seems to be the epidome of a shopping mall with no windows at all outside of the gate-area:

Daylight! Gate A06 waiting area:

Some more apron views:

As soon as the AZ staff arrived at the desk most pax lined-up for boarding, despite boarding not being opened for another 5 or 6 minutes. I always find this behavior very odd, except I really want to board first or you are on a flight with no assigned seats. While boarding I noticed that at Gate A07 the next flight would be an IB flight to JFK via MAD, which seemed odd, too, because AA had a scheduled direct flight to JFK leaving 20min earlier from MXP. Is there no better option for the IB tag-on flight, an airport that is not served by AA or OW at all?


Date: 23 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 1019
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Aircraft Reg: EI-DSO
Departure Airport: MXP / Milan Malpensa
Arrival Airport: FCO / Rome Fiumicino
Scheduled Departure Time: 11:15 / 11:15 AM
Actual Departure Time: 11:20 / 11:20 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 12:30 / 12:30 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 12:30 / 12:30 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 05A (window)

Boarding started at 10:55 AM and while I walked down the aisle I noticed a familiar face sitting at seat 03F, it was our fellow trip-reporter roberts87. We said hello and arranged to talk at FCO. I had known he would be on the SIN-trip with me some month earlier, but both of us had already forgotten when the trip started. After boarding, the iconic MXP tower in the background:

A320 Enhanced, whatever that meant, at least the the PTV was showing nothing worth watching, just promo-videos for Italian regions.

TAP on the 9 o’clock position:

Soon after boarding pushback started just 5 minutes late. The captain had greeted us before and had informed us that there would be a short delay due to belly-cargo being late. He announced a temperature of 16°C at FCO, which was exactly 16°C above the temperature at TXL in the morning. Here we are lining up on runway 35L:


Excellent legroom:

Overview of MXP airport after our left-turn to the South:

While in-fight, the AZ cabin crew performed the drink service, offering water, tea and coffee for free. Some in-flight pics:

roberts87 himself, well, at least a small part of him:

Missing ceiling panel, perhaps someone pushed the call-flightattendant-button too often?

Interestingly there were five AZ captains onboard our flight, I guess that still a good percentage of the AZ crews live close to their former MXP hub. Descend into FCO:

Landing at FCO:

Parked and partly dismantled MD-88s, a sad sight:

The mobile stairs approaching:

My aircraft en detail after deboarding:





As agreed Robert and I met after our arrival at the terminal, Robert informed that he just got ST Gold and invited me to the AZ lounge. This domestic lounge offers some nice seating, computers, WLAN, drinks, nuts and some bisquits, what was all we needed for the next 2.5 hours. We chatted for 30 minutes before Robert had to do some work on his laptop. I spent my time chatting on facebook and surfing We ended our visit to the lounge by chatting another 30 minutes about the different airline FF programs before heading to the gate 10 minutes prior to boarding time at 14:55 (02:55 PM).

This is AZ land:

A good 5 minutes walk down to our gate:

Our aircraft at the gate:

Boarding at 15:05 / 03:05 PM, 25 minutes prior to departure. First for FFs and C class pax, afterwards for the normal cattle class pax:


Date: 23 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 330
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Aircraft Reg: EI-DSU
Departure Airport: FCO / Rom Fiumicino
Arrival Airport: CDG / Paris Charles de Gaulle
Scheduled Departure Time: 15:30 / 03:30 PM
Actual Departure Time: 15:30 / 03:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 17:40 / 05:40 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 17:41 / 05:41 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 10A (window)

Pushback dead on time at 15:30:

Another “enhanced” A320:

Legroom still okay, but tighter compared to the previous flight. Perhaps because they have more legroom in the forward rows?

The cabin while taxiing, nice colours, but I am missing some colourful contrast:

Well, they have plenty of busses here at FCO in case all air bridges brake down. Or is there a secret plan to open up a bus service between FCO and MXP?

Lininp up right into the late afternoon sun:

Take-off with some nice views of FCO:

Overflying the west-coast of Italy:

Even before we reached our final flightlevel I was asleep against the closed window. Closed? Yeah, because the sun was hanging low on the horizon the West shining right into the windows on the left side of our aircraft. I woke up for about 10 minutes while drinks and snacks were served, took the obligatory photos and went back to sleep right afterwards.

When I woke up the next time the purser was announcing that we had started our descend into CDG. The weather had changed, blue skies have become a grey mess, the sun had disappeared behind the horizon:

Approach and landing at CDG:

After a very long taxi to our gate we parked beside a company A319:


Long airbridge:

AF land with a single KL aircraft on pushback:

Terminal 2 at CDG is just wonderful, modern architecture, just a little bit too dark here and there:



After I had left the aircraft I went straight to self-service check-in where I met Robert again. We were both able to get our boarding passes for the AF flight to SIN, but not for the flight back a few hours later. Robert wanted to get some fresh air, while I wanted to explore the international part of Terminal 2 at CDG, because this was my first time here, except for a very short visit in 2009, when I flew on the AF380 between LHR and CDG (Link to this TR can be found at the end of this TR). We agreed to meet again when Robert has arrived at the AF Lounge. So I passed over from the short-haul terminal to the Skyteam long-haul terminal (2E):

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Inside the brand new L-pier of 2E, if you look at the ceiling it still looks like some work is unfinished. Some shops were still closed, too.

I went on to explore the terminal and take some photos of the AF heavies parked at the different gates, here the Queen of the Skies:

AF 777:

Brand new, modern terminal, with a lot of space and lots of amenities:

The FIDS, 4 hour and 40 minutes until departure:

Some ceiling work needs to be done here, even some cables hanging down:

While I enjoyed all the work being done around this AF A380, while it was prepared for departure, I bought and ate two poppy seed rolls at a shop right infront of this gate. When the A380 was pushed back I played two rounds of FIFA 11 at some PS3-desk (which was free btw) until Robert wrote a SMS that he had arrived at the lounge “AF Salon” and invited me to join him.

Thankfully I joined him upstairs in the lounge as his guest. We had a small dinner (well, not that small for me), took our time in the showers and chatted for about 90 minutes until it was time to leave for our gate:

Our aircraft being prepared for its long journey to SIN:


Date: 23 November 2012
Airline: AirFrance
Flight: AZ 2692
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Aircraft Reg: F-HPJA
Departure Airport: CDG / Paris Charles de Gaulle
Arrival Airport: SIN / Singapur Changi
Scheduled Departure Time: 23:20 / 11:20 PM
Actual Departure Time: 23:20 / 11:20 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 18:45 / 06:45 PM +1
Actual Arrival Time: 19:05 / 07:05 PM +1
Class: Economy
Seat: 12L (window)

Boarding had already started when we arrived at the gate, thanks to Roberts status I could use priority boarding, too. We had already noticed that there were only very few pax at the gate and after boarding it seemed to be a very light load on this day, probably less than 40% in Y. About three minutes before boarding was finished a young couple sat down in the other two seats in my row. Bummer, would I have to move now to get more space? Would I get another window seat? Robert and I had chosen seats right behind each other with a row of three for both of us, but someone must have assigned them the seats right beside me…

The huge wing with another A380 to our right:

When the sound for “boarding completed” hollered through our aircraft the couple to my left jumped up immediately and changed to a free row. YES! STRIKE!

The nearly empty main-deck Y cabin:

Beginn of our taxi, we had pushed back on time, but it took like 20 minutes to reach the runway, with multipe stops to let other aircraft path by:

Line-up and ready to go:

After the fasten seatbelt signs had been switched off the cabin crew walked around suplying the passengers with enough water for the rest of the flight. Because of the light load (at least I think this is the reason) everyone got up to three bottles of water. The inflight-map right after take-off:

More than 6500 miles to go:

It took about 45 minutes until dinner was served, that wasn’t overly long, but nearly too long for me, as I was very tired at this point. Dinner was great, it tasted excellent and a good example how Y class airlane food should be:

As soon as the the cabin crew had collected the trays I went to sleep, somewhere over Austria. And I didn’t get up until we had passed the East Coast of India. I woke up about five times and went to the restrooms two times, but overall I could sleep very well. That was relaxing and allowed me to enjoy the rest of the flight. I started with some good music until breakfast was served southwest of Thailands coast:

The breakfast wasn’t great, but sufficient. The bun was too soft, but tasty and it could have been more, but well, this is Economy. It was odd that they did no drink service, they just offered tea, coffee and the little portion of OJ that came with the tray. After the trays had been collected, I went around exploring the cabin, which looked very nice with the mood lightning switched on:

Just after I had climbed the rear stairs to the upperdeck the cabin crew informed us that we should take our seats due turbulence being expected. The seatbelt-signs were switched on for about 30 minutes while we flew through some light bumps. Missing gaspers on the AF A380, I really don’t like it that gaspers are optional at Airbus and so many airlines do not opt to get them:

About 90 minutes after breakfast we started our descend into SIN. Descent, approach and landing are always my favourite parts of a flight. In this case, this was one of the greatest approaches I ever wittnesed myself, the sunset, its reddish light, the tropic sea below, a new territory and airport for me, fantastic:

Anyone which industrial area we overflew here?

The famous multitude of shops anchoring in front of tha Singaporian Coast:

Final approach and landing, just love the light:

Vacating the runway to the left:

Passinger some SQ heavies, eeehmm, supers? Three SQ A380s and their *A coloursheme tripple-7:

Sunset over Changi Airport:

SQ A345:

AY A330:

When we arrived at our gate we were 20 minutes late, mainly because it took us so long to taxi to the runway at CDG. I waited until everyone was off the aircraft and as usually asked if I could get some photos from the flight deck. The friendly cabin crew asked the flight crew and they allowed me to visit the flight deck:


Because of my visit to the flight deck, I was the last person to leave the aircraft, here is the CX A343 at the gate to our left being pushed back:

It felt good to be in Singapore, my first time at SIN. Robert had waited for me and we made our way to the immigration to pick up my luggage and check-in for our flights back to CDG:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Because I had not filled out my immigration form onboard our aircraft, I had to do so just before passing immigration and then we went on through. SIN is a fantastic airport, despite a lot of flights arriving at this time and a lot of passengers everywhere we didn’t wait longer than 5 minutes to pass the immigration. Everything worked flawless at that airport:

Picking up my baggage, so far, the bags made it:



After we had picked up my bag we took the escalator up to the first floor, where departures are located at SIN. Here is the FIDS infront of the AF desks:

The desks were still closed when we arrived there about 3 hours and 15 minutes prior boarding-time. Two of three SkyTeam self-checkin-machines were not working, too, both of them showing a Windows XP error window. The was a very long row in front of the one machine working and after waiting about 20 minutes Robert was able to check-in using the machine, getting a window seat at seat 45A. At the same time he did his check-in a second machine got repaired by a technican, i tried to check-in there, but just got a message that I was put on the stand-by list. I panicked a little bit at that moment, because this would ruin all my next flights on this trip. When the desks opened another 15 minutes later I was one of the first persons to line-up for the Economy check-in. The agent told me that the flight was overbooked (what a contrast to the outbound flight). I told her I have to go to Paris or Bari this day, because I have get on another SkyTeam flight after just one night in Europe. When Robert came over to the desk I asked the agent if she could upgrade Robert as a ST Gold to Business Class and give me his seat, but Business class was overbooked, too. I don’t know what the agent did next, probably she removed another passenger from the flight, but I got my seat, what made me insanely happy. It was a middle seat, but still, everything was still going on as planned. Yeah!

As soon as I had my boarding pass Robert and I went on to search the Cactus Bar on the roof of one of SINs terminals. The airside area at SIN looks wonderful, flowers and green everywhere, a huge amount of passengers, but everything worked very coordinated. But I am repeating myself, see yourself:

The Cactus Bar, lovely place, to bad I wasn’t reacting too good to the tropical air at this moment, really was feeling too hot:

Some partial views from the tarmac:

After staying at the Cactur Bar for about 30 minutes I followed Robert to the Skyview Lounge, to which he had invited me again. Robert knew his way around, he had looked up where all the lounges were before going on the trip, so I just had to follow him. The first thing I did was taking another shower. Refreshed and relaxed I returned to our seats and had dinner. The available dinner menu was really excellent. A lot of choice and very tasty food, especially the satey sticks and chicken curry. While surfing on facebook I put one of camera batteries in the charger and placed it on the table beside us.

After 75 minutes we had to leave again, boarding had already started:

While passing security at the gate I realized that I had forgotten my battery and the charger in the lounge. And I had no time to go back. F#@K!!!

Our aircraft before boarding:


Date: 24 November 2012
Airline: AirFrance
Flight: AZ 2691
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Aircraft Reg: F-HPJA
Departure Airport: SIN / Singapur Changi
Arrival Airport: CDG / Paris Charles de Gaulle
Scheduled Departure Time: 23:30 / 11:30 PM
Actual Departure Time: 23:30 / 11:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 06:10 / 06:10 AM +1
Actual Arrival Time: 06:05 / 06:05 AM +1
Class: Economy
Seat: 21B (center)

In my middle seat, very tight for a longhaul aircraft, not much legroom for my rather long legs:

I got two friendly neighbors around my middle seat, a mother and daughter from Singapore travelling to Paris. Both did not want to change seats with me. Well, who takes a middle seat if he doesn’t have to sit there?

Seat design of the rather thick and comfy Economy seats, the IFE-AVOD-system still switched off.

Before push-back the two crew members walked up and down both aisles spraying some pesticide into the cabin, according to their announcement something mandatory by the WHO. Questionable IMHO as only very few airlines do this with passengers onboard.

We pushed back on-time, here we re lined-up and ready to go:


6668 miles to go:

After take-off the cabin crew greeted us onboard and like on the outbound flight supplied us with headphones and the menu for the flight. The usual stuff. But we got no water this time what I found to inconsistent and annoying on such a full flight and in a middle seat. That ment a lot of moving pax at night.

The inflight map right after take-off:

I listend to some music for 30 minutes, than started to watch Batman (The Dark Knight Rises). Somewhere around the first third of the movie it was dinner-time, I took the beef option and it was excellent. Again fantastic food by AF.

When my movie had finished I tried going to sleep, but just didn’t manage to do so. I really tried for a long time, multiple hours, but it didn’t work and when it worked I woke up again after 10 or 15 minutes. I gave up after 6 hours of flying and decided to watch TED, another good movie, absolutely funny. I think at one point I woke up my neighbors when I had to laugh and did so very loud. After the movie I went back to the lavatories, the crew had placed a cart there with drinks. I got some water and went back to my seat, we still had a good five hours to go and we were right over the Caspian Sea. And finally I fel asleep, right away and I didn’t wake up until the crew was two rows away serving breakfast.

Breakfast 80 minutes before landing, right after passing the border between Austria and Germany south of Regensburg. The bun too soft again, but still tasty:

The crew did a final drink service after breakfast had been served:

I passed the remaining 50 minutes chatting with my seat neighbors, discussing my trip and their holidays in Europe. Here we are on final approach, seen through the tail camera of our A380:

Just before touchdown:

Video of us landing, touching down and vacating the runway at CDG:

I was allowed to take my flightdeck phto again. Lovely cockpit, love the cameras and airport diagram being shown on the displays:


Robert and I took the airtrain from terminal 2M to 2K, where we had to pass immigration. That took us nearly 30 minutes, what a mess, that was a real letdown on the part of CDGs management:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Finally through immigration, waiting for Robert right behind me:



Robert and I walked from terminal 2K to 2C where the AF Arrivals Lounge is located. My first stop was the AF desk inside the lounge, I asked which flight I would take next, as I got tickets to BRI via BLQ, but that got changed about one month before my trip to two boring A320s via FCO. To my surprise that had changed again at a few days before departure, back to the route via BLQ. I never got a notification for any of the changed, I just found out by checking every few days. So it was to my even greater surprise when I got a boarding pass for CDG-FCO at SIN. Say what?! So CDG-FCO it was, as the agent in the lounge did found the same booking in her system. She printed the boarding pass for the leg between FCO and BRI, too, because that that wasn’t possible at the desk in SIN. Then I showered and then had breakfast with Robert. Afterwards I called the lounge at SIN, but they haven’t found my charger and battery and it wasn’t on the table anymore, too. They really tried to help me, but it seemed like I had lost the device, too bad. Because my second battery was empty now, too, I had to use my small backup cam. So the picture quality isn’t that great in the next shots (until I reached Tokyo):

FIDS inside the lounge:

After breakfast I thanked Robert for his company and bringing me into all the lounges. I left the lounge and the terminal, too, so I could get on the bus running between the terminals. On normal days the bus should take like 10 minutes between terminal 2C and 2F, but the was a huge traffic jam on the airport roads. I got off at 2E after more than 20 minutes on the bus and took the elevator down to the arrivales level, where I walked over the parking area over to terminal 2F. This took 2 minutes and probably would have been another 15 minutes on the bus with all the traffic this morning.

At the 2F I went up to the departures level again and passed security in under four minutes. Looks like a AZ mini-hub:

The part of 2F where my flight left:

Only Asian passengers at my gate. I found that very strange at first:

My aircraft at the gate:

Boarding began 15 minutes later than planned at 9:45 instead of 9:30. I was stopped by the gate agent, who told me there is a problem with my boarding pass. I had to find the travel receipt I got at FCO two days before. After the agend had scanned the receipt she printed me a new boarding pass to FCO and to BRI, too, both with the same seats. Whatever happened here, it seemed to be related to the three switches of my routing.


Date: 25 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 319
Aircraft: Airbus A321-100
Aircraft Reg: EI-IXO
Departure Airport: CDG / Paris Charles de Gaulle
Arrival Airport: FCO / Rom Fiumicino
Scheduled Departure Time: 09:50 / 09:50 AM
Actual Departure Time: 09:50 / 09:50 AM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 11:30 / 11:30 AM
Actual Arrival Time: 11:30 / 11:30 AM
Class: Economy
Seat: 18F (window)

Despite I had been hold up during the boarding process I was still one of the first passengers on board EI-IXO, so I had time to take these cabin pictures of this A321-100. You notice the card readers on all seats? Did they ever get used by AZ? Did they ever planned on using them? What is the sense of having them without having a phone or PTV in the backrest? Seems rather strange…

Comfy seats, which seemed to be a generation of seats somewhere between “old and thick” and “new slimline”.

So this was a “normal” A321, not an enhanced version:

Overhead PSU, oldschool, but at least with vents:

Legroom was okay, but not great. Because the middle seat was empty, I still had an enjoyable flight:

Photo by Robert, taken from the terminal while my aircraft was pushed back:

Interesting thing about the comic-style safety video, it shows an A380 flightdeck. Probably AZ will order them soon, just to spend their last money left over:

F-HPJA, the A380 which took me to SIN and back just a few hours ago:

A small Bombardier CRJ taking-off in front of us:

Next photos: take-off, seen through the totally dirty windows. Cleaning did not help, because they were dirty on the outside and between the windows and just blended in with the whole aircraft. The interior looked quite dated, it seemed like a thorough cleaning hasn’t been done for month, there was chewing gum on the backrest of the seat in front of me, coffee stains on the polstery and my swimwest was lying on the floor.

The old terminal 1 at CDG, haven’t been to this place since 1994, loved it back then, want to visit it again in the future:

An AA 763 (or 772?) taking off on the parallel runway:

Streching out. But why is there an IFE box under the middle seat? There are not PTVs at all! It seems like the aircraft got prepared for a different carrier…

The load-factor on this flight was around 70-80 percent. And about 90 percent of the pax were from Japan. I talked to the young Japanese lady in the Aisle seat and she confirmed my assumption that this was one of the “famous” japanese travel groups doing a trip throughout Europe to multiple capitals. We had a good talk and a good laugh when I told her I was flying to Tokyo tomorrow, while she would stay in Europe for another 10 days.

My snack and two cokes (because I am not into that red OJ which AZ is offering):

Inflight view, somewhere over Nice (i had slept 30 minutes before):

Descend, spoilers extended:

Landing, back at FCO. The landing was very good and soft btw!


Leaving my aircraft, via stairs again:

Like all AZ aircraft this one has a proper name, too: Piazza Plebiscito Napoli

Left-hand engine, it did a good job, well, at least it did not fail:



We got bussed back to the terminal and my first stop was the FIDS, my flight to Bari seemed to be on-time and would still leave from the designated gate, B19:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Inside FCO’s domestic/european terminal for departures to destinations within the European Union:

I went to the AZ transfer-desk, tried to check-in for the next day, but I had no success with the self-service machine and the desk agents told me that check-in could only be done at BRI:

I also asked for a camera shop to buy a travel-charger for my SLR camera, but had no luck, so I went to my gate, which was on the ground level at FCO. This ment another bus-boarding:

At gate B19:

Boarding started before boarding-time at 12:45, that was one whole hour before scheduled departure time. I was one of the last persons to board the bus, feeling very tired at this point, being hunted by the last night without sleep. Some photos of my aircraft EI-IMT:


Now already defunct Carpatair, YR-KMC:



Date: 25 November 2012
Airline: Alitalia
Flight: AZ 1613
Aircraft: Airbus A319-100
Aircraft Reg: EI-IMT
Departure Airport: FCO / Rom Fiumicino
Arrival Airport: BRI / Bari – Palese
Scheduled Departure Time: 12:30 / 12:30 PM
Actual Departure Time: 12:30 / 12:30 PM
Scheduled Arrival Time: 13:45 / 01:45 PM
Actual Arrival Time: 13:45 / 01:45 PM
Class: Economy
Seat: 20A (window)

The loadfactor was close to 100%, the very early boarding paid out as it took the pax an eternity to take their seats. The trip with the bus, getting onboard and getting everyone seated really took longer than 50 minutes on this A319. Never happened to me before. So we pushed back about 3 minutes late!

Wing view from my seat 20A.

Lining up on runway 25:

Take-off, passing FCO’s terminals:

We climbed out to the West, flying over the Western coast of Italy again:

Okay legroom again, but even tighter than the A321 before, with one of the very few free seats beside me:

Cabin view:

After flying out over the Mediterranean Sea we flew a long left turn and got onto a southeasternly course to BRI:

Rome in the background of this shot. Have not been to the city itself, unbelievable, but true. It is on my to-do-list…

The service was minimal again on this domestic leg, just water, coffee and tea.

Enjoying the beautiful Italian scenery:

Overflying some nice South-Italian farms:

You know, when watching this photo, I hear the music of “The Godfather” and expect some old black car to be blown up inside the outer walls of this farm:

Landing at BRI:

The terminal being extended:

Arriving at gate 305:

Some LCC aircraft in the background at BRIs bus-gates:

As usual at a terminal gate I waited for all pax to leave the aicraft and asked if I could visit the flightdeck. Always a nice place to take some photos:


My bag arriving. YES! It had made it back to Europe!

Palm trees, a sign of a warmer climate. Nice view when you leave an airport.

Waiting for the hotel shuttle to arrive:

Lobby of my hotel “Parco Dei Principi Bari”, which is just a 3 minute drive South of the airport. Was a very good hotel, worth its money. Great style, free wi-fi, free use of the spas pool area and free use of the public computers (which were actually working including the printer):

My room:


The spas swimming pool, fantastic area, with whirlpool and a lot of other amenities. The windows are facing West and I swam there until sundown. The pool area has a magical look at this time as all light is coming from outside and the colour-changing lights inside the pool:

For dinner I had a steak, grilled medium. This steak was the only negative thing I noted about the hotel, it was listed as a filet steak, but had a large “fat-edge” like a rump steak.


It was a good start of this trip to Asia. Well, I am back at Europe at this point, but it did not feel this way as I was on the road (or up in the air) for three days already. That night in a proper bed was worth much more than the price of the hotel for one night. A good point for a resumé of the past days:

The airlines:
– AZ was great, at least in relation to all the bad press they get. The crews were either friendly or neutral, but never unfriendly or bad. The personell at the transfer-desk was useless, but probably they really had no chance to help me. Their OLCI is not working properly with the codeshare flights, so this is a negative point about the whole experience. But just focusing on the important things, the aircrafts and the staff, I can only recommend to fly on AZ, especially if they have another error fare available, what seems to happen quite often with them.
– AF was fanstastic, too. Legroom was excellent on this longhaul configured A380. The crew performed in an excellent manner on the outbound flight and on an exceptable manner on the inbound flight to Paris.

The airports:
– TXL: I can’t say a bad thing about my home airport. It always was and still is a fantastic airport for direct flights. It useless for connecting flights, but it is perfect for the purpose it was built for.
– MXP: Old, could need a refurbishment here and there, but overall I had a very good experience there, everything was working on time and as it should
– FCO: see MXP
– CDG: loved the new parts of Terminal 2, very modern, efficient, the ways between the Terminals are little bit too long, but the overall experience was excellent
– SIN: probably the best airport I have ever been, too, efficient, fast, friendly staff, built for connections, superb atmosphere
– BRI: lovely little airport, for an airport of that size you can not expect much more, nothing to complain here, too

Will be continued in Part 2…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.