FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Pieless in the sky

Posted in England by folkestonejack on October 11, 2016

One of the strange delights of a flight for me has always been the reassuringly familiar performance of the cabin crew in serving up a meal from their metal trolleys. It is, perhaps, a link to a more glamorous age of travel that I know has long gone but which still has a degree of magic to it.

A British Airways airbus A319 and A320 at Gatwick earlier this year

A British Airways airbus A319 and A320 at Gatwick earlier this year

The serving of food on flights is one of the great rituals of a full-service flight and ridiculous as it sounds, to me it is a part of the magic of a holiday that starts when you step on board a plane. I know I am not about to have the most exciting culinary experience of my life and yet I really enjoy the excitement of being served up a random meal and indulging in a momentary distraction from flight boredom.

I am relieved to see that I am not alone in this strange liking for the tray of delights as recent articles in the press (such as The glory days of airline food are behind us, but it’s painful to let go and I love plane food. Please British Airways, don’t take away my foil-wrapped fun) and blogs like Inflight Feed attest.

The news that British Airways is removing free food and drink from its short haul offering and cutting meals from some of its long haul flights has aroused great passion on social media and in the press over the past few weeks. I know this is something of a first world problem, rather than one of the great injustices of the world, but I would be sad to see this start the ball rolling on the disappearance of the mystery in-flight meal from full service airlines.

Having said that, when the first airline meals were served up by Handley Page Transport between London and Paris (on 11th October 1919) passengers were charged 3 shillings for their pre-packed lunch-box so maybe things are not as different from the golden age of aviation as we might like to think!

It will be interesting to see what happens next – will British Airways continue its transformation into a budget airline or are they plotting a new path? If nothing else, the last three bouts of cost cutting will have left many passengers wondering where the axe will fall next and how reliable BA’s promises of service levels might be months ahead of a flight.

Tagged with:

Tegel Touch and Go

Posted in Berlin, Germany by folkestonejack on May 6, 2014

On my outbound and return trips I had plenty of time to kill so on each occasion I headed up to the observation deck at Tegel to watch the world go by. It seemed like a good opportunity to get one last good look at the airport as I am sure that by the time I come back it will have been shut down, replaced by the troubled Berlin Brandenburg airport which lies to the south of the city.

On Borrowed time - Berlin Tegel

On Borrowed time – Berlin Tegel

The impressively spacious viewing terrace at Tegel covers the entire roof span of the airport’s distinctive hexagonal terminal A, allowing you to get a good view of the entire runway and most of the gates from this terminal.

I wouldn’t normally expect much from any time on an observation deck, but seemed to have timed my visit exceptionally well on both occasions. On my outbound leg I managed to see the arrival of two Bundesrepublik Deutschland aircraft that are used for official travel and diplomatic business – the first was Airbus A340-313X VIP ‘Konrad Adenauer’ (16+01) whilst the second was the Airbus A310-304 VIP (10+21) that used to bear this name.

Bundesrepublik Deutschland Airbus A340-313X VIP ‘Konrad Adenauer’ (16+01)

Bundesrepublik Deutschland Airbus A340-313X VIP ‘Konrad Adenauer’ (16+01)

Bundesrepublik Deutschland Airbus A310-304 VIP (10+21)

Bundesrepublik Deutschland Airbus A310-304 VIP (10+21)

On my return trip I saw one of the smaller Bundesrepublik Deutschland VIP jets, a Bombardier Global 5000 (14+01), take off after a couple of black limousines had delivered some passengers. Other notable sights included a BMW Gulfstream G550 and a classic liveried Lufthansa A321.

Bundesrepublik Deutschland Bombardier Global 5000 (14+01)

Bundesrepublik Deutschland Bombardier Global 5000 (14+01)

As if this was not enough excitement, the next flight to come in was a Deutsche Marine Lockheed P-3 Orion (60+01) named ‘Friedrichshafen’ (in the 100 Jahre Marineflieger livery that she was painted for last year’s celebrations) which proceeded to touch and go (landing on the runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop). I assume this was a training exercise as the same procedure was repeated just ten minutes later! It was like having a mini air-show before the flight home.

Deutsche Marine Lockheed P-3 Orion 'Friedrichshafen' (60+01)

Deutsche Marine Lockheed P-3 Orion ‘Friedrichshafen’ (60+01)

In all the excitement on offer it was easy to forget that I still had to get through security and on to my own flight. Luckily, I made it through just in time and my reward (c/o British Airways) was a 15g bag of crisps, which has to be the most miserly snack that I think I have ever seen on a flight. Nevertheless, I was very happy to have made it on board and be heading homewards!