[my Farnborough post will follow later today]
Over the past 10 days, I flew BOS-BRU-LHR-BRU-BOS (for the acronym impaired, BOS is Boston/Logan, BRU is Brussels, and LHR is London/Heathrow) on Sabena/Belgian World Airways.
The equipment were A310 (the same one both ways :-) BOS-BRU and BRU-BOS, and 737s (different ones) BRU-LHR and LHR-BRU.
The service was .... odd. I should note that this is the first time I was flying on a non-British and non-US airline. But I'm not used to having to *ask* to get ice in my drinks :-) The food was airline average (in other words, pretty rotten, I've become spoiled from flying Delta with their above-average airline food) and the only redeeming quality was that they came around and handed out extra rolls (which were warm!) after they had passed out all of the meals.
We flew out of BOS at 1720 EDT, the flight left on time (it took them 35-40 minutes to board an A310, which seemed excessive to me! The plane only seats ~190 people!). The flight was packed. I was surprised how small the A310 was from the inside -- I'm used to the 767 which generally has two cabins in coach plus one more for C/F class. The A310 had just two cabins, one for C class and one for Y class.
Our BOS-BRU flight was unventful and *short* -- due to massive schedule padding and tailwinds, we arrived into BRU a full hour early! (I didn't get much sleep because of this :-(
BRU was *hell*. We arrived in just at 0500 European time. Our flight for LHR was due to depart at 0730 European time. With two hours to kill, we figured we may as well browse the duty free shopping areas, only to find out that they didn't open until 0600 (which was quite surprising, considering the airport was *packed*, mostly with people heading for Tenerife and other popular European holiday destinations). I soon found that although there were "no smoking" signs in some parts of the airport, not many people saw them (or not many could read :-). We found a place to sit (unfortunately, without an AC outlet -- something we're used to seeing in all US airports. We had hoped to charge our powerbook).
The previous flight to ours at the departure gate still hadn't pushed back 30 minutes before ours was to depart, so we soon found ourselves going down steps and getting on a bus to board our 737 out on a hardstand. Perhaps they don't believe in gate changes? I can't imagine the hassle it must be to have to take bags all the way out there.
The cross-channel flight was *very* choppy, something I wondered that might have been weather related, but when I looked at a weather map when we arrived in London, it had been clear the whole route! Upon arrival at Heathrow, we cleared immigration in approximately 2 minutes (and that was because my husband, the vile American citizen that he is, had to apply for a visa upon landing :-), and headed for baggage claim.
It took about 10 minutes after we arrived at the baggage hall for our bags to arrive on the carousel. We pulled our bags off and found out that they had been broken into! :( We always lock our bags, not because we ever carry anything valuable in them, but so we can know if someone's been in them. Someone had clipped our zipper pulls off (and the locks went with them). We filed a claim with the Aer Lingus (who were representing Sabena at LHR, one hemorraging airline deserves another :-) and were off through customs (we didn't get stopped, of course :-)
Our return flight was more of the same (choppy cross-channel). Our BRU-BOS flight departed from another hardstand. I couldn't believe it -- there were tons of gates available! Our arrival into Boston was early, even though we departed BRU 30 minutes late (more schedule padding :-).
All in all it was *very* interesting. I can't see myself flying SN (Sabena) again, however, as next year I'll be flying DL across the pond (due to their to-be-instituted no-smoking policy on all transatlantic flights). I wouldn't say it was a *bad* experience, but it was definitely different. :-)
-- Helen Trillian Rose
Kapor Enterprises, Inc. Check out my homepage! --> Systems and Networks Administration http://www.kei.com/hrose.html I like: DL, WN, Boeing I don't like: NW, HP, Airbus
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