After the early check-out, we caught the 6.47am train from Brussels Centraal to the airport. Luckily, train service had resumed using the old airport station and it was also the last day before BRU's departure hall would be partially opened after the unfortunate incident.
Just a short 15min train ride, we arrived at Brussels National Airport and proceeded to the temporary check-in tents. All tickets were checked and baggage screened before we were allowed into the check-in area. There were long queues (due to the May Day holidays) but queues moved fast. Airline personnel were also moving up and down the queues to sieve out passengers who had flights due to departure. Though the whole procedure was slightly messy, it was not as bad as I had imagined.
It took us half an hour to reach the check-in queues, and it was after we were sieved out by the Brussels Airlines staff for the 900-930am departures.
All the check-in staff were in high spirits to handle the huge passenger load. All counters were opened and there were 2 staff manning at each counter to speed things up.
Dropped my bags and got my first ever Brussels Airlines boarding pass! It is always exciting to fly a new airline and better still, a new aircraft type!
Then, we had to climb up 4 storeys to reach the interior of the main terminal building. It was definitely a climb not suited for the elderly and those with heavy carry-ons.
Into BRU's airside
The airside was unaffected from the incident and by now, all shops were fully operational. Again to the Belgium theme, chocolates are sold everywhere in duty-free as well!
Area with eateries. It was in fact, rather busy in the morning.
Walking down the 'A' Pier to the departure gate.
Reached the gate, where boarding has just begun.
30 April 2016 Brussels Airlines SN 2809 Brussels (BRU) - Prague (PRG) Avro RJ100 OO-DWJ Economy Class Flight Time: 1H11M
The Avro RJ100 that would be flying us to Prague. Excited to fly this aircraft as not only is it my first flight on one, it is also a very rare aircraft model in Asia. However, Brussels Airlines has quite a number of these aircraft plying its regional routes alongside its Airbuses.
Another RJ100 beside while boarding the aircraft.
Just before boarding.
Welcomed by the purser as I stepped onto the aircraft an suddenly I felt lke being transported 20 years back. The aircraft seats and cabin felt very retro. Seats were in a rather spacious 2-3 layout, with the first few rows reserved for Business Class, which are just economy seats but with the neighbouring seat blocked. There were no separation between the 2 classes as well and during the flight, service for Business passengers was in full view of the rest. Guess this is common for European airlines.
Row 1 with the most legroom. Seats were upholstered in leather.
Proceeded to my seat at 19A, which is the second last row of the aircraft and is at the 2-seater side. Boarding still in progress and flight was very full. There were 2 cabin crew working on this flight.
Though the seats looked aged, legroom is good and seats comfortable enough for the short flight. There is also a drinks holder.
View out of the window.
Inflight magazine, BOB menu and safety card.
Brussels Airlines' fleet.
What you can do with your airsick bag.
After passengers had boarded, the crew at the rear came down to hand out children activity kits to the kids onboard. Nice gesture by Brussels Airlines here.
Safety demo was then performed manually while we pushed back. Flight time would be slightly over an hour.
Starting the taxi to the runway.
Passing a sister A330
And it was only a short taxi to the active runway, Rwy25R.
Takeoff from Rwy25R
Video of the takeoff.
Climbing through thick clouds.
And finally sunlight when we broke through the clouds. It remained overcast below for more than half the flight.
After seatbelt signs were turned off, we economy passengers watched the Business pax getting served their meals and drinks. After the crew were finished with the service upfront, the BOB cart was pushed down the aisle for us economy pax to purchase any snacks or drinks. Not many takers on this short flight though. And that concluded the inflight service. Interaction with the cabin crew was minimal and they did their jobs.
Nice SN logo on the leather headrest cover.
Trip to the lavatory. It felt like going back in time to the 80s.
Aft galley and aircraft door.
View of the cabin.
The clouds had cleared and we soon started the descent into Prague.
Video of the approach.
Landing in Prague Václav Havel Airport Rwy24 ahead of schedule.
Video of the landing.
Passed a WizzAir A320 while during taxi to the gate.
LH A321 which has just vacated our gate.
Parked at Terminal 2, which is used for Schengen flights.
My seat for the flight. Note the so retro cigarette stub compartment in the armrest.
Last views of my first ever RJ100 ride.
Travel Service A320 also just arrived.
Czech Airlines A319 in a special livery
It was only a short wait for the bags.
Withdrew some Czech currency from the ATMs and took the Airport AE bus to the city. Stayed at Majestic Plaza Hotel, which is conveniently situated beside a major shopping mall and walkable to most of the sights in Prague. Prague, in itself, is a very walkable city.
Hotel room, which is of decent size and very comfortable.
Trams are the main mode of transportation.
Lunch at a well-recommended and affordable pub/restaurant, Kotleta, just beside our hotel. Prices are reasonable and most importantly, food is tasty.
Beef Goulash soup
Very tasty Asparagus cream
Interesting starter of Bacon-wrapped prunes.
Traditional Czech cuisine of Stewed pork belly with sauerkraut and dumplings.
Exploring the Old Town after lunch. Prague Old Town certainly retains its medieval charms, but I find it a bit too touristy for my liking with the hordes of visitors all around and shops after shops selling tourist trinkets.
Old Town Square
Perfect weather to enjoy the sunshine on the lawns
Charles Bridge across Vltava River.
Sights and sceneries
Roaming around the streets of Prague
Bought a light dinner at a small but popular local deli, Nase Maso, famous for its meat tartar and meatloaf. The beer was literally on-the-tap from the wall as well!
The hotel offers a great buffet breakfast every morning.
Lunch at a lovely pasta joint, Pasta Fresca, which not only is famous for pasta, but also its to-die-for tiramisu!
Trying a traditional Bohemian pastry, which was being sold everywhere.
Dinner at La Boca, an Argentinian-styled restaurant. The steak was great!
Prague Old Town in the evening and night feels magical.
Soaking up the sights and sunshine on the last day.
The famous Prague Dancing Houses
Along River Vltava, with Prague Castle beyond.
A small market near the hotel.
And final meal was again at Kotleta, where we had a yummy gnocchi and Czech roast pork knee. Portion was huge and filling!
We proceeded to the airport in the evening, were we spent the night at the airport hotel, Courtyard by Marriot Prague Airport, as we had an early morning flight to catch to Frankfurt. No photos of the hotel but it was comfortable enough for a short night's stay
Brussels - BRU
Prague - PRG
The Brussels Airlines experience is acceptable on the short flight. Buy-on-board is becoming the norm on European carriers on intra-European flights, but as long as airfares remain low, I am not too concerned with this model. In this case, Brussels Airlines offered very competitive fares (if booked early in advance) compared to the budget carriers. Crew did their jobs and flight was on-time, which is already better than the normally not-so-pleasant reviews of the airline. More importantly, I had stuck off a new airline as well as a new aircraft type from my list!
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