Hello and welcome on board this new report, once again a translated version from a french report, this time it's not a really old review as the trip took place in March 2020, just few week before the Coronavirus crisis strikes Europe and all our travel plans.
To find av-geek flight opportunity it's sometimes not necessary to go very far and on difficult locations. Last winter two lines where operated on Dornier 328 jet from my home base airport Toulouse. Both of them by the small Danish Airlines Sun-Air Scandinavia one of the last operator of this type around the globe.
This flight are schedule for Friedrichshafen and Bremen two German city's with an high aeronautical industry. No doubt the target market is business travel for Airbus and is suppliers. Who say's business customer bases say's high price on this route. For a one way ticket the company charge at least 250€ ! But tickets are marketed via British airways network and it's possible to use Avios to pay part or the entire ticket price. I can only found flight TLS-BRE in the avios booking system.
It will be my choice for just 2000 avios the ticket is now reduced at 71€ a good deal ! Unfortunately the flight schedule is not very good when you start your journey from Toulouse (Bremen-Toulouse in the early morning and Toulouse-Bremen on the evening). So I can't spend a long time to visit Bremen. The return flight will be with KLM blue birds.
Without surprise this line is new on the English database. It's also the first report on board Sun Air and the jet version of the Dornier 328.
On this March Monday, a strong rain storm is falling from the sky far from the usual South west of France weather but not uncommon on this season.
Since the opening off the new hall D building and the single security check gate the check in counter for IAG airlines were moved to hall C. Two counter are opened for both Sun Air flight to Bremen and Friedrichshafen. A 23kg luggage is included on my ticket so I let my trolley bag at the counter to flight hands free. No waiting, and efficient agent.
The safety check were quickly cleared and we can have a look on this FIDS pre-corona remembering good old days…
Duty free crossing without any stop for me.
Which leads to the small mall gallery, with many passengers waiting there flights. You can't see it on the picture but there is a free access piano and it's common to have good musicians seated in front of it.
To find a spotting place I cross the hall C which is not so busy for a Tuesday late afternoon.
I will find a place to catch this Easyjet Europe A320 coming from Orly.
And this Boeing 737-9ER operating the Turkish Airline flight to Istanbul.
On the other side of the runways you can have a nice view on Airbus factories, even if the weather is not really nice you can see this Rwandair A330neo and some A350 for TK and JL.
On the engine testing range this Evelop A350 is just behind 2 A320 for Volaris and a Chinese airline called Air Travel.
It's time for me to reach my gate located on hall D.
For the gate 40/41 it's necessary to descend to the ground floor, it's also means that the boarding will be by bus.
With just 15 passengers, the boarding will be smooth and quick.
Travel documents with a BA boarding pass.
I quickly jump on the bus, it's raining cats and dogs and the temperature is really cold. the paxbus is standing few minutes in front of the gate to wait 2 late female passengers
During the long bus tour we are facing this Atlas Air Boeing 747 cargo who's operate a flight from Toronto.
We are now at the other side of airport parking used for cargo aircraft and private jets. We can see 2 Do328 jet parked here, the first one will go to Friedrichshafen.
And is sister-ship will be our aircraft ! Let me introduce you OY-NCL an 18 year old Dornier 328 jet was delivered to Atlantic Coast Airlines, later became Independence air. She will join the Sun air fleet one year after Independence air bankrupt in 2007.
Bus doors open and passengers start to climb on board the aircraft on the same time the rain shower stop
Suddenly this small airport vehicle with 2 handlers came to stop the boarding telling this plane will go to Friedrichshafen ! After few discussions between our crew, the ground coordinator and the handler it appears that the 2 handlers have swapped the luggage between the 2 Sun Air flight.
On the picture you have a nice view on engine 1, it's Pratt & Whitney 306 you can find this kind of engine on private jet like Cessna Citation Sovereign or Gulfstream G200.
I didn't lied, has you will see it's definitely not British Airways on board ^^
I'm finally the last to get in the aircraft, the only cabin crew is a young Danish women, very friendly we will have few funny words regarding the handlers misunderstanding during the (long) installation time of Mr 2D.
My window seat located at rank 6 has been taken without my consent by another passenger, luckily there is 2 empty seat at rank 8. The seat is like a big leather arm chair very comfortable.
Pitch is pretty good, I have a lot of personal space and without neighbor it's even better !
The overhead panel is a bit vintage, but everything works perfectly, it's clean like all the cabin which is in great condition. Not so easy when you now that this model as ceased to be produced 15 years ago.
Cabin is ready for take off, even with the configuration on 1x2 you don't feel cramped, it's probably because of slim sized luggage bins located just on right side of the fuselage. The engine start is really noisy but fortunately it's slightly less on cruise.
Another aspect that you didn't have on big airliners like this Air France A320 is the impression to be on a sport car feeling every taxiway bump with your buttocks. And believe me Toulouse one's feel's like to be stuffed with pothole.
Of course when you are in the air you don't have this kind of trouble. Nice view on Blagnac airport facilities.
Then Blagnac city, a bit wet today.
Just before get into the clouds the Airbus Lagardère plant and the brand new Toulouse exhibition center. On the middle of the picture you can see the Aeroscopia museum hosting an Airbus A380 and 2 Concordes.
After a long climb into the clouds, we can enjoy the last rays of the sun always a great feeling to see the blue sky on the middle of a rainy week.
That's give a warm natural light inside the cabin.
Just a perfect weather for an appetizer, and just after we reach our cruise altitude my wish came true ! The trolley is on the alley and a drink is served with a small pack of nut mix.
Always a pleasure to enjoy the sunset from an aircraft window.
Just after the appetizer come's the dinner, it's a cold plate composed by main course an excellent marinated chicken brochette served with pasta & vegetables salad. A small slice of cheese with bred. And for the desert a good chocolate/coconut cake. A really pleasant meal especially if you compare with British Airways mainline short haul service in economy !
I don't have it on picture but tea and coffee where served 2 times after the lunch. And it's not over yet with a last past in the cabin with a spirits basket. Another funny moment when the purser make a sign to put the alcohol flask into their pocket to drink it later at a passenger who didn't want to take one…
It's now completely dark outside has we are flying near the border between Luxembourg, France and Germany.
As I was going to the toilets (clean and well maintained) I spend few minutes to talk with the cabin crew, very friendly we've got some discussion about is job and aviation. She told me that all the crew where based in Billund, they flew the morning flight spend all the day at Toulouse and then go back with the aircraft for a night stop in Bremen.
So let's have a look on the seat pocket were you can find Sun-Air magazine ! It's small all in English you can find few articles about destination served by this small airline around Europe.
Like Toulouse airport.
Airline fleet and network are also quickly presented.
We are now close to our destination and the descent is announced by the crew, the cabin is quickly prepared for landing.
Light of the city are underneath our wings as we'are approaching from the East for a landing on the 09.
Crossing the Weser river, Bremen airport is really located in the middle of the city, and the approach from the East is really impressive.
Not to much picture of the landing, the only one that I've taken are only night black with some blurred lights. The landing was smooth and taxi time was short to reach our remote parking stand. Time for me to take my stuff and leave my comfortable seat.
With less than twenty passenger, boarding process is very quick and efficient, and we are seated on the bus used to cross the tarmac between our remote parking stand and the airport main building.
What a funny little jet ^^
After barely 2 minutes of bus we reached the airport doors.
And just after the door we are facing the luggage belt where our flight delivery is shortly arriving.
Inside the main entrance you've got this impressive ISS model attached on the roof. The terminal is really small and with less than 100 meters of walk between the bus I'm already outside. What an optimized routing for passengers !
The tramway stop to the historical city center is located just in front the main entrance, I've just waited 10 minutes to get one. Funnily, from the outside the airport look like a railway station.
Thank's for reading hope you've enjoyed it. And sorry for the late release of this translation. Have nice flights … or at least try ^^.
Of course all that you see was before the pandemic, Sun Air has only 2 aircraft in service right now and it's backbone market really suffer from travel restrictions and lack of business customers. Regarding this flight, that was one of the best European flight I ever took, comfortable cabin, wonderful crew, good service and funny airplane.
(+) Lovely crew
(+) Complete catering service (Appetizer, Meal, Spirits)
(+) Comfortable seat in an aircraft who look more like a bizjet than an airliner
(-) Ticket price (save your avios !)
(-) Flight schedule
(+) Very efficient security check's
(+) A lot of shops and services available
(-) Bus boarding on the cold rain
(+) One of the shortest arrival path I ever took you can barely be on the public transport pier from your gate in less than 100 meters.