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This FR is the last segment of this week-long trip to LJU and BLQ, the latter chosen as the closest airport to Ravenna.
Nobody enjoys receiving this kind of e-mail (We are sorry, your flight AF1329 of August 15 to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport has been modified. Please check your new routing) but after checking, the flight was delayed by only 5 minutes, which was going to be a wide underestimate.
When I bought the ticket two months before the flight, there was an ample choice of seats in the aircraft. The two rows before and after the emergency exit on the wing were strangely blocked, as well as a block of seats in the rear left.
The situation has obviously changed a lot at the time of on-line check in : in particular, the seats around the emergency exits were no longer "unavailable" (three of them are available), and the block of seats which had been blocked at the rear left was on the contrary fully available.
For the record, the color codes of the seating diagrams:
Red : seat with more space, 10 EUR extra charge and up
Blue : standard seat (no extra charge)
White : unavailable seat
X : Occupied seat
Return of the rental car, and journey under the viaduct of the monorail linking BLQ with Bologna's main rail station, inaugurated at the end of 2020.
There was a body temperature check at the entrance of the terminal – this picture shows the counter of the employee waiting for an alarm. I do not know if the control was calibrated better than that of the National Museum of Ravenna, which set my wife's temperature at 35.4 °C (95.7 °F) !
There is a tendency natural to go directly up these escalators to the Departures level.
Only that we bump into the BP control at the uppper level and we don't have it yet, because the check in area is at ground level
Going down using the escalator: we should have paid attention to this sign on the left which was not obvious when entering the terminal.
Longish walk because the counters used by AF are at the far end of the terminal from the rental car park. The Skypriority counter was well signposted and the waiting time was minimal. It was maybe not the same on the right, because I hears bits and pieces of a heated exchange between the employee at the counter and a non Skypriority PAX who seemed to not have the sanitary documents required for his final destination, such as this one.
It was not so much the weight of the luggage
… than having to remove anything which could be a problem at the security check which made de me choose to check in one of our two carry-on bags. The yellow Skypriority label doesn't matter much anymore: what really counts nowadays is the barcode on the label.
The old-fashioned BP
The FIDS of departing flights is overwhelmingly LCC:
Mechanical ramp to reach the Departures level
This time, we had the BPs for going through these gates
There was nobody at gate 11 yet (which was normal because it was too early)
No signage for the lounge: I asked at the information desk and discovered that BLQ's Business lounge is landside, which meant for us going through security control avain, which would require you to go through security again. A bad point for the airport, both because of the location of the lounge and the insufficient signage landside.
It was all the more regrettable that it was quite crowded everywhere airside, and all available seats seemed to be occupied.
It was probably a day for coming back from vacation for the Italians too
The lines for boarding here and there cluttered the passage and made it idfficult to walk around.
You only had to look down to see that the cleaning is insufficient. I did not want to offend the modesty of the moderators ^^ and spare you my picture of the floor in the toilets (much more papers of dubious cleanliness on a floor whose humidity was not due to the recent passage of a cleaning staff).
My wife eventually found us two seats at the end of the terminal there, in a place which was both rather quiet (for her), and spotter friendly (for me, because they were along windows overlooking the tarmac)
Four 737s parked in the distance: Bluebird Nordic (an Icelandic cargo operator), Neos and Ryanair
Departure of a 738 Transavia
Arrival of an Wizz Air A321neo. This was a Cabin Flex version, with five pairs of doors and emergency exits, pushing the capacity to 240 PAX.
I was monitoring the arrival of the plane from Paris on flightradar24.com: I knew she was late, and late enough for that our own flight to be likely delayed, but there was no announcement or posting about that on FIDS. Here she was, landing at 5.30 p.m., or STA + 10 '(and STD-30' for us). The Wizz Air A321neo accidentally taxied in front at the wrong time.
End of landing
Taxiing to the parking point
Which was away form the terminal, at the beginning of the LCC parking lot
Departure of a Royal Air Maroc 738
Turkish Airlines 738
It was time to get closer to our boarding gate. We had to make our way through this caravanserai
The start of the line for gate 11
The priorities well well indicated
And despite the space congestion and the "vacation atmosphere", the Skypriority line was respected, with a basketball player in front of us who had come back to earth; he was going to be in front of us in the plane too.
Boarding was launched at STD-12 '. Without the slightest surprise, descent through this helical ramp towards the level of the tarmac for a transfer by PAXbus.
KLM E-175, in front of the Wizz Air A321neo which I had seen land just before
Ryanair 738 parked next to the terminal near the control tower
Rather anarchic climbing of a staircase curiously separated in two by a central partition which was going to be a nuisance for taking the traditional door shot on the left, and the fuselage shot on the right
Take off of a Neos 738
The KLM E-175 taxiing towards the runway
Flight KL1592 to AMS was departing only twenty minutes late.
Entering the cabin
Unlike in the E170, the front windows are correctly aligned with the seats, being slightly ahead of the seats, rather than behind them.
You already know it the seat: it was comfortably wide (46.5 cm between the armrests) and with a very dicent pitch (28 cm from the seat to the seat pocket)
The passengers at window seats have a 4 cm width bonus beyond the armrest.
The carpeting was spotless
The absence of a central post allows placing my backpack between the two seats, leaving us enough room for each of us to stretch our legs.
The safety card, both sides
This picture is copyrighted by Mrs Marathon .
Distribution of disinfectant wipes
Loading of the checked luggage in progress
Our suitcase was going to be the last one to go up. Last in, first out? We'll see on arrival.
Whereas BLQ gave no information on the delay of our flight, our captain was doing his communication job on this matter: the plane had arrived late from CDG because of the unloading of a piece of luggage at CDG, had lost its take off slot, and now we had to wait. The problem was now neither departing from BLQ, nor landing at CDG, but airspace congestion around Reims.
At long last, at 18:54 (STD + 54 '), the OK for departuret after pushback.
Another Neos 738 at the terminal
We still had to wait for the landing of a Ryanair 738
Take off at 19:03, or STD + 63'
The monorail viaduct linking BLQ to the city
In the background, the E45 motorway which provides an excellent road access to BLQ
The arrival of the monorail line at Bologna Central Station, with the historic heart in the background
The plane made a curious detour heart-shaped detour before heading towards CDG which was in the opposite direction from the runway (thanks to flightradar24.com). A no-fly zone northeast of Bologna?
Clouds were going to hide the landscape for most of the flight. The trolley crosses the curtain
It was an egg-tomato-herbs sandwich this time
Autopsy of the sandwich; note that "tomato" means "two slices of tomato, and" egg "certainly much less than a chicken egg.
The bottles of wine chosen by the passengers on the other side of the corridor, for the wine specialists.
Very misty Alpine landscapes.
A small town that I did not try to identify
The cloud cover was too dense while cruising, so I skip directly to the descent towards CDG
Saint-Soupplets and the quarry and the Knauf plasterboard factory in the foreground.
The interchange between the N2 and the N1104
The remote base for the taxis serving CDG
Alignment of AF fins (and KQ on the far right) at hall K of Terminal 2E
Taxiing, and surprise: the plane parked at Terminal 2E
All passengers standing up
We arrived at the gate 51 minutes late, with apologies from the captain.
Without any real surprise, we would not enter the terminal here: Terminal 2E is for non-Schengen flights and we had to take a PAXbus to reach Terminal 2F.
The plane and the quasi useless jetbridge
And the PAXbus: out of four AF-Hop flights! in Embraers to/from CDG, we had three PAXbus transfers between terminals.
A few meters on the tarmac
The only advantage of this short trip by PAXbus was to see a few widebodies: Emirates keeps serving CDG with A380s, with what load ratio?
Ethiopian Airlines A350-900
An AF A318 hid unfortunately a 787 LATAM
My wife didn't let me enough time to check if it was love or the cold water which was out of order in our case.
Going down to the luggage claim area
Paris offers a smile with every answer, but only in French.
I didn't see a smile anywhere, which proves at least that I had no questions: the signage at CDG is much better than in BLQ.
The display announced the Skypriority delivery of the luggage from a previous flight
There were fewer than ten passengers waiting for luggage at belt 26: most of the pieces of luggage checked at BLQ was connecting to other destinations.
Delivery was pending, and was going to be pending for a long time
Because our suitcase eventually appeared 47 minutes after we we had deplaned.
This was a stiff penalty for avoiding any issue at the security check in BLQ!
At least, this journey had spared us the slogan "Paris loves you" which has never been so little justified.
The only piece fo good news was when we left the terminal : the RER-B service to CDG was suspended for track work during that week-end coinciding with the end of the summer vacation for many and I feared the worst (Paris loves you …), but the line to take a taxi was actually very limited, perhaps because of the delay to collect our suitcase added to the delay of the plane.
(I know for good reason that there are maintenance tasks that you really can't do during the too short so-called "engineering hours" at night, and a weekend in August is arguably the time when stopping the service completely is the least disruptive.)
It was the end of a great week's vacation, and I offer you a final bonus on Ravenna.
How to offer a bonus on the architectural heritage of Ravenna, without producing an avalanche of pictures? I have chosen a very restrictive theme: the ornamentation of the domes of some of its churches.
Not all the churches in Ravenna are decorated with Byzantine mosaics, far from it.
Local legend has it that an icon of the Madonna damaged by a knife stab by a drunken soldier sweated blood. As Ravenna was spared a plague epidemic in 1629, locals built a chapel in her honor in the city's cathedral, displaying this icon (center, below).
This is the dome above this chapel, representing the Virgin in glory, made in the first half of the 18th century.
The cupolas of the baptisteries are inevitably decorated with representations of the baptism of Jesus.
Baptistery of the Aryans
Elsewhere, these are the traditional symbols of the four Evangelists: the angel for Matthew, the lion for Mark, the bull for Luke, the eagle for John.
St Andrea Chapel
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
At the Basilica of Saint Vitale, there are four angels surrounding the Mystic Lamb
The lamb doesn't look much like one, but go and try making a mosaic lying upside down at the top of a 6th century technology scaffolding!
The half-dome at the back of the basilica of St Apollinaire in Classe represents the saint in the center, with the prophets Moses and Elijah on the left and on the right; with God symbolized by a hand coming down from heaven.
Thanks for reading me !
There was nothing wrong about this cabin in 2 + 2 seat layout with correctly aligned windows. The crew provided the communication which was wanting on the ground.
AF offers a very wide range of newspapers and magazines to be download before departure, in quantity and diversity much greater than needed for the duration of the flight, even if delayed. The sandwich did its job of feeding us.
Fluidity was very good at the Skypriority check in, probably much worse for the other passengers.
The road and rail access to the airport are excellent, with a monorail line from Central Station and a motorway exit close by. The only downside is the excessive price of the monorail ticket, like in too many airport such dedicated airport lines.
The signage is really poor in BLQ, cleaning is insufficient and the seats too few. No information on the delay of our flight was provided either.
Better not try the replacement buses from CDG when the RER train service does not operate (we tried them once: the journey was exhaustingly long because they serve all the intermediate stations, using circuitous routes), but there was miraculously little waiting for a taxi.
Three quarters of an hour for delivering the luggage of ten passengers? No kidding ?!
I cannot rate the lounge in BLQ, because it is landside (bad point) and because the signage did not allow me to realize that in due time (second bad point) .