User avatar
lugie
Topic Author
Posts: 570
Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:11 pm

To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:28 pm

Hello dear fellow A.netters,

after a longer time without any contributions (that is, a longer time without any meaningful trips), I decided to get back to contributing to what's probably my favorite subforum on this site.

The story to the trip I'll be reporting on starts way back in last year's summer when, admittedly not in full sobriety, I plotted a plan with a long-time best friend of mine to go and explore a for both of us all-new area of this world. After some (sober) consideration our decision was made in favor of Central America and more precisely, Costa Rica.
A factor in that decision was, of course, the airfare since we knew we'd be staying in hostels so accommodation wouldn't be all too critical financially. We were quite happy to find a roundtrip from FRA to SJO for roughly 700€ per person, which of course is a lot at first (being used to intra-European prices) but compared to other Latin American destinations was still quite affordable.
The routing was particularly intriguing to me as the more "aviation-affine" of us, since it allowed me to log 2 new carriers (technically even 3), an additional new airport on top of SJO and at least one new type, so needless to say, we booked as quickly as possible.

This would be the routing:
FRA-MAD on an Iberia (Air Nostrum) CRK
MAD-SJO on an IB A332
SJO-PTY on a Copa B738
PTY-MAD on another IB A332
MAD-FRA on the pretty standard IB A319

The only thing that might have put us off that routing was the fact that the FRA-MAD segment was to be operated the afternoon before the noon MAD-SJO departure so we'd effectively lose a day of our 2 weeks in Costa Rica. But in the end we decided to make the best out of it and booked a hostel in central Madrid for just 25€ figuring we might as well see something of the city (and also because the next best flight would have been around 830€ r/t, albeit on a similarly intriguing route).

We booked the flights in late August for our late December departure and made some hostel reservations over the following weeks and in the beginning it seemed like an eternity until we'd finally start the trip but the daily routine at University made the weeks whiz past and before I knew it was Christmas and on the second Christmas holiday (Dec. 26th in Germany) I found myself beginning to pack t-shirts and sunscreen into my touring backpack.

ImageCRC1718_1 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr


After wrapping up the last preparations on the 27th, I went to bed early just to be awoken at briefly past 7am by my phone alarm the next morning. After breakfast I got dressed before my dad drove us to the airport (of course after having picked up my friend on the way ;) ) and we arrived there a few minutes after 10am, well in time for our scheduled departure of 12:20.
When turning in our large backpacks at the check-in counter we heard some staff tell a couple about how the plane was overbooked by 5 people at least so we got a bit nervous at first but then decided we could be chill about it - if that really turned out to be true we'd be in no hurry and might get voluntarily bumped if the compensation was right.
To find out we went through security and looked up our departure gate. The screens behind security indicated a delay of 50 minutes, which turned out to be true but again, we were in no rush with our 21 hour connection in MAD.

LH B748 and NH B77W
ImageCRC1718_5 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Condor B763
ImageCRC1718_7 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr



28|12|2017
Iberia flight IB 8615 (operated by Air Nostrum for Iberia Regional)
Frankfurt FRA - Madrid MAD
STD || ATD - 12:05 || 13:31
STA || ATA - 14:50 || 15:37
Flight time: 02:06hrs
Plane type and registration: Bombardier CRJ-1000 EC-LJX
Age at the time: 7 years
Seat: 12A

Boarding by buses began about 20 minutes after the scheduled departure time and once we arrived at the plane it was still being refueled with F/As advising passengers not to clog the aisles as well as not buckling up their seatbelt yet. The process went by quite quickly though and doors were finally closed at 13:15, followed shortly later by a lengthy taxi to FRA's runway 18 from where the plane took off at 13:31 local time.

Boarding EC-LJX
ImageCRC1718_12 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_13 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Apron view from 12A
ImageCRC1718_15 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Taxiing out
ImageCRC1718_17 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The routing took us over land for the most time, not crossing much of the bay of Biscay, however there was a pretty much constant cloud ceiling until northern Spain, just around the time descent was started. Later on F/As announced boarding gates for tight connections, but judging by the comments of some of the passengers around me some of these connections were practically impossible to make, especially given that they were mostly intercontinental flights from T4S. The pilot also came on the p/a during descent, informing us about the weather and specifically pointing out the wind for which he was expecting a bumpy arrival.
Indeed, the little CRJ was shaken around a bit on final approach but it was really nothing that felt too intimidating and therefore we touched down smoothly on MAD's runway 18L at 15:37hrs, followed by a rather quick taxi to Air Nostrum's ground stands at the very northern tip of T4.

German countryside right after leaving 18R
ImageCRC1718_18 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Some nuclear plant in southern France
ImageCRC1718_19 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The smart red winglet on this CRK
ImageCRC1718_21 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Cabin view in cruise. The thing I only realized during descent is that those transparent bags in the headrest covers can fit smartphones so you can use them as PTVs.
ImageCRC1718_25 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Some traffic way above us
ImageCRC1718_26 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Clouds finally cleared up a bit more over Spain
ImageCRC1718_27 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Possibly the best window shot I've ever taken
ImageCRC1718_30 (2) by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Already descending into apparently windy Castile
ImageCRC1718_33 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_34 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_36 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Arrived at our parking position
ImageCRC1718_37 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Walking into the terminal
ImageCRC1718_38 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr


After deplaning without any hurry and letting those pass who were in one we strolled to the baggage claim.

However our experience was not so pleasant there: After having waited for at least 45 mnutes, the screens began indicating that the delivery for flight 8615 from Frankfurt had ended, but apparently without our bags. And without those of at least 15 others who were on board of the same flight.
Upon registering this we decided to hurry up to get into the line at the Iberia lost baggage counter and indeed, after scanning our bag identifiers the agent told us that our bags were still at FRA. He added "they'll come in on the evening flight, so they should be here by 11pm and we'll deliver them tomorrow".
At first I thought, oh nice at least they know where they are, but then it hit me that delivery tomorrow might be too late.
I explained our situation with the flight to SJO being scheduled to depart at 11:30 the next day and he quickly agreed that this wouldn't be enough time for them to deliver our luggage. Instead, he pulled up some sort of form, filled in our names, flights, bag identifier numbers,.. and just told us to "come back in here tomorrow morning, give this to the agent and they'll give you the bags. They are going to be stored here overnight." We looked at each other, then at him in disbelief: Just walk in here? The BAGGAGE CLAIM??

But he insisted this wouldn't be a problem, so after his third reassurance we just took the form, thanked him and headed out into the arrivals level from where we took a subway train into the city. We had already lost a bunch of daylight time in the airport so we wanted to see at least something about the city before it turned fully dark.
After arriving at Puerta del Sol station we were delighted to see that there was indeed some daylight left so we just roamed the area around Gran Vía and Plaza Mayor a bit (without any luggage besides our small bags we used as carry-ons there was no need to get to the hostel early anyway) but at around 9pm we decided to call it a day, check into our hostel and get some sleep. Neither of us really trusted the prospect of somehow getting access to the baggage claim from outside, hoping to find our bags and then recheck them upstairs, so we planned a lot of time at the airport and an early departure from the city. Hence we fell asleep pretty soon after having checked in online - only to have our frustration at IB grow because choosing a preferred seat would have cost money: 17€ for a middle seat, 33€ for an aisle or window seat. We would be split up, but since we both at least got assigned an aisle seat and 90% of the flight was going to be over water anyway we didn't bother.

Gran Vía at the blue hour
ImageCRC1718_45 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr


After a rather short night we woke up at 6:45am the next morning, got freshened up as much as possible and since we had nothing in the room except our small bags, cameras and clothes anyway we had left the room, checked out and were out of the door at 7:20 - record breaking :lol: . We walked over to Puerta del Sol station, taking the 7:35 Cercanías commuter train this time (costs less than half of what they charge you on the metro!!) and got to the airport by 8:20 - over 3hrs before our departure!

Sun rising on the way to the airport
ImageCRC1718_69 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Now, we figured, the tricky part began: Leaving the train station we were at the arrivals level and observed the exit door from the baggage claim. Quickly it became obvious that it was a unidirectional motion sensor door so we waited for a large group of people to leave the claims so we could enter in the opposite direction. I felt the adrenaline rush because nothing about this seemed right in any way but with the next wave of people spilling out, we ran in. Right after the door, there was a security guard and upon showing him the form, he nodded and let us pass. Phew, step one: :checkmark: .
We continued back to the info counter and were delighted to see that no one was in line before us, so we handed the form over to the agent currently (wo)manning and after typing on her computer briefly she told us to walk over to belt 6, our bags should arrive their within 15 minutes and if not, just report back to her. We got to belt 6 where we saw a bunch of familiar faces from yesterday's flight currently and which was currently delivering bags for an AA flight from DFW and within not even 5 minutes, both our bags arrived on the carousel too. I let out a huge sigh of relief - step two :checkmark: .
Barely 8:45, we realized we hadn't had any breakfast yet, so after leaving the baggage claim again we did just that, before getting our toiletries out of the checked luggage to get properly freshened up in an airport bathroom. After that we went to the departures area, gave up our luggage again at one of the bag drop counters and made our way to the security check.

Yours truly brushing teeth in the airport bathroom
ImageCRC1718_70 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

A quick ride on the underground APM and a passport check over in T4S later it was now 10:20, just about half an hour before boarding and we settled down in the departures lounge at gate S16.

MAD's beautiful architecture
ImageCRC1718_75 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Today's departure gate
ImageCRC1718_75 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

I walked around the area a bit, but boarding was called pretty much on time and being seated so far at the back, I was among the first groups to be allowed aboard of EC-MLB.

First glimpses of our super young ride
ImageCRC1718_72 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_73 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

CX B77W to HKG
ImageCRC1718_78 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

AA B752, UX E190 and a nice view over to T4 and Madrid-Chamartín's "Quatro Torres" skyline
ImageCRC1718_80 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr


29|12|2017
Iberia flight IB 6315
Madrid MAD - San José SJO
STD || ATD - 11:35 || 12:13 [CET]
STA || ATA - 15:50 || 16:30 [CST]
Flight time: 11:17hrs
Plane type and registration: Airbus A330-200 EC-MLB "Iberoamérica"
Age at the time: 1.5 years
Seat: 42H >>> 34C

View from the jetbridge
ImageCRC1718_84 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Iberoamérica could do with some cleaning
ImageCRC1718_85 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Nonetheless upon entering, I was struck by how modern and fresh the cabin looked. After walking all the way to the back and settling into my assigned seat I began to realize that this might be a relaxing flight: The seats were really comfortable, the screen was impressively clear and, especially in 42H, legroom was more than enough. As I had just convinced that an aisle seat in the 2nd-but-last row could be really fun, a young couple asked me if I was traveling alone: They were with a 3rd friend who received a seat further to the front while they occupied the other 2 seats in the middle block (by row 42, the A330's 2-4-2 had already turned into a 2-3-2), so they wanted to know if it might be possible for me to switch with him. I asked them what kind of seat he was in and they said it was an aisle seat too, but in the window block. In that case I didn't mind at all and after a brief exchange I took my new seat in 34C - just one row and an aisle from my friend who was seated in 33D! A lucky switch, and despite being a tad tighter around the legs, the seat was still amazing and I also had a nice seatmate.

After boarding was completed, doors closed at 11:48 and we were pushed back a few minutes later while the safety video was played over the PTVs. What followed was an unnecessarily lengthy taxi that took us once around the long end of T4S just to get to the threshold of runway 14R, from where we finally took off at 12:13, turning west and setting course for Costa Rica briefly after departure. About an hour and a half into the flight the first meal service began, consisting of a full meal (I chose the pasta option which was really good), including a salad, a dessert and bread rolls with which the crew did repeated runs. In the following time they came through regularly with coffee or tea and you could walk back to the aft galley where there was a snack and drink bar. Halfway into the flight a ham and cheese sandwhich was served and about an hour before landing a third service of snack boxes was distributed! I spent the rest of the (rather calm except for some periods of clear-air turbulence) flight watching movies and TV shows on the PTV, filling out the Costa Rican customs declaration or just listening to my music and observing the flight progress. The latter was slow due to some strong headwinds and towards the end the flight really drew out.

Cabin view some time midflight
ImageCRC1718_89 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Legroom was really fine, mind that this photo was taken while the seat in front of me was reclined almost all the way
ImageCRC1718_88 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

A quick look outside while my seatmate went for a bathroom break, somewhere above the Caribbean sea already
ImageCRC1718_91 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Map view around the same time, the moving map system was excellent!
ImageCRC1718_92 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Finally, around 22:45 Madrid time we began our descent only to be sent into a holding pattern of at least 15 minutes over the Pacific (!) coast before finally being released into the final approach toward SJO where we touched down onto a wet runway 07 after a flight time of 11:17hours.
It took us just about 5 minutes after that to reach the final parking position (I'd guess gate 2 or 3) and begin deboarding.

A last view backon "Iberoamérica", thanks for the ride!
ImageCRC1718_93 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

After another considerable wait at the immigration checkpoint we made it to the baggage claim area where our bags where already standing next to the belt. By 17:30 local time we had finally made it out of the airport building into the humid evening air, before taking the public bus into San José.

-----

In the following 2 weeks we travelled around Costa Rica, marveling at its beautiful tropical landscapes and national parks and relaxing for a few days each at the Pacific and Caribbean beaches (just a quick selection of pictures I liked best)

Some street art in San José. We stayed there for 3 nights and it was more than enough to see the city.
ImageCRC1718_142 (2) by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The crater lake at Volcán Irazú national park. Although the weather wasn't exactly overwhelming that day, it was an impressive sight!
ImageCRC1718_117 (2) by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Typical cityscape in the town of Heredia.
ImageCRC1718_158 (2) by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Waterfall in the Reserva de Monteverde cloud forest. While we didn't spot any animals, just hiking around this completely different ecosystem was fascinating enough.
ImageCRC1718_226 (2) by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Stunning sunset at the beach in Playa Tamarindo by the Pacific ocean. The Nicoya peninsula on the west coast had the best climate imo, especially since we visited in the first weeks of the dry season.
ImageCRC1718_292 (2) by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Cahuita National Park at the Caribbean coast. The rainforest extended right until the beach and we spotted monkeys, birds, lizards and many other species. Although it was much more humid than on the Pacific side, I'd be tempted to say that this was one of the most beautiful corners we saw on the entire trip.
ImageCRC1718_374 (2) by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

-----

Having arrived from Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast the day before and spent the night at an Airbnb in the neighborhood of La Ribera, just around 2 kilometers away from SJO we were picked up by an Uber at 9:15am. We had checked in online for the PTY-MAD and MAD-FRA segments the night before, but for our Copa flight OLCI was not available. For that reason and since there wasn't more much to do anyway we decided to leave as soon as we were up and had leisurely gotten dressed, so we'd be at the airport with reasonable time for checking in at the counter.
With a bit of congestion on the highway (part of the Interamericana/Panamericana!) the driver dropped us off curbside at 9:40, again 3 hours before STD.
We immediately found CM's counters inside and with no line to speak of, checked in with the agent in no time, who also gave us nice paper boarding passes for all our segments until FRA (luggage was checked all the way too).

The check-in area at SJO
ImageCRC1718_385 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

After clearing security we had some breakfast at the food court since we'd forgotten to buy anything to eat at the Airbnb the night before. To kill time before departure we wandered about the terminal multiple times spotting planes, spending our last Colones on food or souvenirs and measuring the time it took to traverse the entire terminal from gate 1 to 16 (answer: 5:20 minutes at a strolling pace 8-) ). Obviously SJO wasn't the largest airport, but it was a really pleasant experience.

An AV A320 headed to BOG
ImageCRC1718_386 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

One of the many UA B738 I'd see today and an AM B73G just being pulled in from MEX
ImageCRC1718_391 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

An artwork in the terminal
ImageCRC1718_392 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Two of Costa Rica's most impressive feats in one picture
ImageCRC1718_394 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The single corridor connecting all the gates
ImageCRC1718_388 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

A few minutes after boarding time we settled into the gate area, but there was no airplane to be seen yet. It arrived a few minutes later after apparenty having gone-around according to Fr24, but after the incoming passengers had left it didn't take too long for us to be allowed on board.

Our plane docked outside, but Gate 16 is not suited for spotting...
ImageCRC1718_396 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr


11|01|2018
Copa Airlines flight CM 796
San José SJO - Panama City PTY
STD || ATD - 12:47 || 13:23 [CST]
STA || ATA - 15:06 || 15:15 [EST]
Flight time: 00:52hrs
Plane type and registration: Boeing 737-800 HP-1848CMP
Age at the time: 2.4 years
Seat: 31F

About to board Copa's HP-1848CMP
ImageCRC1718_401 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

I had been checking the registration before boarding and upon seeing the age I had been thinking about this being a Boeing Sky Interior plane, but boy did it strike me once I was on board. The feeling this cabin gives off is just incredible and, in my opinion, worlds ahead of any other product currently available for narrowbodies. I excitedly settled down into my window seat just to be greeted by an overwhelming amount of legroom. This was going to be a good flight! The PTVs were just the icing on the cake though I wouldn't even use them for anything but the map because there was enough to see outside on such a short flight.

Cabin vew upon boarding: Sky Interior with blue moodlighting in effect
ImageCRC1718_402 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The views from seat 31F: Outside - a Volaris Costa Rica A320 headed to Managua - ...
ImageCRC1718_404 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

...and inside - another glance at the moodlit cabin and these spacious pivoting overhead bins. Cloth seats were comfortable too and featured adjustable headrests.
ImageCRC1718_407 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Boarding was completed withing 20 minutes and we got pushed back at 13:04, a delay owing to the late arrival of the plane. After waiting for 2 incoming and 2 departing planes it was our turn and we departed from SJO's runway 25, turning left to set course for Panama briefly after liftoff. Apart from some bumps while climbing out through these giant tropical clouds the flight was mainly one thing: Spectacular!

First time for me seeing one of these bright yellow Spirit planes during pushback
ImageCRC1718_409 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

American carriers had a large presence, a theme that will become obvious in the next few pictures:
ImageCRC1718_410 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Waiting for a similar-looking plane to take off
ImageCRC1718_412 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Now it's our turn
ImageCRC1718_413 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Spectacular views while climbing out towards the west and up into the clouds
ImageCRC1718_415 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_417 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_418 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Tracking our progress on the PTV
ImageCRC1718_419 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

A valley deep below us
ImageCRC1718_421 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

To make things even better, about 20 minutes into the flight the crew came around and handed out an entire proper meal for everyone. I was astonished at the level of service CM provided, especially given that this was a flight that levelled off at a maximum of FL350 - for none more than 5 minutes! During descent we hit some moderately strong clear-air turbulence that lasted for 1-2 minutes and caused the crew to stop their trash collection runs. Sooner rather than later we were already lined up for approach into PTY and after overflying dozens of ships awaiting passage in the Panama canal we touched down in PTY's rain-wet runway 03R.

Complimentary food serving - a sandwich and some sort of red cole slaw plus a pack of cookies
ImageCRC1718_420 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Overflying the Panamanian archipelago of Bocas del Toro
ImageCRC1718_425 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_428 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Our brief period of cruise over the Caribbean Sea
ImageCRC1718_429 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Legroom for ages (I'm 185cm/ 6'1 and when I took this picture the seat in front of me was reclined!)
ImageCRC1718_433 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Descending over rural Panama
ImageCRC1718_435 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Urban buildup to the west of Panama City
ImageCRC1718_437 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The small coastal town of Veracruz
ImageCRC1718_439 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Ships waiting to be allowed into the locks of the Panama canal
ImageCRC1718_443 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

After waiting about 5 minutes for our parking position to become free we docked at a jetbridge right infront of the food court part of PTY, which was where me and my friend headed after deboarding. Sadly the layover was not long enough to leave PTY and head for the city, but we were in no rush for our next flight whatsoever.

Taxiing in...
ImageCRC1718_445 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

...where we're parked next to an American sister
ImageCRC1718_446 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr


View from the food court
ImageCRC1718_450 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Our plane arriving from Madrid
ImageCRC1718_452 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

After that we slowly walked to the announced boarding gate when suddenly - "Passenger Mr. Lukas [...] to Madrid, please report at the information desk" :eyepopping:
I stared at my friend in disbelief: The callout was made it typically poor p/a quality, but we were both sure that this had just been my name, so I made my way over to the aforementioned desk next to the gate door. Upon showing the agent my passport he asked for my boarding pass, so I gave him my paper bp for the flight, but he responded by demanding "the one to Frankfurt, too." I got a bit nervous at that point and what he did next didn't help at all: After checking the flight numbers another time, the agent just ripped the passes into pieces, throwing them into the trash.
I just stood there frozen - did I just get involuntarily bumped? Are they rebooking me? Will I receive a hotel? Compensation? Why me?
Instead, the agent handed me out another set of tickets for the exact same flights - in the exact same seats. :confused:
The only difference was that those were Iberia-branded, however black and white printouts, way less beautiful than those Copa ones. I still haven't understood the reason for that and I'm a bit mad at IB for throwing away the nice-looking ones. Nonetheless I was relieved to be on the same flight, and boarding began super-punctually a few minutes later.

Side view in the evening light
ImageCRC1718_454 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Up close and personal with "Buenos Aires"
ImageCRC1718_456 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr


11|01|2018
Iberia flight IB 6315
Panama City PTY - Madrid MAD
STD || ATD - 18:35 || 18:44 [EST]
STA || ATA - 10:30+1 || 09:43+1 [CET]
Flight time: 08:59hrs
Plane type and registration: Airbus A330-200 EC-MJA "Buenos Aires"
Age at the time: 2 years
Seat: 20L

This time I scored a pre-assigned window seat (so I really don't get their system) and settled into the equally immaculate new seat, adjusting the useful headrest and waiting for boarding to be completed, which was indeed a short affair: By 18:30 we were already being pushed back - 5 minutes ahead of scheduled departure! While the engines came to life, the safety video was played via the PTVs again and shortly later we taxied to the threshold of runway 03R from where we took off into the last fading light at 18:44. Something that really caught my attention this time was how sluggish the climbout felt and was, but nevertheless we made it into the air heading back home.

A quick view of 20L...
ImageCRC1718_459 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

...and a few ones FROM 20L
ImageCRC1718_461 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Pushing back as dust settles in
ImageCRC1718_463 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The terminals at PTY during taxi
ImageCRC1718_466 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_467 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

And a shaky view of Panama City's skyline in the distance
ImageCRC1718_468 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Climbing out into darkness
ImageCRC1718_471 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

A bit over an hour after departure the crew began rolling out the dinner service which (I had the pasta option) was pretty good (and seriously filling!) again. What I especially liked was the fact that they used metal cutlery and I even got a real slice of lemon into my Fanta Limón!

Dinner service
ImageCRC1718_472 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

After watching some tv shows I tried to get some sleep but I only barely succeeded. While the seat and legroom was fine and the adjustable headrest and the blanket were really good, a lot of credit goes to my seatmate: He was deeply asleep with both his elbows sticking out over the armrests, so my seat width was reduced by at least 15%. After some on-off dozing for at least 2 hours I decided to give it up and watched some stars with the blanket over my head covering out what little light was left inside the cabin. I occasionally checked the moving map and realized that we were in for an early arrival - we were constantly barreling at over 1000kph with a good deal of tailwind!
And indeed, with about 90 minutes remaining (but 150 minutes before STA) the sun began to rise and the crew sprung into action shortly later, handing out the breakfast boxes and doing multiple drink runs which I used to compensate for my missed sleep by downing two cups of coffee in addition to the OJ I got with the box.

Sunrise over the Atlantic
ImageCRC1718_477 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Breakfast snack box
ImageCRC1718_478 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Not much later, at around 9:15 Madrid time (only 3:15 in Panama and 2:15 in Costa Rica :knockout: ) we began to leave our final cruising altitude of 38000 feet and wound down over the barren Castilian winter landscapes. A few minutes into the descent the captain came on the mic announcing our early arrival and advising those sitting on the left about the amazing views they were able to have of the snow-covered Guadarrama mountains before informing us about the weather - temperatures just below the freezing point were expected for Madrid this morning, quite the contrast to Panama's humid 28°C.
A few turns later we were established on the final approach for runway 32L where we touched down at 9:43 local time - almost 50 minutes before the scheduled arrival!

Approaching MAD
ImageCRC1718_483 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_484 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_486 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

ImageCRC1718_488 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The taxi that followed was swift but that also meant we ended up at a remote stand so I scrambled to get my jacket out of the bag compartment above me, now layering a t-shirt, a sweater and said jacket against the morning cold - and boy did I need it. The views where nice though, so after bidding the crew goodbye I deboarded via the airstairs docked onto door L2 but then hurried to get to the bus.

Arrived on our remote stand
ImageCRC1718_490 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Risking I'll get lynched for this but the new IB branding is beginning to grow on me - especially in this shot with the snow-covered Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range as a backdrop... :duck:
ImageCRC1718_489 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Out of the door and into the freezing air
ImageCRC1718_491 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Having passed through immigration we were now faced with an uncomfortable amount of time until our last flight - a LOT of time to spend at the airport but still at the very lowest end of what one would consider enough for going landside and driving to the city. In the end we decided to stay at MAD and killed the next few hours by walking around, eating or playing cards.

Luckily, boarding for the sector to FRA was called on time and we begun our ultimate segment of this trip without any problems:


12|01|2018
Iberia flight IB 3130
Madrid MAD - Frankfurt FRA
STD || ATD - 15:40 || 15:59
STA || ATA - 18:20 || 18:07
Flight time: 02:08hrs
Plane type and registration: Airbus A319-100 EC-JAZ
Age at the time: 13.6 years
Seat: 18F

View of EC-JAZ from the jetbridge
ImageCRC1718_493 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The first thing I noticed about this plane was the fact that it belonged to the subfleet of "A319-B" airplanes Iberia normally uses for flights to places such as TLV or western Africa, noticeable by the fact that the J seats were actual business class seats like the ones you'd know from American carriers' first class products. The Y seats were pretty standard slimlines however and on this flight I found the legroom to be noteably tight. The boarding process was terminated in a rather quick and orderly fashion, meaning we were pushed back just past the scheduled departure at 15:42 before beginning the taxi to our departure runway 36R. A manual safety demonstration was given and after holding short for 3 company planes we were up and away.
The rest of the flight was the usual uneventful intra-Euro hop, apart from the fact that until we hit the bay of Biscay there were some pretty breathtaking landscapes to admire. According to the flight deck we passed over Paris later, but France was overcast almost the entire way so I didn't manage spot the city of light.

In the line for takeoff
ImageCRC1718_495 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Shortly after leaving MAD
ImageCRC1718_497 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Snow building up in Northern Spain
ImageCRC1718_500 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Or is it Norway? :scratchchin: ;)
ImageCRC1718_501 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

Oh no, it's not. Exhibit A: The Basque city of San Sebastián
ImageCRC1718_503 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

The sun setting for the second time on our journey
ImageCRC1718_509 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

About 1:45h after takeoff we began to descend into Germany, where dusk had already fallen and after a surprisingly small series of turns the landing gear already came down. Indeed, we ended up coming in from the west and finally landed on 07R at 18:07 local time.
That also meant that we were pretty close to Terminal 2 already so we reached our parking postion just a few minutes later. Our adventure had come to an end.

Parked next to a KE B748 at FRA
ImageCRC1718_510 by Lukas Gieser, auf Flickr

After deboarding we had a somewhat lengthy wait at the baggage claim and just as we started to get nervous, our bags showed up - having made the entire trip from SJO without us interfering. Success!

This made a final good influence on the verdict I have for Iberia: Although the outbound leg started off troubled, their new long-haul product is something I'd recommend without any second thoughts - food was decent and plenty, the IFE was amazing and the hard product on those new A330s was top notch. Admittedly, my sample size of longhaul flights isn't too big (yet), but IB definitely made a surprisingly good impression on me!

Copa Airlines is another thing - I only had one roughly-50-minute flight with them, but judging by that one, they are strong contestants for my favorite airline. Everything about it was as close to perfect as you can get on such a sector and I wouldn't have minded for the flight to be longer.
A caveat for them too: I know they operate their 738s on routes the likes of PTY-EZE /-MVD /-SCL and I don't know whether I'd be a fan of spending 6+ hours on a narrowbody, but apart from that they are way high up on my list if I ever visit the area again!


Congratulations now to all those of you who made it through this report! I hope it was somehow entertaining and I'm, as always, looking forward to any kind of feedback/criticism. Maybe someone of you knows what this whole boarding pass thing was about?

I can't tell what and when my next report will be, but I'll be studying abroad in the US starting in August, so a few interesting flights are already on the horizon.

Cheers,
Lukas
Q400 E175 CRJ9 CRJX A319 A320 A321 A332 A333 B733 B738 B788
X3 LH 4U TP US YX SN EI FR LA YW IB CM
FRA STR HAM TXL ACE BRU BLL DUB MAN MAD OPO LIS FNC AMS PHL RDU LGA CLT SJO PTY
 
User avatar
LTU932
Posts: 13478
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2006 12:34 am

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:00 pm

Copa is a fine operation. They've had SJO as their basically prime focus city/secondary hub for decades. As for the street art picture, that's in front of the parliament building in Cuesta de Moras. I've been there quite a few times but the last times, I don't remember having seen this street art..
Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer. - Ferengi Rule of Acquisition 208
 
User avatar
lugie
Topic Author
Posts: 570
Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:11 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:32 pm

LTU932 wrote:
Copa is a fine operation. They've had SJO as their basically prime focus city/secondary hub for decades. As for the street art picture, that's in front of the parliament building in Cuesta de Moras. I've been there quite a few times but the last times, I don't remember having seen this street art..


I agree, I was seriously impressed with their product. I had heard about them before but my friend hadn't and therefore seemed a bit skeptical about them at first but he became an instant fan after the flight :lol:

This was the neighborhood where our hostel was located, we passed by there a few times, seemed like a rather nice part of the city. We lived across the street from the Supreme Court building, but I didn't know this was a parliament building. Thanks for the info! :smile:

Lukas
Q400 E175 CRJ9 CRJX A319 A320 A321 A332 A333 B733 B738 B788
X3 LH 4U TP US YX SN EI FR LA YW IB CM
FRA STR HAM TXL ACE BRU BLL DUB MAN MAD OPO LIS FNC AMS PHL RDU LGA CLT SJO PTY
 
geoshina
Posts: 147
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:18 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:47 am

Great FR, Lukas :)
Quite entertaining indeed!
Last November I did GRU-PTY-JFK and I have to say that even though I was in C, it was not a very comfortable journey.
 
User avatar
lugie
Topic Author
Posts: 570
Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:11 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:07 pm

geoshina wrote:
Great FR, Lukas :)
Quite entertaining indeed!
Last November I did GRU-PTY-JFK and I have to say that even though I was in C, it was not a very comfortable journey.


Thanks, I'm glad you liked it! :smile:

I can imagine that GRU-PTY-JFK is not so much fun anymore, that's what, 9-10 hours on 737s?
Especially when other carriers operate the route with superior products the likes of B77W, A350, A330...

But still, my impression of CM was good and for short sectors they offered a better product than most carriers (particularly North American or European ones) on comparable stage lengths would.
Q400 E175 CRJ9 CRJX A319 A320 A321 A332 A333 B733 B738 B788
X3 LH 4U TP US YX SN EI FR LA YW IB CM
FRA STR HAM TXL ACE BRU BLL DUB MAN MAD OPO LIS FNC AMS PHL RDU LGA CLT SJO PTY
 
User avatar
Schweigend
Posts: 510
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:47 am

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:11 am

Vielen Dank, Lugie, for this fascinating and comprehensive report!

All of the photos really contributed well in conveying the experience.

It was very nicely balanced.

Keep it up !!

Cheers and warm regards,
Scottie
 
User avatar
lugie
Topic Author
Posts: 570
Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:11 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:04 pm

Schweigend wrote:
Vielen Dank, Lugie, for this fascinating and comprehensive report!

All of the photos really contributed well in conveying the experience.

It was very nicely balanced.

Keep it up !!

Cheers and warm regards,
Scottie


Thank you for the kind feedback, I really appreciate that!

I hope I'll be able to follow up with some more reports in the not-so-distant future :smile:
Q400 E175 CRJ9 CRJX A319 A320 A321 A332 A333 B733 B738 B788
X3 LH 4U TP US YX SN EI FR LA YW IB CM
FRA STR HAM TXL ACE BRU BLL DUB MAN MAD OPO LIS FNC AMS PHL RDU LGA CLT SJO PTY
 
User avatar
eastafspot
Posts: 1069
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 5:19 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:25 pm

A good idea for vacation for sure... without IB preferably :D
Too bad no overbooking (and compensation) at the end!
You should have put more pics of your holidays many of us would have appreciated - Costa Rica is great for eco-tourism, right?
Anyway you enjoyed the flights, and that's the most important!

Thanks for sharing
Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
 
User avatar
lugie
Topic Author
Posts: 570
Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:11 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Tue Feb 06, 2018 8:47 pm

eastafspot wrote:
A good idea for vacation for sure... without IB preferably :D
Too bad no overbooking (and compensation) at the end!
You should have put more pics of your holidays many of us would have appreciated - Costa Rica is great for eco-tourism, right?
Anyway you enjoyed the flights, and that's the most important!

Thanks for sharing


Thanks for your feedback!

Yes, to be honest, in a retrospect I wouldn't have minded if I'd really ended up being bumped from the flight and then be payed a hotel for the night. That way I could have visited Panama City and gotten the Panamanian stamp into my passport. But it is what it is.

If you're interested I'll upload a few more pictures and leave a link to them here.
Costa Rica's main attraction is its nature and from what I could tell they're doing a decent job at conservation, especially around the National Parks. They're also pretty close to generating 100% of their energy from renewables. But there are also areas with environmental problems, for example in the last years large plantations for oil palms have been planted in some parts, replacing the original nature in those areas.

I wouldn't say that I'm too well informed after two weeks though, that's just what I know so far. :)

Cheers,
Lukas
Q400 E175 CRJ9 CRJX A319 A320 A321 A332 A333 B733 B738 B788
X3 LH 4U TP US YX SN EI FR LA YW IB CM
FRA STR HAM TXL ACE BRU BLL DUB MAN MAD OPO LIS FNC AMS PHL RDU LGA CLT SJO PTY
 
coyoteguy
Posts: 486
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2001 8:58 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:38 pm

I've flown MEX - PTY - GIG/GRU - PTY - MEX a few times on CM, and have always had a great experience both in Y and J, with prices being way below non-stop flights from MEX - GIG/GRU. Onboard service is great, and I don't mind spending 7 hours + on a 737; a seat is a seat, and as long as it's comfortable, I have no problem with it being on a narrow body. Highly recommend Copa.
 
NozPerry
Posts: 85
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2015 12:12 am

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:55 pm

Thanks for the great report Lukas!

I’ve always been interested in trying out IB’s international product, it looks like you had a great time and It seems like Copa have a strong product going for them.
It’s a shame they didn’t let you keep the original boarding passes though!

Noz
I love the feel of a Go Around in the morning
 
gtallander
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:46 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Fri Mar 09, 2018 9:51 pm

Really enjoyed reading your report. While I flew to Spain last year I didn't get the chance to fly on Iberia. I did notice that your photo captioned as San Sebastien is actually of Biarritz France not too far away at all.
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1784
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:58 pm

I have flown a few times to the US / Europe on Iberia and have been satisfied; decent legroom and decent meals. Crew are hit and miss. Also very good coffee.
 
User avatar
lugie
Topic Author
Posts: 570
Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 4:11 pm

Re: To Central America on the new IB (and CM)

Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:21 pm

It has been a while since I checked up on this thread (I don't get notifications for replies), so here go my answers :wave:

Thank you all for your replies!

coyoteguy wrote:
I've flown MEX - PTY - GIG/GRU - PTY - MEX a few times on CM, and have always had a great experience both in Y and J, with prices being way below non-stop flights from MEX - GIG/GRU. Onboard service is great, and I don't mind spending 7 hours + on a 737; a seat is a seat, and as long as it's comfortable, I have no problem with it being on a narrow body. Highly recommend Copa.


NozPerry wrote:
Thanks for the great report Lukas!

I’ve always been interested in trying out IB’s international product, it looks like you had a great time and It seems like Copa have a strong product going for them.
It’s a shame they didn’t let you keep the original boarding passes though!

Noz


I can only second your opinions on Copa, I'm definitely really happy the segment on them was a part of the cheapest available itinerary.

As for IB I really hadn't known what to expect from them beforehand, I knew their A330s would be refurbished but I had no idea about the rest. They did a pretty good job with everything though.

lychemsa wrote:
I have flown a few times to the US / Europe on Iberia and have been satisfied; decent legroom and decent meals. Crew are hit and miss. Also very good coffee.


Their coffee was definitely good, I can tell because I had a lot! :lol: One thing that additionally helped with legroom imo was the setup of their seats, where the pocket that contains magazines and safety cards is behind the tray table and only a small net for personal belongings is at the lower end of the seatback, allowing for more space around the knees.


gtallander wrote:
Really enjoyed reading your report. While I flew to Spain last year I didn't get the chance to fly on Iberia. I did notice that your photo captioned as San Sebastien is actually of Biarritz France not too far away at all.


Thanks for the kind words and the heads-up, I wasn't entirely sure and just assumed it could be San Sebastián since we'd just left the mainland. But I was sleepy on that flight, so it's likely I just messed those up :smile:

Cheers,
Lukas
Q400 E175 CRJ9 CRJX A319 A320 A321 A332 A333 B733 B738 B788
X3 LH 4U TP US YX SN EI FR LA YW IB CM
FRA STR HAM TXL ACE BRU BLL DUB MAN MAD OPO LIS FNC AMS PHL RDU LGA CLT SJO PTY

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos