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Winner June 2012
The winning user review for the June 2012 Seatplans.com competition for the prize of a Gate8 luggage carry on tri-fold.
Remember to review your next flight on seatplans.com for a chance to win a prize.
AMS-LCY This BA flight from leaves weekdays at 11.30am.
Mid daytime flights are not abundant from AMS as Airlines tend to run them mornings and evenings more, with Cityjet on the same route. I bought a one way a couple of weeks ahead at Euros 80 incl. a good price.
Schiphol Check in is in Terminal 3. Departure is in Terminal 2! You share the check in area with Iberia. It is a dull area, check in machines did not pick up the booking so I had to check in at the desk. You need to allow at least 20 minutes walk, plus security time at a core entrance point for some UK flights at the top of D terminal, so the gates are farthest away, add on another 20 minutes to clear security at busy times.
The Embraer 190 is a new very comfortable aircraft to fly on to LCY, and BA run 170 aircraft also.
The seats were comfortable leather, with good leg room, cabin pleasant and spacious and felt well aired. It was quiet and comfortable, about 70% occupied.
The flight left 10 minutes late with no explanations from the crew. Long taxiway on what they call "The Haarlem runway" 15 minutes taxi away and several Km's.
Service on Board is disappointing, with little effort made. Plastic 150mls of cheap orange juice or same water from a cheap supplier, with only a fatty savoury bag of snacks, or sweet offered. No hot drinks. No other choices of soft drinks or at least named suppliers of a good brand. No sandwiches. I left what i was offered.
Crew spent 15 minutes talking at the back..this not being the first time this happens. They could easily serve tea and coffee, as undoubtedly the overall taxi and flight takes over an hour.
We landed on time, 11.40am GMT.
Exiting was delayed by 10 minutes due to no stairs, and a waiting aircraft departing. Immigration was quite at this time, with officers being called out from their waiting room, as at LCY (they do not sit there the whole shift, some off peak times flights are scarce, but through in a few minutes.)
Baggage delivered within 5 mins and out to car parked nearby. Always a rapid exit from LCY one of the big benefits of time.
Comparing Cityjet (run by Air France Avro 85 Aircraft + Code share with for KLM).
As a Gold KLM Skyteam frequent flyer i get Intercontinental Lounge access, and Priority Skyteam check in, Immigration, and Security now throughout Schiphol, one of the EU's voted best Airports. This is a set of major perks making it much more serviced, pleasant and time saving.
On board the food and drink has been improved on Cityjet recently, with better sandwiches always offered, a full bar service soft drinks, and always tea and coffee. The crews are always busy serving everyone, and they work hard.
There is really little effort on BA, pots of water and cheap snacks do not suffice when fares can be as high as £300 one way for economy seats.
On Cityjet, Cleanliness of the windows, backs of the seats is getting very poor, with stains, and grime on the windows. The Avrojet feels smaller and more cramped and not as light, and on BA the Embraer jets are much more comfortable, spacious, relaxing and enjoyable. They are new aircraft and well cleaned. They are also quieter engines and a very comfortable plane for an EU flight compared to many Aircraft.
Prices tend to vary with Cityjet running more daily flights, and weekends also, where BA run one or two at weekends. City Airport closes from Midday Saturday until same time Sunday.
It is a shuttle service at 45 min flights. What you pay depends on off peak or high peak (weekends and mornings ... evening Cityjet flights from AMS are actually cheapest at 16hrs -19hrs.
Cityjet have 3 monthly roughly sales on this route, and fares have been as low as £80 / £95 returns, and they have included ALL flights at peak times also. But their standards have dropped, and they need to see to the basics such as hygiene and cleanliness.
BA offer the better plane, and you can find the odd fare that beats cityjet on a one way. Always check both Airlines if you want the lowest price, as the difference can be dramatic.
You can also consider using Easyjet London Southend to Amsterdam with 2x daily flights if you can get out there by train or car (1 hr from N ldn).
Fares run from as little as Euros 18.99 one way!
Pro's and cons, take your pick! I fly weekly, and use 95% Cityjet owing to the perks and miles.
LCY Parking TIP!
Car parking at LCY can be charged at around £48.00 per 24 hrs! This can add £120+ to your fare for an over 2 day trip! Many regular passengers park just down from the airport on a nearby estate without restrictions. There is a long road that does not impose residents, and the area supplies much work from the airport, both co-exist well. It is safe and a few minutes walk via the DLR underpass and station into the airport. You can save much in costs!
I was incoming on a connecting flight from Cancun (on Economy class) with LAN's ONEworld partner American, no assistance was given by American Airlines staff (think they were airport staff) thru immigration, so I was running short of time for this flight.
Finally our of immigration, I had to run thru Miami Airport terminal D to terminal J. Kind a half a mile run, check in queue for Business class passengers as well as ONEworld elite members was long, with only 2 counters available for 3 flights LAN had departing around 830-1000PM, check in was done and I was able to get fast thru security using the FASTtrack lane, available only to LAN and Avianca premium and business class passengers.
VIP lounge at Miami Airport is not what you might expect, it is not an airline lounge, so even though it had free wifi, a few sandwiches and sodas you could not expect more from it (better spend time at the duty free in J terminal). Flight was announced it was delayed as the incoming plane had not jet arrived (yes, one may think the plane is already there since LAN has many flights leaving late evening from SCL, LIM and EZE that arrive early morning), but planes left that day and we had to wait for the daytime flights to arrive, in my case, flight LA501 arrived in from SCL via BOG with 45 minutes delay) servicing to the aircraft was done quickly in order for the flight to still leave "on time".
Boarding began exactly at 2045, 15 minutes the original scheduled departure time, order was business class passengers and elite FFPs, followed by people who needed assistance and passengers with kids under 7, and finally economy class passengers.
I was seating in seat number 4D (Aisle in the mid-line of the fuselage) only to find out that I would be one of the last to be served, since the aircraft only had 5 rows in business. The pre departure drink was offered, consisting of champagne or Pisco sour, as I don't drink I asked the flight attendant for a soda or even some OJ and told I had to wait, no problem since I may understand they are busy, however my OJ came almost when the act was ready for pushback so I had to drink it kinda fast, also I was impressed to see maintenance personnel fixing up seats even during boarding (rare since I've never seen that on a plane leaving the US or bound for the USA), also at this time once boarding was done, I gas given the premium business ameni kit which includes only a hand lotion and a face cream from bulgari, the rest is cheap stuff not comparable to what other companies may offer.
Menu was given during taxi and in the meantime as we were awaiting take off, flight attendants disappeared to their seats in the galley. Plane took off no with no problems, 35-50 minutes after original SKD. IFE was automatically switched on during TO roll. (to be more specific at V2/rotate), this is a 15.4" TFT LCD monitor with no touch capabilities (as the economy), with a "wide" selection of films, all of this system is AVOD, please note that I mean wide ironically, since most of the features were released in the USA 6-9 months earlier, and that is fresh for a Latin American carrier.
Dinner was offered, and it was weird since the crew did not offer any alcohol to drink, instead you had to ask for it, for example, my travel partner had to ask for a vodka and OJ, because flight attendants only carried non alcoholic beverages on the cart. In my row, which I found it very downgrading from the crew, only PUMPKIN soup was available (yes, for us who speak Spanish the flight attendant said SOPA DE ZAPALLO o SOPA DE ZAPALLO, bad considering this is a US$5000+ ticket).
Main courses were 3 options, of which 2 were fish and or seafood, just one had beef (was wondering what would happen with a passenger who would not want to eat any of these). I had the beef, since I cant eat seafood when I fly (mainly because I don't feel confident about its origin and condition).
Trays were picked up about 1 hr after the service finished, and crew did not offer any coffee or tea, if you asked for it, a bad face would tell you, NO TEA, NO COFFEE, SERVICE IS DONE, so better go to the main cabin galley, where a flight attendant would give you a cup of coffee or tea without any hesitation and even with a smile.
Before everyone settled in for sleeping on the flight, breakfast cards were given, and passengers had to fill it in and return it to the crew in 25 minutes, otherwise you would not be served any breakfast. I basically could not sleep on the flight, seat wasn't so comfy as promoted (even had to use an extra pillow for lumbar support) and temperature was way too high, meaning it was a sun and I was sweating worse than a pig, so even when I asked (not asked, demanded that the cabin temperature were lowered a bit I got the reply WEL WILL TELL THE CAPTAIN, basically temperature was never adjusted until I asked to talk to the purser of the flight and or the captain itself for lowering the temp. Finally about. 5 hours in flight, temperature was deceased a little bit, but it remained still hot.
2 hours before landing a breakfast service was given, on the card I asked for eggs, white roll, croassaints, milk spread, cereal, jam, ham, and youghurt besides some fresh fruit and a good cup of coffee, let's say everything was brought to me. If you did not want the full breakfast, you could have the express breakfast (muffin plus OJ) to be served when the plane was about to start decent into Santiago. Simply express breakfast which I saw it looked even worse than the economy class light breakfast from American.
Plane landed relatively on time (scheduled 0645AM LT, real: 0703AM), deplaining was quick (something good after the NIGHTMARE I suffered on LAN), no queues at immigration in SCL bag to be delivered first.
In summary: Seat: relatively comfortable if you do not have any back problems (at the time I had a hernia, so I needed more lumbar support and a softier seat), duvet was really nice, 100% feather made and hypoallergenic, pillow: plushy yes, but standard for airline use.
IFE: good considering it is a Latin American carrier, audio selection was good. Headset: regular, cheap quality of LAN, said to be noice canceling, even though it's noice isolating, the could do better using BOSE headsets like AA does.
Food: regular to bad quality, It gives me the impression that options containing seafood were not suitable for eating, since smell was kinda strong (yes, ammonia smell) and passengers eating those went up to the lavatory at least 3 or 4 times during flight.
Crew: -2 for Business class cabin crew, 10 for main cabin crew (they gave me coffee and if I needed anything I knew I could count on them since they were very attentive to passengers, despite the class you flew in). Drink quality: 2, not serving coffee or any booze is absolutely ridiculous for a long haul red eye flight.
Check in at MIA: 1, only 2 counters open for 3 LAN flights departing almost at the same time is absurd, considering that they are slow for processing all the passengers. Arrival at SCL: probably the best of the flight, smooth, quick, efficient (yes, no lines at immigration in SCL)
If you ask me, I certainly don't like LAN airlines, they are not a good company for me, however, in my country (Chile) its is almost the one airline that flies internationally, I ink that their tickets are too expensive considering the awful service they give (yes, I've had better service even in economy or as some call it cattle class on AA and DL).
Congratulations to our winner!