LTN-PFO LCA-LTN

Profile picture for user Mark L

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 4,209

In college I am doing an International Business Studies A Level, the only difference from the normal one being that we get to go on two residential trips. In 2003 we went to Denmark, and this year Cyprus was the chosen destination. This was going to be particularly interesting for me as before this the longest flight I had taken was 2.5 hours to Lisbon, the Larnaca flight took over twice as long as that. The trip was booked through a specialist travel group who were running the conference we were to attend on the Island, and as such flights were completely outside of our control. The chosen airline was eventually Helios Airways, who operate 737-800s on their scheduled routes between the UK and Cyprus. ZU401 was due to depart Luton at 1235, and we arrived at about 1000 in order to beat the M25 and still have time to spare at Luton. However an ominous sign greeted us in the queue for check in, with a departure time showing of 1630. This was corroborated by the Servisair girls on the desks, and we were given 2 £5 vouchers in order to purchase food. After about an hour everyone else was bored stiff, and even I was beginning to tire of staring at the same Nigerian Government G2 no matter how rare it might be. At 1610 5B-DBI arrived, and after waiting for almost an hour for them to turn it around we were lead out, and borded via the rear steps. By this point sadly it was too dark to take any photos, which was rather frustrating as well. Once settled in it was clear that the flight was going to be more comfortable than your average LCC, with the leather seats. Leg room was above average but not in the BA league. The flightcrew explained that there had been an engine problem, and I later learned that we were on the same aircraft that had been struck by lightning a few days earlier and had sufferred a bit more damage than was first thought. Anyway, we taxiied rather rapdily down to the hold for 24, and backtracked expeditiously with the lights of an approaching aircraft bearing down on us. We turned round at the end and the power was quickly applied. The take off roll was the longest I have ever experienced, but then we were almost at the extent of range and Take off Weight. Finally we were airborne and a few seconds later the runway was behind us. Climb was uneventful and once settled in the cruise the in flight meal was brought around. A bag of peanuts was handed out and we were offered a drink and I was quite content with that, although they had an annoying habit of wanting to ID everybody who wanted something alcoholic. About half an hour later I was rather startled to have a hot meal passed to me, and for the screens to drop down from the the roof and start playing the IFE. Yes, my first ever flight with a hot meal and IFE. The meal was a "burger" and a Hash Brown with some veg and a roll, and for desert a small pastry. Drinks were offered 3 or 4 times throughout the flight, and although the movie was blatantly without any sort of a plot line it did pass the time a bit. Sadly by this time we could only observe lights out of the window and without any map to tell us where we were we had to do without any sightseeing. After about 3 and a half hours the seat belt signs came on and we started our descent, very much a charter airline practice that I had not experienced before, usualy not being forced to tighten up until about 10 miles out. We descended fairly rapdily, and landed towards the east with a straight in approach. We vacated right and taxiied up to the terminal building, parking behind a Eurocypria 738. The flight was supposed to continue onto Larnaca however the crew were out of hours and the few lucky people were delayed further by travelling the 150km to LCA by bus. Paphos airport seemed very small indeed, we just had to walk a few metres into the reclaim hall, where there was just the one baggage belt. 10 minutes later and already into our 2nd day of the trip, we headed off to Limassol.
Original post

Member for

14 years 11 months

Posts: 1,887

Great report there
Profile picture for user Mark L

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 4,209

The flight times for the return leg back to London were not as sociable as the outbound trip, a 0740 departure meant being at the airport for 0540, leaving our hotel at 0430, having to get up at about 0345. As it was the last night of our trip we all decided that sleep was a bad idea and stayed up until it was time to leave. Consequently I am writing this at 1700 on Saturday having been up since 0800 on Friday :rolleyes: Anyway after checking in and getting a right hand block of seats for my mates and I from a very helpful lady on check in we proceeded through security and into the airside area, which was rather smaller than I was anticipating. The time soon passed, and as the sun came up I moved round the corner to the gate area, and watched a Syrian A320 arrive from Damascus. There are no gates by the terminal at Larnaca, and all passengers are bussed to a large area of remote stands. At about 0700 ZU400 was called, and I was one of the first people onto the aircraft, taking my seat in 20F. Sadly the window was very dirty which made picture taking that bit difficult. Everyone was on the aircraft in time, however we departed exactly on 0740. Take off roll was very long again, however our angle of attack was strangely higher than I noticed it before. Both flights were completely full, and LCA-LTN is longer than LTN-PFO so I'm not sure quite why that was. Again the climb was perfectly normal, with the sky conditions very clear. This time the food came round the other way, with a hot english breakfast being given out very shortly after departure, with pretzels given out nearer top of descent. This time the flight was all in daylight and we were able to enjoy the scenery provided by the Turkish and Greek coastlines and mountain ranges, however shortly after Rhodes the cloud came about, and we saw little else apart from a lot of snow over Bulgaria. The IFE was similarly disinteresting although a Vicar of Dibley rerun always breaks the monotony. The flight from LCA was 5hrs15min as opposed to 3hrs55min to PFO, and the extra hour and 20 was very much noticeable, exacerbated of course by lack of sleep. Where there was no scenery to keep me occupied there was a small amount of traffic keeping us company, and I noticed a THY 738, and a LH 744 at various stages. In the last hour of flying we flew alongside an FR 738, and watched him all the way onto final approach into STN. The weather in London this morning was not very nice, with lots of cloud around providing for some very turbulent conditions in our descent. Winds were gusting up to 35 knots as well, and the crew were kept very busy trying to get us down. Several large power bursts convinced me we were going to go around, but after two very very late rolls to the right and then left, the right side smacked down accompanied by full reverse in order to make the first exit! Taxi to the gate was quick again, and we disembarked fairly rapidly, although I gather the front steps took about 5 minutes later to arrive than the rear ones. Overall Helios were a very good airline, and their cabin product was very very good, far better than any I have experienced on BA, although to be fair the flight was consdierably longer than any I have done before. The extensive delay we experienced on Tuesday did create a negative impression in most peoples eyes who I was travelling with, despite the fact that in this case it appeared to be a completely unavoidable incident. Discounting the weather factor that seemed to have caused much of the upset to the flights, I could quite conceivably argue Helios to be the best airline I have ever flown on. Pictures to follow shortly I hope!
Profile picture for user Mark L

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 4,209

OK lets just try this: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v641/regionaljetfleet/PICT0041.jpg
Profile picture for user Mark L

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 4,209

A bit smaller than I would have liked but I'll get the guru on it and see if he can make anything out of the other ones I've got.
Profile picture for user bmi-star

Member for

15 years 7 months

Posts: 4,255

Excellent report there mate!
Profile picture for user LBARULES

Member for

16 years 5 months

Posts: 9,401

Great report and a super picture there, cant wait to see some more :)

Member for

15 years 3 months

Posts: 679

Excellent report there Mark, I'm heading off to Paphos in March so your report was very interesting. :) Nice pic there, would like to see some more! Helios seem like a great airline with fantastic service. May I ask how was the weather in Cyprus during your stay? Regards Flex 35

Member for

15 years 8 months

Posts: 1,098

Great report. According to my grandad, the weather in Cyprus has been appauling which is only to be expected at this time of year.
Profile picture for user Mark L

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 4,209

Maybe apalling for Cyprus but was very pleasant all the time we were there. About 15 degrees average, which compared to the UK is wonderful!
Profile picture for user T5

Member for

19 years 9 months

Posts: 6,503

A great report, Mark. A shame about the delay, but the inflight service seems to have made up for it.

Member for

16 years 3 months

Posts: 3,539

Great report there, I have just edited and am uploading all of Mark's shots here. Enjoy. Test... http://img192.exs.cx/img192/3038/pict0044no27jz.jpg

Member for

16 years 3 months

Posts: 3,539

Ok it's working, here goes with the rest. Here's his dinner... http://img56.exs.cx/img56/3575/pict0043no28de.jpg Taken over Rhodes http://img56.exs.cx/img56/7442/pict0042no29fy.jpg Edited version of previously uploaded wingview http://img60.exs.cx/img60/7776/pict0041no24qy.jpg Police helicopter on the ground at LCA http://img60.exs.cx/img60/2889/pict0036no27vl.jpg On the ground at LCA http://img56.exs.cx/img56/5307/pict0031no24id.jpg Great tail design http://img212.exs.cx/img212/8385/pict00267dn.jpg From the rear steps http://img212.exs.cx/img212/9890/pict0028no21cw.jpg Galaxy on the ground at LTN. "Bedek Aviation IAI 1126" Mark tells me http://img212.exs.cx/img212/3558/4xcogno20qm.jpg
Profile picture for user BigJet

Member for

15 years 7 months

Posts: 1,670

great report!
Profile picture for user Mark L

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 4,209

Superb editing Dan thanks very much!
Profile picture for user BigJet

Member for

15 years 7 months

Posts: 1,670

...and great pics!

Member for

15 years 8 months

Posts: 1,098

Great pics. Those taken at LCA remind me of when I was there last year.

Member for

15 years 3 months

Posts: 679

Great pics there Mark! The Breakfast looks tasty! :p Flex 35

Member for

19 years 9 months

Posts: 920

Great report Mark - was very interested to read this. I too had long delays with Helios but found the service pretty good. I also think 5 hours on a 737 is a long time; I'd much rather be on something a little bigger. Went on both DBH and DBI on my trip; great aircraft though they do go tech a fair bit. Heard on the news late last summer that one of them had to make 8 attempts to land at Newcastle before finally coming down. Not sure if it was media hype or not. The plane, when landed, spent 2 days on the ground, leaving all outbound passengers stranded. Great when they work, but a bit of a b*gger when they don't; consequence of a small airline I guess.
Profile picture for user Mark L

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 4,209

Indeed, I've been stung by Air Southwest like that as well, small airline, good service, good flights, but with only 2 aircraft (now 3) if things go wrong they seriously go wrong!
Profile picture for user LBARULES

Member for

16 years 5 months

Posts: 9,401

Ashamed to say I havent seen those photos, as I havent bothered looking since reading the report. Cracking shots Mark, love those of DBI on the ground especially :)