Tag Archives: airlines

Istanbul’s new airport: humungous, ambitious – and delicious!

A new airport has opened in Istanbul! And about time too, for the former main airport had long since been overstretched but couldn’t be expanded because it’s in the city itself (it’s now used just for cargo, business and other unscheduled flights), while the national carrier has been impressively expanding its geographical spread of destinations around the globe. Woah: a quick glance at Wikipedia tells me that that geographical expansion is so impressive that it’s given Turkish Airlines the highest number of countries served by an airline – a whopping 121! The second highest is Air France, but way behind TK  with just 91. Turkish is also sixth in the rankings of most destinations (304 cities) served, with only international cargo and US airlines ahead of it (i.e., hardly the fairest of comparisons). It’s also tenth in the world on fleet size – again behind US/Chinese/postal behemoths (and Ryanair:). But I digress…

So it was logically decided some years ago that Istanbul needed a new, bigger airport hub – a grandiose one; therefore one was built on a greenfield site outside the city. It’s size is 6 x 4.5km; it has four (!) runways each four kilometers long; and a gigantic terminal some 800×400 meters (that’s the main building, not including all walkways to the gates). In a word three words: oh my ginormous!

Here’s the view from up top:

Read on…

31 hours door-to-door.

Hi folks!

Another month – another globe trot…

The suitcase is packed – and probably right now already in the hold of the plane I’m about to board. Physical preparation – check; moral preparation – check; books packed into hand luggage – check (two in fact). All righty. All set. Off we pop on another multi-long-haul. Get ready – it’s gonna be a long one…

It starts out in Tetiaroa, an atoll of French Polynesia in the Pacific. It ends in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. I wonder how many hours this is going to take door to door?…

April 2, 09:30 local time (22:30 Moscow Time): we say goodbye to paradise:

Read on…

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Flight #104.

Our Indonesian adventure had only just begun, while the year 2017 was drawing to a close. There was time for one last flight of the year. Unlike me, my traveling companions don’t keep a tally of their flights, but they don’t fly several score times a year as I do. For me though, this final flight brought my grand total for the year to 104 flights. Not bad at all.

Brief technical data:

  • Route: Yogyakarta – Surabaya (the second-largest city of Indonesia – not Yogyakarta, as I misstated earlier);
  • Time in the air: 90 minutes;
  • Airline: Wings Air;
  • Class: Economy (no other classes available);
  • Aircraft: ATR 72;
  • Flight attendants: Pretty, smiling;
  • Incidents: none.

It would have been an unremarkable flight but for one small detail…

Read on…

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Now, it’s time for another travel-related installment.

Sanya is a good place to get some R&R by the sea and catch up on sleep; if only the holidays weren’t so short…. Once again it’s time to board a plane, and… twiddle my thumbs for 3.5 hours, waiting for departure clearance. Yeah, such things happen here every now and again. Later, I heard that at the same time, some people had to wait for 6 hours for their departure at Beijing airport! That would be enough to drive you mad… When you’re actually traveling in a plane, time passes much quicker than when your departure is delayed indefinitely, and you’re just sitting around in the airport building or in a plane next to the runway.

And finally we’re airborne!

This place is sunny, the clouds are fluffy white, it’s all cheery, and palm trees line the sandy beaches.

After we have flown a little deeper into mainland China, the weather changes dramatically into the more familiar Chinese climate. The clouds are quite thick, lined up in several layers, making sure the sun cannot break through to the land below…

Read on: multi-colored bowls of Huanglong and Lake Jiuzhaigou…

An 8-day transcontinental trip.

Dear regulars and visitors to my blog, I continue to pay back my week-old debts. The week in question was pretty hectic. To be more precise, it was an eight-dayer, because it stretched from Monday to Monday.

It all started with my departure from Moscow to St. Petersburg on Sunday evening, and was rounded off by my return from Ekaterinburg to Moscow early on Tuesday morning (right after midnight). All in all, there were four cities on my itinerary, seven flights and 35 hours in the air: Moscow (SVO) – St. Petersburg – Moscow (DME, connection) – Singapore – Sanya – Almaty (refuel) – Ekaterinburg – Moscow (SVO).

The best route from St. Pete to Singapore was via Domodedovo airport in Moscow, where I could catch the direct MOW-SIN (Moscow – Singapore) flight. From St. Pete to Domodedovo, I flew S7 economy class (S7 doesn’t offer business class on this route) without anything of note to report. However, if I have the same sort of connection at Domodedovo again, I will definitely give a full account. Everything there is so messed up inconvenient. They really must have put their minds to it to make it so awkward. I always try to make connections at the far more convenient Sheremetyevo, but this time I had little choice.

Singapore Airlines was top notch, as always. After 10 hours of relaxation, we landed at 6 a.m. in the dream city of Singapore!

Read on: The Interpol exhibition is interesting…

Munich-Jerusalem-Moscow. A week without tourism.

I’m taking a short break from my stories about New Zealand: firstly, I do not want to “overload” my readers, and secondly, I have something new to talk about.

A few sketches along the way last week, something like this:

1.  Wow! What a great name for a business – ‘Ikar’! Obviously a subsidiary of ‘Daedalus’ airlines. Hard to believe anyone would deliberately board a plane named Icarus.

Read on:

16-Hour Flight All Through the Night.

Hi all,

Herewith, a brief interlude from my NZ tales, since an equally interesting topic has come up…

Question: What was your longest ever flight? I mean – without a connection.

Why do I ask? Because I’ve just flown an uninterrupted long-haul silly-haul that went like this:

It was a reeeaaalllly long night. Though folks who live north of the Arctic Circle will scoff when I talk of ‘long nights’ (their ‘long night’ lasts half-a-year!), for me this was perhaps my longest ever night – at least down here in the lower-mid latitudes. The plane took off at 9pm NZ time – when it was already dark, and 16 hours later landed at 5am Dubai time; that is, almost at dawn. It gets dark in Auckland around 6pm at this time of year, so that night for me lasted 19 hours. A personal record, I do believe.

Read on: What to do in an airplane…?

Another Long Week: Snows & Scorchers, Politics & Hacks, Moscow – Abu Dhabi – Tokyo.

Good day boys and girls!

I’ve been a bit quiet of late – but I’ve a good excuse – I had a real tough week: the schedule was tight and intercontinental, plus alarmingly… combative…

It all started in Moscow. Now, normally come the month of May, the last vestiges of the long cold winter – snow and ice – have long disappeared, at least by a month. Not this year. It snowed the other week! The weather was so bad – cold, windy, wet – that even the May 9 Victory Day parade was partially called off (the airborne part). Ye gods! And I was soooo looking forward to it.

Bad weather causing things to be called off – hardly anything new there, right? Well, actually…

You see, in Russia, the authorities have a habit of… making sure the weather’s good on special occasions. In Russian they call it ‘shooing away the clouds’. I don’t know the details, but they somehow shoo away clouds by… doing something to the atmosphere to make sure clouds don’t come close. Playing God? Maybe. Whatever, it normally works. My question: WHAT WENT WRONG THIS TIME?! I mean, the budget for seeing off clouds for the weekend must be huge. Hmmm, I wonder…

Early doors it looked like the budget was well-spent: the sky was clear and the sun was shining:

Read on: a sudden global malware outbreak…


Surprisingly, Kiev turned out to be the best connection on the journey from Barcelona to Yerevan.

For the first time in my life I flew Ukrainian Airlines. It is basically fine. Only the seats in business class are cramped and uncomfortable (as with most European companies) – they’re the same as in economy class, only three seats are used for two passengers. If the person sitting in front leans back, it becomes very difficult to do any work on a laptop – the keyboard ends up at your throat. You know how it is. What else didn’t I like – well, during the transfer at Boryspil we parked up on the tarmac, and only one bus was sent to transfer all the passengers of a Boeing 737-800. We were packed in like sardines.

Everything else was fine. The smiles of the stewardesses and good service completely made up for the cramped seats. The new terminal D was clean and spacious, and the WiFi was fast (the most important thing!).

Read on: