Tuesday, August 30, 2022

And I was back in Punta Cana

June/July 2022

It has been 14 years since I had my last layover in Punta Cana when I was still flying for my first airline. 14 years... can't believe it!

I still keep the envelope with the briefing telling about the inclusive features of the resort where we stayed by that time.

This time we were in a different resort within the same area. Punta Cana is a recent destination for my company and I was lucky enough to get one long layover without having bid for it. A few weeks later, those flights were handed over to Hi Fly, during the month of August, due to lack of capacity. I've got another Punta Cana on my september roster and it should be one of the last flights to be operated to this destination. I don't now if it is for good or if the route is just supposed to be seasonal.

Anyway, I ruined my layover on the first day by getting relentlessly sunburnt. I did use sunscreen but clearly I'm giving up using the lowest SPF available. My skin is not used to the sun as it used to be in the past... I'm getting older and I'm not a proper beach enthusiast for some years now. The same happened to my colleague that spent most of the time with me during the layover. We agreed we would not inflict more pain in our skins just because we were in Punta Cana... So from that day on we just went to expose ourselves to the sun after 4pm until sunset. And the water temperature did remain beautifully warm during that period.

I did not take many photographs... These days I'm just trying to enjoy my moments without the concern of saving them into a virtual camera roll. But I took these:

Well... it made me remember how I miss my glorious charter days! Flying the good old L-1011.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

When you just want to fly on a 4-engined aircraft

July 2022

Four-engined aircraft are certainly a dying breed. Last year I flew on a Boeing 747-8 "Jumbo" from Frankfurt to Palma - and yes, that time I was spending a few days in Palma, such a warm and crystal clear water paradise. Last time I worked on a A340 was in October 2019. So, when a friend of mine heard that TAP Air Portugal was leasing an A340 for the Lisbon-Vienna route, he didn't want to miss that opportunity and challenged me too.

And there we were waiting for our turnaround trip to Vienna.


The A340 assigned to this flight would be the one with 9H-SOL tail number, the one in an all white livery and the very same one that landed in the Antarctica some months ago.

9H-SOL © Hi Fly

Before Hi Fly, this A340 flew for Iberia and it keeps the same cabin interiors of this airline. When it operated for Iberia, it was named Maria Barbara de Braganza. We booked economy class for the outgoing flight and business for the return.

The views from my window seat:

And finally arriving at Vienna Schwechat Airport:

Speed brakes deployed during descent

Just before landing.

Then, parked side by side with a Korean Air Dreamliner:

Our super short layover in Vienna was not totally in vain as we had time to drink a weissbier in the airport terminal before boarding again the same aircraft to Lisbon. But this time in business class!

9H-SOL Business Class (ex-Iberia)

Sunset over the clouds

All in all it was a very enjoyable flight with a nice Hi Fly crew and an unusual spacious aircraft in such a short run. I know this seems a crazy plan, but in my defense I have to say that I already know Vienna very well from the time when, in 2018, I made my first (and only) around the world trip to the date, which included five days in North Korea!

More photos of these flights in the 'Photo Albums' section of the blog.

And this friend of mine... the very same one who challenged me for a crazy weekend in New York in 2006!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Flying to Madeira Island with the Airbus A330

January 2022

It's not very common to do very short flighs with widebody equipment. But during the holiday season, every year, there is a surge in the demand for flights between Portugal mainland and Madeira island. Not only because of families and students wanting to go back home for Christmas but because Madeira NYE's fireworks is a huge attraction to tourists.

Air Luxor used to send their A330s to the island during this season and I was fortunate to land there with this type of widebody a few times between 2003 and 2005 flying with both CS-TMT and CS-TQF aircraft.

17 years later here I am again, with different colors, and with a different motivation to be on this flight.

Airbus A330-941 | CS-TUN | "D. Fuas Roupinho"

Also an unusual fact nowadays, I was one of most senior members in my category, which means I was assigned to work in business class again. Before the pandemic, with the company's growth we witnessed a fast moving seniority list and most of the times I was the most senior member in my category. These days, with the fleet reduction and with the recent dismissals, it's totally the opposite: I'm usually part of the "youngest" team.

So that was the way the new year started for me: doing a turnaround flight to Funchal. I made photos of this flight available in the corresponding gallery of the "Photo Albums" section, under the "Blog Pages" menu.

Let's hope 2022 is the year when we definitely get rid of this pandemic.