A very cool (and green) pool at the Crowne Plaza
STAYING AT THE CHANGI AIRPORT
This is a continuation of Flying Over 21,000 Miles to Singapore in Four Days – Who Needs Sleep? Part 1…
I had just flown about 18 hours non-stop from LA to Singapore, it was 5am local time, and I had about 30 hours on the ground before I headed back to the states on the world’s longest flight. I wasn’t sure if I was going to head out to Singapore or stick to the airport during my “layover.”
Since I was exhausted, not feeling too well, and knew the Changi Airport (SIN) had quite a bit to offer, I ended up never leaving the airport. Yes, my name is David and I am an #AvGeek.
Check-in area of the new international terminal at NAS – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter.com
This is the second installment in my visit to The Bahamas. For Part 1, covering my inbound travel “experience” and amazing first-night welcome, click here.
Our first scheduled event for the day, and main reason for my visit, was a tour of the brand-new Lynden Pindling International Airport International Terminal. No, this isn’t the terminal you’ll use for U.S.-bound flights; those operate out of their own (although also very new) terminal, which has a CBP Pre-Clearance facility. Rather, the new terminal supports all non-U.S. international flights, primarily to Canada and the U.K., and also flights to the “Family Islands” of The Bahamas.
Ever feel like this? “The Flying Traveller” by Patrick Amiot & Brigitte Laurent. Just past domestic security of “C” Pier.
I’m really lucky to have Vancouver International Airport (YVR) as my “home base”. YVR has great plane-watching, which is a necessity for AvGeeks, of course, but also has fabulous architecture and design, and is a wonderful place to spend some time. But don’t take just my word for it.
YVR was rated as the Best Airport in North America for the 4th year in a row in the 2013 Skytrax World Airport Awards. YVR ranked 8th overall worldwide, and is the only North American airport to make the Skytrax Top 10 in 2013.
YVR has one, large interconnected terminal that’s divided into areas for Canadian-domestic, international, and U.S. flights. For those who haven’t flown from a major Canadian airport to the States, passengers get to clear U.S. customs and immigration before they get on their flight. It’s the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) “Preclearance” program.
As the passengers have pre-cleared, the plane lands at its destination as a domestic flight, making passenger arrivals more efficient. At YVR, passengers who have cleared security can pass between the domestic and international areas, but the U.S. area first requires a stop to chat with the CBP officers and a separate security check. Once you’ve been cleared, you’re in “quasi-U.S. territory”. If you leave, you have to go see the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers and clear customs to get out of the terminal. Interesting…eh?
Part of what makes YVR so unique is the amazing collection of art on display.
Imagine back to 2003 when the preparations for the Summer Olympics in Athens were underway. It was time that the Bush Campaign was back in full swing, the Concorde made its last revenue flight and it was also the same year that the Qatar government was developing the master plan for their new airport: Doha International Airport (DOH). The airport has come a long way since then and is close to being fully complete.
Currently Doha Airport has no jet bridges and every single guest, no matter the class of ticket held, is bused to the gate. This isn’t the most efficient and means long minimum connect times, but it is only temporary.
The Outside of the New Doha International Airport – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com
The airport was scheduled to be fully operational later in 2013, but there have been construction delays and the official opening has been pushed back.
At present the terminal is approximately 97% complete, the runways are ready for use and most of the major infrastructure is complete. I had the opportunity to tour the facility and if you just cleaned the dust away, you would have an almost fully operating airport — you just wouldn’t be able to shop or eat just yet.
Going on a tour of the New Doha International Airport at the moment means dressing like a construction worker – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com
The airport is built to accommodate 24 million passengers a year. The airport has 17 million meters (roughly 10,000 miles) of electrical cabling, 9000 phones, 3800 parking spots, two runways (which will allow 100 aircraft movements an hour), a cargo facility (able to handle 1.4 million tons of cargo annually) and a catering facility capable of preparing 90,000 meals per day. This is a huge investment for a relatively small nation in the Middle East.
With design elements taken from two world leading airports (Singapore Changi and Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok), DOH will be an amazing new facility that will allow the passengers to have a world leading experience. Inside the terminal will be 25,000 square meters of retail, food and beverage space allowing travelers to get their shopping fix or grab a meal at a number of outlets between connections.
You should have ample time to go shopping at DOH. The new airport is designed to allow a 30 minute connection between flights; including the time required to disembark and re-board your next flight. This is a staggering figure and one that is going to be a true test. To compare, most professionals suggest you have almost four hours to connect between flights at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
What Airport in the Middle East would not be complete without a Mosque and this one a Fine Example – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com
Qatar is a Muslim country, where a high majority of its travelers and workers are of Muslim faith. This means that you would need some form of prayer facilities for them as the call to prayer happens five times a day (and is a good sign when you can hear it, that you know you’re in the middle east). Right outside the main entrance to the airport facility is one of the most staggeringly beautiful Mosques I have seen.
The airport also offers a new cargo terminal and a new maintenance facility for Qatar Airways. This impressively large building was essentially raised in one piece from the ground up and is so large that it can accommodate eight wide bodied aircraft at any one time.
The Amiri Terminal at the New Doha International Airport – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com
What would Qatar’s new airport be without somewhere for the Amir of Qatar to spend some time? He has to hop on board his ’œunconfirmed’ 747-8I at some point right? So the airport design also includes a new Amiri Terminal. Again another stunningly beautiful facility, surrounded by water and palm trees.
There are many other VIPs who are expected to visit the airport and many of them have come to expect red carpet treatment. Obviously it would take quite a bit of work to roll out a red carpet upon each arrival and departure, so the designers came up with a novel idea. They created an air bridge that allows anyone to step off their aircraft onto a red carpet and right into a greeting ceremony.
No matter the height of the aircraft, it can be accommodated (although after clarification, they weren’t sure if it was A380 capable, but it is definitely 747 capable). Not even a single step is required. Although it doesn’t look as cool, stepping off waving to the crowd then coming down your steps to the awaiting band, and yes there is a band stand there as well.
All of this high level of service is just the beginning. The airport has already been signed to expand further, adding more terminals, railway stations, metro links, and more facilities. DOH is expected to double in capacity in time for the 2022 Soccer World Cup to be held in Qatar. Given all of this, this will truly be a fantastic new airport.
Disclaimer: Qatar Airways paid for the trip to Qatar, all opinions are my own.
||This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.
@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos
Landing in Frankfurt on a Lufthansa Airbus A330.
What does an AvGeek do with only 24 hours in Frankfurt with some great aviation connections? It is all still a blur, but I think I can remember most of it.
I have now been to Frankfurt twice; yet I have spent less than 50 hours total there. My first trip was to take the inaugural Lufthansa Airbus A380 flight from Frankfurt Airport (FRA) to Miami (MIA) and more recently, I was invited to go back for the inaugural Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental flight.
First of all, the non-stop Lufthansa flight from Seattle to Frankfurt is a challenge. It leaves at around 1pm PST and then arrives at midnight PST, which is 8am local time in Germany. This means, I need to get sleep during the flight or I go a whole day without any. It was unfortunate that I was only able to get two hours of sleep on the flight over — mostly from being excited about the trip.
The Frankfurt Airport as seen from the Sheraton Hotel.
After landing and having some issues with my bag (took 45minutes to get, but at least I got it), I was off to find the Sheraton at the airport. Once arriving at the hotel a bit after 9am, I had about an hour to get showered and changed before starting an airport tour that Chris Sloan, with Airchive.com, nicely set up for us.
On the tarmac -- a place I always love to be at.
Chris and I met up with Robert Payne and Roy Watson who are not only both spokesmen for the airport, but also all around awesome guys. Much like the rest of the trip, we had a whirlwind tour, since we only had two hours, but it was well worth it.
We quickly took a look at the airport’s classic, yet still impressive baggage system before heading out to the tarmac. If you ever need an adrenalin shot to counter lack of sleep, a trip to an airport tarmac is always a nice cure.
A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 and Lufthansa Boeing 747-400.
We were able to stop and get out of our vehicle and take photos. at multiple locations. For such a short period on the tarmac, we caught some great stuff including a Kuwait Airways Airbus A300, an ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner and being able to walk around a Lufthansa Boeing 747-400.
A Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 from above.
Getting off the tarmac for a few minutes, we took a tour of one of the tarmac towers that guides airliners around the gates. It provided amazing views.
By noon, we were back at the hotel to meet with our media group, who was led by Martin Riecken, Director Corporate Communications The Americas, Lufthansa Airlines. Events like these are a home coming for aviation journalists. You can imagine there is always non-stop, great conversation going on with a group of folks who write on aviation and travel.
The Technik hangar was set up for a show!
After meeting up in the hotel lobby, we loaded onto a bus and were taken to Lufthansa Technik Hangar 7, which was very different from last time I saw it. Instead of the vast open spaces that a normal maintenance hangar might have, it was set up for a party. With a bunch of tables, a large stage and a curtain made of up thousands of LEDs, which I assumed was hiding the 747-8I (spoiler: it was).
There was a Boeing 747-8I, an Airbus A380 and different things set up to teach us about Lufthansa.
Some speeches were given and some videos were shown before the curtain was raised not only to unveil the Intercontinental, but also different stations where we would be able to learn about different aspects of Lufthansa, the 747-8I interior and the future. For a little bit of fun, there was also a Lufthansa Airbus A380 in the background as well.
The antennae that provides Wi-Fi on airliners is much larger than I thought it would be.
After our hangar and aircraft tour, it was time to head back to the hotel. I had a two and a half hour break before we would head out to dinner and the big question was: to nap or not to nap? Well, at this point I had been awake about 24 hours and I decided to go for the nap.
Waking up was a bit difficult, but I was excited to get to downtown Frankfurt. You know, when I visit a foreign land, it is nice to try to get out of the airport at least once — but I am old fashion in that way.
Meat, meat and uh... oh yea, more meat.
Our media group went to dinner at Apfelweinwirtschaft Wagner, where I got to have my first apple wine. It tasted like apple cider, without the bubbles and hefferveisen — it might be a bit of an acquired taste. I was hungry, but no worries. A platter with a farm-load of animals on it was delivered to our table. Probably not the best call for any vegetarians out there, but it worked great for us.
After dinner, some of us took a walk down the street to take a look at downtown Frankfurt.
After dinner and a short walk down the street, it was about 9:30pm. Two choices were given: go back to the hotel or check out Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal at the airport. Again, the adrenalin rush of checking out the impressive lounge kept me nicely awake and I kept on rocking.
The bar inside the Lufthansa First Class Terminal.
When I finally returned to my hotel room after 11pm, I was more than ready to get some sleep. It wasn’t easy getting a good night’s rest with the excitement of my flight the next day, but it didn’t make getting up at 6am easy. We all met in the lobby at 7:45am and made our way to the lounge at the gate.
About 24 hours later, I was boarding the 747-8I to head back to the US.
Then we boarded the 747-8I and off I was heading back home. My second 24 hours in Frankfurt trip I have done and it was great, but next, I hope to hang out a bit more and get to know Frankfurt.
More Connected to 4 Hours in Frankfurt
* 52 Photos from the day
* Flying on the Inaugural Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Flight With Lufthansa
* Lufthansa Airlines Takes Delivery of Their First Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental