Welcome to my first ever flight report. I’ve always been fascinated by aviation and recently I started wondering why I didn’t start writing reports as I travel usually.
So here is my first report. Probably one of the interesting ones – as i’m concerned – not many people have written a report about the new airline of Belgium : Air Belgium. Normally I would travel with more known airlines. As I heard the news of the start up of Air Belgium I hesitated booking at Cathay Pacific and patiently waited for the official date of booking.
First of all, my intended flight was on 25 June 2018. But due to reducing of flights to HKG it was not possible. A sales-manager of Belgium contacted me around a month in advance to ask if I wouldn’t mind changing my flight to a day earlier in exchange for an upgrade (Premium economy to Business class). If not the other option was a full refund.
The day of the flight (24 June 2018)
Charleroi (CRL) – Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
Flight no. KF851
Class: Business Class
Plane information: a340-300 OO-ABB
I live really close to Antwerp. As a pretty frequent traveller to HKG (2-3x a year), I think that Charleroi is pretty far to travel to. I have to say that although it is far the price for AB is pretty attractive for Chinese tourist or even me (Chinese myself). This might be dependant on different subjects. F.e. I have a car which makes it easier for me to get to Charleroi. Although my flight is on a Sunday (less traffic) I think that the travellers who go there during weekdays might have to struggle by getting there as -every Belgium citizen- know that the Ring of Brussel is a huge struggle point.
The airport itself isn’t that really attractive. Small, packed and not much infrastructure. Slow security checks and not a good and smooth of operating the security check. It’s pretty chaotic compared to bigger airport. But if you aren’t a tax-free shopper then I think all the basic needs are in Charleroi.
Before passing the passport control I would suggest you to buy a bottle of water if you’ve a long waiting time ahead of you. A bottle of water is OVERPRICED after the passport control. 3 Euros for a bottle of Chaudfontaine.
Check-in starts 3 hours before the depart. There were 7 counters open for Air Belgium (1-7). The check-in definitely needs improvement. You can’t even compare them to check-in agents of Brussels Airport. They do their best but might need some more experience for smoother check ins. During my check-in the supervisor had to be called over 2 times to help. As a Business class traveller I got a Fast-track paper to skip the lines to security check. An agent brought me to the security line and explained me how to scan etc.
For the whole flight there were around 50pax or even more (as people kept bording after I boarded). At 13:15 the crew boarded the plane whilst the boarding pass stated the bording time is at 13:10. At the end the boarding started at 13:40 and things went smooth. On board I was welcomed warmly and got assigned to my seat 2A. A bottle of water (Chaudfontaine) was directly given and quickly after a blanket and a pillow. Not long after a welcome drink was offered: champagne or water. Oh yeah the blanket was a hassle for me as I had black pants and the blanket is kinda fluffy. So tons but ALOT of plushes were sticking to my pants which cause my pants to look like a cat had layed on my laps during the whole flight. Luckily I had an extra pair of jeans in my backpack so I changed it at the end of the flight. So, a sound cancelling headphone with the AB logo was also given. Not long after we got the amenity which consists of a pair of socks, eye blinders, toothbrush, toothpaste and a comb.
The seats of Business class were really clean and beautiful. The state were pretty good.
The initial departure time is 14:10. At 14:19 we got a message from the captain that we have to wait until 14:45 until takeoff which means a 35 delay. Unlike most of the long haul flights there wasn’t a safety video. They showed it by demonstration by the crew. At the end pushback commenced at 14:37. Luckily Charleroi isn’t big so we made a short taxi and offcially took off from rwy 07 at 14:54
Flight Entertainment system
The system is really simple and reacts fast (as for business class). In my experience during the test flights the screens at economy class were slow.
There were only 2 options. Movies and your flight. As for the movies there are a total of 5 pages with 3 movies at the last page (6movies a page) = 27 movies to choose. The movies were the same movies you could watch during the test flights. I think it’s more than enough. Plenty of choices and good movies!
The lavatories are really clean. There’s even a window for a nice view i guess? I have nothing to say about the lavatories as it’s pretty clean and there aren’t anything broken. Well maintained!
Meals will be served at cruising altitude. Breakfast will be served 2 hours before landing. During the meals there are drinks offered but for economy class after the meals you’ve to pay for the soft drinks or alcohol.
First a light snack was served. There were two different snacks. I chose the Plane crackers and a cup of orange juice
About 50minutes after takeoff a crewmember asked me what kind of food i wanted to eat. There were choice between beef, chicken or noodles. I chose the noodles. The noodles were way better than the test flight and it was seasoned really well. As for the dessert I was able to choose between 3 different kinds of ice cream. As you can see I chose the leonidas ice cream. A good choice!
Breakfast was served around landing. The brekfast consisted of 3 omelettes few slices of sandwich meat and cheese. Ofcourse you can’t miss the croissant and chocolate bread! As for the side dishes: yoghurt, oatmeal, fruit and a nice small box of Jules Destrooper.
Duty free / shopping magazine
The Duty free sales starts after the first meal. There are plenty of different products you can buy at the dutyfree. Although I tried to order a snack (instant noodles) there weren’t any in stock but in exchange the nice stewardess gave me a free cheese platter and a plate with mini pretzels & biscuits!!.
As stated above there was a delay even before takeoff. The crew started landing procedures and announced landing 45 mjns before landing.
We landed at: 8:40 with a delay of 50mins (initial arrival time was 7:50)
Having researched and tracking the previous flights most of the flights were delayed a little but (something they might have to work on?) The landing itself was really smooth. The crew welcomed the passengers to Hong Kong and we taxied to the gate.
As a Business class passenger the luggages were handled with priority which might cause my luggages to arrive earlier. My luggage came literally as the second luggage of the whole batch.
As a new startup airline I can’t do other things than praise and look forward to how this airline will grow throughout the future. AB is an airline different to any others. You can clearly see that this airline will be representing Belgium in the travel sector and is trying to offer a full on Belgian experience to the passengers with Belgian made products. Although it had a few struggle points but I definitely see them succeed given plenty amount of time! The crewmembers were all proactive and tries to help you whenever needed. Not only are they fulfilling their duty they also do try their best to communicate with the passengers. Just a few adjustments and experiences and things should be well.