“Flying home for Christmas” with airberlin; anna.aero gets chance to see Palma hub in action

Goodbye to Berlin: The Santa Claus Tour 2011 destination was airberlin’s Palma hub, a very special pre-Christmas flight to see at first-hand how airberlin’s unique Palma hub functions in practice.

After our recent analysis of airberlin’s Palma hub operations, anna.aero was thrilled to be invited to join a very special pre-Christmas flight from Berlin to Palma last week, to see at first-hand how the Palma hub functions in practice. Joining various representatives of the German media anna.aero’s Editor Ralph Anker flew out from Berlin Tegel to Palma de Mallorca on the recently delivered 737-800 D-ABMC (“MC” stands for Merry Christmas!) with its special “Flying home for Christmas” branding. Also on board for this special flight was Santa himself, accompanied by one of his elves.

The flight departed Berlin Tegel promptly at 06:10 and despite a little en-route turbulence over the Swiss Alps arrived on-time at 08:50 in Palma de Mallorca. airberlin annually accounts for around one-third of the 22 million passengers at the Balearic airport, and this proportion rises to almost 50% in winter. After waiting for some more German media delegates, who arrived on the Düsseldorf flight, we were then treated to an airside tour of the airport, in particular around module C which has been expanded in recent years to facilitate smoother connections. The module has 17 gates connected via airbridges and a further 16 that require bus connections. However, to ensure speedy connection of baggage, airberlin ensures that bags are sorted manually as soon as they come off the aircraft rather than being taken to the central baggage processing area for automated sorting, as this would take too long.

airberlin's General Director for Spain and Portugal, Alvaro Middelmann (to the right of Santa) joins with some future customers who received famous airberlin chocolate hearts – and a sneak view inside the cockpit of a 737-800.

After the tour, local media representatives (including TV) and some local schoolchildren (who received some famous airberlin chocolate hearts) assembled by the special Santa aircraft for some seasonal photos. Also there was a representative of airport operator AENA and airberlin’s General Director for Spain and Portugal, Alvaro Middelmann. There was then a chance to peek inside the cockpit of the 737-800 and enjoy some drinks and nibbles on board the aircraft, which is kitted out with the impressive new Sky Interior from Boeing. Santa and his elf assistant were kept busy once more.

A transfer from the airport took us to the delightful Bodega José Ferrera a few kilometres outside of Palma. A guided tour of the wine-making process and facilities was topped off with a delicious lunch. After that we were whisked downtown to enjoy a couple of hours in Palma itself, which gave anna.aero’s Editor the chance to see for himself the impressive cathedral. The temperature was a mild 16 degrees, though the area along the beach felt colder because of the stiff sea breeze. The evening return flight (AB9163) to Berlin Tegel was provided by a ‘competitive equipment’ – an Airbus A321 – and on arrival back in Germany we were greeted by…snow – yes an airberlin White Christmas bang on cue.

Seasonal ingestion hazzard.

This was highly appropriate as on board both flights the in-flight entertainment system was promoting airberlin’s very own Christmas single, entitled “Flying home for Christmas”. Performed by Carinia Münz and airberlin employee Armando Lucio, the catchy English-language song, was played several times during each flight, and features the “Santa Clause” 737-800 that was used for the outbound flight.

The video for the “Flying home for Christmas” song can be found at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeLYFoVE3G4


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