In mid-June, I finally had a mini vacation abroad when I went to Lisbon, Portugal. This also meant that I finally took a flight for the first time this year! Yay! This ended the roughly eight month stretch of a “flight free” period, which was due to the pandemic, obviously.
The PCR Test
Anyway, to travel to Portugal at the time I would need to provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test result that was taken within 72 hours prior to the boarding time of my flight to Portugal. Btw, we could not use the test service provided by the GGD (that is free of charge in the Netherlands) for travel. So I chose a testing provider and did the test on Monday, as my flight would be on Wednesday.
I was quite anxious on Tuesday as I didn’t yet get my test result within 24 hours of my sample collection. I was promised it would be ready within this time frame at the test site. The result was only sent to me at about the 27th hour mark, which to be fair was still within the time frame they indicated in their website (up to 32 hours). But still, if that’s the case I feel like I shouldn’t have been promised the 24 hours delivery time? Anyway, the important thing was … the test result came back negative which confirmed that I could go on my mini vacation! Yay! 😀
The Airport Experience
As usual, I checked in online but this time around I couldn’t get my boarding pass. I suppose this was because the airline would need to make sure that I had all the documents that I needed at the airport before they could issue a boarding pass. So I went to the KLM’s SkyPriority check-in area at Schiphol. The check-in process went smoothly and I got my boarding pass without any problem.
It was obvious that during lockdown Schiphol had gone through some renovation projects. Interestingly, I was directed to go upstairs after check-in, which before was the direction for non-Schengen departures as there was the passport check after security there. But this time around, there was actually a new passageway to the Schengen flights hall after security, which was much more convenient for me than the old direction anyway as this immediately led to KLM’s Schengen Crown Lounge! 😀
It was super nice to see that the operational hours of the KLM Crown Lounge was much longer than it was last year in the Summer, btw, where this time around it opened until 18:00 (As opposed to only until 12:00 last year). Putting that aside, the lounge service was comparable to how it was last year, where there was no food buffet but instead guests could order what they wanted to the waitress at the food station.
Trust me, somehow just walking down the air bridge to board the plane (something that felt mundane and routine before) felt so, so, so exciting! I feel like from this point on, I will have a renewed sense of flying, which perhaps was something that I took for granted before.
Anyway, my flight today was with the last Boeing 737-800 ever produced, KLM’s PH-BCL which I have flown once before on my last flight before the pandemic began. I settled onto my seat in economy comfort and I was lucky as I got an empty middle seat (the flight was quite full today, especially in regular economy). Btw as I said back then, indeed I found KLM’s new Boeing 737-800 seats, which could be found on board some of their newest Boeing 737-800s, much less comfortable than the old ones; especially on a longer flight like this one to Lisbon (2.5 hours of flying time from take-off to landing).
Other than my newly found appreciation of being able to fly again, the rest of the flight experience went quite normal, actually. It was nice that KLM had pretty much brought back the onboard service level to how it was pre-pandemic. Well, that’s other than that they only served a larger sandwich on this flight as opposed to a small warm meal. Oh, and the wifi as well. PH-BCL was already equipped with wifi connection, even though I found KLM to be quite stingy (free messaging access for only 30 minutes, as opposed to unlimited access on Air France or Delta).
The Aborted Landing
And here is the climax. On my very first flight of 2021, after almost eight months of no flying, I hit a “jackpot” as the flight had an aborted landing upon arrival at Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport! I was lucky as I was recording what I thought would be a regular touchdown for an Instagram story, and so I had it on camera. Here’s the video:
Yes, really exciting!! 😍
This was my second ever aborted landing (The first being about three years ago at Stuttgart Airport on a KLM Cityhopper flight). And just like back then, once we got to the designated altitude, the captain made an announcement explaining the situation. It turned out there was still a plane on the runway when my flight was supposed to land so the captain chose not to take the risk and abort the landing instead (Thank God for that!).
So circled around the Rio Tejo to attempt another landing at the airport. I did not mind because the approach view to Lisbon Airport was very beautiful! And now I got twice of this on the same flight! 😀 Anyway, the second attempt went very smoothly as we landed at runway 03.