Before leaving home I wanted to find something to do outside of Berlin. Krakow, Poland and Auschwitz seemed like possibilities. I had been to Warsaw a couple of times. It is a very nice city. Reports and photos indicated that Krakow was prettier. It has not been as Stalinized and Westernized as Warsaw. Plus, the most notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz – Birkenau, was within an hour’s drive.
LOT Polish Airlines (LOT) had many daily flights and the price, about 140 Euro, was less than the nine-hour train trip. Since I was checking a bag, it was cheaper to buy a standard coach ticket that included one checked bag and seat selection rather than the lowest priced economy ticket that charged extra for those services.
The Venerable Dash 8
Dash 8s have an interesting production history. De Havilland Canada began producing them in 1984. In 1986, Boeing purchased the company in part to try to better its chances of landing an Air Canada jetliner order. When Airbus got the order, Boeing immediately put the company up for sale. Bombardier bought it in 1992.
Q400 is the latest version of the Dash 8 series. In the mid 1990s Bombardier began adding the Active Noise and Vibration System to Dash 8s. That system reduces noise and vibration to levels comparable to a jet. To highlight the quietness, Bombardier designated these models as Q-series turboprops.
In November 2018, Bombardier agreed to sell the de Havilland brand including the Dash 8 program to Longview Aviation. The sale should close by the end of 2019.
These are the specifications for the LOT Q400:
Flight LO 388
Route: Berlin (TXL) to Warsaw (WAW)
Equipment: Bombardier DHC-8Q400
Class of Service: Economy
Distance: 326 miles
Flight Time: 1 hour 20 minutes scheduled
LO 388 departed from TXL Gate A5D. We took a bus to a remote stand. Bus gates involve more hassle than using a jet bridge. On the other hand, driving to or from the plane is more fun because it affords an up-close view of airport operations. Furthermore, there is something cool and authentic about walking up to an airplane and boarding via airstairs.
LOT Q400s have 78 seats. All are economy. Seats with the most legroom are in row 2, the exit row.
Although the load was light on this flight, when I bought the ticket I selected a seat in row 19 near the back to have the best chance of sitting next to an empty seat.
Sitting next to an empty seat helps, but regional turboprops typically have very little leg room. Such is the case with the Q400. Due to tight pitch, seats do not recline.
We departed Runway 26L (Two Six Left) at 11:13 almost 50 minutes late.
Twenty-two minutes after takeoff one of the two flight attendants reached my seat with beverages.
Candy was offered a few minutes later.
The flight was fast and uneventful. The flight attendants distributed connecting and transfer information for Chopin Airport. Q400s cruise at 666 km/hr making them nearly as fast as a regional jet. We landed at Warsaw on Runway 33 (Three Three) at 12:15 and parked at a remote stand.
Short rides on turboprops are a great change of pace. I enjoyed strolling onto the plane from the tarmac and the downward visibility of a high-wing aircraft. Quiet turboprops like the Q400 are fun when the plane is uncrowded.