Friday, 1 October 2010

Trip Report 1 - Part 1 - Lufthansa BHX-FRA-PRG

So it's off to lovely Prague for a couple of meetings and some picture taking and beer sampling.

The trip was booked back in March before I raised my FRA premium to £100. Yes, I will pay £100 to avoid FRA and use DUS or MUC instead (Swiss is right out for this one, a double dose of Helvetic is more than I can bear).

BHX was swarmed, so I'm quite glad that I have priority security access, although the dirty looks you get for queue jumping are huge. An acquaintance was doing security, so we traded some banter.

As seems to be more and more common these days, we were late leaving BHX, this time they had us wait at the gate before herding us on the 737-300. The official excuse was weather, I just blame FRA. The 737's are starting to show their age and I understand they are getting a bit of a facelift to get them to last to 2020 as well as getting the not fully revealed Neue Europakabine which will cram in a couple more seat rows and provide an "enhanced" meal service. Enhanced is not a good word in airline speak.

However, to be fair, they have actually improved the food a bit, you now get two cheese sandwiches one of "cheddar" on white and one of "filthy Quark with green bits" on brown. Manchester and Heathrow get a choccy bar as well, but I really don't need one of those.

Added this your choice of beverage, and if you ask nicely you can get hot and cold. I chose black coffee which I forgot to get sugar for (I don't normally take sugar in my coffee but its needed with most airline coffees).

We had a good crew with an old school perfectly coiffed purser, LH crews can be a bit sloppy sometimes, but not to the extent of late, lamented BA Regional dinnerladies :-) Two rounds were made for drinks on the 90 minute flight,although this was probably aided by the approx 60% load. We got into FRA about 30 minutes late to, you guessed it, a bus remote stand.

To be far, we were only about a third of the way to Mainz and got delivered to the terminal in about 8 minutes despite the rather strange route which had us to a complete circle past the bus gates drop off (because we would have been facing the wrong way  - ist nicht moeglicht). Immigration didn't even bother to scan passports today, probably, thinking "Oh God, not him again", so it was quickly through to the transit security. 

The signs have changed and all pax for A are now directed to the small security at the bottom of the elevator. I chose to join the queue rather than go around to the other one, it took 8 minutes to do 8 people, mainly because they had the metal detectors on "fry" and about 50% of pax needed wanding. 

My gate was A17, so not too bad and I found my way through the Tunnel of Love to the A26 slum (Lufthansa Business Lounge) fairly quickly. The lounge wardens now scan your card and boarding pass before allowing you into the Gummibear motherlode. It was marginally better than last time I passed through, the "sports lounge" had increased the amount of room - albeit in a 80's DDR cafeteria sort of way and there were actually a couple of spare seats - once you had prised peoples bags off them. Also for the first time in my visits here, there were wurst, agreed turkey wiener wurst, rather than the real thing, but two of those with some sweet mustard and fried onions meant no cheese grenade on the next flight, so that's not a bad thing.

Anyway, after a 20 minute announced delay, they said they were boarding for Prague. After a quick stop at one of the unpleasant Raucherhuetten, I found out they were lying, the plane wasn't even at the gate. I couldn't cope with more A26, so I went and had a decent expresso instead. Eventually, we were called on a 100% full Airbus 321, although I did get a halfway decent seat. Most of the 45 minute flight appeared to be taxiing to a runway somewhere near Wiesbaden, although it would have had my flatmate in orgasm mode at the large number of DC-10's and MD-11's in the freight area.

The legroom was fairly OK in these seats as this photo shows, but remember I am 184cm and, cough, generously proportioned.

Despite the 45 minute flight time, we got a full beverage round and the offer of a different sort of cheese sandwich! I took a sparkling water and passed on the food. It was a heavy landing at PRG, but the bags arrived on the belt very quickly although yours truly was looking for his old bag not the very shiny new bag for the first five minutes.

One only mildly piratical taxi ride later (by Prague standards), I was at the hotel, I suppose I should do some work now.

Some Prague piccies and thoughts in a couple of days.

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