Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Trip Report 1 - Part 2 - Lufthansa PRG-FRA-BHX

I proceeded to Prague Airport by bus, there being a direct service from just outside the hotel at a reasonable rate. More like a minivan than a bus, but ran every 30 minutes and didn't wave the Jolly Roger like most Prague taxis do.

The Schengen terminal is smart and modern and Lufthansa have quite a large check-in area. Fortunately, they have the auto check-in machines, unfortunately, they have staff to assist you how to use them. It's quite easy, I just walk up, put in shiny card and it spits out boarding passes. However, obviously, I didn't know how to use them and the staff attempted to assist, a 90 second job (now LH have fixed connection printing) turned into a five minute job. I then went to drop my bag, but there was an attempt to get me to join the rather large queue for the Business Class check-in rather than the very short one for Economy. "But you are entitled" was the plaintive cry. Whilst in the short Economy queue, I get asked if I want to join Miles and More, I smile and show her my card, "but do you want to join Miles and More", seems my card should be Blue not Silver.

Anyway, the rest of check-in was easy, a nice young man checked the Shiny Case through to BHX, I managed to get through security carefully avoiding the Kettleovs and Kettleova's in the one queue and went through into a bland but spacious and modern terminal. I swiftly bought choccies for work, fags for me and a fridge magnet for the fridge door (there might be some space on it). I then thought I'd spend my handful of change on a couple of final beers. Now a beer in Prague during the weekend had been between 19Kr and 40Kr, not at Prague Airport - it's 120Kr - a great big honking rip-off even by airport standards. I decided to save my shrapnel for another trip.

The short hop to Bankfurt was again on an Airbus 321, again, the aircraft was fairly full with a full 11 rows of business class - mainly occupied by a US basketball team and Chinese tourist group. We left a greyish PRG on time, we were proffered the "meat not pork" sandwich (I declined, partly because I've never had an explanation of what it actually is in there) anyway, a glass of water would suffice nicely for the hop. The grayish Prague weather had cleared on landing at Frankfurt and there were magnificent views of the skyscrapers of Mainhattan from the windows.

Needless to say there was an A-B transit involved,  however, FRA isn't spectacularly busy in the afternoon's and I had plenty of time to spare. A quick walk and very swift transit through Immigration to go non-Schengen, saw me with about an hour to kill before the BHX. I did think about doing some watch shopping, but I decided against it and went to the B4x lounge.

Now, the B non-Schengen lounges are quite roomy compared to the A26 slum and on an Monday afternoon, they are fairly empty. It's recently been done up, with best quality Politburo seating and some nice new flat screen panel TV's. There's even a pleasant looking terrace which if they thought about it they could open to smokers (or have a smoking room as per DUS, TXL, HAM).

The buffer had just been replenished (as opposed to the crumbs usually found at A26) and had a Bavarian theme to it. I had originally thought about a slice of plum cake, but I noticed something labelled as Obzada. , I quickly grabbed a scoop of that, some red onions (what, no radish?) and a Brez'n. It wasn't bad, although it wasn't up to the quality of the Obzada I usually get at the Viktuallenmarkt in Munich. It was accompanied by some sparkling water - Beck's rarely appeals to me and if it was Bavarian week, why not get some decent Helles in.

To my delight, I found that the BHX was going from an ordinary gate with a jet-bridge and not one of Frankfurts horrid little dungeons with an additional security check and a nice bus ride to your aircraft parked somewhere near Giessen. As is getting to be more and more common on the Birmingham services - we were on an Boeing 737-300. We boarded on time with the Daily Hate and the Daily Torygraph available to take as English newspapers (what a choice, eh)  - I had wickedly purloined a FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) from the lounge.

We were fairly full but not chocka and there were just two of us in the row, which makes things a little more comfy. Whilst we boarded on time, we did have to wait in a bit of queue for take off, but were quickly travelling towards Birmingham carefully avoiding Belgian air space (on strike again). Service was fairly quick with the dubious cheese roll on offer this time

I took a tomato juice (no vodka in Euro Economy on LH) and a black coffee to go with it. I have a theory that tomato juice always tastes at its best on an aircraft and I do like to use a little of the Pepper LH provide to go with it. After about an hour and 20 mins, we arrived at Birmingham and were quickly disgorged at the gate. Immigration had quite a queue, although 95% were EU citizens, so it all went quite quickly. Waiting for the bags, of course, wasn't quite so quick. BHX prides itself of being able to get all bags off a 737 in 45 minutes - they even put this on a poster. Personally, I think they should be ashamed myself, it may be fast compared to say Heathrow, but compared to say Singapore Changi (where I have yet to beat my bags to the belt) it's awful.

So there we go, a standard trip in LH Kont Y. The next one is in a couple of weeks, when I shall be doing my voucher trip to NUE, so I may well witter in a few days about luggage.

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