Friday, 29 October 2010

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

As you may have read, I had a Lufthansa service voucher to cash in, so I decided on a trip to Nürnberg. However, as holiday was a bit precious and this was a bit of a fill-in, I decided to only take a half day and was therefore on the Lunchtime FRA. As it only a two night trip and I have no need to be dressy, I decided just to go with a carry-on bag which meant liquids at security - sigh.

I managed to scuttle out of work into a taxi at 12:15, the taxi driver was a bit slow and proceeded to slow down to 25 for speed cameras on the 60 mph section of the Coventry Road. However, he managed to deposit me there at 12:55, which is about the same time I could have gotten there on the train if everything had run to schedule - which is somewhat unlikely for the Cross-City line.

This left me with about 25 mins before boarding was about to start. Because I checked in on-line and didn't check a bag, I didn't have priority access for security. Security at BHX terminal 1 has changed in the last 3 weeks and there is now a new shiny larger security area, but that doesn't really matter as there's still the same number of people so most of the new machines were not in service. About 15 mins later, I finally got through only to find that "I want to swab your liquids". So she opened several containers for the kabuki tests and then seemed shocked when I told her to throw them away. Sorry, luv, but I don't know where those gloves have been and they weren't fresh. Also I don't want leakage over the contents of my bag.

It's the senselessness that gets me, first they decided 100ml is safe, now they decide they have to interfere just in case. I'd be happier if they actually scanned all the cargo (which they don't). At least in Europe they are quite polite and we haven't got to the Nudie-Scope or Grope that they have now in the USA from a workforce that seems to think Eric Cartman is a role model.

Anyway, having done that, I had to pop to Boots to buy a couple of things that the kabuki artists had ruined and by the time we had done that, it was boarding time. So no time for lunch for Yanto.

To my great surprise, instead of the usual Boeing 737-500 or 300 at the gate, there was a shiny newish Airbus 320. Very nice and we had a jetbridge, so doubleplus good. Unfortunately, we had some of the worst gate staff I've seen since Rome in 2005 - three of them there, two yapping away to each other and discussing a payslip, whilst the third was trying to deal with about 130 passengers and carry on a conversation with her two mates. Lets just say that I suspect checking of documents wasn't very through today.

The flight was fairly full, which may well be why we had the higher capacity of the 320, maybe 90% in steerage. Unfortunately, my seat opponent was like myself, a little on the porky side and unfortunately, he was a armrest hogger. But, hey, it's only an hour and 20 mins. It was a fairly standard flight, for once I ate the sandwich, it was the "ham not pork" variety  - which I found also contains the Krautquark filth, I  choked it down with the assistance of a glass of water. I'll try not to repeat that experience again, it was just plain nasty.

We were promised an hour and 10 minutes to FRA, but it ended up being an hour and twenty minutes but to my shock we proceed to a real live gate in the B-concourse. It seems that yet another bit of the constant rebuilding of FRA has finished and we evil non-Schengens can now be properly separated - but sadly not without reclearing security *sigh*. Anyway, after a short wander through shiny new passages which have yet to have the small armada of confusing signs, it was through immigration and to transfer security.

Transfer security was thronged and as usual, there was only two machines open, working very, very slowly and looking like the usual Epilson minus sub-morons were in operation. I wandered down to the other unsigned transfer security - it had a double line in the snake. Hmm, this isn't good - so I used the emergency option. I went out through the exit into a very pleasant autumn afternoon in Frankfurt, enjoyed a few minutes fresh air (and befouled it with a Marlboro Menthol or two) and then decided to go through main security.

That wasn't too bad, although the snake more resembled a set of Dungeons and Dragons corridors than the usual orderly procession, I was through in about five minutes. I then proceeded towards the slum at A26 for my usual free Coke Light and ration of Gummibärchen. It's being refurbished (something it badly needs), so the sole facility for Business Class pax and FTL's for any LH/LX/OS flight going from the Schengen area is the grim DDR-esque looking "Sports Lounge", where the joyfully DDR-like facilities have been enhanced by having even more people crammed into a space barely big enough for 30 people. To add to the early 80's DDR ambience, rather than the miserable range of food and drink normally on offer, there's a rationing system where you can queue up at the "bar" to get one drink, one snack (Leberwurst rolls - uuuuuugghhhhhh) or one pudding/fruit. I bet the bright spark who thought that one up was ex-Interflug. They even managed to get the slow, surly DDR service right and enhanced it by having the barstaff with Keine Englisch and Kleine Deutsch. I didn't bother to find out if they went the whole Commie hog with stock running out, there were no tables and frankly it made the old A26 look desirable. Lufthansa, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

My flight was going from the small set of domestic gates at the lower end of the A-terminal, which features a small but fairly good cafe-bar, I retreated there for Apfelschorle and a decent salad with "Poultry Meatballs".

The flight to Nürnberg was called on time and we proceeded to the bus. It wouldn't be a trip to Frankfurt without a bus-ride, as usual, the aircraft was parked half way to Groß Gerau, but it was a nice afternoon and the bus wasn't too full - so not too bad. The load was about 70% in steerage and I struck it lucky - a whole row to myself. We took off bang on time and were told that the flight time would be about half an hour, not bad for 118 miles. Obviously, there was no service at all on this flight (Business Class still got a drink) as it really was an "up and down" job. I think the shortest Lufthansa flight I've gotten service on is DUS-HAM and the crew have to work like stink on that if it's full. We actually made it in about 25 minutes because 33 minutes after take off, I was buying a U-Bahn ticket at the airport having stopped to go to the loo and buy a packet of cigs after arrival!

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