Monday, 1 November 2010

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

Nurnberg and Hotel Review to follow - both are positive reports.

Not feeling at my best, I proceeded to get the U-Bahn to NUE about 10am, it's a nice easy trip about 15 minutes later, I was directly outside the Lufthansa Departures area. I wanted to go and sit down and rest, so I didn't bother with a cigarette and proceeded directly through security. With a selection of Nürnberger Lebkuchen in my bag, I was grateful that it wasn't weighed as it was well over the allowed amount for hand luggage. Security was really, really quick, easy and friendly at NUE and there didn't seem to be any ramping up due to the weekend's incidents. I know that it was cargo, but that doesn't usually stop the powers that be "keeping up the skeer".

I went very quickly to the LH Business lounge where I had about 90 minutes to wait, I sat quietly and drank plain water and hoped that the paracetamol would kick in. There were a couple of times where I thought I might ask about deboarding, but as it came up to boarding time I was feeling considerably better. The NUE lounge was very quiet, which was nice and had the usual selection of decent drinks and poor quality food.

We boarded quickly onto a 737-500 with about a 70% load, we were off-stand on time and quickly on our 30 minute flight to Frankfurt, unlike on the Friday evening, we had a quick service as a tray of Toblerones was passed around. Obviously, LH is learning from LX :-) We landed quickly into a sunny Frankfurt and proceed to taxi for about 10 minutes to the northern inferior aircraft holding pen. There was then the usual bus ride to a bus gate I haven't been to for some years (behind A1-5), the most interesting bit was going under the tail of a LH Whalejet. Moving quickly through the Tunnel of Love, I went through immigration and end up non-Schengen side in B. It must be said, the B-terminal experience is getting better and better over the years, although there's an awful lot of "you are in a maze of twisty passages all alike".

First up was doing some watch shopping, I managed to break my previous watch about 3 months ago and I've been thinking about getting a new one. I'm not a huge spender on watches as I used to have a nasty tendency to leave them in hotel rooms (where, of course, they would never be found), usually something about 50-100€ will do nicely. However, I had allocated slightly more than that for this purchase. After spending a few minutes looking, I'd come down to two I wanted to actually see. However, there was an assistant problem. There seemed to be four assistants, three of them we fawning over a pilot who was trying on a Rolex. The fourth was just standing around, so I asked her for assistance. Blank look. Hmm, try again in German. Looks away, uninterested. I leave the shop, the watch can wait.

I have noticed that certain shops at FRA have staff with a somewhat superior attitude, I remember once going through FRA and looking at sunglasses, I was suited and booted and assistance came immediately.  I decided to wait and thought about purchasing on return, I was wearing jeans and a rugby shirt and got the ignore treatment. I shall get my watch in Birmingham, if I get chance, otherwise, I suspect it might be duty-free in transit at SIN.

I then decided I should eat, even though I wasn't particularly hungry. The B-Non-Schengen options are poor but improving, I actually decided on MacDonalds! I'm not a big fan, but you do get a nice apron view and it's quick. I had fries and a diet coke and 45 minutes of watching aircraft move around the bust Frankfurt Apron - including a WhaleJet take off.

I then went to the B23 Lufthansa Business Lounge, where I found a nice comfy chair, got some more water and curled up with Monica Ali's "In the Kitchen" whilst keeping an eye on the football scores. It was quite a long connection, so I hoped the paracetamol which had cut in would stay working and luckily they did. I generally ignored the food side, the Oktoberfest promotion had ended and there was the usual dismal display except for a small tray of mini chocolate eclairs. I stayed on the water. About 40 minutes before the flight, I left the lounge, had a cigarette and then got ready for the boarding zoo.

We had a proper gate again, for what has now been renumbered as LH956 and it was deceptively uncrowded (B23 is often used for widebodies), boarding was a zoo and the document checkers weren't helping at all, they wandering around taking random people at the gate and looking at their documents and then getting all confused when it came to boarding. I had to have three tries with my mobile boarding pass before it register (note to self, clean screen on iPhone), but I managed to get on board fairly quickly and get the all important binspace. I managed to snag an Independent on Sunday on boarding which makes a nice change from the Daily Hate.

We managed to leave the gate just after "time" and were quickly in the air. The flight wasn't completely full, but the load must have been above 90%. I settled down with my book and had the iPhone headlines ready in case the two sets of small children nearby were screamers. I also thought about offering my seat opponent my seat as he looked very uncomfortable at about 2m tall in a middle seat, but such altruistic thoughts quickly disappeared from my head at the thought of a middle seat.

We took off a couple of minutes late and were promised a very short flight back to Birmingham. As usual the service consisted of a sandwich (declined, I could see the Krauterquark lurking with in it) and choice of drinks, I just had water and read the paper. It was quite a quick flight for a FRA, taking about one hour 15 minutes, with no queue at immigration and no bag to collect, I was in a taxi back home about 10 minutes before our scheduled arrival time! I must admit the new arrival arrangement at BHX terminal 1 are growing on me, they do imitate FRA's twisty passages a bit, but they are better than the old ones. BHX is quite a smart arrivals experience now, except for the dingy baggage hall where you have some very long waits for luggage.

This could have been a very enjoyable trip, unfortunately, only the first half of it was but that was down to my not feeling too well rather than anything else. I will have to return to Nürnberg at some point to do it justice.

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