Having experienced a bad time with my previous LH trip (A346 FRA-YYZ) (See complete report here), I decided to book myself again on LH465 from MCO to FRA to try and have some good stuff to say on the A346. The trip, scheduled for December 11th, would take me to FRA to then connect to FCO a couple hours later.
After having a couple of tough weeks of finals and projects, time to go on vacation arrived. I had been so busy that I didn’t realize that my aircraft type was changed. It seemed as if I was not meant to fly comfortably on the much-desired A346… My previous experience was a disaster, hence my will to go for it again. However, for unknown reasons, my A346 shrank into an A343… what a bummer. Anyhow, time to head back to the old continent arrived and I was feeling good about it!
I drove from Daytona Beach to MCO with a friend of mine who was scheduled on CO MCO-IAH-CCS a bit earlier. We arrived at the airport and checked in separately at 16.40 (some 4 hours before my departure). To my surprise, there were at least 20 people ahead of me in the line, so I just stalled there for a while until the LH representative checked me in into what it seemed to be an overbooked flight. As soon as I got there, I asked how much money would cost to kick me up front into biz class. The reply was: “no sir, we are overbooked today, so you’re going to have to enjoy our economy services.” Chuckles followed.
I forgot to mention that since the aircraft changed, so did my reservation. I was about to freak out when she said that my previous seat selection (28A for the A346) was changed. Immediately, I pictured myself in the middle of the plane, next to two huge German dudes. Fortunately, they respected my window selection and threw me down the fuselage all the way to row 42, seat 42K (this plane has 45 rows, so we could say I was in the butt of the Airbus).
The LH representative (who spoke to me in Spanish and didn’t have a clue on any German), told me not to worry as these seats are supposed to be the best in the A343, due to the curvature of the back side of the plane, and the absence of lavatories in the rear section. So I decided to chill and NOT write a trip report, as I thought it’d be an ordinary experience for most of you, and me too.
Anyhow, I got my boarding pass and decided to go purchase some goodies. I got myself a couple movies (because of the lack of PTVs on the A343), some candy, magazines and water. Then, expecting apocalyptic lines in the TSA screening, I decided to go through that adventure. For my surprise, once again, there were no more than 5 people in front of me, for which the whole usually tedious process went quite smoothly.
MCO sucks. At least all the terminals except the one I was headed to. As soon as I got to terminal B, on the side of gates 80-89, my perspective toward this airport changed. I was truly amazed on how cool this side of the terminal looked. Check it out. (Please, I’m just comparing it to the other terminals, which really do suck!)
Anyhow, I glanced at the cool terminal, with an Outback Restaurant, a couple bars, a nice xmas tree, and then went to my gate. There it was, the much-unexpected A343 accompanied by a VS 744, which was being loaded for its hop to LGW.
Virgin Atlantic flight to LGW
Gate assigned for Lufthansa
My A343 parked at the Gate
After making a few phone calls, boarding commenced at 19.35 with the usual First/Biz class and Families with small children passengers. At 19.42, my section of the plane (yes, the far behind, outback section of the plane) got called to board. I then proceeded boarding this flight that promised to be long, tight, and probably uncomfortable.
As I rolled down the aisle of this nice-looking cabin, I reached my 42K seat hoping that no large male would come right after me to collapse in my neighbor tight seat. I sat down and analyzed the whole scenario. The seat was comfortable, but the leg space was a bit restricted. It’s supposed to be a 32’’ space, but below the front seat there was some sort of box that keeps the life vests and takes a considerable amount of room. However, it was much better than Iberia! – a good thing to say.
Time passed and I was still alone in there. Soon later, the purser came on the PA: “Boarding Completed.” Well, I leave it to your imagination what my face looked like by then…
Overbooked flight and I was alone! That’s when I decided to write this report! LOL
Anyhow, my humor changed and I began enjoying the A343. Boarding ended at 20.07, letting us push back way ahead of schedule at 20.21. The silent Airbus plane turned its four engines on and we began taxiing at 20.26. The Captain came on the PA giving us the information for the MCO departure, and stating that our hop over the pond would last 8 hours and 46 minutes at an initial altitude of 35,000ft to then climb to 37,000ft.
Orlando Ground gave us instructions to taxi to Runway 17R through Taxiway H reaching intersection H1. Accordingly, we reached the holding point and applied full power becoming airborne at 20.31 (4 minutes ahead of schedule). Impressively, this A343 took a whole life, and part of another, to make its initial climb. It was not an illusion, I looked at the screens in the plane and our climb rate was unbelievably slow. Anyhow, we made a few turns heading east passing over Orlando and the Space Coast region; then, right over the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Europe.
Right after takeoff, the lights were dimmed and the in-cabin service began. I decided to relax and start watching the movie I bought back at MCO: Hannibal - The Rising (Awesome movie, BTW. I truly recommend it).
Both the plane and the time flew. Soon later, I had a glass of red wine (I debated on whether getting a Warsteiner Beer or the Wine… given the fact that I wanted to sleep, I chose the latter), a nice German snack and an awesome movie to enjoy. Minutes later, the food service begun.
I really liked this FA. She was very nice throughout the whole flight!
Awesome snack. At FL370 the Wine kicks in quite fast!
Good leg space despite the individual 32'' room
Choices were Turkey or Pasta. I went for the second choice, as it’s most likely to taste better than the Turkey. Here it is:
Having the seat next to me (sadly) empty, I put my laptop there and had my meal with Hannibal lecturing me. How ironic.
The Pasta (considering is airline food, German-made, bad-looking, and what not) was extraordinary. It came with a piece of seasoned bread, a salad with Italian vinaigrette, Monterrey Cheese, and a chocolate dessert with a strawberry and whipped cream. I enjoyed it and had 3 more glasses of wine. Go figure.
After the tray was taken away, they dimmed down the lights and I was able to relax a bit more. I raised the armrest and abused of 42J. I then turned myself into a standby mode for the following 4 hours.
Ok, I can’t say I fell into a deep sleep, but it was enough for me to wake up an hour before landing. Breakfast was served at 10.15 (local time), which was also awesome. The choice was a traditional omelet, bread, butter, strawberry jam, fruit, coffee, and a cold beverage (I went for some OJ).
I really enjoyed this meal, so I can say now that LH doesn’t do a bad job with their food choice. Good way to feed us.
Entering Europe through Lille, France.
No time later, after entering the old continent over Lille, France, the sense of pulling back the thrust was felt in the cabin. At 10.40 we began our initial descent into FRA accompanied by the usual announcements. The clouds formed a nice layer that covered most of the area, so I figured we’d be getting into some IMC on the approach to FRA.
Before landing snack
Descending through 8,000ft
Inside the cabin before landing
Our A343 was vectored to do the usual approach into Runway 25L. We followed an 77W (my favorite plane) and performed an awesome final 4 minutes of this cool journey.
Landing was at 11.15, some 10 minutes ahead of schedule. The whole thing was done very smoothly, kudos for the LH pilots.
Against our luck, we were held in the taxiway for 20 minutes, as there were no available spots for us to park in.
Arriving at the Gate
Another awesome airline
Finally, we reached gate B44 at 11.35, meaning that this cool, relaxed, unstressed and nice trip had come to an end. What a change from what I was expecting!
As all the passengers deplaned, I had the chance to leave through door L1, for which I had a nice sight of the business and first class. I couldn’t take any pictures as I had loads of people behind me, sorry for that.
Once in the terminal, I took this photo of the Airbus plane that brought me to FRA.
Later on, I proceeded to the check-in desk, as the lady back in MCO never gave me my boarding pass to FCO. There, after waiting more than 25 minutes, the slow and relaxed staff handed me my boarding pass with a seat selection in 22A. The scheduled plane was an Airbus A321.
As soon as I got my boarding pass, I went directly to Terminal A, which is where most of the flights to Europe are assigned to leave. I went through the European Customs without any problem and reached the awesome terminal, which I believe is the best I’ve ever been on. Actually, I must admit I’m kind of crazy for this airport.
Entering Terminal A
One of the things that make me light so much this place is the cool viewing places it has within the terminals. I had an awesome breakfast (a ham and cheese calzone with a cappuccino) in front of all the heavies that departed FRA at that time. See for yourselves.
Very well accompanied Caffe'
After finishing my nice breakfast, I checked out the screens and realized that my previously assigned gate had also changed: from A28 to A23. I had no idea what was about to happen. Later on, I went to an awesome place to begin writing this report. See for yourselves.
Look who decided to show up
While writing, some stuff bothering my sight...
And there it goes again... without me inside
About an hour later I headed to the gate and seemed as a 744 was standing there. I later saw that my plane wasn’t parked here. A23 ended up being a remote stand gate. How much cooler could this get?!
Anyhow, my flight was called right on time and a few amount of passenger proceeded to board the bus. I wondered how and A321 could be assigned for such a small load of passengers. My answer was immediately clarified.
As we drove to our assigned plane, we passed several A321s and never stopped.
Some images of the ride
Then, we got very close to regional planes, and yet, never stopped.
We reached the very last plane on the remote stand and there it was, an A319! This was certainly a day of change!
Boarding while Air Berlin takes off
Flight #2: FRA - FCO
AIRBUS A319-114 D-AILL
SCHEDULED DEPARTURE: 15.50
ACTUAL DEPARTURE: 16.07
SCHEDULED ARRIVAL: 17.35
ACTUAL ARRIVAL: 17.38
FLIGHT TIME: 1h31m
I couldn’t believe how lucky I had been throughout most of my trip. I like riding different planes so I can add them up to my ride list, and also steal the security cards to add them up into my collection (don’t tell anyone).
I naturally boarded through the back of this nice LH plane and sat in 22A, as previously assigned. The nice FA told me I could change as soon as the doors were closed but I was so comfortable that I didn’t even try it.
Here are the two types of legroom I had on this Airbus.
Doors were closed and the trilingual Captain came on the PA announcing that our departure was going to be slightly delayed because the aircraft had just arrived from Moscow and it was full of ice. Things couldn’t get any better! (First time in such event as well). The deice truck arrived and bathed the A319 to remove the ice. Here are some photos and a short video too.
About ten minutes later, our plane was turned on and we began taxiing at 16.07. The Captain then announced that the flight was going to be quite bumpy due to some strong winds coming from the north in the Alps region, and then let us know that our flight path would go over Stuttgart, Perugia, Pisa, and then Rome.
Right after that, the A319 ran down the runway and became airborne at 16.10, some 20 minutes behind schedule. As soon as we left the ground, the fog kicked in and we entered into heavy IMC all the way until we reached cruising altitude, which constantly changed because of the strong turbulence that accompanied us throughout the trip.
As soon as we reached cruising level, the two FAs started the snack service. I chose a nice Turkey sandwich, this time with a Warsteiner beer - awesome choice for a mid afternoon snack. Right before that, I got into some Southwest's peanuts that I had saved for a future trip
Once finished with this nice bite, the sun hid and it was already dark. This kind of sucked because we landed at Rome like if it were late at night. The rest of the flight was quite normal, considering I passed out and opened my eyes when the plane touched down in FCO. Seems like the beer knocked me out, so sorry I didn’t record the landing. It was too dark anyways, so it didn’t really matter.
Landing was at 17.38, three minutes behind the schedule – not bad at all! We taxied a few minutes and parked at the gate, deplaned and got my bags without any trouble. Came out into the awful rainy conditions that have been kicking Rome’s butt for more than a week, and here I was, satisfied after an awesome experience with Lufthansa.
1. Lufthansa’s transatlantic service was superb. The FAs were all nicely dressed, well trained, very polite and professional in what they do. They passed several times to check if we needed something and were always with a smile on their face.
2. The A343, despite being quite old, proved to be an amazing aircraft. LH keeps it in great shape and the interiors, the temperature, and the whole ambient were just perfect. The only thing I would change is the leg space in coach. At least one more inch would make a big difference.
3. Frankfurt Airport is astonishing. One of Lufthansa’s keys for success is the well-organized hub they have at FRA. All the personnel, the logistics management, the infrastructure, the systems, the layout, are simply the best they can get. I never felt uncomfortable, hassled, stressed. I was always in a well-lighted place, with no noise. Simply the best.
4. Lufthansa’s regional service is excellent. All the same applies for the crew and aircraft. Everything in spotless conditions. Punctuality is one of their biggest values. Great, just great!
5. WAY TO GO LUFTHANSA, WAY TO GO FRANKFURT!
Once again it's been a pleasure writing for you all, I hope you enjoyed this report. Comments would be very much appreciated!
Thanks for reading!
Flying isn't dangerous. Crashing is what's dangerous!
AA737-823 From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 5540 posts, RR: 11 Reply 1, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 18181 times:
I can, however, assure you that your past was, most certainly, NOT GERMAN MADE.
All food onboard aircraft entering the United States of America must be DESTROYED.
Your pasta was cooked right there in Florida.
DCAjet From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 386 posts, RR: 4 Reply 5, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 17686 times:
Enrique, a brilliant report. You do have a gift for writing very entertaining prose, I must say!
Indeed, Lufthansa is, without doubt, one of the few consistently good airlines out there today - offering a quality product across the board, on every flight, in every class. And the ability to switch planes, at last minute, matching the right aircraft to the demand at a moment's notice is one of the many factors that go into making LH the success powerhouse it is today - and going for more!
Speaking of airports, the Germany facilities help tremendously. And if you liked FRA, just you wait until you get to see Munich Terminal II... Even better, IMHO! I have yet to see a Germany Flughafen I did not fall in love with. Even forgotten Dresden is nice!
Regards from Washington DC
"Unattended children will be given espresso and a free kitten"
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6492 posts, RR: 78 Reply 11, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 16376 times:
Interesting report with some nice pictures.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Anyhow, I glanced at the cool terminal, with an Outback Restaurant, a couple bars, a nice xmas tree, and then went to my gate.
Are you sure that's a Christmas tree?
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): However, it was much better than Iberia! – a good thing to say.
Not hard to beat...
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Choices were Turkey or Pasta. I went for the second choice, as it’s most likely to taste better than the Turkey.
Presentation is quite poor...
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Breakfast was served at 10.15 (local time), which was also awesome.
That one looks much better.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): I went through the European Customs without any problem and reached the awesome terminal, which I believe is the best I’ve ever been on. Actually, I must admit I’m kind of crazy for this airport.
I try to avoid FRA's terminal 1 - you should visit MUC.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): 2. The A343, despite being quite old, proved to be an amazing aircraft.
D-AIFC is only seven years old btw - but it's true, LH planes are well maintained.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): One of Lufthansa’s keys for success is the well-organized hub they have at FRA.
Hywel From Peru, joined Apr 2008, 738 posts, RR: 3 Reply 15, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 15872 times:
Quoting Musapapaya (Reply 12): Cant agree more - though I agree that LH maintains their planes well, MUC is much nicer! Trust me and PlaneHunter!
MUC is amazing! It's so efficient that LH will happily sell you a flight with a connecting time of just 30 minutes there. A little story for you:
I was flying LHR --> MUC --> BUD in the summer, with a connection time of 40 minutes. My flight from LHR was 30 minutes late, and with no tailwinds to catch up on time we landed 30 minutes late in MUC.
Before we landed, the flight attendants made an announcement and said that anyone making a connecting flight should turn left after disembarking the aircraft. After I got off the aircraft, there was a Lufthansa agent waiting for me on the left with a sign with my name on.
Lufthansa knew my incoming flight was late and my connection would be otherwise impossible, so this very friendly agent fast tracked me through security control (because I was going from non-Schengen to Schengen). She knew that boarding had closed for my connecting flight and my aircraft was on a remote stand, so she drove me personally to the aircraft in a car. The whole process from getting off my first flight to getting on the second took less than 10 minutes including the drive to the second aircraft.
I could have sworn I was flying business class, not economy! Kudos to LH
Is it just me or does that drive to MCO always seem to take a long time? Last year I ended up flying DL out of Daytona to Atlanta to connect onto KLM and I swear it felt so much more relaxed.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): MCO sucks. At least all the terminals except the one I was headed to.
Actually they have renovated the older terminals. I was just at the NW side over Thanksgiving and its looking much better these days.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Time passed and I was still alone in there. Soon later, the purser came on the PA: “Boarding Completed.” Well, I leave it to your imagination what my face looked like by then…
Don't you just love it when that happens. Its rare for me, but does happen on occasion. I remember the last time it happened to me, I was flying Doha-Newark.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Impressively, this A343 took a whole life, and part of another, to make its initial climb. It was not an illusion, I looked at the screens in the plane and our climb rate was unbelievably slow.
You think that was a slow climb, I once flew a fully loaded 343 from San Francisco to Hong Kong! Flying time was 15 hours and 45 minutes, I think we were over Alaska by the time we reached cruising altitude....
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Against our luck, we were held in the taxiway for 20 minutes, as there were no available spots for us to park in.
Its pretty rare not to have that issue in Frankfurt unless you are flying into Terminal 2.
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Frankfurt Airport is astonishing. One of Lufthansa’s keys for success is the well-organized hub they have at FRA.
Not to knock the city I called home for close to five years, but give me Amsterdam Schiphol anyday over Frankfurt. However there is no doubt that Lufthansa runs a very reliable and organized operation out of Frankfurt.
Have fun in Italy and don't be too disappointed when you see Daytona Beach from the air on your way home. That was always the sign I knew my vacation was over and it was time to head back to Riddle. Thankfully I am finally done and never have to return to Daytona.
Oldman55 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1523 posts, RR: 36 Reply 19, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 15394 times:
Great Report Enrique!! Does your family have Italian roots since you are going to be there for such a long time? If I were you I would probably go a country north and visit Switzerland LOL. I imagine all the cold is quite a change from Venezuela and Florida Anyways; have a great trip and a Merry Christmas.
too bad most of us get too soon old and too late smart
LHboyatDTW From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 20, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 15316 times:
It's a very nice, informative TR. I flew on that very A343 almost 5 years ago. I understand your frustration on LH rescheduling things. The last time I flew them I got an A320 instead of an A319 STR-FRA and the elusive A332 D-AIME FRA-DTW.
I wish you the best of luck on getting the A346 back home. It's a plane I need to get on myself.
and I will agree with others here. I've never been through MUC, but FRA is slowly driving me crazy just from the mere thought of the place alone!
TR763 From Brazil, joined Mar 2001, 769 posts, RR: 15 Reply 21, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 15127 times:
I´m glad to see the Outback in that airside of MCO.
In my times of MCO, when I used to get there with Transbrasil (oh, how I miss it!!), there was a nasty Burger King there!!
I have to say your pics are very good and that I liked to see the TAM 77W at FRA.
As always, your trip report was pretty enjoyable!
Keep them coming!!
B707forever From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 459 posts, RR: 0 Reply 22, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 14954 times:
Nice report, thank you. I'm a huge LH fan so it didn't surprise me to hear of your experience. I find them professional, detailed, punctual and kind. I'm not as huge a fan of Frankfurt as you, believe it or not, Madrid Barajas is my favorite connecting airport now. Too bad you basically have to be flying IB to take advantage of it!
Yeah, I forgot to mention that. The dish -so to speak- did look awful. However, the taste was pretty good. I wasn't disappointed.
Quoting Avianca (Reply 13): Great report Enrique! as alwayas - was this routing the best deal or why did you use it?
Epa Scotch Brother xD, yes, that routing was without a doubt the best choice. Flying from DAB-ATL-FCO was also good, but an old and crappy DL763 didn't call for my attention. I'd choose LH anytime now.
Quoting SXDFC (Reply 14): WOW WN peanuts on a LH a/c how did that get there?
Seems like the FA was a pothead addicted to WN. LOL, just kidding. I stored them in my travel bag to be used whenever they'd be needed. That was in fact a great moment.
Quoting Hywel (Reply 15): She knew that boarding had closed for my connecting flight and my aircraft was on a remote stand, so she drove me personally to the aircraft in a car.
Dude, what an awesome experience! I bet you ended up happier than a guy getting a free ticket in J. Nice move by LH!!
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 18): Is it just me or does that drive to MCO always seem to take a long time?
Never-ending. It's not that far away, but driving from MCO to DAB takes even longer. I hate it!
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 18): You think that was a slow climb, I once flew a fully loaded 343 from San Francisco to Hong Kong! Flying time was 15 hours and 45 minutes, I think we were over Alaska by the time we reached cruising altitude....
That's kinda lame! Are all A340s like that?
Quoting SR 103 (Reply 18): Have fun in Italy and don't be too disappointed when you see Daytona Beach from the air on your way home.
I won't. I'll be heading down to CCS a week after my arrival
PSA727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 974 posts, RR: 0 Reply 24, posted (4 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 14171 times:
Quoting 797 (Thread starter): Both the plane and the time flew. Soon later, I had a glass of red wine (I debated on whether getting a Warsteiner Beer or the Wine… given the fact that I wanted to sleep, I chose the latter), a nice German snack and an awesome movie to enjoy. Minutes later, the food service begun.
I miss the Becks beer. I was on a LAX-FRA earlier in the year and when the FA asked what
I wanted to drink, I said "Becks". He smiled and then said, "try the Warsteiner" meaning no
more Becks. And BTW, LH coach is known for its service, not its seat pitch.
fly high, pay low...Germanwings!
25 SR 103: The A340-200's and A340-300's all tend to be on the "slower" side. However I did get to fly the A340-500 last year. Despite being fully loaded for a
26 SQ772: Thanks for the report. It definitely provided a good insight to LH's long haul product. Do they store XXL sized life vests in boxes under every seat n
27 StefanPAD: Hi Enrique, thanks for a well written TR. Very detailed and many pics, good job! Last year I was rebooked from LH 346 to an UA 744. Bad change IMHO. H
28 RICARIZA: Brother! We have to plan a trip to Europe soon.. what a great TR (as usual)... !! Loved the pic of the coffee and the 747! I didn't know there was a S
29 Cybergus: Hey brooo. Awesome TR. I was laughing at you first when you told me the little inconvenient of the equipment change, but after I read this I must say
30 Viasa: Hi Enrique Thank you for your very nice tripreport. I hope to seen another TR from your flight back to America.
31 Henry757: muy buern trip report tocayo! A mi no me gustan los airbus pero con ese trip report si me monton en uno! Te hechas un TR de regreso no?