Trip report MUC-FRA-HAM-BRU
My alarm was set to wake me up at 7am but the jetlag combined with about 3 load snorers in my 50-bed youth hostel dorm meant I didn’t get to sleep at all… I got up and headed across the road to the Munich main station to take the S-Bahn train to the airport.
I picked up my baggage from storage which was a very reasonable €2,10 for 24 hours and checked in at the central railway station area at the airport. The check-in lady looked quite confused when she saw that I was not doing MUC-BRU as any sensible traveller would, but rather MUC-FRA-HAM-BRU. I explained I was an Australian aviation enthusiast etc etc and she was very helpful, complimenting me on my (deteriorating) German and getting me window seats on all sectors.
I then had about an hour to look around MUC. It is a huge, ultra-modern airport. What is more they are currently building a new Terminal 2 for LH only which will probably again double the size of the airport. I am told that it is a good money spinner for Lufthansa despite the airport fees being the second highest in the world after Tokyo Haneda. It is the very high yields which does it apparently. Anyway, the shopping area is extensive albeit confusing to navigate around. The gate area itself is very well designed and easy to navigate – it’s all glass which gives nice views of the tarmac etc. I also enjoyed another hot tea and coffee at LH’s expense. Great idea that – maybe the new AN could introduce it in Australia as a little extra against Qantas.
Munich-Frankfurt, LH 199, A300-600R, D-AIAH, Seat 42K, PB: 1003, TO: 1022 Rwy 26R, LA: 1108
I was pleased to see LH had kept the AB6 on the flight as scheduled, fulfilling my second aim of my Lufthansa flights (the first being the A310). Just before boarding I noticed how much I stuck out. Despite wearing a shirt, I was the only one not in a dark suit. The Monday morning shuttles MUC-FRA-MUC are apprently well known to being chokkas of German businessmen and women… and it was. A full flight, which is a lot of people in an all economy A300 (despite the fact LH arbitrarily puts in a C class where you get a roll for breakfast for your several 100 extra $$ you cough up for the ticket – in fact more than half the pax were in C class).
I love the A300 and this flight confirmed it – a powerful takeoff, with quite a bit of noise in the cabin. The flight was also quite bumpy (all the flights had moderate turbulence – fine with me – I love it!) and it was quite amusing to see the F/As struggle up the cabin trying to serve 260 odd passengers with drinks in the 15 mins or so they had at cruise altitude. They barely made it – mainly because there seemed to be a surprisingly small number of F/As on the flight – I wonder what the minimum requirment is.
We landed at Frankfurt after piercing the clouds at low level – which meant I again missed the gorgeous view of Frankfurt city but for a glimpse through the clouds. We pulled into gate A21 right on time and disembarked.
I had given myself 5 hours at FRA to get a good look around as it has been many years since I was there last and I had heard that the visitors terrace was reopened. However, being at the end of A-pier I had a look at the new extension which was just open. It is FANTASTIC. Have a look if you can…. There are gates down one side but the other is a close-up view of a high-speed taxiway. The LH 744s going down there at speed just made my neck hairs tingle. It was great. Also saw many other planes including a specially painted Varig 767 which I hadn’t heard of before. The only problem was the reflective glass but with the right equipment and the sun in the right part of the sky, I can’t see any problems there.
Then I headed out of A pier and up to the spotters terrace on Pier B. It was FREEEEEZING but still a fantastic experience. It’s great to get a high-up view over the LH A340s and 744s parked below as well as watching the parallel runways in operation. However being there made me think (and many will think this hare-brained) that I prefer to be a spotter at Adelaide than at somewhere like FRA. The reason is, whenever we get a special visitor at Adelaide, we appreciate it all the more and it’s a big event for those of us who care. As for FRA, you see everything you want and you’re soon in overload. There was far less excitement for example seeing an Adria CRJ at FRA than seeing the Crossair MD80 at ADL. That said, I still very much enjoyed my few hours up on the spotting deck, though the level of frostbite achieved meant I had to indulge in a couple more lufthansa teas.
Frankfurt-Hamburg, LH 102, A321, D-AIRE, Seat 34A PB: 1629, TO: 1640 Rwy 25R, LA: 1726.
I had been warned that LH changed operating aircraft at will and that is why I scheduled 2 A310 flights and 2 A300-600 flights for my trip. Luckily, because this should have been an A310. But no worries – I had already had my A310. Parked up the end of the new abeforementioned concourse A at gate A40, I knew it had to be an A321 or smaller because those gates don’t seem to take anything bigger. Being seat 34A, I figured it had to then be an A321, and I was right. I have been on these planes a few times before, including once on LH and they are nice planes, so no complaints.
We boarded quickly, despite the flight once again being quite full. Our takeoff was quite quick and with the strong winds, the bumps and the rolls started as soon as we took off. Just how I like it. About 2 mins after takeoff, we pierced the first cloud layer and to my shock, we were that close to a 146 travelling seemingly at the same altitude coming in from the side. I’m sure there were no separation problems but I have never been knowingly that close to another aircraft before. I had my camera and took a picture of it – I hope it works out. Though it won’t give a good indication as the 146 came a lot closer after the pic was taken. As it was sunset, the sky was amazing so I happily snapped away. I also enjoyed the consistent bumps as well as the drinks service and it seemed only 5 mins before we touched down in the dark at Hamburg.
Hamburg-Brussels, LH 5884 (Lufthansa Cityline), CRJ-100/200, D-ACJH, Seat 14F, PB: 1835, TO: 1840, LA: 1933
Hamburg airport was boring and I was lucky only to have 20 mins before connecting. That said I was only in the transit area and I believe there is a reasonably good viewing deck (Brad Mortimers pics on airliners.net are testiment to that). However I proceeded downstairs to the bus transfer gates – mine was B62. From the number of people around it looked like the flight was going to be empty and once aboard the bus, I could confirm that at 25 pax we were just half full. When we got to the aircraft I noted excitedly that it was the CRJ in the Cityline anniversary livery with the stylised pictures of famous european landmarks. I was annoyed it was dark so I couldn’t get a pic. Once on board I found my seat – back row window.
Just after takeoff, I leaned over to the F/A seated jst next door and asked her to ask the pilot to fill in my tech data sheet. She was happy to do so and struck up a conversation. I think she took a liking to me (asexually – she must have been 40!) because she gave me the business class meal and an extra sandwich and at the end of the flight came with a stack of business class chocolates for me to take with me. In exchange she plied me with questions about Australia – she was thinking about coming down for a holiday nonrev. I also quickly told her that hiking from Sydney to Cairns in the space of three weeks was a little ambitious….
The flight again went quickly and we were soon on the ground at brussels. Brussels is a dead airport now that Sabena has collapsed. Many shops were closed and passengers seemed few and far between. It shows what an impact an airline collapse can have on an airport, even a city. It was then a quick walk to the train station to get to my friends place
Next installment CRL-STN-CRL on Ryanair. Can you wait ?