MarcoPoloWorld From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 705 posts, RR: 0 Posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 17497 times:
I hadn't been to Europe for about a year-and-a-half, and decided to meet up with friends in a place we hadn't been before. Having had a great time in Prague on a previous rendez-vous, it was decided that Budapest would make a suitable sequel along the same theme. And since the introduction of A380 service to San Francisco by Lufhansa, I had been looking for an excuse to travel with the "King of the Skies" from home base. And with mid-week fares to Budapest in September hovering just above $1,000 r/t all-in, why not? I booked it on the Lufthansa site, making sure my itinerary would include the A380 both on the outbound as well as inbound. This meant flying via Frankfurt, and it also meant that I would have to start my return trip very early from Budapest coming back, as the super jumbo's departure back to the States would leave Frankfurt at 09:45. Still, there was little doubt that it would be worth it.
The day had come, and it was time to head to the airport for the convenient mid-afternoon departure. A nice and sunny day in the Bay Area, perfect for flying!
On the way to the airport with BART metro rail. Here seen when transferring to the airport line at the Daly City station, once upon a time a terminus station actually, before the two-stage extension to the airport and Millbrae was completed in 2003.
Ah, my bird had already arrived from Frankfurt, and was standing in majestic contrast to its smaller widebody peers around it.
A closer view.
Two 777-300ERs were sitting next to the King, getting ready for their flights to northeast Asia; ANA to Tokyo, and SIA to Seoul.
Exiting the SFO BART station takes you directly to the check-in area of the International Terminal. Lufthansa was operating their check-ins from their usual area, using parts of rows 4 and 5.
Even though I had nothing other than a carry-on item, I decided not to check in online, as I wanted to get a feel for the face-to-face interaction at Lufthansa's counters. It turned out not to be the greatest - the agent quickly issued my two boarding passes without any comment. It would have been nice to get some polite "you have an aisle seat today, sir" or something like that. But anyway, looking at my newly issued boarding pass, I did indeed have the seat to Frankfurt that I had selected as part of the original reservation; the seat on the sector to Budapest was newly assigned, however, since there was no option given to select that one in advance. One would have thought the latter fact, if nothing else, should have prompted some interaction from the agent, but no. Oh well, no big deal I guess.
Always nice to dwell around for a bit... Singapore crew arriving....
And looks like this would be our crew today.
They kept pouring in... There must have been some 25 LH crew reporting for our flight.
The gate for me today would be G101, as I had also seen upon approaching the aiport landside.
On my way toward the security checkpoint. Love this terminal. Although it is no match for flagship airports overseas, it does at least stand out from the bus-station-like designs that most airports State-side have.
Post security, on my way toward the gate. The G concourse, as its A sibling on the opposite end of the terminal, features moving walkways, sided by a few eateries and high-end shops. Reflecting the general space constraints at this airport, the design has the actual gate holding areas one level down from the concourse.
FIDS showing departures from the G half of the Int'l Terminal. A Star Alliance heaven. SkyTeam and oneWorld typically use the A pier.
An Air China 747 combi getting ready for its flight to Bei Jing.
Here's the SQ bird I saw earlier. Sorry for the poor image clarity here, due to the configuration of the window glass at this spot.
EK, perhaps tomorrow's ruler of world aviation, gearing up for a long flight to Dubai.
A UA 747 bird also gearing up for an intercontinental journey. I can't remember for sure, but I believe this one may have been destined for Frankfurt too, just as LH.
SAN FRANCISCO - FRANKFURT
SEPTEMBER 21, 2011, 14:20
Getting closer to the gate. An amazing number of code-shares existed on this flight, and appeared to be as follows:
(CO) Continental Airlines 8828
(UA) United Airlines 8828
(TK) Turkish Airlines 8534
(SN) Brussels Airlines 7249
(SK) SAS - Scandinavian Airlines 3714
(OS) Austrian 7326
(NZ) Air New Zealand 4655
I had a small decaf at the coffee shop at the end of the pier, monitoring the assembly at the gate holding area just beneath it. At about 13:40, the boarding process was announced, and begun shortly thereafter. Lufthansa configures its A380 with an all-economy main deck, while First and Business have the upper deck to themselves - a sensible arrangement logistically, in my opinion.
The queues you see in the picture above are both for economy; the two lines board for separate sections of the main deck.
In the meantime, F and J board from upstairs, and have their own bridge to the upper deck. Nice to see that the designers of this terminal had the foresight to think about super jumbo aviation of the future.
Still at the coffee shop, I waited out most of the queues before proceeding down the escalator to the economy boarding.
Although hard to see here, three jetways were serving the majestic A380 for our flight. Our King for today would be "Johannesburg", delivered to LH just in March of this year, and being the 5th delivered to the airline at that time.
My seat for this flight. I apologize for the blurry image. Pillows and blankets were provided. These seats follow the current trend among airlines to make them as thin as possible to save on space and weight. An unavoidable reality I guess, at least in Y... I knew exactly where I would be placing that pillow.
After an orderly boarding process, most pax began to settle in. Even in the best of scenarios, it's inevitable that boarding a plane with as may seats as the A380 requires time - especially with 435-some seats in Y alone. But no complaints, and we would be ready for a timely departure anyway.
The obligatory legroom shot. Hmm, pretty standard. The IFE box seemed quite unobtrusive - a welcome finding.
As I most often travel solo, I tend to pick an aisle seat - thus I'm sorry for the lack of window shots. But we did take off smoothly and uneventfully from one of the 28s, climbing an inital northwesterly heading before turning right toward the northeast.
A modern IFE awaited, featuring a small but high-resolution touch screen. I found most of the menus to be intuitive and user-friendly, albeit with somewhat slow response times.
One of my favorites on any flight - where available - is the moving map feature. On the LH A380 IFE, this is shown in alternating views that incorporate 3D angles, such as the in the capture above. It gives you a "wow" type of feeling at first, but in the end, a plain map of where the flight does it fine for me.
Cabin upon approaching cruising altitude. The LH A380 Y cabin is spacious and bright (almost too bright), reminiscent of the 747 actually. I had heard so much about how quiet the whalejet is inside, so I think my expectation in that regard had been set too high. While quieter than anything I had flown before, there was still a great deal of noise (or sound) coming from engines and wind outside. But that's not necessarily a negative for me, as I prefer somewhat of a "cushion" of sound in the cabin, insulating oneself from conversations, baby crying, and other sporadic noise generated inside the cabin. In all, I would say that the noise levels I experienced on this flight were actually pretty optimal for overall comfort.
The provided head phones. I found it annoying that one had to place the pads on oneself, and they were easily torn in the process. Maybe I'm just clumsy.
No amenity kits were provided - somewhat of a let-down.
Somewhat disappointingly as well, no menus were handed out either. But we did get a round of hot napkins. Not long into the flight, a pre-dinner cocktail service was begun. In my opinion, this is a must-provide feature for any full-service airline, and LH did not disappoint me in that regard.
Sparking wine - not bad! Henkell.
Of course I had the sparkling wine. And it was nice to be asked whether one wanted water as well to accompany the wine - aber, natürlich....
Mmm... the bubbly was excellent, and what a great way to start our cruise across the world - or across the Atlantic at least....
On our way....
Shortly after the bar service, meal service began. Can't remember if they called it lunch or dinner....
I think they had run out of choices by the time they got to me, since they didn't ask me for a meal preference. I was served chicken with rice and vegetables, accompanied by a salad, bread, cheese, and a tiramisu dessert. And more wine hehe.
Notice the nice touch of having real metal cutlery - those small things do make a big difference.... Having said that, the meal overall was simpler than what one would get on say a major Asian carrier, and slightly smaller in portion as well. Still, it surpassed what the UA offering would have been on this route (not that this would be a difficult feat).
Wine refills and coffee were offered post-meal.
Following the meal service, the cabin settled into rest mode. I didn't see any mood lighting. I was able to get some sleep actually.
As we had crossed the ocean, and getting closer to the European continent, it was breakfast time. As is common, special meals were heated up and distributed first, and then the main service began, using the service carts.
I was positively surprised to see a hot breakfast served! Hot eggs, fried potatoes, and grilled diced tomatoes made for an excellent start of the new day in Europe, accompanied by fresh fruit, bread, and tea. Again, metal cutlery was provided, and we got hot napkins prior to the meal.
At first, I was excited about the news program feature in the IFE - but it turned out be just five-minutes (or so) in duration - half of which was spent on unimportant sport events. I'm not a sports fan, so I couldn't care less about what the Bundesliga had been up to hehe.
The landing at FRA was relatively smooth, and on approach, I could see the usual Frankfurt skyscraper scenery.
Arriving at the Frankfurt Airport. It's not my favorite world hub airport (but they do a pretty good job working with what they've got). Here begins the long maze-like journey - as usual at FRA - to catch a connecting flight....
I'm always amazed looking at the departure screens at FRA - I don't think there is a single corner of the world that isn't covered from here.
It's always odd to arrive literally at the curbside and check-in area of this airport even as one is traveling internationally from another country to a third country without a stayover in Frankfurt. But whatever.... It's intra-Schengen travel from this point on, that's why... SIA check-in counters.... didn't I just see these before I left SFO? ...
Ok so it was time to re-enter the labyrinth on the way to my connecting flight to Budapest. Lufthansa service counters are outfitted in modernistic European style. Elegant in a way, but I still prefer the more traditional design, such as what one would see in Asia. Still, not bad.
Getting closer to my connecting flight's gate. One great feature that Lufthansa offers - at least in FRA - is some complementary items at the departure gate. Here - coffee and tea, self-serve.... Great.
And how about complementary newspapers. Not just the typical hybrid news/tabloid papers that are common in Europe, but quality papers like the Frankfurter Allgemeine and the International Herald Tribune.
Wide-body love fest in FRA.
FRANKFURT - BUDAPEST
SEPTEMBER 22, 2011, 12:40
I arrived at the gate for my Budapest flight with a decent time cushion.
At FRA, you self-scan your boarding pass at the gate, using subway-style fare gates that open up when passing through.
Of course - we would depart from a remote stand! Letzter Bus - better not be left behind ....
The articulated bus let us alight next to the aircraft, and to board either at the front or rear doors.
It looked to be a pretty full flight to BUD today.
For once, I'm able to share a window view with you.
Take-off was timely, and we ascended to a fair sky above Frankfurt.
Above the clouds....
Cabin service began upon reaching crusing altitude.
I think that small sandwich had soft cheese in it. Served with coffee. Wine was also available, but it was too early for me to have that.
Approaching BUD. A train can be seen on the ground. Hungary has great train services, even across the countryside, as I would discover during my short stay there.
Touching down at the Budapest Ferihegy Airport.
The tower at BUD....
Sorry that I didn't take many shots at the Budapest airport; this was taken at my return trip departure.... A metro bus line does ply the route from the airport, but since there were three of us after our rendez-vous, we decided to take a taxi to the city center.
Budapest is a wonderful city, featuring the old-world charm and eastern European magic. I would recommend anyone that haven't yet been there to go... In this pic, the police academy is having some exercises at the Heroes' Square.
The view from the hill conveys scenery from Buda and Pest on either side of the Danube (aka Donau in German). Pest...
And Buda with the Castle....
The transit system is a mix of old and new equipment; shown here is an example of the former. The subway is also convenient, and relatively extensive in its reach.
Being a reasonably regular flier - and given that the A380 had been in revenue service for almost four years already - I had been frustrated by not having had a (practical) opportunity to fly the super jumbo. Once I was able to do so on the above mentioned trip, I tried to temper my expectations, but had been very excited about flying this giant bird nonetheless.
In all, it did not disappoint me. You do get a little bit more of lateral room in your seat, and the overall spaciousness of the cabin extends, if only mentally, to the individual space as well. But unless you have current eye contact with one of the stair cases, the presense of an additional deck (the one you're not sitting in) is not felt, and as such, doesn't add to that sense of space, even though it is part of the airplane. So my own feeling of space on the A380 was more like that of the 747 - still not bad at all.
Like others have said in their trip reports involving this giant, the windows go through a rather thick fuselage panel, creating a "tunnel" through which full views may be somewhat obstructed.
One aspect in which the A380 fulfilled or even exceeded my expectations was in its exceptionally smooth ride at all phases of flight; not once was the seatbelt sign turned on during cruise on either of my two jumbo flights (including the return trip not covered here). No doubt, its huge wing area - designed for a longer fuselage version of this aircraft type in the future - played a role in this.
What about the airline itself then? Lufthansa was not brand new to me, but this was my first time flying them on long haul service. I would say that they matched - or even slightly surpassed - what I had expected from them. I knew not to expect Asian-style five-star hospitality, but rather a no-nonse, but polite style of efficiency. This was, according to my impression, indeed the case on this trip, where front-line staff and flight attendants were well-groomed, organized, and carried out service with high efficiency. Big smiles were perhaps for another day or another time, and were not amply provided. Having said that, however, Lufthansa stands out in its service offering overall compared with the other two European giants, BA and AF, and I would fly long-haul with LH again if the right opportunity came along.
Thank you so much for reading; any feedback is welcome!
joffie From Australia, joined Mar 2006, 862 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 17405 times:
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Thread starter): Ah, my bird had already arrived from Frankfurt, and was standing in majestic contrast to its smaller widebody peers around it.
Nothing like looking at the bird you are about to fly.. the sheer excitment when you see such a large machine!
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Thread starter): Shortly after the bar service, meal service began. Can't remember if they called it lunch or dinner....
Not too bad for Y class.
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Thread starter): Budapest is a wonderful city, featuring the old-world charm and eastern European magic. I would recommend anyone that haven't yet been there to go... In this pic, the police academy is having some exercises at the Heroes' Square.
Yeah, great city - been there 3 times in my life. Love the food - and beer, so cheap!
amax1977 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 211 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 17374 times:
Great TR. Thank you for sharing it. I enjoyed reading it very much as it reminded me my trip from SFO to BUD on LH back in winter 2004 when I was in my mid 20s. I'm sure you noticed in your trip that Hungarian women are simply gorgeous. I had a blast in that trip and enjoyed every moment of it. Although, my flight from SFO to FRA was on LH's 744 since there were no A380 back then, but it was indeed a joyful ride.
I didn't try any on my flights to BOG, maybe I should have!
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Thread starter): I think they had run out of choices by the time they got to me, since they didn't ask me for a meal preference. I was served chicken with rice and vegetables, accompanied by a salad, bread, cheese, and a tiramisu dessert. And more wine hehe.
I think on the A380 they staret service at the very front and back, so if you're in the middle, you get served last, and don't get a choice
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Thread starter): I'm always amazed looking at the departure screens at FRA - I don't think there is a single corner of the world that isn't covered from here.
Yeah, you can fly pretty much anywhere, although there is just one flight (QF to SYD) down to Australiasia
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Thread starter): Ok so it was time to re-enter the labyrinth on the way to my connecting flight to Budapest. Lufthansa service counters are outfitted in modernistic European style. Elegant in a way, but I still prefer the more traditional design, such as what one would see in Asia. Still, not bad.
The corrugated effect is left over from the Junker days.
triple7man From Thailand, joined May 2005, 772 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 16130 times:
The International Terminal at SFO, in my opinion is one of the nicest International Terminals in the US....much nicer than at LAX. I made a trip to SFO in 2001 and this was before 11 September, so the new terminal was open...much roomier than the old one. I flew UA out of SFO on 2 trans Pacific flights and this was before the new terminal opened, so we flew out of Terminal 2, which AA uses today.
I have only flown LH once...DFW-FRA-DFW on a 747-200 Combi and I used my Mileage Plus miles on UA to upgrade to business class. The service was good, but I thought the meal portions were on the small side.
I was surpised to see a 777-300ER for EK; I figured they would need a 777-200LR on this trip. I have flown on EK 380 and like LH, the lower deck was all economy, upper deck first and business.
I will look forward to your trip report on the return flight...if you can please get a window seat and take some good pictures.
MarcoPoloWorld From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 705 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 15419 times:
Quoting joffie (Reply 1): Yeah, great city - been there 3 times in my life. Love the food - and beer, so cheap!
Great report, enjoyed reading it.
Yes, I'm a fan of beer as well... love the pilsner style brews!.... Thanks for reading!
Quoting amax1977 (Reply 2): I had a blast in that trip and enjoyed every moment of it. Although, my flight from SFO to FRA was on LH's 744 since there were no A380 back then, but it was indeed a joyful ride.
The 747 is definitely not far behind the A380, so I'm sure you had an equally enjoyable flying experience too!... And I'll be sure to go back soon to check out those gorgeous girls!..... Thanks so much for reading!
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 4): I agree about UA (any US airline meals). They are mediocre as it's clear they don't want to spend. They just give the bare minimum.
Exactly. The only occasional reason I could think of to fly UA on this route would be either schedule or mileage redemption. (Full disclosure: I have flown this route with UA in the past). I had some concerns about earning UA miles on this itinerary, but I did. 100% miles actually. Also previously, I had some concern about seat selection on LH, which is easy on UA, but this time it was no problem reserving a seat on LH in advance as well (except for the regional sector to BUD).
Thanks for the added information! And thanks for reading!
Quoting triple7man (Reply 6): The International Terminal at SFO, in my opinion is one of the nicest International Terminals in the US....
No doubt about it. And hard to comprehend how the old Terminal 2 could even accommodate a fraction of the int'l ops at this intercontinental gateway...
Quoting triple7man (Reply 6): I was surpised to see a 777-300ER for EK; I figured they would need a 777-200LR on this trip.
That's what they started out with to here. But the demand was so good that they decided to deploy the 77W even though it would have to go out weight-restricted. So the W can make it to DXB nonstop, just not quite fully loaded. Expect the A380 to be assigned to SFO, once EK takes delivery of the slightly-improved version with incrementally longer range.
Quoting triple7man (Reply 6): I will look forward to your trip report on the return flight...if you can please get a window seat and take some good pictures.
Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't document my return trip....
MSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 14
Reply 8, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 15055 times:
Nice trip report, enjoyed reading it. Even with the lack of window shots! The 380 seems to be huge!
Service seems to be similar to my transatlantic journey from Miami in december Sun, Snow, Rain And ... Lufthansa! (by MSS658 Sep 4 2011 in Trip Reports)
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
MarcoPoloWorld From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 705 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (3 years 11 months 1 week 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 14384 times:
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 8): Nice trip report, enjoyed reading it. Even with the lack of window shots! The 380 seems to be huge!
Service seems to be similar to my transatlantic journey from Miami in december
Sun, Snow, Rain And ... Lufthansa! (by MSS658 Sep 4 2011 in Trip Reports)
Thanks!.... Yes, seems similar to the experience you had as well.
Quoting buck3y3nut (Reply 9): Great trip report. LH is truly a joy to fly in Y. Thank you very much for writing this report & sharing it with us...
Hey, you're welcome - and thanks so much for reading!
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7094 posts, RR: 76
Reply 14, posted (3 years 11 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 13173 times:
very nice report, good to hear your opinion on LH's A380.
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Thread starter): . But that's not necessarily a negative for me, as I prefer somewhat of a "cushion" of sound in the cabin, insulating oneself from conversations, baby crying, and other sporadic noise generated inside the cabin. In all, I would say that the noise levels I experienced on this flight were actually pretty optimal for overall comfort.
It's too quiet in that cabin IMO - just flew on a 77W again some days ago and enjoyed hearing nothing else but the wind and engine noise.
Large IFE box, no removable handsets, no mood lighting. LH doesn't invest more than necessary in Y Class.
Quoting MarcoPoloWorld (Thread starter): I was positively surprised to see a hot breakfast served! Hot eggs, fried potatoes, and grilled diced tomatoes made for an excellent start of the new day in Europe, accompanied by fresh fruit, bread, and tea.
MarcoPoloWorld From United States of America, joined Mar 2008, 705 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (3 years 11 months 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 12923 times:
Quoting nethkt (Reply 13): A Great way to fly from the west coast to Eastern Europe.
LH offers great products and good price too!!
Yeah, it was a reasonable fare on a solid world carrier. Seems like whenever you have Lufthansa around, the whole world is just around the corner, and there is something re-assuring about their presence.
I'm glad you enjoyed my simple report, and thanks so much for reading!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 14): Large IFE box, no removable handsets, no mood lighting. LH doesn't invest more than necessary in Y Class.
I hope that someone over at LH management occasionally takes the time to read reviews like these because they may not consider those items as essential - when in fact, as you are implying, they may be. At least if they want to compete well with the few other carriers that offer such world coverage as Lufti does.