BZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 264 posts, RR: 1 Posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 15147 times:
Hello and welcome to my 28th trip report, which features my journey from Bozeman, Montana to Frankfurt, Germany via Denver, Colorado on United Airlines and Lufthansa. This constitutes the return portion of my trip between Brussels, Belgium and Bozeman in March of 2012. Some readers may recall my earlier trip report covering the outbound journey from Frankfurt to San Francisco to Bozeman, which can be seen here: Transatlantic Longhaul: FRA-SFO-BZN On UA (by BZNPilot Feb 8 2013 in Trip Reports)
As I wrote in my previous report, the purpose of my return home to Montana was to see my father before he departed on a scientific expedition involving an attempt to climb Mount Everest. My trip home to see him was intended as a surprise for him, and the plan worked perfectly. He was in disbelief, and extremely happy, when I showed up on his doorstep along with my sister and other members of the family! I spent a great week at home, helped him prepare for his trip, spent time with friends and family, and got in some good skiing.
Unfortunately, all too soon, the 17th of March arrived and it was time for me to return to Brussels and the routine of work. My father was not scheduled to leave until the next day, so on the day of my departure he and my stepmother drove me to the airport for my early flight to Denver.
TIME TO FLY
After a twenty-minute drive through the quiet of the pre-dawn, we arrived at the recently re-named “Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field” around 05:40. There was not much of a line at the United counter and the check-in process was fairly quick. However the agent made me transfer weight from my checked bag to my carry-on, as the former was exactly one pound overweight. I had weighed my bag the night before on multiple scales and it came in under the limit in all cases. For this reason, I wish airlines would allow customers a tiny bit of leeway to account for the fact that all scales are not perfect—perhaps a pound or two over the published allowance. But I digress.
After checking in, I spent some time with my dad and stepmother before going through security. Given the nature of my father’s trip, and all the dangers associated with such an expedition, it was not an easy goodbye for any of us. Still, it was soon time for me to get going, so I continued through security.
Here is a photo of the airside facilities at BZN.
I stopped briefly at the gift shop and picked up a copy of the local newspaper—a habit I have developed each time I depart Bozeman. Coincidentally, this day’s newspaper had a story about my father’s expedition. I continued to gate 6 and settled in with the paper for a few minutes until boarding began.
Flight 1 of 2
Date: 17 March 2012
Flight #: UA379
Aircraft Type: Airbus A320-200
Aircraft Registration: N440UA / Manufactured 1997
Scheduled Departure: 07:22 MDT
Actual Takeoff: 07:34 MDT
Scheduled Arrival: 09:12 MDT
Actual Landing: 08:47 MDT
Flight Time: 1:13
Distance: 524 miles / 843 kilometers
Cruising Altitude: FL370
Load: F 100% / Y 90%
Personal Stats: 52nd flight on United (mainline) / 29th flight on an A320 / 294th airline flight overall
Boarding began at 06:55, a few minutes later than scheduled. At 07:05, I made my way aboard the aircraft and found my spot at 24F, a window seat on the right side. Legroom was the standard, tight situation in the non-Economy Plus cabin on United.
This was my 29th flight on an Airbus A320, and my 12th time on one of United’s examples.
We pushed back from the gate at 07:24. The engines soon hummed to life, the flaps dropped to takeoff position and we began our taxi across the wet ramp to RWY12. I kind of like the next photo with the water droplets in focus on the window.
At 07:34, the aircraft took to the centerline and the twin turbofans roared to takeoff power. The raindrops on the window trailed away in the slipstream as we lifted into the grey skies over southwest Montana.
The aircraft made a right turn to the south, which brought the airport into view.
We then banked back to the left to assume a southeasterly course towards Denver. I caught a few final glimpses of the Gallatin Valley and surrounding foothills before we ascended into the high overcast.
After passing through the upper cloud layer we leveled off. The captain made an announcement that we had reached our cruising altitude of 37,000 feet (11,278 meters) and that we had exactly one hour of flight time remaining, which would give us an early arrival in Denver. He mentioned that we could expect light chop most of the way to but that the weather in Denver was good with sunny skies, light winds from the south and an expected high temperature later in the day of 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 C)—quite warm for March.
As we continued southeast over Yellowstone National Park, the clouds began to dissipate enough to allow some views of the ground.
Meanwhile, the flight attendants began their service routine. When the cart reached my seat, I opted for a coffee to help clear away my sleepiness. It was nothing special, but did the trick; I have a certain fondness for airplane coffee.
I sipped my brew and watched the interesting patterns of the snow-covered landscape slip by below.
About thirty minutes before landing the captain made another announcement informing us that we were 160 miles (257 km) from the Denver airport and that we would soon begin our descent. The Colorado Rockies northwest of Denver came into view off the starboard side.
We descended over the plains north of the airport, which increasingly showed signs of civilization the closer we got to the Denver metropolitan area.
The flaps dropped incrementally as the crew established the aircraft on final approach.
We glided lower and lower, chasing our shadow all the way to the threshold of the runway.
The tires slid onto the asphalt of RWY16L at 08:47 after a flight time of one hour and 13 minutes.
We exited the runway to the left and taxied toward the B concourse.
The characteristic white peaks Denver’s main terminal building came into view.
We came to a stop at gate B25 at 08:55, almost 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Nice job, United!
Once inside the terminal, I grabbed a couple of shots of my A320 freshly arrived from Bozeman.
One noteworthy aspect of my itinerary was my exceedingly long layover in Denver. I entered the terminal a few minutes after 09:00, while boarding for my flight to Frankfurt was not scheduled to begin until 17:15, giving me over nine hours within the confines of the Denver airport. Had I not already been to the city of Denver many times over the years, I would have left the airport and used this time to visit the downtown area. However, I saw no point this time in heading into the city, which is nearly 25 miles (40 km) away. Besides, I actually like layovers, and this long one would give me ample time to walk the airport’s three concourses, do some plane spotting, work on my computer, have a meal and a drink or two, and generally just relax—all without having to worry about catching a bus back to the airport in time for my departure.
I decided to start my layover by heading to the C concourse, from where I would work my way back to the B and eventually A concourses, where my Lufthansa flight would arrive later in the afternoon. My goal was to walk the full length of all three concourses. I headed to the underground train, which took me to the C concourse.
In my opinion, Denver is one of the nicest airports in the United States, and the entrance to the C concourse is certainly impressive. Note the Learjet 35A hanging from the ceiling.
A closer inspection revealed that this bizjet has some real history. In 1996, it set a new speed record for business jets by flying around the world in 49 hours, 21 minutes and 8 seconds, covering a distance of 23,077 miles (37,139 km). In 1995, it was also the first private aircraft to land at the new Denver International Airport.
From the center of the C concourse, I made my way to the far western end. From that point, my plan was to more casually make my way to the far eastern end, while doing some spotting along the way—and then repeat that in all three concourses. Not a bad way to pass some time, in my opinion, even if the spotting was nothing special. There was not a whole lot of action at this end of the C concourse, save for some blue Southwest metal.
More interesting was this old 727 parked on the distant ramp. It was missing a couple of engines, but still smiling.
As mid-morning approached, I began to get hungry and decided to stop for some breakfast. I opted for an omelet with hash browns and a cup of coffee.
After a leisurely breakfast, I continued to the eastern end of the concourse, pausing occasionally along the way. The C concourse is distinctive from the other two concourses due to the red carpeting.
Here was a SkyWest regional jet operating a Delta Connection flight.
After seeing the full extent of the C concourse, I made my way back to the center of it, hopped on the train and headed back to the B concourse. Greeting me upon arrival there was this statue of Colorado native Jack Swigert, one of the American astronauts known for the harrowing Apollo XIII moon mission.
From a design standpoint, the center of the B concourse was not nearly as visually impressive as that of the C concourse. Still, this four-legged arch is a familiar sight to many United passengers who pass through Denver. Known as the “Beaded Circle Crossing,” this design is supposed to mimic Native American art and evoke the shape of a tipi.
The B concourse is different from the other two in that it has bluish-gray carpeting.
Once again, I backtracked to the western end of the concourse, past gate B25 where I had arrived earlier. From there, I walked the full length with the idea of catching any interesting aircraft that may be waiting around. There were indeed a few, including this United retrojet.
There were also a couple of antique birds hanging from the ceiling. I always find it nice to be at an airport that highlights some aspect of the intrigue of aviation instead of simply serving as a transportation facility for the masses. In my opinion, and despite some problems early on, Denver is a very functional airport; yet its designers also took the time to recognize aviation as a topic of interest. Well done!
I eventually made my way to the far eastern end of the concourse, and even downstairs to lower-level gates frequented by the United Express regional jets.
This particular CRJ in the next picture, still sporting the pre-merger United livery, was on its way to Bozeman. Even though it has been years since I lived in my hometown, I have to admit I felt a bit melancholy watching the passengers board and knowing I was not on this flight home—even though I had just left.
I returned to the main level of the concourse and, as it was nearly noon and I had been up for hours, I decided to stop and have a local Colorado beer. New Belgium Brewing Company, based north of Denver in Fort Collins, is a craft brewery inspired by the beers of my current home country of Belgium. Of course there is an American twist to the brewery’s products, and in the meantime it has grown to be one of the largest craft breweries in the US; but all the same, they make some great beer that still retains the taste of microbrew.
I settled in and ordered a Ranger IPA. The pouring technique and presentation at New Belgium was a bit different from the old (real) Belgium, but it hit the spot.
The best thing about my beer break was the vantage point I had for spotting on the ramp between the B and A concourses.
I could not resist snapping a photo of this classic Denver scene.
I also like the shimmering ramp effect in the next two shots. Even cooler was the fact that I spied both the shortest and longest 767 variants in the same position, just moments apart.
Here are a few more shots of the neighboring gate which, during the course of my beer, witnessed an equipment change from an ERJ-170 to its chief competitor, the CRJ-700.
After finishing my beer, I gathered my things and made my way back toward the center of the B concourse to catch the underground train to the final destination of my self-guided airport tour—the A concourse.
Again, the Denver airport seems to have a lot of flair compared to some other airports. Whereas the center of the C concourse featured the Learjet, and the B concourse featured the Beaded Circle Crossing, the A concourse was home to the “Dual Meridian” display evoking the history of transportation in the form of sweeping railroad tracks.
As I did in concourses B and C, I set out to walk the length of A. The green carpeting here differentiated the concourse from the other two.
Whereas the B concourse is home to United, the A concourse is clearly dominated by Frontier. This is an interesting airline and one that I instinctively like although I have never flown it. The airline’s slogan is “A whole different animal,” and it certainly appears that way from the paint schemes. I hope to try Frontier sometime.
In addition to Frontier, concourse A is Denver’s home for American Airlines.
Still, overall, United is the dominant carrier at Denver, and its presence is always seen.
The far eastern end of concourse A is home to Great Lakes Airlines. This small airline operates mostly EAS (Essential Air Service) routes throughout the West and Midwest using a fleet of Embraer 120s and Beechcraft 1900s. This is another airline I would very much like to try.
In addition to Frontier, American, Great Lakes and a few other domestic carriers, concourse A is home to Denver’s international flights, including my upcoming flight with Lufthansa. While walking the length of the concourse, I spied this Aeromexico 737-700 pulling into the gate, freshly arrived from Mexico City.
Having leisurely explored all corners of all concourses of the Denver airport, I glanced at my watch and noticed it was almost 15:00. I still had a couple hours before boarding would begin for my Lufthansa flight, but I wanted to arrive at the gate early to see the massive 747 pull onto the stand. The gate area was still empty, but was clearly marked with Lufthansa’s branding.
I found a spot next to the window and waited. Sure enough, in due time the enormous jumbo appeared on the ramp as it pushed the final meters toward the gate and the end of its long haul.
Upon seeing the big Boeing pull into the gate, I remembered being a teenager at the Atlanta airport—at the time my most distant and exotic destination—and watching a Swissair 747-300 pull into the gate. I remembered watching that aircraft with a combination of awe and jealousy, while silently hoping for the opportunity to one day fly on a 747 to a far-away country. And here I was now, about to do just that—one of many such flights for me in the meantime—and I tried to keep that amazing fact in perspective. I never want to become a person who gets so used to the opportunity of flying that I no longer appreciate it. Fortunately, I do not think that will happen! Meanwhile, a father and his young son sitting nearby watched the jumbo approach the gate, and I heard the father explain to his child that this aircraft was one of the biggest and most impressive planes in the world. The little boy pushed his face up to the glass window, eager to take it all in. Given that most people take commercial aviation for granted in this day and age, it was wonderful to see a father recognize the impressive reality of it all, and a young child to see it with all the awe of youth.
As soon as the 747 docked, the ground crew sprang into action to get the behemoth aircraft turned for the journey back to Frankfurt.
With some time left before boarding, I decided to make a couple more jaunts up and down the length of the terminal building, just to keep moving—after all, I would have plenty of time to be in a sitting position on the flight back to Europe. I also made a few phone calls to my family, including my father, as it would likely be our last phone conversation for a while. Finally, with about 30 minutes left until boarding, I returned to the gate and found my spot at the back of the already-growing line.
Flight 2 of 2
Date: 17-18 March 2012
Flight #: LH447
Aircraft Type: Boeing 747-430
Aircraft Registration: D-ABVY / Manufactured 2000
Scheduled Departure: 17:45 MDT
Actual Takeoff: 18:06 MDT
Scheduled Arrival: 10:30 CET
Actual Landing: 10:03 CET
Flight Time: 8:57
Distance: 5,039 miles / 8,109 kilometers
Altitude: FL350 / FL370
Load: F unknown / J unknown / Y 100%
Personal Stats: 6th flight on the 747-400 / 7th flight on Lufthansa / 295th airline flight overall
Boarding was scheduled for 17:15 and it began exactly on time. I made my way down the jetway and was greeted by a Lufthansa flight attendant at the door, who offered a “guten Tag” upon entering. I turned right at the first aisle and found my seat towards the back at 50A, a left-side window. My impression was that the legroom was tight. I was also disappointed not to have a personal screen in the seatback, which had been a feature of every other Lufthansa long-haul flight I had experienced. Instead, this aircraft offered only the communal monitors hanging above the aisles. Airliners.net member PlaneHunter mentioned in a comment in my previous report that, in the meantime, Lufthansa has completed the installation of individual screens in economy class on all of its longhaul fleet. That is definitely a good thing, but at the time of this flight, that project had yet to be completed.
My impression was also that the cabin was dirty and grubby. There were crumbs on the floor and stains on my tray table. It was not one of the crisp and tidy cabins I have come to expect from Lufthansa.
This was my sixth flight on the mighty 747-400, and my first on one of Lufthansa’s models. Here is a shot of the all-important safety card.
That is one massive wing.
As the boarding process was finishing, the captain made a brief announcement in German and English. He indicated an expected flying time of eight hours and 50 minutes.
At 17:54, the aircraft moved backwards off the stand, and a few minutes thereafter we began a lumbering taxi to the eastern side of the airport.
The jumbo took to RWY17R at 18:06 and began the takeoff roll. Even with four big engines, the acceleration of this massive aircraft seemed rather sluggish. Of course, this was a huge aircraft taking off for a long-haul flight from a relatively high-elevation airport!
It was impressive to watch the big wing flex upward as it lifted the heavy fuselage away from the asphalt.
A left bank shortly after takeoff took us over the flat fields east of the airport.
We kept climbing while making a left turn toward the east and then northeast.
We ascended into the upper flight levels over northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska, eventually leveling off at 35,000 feet (10,670 meters) about 30 minutes after takeoff.
About 45 minutes into the flight, the cabin crew came through the aisle offering a beverage and a pack of pretzels. I opted for a white wine—free of charge on Lufthansa, of course.
Meanwhile, the sun began to set in the western sky, providing some nice light out the window. I always enjoy dusk and dawn from the vantage point of an aircraft.
An hour and 15 minutes into the flight, the cabin crew came by again offering hot towels in advance of the dinner service. This was a nice feature as opposed to the moist towelettes—or sometimes nothing at all—given in coach on some transatlantic carriers. However, it was not until 45 minutes after that—about two hours into the flight—that dinner was actually served. The cabin crew did not really seem to have their timing and efficiency figured out on this flight. When the food finally did come, however, it was good. The choice was between chicken and pasta, and I chose the former. In my opinion it was a step above the offerings on most US carriers when going transatlantic, as is usually the case on Lufthansa. I took a sparkling water along with the meal.
After the meal, the flight attendants made a run through the aisles offering water, tea, coffee, or refills of wine. I took another cup of white wine, which hit the spot and helped me settle in for the night.
I did not find the movie on the overhead screen particularly interesting (I do not remember what it was) so I passed the time reading, before finally entering into a restless sleep. Even then, I still came to consciousness every few minutes, and sometimes peeked out the window to see if dawn was arriving. Eventually it did, and I snapped a few photos of the early light above the north Atlantic.
We made landfall over Scotland, which provided some nice views of the snowy hills of the highlands.
As we entered the last hour of the flight, hot breakfast was offered. The slightly soggy potatoes and simple eggs were not exactly gourmet, but they were acceptable enough. Moreover, it was nice to have a hot meal, and since I was hungry, I cleaned my plate.
After breakfast I got up to stretch my legs and use the lavatory before landing. The facilities were surprisingly clean for the tail end of a long flight.
As we crossed over the Dutch coast, one of the pilots announced that we would begin our decent shortly and could expect to be on the ground in approximately 30 minutes. He also advised us of the weather in Frankfurt, which was rainy with a temperature of 8 degrees C (46 Fahrenheit). Soon we started down into the wet murk.
We eventually dropped out of the clouds and the farm fields of Germany appeared below.
We charted a course north and east of the Frankfurt airport before making a right turn back to the south and west for a westerly landing. The big flaps began to drop from the wing.
The massive Boeing glided smoothly over the perimeter fence and began to flare for landing on RWY25L.
The undercarriage hit the asphalt with a firm thud at 10:03 am local time after eight hours and 57 minutes on the wing from Denver.
We exited the runway to the right and began a slow taxi toward the terminal. One of Lufthansa’s giant A380s came into view across the ramp.
At 10:18, we came to a stop at gate C16—another Atlantic crossing complete!
It took some time for the passengers to clear out of the jumbo, but I was in no real hurry and waited patiently in my seat. Once inside the terminal, I paused to grab a couple photos of my ride.
From there, I made a long walk to immigration (no problems with the German border officials this time), then baggage claim, and finally to the airport train station. After a two-hour wait for my train, followed by a three-hour ride, I was back in Brussels.
As United was the focus of my evaluation in the previous trip report, the focus this time will be on Lufthansa, which in this report was the primary leg of the journey. How did Lufthansa perform on my Denver-Frankfurt flight? Below I have listed eight different categories covering the main aspects of my experience.
Reservation & Online Services: Score 9/10
The reservation was made and the ticket booked via United’s website. However, I did have the chance to use Lufthansa’s website by making my seat selection for the Denver-Frankfurt leg. There were very few empty seats when I made my selection at the time of the booking, but luckily I was able to secure a window. The website was straightforward and easy to use. Being able to choose my seat in advance was most welcome.
Check-in: Score N/A
The one category for which I did not assign a score was check-in, as that process was done entirely by United. This category does not factor into my evaluation.
Seats and Cabin Condition: Score 2/10
Unlike my past experiences on Lufthansa, this aircraft was not in the best of shape on the inside. The carpeting and tray table were dirty. The seat pitch of 31 inches was the same as on United’s 747-400, which is to say not particularly generous for a long-haul flight. Lufthansa did not meet my expectations in this category.
Cabin Crew: Score 5/10
The cabin crew were professional, but certainly not warm or inviting. They did their job in a sort of robotic fashion. Their timing was also a bit off, as dinner was not served until about two hours into the flight, which seemed rather late based on my experience on many eastbound transatlantic flights.
Food and Drink: Score 8/10
As expected, the meals were a definite step above what I have experienced on United and other US carriers on similar routes. Moreover, Lufthansa continues to provide free alcoholic beverages in the economy cabin, and my wine with dinner was great. The breakfast was not excellent, but it was decent enough, and it was served hot, unlike the cold breakfasts on many US carriers operating transatlantic flights. Again, the timing of the dinner could have been better, but overall Lufthansa’s product in this category was solid.
Inflight Entertainment: Score 2/10
Lufthansa’s inflight entertainment is usually quite good in my opinion, but this time the airline fell short of my expectations. There were no personal screens in the seatbacks on this 747, and the small monitors overhead were not easily viewable from my seat. As mentioned earlier in this report, and following a comment from PlaneHunter, Lufthansa has since installed personal screens on all longhaul aircraft. But in this particular case, the product was poor by Lufthansa’s usual standards.
Baggage: Score 10/10
My baggage arrived on time and in good shape. Simple enough.
Punctuality: Score 10/10
My flight landed at Frankfurt ahead of schedule despite the soggy conditions. The aircraft docked at the gate almost 15 minutes early. Good job, Lufthansa.
How did Lufthansa perform relative to my other experiences across the Atlantic? My outbound trip from Frankfurt to San Francisco on United scored a 61% according to my evaluation, so Lufthansa remains a clear notch above that. However, in one of my past reports covering a transatlantic roundtrip on Lufthansa, I ranked the airline significantly higher, at 82.5%. The difference is that on those flights, the aircraft cabins seemed nicer, newer and cleaner, and the inflight entertainment—which included a nice seatback monitor—was excellent. My experience on this older 747-400 fell short of that. I was hoping that Lufthansa’s Rocky Mountain High would be a little higher. Nonetheless, Lufthansa is still one of my preferred carriers with which to cross the Atlantic. If given the choice between Lufthansa and many of their competitors, I will keep choosing Lufthansa.
For those who may be wondering about my father’s expedition to Mount Everest, which was the reason for my trip home to Montana, here’s how it unfolded.
My father was scheduled to leave Bozeman on the 18th of March, with a routing of Bozeman-San Francisco-Los Angeles-Bangkok-Kathmandu on United (Express) and Thai. While taxiing away from the terminal in Bozeman, however, a problem popped up with a trim tab on the Skywest CRJ that was supposed to take him to San Francisco. The aircraft backtracked to the terminal and the flight ended up being cancelled. Unfortunately, the earliest they could rebook him and his expedition partners to Kathmandu was two days later. So after that frustrating false start, he finally was underway on the 20th of March, with the routing of Bozeman-Denver-Los Angeles-Bangkok-Kathmandu.
After a few days in Kathmandu, he continued on to Lukla, which is widely agreed to be one of the most harrowing airports with commercial service (if you are not familiar with the airport, Google it for some incredible images). My father told me later that the Nepali pilots flying into Lukla are some of the best pilots he’s ever seen—and my father is no novice to aviation, holding an instrument and commercial rating himself.
From Lukla, he trekked to Everest base camp, where his team’s camp was set up at around 17,500 feet (5,300 meters). He spent the next two months at and above base camp, never dropping below that elevation. In the end, he did not reach the summit of Everest, as he had hoped, but he did reach Camp Two at 21,500 feet (6,550 meters), which is no small achievement. The rest of the family and I were all relieved he did not push higher up the mountain, as the conditions were particularly difficult and dangerous during that climbing season, and there were a number of fatalities from other expeditions. Several members of his expedition team did, however, reach the summit.
Importantly, he also conducted a large amount of fieldwork and research on the geology of the Everest region—much of which has seen little or no in-depth geological research due to the extreme conditions and climbing skills needed to access the mountain.
He returned safely to Bozeman in June, having completed a successful trip, especially from a scientific and research standpoint, despite having become quite ill and losing a lot of weight. But upon his safe return, we all breathed a big sigh of relief, and after a few months, he finally returned to his usual, healthy physical state. Meanwhile, the rock samples he and his team collected, including those gathered by the incredibly hard-working and kind sherpas who did reach the summit, are yielding a lot of geologic insight into the structure of the world’s highest mountain. I am proud of my father for undertaking this expedition and for the contribution he is making to our understanding of Everest as the “Mother Goddess of the Earth.” Exploration and pushing frontiers forward, whether geographically or in terms of knowledge and understanding—in whatever field—is a noble thing.
That concludes this trip report. I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you for reading. Comments or questions are always greatly appreciated.
9w748capt From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 651 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 14793 times:
Brilliant report from start to finish - I was hooked onto every word. Bravo!
Just out of curiosity - did you book your trip with that long layover on purpose? Because that is crazy! As much as I love flying, long layovers drive me insane. I have to give it up to you for making the best out of it and doing some excellent sightseeing at the airport - of course that may have been your intention all along Having only flown in/out of DEN and not connected, I had no idea there was so much to see! Had no idea New Belgium had a bar at DEN - I'll definitely have to stop by there my next time in DEN. Have you been to the actual brewery in Ft Collins? It's a hell of a good time!
Enjoyed your pics from the actual LH flight - have to say though their product looks quite mediocre! Having said that my mom and sis just flew LH ORD-MUC-BOM and back and absolutely loved it - so I'm sure having in seat IFE makes a huge difference.
And how fascinating to hear about your dad's expedition and what he was able to accomplish - quite remarkable indeed so kudos to him! Glad to hear he made it back safely and has regained his health. Even base camp is quite exhausting from what I hear - so it must be great to have him back.
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1993 posts, RR: 24
Reply 2, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 14275 times:
Another really good report, BZNPilot!
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): As I wrote in my previous report, the purpose of my return home to Montana was to see my father before he departed on a scientific expedition involving an attempt to climb Mount Everest.
Wow, Mt. Everest. Amazing!
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): One noteworthy aspect of my itinerary was my exceedingly long layover in Denver. I entered the terminal a few minutes after 09:00, while boarding for my flight to Frankfurt was not scheduled to begin until 17:15, giving me over nine hours within the confines of the Denver airport. Had I not already been to the city of Denver many times over the years, I would have left the airport and used this time to visit the downtown area. However, I saw no point this time in heading into the city, which is nearly 25 miles (40 km) away.
Having just got back from a trip to Denver, I can attest it's a long drive, and the traffic can be bad, so I'd probably have done the same thing!
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): While walking the length of the concourse, I spied this Aeromexico 737-700 pulling into the gate, freshly arrived from Mexico City.
Wow, I did not know they flew to Denver! Cool!
As to the flight, it looked pretty good; It seems that it's a common thing that airlines will really delay serving the main meal on long flights; I wonder why this is? I'd be starving after 2 hours into the flight!
b777erj145 From United States of America, joined Feb 2013, 106 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (1 year 11 months 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 13992 times:
Really good report. I always read your reports. On the side note, I had flown the DEN-FRA route with LH but with A340. Service was good maybe due to the fact that it was my first trip with them and didnt know what to expect and also to the fact that I am not a frequent flyer.
sultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1829 posts, RR: 29
Reply 6, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 11924 times:
Great report, great pictures! An American airline actually performing better than a European one, is seems to be possible. Although it’s hard to compare short- and longhaul of course. Quite a letdown on LH, mainly due to the not yet refitted cabin. UA looked quite decent and your 9h Dallas layover provided some nice bonus material on the airport.
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): the recently re-named %u201CBozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field%u201D
It’s all in a name, and this is quite a long one!
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): Coincidentally, this day%u2019s newspaper had a story about my father%u2019s expedition.
He must be the local hereo now, although he didn’t quite make it to the top. Did he feel bad over that aspect of his trip?
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): The characteristic white peaks Denver%u2019s main terminal building came into view.
That looks very much like the palace of justice in Antwerp (Vlinderpaleis, which as a Belgian resident, you must have seen by now? It’s a very nice and distinctive architectural piece of an airprt.
MSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 14
Reply 7, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 10961 times:
Interesting to see the return. However the LH flight does look to be desired. Especially the cabin condition of the 744 doens't look comfortable at all for the 9hour trip. F/A's seem to be very cold as well. I thankfully had better F/As on my LH longhaul.
Glad to read your dad had a succesfull mission trip as well.
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
aerdingus From Ireland, joined Dec 2006, 3023 posts, RR: 16
Reply 8, posted (1 year 11 months 3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 10849 times:
Fascinating to read about your dad & good to see he came back ok. As for the report, I enjoyed the trip through DEN! 9hrs layover is a bit long, but I don´t mind once I have some money to eat & drink! I always seem to be stuck in airports with no money! I didn´t realise UA still had so many a/c in the old colours. Love the Stars & Bars A320. Pity the LH experience was a little lacklustre, I think sometimes these mighty machines look most impressive on the outside! Unfortunately we come back down to earth when we see old dirty interiors.
Cabin crew blog http://dolefuldolegirl.blogspot.ie/
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7009 posts, RR: 77
Reply 9, posted (1 year 11 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 9547 times:
nice report about your flights on UA and LH. You were really unlucky to get one of the few remaining 744s without PTVs. The catering in particular looks fine.
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): Airliners.net member PlaneHunter mentioned in a comment in my previous report that, in the meantime, Lufthansa has completed the installation of individual screens in economy class on all of its longhaul fleet.
Unfortunately, two 744s without PTVs have returned into service after storage - so it's a lottery once again. Some other currently stored frames may return as well for the summer season. It's unlikely that these old planes will be refurbished within their last few months of service.
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): There were crumbs on the floor and stains on my tray table. It was not one of the crisp and tidy cabins I have come to expect from Lufthansa.
Quoting BZNPilot (Thread starter): When the food finally did come, however, it was good. The choice was between chicken and pasta, and I chose the former. In my opinion it was a step above the offerings on most US carriers when going transatlantic, as is usually the case on Lufthansa. I took a sparkling water along with the meal.
adamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1193 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (1 year 11 months 3 days ago) and read 8402 times:
Great report as usual, thanks for sharing. Really enjoyed it!
United looks like your typical US domestic flight, good to hear you arrived ahead of time!
Thanks for the insight on Denver airport, an airport I have only transferred through as a child. I agree on you that it looks quite nice! Did you get to see the BA flight as well?
I actually feel quite sorry for you that you had another flight without a PTV, quite poor IMHO. LH doesn't look quite impressive here, to have such a taddy cabin is not really what you want on such a long flight! The food looks quite nice though!
BZNPilot From Belgium, joined Feb 2006, 264 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (1 year 11 months 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 8048 times:
Thanks to everyone for all of the comments!
Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 1): Brilliant report from start to finish - I was hooked onto every word. Bravo!
Thanks a lot for the kind words! Much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed!
Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 1): Just out of curiosity - did you book your trip with that long layover on purpose?
I didn't actually book it that way on purpose, it just sort of worked out that way, and I was okay with it. The only option with the fare that I could afford involved the SFO overnight on the outbound, and the return through DEN with the very long layover. However, that was fine with me--there are worse places to spend a day than at an airport (especially when the cost difference would have been several hundred of dollars).
Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 1): Have you been to the actual brewery in Ft Collins? It's a hell of a good time!
Nope, unfortunately not. But it's on my to-do list!
Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 1): Had no idea New Belgium had a bar at DEN - I'll definitely have to stop by there my next time in DEN.
Definitely a good place to spend some of that layover time...
Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 1): Enjoyed your pics from the actual LH flight - have to say though their product looks quite mediocre!
Yeah, it was a mixed bag. Food was good, harder product not so much. Not what I was expecting.
Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 1): so I'm sure having in seat IFE makes a huge difference.
Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 1): And how fascinating to hear about your dad's expedition
Quoting 9w748capt (Reply 1): Glad to hear he made it back safely and has regained his health. Even base camp is quite exhausting from what I hear - so it must be great to have him back.
Thanks, yes, it was a relief for the whole family when he returned. Base camp is indeed an expedition in itself. I was definitely jealous of his flights into/out of Lukla! Many thanks again for all of the kind comments. Best regards to you.
Thanks for the nice comment, good to hear from you again!
Quoting 767747 (Reply 2): Having just got back from a trip to Denver, I can attest it's a long drive, and the traffic can be bad, so I'd probably have done the same thing!
It is indeed way out there. So to go into the city during a layover would mean a lot of time on the road...
Quoting 767747 (Reply 2): Wow, I did not know they flew to Denver! Cool!
Yeah, I didn't realize it either. Nice to be surprised.
Quoting 767747 (Reply 2): As to the flight, it looked pretty good; It seems that it's a common thing that airlines will really delay serving the main meal on long flights; I wonder why this is?
I wonder as well. Especially on redeye flights, as it would be better from the standpoint of most passengers, I would think, to eat quickly and then try to sleep.Thanks again for reading and commenting. All the best!
Quoting moby147 (Reply 3): I am glad your farther returned home safe after an amazing trip
Quoting moby147 (Reply 3): 9 Hours layover!! did you plan this I think I would be round the bend long before I boarded the next plane
Indeed, it was a long one. Didn't plan it, but didn't mind it either. I can always keep myself busy in an airport.
Quoting moby147 (Reply 3): LH, sadly not impressed with hard or soft product, I have only flown short haul with them & they were ok
Fortunately my experience on this flight doesn't seem to match my other longhaul LH experiences. So perhaps this was an exception. Hope so, as I'm sure I'll give them another try on a longhaul at some point. I agree with you, their shorthaul tends to be pretty good. Thx again for commenting!
Quoting lychemsa (Reply 4): I try to avoid 31" legroom airlines like BA, LH, AA, UA.
I don't mind 31" on shorthaul or even medium, but for longhaul it is tight indeed!
Quoting b777erj145 (Reply 5): On the side note, I had flown the DEN-FRA route with LH but with A340. Service was good maybe due to the fact that it was my first trip with them and didnt know what to expect and also to the fact that I am not a frequent flyer.
Typically LH does have a good product, it seems. Glad you had a good experience. Thanks again and take care.
Quoting sultanils (Reply 6): An American airline actually performing better than a European one, is seems to be possible. Although it's hard to compare short- and longhaul of course.
True, it may in fact be possible! Though you're right, short vs longhaul is apples to oranges. And on LH, the beer is free, so LH takes the lead...
Quoting sultanils (Reply 6): Quite a letdown on LH, mainly due to the not yet refitted cabin.
Yes, not what I was expecting.
Quoting sultanils (Reply 6): It%u2019s all in a name, and this is quite a long one!
In my opinion, too long!
Quoting sultanils (Reply 6): He must be the local hereo now, although he didn%u2019t quite make it to the top. Did he feel bad over that aspect of his trip?
He has his regrets, but I think he's also glad he didn't push it too far (as is the rest of the family).
Quoting sultanils (Reply 6): That looks very much like the palace of justice in Antwerp (Vlinderpaleis, which as a Belgian resident, you must have seen by now? It’s a very nice and distinctive architectural piece of an airprt.
Now that you mention it, you're right, they do look very much alike. I saw the Vlinderpaleis a few years ago, need to go back one of these days.
They didn't serve any Belgian brews actually imported from Belgium, as they are a brewery in their own right, but they do brew their beer in somewhat the style of different types of Belgian beers (with an American twist, of course).
Quoting sultanils (Reply 6): Carpet seems to be a constant in many American airports, no?
Indeed, not something one really sees in Europe or Asia, I suppose.
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 7): However the LH flight does look to be desired. Especially the cabin condition of the 744 doens't look comfortable at all for the 9hour trip.
Was definitely below my expectations. A pity, as LH is such a great airline most of the time, IMHO.
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 7): thankfully had better F/As on my LH longhaul.
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 7): Glad to read your dad had a succesfull mission trip as well.
Thanks, Marc! Much appreciated. Looking forward to your future reports.
Quoting aerdingus (Reply 8): Fascinating to read about your dad & good to see he came back ok.
Thanks! And thanks for reading and commenting.
Quoting aerdingus (Reply 8): I didn´t realise UA still had so many a/c in the old colours. Love the Stars & Bars A320.
Yes, at that time (this trip was now a bit over a year ago) there were still a lot in the old colours. However, my last trip back in December 2012, I noticed that most (if not all?) were in the new colours. Guess the paint shop had a busy 2012!
Quoting aerdingus (Reply 8): Pity the LH experience was a little lacklustre, I think sometimes these mighty machines look most impressive on the outside!
No doubt, they are impressive from the outside, especially the mighty 744.
Quoting aerdingus (Reply 8): Unfortunately we come back down to earth when we see old dirty interiors.
Very true. Thanks again for your nice comments.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 9):
nice report about your flights on UA and LH. You were really unlucky to get one of the few remaining 744s without PTVs.
Good to hear from you, thanks for reading and commenting. I guess I was unlucky indeed.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 9): Unfortunately, two 744s without PTVs have returned into service after storage - so it's a lottery once again. Some other currently stored frames may return as well for the summer season. It's unlikely that these old planes will be refurbished within their last few months of service.
At least these planes are getting some air time, but indeed those passengers who are not lucky may not have the best experience. Thanks again for commenting.
Quoting planiac787 (Reply 10): Its always nice to read a lh report.. but I am a little disappointed with what I see...
I know some of there 744's still dont have ptvs and I find that absolutely unacceptable...
Fortunately the 744 in my particular case seemed to be an exception, but you are right. Still not a consistent product to have these older, non-refurbished aircraft mixed into an otherwise modern cabin product.
Quoting planiac787 (Reply 10): The food service seems fine...Nothing extra ordinary...Asian carriers would kick lh's ass if you compare the catering,service and ife. IMO...
True. I've only experienced an Asian carrier in the form of Cathay's business class product...and that was...well...very nice!
Quoting planiac787 (Reply 10): But lh did get you from point A to point B in time..so i ll give them that...
The most important thing, really.
Quoting planiac787 (Reply 10): I am pretty excited because I ll get to fly on the 748i again....