Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14 Posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2437 times:
I recently thought it was time for an other weekend daytrip, so I searched for an interesting destination with an acceptable price. I finally booked a day-return flight on DBA from Stuttgart to Hamburg. DBA opened this route in October 2003 with 3 daily services (2 on Sunday).
As I live very close to the airport (10 minutes by commuter train) I arrived at STR quite early at about 6:00. There are normally four check-in counters for DBA at STR, but none of them was open yet. The lady from security service who is doing the luggage screening told me that they would open at about 6:15, so I made my way along the construction site of the new Terminal 3 (which will be opened on
28 March this year) to Terminal 4 which offers some views to the apron. But as it was dark outside there was not much to see. I returned to check-in at about 06:30. One counter was open now and as there were no passengers at all, check-in was very quick. I got seat 22A and sequence number 001. Security check was also very quick and efficient, no waiting time. To kill some time I filled in a Lotto coupon (unfortunately I didn’t win ) and looked through the shops, then I went to the gate.
Saturday, 07 February 2004
Stuttgart (STR) – Hamburg (HAM)
Flight number: DI 7180
Scheduled departure time:07:30
Scheduled arrival time: 08:45
Type of aircraft: B 737-300
Boarding started at 7:10 and was done by the same lady that had been at the check-in. On the bus to the aircraft I counted 17 passengers. Not really good for a B 737. A Beech 1900 or a Metro would have been big enough for that flight… We arrived at our aircraft (D-ADBN) which had been repainted in the new green livery. It still had its old name “Wolkenschreiber”. Besides D-ADBN there was also an other DBA aircraft (D-ADIE) on the apron which would normally have operated the morning flight to TXL. But as this flight didn’t take place on that day, the aircraft was completely dark.
We were welcomed by the very friendly cabin crew which consisted of 2 women and one man (the purser). They offered free newspapers (Sueddeutsche, Welt, Bild). With so few passengers to HAM everybody hat a row for himsewlf/herself and boarding was completed quickly. The cabin was nice and clean. I realized that the seats didn’t have the typical green DBA headrest covers but instead they had white neutral ones.
We were off-block soon and taxied to the runway, then we took off in Western direction. It just became day when we climbed up in the sky. Although I have experienced this several times I still enjoy flying into the sunrise very much. The different colours of the sky are just great! At first there were also some good views to the ground, then it turned cloudy.
I think I have never been on such an empty plane. With only 17 passengers on an aircraft with 136 seats, I somehow felt as if I was flying V-Bird :
(This is a photo of an empty V-Bird A 320, not of DBA!)
Shortly after take-off, the cabin crew started with food and drink service. They didn’t come through with a trolley but instead one flight attendant wrote down the orders. I ordered a hot croissant and a coffee for together EUR 2,50 and shortly after I got both on a small tray.
The purser made a small advertisement announcement: “You want to learn French or English? Why not trying out our international destinations Nice and London?” The captain told us that the weather at HAM was more than ugly with rain and wind and about 4° Celsius. He was right: the ground was not visible until we had nearly reached the airport. The aircraft touched down and taxied to a gate position in front of the terminal building. We were on-block about 15 minutes early.
After leaving the plane I went directly to the DBA check-in desk and checked in for my return flight in the afternoon, then I took the bus to the city centre. As it was heavily raining I did a bus tour through Hamburg. At about noon I returned to the airport.
When you come from STR, you soon feel at home at HAM: Terminal 4 at HAM was planned by the same architect’s office like the terminal at STR, so the buildings are quite similar. Departures, arrivals, check-in, restaurants, viewing facilities, etc. are at the same place. The only difference (on the first view) is the roof construction and the fact that the terminal at HAM is slightly bigger that STR: There is more room between the two rows with check-in counters so it is a bit less crowded.
Like at STR, at HAM there is also a new terminal building under construction which is similar to the existing one. Besides, HAM also gets a station for the new commuter train route which is really necessary in my opinion. I think an airport of the size of HAM should have a train connection.
I went to the spectator terrace on the (old) Terminal 1. On the apron you could see a variety of European traffic, among the aircraft there was a brand new Aeroflot A 319 in the new livery
But the more interesting planes were those stored at the LH maintenance facility: Emirates, Royal Jordanian, an all-white A 340, an LH A 340 without engines (I guess an A 340-200??) and several LH aircraft (A 300/310, MD-11 and some narrow-bodies) were visible.
Later I went to the restaurant in T4 (which was also my departure terminal) for a short lunch. Even the restaurants at HAM have the same names as at STR as they are run by the same company.
Then I went to the gate where I saw my aircraft just arriving from STR. It was again D-ADBN, so this would be my fourth flight on this aircraft (after two flights STR-TXL and TXL-STR in 2003 and the flight STR-HAM this morning).
Saturday, 07 February 2004
Hamburg (HAM) – Stuttgart (STR)
Flight number: DI 7183
Scheduled departure time:14:15
Scheduled arrival time: 15:30
Type of aircraft: B 737-300
Boarding started on time. This time there were about 30 passengers; also not a very good load factor but still better than in the morning. It was the same crew as on the morning flight. When the purser came to my row (this time I had seat 4F) he looked at me, then he said: “Your visit at HAM was short, wasn’t it?” I said: “Wow, do you remember all your passengers?”, he replied “Well, today that’s easy as we didn’t have too many passengers. In the morning you ordered a croissant, didn’t you?” That’s what I call a good memory! We talked a bit before the aircraft left the gate. He told me that load factors on this route were much better on working days than on weekend flights. Today, the crew (and the aircraft) had the morning rotation STR-HAM-STR, then a break at STR for two hours and then again STR-HAM-STR.
We taxied to the runway, took off and soon were in the clouds as the weather was still very bad. This time the cabin crew came through with the trolley. They called everybody by name which they had obviously looked up in the passenger list. A very nice gesture indeed! I had a cake and an orange juice, again for EUR 2,50 all together.
The rest of the flight was uneventful; as I was a bit tired, I fell asleep for some time. I woke up again when we were approaching STR. It was very windy so landing was a bit troubled. As this was not only for the crew but obviously also for the aircraft the last flight of the day, we taxied to a parking position far away from the terminal building. On leaving the plane I thanked the crew and wished a nice free time (“Feierebend” ).
A bus took all passengers to the arrivals area.
Conclusion: I really enjoyed these two flights: on time, good service and a very friendly and funny crew. You really feel that they like doing their job. This is something that you find at many DBA employees. The majority of the staff is highly motivated.
Reliability, friendliness and a fair value for money are the main reasons for me why it is always a pleasure to fly on this airline. At least until today, I haven’t had any bad experiences with them.
Questions, comments, criticism, etc. are welcome as always.
TriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4690 posts, RR: 45 Reply 1, posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 2269 times:
A very nice and infromative report as usual. I have to agree with you, DBA is definitely offering a very solid product. Unfortunately, their route network is rather limited and the lack of a decent frequent flyer program sometimes makes it a less attractive option compared to Lufthansa.
I am not sure whether their move away from the "low cost, no frills concept" to the "affordable business airline" model is a bright idea, but I suppose it the only choice they have if they are unable to lower their production costs to a low cost operator's level.
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14 Reply 3, posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 2232 times:
Thanks for your replies TriStar500 and GeneralA !
@TriStar500: I am not sure whether their move away from the "low cost, no frills concept" to the "affordable business airline" model is a bright idea, but I suppose it the only choice they have if they are unable to lower their production costs to a low cost operator's level.
That's an interesting point in my opinion, I have also thought about that on some of my recent flights with them. Competition between the "real" low-cost carriers in Germany is extremely hard at the moment. Carriers like HLX or 4U have big companies (TUI / LH) behind them and FR and Easyjet have other routes (especially UK) to make money, these carriers are able to offer incredibly cheap tickets. HLX and 4U haven't made any profit yet, and I highly doubt that Ryanair earns much on their German network, but I'm not sure about that as they are profitable in general.
Independent carriers like DBA or also Air Berlin or gexx can't afford selling the majority of their tickets under production costs for a longer period of time, so I think their only chance is to stick out of the typical LCC-routes. Air Berlin has a good asset with their existing touristic routes and seems to be quite successful with the new City-shuttle routes which are mainly international.
The main focus of DBA has always been the domestic market which means 1. that the majority of their passengers are (and will be) business travellers and 2. that they have on all their routes LH as their only (serious) competitor. So I think the logical conclusion is to focus on the idea of becoming an affordable business airline that beats LH's prices.
I think you are absolutely right about the lack of a frequent flyer program. Not that I would personally miss it (I only travel privat and I don't fly THAT frequently that I would benefit from it) but if they want to get more business travel they should (re-)introduce a FFP.
About the production costs I have read an interesting comment from DBA's CEO Hans Rudolph Wöhrl in the inflight magazine on my flight. He said that his airline wanted (and was working) to reach the cost leadership ("Kostenführerschaft") on German domestic market. So they are still trying to lower their production costs. By the way, production costs were one of the main reason why EasyJet stepped back when they were considering to take over DBA last year.
@ GeneralA: One of tee FA's told me that also on DBA load factors on weekdays were much higher than on Sat/Sun. But of course now there are two airlines on this route and LH hasn't lowered the frequency which means in general less passengers for every single flight.
About T3 at STR: I have also seen that it is open; I have also been inside. Very similar to T1; you feel like 10 years back when T1 was opened!
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2897 posts, RR: 24 Reply 4, posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 2201 times:
Thanks again for this great report! Quite interesting aircraft that you've seen there at HAM / LH Technik.
Regarding the headrest covers: You're right, the (old) green headrest covers looked better, but they had "Deutsche BA" written on it, that's why they are no longer allowed to use them any more. But I wonder why they didn't keep the colour green for the new headrest covers.
Ba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8353 posts, RR: 55 Reply 5, posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 2196 times:
Well,another most enjoyable report.
I've yet to fly DBA,i'll have to give them a try some day,though I generally try and avoid flying 737's,nothing much against them,but the A320 family is nicer from a passengers point of view,or at least mine
Regarding the terminal,now I know why I thought I was suffering from deja vu!
FLIEGER67 From Ukraine, joined Sep 2003, 4817 posts, RR: 56 Reply 6, posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 2181 times:
Thanx for taking your time to post this report.
I always like it to read about travel from my Home Port STR.
I´ve done the same positive experience like yours on my last DBA flight late last year.
Are there on the right way? They actually leasing older 733 planes to lower the leasing rates and return newer planes to the owners.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14 Reply 7, posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 2152 times:
Thanks everybody for your replies!
@ Alex / Ndebele: I hadn't thought that they wrote "Deutsche BA" even on those headrest covers. That makes clear why they had to exchange them.
@ Mark / BA319-131: if you want to try out DBA, you might take their LGW-TXL service (but for this route you don't have much time left as LGW-flights will be discontinued from March 28).
@ Markus / FLIEGER67: They actually leasing older 733 planes to lower the leasing rates and return newer planes to the owners.
I have never been on one of those newly leased (older) planes, but I think as long as those planes offer the same standard (technical quality / seat pitch / quality of cabin interior) there is nothing wrong about it. After all they have to find ways to reduce costs. But I think they should repaint the all-white flying planes in their current livery as all-white planes always look a but cheap in my opinion.
Ndebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2897 posts, RR: 24 Reply 10, posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 2114 times:
I have never been on one of those newly leased (older) planes, but I think as long as those planes offer the same standard (technical quality / seat pitch / quality of cabin interior) there is nothing wrong about it.
I haven't been on one of these two new additions either, but I've been told that at least D-ADIG has already been re-configured into DI's "standard" Y136 configuration last week, D-AGEJ might follow soon. By the way, D-ADIG had already been with DI many years ago, as D-ADBA - built in 1992, she's still not really old.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14 Reply 12, posted (9 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 2124 times:
@ Daniel / Airsicknessbag:
Judging by the number of views, people also take an interest in these flights, even if they don´t cover super-exotic airlines, aircraft or routings.
I have the same impression. Sometimes reports about "ordinary" airlines / aircraft / flights even get more views and replies than exotic flight reports. I think many people (including me) also like reading reports about airlines they have been flying themselves so that they can compare whether they have made the same experiences.
Thanks for posting the A 340-200 photo! Well, of course I could have searched through the data-base myself, but obviously I was too lazy
So what does the inflight magazine look like, nowadays? Still a newspaper-style thingy?
Yes, it is still newspaper-style but it has become a bit smaller so that it fits into the seat pockets without being folded.
@ Alex / Ndebele:
Good to hear that they re-configured the newly delivered 733's. A "charter configuration" wouldn't have fit to DBA's concept; besides regarding their load factors there is no need to put more than 136 seats into one aircraft (at least I have never been on a fully booked flight with them).