Took this trip on Monday and thought I'd share it with you. Stuff like this normally doesn't happen to me but read for yourself....
This Monday started at 4.30am, when my alarm woke out of a deep drunken sleep. It had only been snowing lightly the on Sunday but during night time at least 30cm of snow had fallen, so our host decided she couldn?t drive us out to Landvetter airport and we should rather use public transport.
We caught the 0530 train from Alingsas where we were staying into Göteborg Central, which takes a good half hour. Strange, a lot of people were up at this ungodly hour and commuting into the city. Once at the central station I needed to get some more cash out to pay for the airport bus which is 70SEK but the machine would only print 500SEK minimum at a time. OK I thought, always nice to have some Swedish money in my draw at home. Who knows when it might come in handy.
We stepped of the half-full airport bus at 7am. The snowfall had eased and the sky was clearing. The departure hall was nice and spacious. Three checkin counters were open, all with queues, so I thought we?d give the checkin machines ago. Unfortunately something was wrong with my card so I couldn?t get my boarding pass printed out. We should ask for assistance at the counter.
Picked the counter with the shortest queue and within minutes the lady, who spoke fluent German, recovered my eticket which got lost somehow and printed the boarding passes for both of us. As I like to travel light I had no bags to check.
Security was a breeze and we were on our way to the SAS EuroBonus lounge. The guy behind the desk could well have worked as a grave-digger by his looks. Never judge people by their looks though, he was very friendly and courteous and welcome us into the lounge.
Nice selection of food here. Some buns, cheese, jam sausages. The only downside was that they only had light beer on offer. Fair enough, better than nothing if you ask me. So I had my first beer on what was going to be a long day. Normally I don?t drink mornings but I thought what the heck I am on holiday.
At 0745 we boarded a nice big bus from gate 18G. Unfortunately not big enough for all passengers so we had to really squeeze in there. The people on board were mostly, if not all, business passengers. A quick ride later we pulled up in front of a shiny CRJ700. The registration was D-ACPR and the sun was just rising above the airport buildings.
Boarding was completed fairly quickly and 0805 we were ready to go. The captain came on the PA with a disturbing tone to his voice. I?ll spare you all his captain talk but basically the message was that we would be sitting on the ground for at least 1 hour because due to a snow storm in Munich only one runway would be open at a time. Well, I for my part would have liked to have spent the time in the lounge as this aircraft wasn?t exactly spacious but I understand the aircraft needs to be ready to go in order to get a slot.
The flight attendants began serving booze on a tray but it wasn?t very popular. Most people just took the apple juice instead. A nice touch anyway I thought.
After about 30 minutes a couple of passengers must have remembered something they had forgotten, well good thing we were still on the ground so they could get off and lock their garage, turn the oven off or whatever. Or maybe they just wouldn?t make their connecting flight or a meeting. We?ll never know.
Even though we were going to miss our connection to Hamburg for sure, I was quite calm. Must have been the drink. Still I got up and asked the flight attendant if it would be possible to route via Frankfurt instead. She said it would but we wouldn?t be faster, if anything we would be slower. Oh how wrong she would be?
At 9am the entire aircraft was sprayed from the outside with what looked like puke, but apparently it was just de-icing fluid. Minutes later the engines were started, I for one hardly noticed and found this aircraft rather quiet.
Quick and powerful take off at 0918 and soon we were over the Baltic Sea. I tremendously enjoyed the view from the window, how many times have I sailed in a yacht and marvelled at the contrails of the aircraft going high above us. This thought made me feel really happy and I vowed to order another sparkling wine next time the flight attendant walked past.
The drink came along with a plate of food. A bun, an orange juice, a slice of meat and yoghurt were on it. The plate was small but so was the little tray table. Hardly enough space. I suppose they are already set up for further service cutbacks. No need for a big tray then.
Our route took us right over Hamburg, I was even able to spot my neighbourhood! Later we routed over Hanover, then Bayreuth and Regensburg into Munich.
Once we had left the cruising altitude the captain announced that we were number 23 for landing and we would be holding for at least 20 minutes but we needn?t be scared, there would be enough fuel onboard to take us to Ibiza.
Oh how I wish he would have taken us there but instead we touched down on the northern runway at 1143. There was indeed a bit of snowfall going on but it was nowhere near the degree I expected it to be.
If Munich wants to be a super duper hub they better learn how to cope with this sort of weather.
Well, the captain must have decided to show us around Lufthansa?s swanky new terminal a bit, because we were taxing for a good 20 minutes before we finally stopped near the armada of Air Dolomiti ATR?s somewhere far away from the terminal.
We were bussed over to the terminal, walked up a flight of stairs and found ourselves in a shopping mall. No, this was indeed the new Lufthansa terminal, as there were Lufthansa signs everywhere.
Having missed our flight we looked at a board showing the next departing flights. It didn?t look good. Most of them were delayed or cancelled, and one to Hamburg was nowhere to be seen on this board.
We walked over to the lounge in order to get our flight changed. First I thought they must have been giving out freebies at the counter because there were crowds of people surrounding the little counter. But it was in fact that a lot of people were in the same situation as us.
There were four lounge attendants there who seemed to be working very hard to get everyone?s bookings changed. Welcome break for one of them was that her computer went down and unfortunately she couldn?t do anything.
After a mere 20 minutes wait it was our turn. The lady was rather nice considering she must have gotten harassed all morning by passengers blaming her for the bad weather. She looked up a flight for us at 1535, arriving in Hamburg at 1655. While rebooking us she reached under the counter, got out an half empty beer and drank it with big sips. Very sympathetic if you ask me. I want this job at the lounge if you are allowed to get drunk while at work. I must remember to suggest we install a beer tap at work, this seems to be a good way to keep calm in stressful situations, as this lady demonstrated to me. I was very impressed.
Or maybe it was one beer too much? She couldn?t print our boarding passes and said for us to come back later. No big deal.
We proceeded into the new Senator lounge which was nowhere near a haven of peace. It took us a while but we finally found two of those big blue leather seats to sit together.
The next few hours are a blurry haze but basically I was drinking, reading and smoking. Unfortunately no magazines were provided so I had to stick with newspapers. On the other hand the drink (read: spirit) selection was quite good. And as always, the famous Bavarian treat Leberkäs was on offer. Don?t ask me what it is but it was good stuff.
Sometime around two I went back up to the front and got our boarding passes. Apparently there were 2 seats left on this flight LH052 to Hamburg. We would be travelling on my least favourite plane, an Avro. Least favourite simply because it is so cramped. And a full flight certainly didn?t make the flight something to look forward to. For a second I thought drinking myself numb would help but then quickly abandoned the thought remembering how a drinking buddy of mine got denied boarding once in Singapore because he had trouble walking straight after drinking all day.
At 1500 we made our way to the gate G16. Boarding was due to commence at 1505 but by 1530 we were still waiting there. No announcement was made and the gate agent seemed to be having her, well, days of the month. She was screaming and shouting at everyone asking her anything so I thought I?d better not ask.
Finally at 1530 boarding commenced. Everyone was keen to finally get to Hamburg hence boarding was completed very quickly. The overhead compartments are really tiny on this aircraft so I couldn?t stow my bag anywhere. Proceeded to the back and asked the stewardess where I could stow my bag. Under the seat in front of you she said. This was not acceptable for me so I walked to the front and asked the other flight attendant. A very nice girl, she stored my bag somewhere in the galley, in an empty cart.
Once again the captain of this Avro D-AVRA comes on the PA telling us that we are number 28 in the take off sequence that we would be sitting at the gate for at least another hour. An uproar was going through the plane and once again people decided to leave the aircraft which was 100% packed. If you think Lufthansa would leave those seats empty, you are wrong. Minutes after the people deplaned their seats was taken by someone on the waiting list.
Overall this aircraft had a very cramped feeling to it. Fortunately they soon started serving drinks. My request for a bubbly was declined by the FA that wouldn?t store my bag for me. Maybe when we are in the air she said. Well you can tell this FA had a very special attitude to customer service.
Had a bit of a chat with the bloke on the other side of the aisle but because my friend was asleep I quickly got bored. My bag was stored away somewhere on board bearing a fine book within so I thought I?d ask the flight attendants for a SPIEGEL-magazine.
Well, the one with the ?special attitude? denied my request saying it was for passengers sitting in front of that little curtain only. We are a two class society on board this aircraft after all and you people behind the curtain please stick with ?BILD-Zeitung?, was what she meant.
Very sad to her that. After all it was her little airliner that would be getting me to my destination about 7 hours late. But I understand giving away a magazine worth two bucks fifty is out of her ability.
At 1720 the four little hairdryers under the wings were started and we started our taxi to the runway. Or so I thought once again. A good 20 minutes later we stop and they once again spray the aircraft as to avoid icing. Another 10 minutes later we are finally on the runway and lift off into the evening skies at 1755.
As I was sitting behind the little curtain on this flight there was no meal service for us. Instead we got one free drink. I had a beer; my taste for bubbly had completely vanished.
Just as the sun set our jet started it?s descend into Hamburg. At 1857 we finally touched down and taxied to a remote stand. A bendy bus took us to the terminal and this marked the end of a long trip.
Originally, we had planned to take these flights in order to be able to work Monday afternoon:
LH5221 GOT-MUC 0805-1000
LH0042 MUC-HAM 1035-1155
And these are the actual flights just to compare (times are from LH website, departure/arrival at gate)
LH5221 GOT-MUC 0918-1143
LH0052 MUC-HAM 1718-1857
But to be honest, I did not mind the whole inconvenience too much. Unforeseen events like this are what adds a bit of spice to travelling. My friend and I enjoy some good talks, and we met a bunch of other interesting folks.
I haven?t bothered with the flight out (HAM-FRA-GOT) because that was just another smooth trip where everything went well.
If you got stuck out at Munich on Monday, share your experience!