I will start this trip report by telling you why I took the flights I did. To me, it is always nice to know what the reason for taking the flights people report on is. This was an exchange trip to a school in Nurnberg, Germany. My school hosted 25 German students in October of last year, with one living with me. This trip was organized for those of us who hosted students, and other interested students in order fill up remaining spots, to return to our exchange students. I actually did not end up staying with the person I hosted since he got an obnoxious girlfriend while in Atlanta who was going to stay with him. It worked out just as well though since I had an awesome time with the person who hosted me and really made friends with him and his family, unlike with the student that lived with me. Enough with that now; I will get into this trip report and tell you about the flights!
June 13, 2004
Lufthansa flight 445
ATL-F R A
Scheduled Departure: 4:00p.m.
Scheduled arrival: 6:40a.m.
Duration: 8 hours, 20 minutes
D-AIMG (former Sabena aircraft)
For this 4:00p.m. flight, we had to arrive at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Don’t you just love that long, annoying, hyphenated name? While many people probably ended up bored with all the time we had, I enjoyed it. As group members arrived, we got into the check-in line. Even at noon, to my surprise, it was packed. After about a 20 minute wait, I made it to the front of the line and since there was no one in the business class line, the woman working it called me over. She was a German, making me wonder if the flight attendants work the desk or if Lufthansa just hires German people to work their check-in desk in ATL. Do any of you know? I asked if a window seat was possible, but she said since I was part of a group, it was impossible to change my seat. Fortunately I was seated on an aisle next to a window and once on the plane was able to switch to the window. It was funny however, since the person sitting next to me had the same last name as me, resulting in the check-in agent asking me if my sister was on this flight. This person is a friend of mine that was in our group, but I do not have a sister and she is not related to me. Anyhow, after I was given my boarding passes for both flights, I went to put my bag through the x-ray machines, waited for a friend to finish, and proceeded to security.
The wait for security was not too bad, though I had to take of my shoes before I even got through the metal detector since the shoe testing machine went off and then had to be wanded because I set off the metal detector, but with what is still a mystery to me. Also, I have no idea where there is any metal in the shoes I was wearing, but it just added some humor to the experience. When that was done, we went down the escalator to the train and rode it out to the E terminal, the international terminal in ATL. Once there, we got some food and then I looked around for a while, returning to the gate at 2:30p.m. Our plane was still not there because of bad weather when it left F R A, but it finally arrived. To turn it around quickly, an army of cleaning people was brought to it, which I found quite funny just because of the sheer number of people. Nonetheless, we did not board until around 4:00p.m.
I found my seat at the very back of the plane and made myself comfortable. It was a really nice seat. Besides the plane being incredibly worn on the inside, for instance my cup holder had been broken off, my seat was quite comfortable. It appeared as if the back row had more legroom, though this might have just been an illusion, and we still had full recline. Since there was just a wall behind us, I did not feel bad reclining the entire way. Typically I do not do this because though I know people pay for the space to recline, I still find it inconsiderate to recline all the way because then the person behind you must recline some to not be cramped it goes on from there.
While still at the gate, the pilot announced that our flight would be 8 hours and 20 minutes long and that we would be flying up the east coast, over Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Maine, then crossing out over the St. Lawrence Seaway, later crossing over Newfoundland and then beginning our Atlantic crossing. We would make landfall over Scotland, then fly over the North Sea, and finally reaching Continental Europe over the Netherlands we would begin our descent into Frankfurt. We pushed back about thirty minutes late and made a quick taxi to the runway. Meanwhile, the safety film was shown. We reached the runway and I braced myself for the intense and massive acceleration of the A340! The four hairdryers went to full throttle and we slowly began to move down the runway. It was truly the most pathetic acceleration I have ever felt on a plane. It did the job though and got us off the runway with six seconds to spare until the end of it. The climb was horribly slow. After five minutes, we were still only several thousand feet off the ground!
Finally the plane reached cruising altitude. A drink service was done and then the dinner service began. As the dinner service was being done, the first and only movie began. It was “Fifty First Dates.” Having seen it already, I paid some attention to it, but spent more time looking out the window. As the flight attendants made it to the back of the plane with the meals, they were still giving people choices between the chicken or pasta, but by the time they reached us, they were all out of the pasta, so served us the chicken. The meal consisted of some weird looking but good chicken and rice with peas, carrots, and pineapple, as well as a roll, a salad, and some sort of apple cake for dessert. Overall, the meal was quite good, minus the dessert, but I was hungry so I ate it anyway. A while later, the flight attendants collected our trash, did and coffee and tea service, and dimmed the lights.
Even at this point in the flight, the sun had still not nearly set. I suppose this was due to our earlier than what is typical departure for Europe. As the flight progressed, I talked with my friend, we filmed a documentary, discussing the flight at certain intervals, I looked out the window, and I listened to a tiny bit of music. Something I found on this flight, as well as our return flight to Atlanta, was that there was very little service between meals, but when the meal service began, there was a lot of service that preceded and followed it. Through the night, the sun never fully set, kind of making me feel ripped off of the night. Is it always like this on the north facing side of the plane? I had had window seats on three out of four of my other flights to Europe, but have always been on the south facing side. Well, once the sun started really rising again, I could see that we were flying over clouds. The clouds cleared just after we began over flying Scotland, providing an interesting view of a country I have never seen from the air or the ground. At this point, service started again. Flight attendants came around with the customary hot towels, followed by a coffee and tea service. Once that was done, they started serving breakfast. Once again, those of us at the back of the plane received our breakfasts last, but this was no problem. The breakfast consisted of eggs that looked like no other eggs I have ever seen before (i.e. like a mass of yellow rubber; incredibly dense), some fruit, and several other small things. A few minutes later, croissants were brought around. Though some of the breakfast looked scary, it was pretty good.
Flight attendants took our trash probably about the time we crossed the coast into Dutch airspace. Only about twenty minutes out from Frankfurt the pilots began our descent. As we approached the ground, I got a beautiful view of the Frankfurt area and surrounding hills and towns. It was very clear and arguably the best part of the flight. We flew by the airport, giving an alright view, and then came back around for the landing. Our landing was not incredibly hard, but we bounced once and as the plane began to slow down, everything where I was sitting began to shake violently. Could this have to do with being in the far back of the plane, thus feeling movements the most? I could not see too many exotic airlines at this point. As we pulled to the gate however, a Thai 744 taxied by. Once the plane stopped at the gate, the frantic getting up and getting bags began.
This flight was a nice first impression of Lufthansa. Though it was not the best service I have ever experienced, it was somewhat nicer than what Delta would have provided and was a new airline and aircraft for me. The flight attendants were courteous and helped my friend and me a little with German words. It was a nice flight.
Our time here was incredibly brief. We were supposed to arrive at 6:40a.m., but arrived closer to 7:15a.m. Keep in mind that our flight to Nurnberg left at 7:45a.m. As soon as we got off the plane, a person was standing at the gate with a sign saying “Nurnberg.” Our group gathered and he started running us through the airport. We reached a relatively deserted customs line and went through. I got no stamp. He then ran us through a domestic and EU terminal to the gate area for our flight.
June 14, 2004
Lufthansa flight 5006 (operated by Lufthansa Cityline)
F R A-NUE
Scheduled Departure: 7:45a.m.
Scheduled arrival: 8:25a.m.
Duration: 30 minutes
There is really very little to report for this flight. When we arrived at the gate for the plane, our tickets were taken and we were led down a staircase to a bus. The bus drove us across the airport, which was quite impressive because we got to drive by some 747s up close and I got to see some interesting aircraft such as an SAA A340-600. When we got to our plane, I stepped out into the cool German air for the first time. What a relief! It had been so hot and humid in Atlanta that this was heaven! Everyone boarded the plane via stairs, with some people giving large carry-on bags to people standing before the steps who put them in the cargo hold.
Pretty quickly after we got on, the door was closed and we began our taxi. The seat was really quite comfortable. I did not find it too narrow or confining as seats on regional jets often feel and the legroom was good. The pilot made very few announcements in English besides that our flight would be 30 minutes long, but I did not expect him to. The flight attendant gave a quick safety demonstration at the front of the aircraft and pretty quickly after that, we were at the runway. The plane took off reasonably quickly and we were underway.
Being on the aisle, I could not really see much out the window, but what I could see was pretty, with rolling fields and forests. Although there was no difference in the seats for business and economy class, there was a small partition between the two and service was given in business class. I thought we might get at least some water, but there was no service for economy class. It was a very short flight though, so I was not really surprised or disappointed. Our cruising altitude was not so high due to the length of the flight, but we still did not stay at it very long. Our descent began into Nurnberg. After thirty minutes in the air, we touched down smoothly in the Nurnberg airport.
Everyone deplaned by stairs and some people picked up their large carry-on luggage and then we all got onto the buses. It drove us to the terminal where we directly entered the baggage claim area. I had already predicted our bags would not make it due to our incredibly short connection in Frankfurt, and after a little while my suspicions were confirmed. They would arrive later that day. When this was established, we left the baggage claim, met our host families, and went to our homes for the next two weeks.
June 27, 2004
Lufthansa flight 923
NUE-F R A
Scheduled Departure: 7:45a.m.
Scheduled arrival: 8:30a.m.
Duration: 37 minutes
After two of some of the best weeks of my life, we had to go home. We were told to meet at the Nurnberg airport at 6:00a.m., so my host family and I arrived around that time. When we got there, we found our group and I got in line to check my bags. After a five or ten minute wait, I was helped. The woman working the desk gave me a boarding pass for both flights, but said that I had no seat on the flight to ATL, nor did anyone in our group, and that I had to get one at the gate for that flight in Frankfurt. After hanging around in the terminal for a while, my host family and I said goodbye because they had to leave and a few minutes later everyone had to say goodbyes because it was time to go through security.
Security went easily and I made my way to the duty free shop. I looked around, but found nothing I was interested in, so proceeded to the gate. The airport was nearly deserted, even at this hour of the morning when I had expected to see some early morning flights as airports of decent sized cities often have. In the terminal there were no other planes besides our A321, but out the window I could see a bunch of Eurowings aircraft. While looking out the window, I saw only one aircraft take off: a Swiss ERJ. To kill the time, I explored the terminal a little more, checking out Lufthansa’s free coffee and tea station for Lufthansa passengers.
Only a few minutes before our scheduled departure, boarding began. It went relatively quickly and I found my seat on the aisle, but after the plane was fully boarded, a few of us did some seat swapping and I ended up at the window and my best friend right next to me. What luck! The plane was pushed back and a safety video was shown in German. As we taxied out, there were a bunch of people in a closed in terrace waving goodbye to people on our plane, presumably us assuming the size of the group waving. It was a really nice farewell.
The plane began powering up before even being lined up on the runway and in no time it was airborne. We leveled off at relatively high altitude for the short flight, but I do not know exactly how high. Again, there was not much to report about this flight. There was service in the business class cabin, but none in economy. Just shortly before arriving in Frankfurt, we began our descent. The weather was cloudy, but not bad. After 37 minutes, we touched down in Frankfurt.
On our taxi to the remote stand, I saw so many interesting airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Estonian Air. I know those first two are pretty mainstream, but in ATL they may never be seen! When our plane stopped at its remote stand, stairs were brought up and we deplaned from the left front door as usual. I took a picture, taking in the sheer size of even a smaller plane when you are standing next to it, and boarded a bus to the terminal. It was a quick ride to the terminal, but we got to drive close to planes as large as 747-400s, which was quite impressive. When we got to the terminal, we waited for the rest of our group and then followed the signs to customs and immigration and our gate for the onward flight to ATL. We had to take an elevator to get up to the customs hall, which provided a great view of the tarmac. Unfortunately, it smelled strongly of vomit, but in no time I was at the front of the line, had my passport taken, looked at but not stamped, and thrown back to me. When our hole group had made it through this, we made our way through the terminal, encountering a seemingly random security checkpoint in which bags were put through x-ray machines and everyone was wanded. There were no metal detectors. Not too long after this, we arrived at our gate.
June 27, 2004
Lufthansa flight 444
F R A-ATL
Scheduled Departure: 10:10a.m.
Scheduled arrival: 2:00p.m.
Duration: 9 hours 31 minutes
The gate was absolutely crammed with people. First, everyone in our group had to wait in a line that took about thirty minutes, though we were only one person back from the front, to get our boarding passes. Meanwhile, an announcement was made that the flight was overbooked, just as it had been flying from ATL, and that they wanted volunteers to fly on a flight to JFK and then onwards to ATL. I believe the line took so long because the people in front of us were taking this offer and were filling out the paperwork for the compensation. The boarding passes had already been printed for our group, so I was handed it and went into the gate area. It was like a prison though, with the area being divided off from the terminal with no real way to get out. Since the plane was full, as I mentioned, it was a mob scene, especially since people were trying to navigate around all of the people as well as chairs and tables. Once in this area, I noticed that I had been given the boarding pass of another person in our group who coincidentally has the same last name as me, but when she finally made it into the gate area, we both decided that we liked the other’s seat better, so kept the boarding passes we had.
After just sitting around and watching a few planes out the window, the boarding finally commenced. I made it onto the plane easily and was directed to my seat. I made myself comfortable in seat 31H on the aisle and just waited until everyone boarded, looking out the window to kill time. At this point, we were a bit late in leaving Frankfurt, so the pilot announced that this was due to an aircraft change for our flight, which probably got us out of flying the ex-Sabena plane again! Wee hah! Just a little while later though, we pushed back, ready to begin the flight back to ATL. Noticing me taking pictures, the lady at the window offered me her seat and I gladly accepted. The safety video in German was being shown at the time and then the English version came on. The taxi was not particularly exciting, seeing mostly Lufthansa aircraft, but when we arrived at the runway, the plane in front of us was a Lufthansa 744 which I got to watch takeoff from my window. What a sight!
Our turn was next. We lined up and began our takeoff role. This time, however, it was not as sluggish as when we left ATL. The plane lifted off in a normal amount of time and began a normal climb, not a one fourth of normal speed climb. After a minute or two, the plane entered clouds, but for the next short while, as we climbed to our cruising altitude, I got glimpses of the ground. On our way up, the captain informed us of our flight path. We would be flying out over the North Sea, continuing north to fly over Iceland, then flying over the southern part of Greenland, making landfall over northern Canada, and flying south to ATL, which we adhered to almost exactly. Flight time would be nine hours and eight minutes. Throughout the flight, we experienced periods of turbulence.
Somewhere over the North Sea, a drink service was done, quickly followed by the first food service. The food service was full lunch. I got the turkey in barbecue sauce meal, which turned out to be quite good. It came with a roll, a salad, a container of fruit, and a cherry dessert. Late in the meal service, near the Shetland Islands, the first movie, “Welcome to Mooseport,” started. I thought it would be horrible, but I acutally enjoyed it! During the movie we continued flying north, crossing over the Faeroe Islands, and finally reaching Iceland. Not being able to watch Airshow since the movie was playing, it was a huge surprise when I opened my window and saw the dry, yet somewhat snowy, and hilly landscape of Iceland. It was breathtaking and for the next half hour or so, I was glued to the window and took lots of pictures. Our flight path took us from the eastern coast, all the way over the country to the western coast and only a few times did I see any sign of human life, and even at those times it was minimal.
Periodically, there were drink services, sometimes of just water, sometimes tea, and sometimes water and orange juice. “Welcome to Mooseport” ended around the time we finished flying over Iceland, but not too much later the second movie, “Along Came Polly,” began. I had already seen it, but decided to watch it another time. Again, Airshow was cut off, so I occasionally opened my window shade to see what was outside, and again my breath was taken away, this time by seeing Greenland. It was much snowier than Iceland and more mountainous and even more beautiful. Sometime during this movie, the second meal service was carried out. It was again a full lunch. This time I opted to have the pasta, which turned out to be a good choice. It was quite tasty, but when the movie ended and I got up to stretch by going to see my best friend in the forward economy cabin, he pointed out to me that the beef was holographic. It had this frightening metallic green color to it. Needless to say, he did not eat it.
Trash was collected and the drink services continued. Finally the customs cards were distributed and movie was shown, over and over again, on how to fill them out. At this point in the flight, we were over far northern Canada, which was very flat, filled with rivers, and had some snow on the ground. We then encountered cloud cover and continued on flying, crossing over the southern tip of Hudson Bay and then turning directly south once over Michigan. Finally over Ohio the cloud cover dissipated and I could see the exciting Ohioan landscape! A few more drink services punctuated the rest of the flight and then our descent into ATL commenced. There was bad weather in the area, so I got to see some interesting cloud formations as we came in. There was some turbulence, but not so much. Alas, after nine hours and eight minutes, we touched down, but with great force. Never in my life have I been in such a hard landing! For a moment I wondered if the overhead bins might start popping open! All was well though and we taxied in directly behind an Air France A343 to our gate, the same one we left ATL from two weeks earlier since that is the gate Lufthansa always uses. An Air Jamaica A319 was waiting next to us, just as it had been before we left from ATL. Little had changed. We all made our way off the plane, met above the terminal in the hallway to the customs desks, and went through customs. We met our parents at the baggage claim and went home, again getting to experience the typical summer downpours of Atlanta.
I hope you enjoyed this trip report! In the next few days, I hope to add some pictures to it, but it could be a little longer since I'm really busy and am going to Bismarck for the weekend on Thursday. Thanks for reading my report!