After having spent two aaaaabsolutely fab relaxing weeks, it was time to leave paradise for European winter.
I left my hotel at 10:30 and was shuttled to Cancun airport by ferry and private taxi which took about three hours. Having been warned to be at the airport latest 2 ½ hours prior to departure I was rather concerned that due to the ferry schedule there was a rather tight timing for my shuttle. And that was proven right because when I arrived at the airport at about 14:15, there was a long line queuing for the check in of DE 6157 to FRA. I discovered two of our companies tour guides - which I had a chat with after arrival - and one of the took me to the Comfort Class Check In which saved me at least some 30 minutes waiting. It was a bit strange to see that once I arrived, economy pax were shuffled back, a fence closed and I was guided to one Check In counter. While the staff was acting a bit chaotic, I was checked in in no time, got my pre ordered seat and an invitation for the Mera business lounge.
Reason for the long queue was that almost all baggage was hand searched - pax were forced to open their bags and airport staff rummaged in those bags. Looked pretty pathetic and I had no clue why not all baggage was checked.
Security was a breeze and I then was entering chaos. Cancun on a Saturday reminded me of Palma de Mallorca on big holiday weekend. Loads of people everywhere, predominantly Americans on their was back to the U.S.. A shock to my system after two quiet weeks - so I refrained from duty free and window shopping and went for the Mera business lounge which I finally found upstairs. This lounge is used for quite a lot of different carriers including Condor, LTU, Air Europa and Air Canada. Size wise it's not larger than a big living room, I guess it can cater for around 40-50 people. And as I entered only one table in the smoking session was available, luckily not that many smokers around and it was on a window overlooking the tarmac. So I settled for some snacks which were offered ( cheese cubes, cookies, bread sticks, spicy peanuts ) and some water. A full bar service was offered, run by two very charming younger ladies.
I was able to spot some tarmac activity where a MX A319 was serviced and had a nice view of the runway - which was busy with the whole range of U.S. carriers.
About 50 minutes prior to boarding, I left for the gate where there already was a crowd waiting. Strangely, boarding time as on the boarding passes was printed 1:05 hours prior to departure.I Changed cloth to cater for the flight and cold weather and spotted a bit around, discovering B763 PH-MCV of Holland Exel, two Lauda Air Italy/Livingston Energy Flight A 332, one of them I-LIVM and loads of U.S. aircraft.
Boarding of our aircraft started at about 15:50, this time there was a pre boarding of Comfort Class guest which I happily accepted.
04 December 2004
Cancun (CUN) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Condor DE 6157
Load 24C/245Y ( fully booked)
c/n 26986 delivered to DE 29.09.1994
scheduled 16:35 – 09:35
off block 16:40
on block 09:37
Seat 04D, changed into 02D
Once on board and about to settle into my seat 4D, I was asked by a lady in her 50's whether to change seats with her husband who was seated 2D. She was so happy when I told her I had no problems with that. So I moved to 2D and made myself ready for the departure. All those unlucky economy passengers looking pretty envy passed and after everyone seemed onboard, the crew prepared for the start, passing menus and offering a round of drinks ( water, OJ or a prosecco and plum liqueur cocktail ) Also, newspapers, magazines, headsets, ear plugs and eyeshades were offered.
Also, the purser, a lady in her 40s, who ran the service in Comfort Class with a girl in her 20s, asked for our dinner choice and marked it with colored stickers placed at the seat headrests .
Once again the safety video cartoon with pretty strange animated characters was shown.
Due to one late passenger who arrived with a big duty free bag doors were only closed at 16:33. Pretty interesting to see was that the captain had short word with this passenger - and it didn't look too friendly
We went off block at 16:40 and after heading for our runway, a rolling start was performed at 16:54. Within 46 seconds, our full and heavy bird was airborne, starting in south easterly direction. Having turned sharp left shortly later, we got nice views of the Cancun hotel zone before clouds showed up and it got dark soon after.
The routing took us to the north western coast of Cuba at 33.000 feet, passing the Florida Keys and Miami, off the US coast, passing New Foundland climbing to 36.000 feet and crossing the Atlantic at a maximum latitude of 50 degrees north. Routing took us south of Ireland, passing Guernsey, Brittany, overflying Paris, Luxembourg, Frankfurt-Hahn airport, then passing north of the airport and landing on r/way 26R from the east.
About 50 minutes into the flight, the first beverage service was performed. I enjoyed a nice glass of champagne, served with roasted almonds, and a glass of water. As all the services, it was performed starting from back to the front and left side first, then to the right. Pretty funny the flight attendant serving spilled a lot of red wine over some passengers - she once told some passengers prior to departure that on her run to CUN two day earlier she was showered with champagne as on bottle exploded in the galley - seems that those two flights were not her best ones
Soon after, about 75 minutes after departure, starters were served, this time a bit different to my flight to CUN where all 5 courses were served one after each other. The choices this night were:
Lobster medaillon with green asparagus
and prosciutto ham with melon
salad in season with balsamico dressing
Tenderloin of beef with green peppercorn sauce
Beans, carrots, stuffed potato
Grilled shrimp and grouper fillet in lemon sauce
Leaf spinach and canario rice
Loin of pork stuffed with plums in plum cognac mustard sauce
Brussels sprouts, lyonnaise potatoes
Selection of cheese
Bread, Roll, Butter
Savarin with fresh fruit
Coffee, Tea, Digestif
Starters were served on a tray together with the salad and the cheeses which I found rather poor considered there was plenty of time to do a long meal service. Quality was not doing better, the lobster was stingy, the ham way too salty, the salad bland (some slices of cucumber, tomato and red cabbage) with a rock hard dressing.Cheese selection was one slice of camembert, Tete de Moine and red camembert with some red grapes.
The entrée was rather disappointing, too, with the fish way too dry and the rice too salty. So the only dinner highlight was the Savarin, a warm cake served with some fruit.
The whole dinner took a mere 30 minutes, rather poor considering the 9 hour flight time.
Once again, no DVD players were handed to us - but they had them onboard in one of the overhead lockers. First duty free shopping, the inflight entertainment started soon after with Garfield and I,Robot but I was not keen using the overhead monitors. So I decided to chat a bit with my fellow travellers, had a close look at the fully booked economy class and decided to take a sleeping pill soon after.
I dosed off soon and slumbered for about five hours, the seat was not too comfortable but at least I was able to stretch my legs;The ride was pretty bumpy this time.
A smell of fresh bread made me awake about one hour prior to departure and when I took of earplugs and eye shades. Everybody around me already had breakfast. First I was served a glass of fresh squeezed OJ and soon later my breakfast arrived. It was a strange mix of full and continental breakfast with some fruit, croissant, jam, pancake filled with scrambled eggs ( weird combination ), tortilla and a filled tomato.
Shortly after presents were handed - a metal bottle plug with Thomas Cook loge and a Guhl shampoo sample, strange, isn't it? ( was I supposed to wash my hair prior to arrival??? )
Descent was started, was passed the German border north of Luxembourg, headed towards Frankfurt Hahn airport, crossed the river Rhine passed Frankfurt south but unfortunately due to low clouds with no sight of it, then did a sharp U turn, the outside camera was turned on and we prepared for our landing at r/way 26R. Landing was pretty bumpy with heavy braking action, touch down was at 09:32 and at 09:37 we reached our parking position - unfortunately on the apron. So I got a taste of the cold and humid German winter being bussed to terminal 1 B.
Quite a few passengers had tight connections at FRA and struggled to get through immigration - which took not too long anyway this morning. Me, I had plenty of time, so I took my time to use the tunnel connecting concourse B with A, arriving there at about 10:30.
As it was rather dark, cold and cloudy outside, I was in no spotting mood and decided to have a relaxing break at the Lufthansa Frequent Traveller Lounge. There is not too much to say about the lounge, it is rather big, but most of the seats were occupied, strange for a December Sunday morning. Food was pathetic, some cookies, candies and peanuts and a basic self service bar. I had a café latte and some water. After having been cut of news for two weeks, I checked the local newspapers to kill time. At about noon I left the lounge and strolled to gate A19 for my final short last hop to Hanover.
20 November 2004
Frankfurt (FRA) – Hannover (HAJ)
Lufthansa LH 1004
c/n 25359 delivered to LH 11.07.1991
scheduled 13:00 – 13:50
off block 12:55
on block 13:38
Seat 12E Exit row middle seat
The gate was already busy when I arrived, a crowd of 9 deadheading LH crew was to check in. Shortly after at 12:33 boarding started with me being on of the first to enter. There was a crew of two female and one male pretty friendly flight attendants greeting at the door. I made my way to seat 12E, a middle seat in emergency exit row. The flight was rather full, boarding was completed at 12:52, we were greeted by captain Heidler and we were off block at 12:55. The short roll on which a short safety briefing was performed, took us to r/way 26R where we took off at 13:02 after 35 bumpy seconds
The routing took us north via Marburg and Paderborn, reaching a maximum altitude if 24.000 feet. Due to thick clouds, during cruise there was no sight of the ground.
Although the flying time was only 33 minutes, a beverage service was conducted in a fast and efficient manner - serving drinks to 86 pax in eco and cleaning rubbish in about 5 minutes, that's what I call efficiency
After having passed HAJ in the south, we turned north at the A7 / A2 motorway intersection and lined up for landing at r/way 27 where my trip had started two weeks ago.
Landing was hard and short with heavy braking action to get an exit closer to the terminal which saved about 2 minutes' taxiing We were on block at 13:38 and soon after I deplaned. My suitcase arrived pretty soon, but in no good shape, so I had to show it to LH ground staff to get an authorization for repair.
That's it for my first trip report, please do no hesitate to sent remarks or comments