Part 1 of 3
Hi Everybody! A little bit about the trip, it was booked way back in September of ’04. We did this because we booked 5 of 6 tickets through Aeroplan, and we wanted to get the best flights available. This was my family’s first trip to Europe, and we had decided to go to Italy and Spain. This would be my first time on LH, my first time on a 744:D and my first time on any of the A320 family. I did get the regs on both the 744’s but did not bother with the smaller planes. Anyways, I hope you enjoy my trip report!
AC Jazz (Flight # unknown)
1200-1225 (departure delayed to about 1245)
Aug. 1, 2005
Dash8-300 (scheduled) switched to CRJ-200(!)
We arrived at the airport about 2 hrs early. Our very friendly painter had offered to drive us, and then drive our vehicle back to our house. We had originally been booked on two separate flights to YVR, but we were put onto one together without any problems. When we got into the AC Jazz check-in area (which is temporarily away form the main terminal due to constriction) we all stepped into the long line up for check-in. The check in agent was very friendly, and I recognized her from previous trips. She said she could check all of our bags (6) right through to FCO, but only my dad, my sister and my brother could get boarding passes through to Rome. She said the rest of us could get them at the LH counter in YVR.
After checking in, we walked back outside, and to the terminal. I can imagine, that this is a real pain in the pouring rain (fortunately it was a bright sunny day). After exchanging some Canadian dollars to Euros, it was time to go through security. The line was short, and luckily none of us set off the alarm, had to take off shoes etc. Once we got into YYJ’s beautiful, bright terminal, I decided to look at our boarding cards. I had just assumed that our flight would be departing out of gate 4, which is the usual for YYJ-YVR flights. When I looked at the cards, I noticed that the flight was departing from gate 12, upstairs (one of YYJ’s two gates with jetways). This almost surely meant that we had got an equipment upgrade! When we got upstairs, the plane was not yet at the gate so we sat down and waited. After about 30 minutes, there was still no plane. It was only then that the gate agent got on the speaker and announced that the flight would be late. We were not worried, because we had plenty of time in YVR. A few more minutes went by, and I passed the time looking at the small variety of a/c that YYJ offers. All there was to see at that time was a QX Dash8-200, WS 737-200 and an AC Dash8-300. Finally, about an hour after our scheduled departure time, an orange scheme CRJ-200 pulled up at the gate:D . I was absolutely ecstatic, I had never been on a CRJ before, but I absolutely love them! The plane de-boarded very quickly, and boarding for our flight soon began. I should add that many people that were supposed to be on our flight got switched to another because of tight connections. Thus our flight was quite empty. My entire family moved towards the gate. It was only then that we realized that one of the gate agents was one of my parent’s friends. He kindly let us board without ID and we were soon walking down the jetway.
I was the first of our group on the plane, and I was a bit surprised when we got on. The cabin was very small, with very little headroom. In my opinion, a Dash8 has more room. This was all irrelevant though, because I was just happy to be on a CRJ. The seats were ageing, but overall, quite comfortable, and legroom wasn’t that bad. They were a dark grey colour, and were made of surprisingly soft leather. I was in seat 2F, my Mom, brother and two sisters were at the very back, and my dad was assigned row 5, but came to sit beside me because the aisle seat was empty. After boarding was finished, the doors quickly closed, and the friendly FA started the safety announcements. She informed us that our cruising altitude would be 10,000ft. (As opposed to the average 4000ft. on a Dash8) and the flight time would be an excruciatingly long 10 MINUTES!!! After pushback, we started a very swift taxi to runway 31. We waited there for a few minutes, for a WS 737-700 to take off. After the WS was gone, we lined up on the runway and held for about 3 minutes. I had an excellent view out of my window, It amazed me how small the CRJ’s wing was. Soon enough, I heard the engines spool up, and we were rocketing down the runway. Being my first time on an RJ, I thought the takeoff power was awesome. We were off the runway in no time, and began a surprisingly steep climb. After about 10 seconds in the air, the flaps were retracted. Once we reached cruising altitude, the FA hurried around with the usual candies. There was a bit of moderate turbulence on this flight, but nothing too bad. From looking out the window, it looked like we were taking a more westerly route than normal. Descent started very quickly, as we were vectored over Vancouver. Landing was on runway 26L, and was absolutely perfect. We taxied towards the terminal, and in no time were at the gate. It took us a grand total of about 20 minutes gate to gate, to go from Victoria to Vancouver.
Once inside YVR, we decided not to dawdle in the domestic terminal, but to head straight to international for lunch. We went though a second security line, and started the long walk to gate 70. We had quite a while until our next flight, so we got some lunch and waited. I spent some time looking at some long haul plane that I so rarely see. There was the usual stuff, CX 340, JAL744, SQ 777, AC 763, 343. I was hoping to see the China Eastern A345 to Shanghai, but was disappointed to see that it was merely a older 340 for today. The international terminal was very busy, and our gate, which is located in a narrow part of the terminal, was getting very crowded. My mom and I got our boarding passes from the Globeground handling agent. My sister and I got them right through to FCO, but my mom had to get hers in Frankfurt. After waiting a few more minutes, our plane pulled up from FRA. I think it was early, but that was the last thing on my mind. I was just so excited that I would be on that beast soon. I found out that it was D-ABVA:D . A bit about this a/c, (I think) it was LH’s very first 744, and it was named “Berlin”. Another interesting note is that it had carried the King and Queen of Belgium on a charter flight to Japan. Boarding commenced on-time, but was very unorganized. They were calling us by seat #, but everyone, seemed to decide that they wanted to board all at once. After in the line for a while, my whole family finally boarded.
Aug. 1, 2005
Boeing 747-400 D-ABVA “Berlin”
I was greeted by a FA at the door, with a friendly “Hello”. She seemed to be guessing languages quite well, but my dad received a greeting in German. My first impression of the 744 was obviously it was enormous. Not only was it very long, but it’s width on the inside amazed me as well. I got seated in row 36 after stowing my bag in the (very big) overhead. I was sitting at the window, with my mom on the aisle, and one of my sisters in the middle. My dad, brother, and other sister were seated back in row 37 in the middle section. I sat down and was somewhat disappointed, as the seat was very old and dirty, as well as hard. I think LH really needs to make an improvement to their longhaul Y seating. The adjustable headrest was nice, but was too small to really support your head. After settling in, I looked through the window and ogled at how immense the 747’s wing was. I was not in a very good seat for viewing, but had a nice sight of the whole wing, flaps, and winglet. I looked through the seat pocket and was pleased to find a pair of headphones neatly wrapped, although you had to put the pads on, which was difficult. Boarding was completed after quite a while, and the safety video was started. It was a very cheesy 3D video that I did not pay very much attention too. Announcements were made first in German, then in English. After the FA’s were done we had already pushed back, and were sitting on the tarmac. The captain came on and told us that he was expecting a flight time of 8.5 hrs, and that the weather in Frankfurt would be sunny the next day. The engines started up with a satisfying whine and we began a very slow taxi. It took us quite a while to reach the runway. There must have been some planes ahead of us but I could not see them. At last, we turned sharply onto the runway (I am not sure which one) and held.
The takeoff roll was not quite as impressive as I had expected, but still not bad with that large of an aircraft fully loaded. After using up the majority of the runway, we rotated and began a powerful climb. Almost immediately after the gear was up, we started vectoring around quite a bit, until we started heading approximately north. After a little while, we were climbing over the mountains near Garibaldi Park and Whistler. The view from this low altitude was spectacular. After a bit more vectoring, we straightened out and continued the steady climb out towards Europe. It took us a very long time to reach our initial cruising altitude of 32,000ft. (this would increase to flight-level 340 and finally 360). Immediately after the seat belt sign turned off, the 3 people in front of us reclined their seats. The seats would not return to they’re original position except for meals, for the duration of the flight.
After a bit of time passed, some emotionless, and grumpy looking FAs began to serve drinks. I chose Orange Juice. I was very pleased that drinks were given out very often on this flight. It was announced that today’s IFE would consist of two movies (Madagascar, and Miss Congeniality 2) and short feature shows. I did not pay any attention to the IFE, as none of it interested me, and the TV screens were quite poor and flickered often. The flight map was now up and I saw that we had an especially northerly route today, and would not be passing over Iceland. After about an hour and a half of flying, the dinner service started. The meal was a choice of Chicken or Pasta. I chose the chicken, which I thought was quite good (and very hot). Aside from chicken, the meal came with a bun, a bean salad and some sort of dessert with marmalade on it. Overall, the dinner was very nice, and above my expectations. The only thing that annoyed me was that even after everyone was finished, the FA’s did not come out and collect our garbage. The meals stayed out for well over an hour.
After the movies had started, and the window shades had been closed, I decided to try to get some sleep. I tossed around for a little while, but eventually fell asleep for about an hour. When I woke up, the second movie had started, and we were somewhere between Iceland and Scotland. I got up to go to the bathroom, and waited in the line. The people in the queue were gathered around the aisle and the emergency exit. As we were waiting, two FAs came up the aisle with the duty free carts. The younger of the two FAs politely asked us to move. We all shuffled out of the aisle, but an elderly lady (who I don’t think spoke English or German) did not move. The other FA subsequently yelled “YOU HAVE TO MOVEOUT OF THE AISLE!”. The woman, now understanding moved far enough away, but the FA just said “FARTHER!” Finally the woman moved farther out of the aisle and the two FAs went by. I thought that the flight attendant’s attitude was terrible, and that she could have handled the situation much better. While most of the FAs on he flight were polite, if not friendly, this lady was downright scary and mean.
The rest of the flight passed without anything interesting happening, until we first hit land over Scotland. Breakfast was served, but unfortunately I cannot remember what it was. The flight continued over the English Channel, on to Holland. We passed directly over Amsterdam, and I could see the whole city. As we started our descent, the captain came on again and told us how long we had left to Frankfurt. He also told us that the weather report had been a little bit optimistic, and that it was cloudy and raining As our descent continued into German airspace, the speed brakes went up. The screens were now showing arrival information for Frankfurt. Eventually, we broke through the cloud layer and started vectoring around at a fairly low altitude. Finally the flaps were down and we were on final (I don’t know which runway). As we came in, I saw a JAL Cargo 747 taking off on the runway that juts out away from the airport. At last, after 8 and a half hours in the air, the pilot made a nice smooth touchdown at FRA. We rolled out to almost the end of the runway, because the braking was not applied very much. We turned off and began to taxi.
The taxi did not take very long, but unfortunately we were at a remote stand, and would have to take a bus in. Deboarding was done through the front and back doors. My family went through the back and one of the FAs bid us farewell. The weather was quite chilly so we went directly to the bus. When our bus was full, we began a long drive in. We passed through a tunnel on our way to wherever we were going. We were let off and walked into the terminal.
Once inside, we got herded off to customs. When we got there, there was no lines, and we headed to the non-EU citizens area. The customs official quickly stamped our passports without a word, and we were in! We proceeded directly to our gate. It was then that I realized how hugely massive FRA was. It took us a very long time to get to whatever terminal we were going to. Once going through the weird, lit tunnel, it was just a little longer to our gate. There was a little confusion at first, because our flight had been moved just across the hall to another gate. I noticed that there was virtually no one there. I would have walked around to spot, but all I could see were some A320s and I was very tired. My mom and I went up to the gate agent to get her boarding pass, which he did very quickly.
Aug. 2, 2005
Our aircraft pulled up quickly, and boarding was commenced on-time. There cold not have been more than 30 people on this flight so we were all invited to board as we pleased (after the 1 business passenger). I got on the plane and was happy to see that there were nice grey leather seats. I cannot remember my seat number, but I was over the wing. I had originally been sitting in the aisle beside my brother, but moved to the row behind for a window seat. Boarding was completed very quickly and the safety demo was started. The captain came on to welcome us onboard and to tell us that there would be some turbulence on the flight, so the seatbelt light may come on. After pushback ahead of schedule, the engines were started, and we began our taxi. It had just started raining unfortunately. After a fairly short taxi, we held to let an LH A320 take off ahead of us. We then pulled up to the runway and held again (the odd runway, that leads away from the airport, could anyone tell me the # ?).
The engines spooled up and we were off on a very short takeoff roll. After rotation, the gears came up, and we started a firm climb upwards. Not much happened until cruising altitude, when the seatbelt signs went off. “Lunch” was served, which consisted of the choice between the infamous “Cheese or Ham” sandwiches. I chose Ham, and it wasn’t bad, but very dry. I also had a Coke to wash it down with. About halfway through the flight, it started to get quite bumpy. The seatbelt sign was turned on, and the crew returned to their seats. The turbulence went on for about 30 minutes and was quite strong at some points. After it evened out, we had started our descent. Nothing else interesting happened, until we started coming into FCO. It was foggy/smoggy, so my view of the city was not great. Our final had started, and we were almost there. It amused me to see rolls of hay bailed in between the runways. Finally the captain put her down smoothly on the runway. Braking was slow at first, but then everyone lurched forward, as very powerful brakes and thrust reverse were applied. I noticed that the A321 was very noisy on landing (rattles etc.) We turned off the runway and started a very long taxi in. The airport looked deserted, and the only interesting planes I saw were a SQ777 and an Alitalia 777. We pulled up at the gate and were off in no time, due to the very light load. We got into the airport, which was very dark, and headed towards baggage claim. It took at least twenty minutes for bags to start coming out, even though we were the only flight in the area. Meanwhile, my parents chatted to a couple who were on our flight from YVR. The carousel started up, and our bags were deposited. I was in awe to see that all 6 of our bags had completed the trip from YYJ-YVR-FRA-FCO! Nice job LH Wasting no time, we were out of there and out in Rome. Luckily, my dad had arranged a man to drive us to the hotel, so we did not need a cab.
Thanks for reading part 1 of 3 of my report. I hope to get the next two out promptly within the next few days. Please leave a comment and I would love to answer your questions!
[Edited 2005-11-01 17:10:35]