MarshalN From Hong Kong, joined Sep 2005, 1521 posts, RR: 0 Posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 6078 times:
Well, my first ever trip report, here goes.
The trip was for my sister’s wedding in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, in the south of France, so my gateway airport to the area was NCE. I am flying out of BOS, so I had a number of choices as to who I can fly. Since I was going only for a weekend, I didn’t want to pay too much for the flight (everything else is expensive enough for the area). My choices was basically down to two – AF, or LH. Prices were similar. AF had two choices… a 1 hour connection or a 4 hour one (iirc). I thought a 1 hour connection through CDG might be touch and go, so I opted for LH, which gave me almost 2 hours between my flights. I have never tried neither AF nor LH, and I have never been to either CDG or FRA, so it didn’t matter either way. My Aeroplan miles accumulated sort of tipped it in that direction, although it was by no means the deciding factor.
So on the day of the flight, Oct 5th, I went to airport about 2 hours early. The check in was fairly orderly, although there was this huge group of tourists from the US going to Germany on the MUC flight, scheduled for 6:30pm (mine was for 4:30pm). Now, this is 2:30 – which means they were checking in about 4 hours early. After going through the line for about half an hour, the LH staff started asking if there are people in line for the FRA flight. I’m glad they quickly noticed that there were a lot of MUC pax who were in line, and that could’ve potentially blocked some FRA pax from being checked in in a timely manner. It’s not as if the MUC pax were in any sort of a rush, so the LH staff eventually created a separate line for all the FRA pax and left the MUC ones to one counter, which IMO was the right thing to do. Some of the MUC pax were not too happy about that, but well, I’m glad since otherwise I would’ve had to rush.
The gate was Gate 8A, which meant that I got no view of the plane I was about to fly. I did take a picture of the MUC plane though, parked at the gate and waiting around for its flight across the pond.
They get the A340
Boarding – nothing interesting. I walked in, found my seat, sat down, looked down… and saw the safety card saying A330-300. Hmmm, wasn’t I supposed to be on an A343? I looked out… 2 engines. I guess I got the right card after all. Not having flown much on either the A330 (in fact this is my first flight on a 333) nor the A340 family, I couldn’t tell the difference inside, but I guess there isn’t much difference at all to tell to begin with aside from the engines. Anyway, it was a bit of a surprise, but well, I got to fly on a plane I’ve never been on before, so all is good.
Boarding was fast. One thing I noticed – they started push back before all pax were properly seated. The pushback felt a bit rushed. I think they wanted to make the scheduled time. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a flight where there were still pax trying to put away their carry-on luggage in the overhead bins (there were, iirc, two or three people doing it in my field-of-vision) when they started pushback. Nothing happened really, just an observation. We taxied to the runway quickly, it still being a little early for the afternoon rush, and blasted off. The roll was short, and the climb up was fairly steep. It felt good.
For some of you who might’ve read another thread in the main forum, the captain on this flight decided to leave the seatbelt sign on the entire time. I kept waiting for it to go off, but it never did. At some point, the FAs just stood up and started preparing, and some pax took the cue and started going to the bathroom, etc. I usually just keep the seatbelt on while I’m seated, so that was fine. As most of you know, LH has no PTVs in Y, so we were stuck with generic programming on those LCD screens. I usually only watch the airshow portions, so I started reading The Economist, a must for any flights for me .
A few observations:
1) Seat pitch is pretty poor on LH. I felt pretty cramped, and I’m under 6’.
2) The seat back pocket is EXTREMELY SMALL. You can’t put anything in that thing. I wanted to put my bottle of water in there for easy access… and I couldn’t fit it in properly. I ended up leaving it in my backpack in the overhead bin and went for it when I got thirsty. There’s an extra pocket where the PTVs are supposed to be, but it’s also small and mostly taken up by the headphone, so not much space there either.
3) The flight was 100% full. There were no empty seats as far as I could tell. On my way to my seat the J cabin was also full. I don’t know about those 8 F seats, but it looked like loads were good.
I started up a conversation with the girl sitting next to me – it’s nice when your neighbour is willing to talk. I find it to be the best way to kill time on a flight, since I am not a good sleeper. She was heading to Berlin and then to Ankara. A lot of our conversation revolved around how small this seat was (the person in front of her had the seat pulled back all the way a minute after takeoff). Blah blah….
We had beverage service, and then meal time. By the time the cart got to my row, one of the options have been exhausted already. That was a bit of a surprise as there were perhaps 6 rows behind me. I don’t know what the other option was, but it was popular. We got pasta. My neighbour’s comments – “this is the most overcooked pasta I’ve ever had”. It was actually not bad, IMO. Pictured as below before I dug in.
After meal service was basically the rest of the flight, IFE was pretty bad, including a half an hour program that looked more or less like LH propaganda. I didn’t watch it, busy reading my magazine mostly or just chatting about random things. Time passed, somehow. It was a badly timed flight in the sense that by the time we landed (about 11pm Boston time) I was still not sleepy. Breakfast was basically bread with ham and cheese, a small sandwich. Landing was uneventful. We had a straight shot into the airport, basically, as I assume traffic is light at 5:30am even in FRA. We landed facing east, with a highway to our left and then passing the terminals as we came to a stop. Taxiing was quick, and we ended up at our gate within 5 minutes. Deplane, passport check, and on my way to my connecting flight to NCE in Terminal 1A.
Waiting to get off
I realize that Terminal 1A is a long walk away, especially since my gate was all the way out at the end of the terminal – what do you do when you’re in a rush? Run? I logged on the internet, paid 8 euros for an hour, and passed the time. The flight to NCE was on a 735, D-ABIB. An hour and 15 minutes later (with a small breakfast again, this time just two pieces of cardboa… er, bread, with cheese), we were in NCE. The landing in NCE was pretty rough, although it’s a nice approach. The NCE airport is small, but user friendly – I like airports that are fast about getting you in and out. It wasn’t even 5 minutes before the luggage started showing up. I walked out, and then took the bus to Terminal 2 where my gf’s KLM flight was supposed to land in an hour, and I waited at the greeting area. The bus ride from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 is pretty long, actually. I suppose nobody transfers here, so it’s no big deal, but it was sort of a taste of things to come, as everything in this area is kinda slow.
The sawdust sandwich I got on the FRA-NCE flight.
Another observation – almost everything into NCE is at least slightly delayed, by 5, 10, 15 minutes. NOTHING comes in on time, so it seems. Anyway, picked up my gf, went over to the car rental – all fairly convenient.
Turned out it was a great choice to fly LH, not only because of the fact that the strike of the ATC workers in France meant delays that morning of the 6th, but also because apparently CDG was covered with fog that morning. A number of people who were attending the wedding ended up being delayed for hours because of the fog. I flew through FRA, and had none of that trouble. It would’ve been particularly bad because my girlfriend was flying from TPE through BKK and AMS and meeting me in NCE. Her flight was supposed to arrive an hour after mine, and I had a rental car booked. If I had gotten in a few hours late, it would’ve been a mess.
So, that’s my flight out.
Spent a few days in St. Jean Cap Ferrat for my sister’s wedding. The setting is absolutely gorgeous – but the traffic there is terrible. Nice has constant traffic jam in the city, so going in and out is a chore. On Sunday there was a parade on the promenade, further slowing traffic down. Otherwise, it was a great trip.
View from hotel
Now… on my way back. I returned the car at the rental place, and proceed to check in. Everything went pretty smoothly. Kissed my girlfriend goodbye, since she was going to get on a slightly later flight back to TPE via AMS and BKK. So, I went over to airside, and walked around. Bought my requisite Economist, and noticed that next to us there was an Emirates 777. Now… what was an Emirates 777 doing in NCE? Do they fly to NCE with that thing? Is there enough traffic for it? They were getting close to boarding too, since a bunch of EK F/As were hanging out around the gate, getting ready to get on and prepare the flight. If someone knows how that route is flown, I’d like to know, because I can’t imagine they can fill up a plane that size. IIRC it’s a 773.
Anyway, flight back to FRA was utterly uneventful, as it should be. We flew through northern Italy, as it seems to be the way you get to FRA. It was a 733, so nothing really interesting, although the plane rattled a lot during take-off roll.
Got in to FRA, got through passport control – pretty simple, short lines. I like the way the passport control works – if only the US immigration were like that. One thing about FRA signage – it’s very misleading. Connecting INFO got a sign, and it points to the wrong direction – it points you to the monitors, which I suppose is correct, but why is it pointing to the monitors when it should really point you to where the flights are? You will encounter monitors anyway along the way, so pointing pax towards the monitors is really asking them to walk extra when the closest monitors are in the wrong way. It was a dead end – only like 3 more gates from where we were, so unless you were on one of those 3 planes, chances are your connection was not that way. I think they should fix that.
Anyway, got to my gate, bought the most expensive Vittel ever (something like 3 Euros for a small bottle), sat down, played with my computer, and then not too long after, we boarded. I like the sort of “pre-boarding” area, where they clear you into a gated area long before boarding. This avoids the long lines when you actually try to get on the plane and speeds things up. I like that.
The trip back was uneventful. It was on an A343 – what it was supposed to be. Same IFE (big screen with random programs). I watched part of a movie, but most of the time, just read my magazine or tried to doze off. The flight wasn’t very full, which was interesting. I was sitting in the middle section, in one of the aisle seats. The middle two seats were empty, and then another woman on the other aisle seat, so I got a little more space for myself. Otherwise, still the bad seat pitch.
Food was all right – for once, I got beef, and it was quite interesting. As you’ll see in the pic, the piece of beef that wrapped around the rest of the stuff was rather dry. The inside was protected by this piece, so it was still nice and moist. The F/A got a laugh when I took out my camera to take a picture.
We landed in BOS at night, I just caught a cab and went home. I was rather tired, since by that time it was early morning in NCE time. Just crashed on my bed after hugging my cats.
Sorry for taking so long to write this, and it’s my first report. Hope to write more in the future
MarshalN From Hong Kong, joined Sep 2005, 1521 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 5821 times:
Thanks. Well, they were all on time, or very close to it anyway. That's a plus. I've heard bad things on AF and their on time performance -- CDG seems to be a bit iffy.
I think I would prefer not to fly LH if the schedules and other things aren't quire right. Maybe I'll do KLM next time. The economy product just isn't quite that good, and if prices are comparable, I don't see any compelling reason why I should fly LH.
JetMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 5806 times:
congratulations to your first trip report, well written and entertaining. Nice pictures as well.
Quoting MarshalN (Thread starter): a 1 hour connection or a 4 hour one (iirc). I thought a 1 hour connection through CDG might be touch and go, so I opted for LH,
One hour at CDG is a joke, I would never risk that. Last time I had 1 hours 20 minutes and due to a minor delay combined with remote parking I could only make it because I was picked up at the aircraft's door and directly brought to the connecting flight by car.
Quoting MarshalN (Thread starter): As most of you know, LH has no PTVs in Y, so we were stuck with generic programming on those LCD screens.
These LCDs are really useless - they could drop them as well in order to save some more weight in order to carry some more cargo...
Quoting MarshalN (Thread starter): Now… what was an Emirates 777 doing in NCE? Do they fly to NCE with that thing? Is there enough traffic for it? They were getting close to boarding too, since a bunch of EK F/As were hanging out around the gate, getting ready to get on and prepare the flight. If someone knows how that route is flown, I’d like to know, because I can’t imagine they can fill up a plane that size. IIRC it’s a 773.
EK serves NCE three times weekly via Rome. It's indeed a B773.
FLIEGER67 From Germany, joined Sep 2003, 5170 posts, RR: 55
Reply 5, posted (8 years 10 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 5544 times:
so, the Hongkong-siders travel to good old europe .
FRA airport is a building place and LH makes lots of money with a low service level. Why that?.
I´am a frequent traveller on LH mainly domestic and on AF around europe also and prefer AF if its always possible. LH provides A to B service and clears all the problems coming up around travel for acceptable fares high security included, thats it.
AF/KL for example offers a more personal service, not to talk about the asian carriers like CX/SQ or else.
1 hour at CDG passport control included is a potential high risk for a night at the airport hotel, btw. not bad when youre timetable is ok and your spotter interested.
Nice is a great place, I was there sometimes.
MarshalN From Hong Kong, joined Sep 2005, 1521 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 5423 times:
Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 4): Nice report. But it really seems like LH is pretty lackluster. Tight pitch, not the greatest service, no PTVs, holes in the seats in front of you, yellow trim on the chairs...
Yet why are their flights always full?
I was wondering the same thing.
Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 4): Incidentally I still didn't understand if the plane you were on was a 333 or a 343.
Sorry if I weren't clear. Basically, on my way to FRA, it was a 333, on my way back to BOS, a 343. It was supposed to be 343 both ways, but they switched it on me.
Actually, I'm in BOS right now going to school, but yes, I am a Hongkong-sider I guess
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 5): 1 hour at CDG passport control included is a potential high risk for a night at the airport hotel, btw. not bad when youre timetable is ok and your spotter interested.
Yeah, and given the stories I heard about the delays they got with the fog, man, I was so glad I didn't take AF. I'm also glad my girlfriend went through AMS, which was nice and efficient, so she claimed.
Anyway, thanks for the nice comments. My next one will probably be my flight out to LAX from BOS for Thanksgiving on UA -- it'll be hell~!
I've done this one many times in the past. I'm on it just before Xmas too. I hate the timing. It gets into Frankfurt just too early, as you said. Sometimes we landed at 5am, when nothing at the airport is open. Grrr... During the summer the 940pm is great, but yes I do hate the early one (which is the only option during the winter).
From personal experience, the pasta is usually the lesser of the two (three?) evils. On a couple of occasions, I even enjoyed it. I've been flying BOS-FRA on LH quite often since the Autumn of 2002 and I have to admit that, recently, I have found that the food on LH has improved since I started flying them. Incidentally, did you get the pizza on the way back? That's usually pretty good.
Quoting MarshalN (Thread starter): I like the way the passport control works – if only the US immigration were like that.
I have an EU passport and I signed up for the iris recognition immigration at Frankfurt. And I'm telling you: 20 sec immigration process cannot be beaten! Well done to the authorities for starting the programme!
Quoting MarshalN (Thread starter): I like the sort of “pre-boarding” area, where they clear you into a gated area long before boarding. This avoids the long lines when you actually try to get on the plane and speeds things up. I like that.
For a flight on a A340 it might be OK. But, when it's a full B744 it's total a nightmare. I'm not kidding! There are not enough seats for everyone, large numbers of passengers are standing in front of the door, others are screaming at their cell phones (I'M AT THE GATE! YES, AT THE AIRPORT!), I'm not even going to mention the screaming babies. You think SW has the cattle call? This is worse!
Quoting MarshalN (Reply 2): I think I would prefer not to fly LH if the schedules and other things aren't quire right.
There are a couple of reasons to fly LH. First, in my experience, and I have flown them a lot, their on time performance is in general very good. Second, FRA is a great hub for Europe. Over the Xmas holidays, I'm doing a crazy trip with three destinations (EDI, HEL, FRA) and I could do it on LH at a very reasonable price. Third, their maintenance has a very good reputation. People into PTVs will not like them. But, if you care about what I just mentioned, then LH is a good choice. And, you know, you could try reading a book! Who knows, you might even enjoy it!
Anyway, sorry for the long post. I got carried away... And thanks for sharing!
Nikon: we don't want more pixels, we want better pixels.
MarshalN From Hong Kong, joined Sep 2005, 1521 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 5317 times:
Quoting SNATH (Reply 8): Incidentally, did you get the pizza on the way back? That's usually pretty good.
Oh, the pizza, I forgot about the pizza! I wouldn't say it was pretty good. In fact, I'd say it was pretty awful. The thing tasted and felt more like the pizza box that it was supposed to come in, rather than the pizza itself. Really could be better.
Quoting SNATH (Reply 8): For a flight on a A340 it might be OK. But, when it's a full B744 it's total a nightmare. I'm not kidding! There are not enough seats for everyone, large numbers of passengers are standing in front of the door, others are screaming at their cell phones (I'M AT THE GATE! YES, AT THE AIRPORT!), I'm not even going to mention the screaming babies. You think SW has the cattle call? This is worse!
I can imagine... the seating area is small and I got a seat early. Those who came in late had to stand.
I do agree, FRA is probably better than LHR or CDG in terms of transfer times, etc, but still, LH isn't so great in Y...
HT From Germany, joined May 2005, 6525 posts, RR: 23
Reply 11, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 5277 times:
Quoting MarshalN (Reply 9): I do agree, FRA is probably better than LHR or CDG in terms of transfer times, etc, but still, LH isn't so great in Y...
Agreed upon. That´s why I try to upgrade to C for longhaul flights (as I´m standing 6´3) as I haven´t found no carrier yet that offers a decent seat pitch in regular Y (i.e. dismissing UA´s EcoPlus or paid-for EcoPlus on SK or BA).
Quoting MarshalN (Reply 9): I can imagine... the seating area is small and I got a seat early. Those who came in late had to stand.
Whenever possible, I prefer to linger around outside those boarding areas that can be accessed with a bp only, as it is so much hassle to get out of those areas again should departure be delayed (and that´s what has happened to me a number of times).
Quoting MarshalN (Thread starter): meal time. By the time the cart got to my row, one of the options have been exhausted already. That was a bit of a surprise as there were perhaps 6 rows behind me. I don’t know what the other option was, but it was popular. We got pasta.
The other option probably was chicken
Carpe diem ! Life is too short to waste your time ! Keep in mind, that today is the first day of the rest of your life !
Intothinair From Germany, joined Mar 2005, 392 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (8 years 10 months 1 week 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 5238 times:
First of all, great trip report
About the seat pitch, well, looking at seatguru, it doesn't seem worse than other airlines, 32pitch, 17.5width, BA even has 31pitch, AF has 32, KL has 31, and on top of that LH doesn't have foot-rests which do take away a tiny bit of leg-space and no metal boxes beneath the seat. Personally I find LH a good airline, no way near the likes of asian carriers such as SQ but decent, nothing to really complain about them.
Nice pics btw.