You can see part 1 here - viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1378025
Sorry, it took me a couple of days longer than expected
October 11, 2017
CS-TTF Airbus A319-111
Another ridiculously early start, this was a 6AM flight and we left the hotel at 4AM and reached TXL in just over twenty minutes and by the time we reached the TAP check-in desks we discovered that not only was the flight full but the computers were down and nobody could be checked in. We got in the priority queue thanks to Senators (*A Gold) among us but even then after twiddling our thumbs for almost 45 minutes. It was past 5.15AM and there was no way this flight was going to be on time, the staff spoke of a 45 minute delay. I had blocked the first row of economy, which is considered Economy Plus by TAP - while they advertised their new seats the Plus seats were the same as those in Business Class, similar legroom of 33 inches but no blocked middle seat. The seats also came with a couple of plug points. Anyway, after whiling away some time in the lounge and grabbing a quick breakfast, useful by the way, we finally boarded among the last few passengers onto CS-TTF at around 645AM. A took a bit more time to finish loading the luggage and we pushed back with an hours delay. After taxiing past a bunch of Air Berlin Airbuses and Boeings, soon to be dispersed across the world, we lifted off into the still dark skies and headed straight due west.
Waiting at the lounge, love those old-school TP baggage stickers
Neighbours - including an Airberlin plane
take-Off video - a bit dark though http://youtu.be/Q4Ttfpedoq8
There had been a massive French ATC strike the two days prior and flights were heavily delayed and this flight itself the previous day taken a massive loop over London and onto Spain avoiding France altogether. But the delays and cancellations had meant for very crowded skies this morning as airlines positioned planes back to base. There were a couple of times other planes crossed our path, in what seemed like very close quarters. A 1000 feet might seem like a lot but 300 meters isn’t all that far and when you catch planes from the corner of your eye at altitude, it does look remarkable (and a bit scary) there was one pass below (an A320 couldn’t make out whose) and one above (Ryanair 737). Germany and France were hidden under a low cloud layer but it appeared to clear up once we crossed over into Spain and the hilly Spanish north looked as if every hilltop had a wind turbine on top of it.
There wasn’t much in terms of service, one run to distribute a sandwich and milk drink in an open box plus coffee and one run to clear up. Thank god for the food at the lounge because this was a long flight at just over three and a half hours. I was travelling to Lisbon and Portugal for the first time since I was five, and I had read that sitting on the right leads to better views over the city. But because that meant you’re facing ever so slightly southeast, light wasn’t that great, but I still shot a video.
The landing video here - http://youtu.be/LhQjW944zpk
We landed at a remote stand - lots of planes around - Easyjet, Ryanair, TAP’s own A330’s and a Hong Kong Airlines A330 - the Chinese are really travelling everywhere. The bus ride took some time before we made it to the terminal but dropped us a spot which involved hiking all the way through Lisbon Airport, don’t mind me saying this but the place looked like a high-end shopping mall. But then again every airport does these days. We made it to the luggage carousel and well, priority tags were not quite respected. But it appeared that there weren’t all that many passengers from the flight getting off at Lisbon because the flight was full of German tourists, I guess they’re connecting to places like Faro and possibly even Brazil.
Up-close with a CFM56
We left the airport, found our rides to the Penha Longa resort outside Sintra, actually next to the Estoril racetrack and that was where we were to be driving BMW’s third-generation X3 and the new 6GT. I’m going to link to my car reviews, but long story short the next two days were great fun. The roads in Portugal are excellent, both the highways and the country roads. We drove around the mountains of the Sintra national park and the castle on top, the beach roads outside Cascais. The cars were fun, but I also wanted to go see Lisbon and well, we did. Grabbing an Uber into town and sat next to the Fernando Passoa statue outside his favorite cafe/bar and even bought a book of his poetry from Bertrand’s, the world’s oldest continuously running bookstore. Me and a friend went walking up and down the city hills for a couple of hours getting a full workout before heading back to the resort for dinner. Lisbon’s rush hour traffic is bad and a ride that had taken us 30 minutes in the afternoon took us almost 90 minutes on the way back. We had dinner at the LAB experimental restaurant inside the resort run by Chef Sergi Arola and a place that has won two Michelin Stars. Yum. Although I finally had a couple of Martini’s after days of wine and beer. But the next morning was another early flight. Sigh.
Driving down the coast, that's me behind the wheel
Chillin' with Passoa!
At Cabo De Roca, the very edge of continental Europe
Dinner at LAB
In case you're interested, links to my reviews
The 3rd-gen BMW X3 - http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/ ... third.html
The new BMW 6GT - http://www.dailypioneer.com/columnists/ ... urope.html
October 13, 2017
D-AISX Airbus A321-231
I had packed the previous night, had set ten alarms between both my phones and the hotel to be woken up by 4AM in order to leave by 5AM, one of our party was a bit late but we still got to the airport by 5.45AM for our 7.10AM departure. Check-In done, we had to traverse a long way and instead of using the ‘Blue Lounge’ as LH check-in staff told us, me and a couple of others went to the TAP Flagship lounge, which was a good choice. A nice view of the tarmac, excellent Pastel de Nada tarts and coffee. I should have gone a bit easier, but what the hell.
At the TP lounge, might as well have one of these
We left the lounge at around 6.40 and walked to our gate, which was super crowded, the gate boarding area designed for around 50 people had at least 150, and well, you couldn’t access the priority lanes. Anyhow, I wasn’t in a rush. Eventually we boarded the plane, and like D-AIDX a few days ago, D-AISX had also seen a ‘curtain job’, but being in the second row, the middle seat did have a table in between, which is really useful if you end up working like I did.
Lisbon was covered in very low-level cloud when we took off and things didn’t clear under we crossed the Portuguese-Spanish border around the Salamanca area, straight through Spain and over Toulouse, and over Switzerland, with awesome views of Geneva and the lake over my side, with stunning light. In the meantime we had a couple of service rounds - a cold cut platter and a choice between an omelette and pancakes, I chose the latter. Wasn’t bad at all. As we approached Frankfurt the cloud cover became apparent and it was a cloudy landing. But landing in FRA yu get to see a world of heavies and airlines including so many LH birds. Saw one of LATAM’s Qatari A350’s, loads of LH 747’s and A380’s ahead of the afternoon bank of flights.
Over Switzerland, edited with Snapseed
Sights at FRA after landing
October 13, 2017
D-AIML Airbus A380-841
Transferring in Frankfurt is very chaotic and transferring to an India flight involves an immense walk. After docking at the A-gates, you have to take the airtrain over to the C-gates, walk through the terminal to immigration - although that did give me a chance to see a store where I picked up a LH A350 1:200 model for half the onboard price as well as buy some chocolates, candy and whisky at the duty-free. Another round of security later I went to dedicated lounge for gate C16 from which LH760 operates always. This is a A380 gate and the lounge empties straight to the upper deck airway. A few comments on the lounge, very limited food and drink offerings - no spirits, although good beers as usual. My bigger problem was after that long way, I was a bit hungry and really sandwiches don’t cut it. Also, I really don’t know why LH doesn’t have spirits in this lounge. Decent wine, decent beer but a G&T would never hurt. I actually had to get some work done and after logging onto the WiFi I managed to get a couple of stories away as well as FaceTime with the Mrs. But I just had a weird premonition about this flight… well, at least one of my colleagues didn’t mind as he scored an upgrade onto First.
I had chosen seat 23A because it was behind the wing, so I could get some nice views while taking-off. This was on the second-to-last row of the business cabin, and LH has a small economy cabin behind this - where EK has their bar. Boarding was completed pretty quickly other than some connecting passengers in the seats behind me. And lo and behold, a young mother with a very screamy infant connecting in from Canada took 24A. Listen, I realise long-haul flights are murder for kids, but no-one wants a screamy one near them, but long-live noise-cancelling headphones - Bose QC20’s in this case. Next to our gate was the Mumbai flight, operated with the Boeing 747-8i D-ABYT in classic 80’s LH colours. We pushed back more or less on time, and just after the Mumbai flight and made our way to the threshold of Runway 18 for a very smooth takeoff. Nothing beats a A30 takeoff from the upper deck in terms of smoothness. You’re so far away from the mechanicals that you don’t hear or feel the wheels or flaps retracting, and aerodynamic noise is almost non-existent.
Levelling off around 2000 feet after take-off
Soon afterwards our section of the cabin was served by a friendly old German lady. Warm nuts and a pre-ordered G&T as I settled down to watch Wonder Woman. Lunch came shortly afterwards, a cold shrimp starter and green salad with dressing to start, which was quite nice, followed by a rather ordinary chicken with rice and vegetables/lentils. The dish was a neither here or there dish in my opinion. So I made up for it by having both the Tiramisu and cheese platter washing it all down with a very nice Chilean white. By the time lunch was over the sun was already getting low in the horizon and I decided to watch some shorter shows on TV all while sipping some more wine. Then as we crossed the Caspian Sea, I decided to catch up on the news with CNN and Euronews, Catalonia was in crisis and I wanted to know what was going on, but as I flew north of Iran, CNN switched to Donald T going live with his Iran speech. That was weird and fun.
In the meantime, it was time for dinner as we made fast progress to DEL. There was some choice but I chose the spinach and cheese ravioli. Again, I’ve had better pasta but it wasn’t dried out like sometimes airline pasta tends to be. Anyway afterwards I kept on watching news and sports on live TV and was looking forward to getting home soon enough. Our approach into DEL was from the north, looping over the eastern suburbs and onto runway 29. We landed well on time and were to disembark from a A380 gate with an upper deck bridge.
G&T and nuts
Somewhere near Iran while watching this
Keep in mind a few things, when an A380 lands, along with a few 777’s and A330’s around the same time, it overwhelms the limited amount of immigration counters. While India has stopped making citizens fill up forms and most of us are stamped through quickly when we return, even the business class counters were crowded. But that was expected. What was not expected was the sheer incompetence of the LH ground staff when it came to our suitcases. There were three of us who had connected in from the LIS flight, all our suitcases were tagged with Priority tags, yet they took an hour to come after we got to the belt and from the very last container at that. I understand that a very full flight leads to baggage chaos, but for Priority bags to be delivered last was gross incompetence. I was hopping mad as was one of my colleagues, who was a LH Senator and the ground staff were running around like headless chickens. Not the best way to end the trip.
Reading other TR’s and talking to friends who have been flying to Europe as well, LH has been slipping. Many friends going to Germany like TK in business, they have great food which I can vouch for albeit a horribly timed departure and arrival time from DEL. Of course there is EK, but oddly many friends have been saying that AI isn’t half bad, it isn’t the best but now AI is flying to many places in Europe MXP CPH MAD have been added in the recent past - my wife and I used AI Economy to MXP last year, decent legroom and decent catering plus it was a 787. And if you are connecting FRA is horribly designed, although my least favorite airport terminal in Europe is CDG T2. So that was that, a lot of flying and driving, great views and great fun but a bit let down in the end. Often I don’t have a choice while flying abroad, but LH disappointed this time.
Anyhow, my Instagram has a whole bunch of what I call my #wingshots series plus cars and travel etc, do pop over to take a look - https://www.instagram.com/kushanmitra/