Dublin - Frankfurt (Main)
Aer Lingus (EI 650)
Boeing 737-500 EI-CDE "Ronan"
Photo © George Polfliet
I checked-in about 1h20mins before the scheduled departure time of 7am, but the ques for Continental & Germany check-in were absolutely mad, not helped by the fact that not all the desks were open due to the lack of staff (something I would never have said before of Aer Lingus). I waited something like over 25 mins to check-in then preceeded to the boarding gate via the Travel Value store, which didn't have anything to interest me. Boarding began 5 minutes late and we were bussed half way round the terminal where our machine, CDE would take us to Frankfurt. The last time I flew this bird was 2 years ago to Milan Linate in Premier class, it was a great flight, although this time I was travelling in economy class.
I had a window seat towards the rear of the plane, I suspected I would have the two seats next to me free, but alas that dredded second bus arrived and two (exceptionally annoying) travel representatives from a travel/tour company never stopped talking for the whole flight. Anyway, I buried my head in a magazine for the duration.
When we were fully boarded the captain came on to tell us we had (suprise suprise) missed our slot and would have to wait 15 minutes before we pushed back and started our engines. We were airbourne at 7.40, being number 4 for takeoff behind some other company 737-400's and A320, presumably Brussels, Paris & Amsterdam.
On this flight I was able to sample the new Aer Lingus catering concept 'less is more' (sarcasm). Yes, the traditional full breakfast has been scrapped in favour of what they call a breakfast box, featuring a danish pastry (you would need a magnifying glass to see) and a micro chocolate muffin, and a plastic cup and a juice. I was regretting this trip on Aer Lingus and longed to be back on SAS, where you leave every flight feeling full. Tea/Coffee service was done twice. The cabin crew were young but not particularly great, pretty average really.
The flight took us over Birmingham, north of London, over Brussels and then down over Weisbaden and into Frankfurt where we landed 30 minutes late. No further apology for this delay followed.
I left the flight accepting the sad reality of Aer Lingus economy travel today, nothing special. For someone who has always valued full service airlines, Aer Lingus is promoting itself as such and at the same time is engaging in pathetic cheapo-marketing in Ireland, offering the lowest fares in a dire attempt to compete with Ryanair. I think the new CEO is trying to save the company but he is alienating his core customers who value full-service and have, and are willing to pay for it.
I will now only travel with Aer Lingus in Europe/UK in Premier.
Their service on this route has gone from mediocre to bad.
14th March 2002
Frankfurt (Main) - Hamburg
Lufthansa LH 4548
A300-600R D-ABXU "Furth"
dep. 16:25 arr. 17:15
Photo © Chris Sheldon
I checked in for this late afternoon flight at noon after arriving on Aer Lingus in Frankfurt. As I had a fully-flexible ticket I was booked on it and given a boarding card. I was now free of my baggage and able to go into Frankfurt City for a few hours at least.
I headed back to the airport at 15:00, bought a big bottle of Finlandia at the airport and went to gate A15 where Airbus A300-600R D-ABXU was waiting to transport me to Hamburg. Boarding was done in zones and once onboard I had noticed LH have changed those terrible cloth seatcovers to the smart recaro leather ones. We pushed back pretty much on time, the engines started and we were on our way. I was pretty drowsy during this flight and realised that we were well into our cruise before the crew came around with the drinks trolley. I asked for my traditional gin&tonic, only to be informed in a rather abrubt way that they only had beer or sparkling wine. I had the wine, which was nice. glasses were later collected and we were on the approach over the port of Hamburg. A very short flight of roughly 45 minutes, but good nonetheless.
19th March 2002
Bremen - Frankfurt (Main)
dep. 10:45 arr.12:05
A319-100 D-AILT "Straubing"
Photo © ÁRpáD Gordos
My original itinery required I fly back from Hamburg, but for one reason or another I ended up in Bremen (home of Beck's beer) and opted to fly to Frankfurt and connect rather than backtrac to Hamburg. I took the trusty old S-Bahn out to Bremen’s Airport which is only about 10 minutes from the city. I was checked straight in by an agent who didn’t really care what my ticket said (just the type i like She gave me a nice seat with two free seats next to me in row 8 on the A319. The type scheduled for this flight was actually an A320, but I know Lufthansa change these around frequently. I had some time to kill so I went up to the observation deck and watched a Condor Berlin A320 push back and take off for warmer climbs. Also there was Sky Airlines 737-400 (Turkish) and Pegasus (737-400) which was going to Istanbul. Crossair had a flight as well, and a KLM Fokker 50.
After a while I went through departures and had a look in the shops. At the Lufthansa gate area there was a coffee/tea machine that explained that there would be no tea/coffee on this flight so we could help ourselves now, fair enough. I had some and took a paper (only German papers were offered, not even a Herald Tribune, they could take a lesson from SAS who even has Irish Sunday Newspapers at the gate in Copenhagen!). I suppose I shouldn’t complain as Aer Lingus no longer have newspapers for Economy passeengers.
Boarding commenced by Zones, I was in Zone 2 so I could board almost immediately. The flight was about 2/3 full. There was a lufthansa pilot sitting in the row in front of me, I was suprised they made him sit in Economy, but maybe this is company policy or something. As we taxied that really dumb and annoying Lufthansa theme music was playing “There’s no better way to fly”, this really pisses me off because there are better ways and even if it was the best way, the slogan is so banale. Take off was quick and soon we were cruising down over Kassel towards Frankfurt. The captain’s announcements were very good on this flight, he constantly kept us informed. From the drinks trolley I had what has become my usual on Lufthansa ‘Sparkling Wine’, I did notice they had white wine on this flight as well. Once in the Frankfurt area we had to circle for about 20 minutes, this added a great delay and we landed about 30 minutes or so late. The captain appologised, but this was due to the high-traffic in the area. This flight was quite pleasant for such a short trip it took quite a while though.
19th March 2002
Frankfurt (Main) - Dublin
Lufthansa (LH 4570)
Boeing 737-330 D-ABXU "Seeheim-Jugenheim"
Dep.14:00 Arr. 15:30
Photo © Peter Unmuth - Vienna Aviation Photography
Boarding commenced on time at gate A55 and we were bussed to our 737. I regret that Lufthansa don’t fly the A320 fleet into Dublin anymore, I find them far superior in terms of cabin comfort, but I suppose there is logic in flying 2 737’s rather than 1 A320 on the route. The crew on this route seemed to be a lot younger than I have experienced on Lufthansa and were very smily, much more so than on all my previous flights. We pushed back and took off on time, taking a northerly route over Koln and Dusseldorf, tracking to Den Helder in the Netherlands and over the North Sea to Manchester.
The meal service on this flight was the typical Lufthansa European tray with some cold meats, pates, cheese etc, a small bread roll and a chocolate bar. This was nothing special, tasty, but I had the same meal flying the same route for over a year now, possibly longer. It is really boring and I think Lufthansa need to spruce up their european catering, it’s so boring, also from what I could gather their business class looks very tired and boring. It was full (5 rows) on this flight but it just doen’t look as inviting as BA’s ClubEurope or even Iberia’s European Business Class which I really like. I had a bottle of Sparkling Wine followed by yet another with my meal. I was dissapointed extra bread rolls were not offered, this is something SAS do at least twice on a DUB-CPH flight, and it isn’t such a high cost, so why can’t LH do the same?
We had a very hard landing in a cold and rainy Dublin, we were on time, and taxied for what seemed to be an eternity until we reached our gate on the C pier next to a bmi new colours A320 pushing back for Heathrow.
In conclusion, I am pleased with Lufthansa and always have been, yet they lack that extra substance that would make them my airline of choice. I would easily fly BA / Crossair / SAS before I would fly them again, but they offered me convinient schedules in their home market (Germany) and this is the main reason why I chose them for these flights.
Lufthansa have the infastructure to become better known for customer service and high-quality, although they concentrate on business/first travel like BA, they could offer a better quality product (I feel), BA certianly does.