14 February 2003
Helsinki Vantaa – Frankfurt Main
Lufthansa LH 3041
Economy, 9C (Exit Row)
1415-1555 – On Time
Photo © Florian Kondziela
Photo © Jason Taperell
After driving to Vantaa airport in very snowy and miserable conditions, I checked in using SAS Self Service as usual. Machine spat out both boarding passes in a matter of seconds. Security was a breeze and I was soon enjoying a drink in the SAS Business Lounge. Had some cold cuts and rolls as I hadn’t had a chance to eat earlier that day.
The Lufthansa baby bus soon arrived from Frankfurt and docked at gate 28 to spend its 50-minute turnaround. Headed to the gate when boarding was about to start, only to witness some upgrades done against the Lufthansa policy. I witnessed with a United 1K (in eco) next to the desk when the SK agents upgraded some people with no LH/Star status or even frequent flyer number. As Y class was overbooked, they should have upgraded LH SEN, Other *G, LH FTL, Other *S. Heard the SK agents say it was easier this way as these non-status pax had no seat assignments yet…
I was greeted by a rather friendly purser by the door and took my exit row seat 9C. Legroom in the LH 32S exit rows are very good, and luckily today row 8 was left with the 2-3 business configuration, so I had only half a seat in front of me. Pushback was a few minutes late due to Frankfurt traffic, and we took off from 04R at 2.35pm for the rather short 2h10min hop down to Germany.
Service was the standard LH affair, a plate of cold cuts and some salad as well as warm rolls and a chocolate bar. Had a Baileys and some Coke to drink as usual. Flight was rather bumpy when approaching Germany but not too bad. I read some newspapers and soon we were already on descent into Frankfurt Main airport. Landed on 07R at 3.40pm and taxied to A10 where we arrived bang on time at 3.55pm.
The Schengen A concourse was an absolute zoo – I have never seen it that busy. On top of that, everybody seemed to have some sort of elite tag hanging from their bags. I struggled my way through the tunnel to the B gates and the Senator Lounge where I enjoyed some sandwiches and chicken salad.
14 February 2003
Frankfurt Main – Beijing Capital
Lufthansa LH 720
Business, 9H (Exit Row)
1720-0930+1 – On Time
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Photo © Christoph Fiedler
Headed to B28 where LH720 was about to start boarding. My request for an exit row indeed got me one – in Business Class this time. Boarded shortly via door 1L and crossed the galley to my seat with tons of legroom. The lady at the door glanced at my boarding pass, told me it’s on the other side and said “but you know your seats anyway don’t you?”
A Chinese lady working in my section of the business cabin soon served pre-departure drinks, I took the champagne – served in a real glass of course. “Enjoy your drink” was a nice touch I thought. The cabins filled up and the doors were closed with a full load in the back, 76 of 78 seats taken in business and half full in first. Some pax with checked luggage had failed to come to the gate, so there was a short delay while their bags were offloaded.
We were pushed back about fifteen minutes late and taxied to 07L past the QF Formula 1 747 and cut in front of D-ABVN, bound for HKG, as we were number one for takeoff. An Emirates Airbus landed and then we were ready to go. There was a NW 747-200 and 777s of UA and CO in the military apron. It was very quiet up in row 9 and I kinda like looking back at the two big engines. We headed northeast towards Moscow and the service started soon.
Hot towels and menus were handed out and Asian snack mix with your choice of drink was served after that– I opted for some more champagne. Another round of drinks followed before dinner. Here’s the menu:
Lufthansa Business Class
Frankfurt – Beijing/Shanghai, LH720, 728
Smoked Fillet of Trout
Over Ratatouille Salad with Curry Mayonnaise
Venison Ham with Red Cabbage
and Wild Mushrooms
Oak Leaf Lettuce, Frisée, Radicchio
and Yellow Bell Pepper julienne
presented with Pumpkin Seed Oil Vinaigrette
Bread, Rolls and Butter
Breast of corn-fed Chicken
served with Parsnips, Pine Nuts and Raisins
Red Mullet accompanied by Mushroom Risotto
and Bulghur with Basil
with Cashews, Snow Peas and Rice
Cheese and Dessert
Mondseer, Österkron and Allgäu Hard Cheese
Poppy Seed Mousse
Fresh Fruit Salad
Orders for main course were taken first. When the actual service began, the flight attendants presented both hors d’ouvres on a tray and asked which one I wanted. Took the ham option as it looked better. A tray with this and a big bowl of salad was presented. Warmed rolls and bread were served as well. I had some very good Spanish white wine as well as water with my meal.
The trays were then collected and main course followed. I opted for the beef and it was delicious. I was rather full at this point, so as the cheese cart passed by, I just asked for the dessert – Poppy Seed Mousse – it was very good too. Finally when the actual dessert service started, I just had some chocolates and some Baileys. It was a good Valentine’s Day dinner and service was excellent all the time.
We were cruising near Moscow at this point and headed towards Ekaterinburg. I decided to call it a night and managed to sleep until breakfast service was about to start. The remaining flight time was 1.5 hours and we had just passed the Mongolian city of Ulan Bator. Here’s the breakfast menu:
Forest Berry Yoghurt
Cold plate featuring
peppered Poultry Pastrami, Turkey Ham,
Bonbel and Basil Cheese with Grapes
Pancake filled with Spinach
Last Minute Breakfast
Coffee or Tea
I took the omelette as well as some warm croissants – very good even though I wasn’t hungry at all after the dinner.
Cabin was prepared for landing about 20 minutes before touchdown – a lot nicer than the 40 or so minutes in the back. We landed at Beijing Capital about 10 minutes late and taxied to stand 212 next to AF 777 F-GSPJ and AY M11 OH-LGC. Immigration was pretty quick and I was soon in a taxi to downtown Beijing after getting some cash at the Bank of China ATM.
Jing Guang New World Hotel
This hotel is in the embassy district, a little bit far from the main sights. It is a very tall glass tower and service was good as I arrived. My bag was taken care of and soon I was escorted to my room on the 21st floor. The public areas are very nice but the room was disappointment. It was nothing special – international 3-4 star standard. Minibar was a bit pricey but room service was cheap and very extensive.
17 February 2003
Beijing Capital – Frankfurt Main
Lufthansa LH 721
Economy, 32J (Exit Row)
Photo © Florian Kondziela
Photo © Joan Martorell
Headed to Beijing Capital about two hours before departure. Luckily I had some Chinese money left as I had to pay the departure fee before heading to the check-in counters past some sort of checkpoint. Interesting layout. I was greeted by a pleasant enough Air China agent at the Lufthansa First Class counter and got an exit row seat as well as invitation to the Air China First Class Lounge. Immigration took a while and security seemed to open everyone’s bag. The staff was rather rude there.
Air China First Class Lounge, Beijing Capital Airport
This lounge is to the left of the main entrance and was deserted as I entered. There are a few workstations, so I checked my mails first. Snack selection is pretty good: noodles, sandwiches, fruits, peanuts, biscuits and some desserts. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were extensively available. Lounge has no windows and got rather crowded just before I headed to gate 10 for boarding.
D-ABVZ was waiting, again accompanied by Air France and Finnair machines (F-GSPX and OH-LGA). LH721 started boarding 40 minutes late due to late incoming aircraft – this was told at check-in already. The three ladies from business class were greeting me at the door again – they were surprised to see me again.
I rook my seat next to door 3R with generous legroom. 32BC and HJ are probably the best seats in the back of Lufthansa Jumbos. The economy class crew was nothing special, obviously it is somewhat hard to smile behind the curtain. We were pushed back 45 mins late and taxied past a bunch of Chinese jets to 36L for takeoff. Took off for the 9h25min at 12.25 after an Air China A340 landed.
Menus were handed out after takeoff – good to see menus in LH economy. Drinks were served first, pretty bad selection with no rum or Baileys. Hot towels and lunch followed shortly, and here’s the menu:
Lufthansa Economy Class, LH 721
Marinated Breast of Chicken
served with Onion and Corn salad
Smoked Pork Loin enhanced by Mustard Sauce,
Broccoli, Carrots and Mashed Potatoes
Tenderloin of Beef Szechuan style
with Chinese Greens and Egg Noodles
Black Forest Cake
I took the beef with noodles – it was pretty edible but nothing special. Had some coke with my meal and Baileys with ice afterwards. We flew over Ulan Bator again and the route looked pretty much the same as the earlier FRA-PEK one. Thanks to the exit row and the fact that I was very tired, I managed to sleep about five hours and again only woke up as the second service was starting.
Lufthansa Economy Class, LH 721
Sweet and Sour Pork Cubes
Served with Bell Peppers, Pineapple and Rice with Eggs
Tagliatelle with creamy Pesto
and Shrimp in Tomato Concassée
Red Currant Cheesecake
I took the pork option and it was actually pretty good. Trays were cleared about one hour out of Frankfurt and it looked like weren’t going to be too much delayed even with the late departure. Landed on 07R about ten to three and taxied to the B gates. There was again this passport checking nonsense going on at the gate – why do they have to do that after all Asian arrivals is beyond my understanding. The actual immigration counters are just a few hundred meters away.
I made my way to the Senator Lounge B again, had a refreshing shower, checked my mails and had some snacks.
17 February 2003
Frankfurt Main – Helsinki Vantaa
Lufthansa LH 3002
Economy, 10A (Exit Row)
1750-2125 – On Time
Photo © Timothy Feise
Photo © Mathias Henig
For once, I didn’t have to take the hike to the A concourse for the Helsinki flight – it was boarding through one of the bus gates, located on the lower level of 1B. Flight was half full and I had an exit row window with the middle seat blocked.
The bus took us past some interesting Asian planes, Air China and Asiana B747-400 Combis and a Korean triple seven come to my mind. D-AIPE was waiting at a remote near T2. Settled onto my 10A and waited for the second bus to arrive. We pushed back on time and took off from 07L. D-ABVZ was right behind us, about to start another long flight to Asia.
Routing was the usual, over some German cities, then over the Swedish island Gotland and onto Helsinki. Flight time was 2h20min and I fell asleep right after finishing the same cold meal that I have had too many times on HEL-FRA or FRA-HEL.
We landed on 04R a few minutes early and taxied to a remote stand near the Finnair hangars as D-AIPE was going to spend the night there. I made my way to economy parking lot P4 and drove home.
Hope you enjoyed,