On www.lufthansa.de I found a cheap sameday return flight for 94.97€ internet-fare. But a colleague told me that I must be stupid to book a flight regularly, she told me that if I go to the Lufthansa ticket counter at STR and show my airport ID, I get a 20% discount on the non-internet fare (which is 104,97€). Alright, I went there and showed my airport ID. The lady behind the counter was in a really bad mood, maybe because it was 6am and she was still tired, but anyway. She told me that I do not work for LH which means that I have to pay the full fare. I asked her to ask her supervisor about this. A moment later she returned and said that I get 20% discount - I think she was annoyed that she had to give me this discount. While I told her which flights I want to book, she started talking to herself that those damn Scots are all just drunken and she wouldn't sell them any tickets (There was a soccer game Stuttgart vs Glasgow the day before, and two or three really friendly Scots obviously had tried to buy a ticket back home STR-LHR-GLA. I saw them again later on a KLM flight STR-AMS-GLA, they were some of the friendliest passengers I have ever seen, yes they had one or two beers but you can't call that drunken). Back to my booking for LHR, the lady behind the counter told me that the discount is only on the fare, but not on the taxes (of course). Obviously taxes are very expensive at LHR, my "discount" ticket turned out to be 93.97€, exactly 1€ cheaper than the regular internet ticket. In order to save the money for an ATB, she tried to do it as an electronic ticket, but her colleague told her that "discount" tickets can't be electronic tickets because they have to print "LH20 discount" on the ATB. In the end when I wanted to pay with my Visa card, I was told that I have to pay cash, because of the discount, and of course the ATB, and everything, I can't expect LH to pay the credit card fees as well. Alright so I gave her 95€, she searched for change money, found a 1€ coin but couldn't find 3 cents. She looked at me as if she wanted to ask me if I insist on those 3 cents change - but somehow she must have noticed by the look in my eyes that I would not donate LH even one more cent. She finally found those 3 cents.
Don't get me wrong, 93.97€ is really cheap for this flight. But I really hated the way I was treated just because of that 1€ "discount", I mean it was not an ID ticket or something, she used the word "discount ticket" at least 10 times. Thank you Lufthansa for this great discount!
The day before my flight, I went to the LH check-in counter and asked the colleague if it's possible to make a seat pre-assignment. She was very friendly, but told me that this is not possible because of my (guess what?) discount ticket. I had the early shift, so I gave my ticket to a colleague from the late shift and asked her to do my late-night check-in at the LH Quick Check-In machines, because I wanted a window seat in the first row of Y-Class (CRJ).
The next morning I arrived at the airport at 09:45, went to our office and found my boarding pass with seat number 4A, the first row of Y-Class. Thank you, Conny! Now I went to the Quick Check-In machines to check in for my return flight in the evening, but the machine refused to check me in so I went to the check-in counters (there was no queue at all). The colleague was very friendly, I asked for a window seat in the very last row (ARJ), and he gave me 18A. We were chatting about STR, security measures and everything, and in the end he gave me a detailed instruction how to find my way to the gate (he was joking, he knows that I know the way).
I went to gate 123 (a bus gate), where I waited for boarding.
08 Mar 2003
D-ACJH "Little Europe"
Photo © Viktor László - Budapest Aviation Photography
Photo © Stuart Lawson
Boarding time was 10:35, boarding started at 10:37, and we had to show our passports again, I think this is not a standard procedure on LH, only on flights to UK and US. There were 31 passengers on this flight, one in business and 30 in economy. At 10:50 boarding was completed, we were bussed to parking position 51 where D-ACJH was waiting for us, it had arrived from MUC only half an hour before. D-ACJH is the logo jet "Little Europe", but I don't know how much longer this special livery will be around, this aircraft is definitely in need of a new paintjob, especially nose, wing and winglet looked terrible. The cabin however looked much better, very clean and rather new. A very friendly cabin crew welcomed us with a smile. I was sitting on 4A, 4C was taken as well, but 5A and 5C remained free so I changed to 5A.
After a safety instruction, we taxied to runway 25 at 11:04 where we took off at 11:09. It was a very powerfull take-off, very impressing. After my last LH CRJ flight STR-DUS in the last row, I didn't like the CRJ because it was noisy and the look out of the window gave me a view only on the wings. This time on 5A was much more comfortable, quiet and I had an excellent view outside. We were flying over Luxemburg, Brussels and Southend, in 34000ft.
Now something happened that I wouldn't have expected: The two flight attendants served the meals, on a tray, a huge variety, and it was really delicious: A roll, a coarse wholemeal bread, butter, salami, bacon, pasta salad with carrot, a radish, water, and a bar of Toblerone chocolate. A few weeks ago a.net member Contact Air posted his trip report LH CRJ STR-LHR, and he mentioned that salt and pepper were only served on demand. Well this time salt and pepper were on every tray. - A few minutes later they offered beverage service, I had an orange juice, and ten minutes later again, this time I had a Coke. This was much more than I expected on such a short flight!
Btw, they didn't hand out those 150ml Coke cans any more, they had 1l re-useable deposit bottles on their trolleys and poured the Coke into the good old plastic cubs. Seems like Trittin's "Dosenpfand" was a huge success
At 11:06 (local UK-time) we started descent, and the captain made an announcement that we would arrive at LHR ahead of schedule. But at 11:19 he made another announcement, he told us that he was a big liar, they now expected a 30 minutes holding before landing at LHR. Well, but it was interesting because during this holding I saw *lots* of other aircraft (probably also flying holdings for LHR) passing very close to us. At 11:53 we finally landed on LHR's runway 27L, and we arrived at our gate at T2 at 11:58, 13 minutes behind schedule, I wouldn't call that a delay.
This flight was really one of the best flights I ever had!
I met Patrick and Alex, and we spent the afternoon at Hatton Cross, it was cold, stromy and rainy but it was fun.
08 Mar 2003
Photo © Florian Kondziela
Photo © Philipp Brumann
Patrick and I arrived at the gate area early, at about 16:45. But the information screen didn't show the gate number yet, it said "wait in lounge". At 17:20 (boarding time) it still said "wait in lounge", even at 17:45 it still said "wait in lounge", no information about a delay. We decided to go to the next Lufthansa gate and ask how much delay I would have to expect. The gate agent was not very helpful, he said that this is not the gate for STR. I asked him at least to have a look into my flight LH5979, to see how much delay this flight would have. He typed something into the computer and then told me that he doesn't know. Somehow he reminded me of David Smyth, check-in agent at PIK (see our Ryanair trip report DUB-PIK-STN). We went back to the waiting lounge, now the information screen said "delayed", btw all LH flights for this evening only said "wait in lounge" or "delayed", and there was nobody who could tell me if my flight would be 30 minutes, one hour or three hours delayed, nobody knew.
Finally, at 19:00, the information screen said "Go to gate 11". I went there, they lifted the boarding passes in front of the waiting area of gate 11, there was a little queue and I realized that those two gate agents were really rude, they didn't say hello or good evening, but one passenger didn't show her passport so the gate agent just shouted "Passport!". So I thought "Hmmm, I'm gonna cause them some trouble". I ripped a small hole into the magnetic tape of my boarding pass, and I folded the back of the boarding pass. I gave my boarding pass to the gate agent and showed her my passport, she gave me my passenger receipt. When she put my boading pass into the gate reader, the machine couldn't read it, of course. But the back of the boading pass was folded, so the machine couldn't eject my boarding pass either. I hope they had to open the whole machine to get my boarding pass out! But I can't tell you what happened then, because boarding already started: "Ladies and gentlemen, the flight is now boarding", this was their whole announcement. I was glad that I could finally leave this unfriendly Lufthansa/Globeground staff behind and board the aircraft, D-AVRM.
I had expected D-AVRK (at least our system at STR had shown D-AVRK for the arrival at 20:25 at STR), obviously they had a last-minute aircraft change, I thought this might be the reason for the delay. But after boarding was completed at 19:15, the captian made an announcement that the aircraft had arrived at LHR on-time, but their handling agent at LHR was on strike so they couldn't start boarding earlier, and now they were still waiting for the baggage to be loaded. At 19:26 we finally pushed back and taxied to runway 27L, but we had to wait for another 20 minutes there, probably because of a slot, but the crew didn't tell us. At least I was lucky, the LH ARJ has 80 seats, there were 79 passengers on board, and 18C (the seat next to mine) was the only seat in the whole aircraft that remained free, probably because row 18 is a non-recline seatrow. Very comfortable, have to say, but LH plans to install a 6-abeast-seating on their ARJs, I have been on a middle-seat on a Buzz BAe146 and this was really very cramped! Well anyway, I enjoyed the space I had on this flight.
At 19:52 we finally took off, turned left and had a great view over London before we reached the clouds. The cabin crew (two women) were not unfriendly, but you could see in their faces that this was not the way they like to spend their saturday evening. But somehow I can understand that. They served the meal, again on a tray, but obviously this meal has been catered at LHR, typical english meal, at first it tasted just strange, but then it tasted so ugly that I didn't finish my meal. Once again a roll and a coarse wholemeal bread and butter, that was alright, but I still don't know if that was bacon or fish, it tasted so ugly that I decided just to eat the roll with butter. And there was this strange millet gruel with vinegar sauce, please, LSG, this was the worst meal I ever had! At least the original Scottish shortbread tasted great. Beverage service started in the front and ended in row 16, ten minutes later they came back to row 18, I had an orange juice. "Without ice, please!" I said, because I had seen that the guy sitting in front of me got more ice cubes than orange juice.
At 21:40 (local German time) the First Officer made an announcement, he had a strong Swabian dialect (great!), and he apologized for the delay. In fact this was the first time somebody apologized, neither LHR ground staff (well, of course not) nor cabin crew had apologized for that delay. We landed at 22:01 on STRs runway 25, the cabin crew welcomed us at STR and now they apologized as well for the delay. We taxied to our parking position where we arrived at 22:04 and were bussed to the terminal building. Passport control went quickly, so I arrived at my car at 22:15.
The end of a great spotting day at LHR, but also many new LH experiences: A cheap ticket, one of the best flights ever STR-LHR, an average flight back home LHR-STR, unfriendly staff at the ticket desk, friendly staff at check-in and gate at STR, rude staff at LHR - Lufthansa has got two faces, you never know what you get!
Thanks for reading my trip report, I know it turned out to become longer than I planned to write at first - but there were things I had to mention, I know it was an ordinary European short-haul flight, but I had many great and some very unpleasant experiences that I wanted to share with you. Feel free to tell me what you think of my report and my experiences with LH.