June 26th 2002
Departure Time: 14:25
Arrival Time: 5:30
My father and I arrived about 2 hours before departure to Terminal 1. There was a very long line at the Lufthansa check-in and it took 40 minutes until we finally got through and got our boarding passes. Although the luggage got checked in to TLV
we were not able to get the boarding passes for the FRA
segment. The check-in agent was also unable to change our seats so we were assigned seats some 20 rows away from each there. Security was fast and I actually expected it to be more thorough. The stores and restaurants were pretty bad so I didn’t bother looking around and went directly to the gate to wait until boarding.
We boarded the aircraft at 3:55 and I took seat 24 K and we could convince the guy next to me to switch seats with my father. This was my first A340 (-200) flight and 2nd LH
long haut flight. The seat pitch was slightly better than I had in memory from my last flight (terrible experience) but the ceiling was much lower and windows seemed smaller than the ones on a 747. In addition to that there was much more curved so that there were 1-2 inches space from the armrest to the wall (enough to stuff the pillow and blanket there). So much for the differences between a 340 and a 747. The seat itself was in the smaller cabin in the front with only of about 8 rows or so. The in-flight Entertainment was just crap (as usual with LH
) with only 2 drop down screens in my cabin but more about entertainment later.
Pushback was around 4:15 and was followed by a sloooow take off. As I’ve mentioned before, I have never been on an A340… and this really was one of those long takeoffs everyone is talking about (It was also very hot that day). I didn’t time it but I finished one 33 second movie clip recording on my camera, had time to start another one and the second one went on for about 20 seconds before rotation. The climb was equally weak. It took a while until we reached our cruising altitude at FL350. Today’s flight path went straight east, without flying over Canada, but leaving America at Bangor and flying to FRA
over Shannon, Dover/Calais and BRU
Meal service was preceded by a so-called “cocktails”. I ordered a Tomato juice and a ginger ale which they didn’t have so I settled for a sprite instead. One thing that bothered by is that they used big 1.5L
bottles of coke instead of individual cans, the drinks usually don’t feel fresh from the bottle. Also, Lufthansa did not serve any peanuts or pretzels with the drinks which was rather disappointing (especially since this was a “cocktail” service”). The meal was served around one hour in-flight and the choice was either chicken or pasta…. the usual airline food. I opted for the chicken and my father for the pasta. I can say that they were equally mediocre.
There was too much artificial flavor in both of the dishes. The salad was just terrible. The desert, on the other hand, was very good. What really bothered me was the speed at which the LH
Fast served the economy class customers. Only about 1 hour after the meal was served, coffee or tea was brought. I’m actually used to having my desert with tea but after 30 minutes I just gave up waiting for it. Another disappointment was that it took the FA
only 2 hours to collect the plates after the meal. Not only did many passengers struggle to get out of the middle seats with all the food on the tables but the fact that one has to face the food leftovers and garbage for 2 hours is not acceptable.
After the meal the movie was started which was “Just married”. I didn’t care much since I had some movies on my laptop but looking into the LH
magazine at the entertainment section I found out that all three movies that were shown on Trans Atlantic runs were romantic comedies (just married two weeks notice and maid in Manhattan). Another look into the entertainment section revealed that passengers with PTVs have a “cult movie” channel which will show classics like “Cocoon” and “Jumanji”… LH
obviously has some problems putting together the right selection of movies.
Anyways, the flight was pretty smooth and we reached Ireland in no time. Over there, the lights were turned on (unfortunately, I didn’t manage to sleep… as always) and breakfast was served.
It consisted of a cereal bar, strawberry/banana yoghurt and a nasty croissant with ham and some sort of brie. After the breakfast was cleared we made a nice and smooth landing into FRA
The taxi to the terminal was nice because I got to see the U.S. military base there and the military aircraft and of course the huge bunch of LH
and other Star Alliance equipment. Other than that I only remember some African aircrafts and the 340 of Gulf Air in its new golden livery as being note worthy.
Once debarked, my father and I went for the search of a “Lufthansa service center” as told on the aircraft and at JFK
, in order to receive our boarding passes. After a rather long queue at the connection center we were told that the TLV
flights were locked and can only be accessed at the special gate, C 9. Since it didn’t open until 2 hours before departure we had tons of time to spend. Terminal 1/B does not have much to offer after the security checkpoint (maybe there is better stuff before that), and the restaurant that was located at the window was pretty expensive and not worth going to just for the window seat. Other than that the only opportunity to sit next to the window was at the Mc Donald’s. In the end I just bought a sandwich at some snack bar and took seat in the Mc Donald’s… while I hate the smell there it was better than nothing. Two hours before the scheduled depart we headed to the C part of terminal 1 only to find a huge line at the security check point. There were about 60-70 people waiting and there was only one male and one female officer, searching everyone carefully. The female officer only handled female passengers and because of that she often stood there without anything to do. At some point a group of about 20 people arrived who were on a flight that was to depart in 10 minutes to Chicago and were all permitted to cut the line only to miss boarding anyway and head back to concourse B. Also at after about half an hour, some supervisor arrived and asked whether there is need for more staff at which the female officer replied that it’s “just fine”.
After passing the long and frustrating security check we get our boarding passes. Our seats were located 25 rows from each other with one of them being in the last, non-reclinable row. There was no gate at the waiting are and the area itself was rather uncomfortable. It had a smoking section in one of its corner but the air-conditioning was so poor that the smell was throughout the room. When boarding began I exchanged our boarding passes so our seats would be located close to each other so that we could ask the neighbors to switch with us. The gate itself was a small walk up a couple of stairs away. This wasn’t a nice experience since I was only half conscious by now due to the fact that it was around 6 am in NYC and I still haven’t had any sleep.
I was somewhat surprised that there was no extensive screening to flights to Israel (just the same procedures as for flights going to North America). The Aircraft on this leg was a 744. With all the reports about very weak tourism in Israel lately I was surprised that LH
is having a twice daily wide body service (744 & 340) from FRA
and some fights from MUC
. I’ve previously been on a LH
744 so the cabin was familiar to me… tight seat pitch, unappealing interior (gray/yellow… bah) and poor IFE. I was seated in a window seat in row 28 in the forward economy cabin with my father in the adjacent seat. Just like on all of the flights described in this trip report, the aircraft was completely full in Y (there were many people connection from Canada and France). The aircraft pushed back about 30 min after the scheduled departure time because boarding took longer than expected. We taxied to the runway and had a powerful takeoff compared to the previous 340 flight. I don’t remember much of this flight because, since as I’ve mentioned before, I was very tired. The meal consisted of turkey and rice, similar to the previous flight but better in quality. One thing that shocked me was the metal cutlery on a flight to Israel (plastic on the other LH
flights). The salad was ok with sun dried tomato dressing and the cake was similar to the one from the previous flight. This time the plates were collected rather quickly and the movie was turned on which was “maid of Manhattan”, yet another weak selection by Lufthansa. I didn’t watch the movie and fell asleep only to wake up around Cyprus.
The approach into Tel Aviv was very interesting since I’ve never been to the country before and there was a good view of Tel Aviv. The landing was incredibly smooth and was followed by applause to the pilot (Doesn’t happen that often these days….).
The airport was very interesting as well. There was a construction of a new terminal that seemed to be very modern with gates made of glass and everything but the current terminal was just a building that resembled more a train station than something that handles aircraft passengers. We were taken there by bus and had to clear immigration which was pretty easy yet the process took a while. The baggage reclaim was rather chaotic with only one belt for a fully loaded 747. After half an hour we got our 2 baggage pieces and entered the arrival hall which definitely did not resemble most other international airports that I’ve been to.
My and I went to the AVIS counter where we were confronted by yet another line. We then had to ride the AVIS shuttle bus to a remote rental car parking lot where we received our Ford Focus. The car was very new and cheap… the rate for a week was somewhat below of what one would have to pay to get a compact car back in NYC for the weekend. We then drove to the hotel in Jerusalem which took a little less than an hour. We stayed at the Mount Zion Hotel which was an average hotel with a nice pool (25 yards).
The rooms were ok but the window was small and the TV
wasn’t working too well. The hotel had a nice view of the old city and was just about 5 minutes away from one of the city gates. I won’t go too much into the details of my stay in Israel but I would just like to recommend anyone who likes aviation to take a trip to the Israeli Air Force museum near Beersheba in the Negev desert. If is next to Israel’s main air force base with military aircraft constantly flying overhead. The museum itself ahs about every aircraft that served in the Israeli Air force including a Lavi prototype, an f-15, a lot of Mirage, Kfir and F-4 aircrafts and even some MIGs captured from Israel’s neighbors. The Museum also has a B707 serving as a movie theatre (although the movie was pure propaganda).
You can see some of the photos here: http://www.nikibary.com/gallery/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=2
After a great week in Israel it was time to get leave again. Since Israel is famous/notorious for its extensive security we decided to arrive more than 3 hours in advance to the airport. I was surprised to see a huge line for the flight (with about 2/3 of the flight’s passengers being there) already 3 hours before departure. Most of the passenger’s luggage was first being X-rayed and then opened and searched by hand. At the same time there were a couple of officers going around and picking up people randomly from the line. My father and I were selected and were asked to put our luggage on a table and present our travel documents. The officer then interrogated us, asking the usual questions along with the names and addresses of people and places we’ve visited on the trip. After telling him everything, he placed stickers on our tickets and luggage and we could go to the check-in without even having out luggage X-rayed or searched. After recovering our boarding passes we went upstairs to the “gates”. The area on the 2nd floor was filled with different duty free stores and not too many food places.
Overall the place was very crowded and I just waited at the gate until boarding. Once boarding had begun everyone went downstairs to take a bus to the aircraft. Since this was yet another full flight it took quite a while until everyone was on a bus. The ride to the terminal was pretty long but we drove by most airliners parked at TLV
(many eastern European airlines with Tu 154 and most larger European airlines). I was disappointed to see that today’s aircraft would be a 747 just as the previous one because it was listed as an A332 and I would prefer that aircraft over the Boeing since it has PTVs and a non LH
We were seated in the first Y cabin and I had a Window seat as usual. Because I didn’t intend to write a trip report I didn’t really pay much attention to this flight so I don’t have much to write about. Takeoff wasn’t very powerful since this was a full flight and it was hot outside. Once we’ve reached our cruising altitude a meal was served which was yet again Chicken/Pasta or Beef. I took the Pasta which was surprisingly good and my best meal on LH
The salad and desert on the other hand did not taste well at all. I don’t remember what movie was shown but I do know that it wasn’t good and that I didn’t bother watching it. The flight was very short and we landed in FRA
after 3 hours and 40 minutes without any problems.
I spend about 10 days visiting friends. Since my father only stayed in Germany for 3 days I had to get to the airport by myself with the train. FRA
definitely has a superior public transportation system than NYC airports. I tool the ICE high-speed train from Bonn/Siegburg to the airport and the 180km ride only took me 45 minutes, much less than it take s to get from Manhattan to either JFK
. The ICE ride was very pleasant and the FRA
train station was connected to terminal 1 and only a couple of minutes away by foot from the check-in counters.
I Arrived 2 ½ hours before departure to a rather empty Terminal 1 with no queue for the check in area dedicated for passengers traveling to the States. I was finished in 3 minutes but unfortunately they didn’t have any good seats left and I would have to try my luck at the boarding desk to change my middle seat in row 40- something to a window seat. Since the stores and restaurants did not seem appealing to me I decided to go directly to the gate passing 2 security check points and the passport control with each taking about 10 seconds to go through. The flights gate was 65 and after buying and a small Coke for 3 euros and a disgusting Tuna sandwich, I went to the seating area at the Gate. There I changed my seat to 47 A which was a window seat in the middle of the last cabin.
Boarding was on time and I took seat in the 747-400 named “Bochum”. With this being my 4th flight on a LH
747 I was very familiar with the rather uncomfortable and tight seat.
As usual I couldn’t see the entire TV
screen because it was partially blocked by the overhead storage bins. Anyway, the captain went on the PA and provided information about the flight but unfortunately the volume was too low to hear anything so I ignored it as well as the safety demo that was shown on the overhead TVs. It was rather hot that day so take off and especially the climb was very slow for a 747, although we had a very good view of Frankfurt from my side of the plane.
It took a long time until lunch/dinner was served and they run out of the pasta choice so I had to take
chicken which was very bad. It basically came in 2 large pieces which tasted both equally bad so I couldn’t even finish one of them. The rest of the meal was ok. Drinks were constantly offered during the meal and every hour or so afterwards. As soon as the meals have been collected the movie was shown which this time was “Bringing Down the House”. I wasn’t tired at all so I decided to watch it. It turned out that this was yet another bad movie shown on LH
(man do they EVER show good ones?). The movie was just inane and corny. After the movie ended the sky map was turned on. While I prefer this to anything that LH
would show, the flight magazine indicated that there should be a documentation following the main movie; I guess this may have bothered some other passengers. Since I couldn’t sleep I spend most of the time reading a book, listening to music or talking to neighbors. Once we got close to Canada I could see a few icebergs which was pretty cool considering that it was summertime (I guess they are melting off the North Pole because of the heat). Once we were over Canada a snack/breakfast type meal was served which was a chocolate bar, fruit and a sandwich. I had the exact same sandwich on a FRA
flight earlier this year and it tasted as bad as last time. The garbage was then collected by the Fast and we started out descend shortly after that. During the landing we had a nice view of the Verrazano Bridge and Coney Island since the aircraft made a turn south of Long island before landing at JFK
The landing wasn’t the smoothest one I’ve had but certainly nothing to complain about.
Immigration at JFK
was quick but the officer didn’t say a word to me, not even when I greeted him or said good bye. I got my baggage quickly and left the terminal to take the bus back to Grand Central.