actually, I had planned to not write a report about this trip, because it looks so boring at first sight: LH A320/A321, FRA-FCO-FRA = boring airline, boring aircraft, boring routing without connexion.
But, because I travelled with a group of eight others, none of them seasoned travelers, even two first-time flyers, one or two things out of the ordinary happened which I thought I´d share with you. Oh, and of course there was the country-wide black-out – thankfully, it didn´t happy on the days of our flights… but it was interesting nevertheless.
September 24, 2003:
Frankfurt (RheinMain) – Roma/Rome (Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci)
LH 3870 (also AP 3870)
Airbus A320-211 D-AIQF “Halle an der Saale”, delivered August 5, 1991
Photo © Tobias Rose
Photo © Tobias Rose
I had to organise a business trip of me and eight colleagues to Rome for a week. About the preliminaries just this much: 1 - It is a PAIN to do group bookings; 2 – Low Cost airlines are not as cheap as some people think ("Daniel, I looked at Ryanair´s website, they also fly Frankfurt-Rome, for only 4.99 EUR, why don´t we fly with them?")
We arrived at the airport a little more than two hours in advance. Having an eTicket, we headed straight to the "Quick"(Hah!)-Check-In machine. The check-in itself was indeed quick: it took only a few seconds until our boarding passes were issued - eight persons in seven different rows, 6, 10, 11, 19, 25 and 27 (the very last), one person without a fixed seat assignment. Not only was the group spread all over the plane, no: three of us had got operational upgrades into C class.
Here comes the first opportunity to question the wisdom of the computer: you have four C class seats to fill, you have single travellers, Senators/FTLs in Y, travellers on unrestricted Y-fares; whom do you upgrade? Sure, three first-time customers from a group of nine travelling on W-fares… Not that I´d complain if I had been among the lucky three, but hey, I was getting the heat from my colleagues ("Daniel, you know so much about aviation, why can´t you make us all sit together?"). But, to be honest, I don´t really understand why we got sequence numbers 109+ on a 138 seater over two hours before departure.
Anyway, back to our check-in: our eight bags were too much for the machine: after the first two suitcases, several tries, about 20 minutes and worried faces ("Daniel, will my bag make it even if the machine´s red light is flashing?") it refused service and sent us to a manual check-in counter.
After I had dumped my group at the gate I headed to the Business-Lounge in order to something about our seats, specifically about me not being upgraded (how dare they!) They said they couldn´t do complimentary upgrades (ya, sure… ) and even made a scene before letting me into the lounge. I argued that I was the guest of my colleagues S, V and W who were travelling in C after all – only they were not with me right now.
Back at the gate, I asked again for an upgrade; actually, I asked for all six of us, fully knowing that was not realistically possible. However, I emphasized I was the group leader (read: I had been responsible for nine people´s business going to LH) plus I´m a half decent LH-customer – and I got the upgrade.
The flight itself was eventless, just one funny episode: I had pre-ordered a special fish meal – which was a Y-class meal of course. The stewardess was a little embarrassed I was sitting in the front and had to eat an economy meal. She even asked If I wanted her to re-arrange it on Business-class-plates and –tray (!) which I respectfully declined. Oh, and she gave me an additional C-dessert.
OK, so we spent a week in Rome, mixing business with pleasure. We even went to the beach on Saturday – great! Probably my last day of bathing in the sea for this year.
In the night from Saturday to Sunday was the Notte Bianca, or White Night: a big cultural event, parties through the night in the whole city, concerts, museums open etc. We enjoyed it tremendously and came come at shortly past 0300. When we awoke the next morning, the black-out had struck: at 0325 it was rien ne vas plus. No electricity in all Italy. Imagine: no trains, no metro, no elevators, no espresso-machines, no supermarkets, no traffic lights, no museums. In a way it was fun, once we had arranged ourselves with the situation, but you don´t even notice how much you need electricity until you don´t have any for a while. It came back only gradually during the afternoon, by the way.
October 1, 2003:
Roma/Rome (Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci) – Frankfurt (RheinMain)
LH 3857 (also AP 3857 and NH 6122)
Airbus A321-231 D-AISG “Dormagen”, delivered July 18, 2000
Photo © Aaron Lupton
Photo © Peter Hulse
I had flown on this very plane in February 2001, MLA-FRA!
On the return flight, really nothing happened – oh, yes, we were sitting all next to each other, in one and a half rows directly behind one another. A remarkably small biz class (like 5 rows) and a relatively low load (like 60 %), compared to the first leg (11 rows C class, all 138 seats occupied).
At FRA, we witnessed someone being beaten up in front of the McDonald´s in terminal 1. We all had to give our personal details to the police, I guess we´ll all have to make a statement about what we saw.
Alrighty, that´s it – longer than I thought; definitely long for a report that was not to be; hopefully not too long for your liking