As I live very close to the airport (10 minutes by commuter train) I arrived at STR quite early at about 6:00. There are normally four check-in counters for DBA at STR, but none of them was open yet. The lady from security service who is doing the luggage screening told me that they would open at about 6:15, so I made my way along the construction site of the new Terminal 3 (which will be opened on
28 March this year) to Terminal 4 which offers some views to the apron. But as it was dark outside there was not much to see. I returned to check-in at about 06:30. One counter was open now and as there were no passengers at all, check-in was very quick. I got seat 22A and sequence number 001. Security check was also very quick and efficient, no waiting time. To kill some time I filled in a Lotto coupon (unfortunately I didn’t win ) and looked through the shops, then I went to the gate.
Saturday, 07 February 2004
Stuttgart (STR) – Hamburg (HAM)
Flight number: DI 7180
Scheduled departure time:07:30
Scheduled arrival time: 08:45
Type of aircraft: B 737-300
Photo © Philip Preindl
Photo © JetPix
Boarding started at 7:10 and was done by the same lady that had been at the check-in. On the bus to the aircraft I counted 17 passengers. Not really good for a B 737. A Beech 1900 or a Metro would have been big enough for that flight… We arrived at our aircraft (D-ADBN) which had been repainted in the new green livery. It still had its old name “Wolkenschreiber”. Besides D-ADBN there was also an other DBA aircraft (D-ADIE) on the apron which would normally have operated the morning flight to TXL. But as this flight didn’t take place on that day, the aircraft was completely dark.
We were welcomed by the very friendly cabin crew which consisted of 2 women and one man (the purser). They offered free newspapers (Sueddeutsche, Welt, Bild). With so few passengers to HAM everybody hat a row for himsewlf/herself and boarding was completed quickly. The cabin was nice and clean. I realized that the seats didn’t have the typical green DBA headrest covers but instead they had white neutral ones.
We were off-block soon and taxied to the runway, then we took off in Western direction. It just became day when we climbed up in the sky. Although I have experienced this several times I still enjoy flying into the sunrise very much. The different colours of the sky are just great! At first there were also some good views to the ground, then it turned cloudy.
I think I have never been on such an empty plane. With only 17 passengers on an aircraft with 136 seats, I somehow felt as if I was flying V-Bird :
Photo © Helmut Bierbaum
(This is a photo of an empty V-Bird A 320, not of DBA!)
Shortly after take-off, the cabin crew started with food and drink service. They didn’t come through with a trolley but instead one flight attendant wrote down the orders. I ordered a hot croissant and a coffee for together EUR 2,50 and shortly after I got both on a small tray.
The purser made a small advertisement announcement: “You want to learn French or English? Why not trying out our international destinations Nice and London?” The captain told us that the weather at HAM was more than ugly with rain and wind and about 4° Celsius. He was right: the ground was not visible until we had nearly reached the airport. The aircraft touched down and taxied to a gate position in front of the terminal building. We were on-block about 15 minutes early.
After leaving the plane I went directly to the DBA check-in desk and checked in for my return flight in the afternoon, then I took the bus to the city centre. As it was heavily raining I did a bus tour through Hamburg. At about noon I returned to the airport.
Photo © Sven Tobergte
Photo © Stefan Kunert
When you come from STR, you soon feel at home at HAM: Terminal 4 at HAM was planned by the same architect’s office like the terminal at STR, so the buildings are quite similar. Departures, arrivals, check-in, restaurants, viewing facilities, etc. are at the same place. The only difference (on the first view) is the roof construction and the fact that the terminal at HAM is slightly bigger that STR: There is more room between the two rows with check-in counters so it is a bit less crowded.
Like at STR, at HAM there is also a new terminal building under construction which is similar to the existing one. Besides, HAM also gets a station for the new commuter train route which is really necessary in my opinion. I think an airport of the size of HAM should have a train connection.
I went to the spectator terrace on the (old) Terminal 1. On the apron you could see a variety of European traffic, among the aircraft there was a brand new Aeroflot A 319 in the new livery
But the more interesting planes were those stored at the LH maintenance facility: Emirates, Royal Jordanian, an all-white A 340, an LH A 340 without engines (I guess an A 340-200??) and several LH aircraft (A 300/310, MD-11 and some narrow-bodies) were visible.
Later I went to the restaurant in T4 (which was also my departure terminal) for a short lunch. Even the restaurants at HAM have the same names as at STR as they are run by the same company.
Then I went to the gate where I saw my aircraft just arriving from STR. It was again D-ADBN, so this would be my fourth flight on this aircraft (after two flights STR-TXL and TXL-STR in 2003 and the flight STR-HAM this morning).
Saturday, 07 February 2004
Hamburg (HAM) – Stuttgart (STR)
Flight number: DI 7183
Scheduled departure time:14:15
Scheduled arrival time: 15:30
Type of aircraft: B 737-300
Photo © Michael Nikel
Photo © Luis Rosa
Boarding started on time. This time there were about 30 passengers; also not a very good load factor but still better than in the morning. It was the same crew as on the morning flight. When the purser came to my row (this time I had seat 4F) he looked at me, then he said: “Your visit at HAM was short, wasn’t it?” I said: “Wow, do you remember all your passengers?”, he replied “Well, today that’s easy as we didn’t have too many passengers. In the morning you ordered a croissant, didn’t you?” That’s what I call a good memory! We talked a bit before the aircraft left the gate. He told me that load factors on this route were much better on working days than on weekend flights. Today, the crew (and the aircraft) had the morning rotation STR-HAM-STR, then a break at STR for two hours and then again STR-HAM-STR.
We taxied to the runway, took off and soon were in the clouds as the weather was still very bad. This time the cabin crew came through with the trolley. They called everybody by name which they had obviously looked up in the passenger list. A very nice gesture indeed! I had a cake and an orange juice, again for EUR 2,50 all together.
The rest of the flight was uneventful; as I was a bit tired, I fell asleep for some time. I woke up again when we were approaching STR. It was very windy so landing was a bit troubled. As this was not only for the crew but obviously also for the aircraft the last flight of the day, we taxied to a parking position far away from the terminal building. On leaving the plane I thanked the crew and wished a nice free time (“Feierebend” ).
A bus took all passengers to the arrivals area.
Conclusion: I really enjoyed these two flights: on time, good service and a very friendly and funny crew. You really feel that they like doing their job. This is something that you find at many DBA employees. The majority of the staff is highly motivated.
Reliability, friendliness and a fair value for money are the main reasons for me why it is always a pleasure to fly on this airline. At least until today, I haven’t had any bad experiences with them.
Questions, comments, criticism, etc. are welcome as always.