as you may know, LH used to operate some A340-200, chiefly serving the US east coast, Central Asia and Africa. While their passenger configuration and was just right for these destinations, their long range capabilities were obviously wasted on these short routes - pearly before swine, so to speak.
So, LH ordered ten A330-300 as a replacement. As a stop-gap measure, they leased five A330-200, two ex-Sabena ("33Z" in company lingo) and three ex-Swissair ("332").
On March 3, 2004, the days of the new "Kilo-class" at LH finally started, when D-AIKA was delivered. (Revenue flights started on March 16.)
Photo © French Frogs AirSlides
Meanwhile, KB and KC joined the fleet as well, on March 19 and 31, respectively.
Photo © Alexander Jonsson
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Since no A330 was ever present at the ILA, the bi-annual air show at Berlin´s Schoenefeld airport, and LH apparently wanted to show off their new C class seats, it was decided that an LH 333 would be included in the static display at the http://www.ila2004.de .
The plane would obviously have to be ferried in from F.RA where she´s based. Also, the LH head honchoes concluded that it would be a waste to fly 221 empty seats to SXF. So the Lufthanseat, LH´s weekly company newspaper set up a draw in which 200 of those seats were given away to an LH employee and a maximum of two travel companions. I suppose the other seats were kept in reserve in case some VIP or somebody on an official trip would require one of those.
A friend of mine and me both entered the draw, naming each other as second companion. He won, I didn´t. Neat-o!
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Frankfurt RheinMain to Berlin Schoenefeld
A330-343X, D-AIKA, "Minden", delivered March 3, 2004
Photo © Anthony Russo
We had been instructed to come to three check-in counters in the priority area in terminal 1 A one hour prior to departure. We arrived at about 0700, greeted by the screens saying "Special ILA Flight - LH 8944 - Berlin Schoenefeld" and a crowd of merry colleagues in holiday mood. (Though I noticed a couple of suits clutching travel order forms, so they´d go on official business.)
Check-in was fast and efficient - logical, with nobody bringing any bags to be checked.
We got our boarding passes for both flights; I noticed that my sequence number was three lower on the return - meaning three people had apparently opted to stay longer in Berlin and passed on the return flight.
Boarding was such a breeze as well: it was completed in no more than five minutes. Sure, using two fingers contributed to this as well, but it was obvious that the passengers on this flight were pro travellers, meaning everybody knew where to go, what to do and how to stow his hand luggage without slowing the process around him. On this occasion, a scary thought crossed my mind: if this flight was to crash, LH would have a major problem. Other companies have policies limiting the permitted number of colleagues on the same a/c for this very reason...
We were off blocks at 0822 and took off at 0832. During taxi, we went past KB and KC as well, meaning the whole Kilo-class fleet was present at F.RA at the same time.
The crew was very nice and it was clear that this was a special flight for them as well. Except the security ballet which was the standard one, coming from tape, all announcements were made in German only, mostly starting with "dear colleagues, dear children..."
Service consisted of the usual one drink - in my case, a piccolo bottle of Metternich champagne to celebrate the special occasion.
Let me take this opportunity to comment a bit on this brand new a/c. While the type itself is of course not new, I found some interesting details which distinguish this newest member of the LH family from the others.
For KA, btw, that day´s ferry hops were flights number 205 and 206 with a total flying time of only about 740 hours.
- There are PTV boxes installed under the window and centre seats (A, E, F, K) in each row. They take up about 40 % of legroom and hence are a pain in the ass.
- The Y class seats have more legroom - because the seat backs are much thinner, hence very hard and very uncomfortable, I was glad I had to sit on them for just an hour; have fun on your EZE flight...
- There are two armrests between the centre seats E and F - meaning that every passenger has one armrest all to himself.
- The reading lights dim out
- There´s a central ventilation and no more individual air vents.
- The reclining seat backs don´t snap back but return smoothly to the upright position.
- The No Smoking/Fasten Seat Belt signs are very nice silver-grey LED displays, very pleasing to the eye.
- There are mirrors on the baggage lockers´ ceiling: a small stewardess can now easily check the bottom for left items.
- There are cup holders on each Y class seat.
- The nets of the seast pockets look quite good but are very tight.
- There are windows in the C and F class toilets.
- There are no toilets in the very back; I´m sure countless pax will first make their way there only to be sent away by the steward(esse)s.
- The toilet flush is much more gentle and less violent than previous ones.
Shortly before landing (after 54 minutes at 0926) the further procedures were lined out to us: we´d stop shortly on the taxiway, allowing an ILA organiser and his counterpart at LH to board. While our plane would be manoeuvred into her display position, they´d do a short speech and shoot some pics for the "Lufthanseat".
The manoeuvre of parking between the 340-600 and 318 in Airbus colours was then quite complicated and time-consuming, so we weren´t on-blocks until 0944.
A great day at SXF followed. I´ll go into more detail as soon as some pics are added to the database, but there were some most impressive flight displays.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Berlin Schoenefeld to Frankfurt RheinMain
A330-343X, D-AIKA, "Minden", delivered March 3, 2004
Photo © Florian Sindermann
Our boarding pass said boarding was to be at 1610. We were told, though, to just go to the gangway at around 1545. I was there at 1530 or so, with the sightseeing tours still being in full swing. Huge crowds were still forming at the entrances. Shortly thereafter, some security guy announced that visiting was not possible any longer, those who were not yet standing on the gangway would need to come back in two years. People were a bit disgruntled, especially those at the front of the queue. I didn´t really understand this; I mean an LH 330 is just a normal plane - there was the A300 Super Transporter, a Luftwaffe flying hospital, and they queue at an LH 330??? Whatever floats your boat...
The last visitors had left the a/c at about 1550, ten minutes later we were let on board via the 2L door only. The only thing that was checked (by the flight crew) was the boarding pass; since they didn´t have the capacity to tear off and collect the larger end of the boarding pass, they just tore into it - meaning that we were to keep the whole thing, a nice premiere for me. I do hope the ILA visitors who - unlike us LH pax - had to enter through a normal entrance, had to pass a security check.
Boarding was completed very fast again, so we went off blocks eleven minutes early at 1619. Manoeuvring out our tight parking spot was again a bit awkward, plus we had to hold at the runway threshold until some flight display was over, so we were airborne at 1640. Without a safety demo this time - I guess the crew assumed we still knew it from eight hours ago.
The flight was again in a very cheerful atmosphere with pax and crew alike sharing their personal ILA stories. I had another champagne (Menger Krug this time, a bit inferior to the Metternich on the morning flight [should have been a tad more dry]).
We had a good tail wind, giving us a ground speed of up to 930 km/h. At F.RA however, the wind came from the usual western directions, so, coming from the East, we were just about right to land. Due to these factos, we could have made it in a record time, touching down at about 1720 after just 40 minutes flight. But at some stage, while were already lined up with the runway and being on final approach, I noticed we were a bit too high for my liking, plus the gear had not been extended. I´ve done this approach quite a few times and I was sure that on previous occasions we had been lower and the gear was down. And I was right: shortly afterwards, we stopped losing altitude and speed and overflew the runway in I guess 1500 ft. Ok I thought, maybe the wind has turned, we´ll fly a turn over Mainz and land from the West.
But no: We sure did turn over Mainz, but only to pass F.RA to the North and line up from the East once again. This time, the landing ensued (at 1728, still very short flying time). The cabin crew came on and announced "Welcome to F.RA, etc., thanks a lot to everybody involved for this flight, etc., it was a special flight for all of us, etc." upon which the cabin erupted in frenetic applause. Then she said the Captain had just informed her why the first approach had been "a bit scary": Boys are boys, when they get a new toy, they want to try it - in other words, show off that nice new a/c and have a nice ending to a nice day. Sure I thought, if you wanted to do a fly-by costing thousands of Euro you´d do it at F.RA where nobody gives a damn and not at SXF in front of thousands of spectators.
We arrived at the gate at 1734 the crew said good bye and informed us, that the local Frankfurt football club had just gained three points in their desperate struggle against relegation. The cabin expressed their joy again through some applause while I didn´t care: my club had become this season´s Champion the previuos week.
Upon leaving the plane I went to the cockpit and asked whether that low pass had really been intentional: of course it was not: "We were a bit fast on finals, so we decided it would be better to just try again." Aha, though so. So, another premiere: After 17 years of flying, my first ever go around. It was not really a bad experience, but the feeling was somehow strange. I hope it´ll take at least another 17 years until the next one.
Again, I´ll tell you more about the great day at SXF as soon as I can back it up with some pics - so, photographers and screeners, hurry up
Looking forward to your comments and questions.