24 Aug. 2004
The day began with my parents, sister, and uncle taking me out to breakfast. After breakfast I hugged my sister and uncle and said goodbye, and was driven to the airport by my parents. After taking by bags out of the car, I hugged my parents and said goodbye. I was thinking to myself this will probably be the last time I see them until I return to the U.S. in May of 2005. I grabbed my bags and started to head towards the terminal.
Upon entering the terminal, I noticed they had ripped up the carpet. I wonder if the black carpet will grace this area? The UAL ticket counter line wasn't busy except for one family with a lot of luggage. All the agents were helping this family who had a lot of luggage and kids with them. One of the agents noticed me, and asked where I was traveling to today. I told her I was traveling to Germany. A few minutes later she waved me up to the counter and I checked into my flight to ORD. The agent told me I would have to check into my flight to Frankfurt at the Lufthansa gate in Chicago, but that she could check my bags all the way through to Hamburg. I said alright and that would be no problem. I made my way to security and got through in no time as there was no line. I arrived at gate B5 around 11:30 am, a little over two hours before my flight was leave for ORD. I walked the concourse and people watched to make the time go by. My boarding card said boarding would begin at 1:14 pm and departure would be at 1:44 pm. 1:14 pm came and no plane at the gate. The agent made an announcement that the plane would be late, but should be here in about 10 minutes. The plane finally did arrive, and our boarding wouldn't begin until 2:15, as ATC I assumed at ORD had moved our departure time to 2:30 due to congestion at ORD. Boarding did begin at 2:15 and people were on the plane in no time.
I took my assigned seat, 18D, and sat there during the entire flight. The flight was full, and I found myself sitting next to a businessman who seemed quite annoyed that I had to take the empty seat next to him. As if I had the choice. The door was closed and we pushed back from the gate almost immediately afterwards. The plane began the take off roll right as we entered the runway. The flight attendants swung into action not so long after take off. We were offered our choice of beverage and an assorted bag of nuts, pretzels, etc. About 40 or 50 minutes into the flight, the pilot made an announcement that we were put into a holding pattern and that we should land within 50 minutes. After mentioning this, he went on to say we only have 30 minutes of fuel left. This brought out some nervous laughter from some passengers. He said if we were interested we can listen to ATC on channel 9. After the fuel announcement I decided to plug in the headphones and listen. The female co-pilot was taking to ATC, and I remember ATC telling us to drop to certain flight levels every so often. Our flight landed at ORD in 20-25 minutes after the fuel announcement. The weather at ORD was rainy. UAL 703 parked at gate B4, which was great for me as LH 431 was departing from B17.
24 Aug. 2004
Once I exited UAL 703, I made my way to gate B17 to check into LH 431 to Frankfurt and LH 008 to Hamburg. There was no line at the LH ticket counter, so I checked into my flights in no time. I saw a group of young people standing next to the ticket counter, and some of them had bag tags with the study abroad company I was going through. I went up and introduced myself, and discovered we were all going to Lueneburg . We talked for a while before getting in line to enter the aircraft. The boarding line looked long, but we made it through rather quickly. As I entered the ramp I noticed about 10 customs agents randomly pulling people over to question. A female agent pulled me over (not literally) and asked me why I was going to Germany. I told her I was going to study, which is the truth. She then asked me if I was carrying a large amount of currency. I told her I had 150 Euros on me, which was the truth. She wished me luck and I was on my way.
Entering the aircraft I was greeted by a lovely LH flight attendant. She directed me to my seat and I noticed how clean the aircraft was. My assigned seat was 53E and I found the seat to be reasonably comfortable. While I was talking to the other students in the boarding area, I found out I was sitting next to two of them. It turns out our entire row was occupied. A little while later a male flight attendant came to our row and said that the flight wasn't full today, and if we wanted to move around we could. The girl to my left and I moved to the very last row of the plane. I took seat 56B, with no one in 56C and she took 56D and had all 4 seats to herself. LH was using the 744 with the 310 Y class capacity on this flight. The plane pushed back shortly after the door closed and we taxied a little before coming to a stop. I saw a UAL 744 land and a few other airplanes. After 20 or so minutes sitting there, we entered the runway and began our take off immediately. Once airborne, the pilot turned the plane to the left, as I looked out the window I thought the wing would clip the ground! It looked that close The weather had cleared and the aircraft made a cool shadow in the grass below. Climbing was very smooth and the FA's went into action very quickly. We were offered our choice of beverage and given a bag of very delicious peanuts. I believe they were roasted. I enjoyed the scenery outside the plane for a while before pulling out a magazine and scanning over it. TV's were on and I believe Euro news was showing. I listened for a while before going back to the magazine and listening to some tunes on the radio stations. An hour or so into the flight the meal service was started. I chose the chicken and I was not disappointed. It was very delicious. I chose water as my drink. After the meal service the FA's came around with hot towels, which I thought was strange because I assumed these were given before or after breakfast? The inflight movie was Garfield: The movie. I had no interest in watching it so I listened to some CDs I brought with me. After this got boring, I started talking to the girl who originally was sitting next to me in row 53. We talked about our German classes, Lueneburg, etc. We decided it was probably a good idea to try to get some sleep, as we had no idea what was planned for us upon arriving in Lueneburg. I managed to get little sleep, and eventually the lights were turned back on in the cabin about an hour before landing. We were served breakfast, which came in a blue box, but was pretty good despite looking very standard. The cheese in it was excellent. Our descent into Frankfurt was very smooth. The landing was terrific. We taxied to the gate very quickly and deboarding was very fast! Either the flight was more empty than I thought or people just had their shit together. Overall it was a terrific flight! Kudos to LH.
25 Aug. 2004
After exiting our plane from ORD, all the students met up in the terminal to walk to concourse A, where our flight to HAM was scheduled to depart. The Non-EU line at customs was very short, and we made it through in no time. After walking through a series of corridors, we finally appeared in concourse A. We made our way to gate A14, and some of the American students were pleased to see an open bar next to the gate. They ordered tall glasses of beer, but right as they started drinking them an announcement was made that boarding would begin. Unfortunately for them they couldn't finish their first beer in Germany . We made our way down the ramp and entered the big bus. This was my first Airbus flight. I wasn't impressed with the interior, and the plane was very hot! To make it worse the flight was completely full. As we started our take off the plane began to shake more than I think I've ever experienced on a take off. Is this normal for this type of aircraft? I was assigned seat 28D and chatted with a fellow student during the flight. The FA's made quick work of the drink service. I had a coke. After the trash was collected by the FA's, the pilot made the announcement that we would begin our descent into HAM. The landing was smooth and we again made it to the gate very quickly. All the students met up again and we proceeded to get our bags at the baggage claim area. Thankfully no bags were lost during the 3 flights. Good job UA and LH
Summary: All flights were very good. No problems at all and service was what I expected or better. This was my first trip report, so I hopefully did a decent job. I return to the U.S. in May 2005, so you will have to wait a while to read my return trip. Hope you enjoyed this!