Big problem: my alarm clock did not ring and, instead of getting up at 5:30 as I planned, I woke up only at 6:20. I should already have been at the airport! Of course, my basic A-check personal maintenance this morning was omitted and I jumped in my clothes, took my bag and ran to my car, which I had fortunately left outside instead of parking it in the garage as usually. The road to the nearest motorway exit was closed because of works; however, the works had just been completed 2 days before and I took that forbidden road, entered the motorway, speeded at 140 km/h (not possible to go faster because of traffic) and arrived at the airport 28 km further at 6:42. I fortunately immediately found a parking spot right near the entrance.
I ran to the Lufthansa check-in desk, where a friendly agent told me at 6:45 that the flight was closed. But he gave me a provisional access card to the airside where he scribbled some words and told me that if security let me go to the airside I could run to gate A63 where I would get my boarding pass. Very indeed: German efficiency combined with Belgian common sense. I jumped the queue at the security check, ran through the catacombs to Pier A, where the queue for baggage and personal scan was very short, and further to Gate A63 where I arrived at 6:58. The last passengers were boarding, and I could join them after receiving my boarding pass: the guy at the check-in had phoned his female colleague at the gate, who had immediately printed the boarding pass.
Flight: LH 4593 BRU-FRA on 4 October 2004
Aircraft: Airbus A321-131 D-AIRA "Finkenwerder"
c/n 458, delivered to Lufthansa on 27 January 1994
Load factor: 85%
Departure time scheduled/actual: 07:05/07:14
Arrival time scheduled/actual: 08:10/08:06
Photo © Tobias Rose
Yes, I had a middle seat, but I did not care: I sat on the plane. Furthermore, the middle seats in the LH A320 family are wider and more comfortable than on any airline. I was greeted on board by the chief stewardess, and than 10 m further by another stewardess, and before reaching my seat by still another one. As soon as I was on my seat, I finished dressing, adjusting my tie and buttoning my shirt...
Pushback and take-off were only slightly late. The announcements were made in German and English, with a tape taking over for French and Dutch. Meal Service started immediately after reaching the cruising altitude: a small pastry and a choice of drinks (orange juice and coffee for me). Not luxurious, even small for a breakfast, but OK. Service was always polite, very efficient (only 4 stewardesses for so many people in a short flight), and even sometimes smiling. After this snack, descent started quite early; the plane landed on 25L and proceeded to gate A26 ahead of schedule. Good job, Lufthansa!
To Frankfurt city and back to the airport
I took the S8 suburban train to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof, and my meeting took place close to it, in a hotel appropriately called Concorde, ideal for an aviation lover. It was finished early, and I went back to the airport with the S8 again. I arrived at 16:20.
I was booked on LH 4588 at 18:10. Since I had a flexible ticket, I wanted to go to a desk to have my ETIX reservation changed to LH 4586 at 17:10. But the queue was rather long; a friendly was circulating through the people waiting in line and asked me what I wanted to do. When I waved my Miles & More card he took me to an automatic machine which not only allows you to check in, but also to change flights. In less than one minute I was rebooked, got a seat assignment (I selected 11F, the first window seat available) and a boarding pass.
It was strange to see that more than 50% of the seats were in red, because, as you will see later, the plane was almost empty.
Flight: LH 4586 FRA-BRU on 4 October 2004
Aircraft: Airbus A320-211 D-AIQB "Bielefeld"
c/n 200, delivered to Lufthansa on 21 June 1991
Load factor: 15%
Departure time scheduled/actual: 17:10/17:06
Arrival time scheduled/actual: 18:05/17:58
Photo © Oliver Brunke
Boarding was on time at gate 30, and I was greeted by two of the three stewardesses. I was alone on my row, which I like very much! Pushback was early.
After take-off from 18 under a clear sky, service started and was very quick. A chocolate bar and a choice of drinks. I had my usual 33 cl bottle of Warsteiner beer, not a great beer, but refreshing. Again, the flight was very short and we landed in advance on 25R for a change (instead of the usual 25L). Excellent short flight, as I like them.