Lufthansa Flight 4091
Route: Venice – Marco Polo (VCE), Italy to Frankfurt/Main International (FRA), Germany
Aircraft: Airbus A300-600
Scheduled Departure Time: 7:30pm
Scheduled Arrival Time: 8:55pm
All good things must come to an end, and after spending three days in beautiful, serene Venice, it was time to return to my homeland, the UK. We traveled to the airport via water taxi, a novel – and choppy – alternative to a standard taxi, and encountered the crowded departure terminal which was full of vacationers all needing to fly home after a leisurely weekend.
We checked in for the Lufthansa flights and were glad to learn that our first leg was operating to schedule. Boarding was completed very efficiently given that this was a full Airbus A300-600 flight, and I was greeted by the friendly cabin crew and a wide selection of newspapers in both German and English. Onboard, the economy cabin was in a 2x4x2 configuration and had grey leather seats. The aircraft seemed in very good condition, considering it’s not the newest kid on the block, and had a good, clean feel inside. We pushed back on time and left stand about five minutes later once engines had been started and the safety demonstration completed.
We made our way to the departure runway, and I noticed that the main wing flaps had not been set, but instead just the forward slats. This seems standard practice on the A300, as I have seen it before on the Monarch Airlines airplanes, but I do wonder why a more effective take-off wouldn’t be achieved with the benefit of the main flaps.
Photo © David Unsworth
Photo © Oliver Brunke
Take off and climb out was smooth and fairly quick, and we made our way into the sunset. Fairly soon the crew came round and served a light snack, which consisted of a candy bar and a drink, but was adequate for the 55-minute flight.
The crew cleared away empty drinks and other trash as descent into Frankfurt began. It was now night outside with scattered clouds and light winds out the west. Our approach into Frankfurt was mostly smooth, although the flaps and gear are quite noisy on this aircraft. We made a nice landing on runway 25R and proceeded quickly to our stand. I now had a fifty minute connection to make.
Lufthansa Flight 4856
Route: Frankfurt/Main International (FRA), Germany to Manchester (MAN), United Kingdom
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200
Scheduled Departure Time: 9:45pm
Scheduled Arrival Time: 10:25pm
Well I made it. Just! I settled into my seat with a copy of the Financial Times and a red face from the mad dash I had made on monorails and through long terminals. Again, this was a fully booked flight but Lufthansa’s admirable efficiency meant that this wouldn’t delay departure in any way. However, at 9:44pm, one minute before scheduled pushback, the captain announced that some “last-minute” baggage was being swiftly loaded into the hold. I took a good guess it was mine.
We did leave stand shortly afterward and started up the engines. The flaps were configured for take-off and with a slight push of power we began a leisurely taxi to runway 25R. One question to frequent A320 flyers out there, is the airplane hollow? I fly the A330 repeatedly and don’t find that I hear all the workings beneath me with such transparency and detail. Or perhaps I have very sensitive ears.
We passed an Emirates A330-200 parked at the gate being readied for its red-eye flight back to Dubai, and lots of Lufthansa Boeing 737s. We soon taxied onto 25R and made an immediate departure into the night sky. Much of Europe was blessed with clear skies tonight; so much of our route featured clear views of the twinkling towns and cities some few miles below.
Photo © Stephan Tophoven
The drinks trolley started the rounds, along with a light snack in the form of a (rather nice) cheese sandwich. Around fifty minutes after take-off we began our descent into Manchester. True to form, the weather was not so good here. A zesty cocktail of strong, blustery surface winds out of the south and overcast skies were forecast for our arrival. This, I thought, would give me the perfect opportunity to see how well the ‘automatic’ Airbus performs in awkward conditions.
We broke out of the cloud layers during the ILS interception phase and were banking hard left over Greater Manchester. On our final approach for runway 24R I could see the wings banking quite hastily, but the autothrottles were keeping the power very steady. We made an extremely smooth landing (don’t Airbuses land beautifully?!) and rolled out without reverse thrust, exiting the runway by the Aviation Viewing Park.
We made our way to the Terminal 1 gates area and parked alongside a Monarch A320 and very near the sumptuous Radisson SAS Hotel where I’d stayed just one week earlier. Splendid hotel, by the way. On the whole, I am very pleased with Lufthansa’s short-haul service and it is definitely an airline I would recommend.