After a loooooong year without holiday I decided to book a relaxing trip to the Caribbean. Having booked a hotel on a pretty remote hotel off the Yucatan Coast, I looked for a comfortable way to get there an made my mind up to try Condor’s – Lufthansa Charter affiliate – Comfort Class. Booking was quite easy via our company network – and off I went.
How I hate getting up soooo early – it was 4 a.m when the alarm started. But anyway, my holiday waited for me and so I was in a rather good mood. As it had started snowing, driving to the airport was a bit slow but we managed to get there in time, arriving at HAJ at 5 a.m for the 6.05 departure.
After having got my bag scanned in no time, checking in at the LH First Class Counter was performed by a young friendly LH agent within seconds and I received my boarding passes for both the short hop to FRA and the connecting flight to CUN. Now it was time to wave good bye to my wife. The Screener at security had a problem with my trolley – so I had to open it. It took some minutes to find out that a metal pen was the thing this guy was looking for….No more problems then and off I went to have a brief look at the LH Frequent Traveller Lounge. I just arrived there when it opened at 5:30, enjoyed a nice Latte Macchiato and got some local newspapers. Just before leaving for my flight, I asked the lady running the lounge about my arrival and departure gates at FRA. This was when I first got a bit concerned about my trip – I was told that my FRA departure for CUN was delayed from 09:25 to 15:10. I still was not too troubled and headed to gate 5 for my departure to FRA.
20 November 2004
Hannover (HAJ) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa LH 1001
c/n 24944 delivered to LH 23.05.1991
scheduled 06:05 – 07:00
off block 06:03
on block 06:57
Seat 09A Economy ( emergency exit )
Photo © Jussi Kettunen
Photo © Paul Jongeneelen
Boarding started at 05:50. As I entered the a/c, I was greeted by an busy all female crew in their late 20’s / early 30’s. It took not look until boarding was completed on this baby bird as there were only 28 passengers in economy and 4 passengers in business. Next to our a/c there were A320 D-AIPZ “Erfurt” and B733 D-ABEE “Ulm” waiting for their trips to MUC and FRA. Doors were closed at 06:00, there was a short security briefing, although there was snow and ice around, no de-icing was conducted and off we went at 06:03. We were heading to runway 27R, there was a rolling start and within 30 seconds this light load war rocketed into the dark snowy sky. During flight, no information from the cockpit was given – this recently happened to me too on my last LH flights to and from MUC – a bit sad but well, sometimes pilots are not that talkative
I had a look at my newspapers and got a cup of water, service was efficient and friendly, my cup of water served smiling. I know that fellow a.netters won’t believe that but I’m mostly lucky with my LH crews up to now
Touch Down was at 06:47 on Runway 25L and although FRA seemed not too busy on that early Saturday morning, we had no gate position but were parked pretty remote on stand V114 – which meant being bussed to terminal A. No problem for me because I spotted some nice birds like TAP A319 CS-TTF, Royal Brunei B763 V8-RBN, Aero Flight A321 D-ARFB, Cathay B744 B-HUB, Yemenia A310 F-OGYO, Thai B744 HS TGF, Singapore B744 9V-SMS, United B772 N769UA and Delta B763 N187DN
Problems started when I arrived at the terminal. First of all it was pretty busy loads of passengers strolling around – I was heading for the Condor gate to get some news about the flight which meant that I had to get upstairs to the Non Schengen floor. Unfortunately, there was no one staffing the Condor gate. Then I tried my luck at the Lufthansa Frequent Traveller Lounge. It was pretty busy and an obviously overworked elder female LH employee only barked at passengers and was pretty rude…. At least she provided me with the information were I should find Condor in the Check In area to obtain further information…..
Finally I fought my way to the Condor information desk only to find about 20 fellow travellers waiting for news – and 3 young Condor females chatting with each other and not paying attention to the crowd. To annoy us even more, one of the girls grabbed her bag, waved goodbye to her colleagues and left…:-o
As we got a bit louder, one of the remaining girls finally gave us the information that due to a birdstrike, our planned a/c was still sitting in Holguin (Cuba) and departure would be delayed until about 15:10. A brunch would be provided by Condor at the nearby Steigenberger Airport Hotel – but not before at 10:30… That was when some people got seriously pissed off because it was just 8:00.
No problem for me, I made my way to the monorail connecting Terminal 1 with Terminal 2, jumped on the train and headed for the food court at Terminal 2 which gave me about two hours of spotting because the food court offers big windows overlooking the two arrival runways.
At about 10:00 I headed back to Terminal 1, took the hotel shuttle and was having my brunch at the Airport Hotel. Food was decent, the dining room was crowded by heaps of tired looking fellow travellers – and so I left pretty soon after having filled my tummy.
Back at the airport I checked the departures only to discover that my flight was still delayed until about 15:10 – but as the weather cleared up a bit, I took to opportunity to visit the observation area at Terminal 1A, there was even no problem to enter with my trolley Even as it was pretty cold – I only wore a light fleece jacket – and windy, I stayed outside for about one hour to have closer looks of the runways and the tarmac. I even spotted D-ABIU, the a/c I arrived with, leaving FRA after having stayed the whole morning at FRA.
Later I decided to warm up a bit at the LH lounge, enjoying a nice freshly brewed latte and some water. At about 14:30 I headed to my gate A52 which was close to the lounge only to find it busy in action to check boarding cards and doing the pre flight passenger checks. Interestingly, the staff even did sell successfully upgrades into comfort class – originally, only 18 of 24 seats were booked but they managed to sell 6 upgrades of € 500 o/w each
Soon boarding started, but to my surprise, there was no pre boarding for Comfort Class, the boarding was started with the last rows and Comfort Class was boarding last.
20 November 2004
Frankfurt (FRA) – Cancun (CUN)
Condor DE 6156
c/n 25209 delivered to DE 30.07.1991
scheduled 09:25 – 14:10
off block 15:08
on block 19:25
Photo © Dario Crusafon - IBERIAN SPOTTERS
Photo © Markus Buttinger
I was one of the last passengers to board this flight and was greeting by a very friendly female purser. Unfortunately all the overhead lockers were already full. I also discovered that they were mostly occupied by Condor items (blankets, pillows, safety kit, newspapers, a/v system) so I had to put my trolley in a locker way back….
A tropical cocktail made of fruit juices and prosecco was appreciated by me as I settled into my seat making myself comfortable.
There were news from the cockpit – first of all a further small delay occurred because one bulb had to be replaced. Then the captain told more about the mishap – during landing at Holguin our planned aircraft had received a severe birdstrike and was about to be repaired. For that reason, the flight to CUN had to be delayed as there was no spare a/c in the Condor fleet and the a/c we were flying with had just arrived from Porlamar / Venezuela. Finally, this information was as detailed and informative as it should have been!
Doors were closed at 15:00 and we were off block at 15:08. Newspapers / magazines were handed out and we received a nice gift – a writing case filled with a pen, a pad and some toiletries. During the roll an animated safety video, both dubbed in German and English was showed and newspapers / magazines were handed out. Soon after our powerful take off started and rocketed us after about 40 seconds into the sky which was covered with scattered clouds.
Routing for this flight was starting in southerly direction, turning right, crossing the river Rhine, heading for Luxembourg, Reims, passing Paris, leaving the continent at about Nantes, then cruising the Atlantic ocean, passing New Foundland, along the US Coast down south, crossing Florida, leaving US airspace at Key West, crossing the Gulf of Mexico, passing CUN from the south.
About 45 minutes into the flight, menus were handed, each passenger received a red rose and a first beverage service started. After all the hassle I treated myself with some nice bubbly champagne. Soon after our purser asked about our meal preferences and soon after dinner started.
The choices were:
Smoked Nori salmon fillet on wasabi sauce
Mixed vegetable terrine with artichoke mousse and pesto salad
Porcine flavoured roastbeef with chanterelles
Mixed salad with toasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil dressing
Panfried breast of barberie duck on cassis sauce
Fried potato noodles with creamed savoy cabbage
Apricot Chutney and spicy tomato coulis
Sauteed halibut fillet on a curry and lemongrass sauce
With mango and papaya chutney, coriander basmati rice
Coconut-lentil vegetable and sugar snap peas
Truffle tortellini on porcine mushroom cream sauce
With wild mushroom ragout and toasted pine kernels
Assorted cheese offered from the service cart
Bread, Roll, Butter
a combination of white and dark chocolate mousse
stuffed with fresh raspberries
Coffee, Tea, Digestif
It was a really nice dinner which took me about 1 ½ hours to enjoy, everything was tasty and even the halibut I choose was not as dry as I had thought. Having finished dinner I chose Calvados as Digestif and dug into my seat, making this long eleven hour flight as comfortable as possible.
Seat comfort, well, what can I say… Compared to a real business class, the Condor seats are a bit outdated, seat pitch is at about 125 cm which is rather ok but recline is a bit poor. Anyway, during the flight while I was passing the curtain to ramble around economy, I decided to try economy seating – but it only took some seconds to consider it inhuman Such a flight in economy, noooooooo way!!!!
Back on my seat a 500ml bottle of Evian water was waiting for me, but the crew also was asking about drinking wishes regularly. Also a nice piece of cake was offered and while some passengers declined, I got two
Entertainment was rather poor, instead of the portable dvd players which were shown in the inflight magazine for comfort class, there was only the usual monitor based program which – by the way – was rather boring.
So I decided to read my newspapers and dozing for a while…after which I filled out my entry form for Mexico.
About 90 minutes prior to landing, a snack was served. Contrary to the dinner, the snack was rather poor and I have no idea how catering experts even considered serving Chinese spring rolls inflight. It simply was disgusting!!!
Finally, at about 18:40 our descent into Cancun started, soon the well lit coastline appeared and we were passing through clouds which gave some kind of a strange atmosphere as they were some black and some white ones looking a bit threatening…..
Touch down was at 19:15 but it took us some 10 minutes to get to the terminal, passing B767s F-GLOV of blue Panorama and CC-CGN of LAN
Connecting the aerobridge was taking some times with no visible reason but finally we were able to leave the aircraft at about 19:30 to get a short glance of the hot and humid Mexican air. Immigration was rather quick and friendly as we were the only aircraft arriving at this time.
Collecting the luggage was a pain in the a**, it took ages because there were sniffing dogs and military staff around to check every piece of luggage. We were able to see this because the luggage collecting area is ground floor and there are large windows to watch the tarmac activity. Only about 20 pieces of luggage were once put on the conveyor belt, were sniffed and then delivered to the public – fortunately I had a priority sticker and so I was one of the lucky ones to leave the scene after only about 45 minutes – customs clearance was a matter of seconds and I finally left the airport at about 20:30.
But still no holiday – first I had to find my transfer, chatted with some colleagues and then started my three hour trip to Holbox island by car and speedboat, finally falling in my bed at 00:15
To be continued
[Edited 2004-12-30 13:47:47]