Anyhow - a friend and I decided to fly down to Mallorca for a weekend, catch a bit of sun and a few sights of the Almond trees in bloom, so I went searching through the obvious websites and found fligths with Hapag Lloyd and LTU: the flight to Mallorca, from Frankfurt, ended up costing us €54 per person, the flight back was €42.
The flights were quickly booked through the respective websites (after I had gone through several "last minute bookings" websites, as well as through the GDSs I have at work, without finding anything better), and while HLF only sent a confirmation by eMail, LTU also sent - several - confirmations by regular mail... the vegetarian meal for me was confirmed within minutes by HLF after I sent them an eMail, while LTU didn't reply to my eMail but only confirmed the meal request after I phoned them... and then followed up the confirmation by sending another two letters by regular mail - on top of the eMail that they also sent.
Departure: 04:20 / 28JAN @ FRA
Arrival: 06:30 / 28JAN @ PMI
Aircraft: Boeing B737-800, D-AHFA
Seats: 9C and 9D
Photo © Michael Wilmes
Photo © Jan Mogren
Ok... how did I get myself into this mess? A departure at 4:20 in the morning? I must have been drunk when I booked that... ... anyhow, we both ended up not sleeping that night, but drinking a bottle of wine, followed by two (quite large) cups of coffee, waiting for the taxi to the airport to arrive at 2:30. The whole evening of the 27th it had been snowing, so we were watching closely, but when it stopped snowing around midnight it was quite clear that we wouldn't be running into any problems.
The taxi ride to the airport ended up taking about 15 minutes, and cost about €30 - barely any traffic on the Autobahn... then again, who's awake at such an awful time of the day anyhow...
Check-In was quick, we got two aisle seats in the same row, went through security and arrived at the gate - only to notice that we still had about an hour until boarding... watching planes was no option, because at that time, there just aren't any planes moving around to watch. I ended up reading a bit, and I guess I must have dozed off for a few minutes, because I suddenly found my book on the floor - and a line forming for boarding.
On the plane, I tried to put my carry-on case into the overhead bin first, but that was full - so I tried the seat in front of me, but it didn't fit - and this is a carry-on that I got from Lufthansa specifically designed to be put under the forward seat... so I went back to looking for space in an overhead bin, and finally found space in row 13.
By the time that the boarding process was finished, 170 passengers were spread over the 189 seats on the plane - and while we were still on the ground, I started feeling a pain in my back... the seats were those quite modern Recaro seats, and they were uncomfortable as hell. The fact that the passenger sitting next to me filled about 10 to 20% of my seat as well also didn't help... regarding the pitch - it was quite cramped, but for the two hour hop to Mallorca, and especially at the fare I paid, I really don't mind all that much.
So there we were, waiting for the plane to start moving, but nothing happened... at least not until about 4:30, when the pilot announced that we'd be de-iced in a few minutes - it took another 5 minutes for that to start, and the whole process seems to have lasted about 5-10 minutes (although my mind may be playing tricks on me with that - I think my brain was shutting down more and more after around 22 hours of being awake, including a full day at work.
When all that was finished, the engines were started up and the plane taxied along the normal route along Terminal 1, the cargo apron towards runway 18 ("Startbahn West"), from which we took off - after a strangely long wait at the holding point - after a relatively short, but quite powerful, accelleration.
There was some turbulence after takeoff, but that didn't last long - and within minutes, the service started - breakfast was served, with a small delay for me because the crew couldn't locate my vegetarian meal at first: the tray included a roll, a pack of butter, some chese, a spicy vegetable-spread for the bread, a pack of dark bread, a yoghurt, some cake, and a pack of orange juice - coffee, tea and one other beverage came with that, depending on what you wanted.
The only other thing I remember was that I went to the forward lavatory and nearly got a bruise on my forehead: I have never seen an airplane lavatory with such a low ceiling before - at least not on anything larger than a regional-jet...
The rest of the flight was uneventful - no surprise there - and we touched down at Palma de Mallorca's Son Sant Joan Airport on runway 6L about 15 minutes behind schedule.
Overall, I'd book HLF again, especially if it's at a fare this low - but I'm going to do whatever I can to avoid departures earlier than 6:00 or 7:00.
By the way: D-AHFA was the 7th B737NG built, it was HF's first B737-800, and with that, it was the first B737-800 built and first flew on 31 July 1997.
Departure: 21:00 / 30JAN @ PMI
Arrival: 23:15 / 30JAN @ FRA
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200, D-ALTI
Seats: 9C and 9D
Photo © Sascha Kamrau
Photo © Stefan Welsch
On the return flight, we had a much more humane departure time - a time that gave us the whole day on the island and still got us back on the ground before midnight...
Since it was getting dark around 18:00, we decided to return the car a bit earlier than planned, proceed to check-in and then head towards the duty-free shop and a café.
That was the plan...
We dropped of the car just past 18:10, but when we got into the terminal, we found out that the check-in counter wouldn't even open until 19:00 - so we were back to waiting...
Anyhow, after somehow wasting the time away, the check-in counter finally opened up, we checked in, got two aisle seats again, and headed upstairs, where the duty free shop was hopelessly overcrowded. Since I had promised some friends that I'd be bringing along some cigarettes, got one or two other presents, paid and went to the security checkpoint...
... and almost got a nervous breakdown when I saw the queues: Air Berlin's evening PMI-hub-wave was just about to leave, so everybody and their families were standing in line...
... and looking at the monitor, I discovered that our flight was now delayed by 30 minutes.
Well, at least that took all pressure off of waiting in line - not that there was any to begin with, since we were there very early, but now we had more than plenty of time.
We ended up drinking a few more coffees, I read a bit, listened to a bit of music on my MP3 player, and then finally saw the plane taxi towards the gate just prior to our original departure time of 21:00.
The whole turnaround was accomplished quite efficiently, and boarding began at around 21:15 - and by 21:25 we were being pushed back.
In contrast to the plane on the outbound leg, this one was nowhere near full - I'd guess around 80-100 pax on the 176 seats.
The pitch was better than on HF, and the seats were much more comfortable, but the fact that we both had a 3-seat-bench for ourselves was probably a help in that as well. Anyhow, I moved over to the window seat, since it was available, and the middle seat remained empty throughout the flight.
The safety demonstration was, unlike normal operations on LTU, performed "live" - the video wasn't working, although the entertainment system itself worked fine.
After taxiing around the terminal, we soon arrived at the holding point of runway 6R, from which we took off heading towards Formentor and on towards France, Switzerland and into Germany.
Dinner was served a few minutes after we reached our cruising altitude, an altitude that I though was surprisingly high: 38000ft.
Again, just as on the outbound flight, the crew had misplaced my meal at first, but found it within a few minutes - it consisted of a cheese sandwich, a yoghurt as well as coffee or tea, an orange juice and, again, an extra cold drink.
The crew on this flight was in a quite good mood - joking around with passengers, so the impression of the crew on LTU that I got is better than the one I got on Hapag Lloyd... then again, I don't think being slighly grumpy before 5 in the morning while serving breakfast to somewhat grumpy passengers is that bad - I think it's rather understandable.
After dinner, I read a bit more, listened to some music and dozed a bit.
Our approach into Frankfurt was a bit bumpy, and there were lot's of clouds: I was able to see the stadium, but downtown was nowhere to be seen... we touched down on runway 25L around 30 minutes past our scheduled arrival time, then taxied past Terminal 1 all the way over to Terminal 2, where we parked at a gate just three gates away from a Qantas B747-400 preparing for it's flight to Australia.
Overall, given the choice, I'd prefer LTU over Hapag Lloyd on future flights - but the margin really isn't all that big... I'd also fly HLF again without a second thought about it.
The weekend was worth the money, and even if we got one of the coldest weekends Mallorca has seen in a long time, we at least missed the snow that fell there on Wednesday night...
The island itself was nice, as always, at least as long as you stay away from the typical tourist spots - it's a great place for a relaxing and refreshing weekend trip.
Ok - that's it... now I'll just see if I can find those notes I took during my flight on LX to BOS in October last year, then I might post another trip report... but I think I lost all those notes when I let the battery in my PDA run dry without recharging it...
I hope you enjoyed reading this a bit...