Sorry for the mistakes but it's very late now, I will check my spelling tomorrow after I wake up.
It was finally time to get home, after a long journey in Europe. After talking to some friends on the net, I started to really look forward to this flight – it was 35 degrees Celsius in Buenos Aires, while Holland made us enjoy temperatures below freezing.
A friend of mine drove me to the airport, where we arrived at 5 pm. I still had an hour to check-in and pass security, but when I arrived to the Lufthansa counters the ugly agent at the Business Class counter told me “Haven’t you noticed your flight has been cancelled?” She alleged weather reasons, but it was sunny in Amsterdam, and climate is always about the same in the Netherlands and western Germany.
Anyway, I went the Lufthansa Sales counter, where they would rebook me into another flight. The first lady greeted me with a Dutch-accented “Didn’t you realize I’m busy?” Ok, what a wonderful way to handle passengers that paid your salary, I thought, but after a few moments the agent next to her told me to proceed to his counter. Contrary to his colleague, this man was really nice and told me all rebooking possibilities – since my connecting time was actually very long, I could catch the following flight to Frankfurt, or try Alitalia via Rome. I decided to remain with Lufthansa, and asked him to put me in their next flight, which he did. He apologized for the problems, and asked me to go back to the check-in area.
I went to an Economy Class check-in which was free at that time. The Caribbean-looking, young girl was very sympathetic, and sent my luggage all the way to Buenos Aires, and gave me both boarding passes.
Security was empty, so it took no time to pass through it. I then walked to the Globe Ground lounge, where I handed the lady my boarding pass and my Senator card. She made a note of both and welcomed me to the lounge. The place was almost empty, and I took a Daily Telegraph and a Sprite before seating in one of the comfortable couches.
Amsterdam’s Globe Ground lounge is painted in a nice BMI style. Predominant colours are blue and white, with some brown from the different wood furnitures. The television sets show the next BMI departures, all to London Heathrow airport.
There was no “real” food offered, just some Lay’s chips. Beverage selection consisted on sodas and some juices. The champagne was actually from Luxembourg and the red wine didn’t look very appealing. Free magazines and newspapers were available, mainly from Britain, Germany and Holland.
After finishing my Daily Telegraph I decided to grab a bite at the nearby Burger King. Fast-food chains are the only places were you can have a decent-prised meal at Schiphol. I had a medium menu which was less than five euros, and installed myself in a table with a great view of the D-pier. Of course blue and white were the dominant colours, but there also were a BMI and a BMI Baby planes visible. It was sunset, so the scenery was somewhat surrealistic – gorgeous dark skies with lots of planes coming in and out every few minutes. On the table next to me, a KLM crew was constantly laughing and chatting while waiting for their next flight.
I bought two newspapers at a newsstand before heading for the B-pier. Through the window I could already see an Airbus A320 just arriving from Frankfurt, and parking at Gate B09 – That plane would later carry me to Germany, I thought.
I walked by the pier before going to my gate. I saw a couple of Iberia A320s waiting for their flights to Madrid, a Transavia 737-700 boarding to somewhere in the Mediterranean (don’t remember exactly) and a Lufthansa Regional CRJ to Munich, still carrying the old Eurowings scheme.
I relaxed and started reading one of my newspapers, and a couple of minutes later boarding begun. There was no priority boarding, so the whole crowd rushed to the gate, which made the whole procedure quite chaotic. I remained seated for a while until most of the passengers had boarded, and only then I did it.
Lufthansa LH 4681
Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) to Frankfurt Rhein-Main (FRA)
Estimated/Actual departure time: 19:50/20:10 (GMT +1)
Estimated/Actual arrival time: 21:00/21:20 (GMT +1)
Seat 11C – Economy class, aisle
After exchanging some “Guten Abend” with the crew, I went straight onto my seat 11C. My neighbour was already seated. We said hello to each other and went boarding was completed both of us invaded the empty middle seat with our respective books, newspapers and magazines.
While taxiing to the runway, security announcements were done in German and English. A pre-recorded tape repeated them, I guess by mistake, in Greek. We exchanged looks with my neighbour, while the speakers repeated an “Efharisto” (Greek for thank you) for flying with Lufthansa and the Star Alliance. A few minutes later, they placed the correct Dutch-speaking disk, this time saying “Dank u wel” for having chosen them.
Service started immediately after we reached our cruising attitude. It consisted on the now classical ridiculously small, brown-bread, cheese-and-lettuce sandwich. I tried to remember the last good sandwich I enjoyed while flying that route, but my memory failed to tell me. It must have been ages ago.
While I was drinking my Diet Coke, the first officer told us the routing and the local temperature in Frankfurt. He repeated the same in English and surprisingly in Dutch. It is the very first time I hear a Lufthansa employee speaking in Dutch, and I thought it was a nice touch for local passengers.
We flew over Haarlem, downtown Amsterdam and Utrecht before leaving the Netherlands by Venlo. Then it was straight over Mönchengladbach, Cologne, Bonn, Wiesbaden and finally Frankfurt, where we smoothly landed with a 20-minute delay.
We parked at outside position V109, but thankfully two busses were already waiting to drive us to the terminal. There was also special mini van for passengers going to Amman, who apparently were about to miss their connection.
Passport control took no time, and once at the ultra-Schengen side I walked all the way to gate B26, from where tonight’s flight to São Paulo and Buenos Aires was leaving.
After waiting for a free agent, I decided to try my luck and see whether I could get a free upgrade. The old lady was very nice, and told me there was no possibility for a free upgrade to Business Class. Nonetheless, she said, I could use one of my free upgrade vouchers. “Upgrade vouchers? I thought those could be used only when you paid Economy full-fare!”, I replied.
Lufthansa gifted me with two upgrade vouchers when I became a Senator member a few months ago. The Senator brochure clearly stated that “upgrade vouchers can be redeemed only when the passenger has paid a full-fare, Y-class ticket”.
I asked her again if it was true, and after she said yes I requested her to please redeem one right now. She did so, assigned me seat 26C (an aisle, as demanded), printed the new boarding pass and wished me a very nice flight.
I walked upstairs to the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge (the First Class Lounge was too crowded) and had a Fanta Orange while making a couple of phone calls.
Back to the main floor, I went to our gate and boarded. The man asked to see my boarding card and my passport, which I showed him. When he saw mine was an upgrade, he smiled and told me “Some people are just lucky. Have a nice trip!”. Overall I found Frankfurt personnel to be much nicer than their Amsterdam counterparts, but I don’t know the reason.
Lufthansa LH 502
Frankfurt Rhein-Main (FRA) to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) via São Paulo Guarulhos (GRU)
Estimated/Actual time of departure: 22:45/23:45 (GMT +1)
Estimated/Actual time of arrival to GRU: 07:00/06:40 (GMT –2)
Estimated/Actual time of departure at GRU: 08:00/07:50 (GMT –2)
Estimated/Actual time of arrival at EZE: 09:45/09:15 (GMT –3)
Seat 26C – Business Class, aisle (then switched to 26A, Biz, window)
Boarding commenced with First and Business Class passengers and HON Circle and Senator members. I went to the dedicated jetway for Biz and First, where again I exchanged a couple of “Guten Abend”, and was directed to my seat. I picked a magazine from the wide selection they offer, and a flight attendant told me to also get an Argentine newspaper. I then took a La Nación and, finally, sat down at my place.
While taxiing to the runway, a security video was played on the TV sets in German and Portuguese, with a small preview in English. No Spanish version, but the Portuguese voice spoke so clearly that I believe no Spanish speaker had had trouble understand it.
Actually, we did not taxi to the runway but to one of Lufthansa Technik hangars – the Captain explained on the loudspeakers that one of the wing lights was not working, and they wanted to fix it before leaving. This wouldn’t mean we would arrive delayed at Guarulhos, because we would catch up once on the air.
Since the seat next to me remained empty, I decided to move to the window seat. I used the other one as a table, and put all my stuff there.
We took off exactly one hour after the scheduled departure time, and after reaching 30.000ft the crew handed hot towels and menus. A few moments later, a flight attendant came to see whether I had made my choice.
As a cocktail, I asked the male purser for a gin tonic.
I had a salad with some vegetables, shrimps and grapefruits as a starter. My main course was a lamb with some potatoes and another salad and a small soup.
The salad was simply excellent, the best I have had in years onboard of a plane. The lamb was average, though.
Another flight attendant passed with a cart full of desserts after dinner, and I had a chocolate cheesecake. She then asked me “Don’t you want some fruit salad, too?” I couldn’t refuse. Both the cheesecake and the fruit salad were very nice.
During the whole dinner, my glass of white Chardonnay was kept full, and I even had to ask her twice to please don’t fill it anymore. I had a Portuguese Port Whine (Oporto) after dinner, which was a very nice way to close this sort of banquet in the skies.
Needless to say, after this delicious dinner with great wine and spirits I slept for almost seven hours and a half. I once woke up thirsty and the purser was just passing by with water and orange juice.
The 747-400 still features the old Lufthansa Business Class, but if you are a regular Economy passenger you cannot complain. The seat reclines very nicely and the legroom is also good. Having my MP3 player with me, I didn’t check the audio program, but from what I read in the on-board magazine, it looked just average.
I woke up just a couple of minutes before breakfast started, at 5:30 am São Paulo time, while flying over northern Brazil. Breakfast was ok, consisting on a cheese omelette, a fruit salad, a yoghurt and some hot bread. As usual I had pure black coffee, and the flight attendant looked quite surprised when I told her I don’t have sugar or milk with it. With breakfast the crew also gave us the immigration forms for Brazil and Argentina.
I watched a documentary from the Discovery Channel on my Personal TV before we started our approach towards Guarulhos airport. Before landing we were showed a movie from the “Receita Federal” (Brazilian Tax Authority) telling people how to fill in their immigration and customs forms (“formulários de migrações e alfândegas”). The video was recorded inside a Varig Business Class cabin.
Today’s route: we flew over Paris to finally leave France by Brittany (Bretagne), then over the Bay of Biscay and Galicia. Northern Portugal was the last European place we flew over. Then it was all over the Atlantic, over the Canaries, Açores and Cape Verde, to finally enter South America by Fortaleza, Brazil. We went over Goiânia, Brasilia and finally Belo Horizonte, before starting approaching to São Paulo.
Landing at Guarulhos was average. We connecting passengers were not allowed to leave the plane, and had to remain onboard while cleaning was done. About ½ of the passengers left in São Paulo.
I had a small nap while Swissport agents cleaned the plane, and also saw through the window arriving 2 Varig 777-200s, 1 British Airways 747-400 (continuing later to Buenos Aires) and 1 Lufthansa A340-600 (continuing later to Santiago de Chile).
Just five passengers boarded in São Paulo for our last leg to Buenos Aires. The new crew was integrated by Spanish-speaking, German-looking flight attendants. This time the security announcement was showed in German and in Spanish, with the short English preview.
The rest of the flight was quite uneventful, flying over southern Brazil (Porto Alegre), central Uruguay (San José de Mayo) to finally cross the River Plate (Río de la Plata) and landing at Ezeiza.
We had a second breakfast, consisting on a sort of sweet apple pancake, a fruit salad, strawberry yoghurt and again hot bread. Everything was fine.
We landed at Ezeiza about half an hour in advance, and taxi was very quick. The airport was completely empty, so passport control took no time. My luggage appeared one of the first (wow, the Senator and Priority tags weren’t ignored this time!), and customs also was done in a breeze.
Well, this was my Lufthansa Business Class experience. I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for reading. Questions and comments are of course more than welcome!