I arrived at the airport parking at 6:20. The queues at the check-in desks at Brussels airport were very long everywhere, especially for Virgin Express whose passengers were filling half of the main departure hall. I quickly decided for an automatic check-in machine. From the 30 seats in business class, only 2 aisle seats were still free. I selected 5D. Than started the long walk to gate A61. The queue at the baggage scanner was immense. It took 15 minutes to get through. When I arrived there, boarding was almost completed. I sat in my seat at 6:55. The plane, a Boeing 737-300 registered D-ABEA, had arrived in Brussels the night before. The load factor was 100% (so why decrease the price?). Seating in business was 2-2, normal 3-3 seat configuration with the middle seat always empty; the Recaro seats could be changed to a wider 3-2 configuration, but this had not been done.
Photo © Chris Sheldon
D-ABEA landing on 25R in Frankfurt
We left the gate 10 minutes because of late passengers (the queues!). Take-off from 25R was delayed a further 5 minutes by ... a queue. Service started soon after take-off. Not less than 3 stewards were serving in business. The breakfast consisted of a fruit salad (melon and strawberries), a camembert sandwich, a chocolate muffin and a Kelloggs Frosties cereal bar. As for drinks, I asked for orange juice (in a glass) and coffee (in a plastic cup); the fork, knife and spoon were also plastic (not really business-like). Arrival in Frankfurt was 10 minutes late at 8:15. The plane docked at Gate A42, the farthest away in Terminal 1A, which meant a 15 minute walk over more than one km (you can check!) to get out of the airport.
For the return flight I was booked on LH4586, etd 17:00, also a Boeing 737-300. However, I arrived early at the airport, and my business class ticket allowed me to change to the earlier flight (only 40 minutes earlier: the LH monopoly has made it a policy to gridlock all slots to Brussels at every time of the day, in order to block any possible competition). I thus tried to change my ticket on an automatic machine. It did not work: the machine swallowed my LH FF card. I had to call a supervisor to open the machine and retrieve my card. I than went to a ticket counter, where a friendly lady changed my reservations to LH4586, a Boeing 737-500 registered D-ABIA, etd 16:20. I got seat 3A. I had again to walk 15 minutes through the whole length of terminal 1A to gate A40. I had my daily dose of exercise today...
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
D-ABIA taxiing in Frankfurt
Business class was pretty full, with some 16 people for 18 seats. Seating was the same 2-2 as in the morning flight, normal 3-3 seat configuration with the middle seat always empty. Take-off was on time. A snack was served: a vegetable salad, a veal sandwich and strawberries. With that I had a glass of white wine served from the bottle and a glass of still water. The glasses were in glass, but the cutlery was plastic again. Service by 2 stewardesses was smiling.
After landing on 25L, arrival at the gate in Brussels was 5 minutes early. Although we docked at a gate in Terminal A, we were bussed to the main building, which was nice because it avoids walking through half of the Terminal and the endless tunnel from terminal A to the main building. A notice in the main building said that all passengers from Munich and Frankfort were transferred that way for 'security reasons'. I wonder which ones, as I did not see any control.
The 30 euros over economy provide some advantages, but is it worth this amount?