dba started a twice daily service between Nuremberg and Dusseldorf in April using Fokker 100 aircraft on lease from Germania. I still needed that type and so I decided to combine a fun ride with some spotting at DUS. At the end of July I searched for mid-August flights and found out a same-day return trip on Wednesdays would be available for 101 Euro including tax. All other days would have been more expensive by different amounts. However, traffic at DUS on Wednesdays is not as exciting as on other days – so what to do in order to keep the budget low? Go to Aldi!
German supermarket discounter Aldi and dba had started a major promotion the day before, selling one-way flight coupons for 49,99 Euro, valid for the whole dba network (except Moscow and Tiflis). While the coupons were sold out almost immediately in larger cities I didn’t have to worry in my home region. There were plenty of coupons left and I bought two of them. That’s how these dba eCoupons look like:
They were quite easy to use: I just had to uncover a personal code, search for a flight where the so-called “Spartarif” (= saver fare) was available, enter the code and confirm the booking. It was a five minutes-deal and worked fine. In contrast to Air Berlin’s promotion some weeks ago there were almost no restrictions. One could book immediately and take a flight the next day theoretically. And saver fares are available almost all the time. So I chose a Thursday departure for the following week already which would have cost me 141 Euro at the day of reservation. In the end I saved 40 Euro and didn’t have to wait some more weeks – not bad at all.
Later I started a thread about a possible A.net-meeting at DUS on that day and surprisingly several well-known forum members agreed to come!
04. August 2005
Nürnberg (NUE) – Düsseldorf (DUS)
dba DI 7763
D-AGPI (c/n 11310), first delivered 07/1990 (to US Air as N866US)
Photo © Kai-jens Meyer
Photo © Keith Blincow
I arrived at NUE one hour prior to departure and found myself being the one and only to check in at that time. A friendly agent welcomed me and immediately asked for window or aisle. I said “window” and (in order to avoid sitting next to the engine) added “in the rear section, but not the last two rows please.” He looked puzzled at first but then handed out the boarding pass with seat 16F.
Before passing through security I had a look at the observation deck but as expected there wasn’t much action. The usual DHL Air B757 (G-BIKF this morning) was parked next to Eurowings ATR72-200 D-ANFA. Its titles were removed so most likely it gets prepared for its new owner FedEx.
Security was fast and efficient and after sitting down at the gate D-AGPI arrived from DUS. It is still painted in Germania colors together with 11 other aircraft (out of a total of 12).
I counted some 40 passengers disembarking which is not a big load for a morning flight aimed at business travelers. Boarding started on time and I was welcomed by a friendly cabin crew. Various newspapers and magazines were available, I chose a “Süddeutsche” and walked down to my row. Though the ceiling seems to be the same since1990, the leather seats are really comfortable and there’s la lot of legroom. Load was around 60% with mostly business travelers on board. The middle seat in my row remained empty and so I could enjoy the additional space.
Parked next to us is D-ABBO, a B737-800 of Air Berlin – by far the most frequent operator at NUE.
We left the gate a bit late and started a rather long take off roll, followed by a unspectacular climb out. Visible below us shortly after lifting off is an area called the “Knoblauchland” (= garlic land).
Countless garlic fields are located around NUE – how good I couldn’t smell that awful stuff up there in my plane…
I found the The F100’s buzzing engine sound a bit disturbing, even after reducing power. But well, still better than any prop. After reaching cruise altitude I got used to it.
Before cabin service was started I had a look at dba’s inflight magazine “on time”. It’s well made and includes interesting stories. Rudolf Wöhrl who once bought dba for one Euro from British Airways and who has successfully turned around the long-time struggling airline wrote the intro. Interestingly he mentions the recent argument with Germania owner Dr. Hinrich Bischoff and refers to different opinions on the airline’s future strategy. Wöhrl says he wants to continue offering a quality product which costs passengers about 5 Euro more compared to “no-frills”. His quote: “That’s the price if dba is to be “die beste Airline” (= the best airline) instead of “die billigste Airline” (= the cheapest airline). At the end he makes a quite funny suggestion: “If you feel that my staff and myself are mistaken, then please feel free to refuse the delicious dba chocolate heart on leaving after your flight!”
More details on dba’s strategy and their board service as well as some more of Wöhrl’s quotes can be found in another thread I started recently:
Head Of Germany's DBA Strictly Opposes "no-frills" (by Udo Aug 8 2005 in Civil Aviation)
Meanwhile the F/As had arrived at my seat and took my order. I chose a (freshly brewed) Jacobs coffee and a pretzel stick (Laugenstange). It wasn’t crisp but not bad – and definitely better than getting a coffee only. I asked for plenty of sugar which was handed over in an additional cup. Note the sentence on the napkin, saying: “Schön, dass Sie heute bei uns sind!” (= ”Nice to have you on board today!”). Just another example for dba’s personal attitude towards passengers.
The flight continued uneventful and soon we approached “Dusseldorf International” as the airport is officially called. After landing we were bussed to the terminal and while passing an Onur Air MD-88 some people started joking about it immediately. So much for the airline’s reputation…
I arrived at Terminal B and took a SkyTrain ride to the train station where one of the two observation decks is located.
Spotting & A.net-Meeting
The observation deck on top of the train station is a great place, especially when all arriving and departing traffic has to pass the facility. Some highlights were several Turkish carriers, including extremely new AtlasJet A320 TC-OGP (originally destined for JetStar Asia), Nordic Regional MD-90 and Volga-Dnepr An-124. Here’s Mahan Air A310-300 F-OJHI, bound for Teheran:
At around 12 Frank (Leskova) arrived on his special flights from Hannover (flight numbers 2A 24306 and 2A 944) and the official A.net-meeting had started. An hour later Frederik (DTManiac) called, asked for our location and joined us. Finally, Patrick (Sabena332) arrived later in the afternoon. We had very interesting discussions about all kinds of topics and everyone had one ore more funny travel story to tell.
That’s us from left to right: myself, Frederik (DTManiac), Patrick (Sabena332) and Frank (Leskova):
As assumed earlier by other members on the forum, we indeed had some “anti-discussions” about a German flag carrier (including hot issues such as lack of PTVs, Miles&Less and non-existent on board service).
However, results and conclusions as well as our future strategies won’t be disclosed here and now …just watch out for our replies to the next related discussions on the forum!
Btw, Emirates A6-ERQ shows what a FIFA World Cup 2006 special paintjob should look like…as opposed to the “ideas” of a certain other carrier from the country where the world cup actually will take place…
All the bashing and bitching cost a lot of energy and so we decided to have some hamburgers at McCalories at Terminal C.
Then the big moment had come: it was time for a historic “Bavaria-North Rhine-Westphalia beer swap”. I had brought a “Hösl Weißbier Resi” wheat beer from my hometown while Patrick hat brought both a “Schwelmer Alt” and a “Fiege Pils” from his home. Frank took some pictures to preserve that moving moment for our offspring.
On the way to the observation deck at Terminal B I stopped at a dba counter in order to check in for my return flight. Again, the agent was friendly and immediately asked “aisle or window?” I said the same as in the morning and surprisingly got exactly the same seat again (16F).
Five minutes later we arrived at the observation deck at Terminal B for some further spotting. Frederik had to leave first, and shortly afterwards it was also time for me to go. The dba Fokker 100 for my flight had just arrived and – as expected – it was D-AGPI again. I found out it operates a DUS-Moscow/DME-DUS round trip in between the Nuremberg legs.
04. August 2005
Düsseldorf (DUS) – Nürnberg (NUE)
dba DI 7764
D-AGPI (c/n 11310), first delivered 07/1990 (to US Air as N866US)
Photo © Dimitri Steendijk
Photo © Sebastian Vermehren
I said goodbye to Frank and Patrick and got in row for security. When I waited for my hand luggage at the checkpoint a screener suddenly turned around and said – appearing serious: “Sorry, but you cannot take these two bottles of beer!” I was a bit confused in the first moment until another screener added: “At least not in full condition!” I smelled the joke and answered: “Does it mean I have to drink up the bottles right now?” Reply: “No, we do that for you!” I said: “Come on, I really wanted to take home to Bavaria two bottles of North Rhine-Westphalia-beer!” The other one asked: “Who on earth would do anything like that?” And I replied: “Well, for the sake of international understanding!” Then they laughed and wished me a pleasant flight. Really cool guys!
Just like in the morning mostly business travelers entered the plane and load was even better now at around 70-75%. Again there was a choice of several newspapers and magazines, including Playboy! Interestingly it had a black cover without pictures, so I’m wondering if that’s the standard for the current issue?
I took my seat 16F and was glad the middle seat still remained empty after boarding had been completed. A lot of space around, seat pitch more than enough, even with sprawled leg:
While taxiing to the runway, the captain welcomed us on board and he made his speech in English – with distinct French accent. The take off run appeared quite long again, but climb was more enjoyable than in the morning thanks to a steep angle. Here’s a nice view of the Rhine River:
Drink and snack service started soon and I ordered a coke and pretzel sticks. They even asked if I prefer to get a lemon in the drink. The package of pretzel sticks was mid-sized and not as small as you usually receive on many carriers. Interestingly, the sticks are even designated as a “bio”-product.
Only some 40 minutes after take off we approached Nuremberg and touched down on runway 28. Here’s a view of NUE’s tower and Eurowings’ maintenance facility.
Of course I grabbed one of those chocolate hearts on leaving the aircraft and I can tell they are indeed delicious.
Conclusion I - A.net-meeting
What shall I say? The meeting was a total success, we had lots of fun and time passed really fast. Would be nice to see another one taking place soon! Further beer swaps included…
Conclusion II - dba
dba once more again impressed me with personal service and a quality product at reasonable fares. They are outstanding in the domestic market and not only there. Their approach of operating at low costs while offering more than a low cost carrier seems to work and I hope passenger keep supporting the airline and its growth.
The promotion together with Aldi was a good idea, especially because there are almost no restrictions in using the coupons. And no matter what some Irish CEOs brabble about that kind of promotions, customers certainly enjoy them.
dba – die bessere airline? Yes!