(Operated by Lufthansa Cityline)
Depart: 1715 (Actual: 1720)
Arrive: 2025 (Actual: 2020)
Avro RJ-85 D-AVRH
Photo © Michael Fritz
Photo © Braccini Riccardo - SpotIT
I arrived at Manchester with plenty of time to spare, despite delays on the M6 caused by torrential rain, and partly due to the fact my workplace is right next to the Lancaster junction. I parked in Carminder, as per usual, and was at Terminal 1 in minutes. I had checked in online the night before, and was instructed to go to the self check-in to pick up my boarding card. I arrived inside T1 to be greeted by chaos. Earlier in the day, a man had managed to get airside and onto the Apron outside T2; as a result there were delays and extra security measures. I managed to squeeze through the lines for security, and reached the LH check-in machines. I inserted my Visa card, and confirmed my flight details, before my tickets and receipt through to Malta were printed. I re-inserted my MAN-MUC sector boarding card, to try and change my seat. The seat map was brought up; the seat I wanted (in the rear of the plane where the seating is 2-3) was taken, so I accepted 8F as previously assigned. Next, I went to the LH desks to check my bag to MLA. There was a huge queue, so I gave that a miss and instead went to Level 13. On the ground were a few flights affected by the earlier bomb scare (Air Transat C-GITS, a Continental 762 and 2 MCO bound 742's), plus the regular MAN suspects - MON, FCA, Jet2. I didn't linger, as the thought of security lines made me very wary of delays.
I returned downstairs to find the queue I had seen earlier wasn't actually for LH; instead it had been a long bmiBaby queue which had snaked right around the LH queue lines. Oops. I went to a desk to be told that I shouldn't have used the machine to get my tickets. I argued I was only doing what I was told online, and was cjecked in without further ado. I also claimed my first bmi diamond miles, another reason to visit the desk. I then decided to join the queue for security. An hour (!!!) later I was through, and was by now very hungry, so after purchasing some Maltese Lira at Travelex, I ventured to burger king for a Chicken Royale.
Feeling content once again, I wandered to the large plate glass windows overlooking some of T1 and the maintenance hangars. Several ZB/MON flights were visible, along with bmiBaby and an Aer Lingus flight to DUB on stand 2, which seemed have a very healthy load. An Air Berlin B738 arrived also, as well as a BMI Regional ERJ-145 which was marshalled onto the new stand 100. Also of note, was a Flightline BAe-146 operating for BA Citiexpress, but carrying the colours of new Italian start-up Airsal.
I saw an LH RJ-85 arrive, and knew this was mine. I watched as it taxied around the far side of Pier B. Interestingly, the gate didn't appear on the departure board for quite a while, which I assume to be a result of the lack of space and facilities along Pier B, as it is shared with domestic departures and is thus 'split' along it's length to facilitate the separation of domestic and international passengers.
Once Gate 10 appeared on the monitors, I joined the flow of passengers heading that way, some of whom were business passengers, some who were heading off on the bmiBaby flight to Malaga, including a stag part of abour 30 people, who clearly hadn't wasted any time in getting the holiday off to a good start. I didn't envy the passengers or crew on that flight!
About 5 minutes after arriving at gate 10, we boarded. No children were on this flight; and it was also devoid of elserly and disabled passengers, so prioroty boarding was dispensed with. I was 4th through the gate, and boarded D-AVRH from the front stairs. I picked up an 'Independent' to read, and moved to my seat. I put my camera bag in front of me, under the seat, and started reading the paper, before starting on the Lufthansa magazine.
We pushed a little late. Unusually, we were pushed staright back, with the tail overhanging the grass behind us. Once engines were started, we simply performed a 90º turn onto the taxiway; which seemed an unusual procedure.
We taxied to 24L, and held short at VB1. We waited for about 30 seconds before lining up; oddly there was noting ahead, so I presume we were waiting for Airfield Ops to perform an inspection. Takeoff felt very powerful, but for an aircraft with STOL capability, we actually had a very long roll. We climed out on the HON departure, turning south and leaving the UK over Anglia, before cloud prevented any views.
The service started - we were offered a bagel with either ham or cheese. I opted for ham, followed by a beer. I read for most of the flight, until we started descent when the clouds cleared. We flew over FRA, which was very well lit, on a fairly shallow descent. We made several turns until we established on the ILS for 08L. During the approach, the throttles were well used, with several heavy increases in thrust due to the lack of autothrottle in the Avro. This continued until we were over the threshold, at which point power was shut off and we made a smooth landing on 08L We left the runway at A5, and taxied to the LH Regional apron, Stand 331 I think, via N4, N5 and O3, passing 6 Air Dolomiti ATR's and parking next to 2 CRJs. Parking required us to perform a 180º turn to stop where the follow-me car indicated.
We disembarked onto a waiting bus. I was last into the bus via the front door, giving me a decent view of the drivers control panel, giving such info as our stand, ETA, aircrat type and reg and load - which was 100% in this case, 89/89 seats filled.
The bus dropped us off in the terminal, and I made my way into the departures, whre my flight was to depart from H28
Transfer at MUC
After the bus dropped us off at the non-schengen bus stop, I made my way upstairs to the H gates. My first priority was a coffee. This proved difficult to find, as even though several flights were scheduled to depart later in the evening, many bars had shut down for the evening; and there was no alternative for coffee but the sole open bar. I was disappoionted to find no Starbucks/Costa or similar. Other than that, I found MUC T2 was very nice. Clean, efficient and well built for it's purpose. However, I was looking for water to drink and couldn't find any. No shops were open, and no drinking fountains were provided, which suprised me.
Eventually I made my way to H34, changed from H28 on my original boarding pass printed in MAN. I watched a variety of aircraft out the window, including an A340-600 which pulled onto the stand next to us, swicthed off the engines and was on stand for about 15 minutes before pushing back and taxiing away. I saw no baggage loading or unloading occuring, nor any refueling, which seemed odd to me, so I assumed it to be an Mx or training flight.
Friday 23rd September
Depart: 2300 (On time)
Arrive: 0115 +1 day (Actual: 0100)
Airbus A320-211 D-AIQW
Photo © JetPix
Photo © Paulo Mendes
Finally, we were called for boarding. The solo gate agent put our passes through the machines but was frequently distracted by passengers making enquiries at the desk. Eventually, my pass was taken and I made it onto the airbridge. Through the glass airbridge, I could see the reg of our aircraft, D-AIQW. I entered the aircraft and took my seat in 11A, this time placing my camera in the overhead locker. Being a night flight, it was fairly useless having it out.
Once boarding was complete I was pleased to find the middle seat empty, giving my book somewhere to sit - I get paranoid about leaving things in the seat pocket! A 737-500 arrived on stand next to us, and we pushed back before taxiing to 08R. We taxied quickly, and waited behind an EK A330 for departure. A Hapag-Lloyd A310 arrived before the A330 departed, followed by a Lufthansa A340, after which we lined up. takeoff was slow, using the A320's FLEX reduced-thrust function. We rotated ahead of T1, giving a view of all the nightstopping aircraft on the ground. There was a small amount of fog on the ground, which made the ground illuminate quite eerily. We were soon in cloud and climbing out, heading south to Italy.
Service started, with a meal. This was pasta dish similar to ravioli but with chicken inside the pasta. It was very nice, and was served with a rice-pudding style desert. during the meal, the FO talked to us, informing us of our route (Over INN and south towards Milan, Rome and Sicilly) and estimating we would touch down 15 minutes ahead of schedule).
Drinks were brought round. I opted for a beer, and relaxed with my book. Later on, a second service was offered; again I opted for a beer. We flew over Sicily, and over the Mediterranean, and before long were descending over MLA. I was suprised; I was under the impression Malta was much further south.
We touched down on runway 14, before braking harshly with reverse thrust to avoid backtracking along 32. We taxied past what seemed like the entire KM fleet, to park on stand 5.
Disembarkation was rapid, through both the front and rear doors, and I was soon showing my passport to a bored immigration official, before collecting my luggage and wandering aimlessly at MLA. I was waiting for my friend to arrive on GB Airways from LGW, and his flight was not scheduled until 0255. In the meantime I found the viewing gallery, however with the LH A320 not leaving until 0315 and no other movements occuring, I returned downstairs and read in the cafe in arrivals, which was closed.
Thankfully, the flight from LGW landed at 0238, and so it was not long before I met Mike, and we were collecting out hire car - a hideously underpowered chevrolet which stalled with the air conditioning on if the engine was idle. Considering this was a 'type L' car, suitable for 4 people plus luggage, I dread to think what our original type A would have been!
We drove around Malta for about an hour trying to find our hotel in Sliema, thanks to poor maps and crazy signage. Eventually we found the hotel and collapsed into bed, mindful we had to be up in a matter of hours!
Sunday 25th September
Depart: 1250 (Actual: 1300)
Arrive: 1530 (On Time)
Airbus A321-131 D-AIRM
Photo © Gordon Zammit
Photo © Irfan Caliskan
After a enjoyable Saturday at the Malta Airshow, being deafened by the American B1 bomber and enjoying the show, it was time to return to MAN. My flight on the Sunday was at 1250, enabling us to relax on Sunday morning. I had checked in online at the hotel business centre, so only had to collect my boarding pass from the ticket desk, before going to a check in desk to check in my bag and claim my BMI miles. the queue took a little while, as the guy in front of me had over weight bags, however eventually I was sorted, and wandered to departures. As the LH flight was the only flight leaving at the time, there was no queue for security nor passport control, and I was soon in departures, where I bought a coffee. I then wandered to gate 1, where a queue had formed.
Suprisingly, Gate 01 was furthest away from our aircraft, parked on the most northerly parking position, so we had to get a bus. Once pre-boarding was announced, and no-one came forwards (which suprised me, as MLA is a such a tourist location), we were boarded into the first bus. Outside, Luqa was experiencing torrential rain, which caused people to run from the terminal to the bus. We slowly drove to D-AIRM, where we were instructed to proceed to the rear door if we were in rows 21 onwards. Due to the rain, and the fact the bus was parked right next to the front steps,this instruction was resoundingly ignored!
We boarded via covered stairs, whch were ineffective as all the rain cascaded down the roof and over the entrance like a rain curtain, so everyone got soaked just entering the stairs! I took my seat in 12F, next to an elderly couple, and got my camera out. Photos were pointless through the rain, however I was determined to make the most of a daytime flight!
While loading was completed, an EK 772 for Tripoli arrived from DXB, parking parallel to the terminal at the far end. This was followed by a KM A319. Both these aircraft landed on runway 32, so I was quite suprised when our engines were started and we taxied from the stand (no pushback required) towards runway 14.
At this point the rain was becoming lighter, and I manged to get a few photos through the window of the airshow which was a little quiet thanks to the weather! We turned around at the far end of runway 14, before the engines powered up and we rolled along 14. After rotation, we turned right, presenting me with an overview of MLA.
As we climbed through the cloud responsible for the downpour, we experienced some heavy turbulence, before leaving the cloud. We than passed a large Cb cloud lurking over the island and Gozo, before turning north.
Service once again started with the meal first. We were given macaroni cheese with a muffin, which was very nice once again. With the meal I had a beer again. We flew over Sicily, and the FO informed us we would be flying over Florence and north towards Innsbruck, thoughmost of the journey was above cloud so little was seen, though I was pleased to see INN through the clouds. A second drinks service was performed, again I chose a beer. We started descending around Munich, and in the distance I coould see MUC itself.
We established on the ILS for 25R, with a view of the city of Frankfurt, which looked very close to the airport - I fail to see why FR can continually accuse FRA of being so inconvenient for the city!
We touched down firmly on 25R, passing T2, and taxied to Stand A38.
However, we disembarked via the rear stairs, and door 2L as this was a non Schengen flight. We then went on a magical mystery tour underneath T1. Eventually we parked, and I made my way through passport control. Despite having a connecting flight, it wasn't for another 6 hours. I had deliberately scheduled this in order to enjoy the FRA viewing deck.
I found my way to the deck, and spent an enjoyable 3 hours taking photos and watching the bustle of the airport.
Depart: 2130 (Actual: 2135)
Arrive: 2210 (Actual: 2200)
Airbus A320-211 D-AIPU
Photo © Torsten Bolten
Photo © Tamon Takeoka
After having a McDonalds, and a Kinder Bueno bar, I went to find my gate. None of the boards at check in showed the gate yet, so I went in search of one of the electronic information kiosks to see if they could help. They couldn't, however then I found an 'Outbound OPS' button, which gave me the airport ops data, and told me that the flight was departing from B62, which is stand A22, and was operated by an A320, D-AIPU. I'd have played around wih the system much longer except another passenger wished to use the kiosk!
I then proceded with security and passport control, and walked along the terminal towards B62. I then found a huge queue, which was for a US-style secondary screening, where our bags were once again X-Rayed, and every single passenger was throuroughly 'wanded'. Apprantly, this met new US security regulations, though why it was required for a UK flight is beyond me. It didn't put me in the best of moods anyway, after 30 minutes waiting I was muttering uncharitable things about US paranoia, which probably weren't totally justified, but I wasn't best pleased to say the least.
At B62, a queue was forming for initial boarding check, at which point we were allowed into the lounge enclosure. I was one of the first in, as I headed for the gate early; the gate appeared on the main boards just after I found out. The enclosure soon filled up, and about 20 minutes later gate agents went and personally invited those with children to board. This was actually a very good idea, as it kept it discreet and prevented people queueing before boarding had started. An announcement was then made for general boarding. This caused a bit of consusion, as everyone got up and queued at the open door, expecting our boarding card stubs to be inspected. Once the agent realised this, she paused in the middle of her announcement to inform us we could board. We then entered the airbridge down a flight of stairs, and onto the glass airbridge. D-AIPU could be seen outside, though this came as no surprise
I took my seat, 11A, and was soon joined by two Germans in the middle and aisle seat. The guy in the middle seat greeted me, in English (I was reading an English paper), to which I responded, also in english (I don't have the confidence to even say Guten Tag, such is my German language experience).
On our left was an LH A321 bound for LHR. This pushed back and taxied just before we did. We were soon on our way to 25R once again, from where we enjoyed a powerful takeoff. Sadly, the small child 2 rows behind me did not enjoy it at all, and started crying. The child remained crying on and off throughout the remainer of the flight, annoyingly.
We continued our climb over a clear-skied Germany. For an in-flight service we were given a small cheese sandwich. And I mean small - I didn't think bread came in those dimensions . I also had a coffee, mindful of the fact I still had to drive home. Once my coffee was drunk, I read my book, now Dean Koontz's "By the light of the Moon", which I was enjoying.
We were soon descending into MAN. On our left I saw LHR, before cloud obscured vision up until we turned from DAYNE for the 24R approach. I was hoping for 24L, as I knew maintenance work was occuring that night, however we arrived early enough to avoid such a rare occurence (damn!). We turned off opposite Concorde after some heavy braking, and taxied to our stand, 25.
Disembarkation was quick, and I was soon in baggage reclaim, which wasn't. About 20 minutes later, bags started appearing on our belt, which had an interesting quirk in the force it flung the bags onto the belt, causing some to bounce onto the floor. Mine finally arrived, practically flat, but with everything in once piece. I was soon through customs, and back at Carminder 2 to collect my car. Thanks to the motorway being dead, I was soon back at home, arriving just after midnight. Mike's flight, which wasn't scheduled to leave Malta until 2300 local wasn't due into LGW for another 90 minutes. Ouch.
Overall, LH provided decent flights, on time and with adequate service on each leg. Their hubs at MUC and FRA are modern and well designed.
I hope you enjoyed the report, and photos. Please feel free to comment!