Business Class BAH – FRA
Skd Dept 0120 Skd Arr 0640
Act Dept 0200 Act Arr 0635
A340 – Seat 10A
I posted my outbound trip DFW-FRA-BAH and had some really nice feedback, so thank to all for the comments. As before, no specific aircraft information or pictures, but will endeavor to do better on my next trip which is in about a week. Here is the return as promised.
After working the entire day, those who were on my project, and me, headed downtown to grab something to eat once the sun went down and Ramadan fast was broken. We had a good meal and around 2200 when the others went back to their flats, I grabbed a taxi and headed to the airport for my flight. It only took about 20 minutes to arrive and the cab fare I negotiated was 7 Dinars, or USD19. Pretty good to average I’d say (don’t tell me if you do better, I thought hands down I was a great bargainer).
Once inside the terminal I was presented with a dilemma. There was a first class check in and an economy check in but no business check-in area. So, I figured since economy was empty (meaning not a single person in line) I’d check in there. I proceeded up to a set of partitions where my bags were X-rayed. I picked them up and was frisked by hand by a security officer. It wasn’t just me they were doing this to, it was everyone. Once I passed I made my way through the maze of queue ropes and was called over by a loan check-in agent in a far corner. He promptly took my ticket and began to check me in. He said “Oh, you are flying business I see.” Me – “yup”. He said “well, no problem – we have your seat – you have no checked bags, and here is your invitation to the lounge. Have a great flight.” It was as simple as that. No messing around, no nothing, just courteous and quick service.
I turned around and proceeded to walk half the length of the terminal to the departure tax pay booth. Paid my 3 Dinars and passed through another check-point prior to getting to passport control. When I arrived to passport control, the officer said “You are flying business I see.” And I said “Yup” (now I’m thinking – what’s the deal). He continued on to explain that I could have used the first class check-in hall where they have their own security and own passport control. So, information for the future! It was nice of him to give me the information considering he was passport control and not a GF rep.
I proceed through the terminal and up a set of escalators to the GF Club. I was greeted by a smiling female British GF employee and an equally nice Australian GF male employee who both welcomed me to the club and helped me understand the layout and where to do what.
The club is very nice, I have to say. It’s done in a modern-Arabian type theme, with lots of comfortable pillows and sofas in groupings, as well as modern desks and furniture with clean lines for working. It was tastefully decorated and the lighting was not harsh which was good for working or resting your eyes if you wanted. Across the hall was a beverage area that was set us like an internet café, with several computers on a bar with stools so you could have a drink/snack and play on the internet. I played on the internet some, called back to the states and checked in with my boss (to let her know I was on the way back) and drank a Sprite.
40 minutes prior to departure I left and went to the duty free and shopping area. It’s not huge by some standards, but for Bahrain it’s enormous and has plenty of stuff to look at to keep you entertained. I walked around and bought a few souvenirs since I wasn’t able to get downtown to do any shopping at the market. I returned to the gate and leaned up against a wall looking at the monitor. It was now 0030, but I couldn’t tell if the flight was delayed or not because the flight monitors were all in Arabic. Nuts! So, I stood around – waiting - shifting in my shoes – looking for someone to ask. Figured out that the signs rotate between Arabic and English every 10 minutes or so. Finally- departure time arrived and everyone was looking worried, but the crew had gotten on the airplane 20 minutes prior so figured it was just a delay of some sort. Then, without warning, everyone made a dash for the gate and boarding had begun.
I was greeted at the aircraft door much the same as I was on the way to Bahrain. This time I took seat 10A which was a window in the bulkhead row of business. This plane was an old SQ A340 and I know this because when I went into the lav I saw the SQ logo on a few things. The airplane was clean, and although it did show some signs of wear, it was not in bad shape at all. The only thing I noticed was that I didn’t feel like the air was moving much. I guess I’m used to having controllable air vents on me. Anyway, the seat next to me was already occupied by a gentleman and we said “hello” and that was about it (which later I learned he was from Ardmore, Oklahoma – who would have figured out I’d be sitting next to someone from Oklahoma on a flight in the Middle East – small world!).
The safety demo was done on the monitors, first in Arabic then in English. Announcements were in Arabic, English and German. We pushed from the gate at 0200 and were airborne by 0215. We took off gently into the night and made a sharp bank to the west over Saudi Arabia. The flight path was Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Romania, Austria and into Germany. Dinner was served about 30 minutes into the flight. I passed as I was really tired and just asked for coffee and some fruit for breakfast. The flight attendants were very attentive and as soon as possible lights were turned off. The seats were not the nicest I’ve ever had in business class (they were not sleeper), but they were adequate and since I was so tired it didn’t matter much. But what I noticed is that while flying over the Middle East, I didn’t experience any turbulence. Not even a small bump. Nada, nothing. I woke up about 1 hour out of Germany and had some breakfast. We took a long approach into FRA and were on the ground at 0635. The touchdown was by far one of the best I have ever had on a wide body. The pilot put that thing down like a feather on a pillow and my neighbor and I both commented on it.
I spend the next day and night in FRA seeing the sights. It was a great time. I felt like Augustus Gloop by the time I was done as I ate more German food than you can shake a stick at. Cheers to you Germans as you really have some good things to eat! YUM!
F-Class – FRA to DFW
Skd Dep 0955 Skd Arr 1340
Act Dep 0955 Act Arr 1340
A340 – Seat 1K
Ok, this is where for me it got really, really good! I checked in at the Lufthansa First Class check in lounge in Terminal A. I felt like I was in a hotel lobby or office reception area rather than at an airport. They agent greeted me with a smile and asked my destination. When I told her it was the DFW, she apologized profusely and said that unless I wasn’t checking any bags, she’d have to send me to Terminal B for US check-in due to security requirements. I told her that today was my lucky day as I was not checking any bags. The big smile returned and she said “ok – let’s get you checked in!”
She issued my B.Pass in short order and explained to me where the different clubs were and the boarding time. She then said “Herr So-and-so, we do have a First class terminal and we’d like to have you go over there and visit, but only if you wish to.” I said “I’d love to go!” And so she smiled, told me to have a seat and said that she’d be calling the chauffer to come and get me.
In about 5 minutes, a tall gentleman approached and said “Herr blah-blah, I’m your chauffer to the F-class terminal, would you please follow me.” And so I stood up and went to grab my bags but he already had them and was waiting for me to go so he could follow. I climbed in to a Mercedes mini-van type-deal and we were off. We made a circle around the airport and pulled up into a circular driveway at the terminal. He opened the door, I jumped out and he said “please, I’ll take care of your bags, it’s no problem.” I walked in and didn’t see anyone. It was, again, like being in a reception area in a corporate office or a hotel. Very modern furniture and appointments, and you can tell a lot of thought was put into the terminal. I hadn’t walked in and looked around to my left and to my right before a gentleman came out of seemingly no where and shook my hand and asked for my Bpass. I gave it to him, and he said “Welcome, Herr- blah-blah, my name is Hans (I’ll call him that) and I am going to be your escort for your visit with us today. Have you been here before?” Of course I responded no and he actually seemed pleased that he got to tell me about the terminal and what to expect. He took my bags and walked me to security where there were 3 people waiting for just me. They were all friendly and actually HELPED me put my bags on the belt and empty my pockets. It was quite a surprise and they were very efficient and friendly. After passing through security, Hans said “That’s it, you’ve been through security. So, now let me show you the terminal and give you an overview of the amenities we offer.” I followed Hans and she placed my bags in a baggage area, and proceeded to show me the different areas of the terminal. He pointed out the shower and quiet room areas and told me to simply ask the housemaid if I was interested in showering or sleeping (as she would make up the bed or provide me all the towels that I would need). He then showed me to the “restaurant” where there was a nice buffet set up for breakfast. Booths and tables set up with white china and real glasses, along with flowers on the table and other special touches. . Waiters were around taking coffee orders and bringing plates to people from the buffet. Hans then asked for my passport. He explained that it would be returned upon my leaving the terminal for my flight and not to worry. Worry? How could I worry? The place was great!
I ate breakfast, but not too much so I could eat on the plane. I was called by my name when possible and everyone was polite and efficient. I then went and sat down in an area that had leather sofas and chairs. Right away there was a hostess who came and asked if I needed anything or if I would like something to drink. This same hostess as well as other hosts checked on me many times to make sure I was comfortable and that I didn’t need anything. I had some work to do so I plugged in my laptop and went to town. It was about 0920 when I looked up and wondered when I would be called to board as I knew I had to get through the terminal and security (not thinking that the security I went through served a purpose!). About 2 minutes after looking up, Hans returned and said “Herr So-and-so, are you ready to leave, we have your driver waiting.” I gathered my things and of course, Hans would not let me carry them.
We walked to the middle of the terminal and waited at a bank of elevators. I must have had a puzzled look on my face because Hans said immediately “We are going down stairs to retrieve your passport, process you out of Germany and get you to your driver.” We arrived one floor down and stopped at a desk where an immigration officer pulled out my passport, did his thing and stamped it. I was then introduced to my driver (I’ll call him Marcus) who took my bags. I looked up from my passport to see a line of floor to ceiling windows where you could see BMW’s and Mercedes all lined up in a row. Hans then said “Herr blah-blah, this is where we must say goodbye, your driver will now drive you to your plane and it’s certainly been my pleasure assisting you today.” I was like “drive me to me plane? You are kidding right?” Of course I didn’t say that I just had the expression on my face. Marcus had put the bags in the car and said “let me explain our rules really quickly so there are no problems (don’t open the door or the window and don’t do anything stupid – basically). Got in a Mercedes S Class and we pulled out of the terminal to a gatehouse. After some codes and cards and other things, it opened and we proceeded to drive underneath the main terminal. There were signs that marked the different gates and we parked at A62. Marcus got out of the car, grabbed my bags, opened my door and said “After your, sir.” I walked through a hallway to an elevator where Marcus pushed the button, we got in and we ascended up a floor.” The door opened right at the entrance to the first class jet bridge (this was a double jet bridge) and I could see the first class flight attendants looking at me. I think I stood there for a second in amazement because this is certainly not what one is used to when flying (I’m Platinum on AA and Premier Exec on UA so I get around enough).
We approached the door to the A340 (10 feet maybe from the elevator) and handed the Purser a paper and introduced me. They showed me to my seat while my driver stowed my bags in the overhead. Marcus then shook my hand, told me it was his pleasure to assist me and thanked me for flying Lufthansa. I think I was in such awe of the experience I’d just been through that I didn’t have any words ready but a simple Thank you. Poor Marcus and Hans, they deserved better, so this is my chance to say that I was truly impressed more than any other experience I’ve ever had on an airline. And on the ground to boot!
When Marcus left, the purser took over. All I can say is that Lufthansa was killing me with customer service and it was to the point where I wanted to tell them that they were supposed to bark at me and be mean because that is what I’d been used to. She offered to take my coat, and gave me some champagne and macadamia nuts. The seats and configuration were the same as the trip over, so I already knew to expect heaps of room to store all my stuff in the seat. Another F/A came around with a sweater and the amenities kit.
While sipping on the champagne reveling in customer service afterglow, the pilot came on and announced that due to turbulence over England and Ireland, service would be suspended until we reached the North Atlantic. I wrinkled my forehead at this one as usually you don’t hear that kind of thing (at least I haven’t on my transatlantic travels). So, if they are warning us now, then it must be pretty bad, so better toss down a few so I don’t feel it as much. The F/A’s, as if on queue, came through the cabin getting drink orders and kept people’s glasses full for the next 15 minutes. So, by the time we took off, I’d had a glass (or 3) of champagne and was feeling just fine.
The take off roll was looonnnnnnnngggggggggggggggggggg, I think I timed about 50 seconds (maybe a bit less). And while on the outset that doesn’t seem like a lot, it was a lot to me. We gracefully lifted up into the sky and made our turn towards the west. There wasn’t a bump, shake or any anything, and so the Captain released the F/A’s with the stipulation that they would be seated again within 45 minutes. We were served an appetizer of sorts, a sushi type piece of salmon with wasabi and sesame seeds. It was pretty good. The purser came around and said she was very sorry service was delayed, but once the turbulence was over, they would begin as soon as it was safe, and that they would take good care of me during the event.” I thought “ok, oh crap, we are going to get knocked around like a punching bag.” So, I told her to fill me up with more champagne. True to German timing, in about 45 minutes, the Captain came on and asked that all F/A’s be seated until further notice. Of course it was smooth as glass – until ….WHAM! It started…we swayed and shook and bounced and slammed for at least 45 minutes. The carts and items in the F class galley were slamming into each other and everything was being bounced really good. There were shouts from economy, groans from Business (they were half sober) but nothing from First (we were all sauced). The wings were flapping like bird wings and we were doing that up/sway/down/sway deal. We passed over Ireland and finally things began to settle. And just as quickly as it started, it was over. The seat belt sign went off and the flight attendants sprang into action. It took them some time to get things picked up in the cabin and give people time to settle, but all in all they were prepared for it and handled it very well. Smart move to not start service or no one would have had a single plate or cup on their tray, they’d have all been stuck to the ceiling or in the over head bins.
I had 2 appetizers, caviar and a shrimp and asparagus salad. For the main course I had beef tips filled with a kind of cheese, and a very interesting dessert that to this day I can’t tell you what it was - but something with mint ice cream and a tomato. I had a few cups of coffee to sober me up and while the service was not rushed, you could tell they were not wasting any time on pick up so that people could get some rest.
I settled down from lunch just as we passed over Gander. I watched some of the moving map, some sitcoms, and the movie Bewitched (it didn’t hold my interest). The F/A’s were in the cabin quite a bit to make sure we were all ok and feeling a bit tired I took a nap.
I woke up about 1.5 hours out of DFW, and they were preparing to serve a snack, which they called a Swiss Buffet. To be honest I was still full from lunch so I passed, although they had some pretty good looking dishes with sausages and cheese. I showed my girlfriend the menu for it when I got home and she said I was crazy for not eating as there were some yummy Swiss dishes.
On approach, the purser handed me my jacket, shook my hand and told me that she was very pleased to have me on board and that she hoped I’d fly LH again. I told her “Soooo not a problem.” The approach into DFW was bumpy as usual from the afternoon heat. You know – the bump bump, slam, bump bump, slam (people from DFW know what I’m talking about). We touched about 1330 and the landing was just as good as the one done by GF. Very impressive! We taxied to the gate and were blocked in at 1340 exactly.
All I have to say is that LH and GF get 10’s across the board from me. I’ve flown a lot of airlines and a lot internationally, but this was my first time on each airline and in F class on both. Kudos to LH, you just got yourself a new customer.
I’ll be doing DFW-FRA-DXB-BAH in another week and hopefully I will be able to get pictures this time. Thanks for reading!