I took a trip to Eastern Europe with my father for a vacation. It was a bonding experience of sorts since I have been living in the Midwest for 3 years and he lives in Seattle. We booked reward tickets on United/Lufthansa since he had about 600,000 miles in his United Mileage Plus account. That meant that we could easily fly in First Class. It has been about three years since I last flew Lufthansa in First Class. I first flew IND-ORD-FRA-PRG on UA/LH in F. Next we flew PRG-IST on Czech Airlines. We then went IST-SVO-LED on Aeroflot (expect a trip report for that flight soon!) in business class. Finally I returned LED-FRA-ORD-IND (while he continued to SEA).
I got up at 4am in my hotel in St. Petersburg Russia. We were staying at the Hotel Astoria which is known as the best hotel in the entire city. We had our private guide and car pick us up and take us to the airport. The ride was about 20 minutes and we made it with no problem to the small international terminal at LED.
Airport- St. Petersburg Russia
We first had to go through security in order to enter the airport. There was a bit of a problem since I had some souvenirs from turkey that were decorative daggers, but they look like knives, but they do not have a blade. I got hassled a bit and they called a policeman over to verify that they were ok for flight. No one spoke English at all, so I had our guide interpret and speak to the man. Eventually he said it was ok and we said goodbye to the guide and then headed to immigration. Immigration is before check in on international flights.
We went to the check in counter for business class. There were not that many people there at this early hour. Lufthansa has the first flight out of the day. We checked in and both my father and I checked our suitcases. It is a standard carryon size bag for Americans, but Lufthansa does not like allowing them since they are over the max weight limit. We probably could have carried them on board, but I knew I had stuff that could not be carried on board. I hate checking in luggage, but I had to. We asked if there was a lounge, and the lady said that it was only for Star Gold passengers. So my father and I both got out our UA cards. I am Premier Executive, and he is 1K, so we both got passes to the lounge. I always thought that business class alone was good enough for Lufthansa, but I guess that is not true.
We went to the St. Petersburg lounge. It had very comfortable seats. Unfortunately smoking was allowed as in all of Russia. After waiting about 30 minutes while I was napping, we then went to the gate. It was just starting to get light out. When we got to the gate there was the more strict security. I went through without trouble, and got the typical frisking. Apparently they do not trust metal detectors in Europe because I always got wanded. I do not like that at all, especially when some older man is touching me. I like my personal space.
After about 10 minutes everyone started getting up and they started boarding. I waited as I felt no need to cram myself into an airline seat. But eventually I made my way to ghe desk.
April 16, 2006
Departs: 6:30am (actual 6:35)
Arrives: 7:25am (actual 8:05)
Airbus A321-200 Seat 3A
Load Factor 100%
Flight time: 2hrs 30min
Photo © ChW
Photo © Mario Aurich
Upon boarding I saw two male flight attendants welcoming us about. I said Guten Morgen (good morning in German) to them and one of them said Buenos Dias (good morning in Spanish) back to me, which I thought was weird. I guess I kind of look as if I am Hispanic and I do speak Spanish, but I do not have any Hispanic or Spanish blood in me. I stuffed my carryon bag under the middle seat and pulled out my earplugs and blind fold. I watched the rest of boarding go by. Eventually they shut the door and we were ready to go. They performed the safety briefing in German and English. Finally they played a tape in Russian as well. I find it weird how none of the flight attendants seem to speak Russian on board, but there are so many languages in Europe that no airline could be perfect.
We pushed back and back and back. We kept going backwards. We were pushed backwards all the way to a deicing stand. I have never gone so far backwards in a plane before. After waiting about 15 minutes, they de ice our Airbus, which was one of only four western airplanes at the airport. Everything was mostly Tu-154s with the occasional Il-86 and Tu-134. Eventually we are done with that and start the taxiing to the runway. We were bumbling along the taxiways for what seemed like an eternity. We went by the domestic terminal and finally made it to runway 28 (I think). All in all we took off 45 minutes late even though we boarded on time. Fortunately I had a 3 hour connection in FRA, so I wasn’t worried at all.
Takeoff was a rough one. The runway was desperately in need of repair, but there is not any money to do that. It was probably the worst runway I have ever been on. We made a pretty smooth climb out and shortly I fell asleep. I curled up in an uncomfortable position. The seat was horribly uncomfortable. The thing I hate most about European airlines is that their short haul business classes are not really much better than economy. On Lufthansa they just leave the middle seat open, which means we get the same horrible pitch. Economy Plus on United is better. But I was so tired that I could sleep a bit. I dozed in and out. My father had the breakfast which was a choice of eggs with cheeses, meats and breads. It was a relatively short flight and pretty smooth.
I slept all the way. I come out of my doze when the pilot turned on the seat belt sign. He came on and said that there was bad weather in Frankfurt and that we were slowing down and entering a holding pattern for 15 minutes. It wasn’t really a big deal so I closed my eyes again and put my blindfold (which I had received a week earlier when flying ORD-FRA).
Descent and Landing
Eventually we did descend further into the clouds and make it to the ground. It was a miserable rainy day in Frankfurt. We had a nice smooth landing, and I was glad to be back in a country where they do not use the Cyrillic alphabet. We taxied off the runway and were welcomed to Frankfurt along with a Happy Easter. Unfortunately we pulled into a remote position. Usually I find these fun as we get to see all the airplanes from the ground, but today I was tired and did not want to step into the cold wet outside. Anyways though the plane stopped and the seatbelt sign went out. My father rushed forwards like he always does. It drives me crazy. He tells me to hurry up when he should be slowing down. He actually ran off and went through immigration without me in Prague, which was annoying earlier in the trip.
I found him on the bus and we made our way to the terminal. It was quite a drive. We passed many soccer ball nose airplanes to celebrate the world cup. It was a grey and dreary day, but I did see a number of Lufthansa quad jets land and blast massive amounts of water all over the place. All those people were finishing long haul flights from all over the world. Soon I would be heading on one of those planes to Chicago. Our bus eventually did some tight turns under the terminal, and we exited in the B gates.
My father is obsessed with the first class lounge at gate B25. So we went there. Fortunately it was the best one to go to since we would be departing from B23. Neither of us has ever been to the first class terminal in Frankfurt since we have only been in transit. I have only ever entered the EU in FRA once, but I was flying business class then. We had to go through all of the American security. They do security by hand here as well, which I never appreciate. I wish they could trust metal detectors, but I guess that is not acceptable. Fortunately there was no line so it was much better than it can get. We were still quite early in the morning. After getting my carryon bag inspected and waiting for my father this time. We then walked to the lounges. They are upstairs which is nice. Frankfurt has so many lounges. Business Class Lounge, Senator Lounge, Hon Circle Lounge, First Class lounge, etc. There are multiple ones for each. It is pretty crazy.
We were greeted by the first lady at the desk and then went into the next lounge. The first class lounge was nice and quiet and immediately a lady came and asked if we wanted anything to drink. There is no self service here, everything is taken directly to you when you want it. This is so much better than the crowded international first class lounge in Chicago that I used when flying ORD-FRA on Lufthansa a week earlier. LH definitely has high quality service on the ground that can rival any airline there is. We were some of the only people there. My father sat in front of the television and watched it for a while, but it was in German, so I went off and relaxed in a comfortable reclined chair with a great view of the runways. It was peaceful and tranquil with a great view. It was exactly the airport experience that anyone would want. All it took was a bucket load of frequent flyer miles to earn me this privilege. But things would only be getting better with Lufthansa.
Our flight was supposed to leave at 9:25, so at 9:45 we went to the gate. It was the recommended boarding time. The only thing that Lufthansa lacks is a private escort service to the gate and on board the plane for first class passengers. The only times I have ever had this happen was on United First class out of SEA. I think more airlines should give private escorts. They are nice and then you do not have to force your way through any lines. When we got to the gate it was standing room only. My father and I walked close to the jetbridge door so we could get on early and be at the front of the crowd. There was a huge variety of nationalities waiting for this flight including many Indians. That makes sense as Lufthansa’s flights from India connect to this flight onwards to ORD. We waited around until about 10:15am. Boarding finally started with an announcement for first and business class passengers. However it was just a mad rush and everyone charged. We were near the front fortunately.
April 16, 2006
Departs: 11:20am (actual 11:35am)
Arrives: 12:10pm (actual 12:20pm)
First Class Seat 81A
Load Factor: 2/16 in First Class
Flight Time: 8hrs 30min
Photo © Jeff Miller
Photo © Jason Bisson
We went in the first door and I noticed that this was not a reconfigured 747. Lufthansa has been so slow. But the bad news about it not being reconfigured is that it means the IFE is not AVOD, but rather they have the old cassette tapes and players in first class. I showed my boarding pass and went backwards to the staircase. I walked through all the business class seats and noticed how horrible the old seats are. The pitch is just so bad for an airline like Lufthansa. I would avoid those old seats like the plague when UA or the new lie flat seats are being offered in business class.
Upon making it to the top of the stairs my father and I were escorted to our seats. The flight attendant said that we could spread out since they were expecting a light load. After waiting 10 minutes, no one else had come up to the upper deck. The flight attendant offered us drinks and nuts. I had orange juice which was refilled. They passed out sleep shirts to us, which I refused since they never really fit. My father asked about other amenities, and apparently Lufthansa has no amenity kits for the daylight westbound transatlantic flights. I was quite surprised at that. They gave us nothing. Aeroflot gave us amenity kits in business class for an hour long flight between Moscow and St. Petersburg, yet Lufthansa gives nothing other than a shirt? That was quite disappointing.
Also when the flight attendant came by, I asked how many people would be in first class. She said that they were expecting one other person at most. Apparently flying on Easter is really good for those in first class since it is a day that few business travelers are flying. After another few minutes, an announcement was made that boarding was completed. I turned around and snapped this picture.
No one else came into first class. I was so excited. My father and I would be alone to do whatever we wanted in the first class cabin. There would be two flight attendants exclusively serving us too. We could have anything at anytime we wanted. It is totally like having our own business jet. What made it better was that we were on the upper deck, so there would be no foot traffic either. Usually I do not like how Lufthansa has first class on the upper deck since I like window seats that have aisle access. It is almost a requirement in first class nowadays. That is why I prefer the Airbus planes. And also Lufthansa doesn’t have the best seat. I personally prefer the privacy and storage that United’s first class suites have. The seats are more sophisticated. They both have smallish PTVs with cassette players for on demand IFE, but the Lufthansa seat severely lacks storage space. However it is a comfortable fully flat seat.
After a few minutes the purser started the safety demonstration which of course is in German and English. There is a television screen in the front of the cabin for it to play. We slowly pushed back and we were ready to go. The flight attendant took my glass and nuts. We slowly taxied out. We passed a line of American planes. There was a US A333, two AA 777s, a UA 777, a UA 747, two DL 763s, a DL 777, and a CO 764 all in a row. We made it out to the runway and waited next to a Northwest A333 destined to Detroit. The two of us would be flying in tandem for most of the transatlantic journey, but our 747 would be pulling away since it is faster than the smaller Airbus twin. Sitting in the upper deck made me realize how big the 747 is. The A333 looked so small, whereas they usually look huge compared to the tiny planes flying in the RJ filled domestic US market.
We pulled out onto the runway. The engines slowly spooled up and the 747 began to roar down the runway just as a LH 733 was landing on the parallel runway. We accelerated on our way down the wet runway. The takeoff roll was 45 seconds and we rotated at 290km/h. We slowly made our way off the runway. For those of you that complain about the A343, the 747 often is not much better, but today we had a fairly light load. This was not a very long flight and the load was low since it was Easter.
We made a few turns before heading towards the north and out of German airspace. The plane slowly climbed and the flight attendants were finally allowed to get up. The seatbelt sign went off and the purser made her announcements. After that the nice lady came up to the first class cabin and welcomed my father and I aboard. She asked if we needed anything and handed us menus for the flight. There would be a full lunch service and just before landing there would be a light snack. I actually was a bit surprised. For an 8 hour flight, I would expect two meals. Lunch should be a full meal, but there should be another lunch/dinner service. We would be landing around dinner time in Germany and lunch time in the Chicago.
Flight and Meal Service
I was going to swipe a menu, but I forgot, so sorry that I do not have the meal choices. After a bit one of our two flight attendants came by and offered more drinks. I had some more orange juice. It was not particularly good, but it was ok. I have had some of the best orange juice ever on planes, but you cannot expect much when flying out of Germany in the winter. At this time my father moved over to the other window seat in the aisle. So we both would have a pair of seats to spread out. I could have taken any seat in the cabin, but the front was fine with me. I think the flight attendants preferred that so that they could be free to chat and make noise in the rear galley without disturbing us.
For lunch they started out with a starter that was a vegetarian thing made of cauliflower that somewhat tasted like fois gras. Next came the appetizer cart which was well presented. My father ate most of their caviar. It was crazy. He kept eating and eating it as he loves it and they serve it very well on Lufthansa. Usually you get just a tiny bit, but when there are only two people in First Class, they will give plenty large portions. I skipped out on all of those little fluffy foods though and just had some bread. Next was a cream of potato soup and then a salad. All of that was generic and ok. It didn’t taste particularly good and I am not a big fan of cold soup, but it was well presented. I think it is just a case of not fitting my palette that well.
By this time we had been in the air 1hr 15min. Even though there were two flight attendants only serving us two passengers, they took their time as usual. Meals on airplanes are the slowest things ever. On a daylight flight like this however, I appreciate it. It is nice to spend time enjoying food and relaxing. Also it takes up a good chunk of the flight time. For a daylight flight, 8 hours is about all I can handle. Although I think Europe is too close to America when you are heading eastbound through a redeye. On those flights the meal service always takes way too long and the amount of time left for sleep is minimal. When flying form New York, they serve a full dinner that may take two and a half hours. Then you sleep for three hours before they start up breakfast. At least the short night of sleep helps you adjust to the jetlag faster.
The main course finally came. I had selected chicken. It tasted quite good actually. It was fairly moist and much better than the food that I had been eating in Russia. By this point I was feeling very full. The flight attendants next were going to serve dessert and showed us the cart of selections, but I just could not eat more. I was stuffed.
After skipping desserts and chocolates, I decided that I need to walk a bit. This was no problem with the whole upper deck to ourselves. I did some laps up and down the aisle.
My private walkway
I then went to the galley and asked for a movie. I had watched the funny yet stupid movie Fun with Dick and Jane which is a miserable attempt at being like Office Space, and was ready for a more intelligent film. I selected North Country, which is about women being discriminated in the mining industry in Minnesota. It is a good documentary of a movie. I reclined my seat and watched the movie while my father finished his dessert. After he ate, he decided to get some sleep. I was kind of tired too. The flight attendants kindly lowered all of the window shades and one came by and asked me if I would like the lights turned out. I said yes, and the cabin got dark so that we could sleep. Ah I love this private treatment. Part way through the movie the purser came up and told me that the movie screens in economy were not working properly and that she would have to restart the system. I was very impressed that she came and told me so I would not worry or be confused.
Minimally lit cabin (sorry for the dark picture, but I could not get it any brighter and I failed at night photography without a flash)
I decided to get some sleep, so I paused the movie in my little player and reclined the seat all the way. The seat is fairly comfortable in fully flat mode. The seat is wide and long enough for me. I am tall and thin at 5’11’’ and 150lbs, so it was a good fit. This was the first time on a plane that I can remember that I slept without a blindfold and earplugs. It was almost like at home (well not actually since I sometimes have to sleep with earplugs in while in my apartment because of all those loud thunderstorms in the Midwest). I napped for about two and a half hours, which meant that there were three hours before arrival into Chicago. The flight attendant had placed a bottle of water next to me while I was asleep, which was nice. I ended up finishing the movie and walking around on my private little walkway as we were flying over Northern Canada. This was totally the life. I was really enjoying the perfect service, comfortable bed/seat, good food, and all the movies that I ever could watch. Most of all I had no worries about any responsibilities from the real world. My dad woke up shortly afterwards and they turned the lights on a bit after we cracked our windows.
The flight attendants came by to offer us snacks. I was starting to get hungry again. It was mostly carbohydrates, which did not please my father since he does not eat carbs. They served them from the same car that they served appetizers from during lunch, and they looked like a bunch of appetizers. I enjoyed two warmed little pesto sandwiches with cheese, lettuce and tomotoes. It was somewhat satisfying. I also had some coke to get some caffeine in me to wake me up. After finishing my first movie, I asked for another. There was only one and a half hours left, so I would not finish the movie, so I asked for something I had seen before and settled on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Next came customs and immigration forms. The flight attendant gave me a customs form and was very confused on what immigration form to give me. She first gave me a white form and I said no, and then she gave me a green form to which I said no again. She was very confused and did not seem to understand that American citizens do not have to fill out an immigration form. The only thing needed is the customs declaration for the family. I filled out the form because my father was tired and he would have messed it up. Sometimes you just have to take care of your parents, even though they always think of their kids as little youngsters that need to be reminded not to forget anything and be awoken in the mornings.
It was time to gather my things together and clean up so that we could get off the plane promptly. I had accumulated a lot of things around me and had to put them all away. Before doing so however my father snapped a picture of me enjoying the seat.
Me! (although a lack of sleep and a lot of flying results in me not looking my best)
Descent and Landing
After putting my stuff away, I watched a bit more of the movie until we began to descent into Chicago. I rewound it and handed it back to the flight attendant. I then got out my book, which is not particularly good but interesting. I was reading The Winners Curse, Paradoxes and abnormalities of economics life. I relaxed as we descended. The purser came for a third time to say goodbye to us. She asked one of us from first class to fill out a survey. I of course volunteered to do that. It was multiple choice and I gave Lufthansa excellent marks although I said that the seat could be improved as far as size of PTV, privacy and amount of storage. There was a short comment section too. I was complimentary and then handed it back to a flight attendant as we descended through 10,000ft.
We were going very slowly as we maneuvered and flew way west of ORD. The 747 is completely silent when flying this slowly. I think we were probably flying at about 170 knots. We finally turned back due east and landed on runway 9. It was a beautifully smooth landing. That is pretty typical for the experienced 747 crews. I had really enjoyed the flight and was not looking forward to fighting through a crowded terminal and then making my way onto a regional jet for my continuation to Indianapolis.
Arrival in Chicago
We taxied to the international terminal. It was a short trip and we shortly pulled into a gate. As soon as the seatbelt sign went out my father and I grabbed our belongings and made our way down the stairs. We said thank you to the two flight attendants that had done a great job serving us. When we made it down the stairs the purser greeted us by name and said that the jetbridge would be coming to door two and that we will have to wait a bit. I found that very polite over how most pursers just ignore you or say stand back.
The door did open and after paperwork was handed over, my father and I were first off the plane. I said thank you to the purser. The two of us went off to the races because my father always has to be in a rush. I knew there was no reason to rush since we had checked luggage, but he went off walking as fast as we could. When we got to immigration there was no one there in the US. Citizens line. The immigration officer was very nice to us and asked us how our trip went. He was so much nicer than the rude Russian immigration officer that did nothing other than point at us. After we had no problems, we went to the carousel to collect our belongings. My father noticed my bag come out on the oversize section, which was odd, but I guess it could have been because there were those gifts in my bag which require inspection. We saw the bags come around and I noticed that none of the bags were for connecting flights. I thought that was odd, until someone told us to go to a different carousel. My dad found his bag which was one of the last ones to come out. That really made him made. He wripped the baggage tag off because he decided to just carry it to Seattle so that he would not have to wait at baggage claim there. However there was a problem that he later discovered. Upon arrival at home, he found that his bag had been searched through. Anything valuable had been stolen. His electric shaver, small amount of cash, flashlight among other things were all missing. Someone had gone through and stolen stuff. There is nothing that you can really do anymore since you cannot lock bags. I personally presume that it happened in St. Petersburg as I could not imagine it happening in Frankfurt or Chicago, but it is possible. I checked my bag, but nothing was missing. Of course I am smarter than him and do not put anything value like cash or electronics in my checked baggage.
After baggage we went though customs. They x-rayed our bags, which has not happened to me upon arrival in the United States in a while. There were no problems with that, so we made our way to the transfer desk. I handed my bag to the TSA who performed an explosives test and then went to check in. They had not been able to print us United Airlines boarding passes in LED, so we would have to do it in ORD. The lady had no trouble printing our boarding passes in ORD. I got seat 2A, but unfortunately that was economy since I would be flying an RJ to IND.
We then made our way to terminal one and the United Gates. I would be flying out of B22, which was nice so that I did not have to leave out of the dreaded terminal two. We had to take the train and the go through security again. I fly out of ORD many times and am very familiar with the trains, but it would be extremely confusing for someone that does not speak English. The United States is just as hard of a country to navigate as Russia is. It might be worse since in Russia there are some English translations. We noticed that the airport was completely empty. It was early afternoon, but the check in counters were completely empty. We went to priority screening and there was not a single person there. I gave my passport and boarding pass to the lady and wished her a Happy Easter. I then went through security. Everyone seemed to be in quite a good mood for a holiday. I guess it could be because there were not that many people traveling. There were a number of college students and people on spring break around.
We walked over to concourse C to go to the first class lounge that I had visited just one week earlier when flying Lufthansa to FRA. Once we got there though, the lady asked the manager and they said that we could not use the lounge. We could only use the Red Carpet Club since Lufthansa does not contract with the club for arrivals. I found that quite surprising since they allow departing passengers to use the lounge. But it did not bother me as we only had about 20 minutes to wait and I did not care for the free alcohol. So we went to the Red Carpet Club and I had another diet coke to try to wake myself up. It was pretty quiet. Thirty minutes before my flight I left with my father. I saw him off to his gate to his flight to SEA and then I walked all the way to gate B22 which is quite a hike.
Chicago OHare- Indianapolis
Departs: 2:45pm (actual: on time)
Arrives: 4:51pm (actual: 6:45pm 1hr 54 min late)
Operated by Chautauqua
Seat 2A switched to 17D/F
Flight Time: 40 min
Load Factor 22/50
Photo © Art Brett - Photovation Images
Photo © Allen Yao
I made my way to the gate 20 minutes before the flight and I realized that they had already boarded the flight. I was quite surprised to see a regional flight board early. I handed them my boarding pass and realized that they were boarding both a flight to Minneapolis and Indianapolis out of the same gate using the same walkway at the same time. I walked down and was really confused on where to go. There was a jetway with an E170 and then a ramp to the ground where a ERJ145 was. I just assumed that the ERJ145 would be the right plane, but I could totally see people being confused if they did not know the difference between the planes. One man for Minneapolis accidentally went to the Indianapolis flight. I think it was a horrible mistake by operations to have two flights board out of the same gate at the same time to cities with very very similar names that can easily be confused.
I confirmed with the flight attendant that I was on the right plane. She said yes and was kind of indifferent, but at least she was a young very attractive woman in her 20s. I stuffed my bag under the seat in front of me and just sat there for a while. After a while the last passenger got on board. The captain was given the paperwork and then the flight attendant me and the person in seat 1A if we would move to the back for weight and balance. She said that two people needed to move. The person in front of me was mad, but I did not mind because it would mean that I could take two seats together for myself and relax. I have noticed a lot of weight and balance concerns on ERJ145s.
Pushback and Taxi
After a while the captain came over the PA and said that we were ready to go, but that taxi times were approximately 40 minutes and that he wanted to get more fuel since other planes were having to return to the gates for more fuel. That made me mad because I think he should have known that the first time the plane was fueled. What resulted was a wait of 20 minutes for fuel. Additionally we lost the benefit of being on the early side of the 3ish pm bank of departures which would mean that we would have an even longer wait. We finally are pushed back for our flight at 3:10pm. We wait for a while as planes were backed up behind us. Eventually we turn around and head out. We start our long taxi. We moved past Concourse C and I realized how many planes were on the ground. There were long lines for all of the runways. There were so many planes that I realized that 40 minutes was an optimistic guess for taxi.
We continue our marathon of a taxi. We were going miles on the ground. We ended up taxiing past the maintenance hangers at the east end of the airport. We went past a Delta hanger which surprised me because I did not think that Delta had any maintenance in Chicago, but it might not belong to them. We continued to taxi past AA and UA maintenance areas. Eventually we stopped in a huge line of planes as were surrounded by half the American fleet. The line behind us continued to grow. And then I heard a sound that I have heard way to many times in RJs that involve flights in or out or ORD. The engines shut down. The captain came on and said that all west bound departures were closed and that planes were being routed through the south, but there was a long back up. We were put way out in a holding spot and he said that we would be told more information in 40 minutes. He turned out the seatbelt sign and let us use cell phones. I made a few calls including to my mother to tell her that my father’s flight likely would be late. I pulled out my earplugs and blindfold from an earlier Lufthansa first class flight and rested. It was uncomfortable and nothing like my private lounge on the upper deck of the 744 on my previous flight.
After a while the engines did start up and we began taxiing. The seatbelt sign went on, but we could still talk on cell phones. I was sleepy as it was approaching midnight in Russia. I rested and eventually the captain came on to tell us that we were number four for takeoff. The flight attendant had to yell at people to get them to stop talking on cell phones. At this point I had already been on this ERJ for two and a half hours. It was way too long for that uncomfortable plane. At least I had two seats so I could spread out. What made it worse is that United Express/Chautauqua does not cater many of these small planes.
Takeoff and Departure
We made it onto the runway and the engines finally spooled off. We were leaving over two hours after our scheduled departure time. I noticed how many planes were waiting around for departure. There were few planes arriving which resulted in there being almost no planes at the terminal. All of them were waiting on remote taxiways throughout the airport. I even saw the 747 waiting that had brought me to ORD.
Takeoff was rather smooth but we soon hit bumps. I had my eyes closed and did not really care. But as we climbed things go very rouge. We were really bouncing around. The flight attendant came on after a while and said that there would be no service and that she would not be able to get up due to the turbulence. We were going through continuous light to moderate turbulence. I cannot remember ever feeling such turbulence on a jet before. It was so bad that the air was getting forced out of my lungs at points which was uncomfortable. Some of the passengers were getting nervous, but I did not care. It was similar to the turbulence that you experience on a rough summer day in a Cessna.
Flight and Descent
Before we knew it the captain came on and said that we were starting our descent. The flight attendant said that if she could, she would come collect trash. It did start to smooth out and she made her way around the plane once. It still was a bit choppy as it was starting to get dark in Indiana. There were pretty bad thunderstorms all over and strong winds which were what delayed us in ORD.
We poked out of the clouds over Northeastern Indianapolis. I saw Butler University (I think) and then we flew over the Brickyard on our descent. We flew over the gates which were fairly empty and landed roughly on the runway. The pilots slammed on the brakes to make it so we could get back to the terminal quicker, but there was no reverse thrust. We taxied around past the Fed Ex area which was dead quiet on Easter. We eventually pull in next to an Air Canada CRJ.
I got my bag out from under the seat in front of me and made my way to the front. As I walked off the plane after thanking the flight attendant, I saw them taking my bag off of the plane. I would be meeting it in a bit at baggage claim. The terminal had a number of people waiting. Our plane went on to IAD and people were obviously frustrated by the delay because it probably was a cascading delay that you often see on short flights like this that people completely hate.
I made my way to baggage claim where the belt was stopped. It took me a while to realize that the bags were on the belt and had beaten us. Good job IND ground crew! I then walked out to the economy parking lot and picked up my rental Volkswagen Toureg before driving home. I was tired, but alert enough to drive after being en route for approximately 24 hours.
This was quite a good flight. It was a long day of travel and in hind sight I probably would have flown out of LED on Saturday night so I could get more sleep and spend a night in FRA. This would have allowed us to use the first class terminal too.
But the Lufthansa flights were good. I especially enjoyed being alone with my father in the upper deck of a 747. It was great to have the flight attendants taking care of us and to have the entire cabin to our selves. That is a very rare thing nowadays. There were no others to bother us. I hope to get to do it again, but it is unlikely. I know Lufthansa lost a lot of money on our flight. The whole first class cabin was empty except for two people that were on reward tickets. I have only good things to say about Lufthansa. Their flights were on time enough and comfortable. I do not like the short haul business class, but their long haul first class is nice. It is not top notch like the suites offered by other airlines, but it is quite comfortable. And honestly I think that Lufthansa has some of the best ground services. I like the lounges and service.
Please leave comments and let me know what you liked and what you did not about the report. I am sorry for only having a few pictures, but I hate cameras and feel awkward taking pictures. If you want bigger versions of what I have included, then just ask. Also please let me know if you like me breaking it up into sections like I did this time. My next report will be about a flight on this trip on Aeroflot IST-SVO-LED on Tu-154s in business class. That was a fun flight. I might also get around to writing a Czech Airlines 737 PRG-IST in economy flight. If you really want to IND-ORD-FRA-PRG report in Lufthansa first, then ask and I might find a few hours to write it. I apologize for any spelling errors
Thanks for reading