I travel to Budapest, Hungary very often to see my family there. I have traveled from Toronto to Budapest 6 times in the last 2 ½ years. I use to exclusively fly with Malev as they flew non-stop service between the two cities, however MA
stopped long-haul ops so I am forced to connect at some European hub to get there. I made a conscience effort to try different airlines every trip so I may compare their services and airports. In 2008 I flew with KL
, in early 2009 I tried BA
and most recently I flew with AC
In March of 2009 I started looking at prices. I looked at all of the major European airlines but I really wanted to try AC
as I haven’t flown with them in a long time. The opportunity to fly on their new B777s was an added bonus. In fact AC
/LH was the cheapest with a connection through FRA
priced at $850 CDN and most expensive was OS
at almost $1500CDN. I carefully choose my route, as I was acutely aware of what type of aircraft flew the certain sectors. I booked through AC
’s fantastic website and choose a ticket that would give me the opportunity to fly on an AC
B773ER and return on an LH
A346, I have never flown on an Airbus A340 so I wanted to give it a try. The FRA
would be operated by an A320 and a B733.
I must admit that I started my journey with a bias opinion of both AC
. Here in Canada speaking badly about AC
is a part of our national heritage. However I was very aware of the great strives that AC
has recently taken to update and improve their services. My last experience on LH
was very poor. In 2002 I flew with them to BUD
and found their long-haul product to be dismal.
Air Canada Flight 872.
September 26th 2009
From: Toronto Pearson International T1
Gate 177 , Dep: 16:30 (on-time)
Boeing 777-333ER C-FIVQ (First flight 12/2008)
To: Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1
Gate B48, Arr. 06:50 (planned 07:00)
I checked in online from home and kept the seat that I originally booked when I purchased the ticket. As I was about to print out my boarding passes I realized that my printer was out of black ink and therefore couldn’t print anything. I left 3 hours prior to departure and arrived at YYZ
terminal 1 well ahead of time. I proceeded to a self-service kiosk to reprint my boarding passes. As I started the process an AC
ground staff member asked me where I was traveling. I told her FRA
, she told me that I would have to go to the “echo” labeled area to check-in, so I did. I once again approached the kiosk to obtain my boarding passes and once again an AC
representative approached me to help me use the system. I got my boarding passes reprinted but was horrified to learn that I would still have to join the never-ending line up to drop off my bags. It was at this point that the whole online-check in process started to seem less useful. I mean it was great to be able to choose my own seat assignment but I still had to stand in line for over 30mins to use the “Fast bag drop off” service. After my bags were sent off I proceeded to the security area. I was “randomly” selected for a closer inspection because I neglected to take out my lunch utensils form my backpack. YYZ
security was very efficient and professional. They thanked me for the cooperation and sent my on my way. I personally have no problem being checked closer as it made me feel much better about the level of security.
Toronto’s Terminal 1 is new and nice but nothing special in my opinion, perhaps because my last journey utilized LHR
’s new T5
so I was use to using newly built terminals.
The waiting area for my flight was very full but there was still some room to sit. Boarding began 40 minutes prior departure. As usual the aircraft was boarded according to row number, which of course the vast majority of people did not observe. I boarded through the second jetway and really realize the size of the B773 when I passed the third economy cabin of this massive plane. The aircraft was only a year old and in fantastic condition. AC
’s decision to have 3-3-3 seating was well appreciated as it made the B777 feel very open and comfortable.
captain made his announcement first in German and then in English, which was followed by a French translation by the Service Director. The Captain mentioned that there were 8-cabin crewmembers on board. I thought to myself, 8 FAs for 350 passengers seems too few. I know that MA
had 7-9 FAs on their 185 seat B762s. But I have to say that the AC
cabin crew was the hardest working crew I have ever seen. In fact I recall one younger male FA
constantly wiping the sweat off of his face has he was working at a feverish pace to prepare dinner. All of the AC FA
’s were constantly doing something but still maintained a friendly and professional attitude.
After boarding was completed we pushed back and taxied to Runway 23. I was looking forward to feeling the power of the GE90-115Bs and I was not disappointed. The B777 lifted off effortlessly and made a quick climb to FL350. The Captain told us that there was going to be some turbulence on the climb but that we should reach our cruising altitude and smoother air in less than 10 minutes.
’s new IFE has been a troublesome one. I was prepared for numerous reboots and the lack of a working map. To my surprise the map was working and my IFE system worked without a problem. A fellow pax in the row before me had her IFE freeze on her, she alerted a FA
who then rebooted it. AC
’s IFE kept me up and entertained throughout the 6hr and 20 minute flight. The selection of movies, music and TV
shows was more than enough.
Catering service consisted of Drinks, dinner and a light snack prior to landing. I had some water and red wine for dinner. I asked for the chicken that came with a salad, a bun and some pasta and a brownie. It was good, but the portion was very small. The pre landing snack was an uneatable muffin that tasted a few weeks old. But hey, I wasn’t there to eat.
(sorry for the blurry pics)
I overheard two FA
talking about how they love this aircraft (777). One said, “I can’t believe how fast these aircraft are”. The other FA
replied “Much faster than the Airbuses”.
We started our approach over northern Germany. I looked out at saw what appeared to be FRA
in the distance, I was expecting us to turn and make a downwind approach. However the speed breaks popped up and the aircraft started a very steep descent. The spoilers remained fully extended until final flaps were selected. The landing on runway 07R was very smooth and we taxied to a dark and not very busy Terminal 1.
After deplaning I grabbed a small breakfast and called my mom in Budapest. That call lasted about 3 minutes and my credit card was billed for $60CDN, what a rip off. I am going definitely fight that!
The passport control area was chaotic. Overall I found that area of T1 to be very dated. My flight to BUD
was leaving for T1 pier A so I had to transfer from B pier. I used the underground transfer tunnel, I couldn’t believe that there only 3 elevators that were serving that area, there was a massive amount of people waiting for the elevators. FRA
needs to improve the entire transfer process. A lot of older people had trouble making it up the stairs to pier A. I went through security and reached pier A that seemed much newer than B pier. I had almost 6 hrs to kill which wasn’t very hard since I just perched myself near a window and enjoyed watching the traffic at FRA
I noticed that Runway 07 L and R were being used for primarily arrivals but some departures as well. Runway 18 was being used for most departures. I saw 5 AC
aircraft at FRA
, 2 B773ER, 1 B763 and 2 A330s, it is too bad they weren’t parked right by each other as that would have been an impressive sight!
My ride returning to YYZ
Lufthansa Flight 3444
September 27th 2009
From: Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1, Pier A
Gate A30, Dep. 1300 (on-time)
To: Budapest Ferihegy Airport Terminal 2A.
Gate 46 Arrival 1415 (15 minutes early)
I used the self-boarding process whereby one scans their boarding card and the turn style thingy tells you if you can board or not. The A320 seemed old and worn out. There was gum on my seat and the tray was extremely dirty. We taxied to Runway 18 and made a quick departure. I passed out shortly after take-off and woke up to receive the sad little sandwich that LH
offers on these short flights. Drinks were also offered at no-charge, it is becoming less and less common to get anything for free on a 1.5 hr flight. The 4 cabin crewmembers were very polite. We made a very bumpy descent towards Budapest and made the famous roller coaster type approach to runway 31R. I have never experienced such drastic turns and banks as I did during that approach. We made a hard landing and taxied to T2A. The aircraft parked at the terminal however we had to deplane using the stairs as there was no power at that part of the airport. BUD
is going through massive redevelopment so perhaps the construction caused the power outage.
Landing at BUD
Lufthansa Flight 3441
October 6th 2009
From: Budapest Ferihegy T2A
Gate 46, Dep. 0945 (10 minutes early)
To: Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1, Pier A
Gate 32, Arrival 1120 (15 minutes early)
I checked in online and picked a window seat for both flights. I was somewhat disappointed to learn that the flight was now being operated by an A319 and not the B733. The boarding went quickly and we taxied to runway 31R. BUD
was extremely buy there were 3 LH
flights departing within an hour of each other. There were only 2 LH
counters open. The flight was uneventful and the service echoed that of my FRA
flight. The cabin crew was again friendly and professional. We landed on Runway 25R and taxied to a busy T1 at FRA
Shadow on cloud with an ominous circle around it.
Landing at FRA
I had 1.5 hours to make the connection to my FRA
flight. To my surprise I didn’t have to go through security at FRA
. I arrived at the B26 to find a Turkish A321 being readied for departure. I guess it had some engine trouble. They kept trying to start the right engine numerous times. Finally the ground crew connected an external air supply hose to the aircraft and started the right engine while it was still parked at the gate. The A321 was pushed back and the left-hand engine was then started. Shortly after that I saw a lot of activity at the now empty apron area. Catering trucks were lining up and containers were being delivered. I noticed an A346 being towed towards the gate that turned out to be my ride to YYZ
. The aircraft was readied in less than 30 minutes by the very effective ground crew. There were 4 Skychef trucks, 2 fueling trucks and 3 cargo loaders in action.
A346 going to YVR
Troubled Turkish A321
Towing the future! This tug was massive!
Lufthansa Flight 470
October 6th 2009
From: Frankfurt Terminal 1, Pier B
Gate B26, dep 14:05 (20 minutes late)
Airbus A340-600 D-AIHA , Nürnberg (first flight 12/2003)
To: Toronto Pearson Airport T1
Gate 176, Arrival 16:30 (15 minutes late)
The boarding was well organized. The LH
ground staff members were very firm with people who did not observe the boarding instructions. Boarding was according the row number. Everyone was questioned about travel intentions and the their travel documents were carefully examined. 2 German passengers where denied boarding because their passports seemed counterfeit.
The A346 that I was traveling on was the oldest in LH
’s fleet and it showed its age. The seats where in good condition but the cabin seemed somewhat dirty. The seatback trays were in especially bad condition. The IFE system seemed to be a hybrid of the original armrest control type and the newly installed touch screen inseat system. There were also overhead screen throughout the cabin. The IFE movie selection was good and I found the system to be reliable. I watched Angles and Demons, The Hangover and the new Transformers movie. The system allowed you to either pick what you wanted to watch or watch what was being displayed on the overhead monitors.
We pushed back and taxied to Runway 07L for take off. The A346 seemed to require significant thrust to make it move. The engines spooling up for taxi seemed like we were about to take off. The RR
trents did their job and we lifted off after a long take off roll. We initially climbed to FL
My biggest complaint about the A346 was the airflow in the cabin. The cabin seemed hot and there didn’t seem to be any constant airflow. I must say that I prefer the air nozzles as you had some control over the air. I finally figured out that if I put my head against the wall of the cabin I would feel some sort of airflow. But the temperature seemed to stabilize during the flight.
The service onboard was terrific! The cabin crew was very polite, professional and helpful. Drinks were offered about 5 times during the flight. The food was great and the portions were a healthy size. LH
actually gives you a full bottle of beer, not a can!
The dinner choices were between chicken and sausage and the pre-landing snack was a stuffed sandwich type of bun with either sausage or tuna in it. Since it was Octoberfest and I was on LH
I went with the sausage selection both times.
We started our descent just after passing Ottawa from FL
380. We landed on Runway 24L, the landing was very smooth but the breaking was very hard. Runway 24L is the shortest at YYZ
and is the runway where the AF
accident occurred. The long A346 exited the runway at the very last taxyway and we proceeded to T1 at YYZ
. Baggage retrieval was quick and I made my way home.
Downsview airport, home of the Dash-8
Running out of runway!
I was very impressed by LH
! After careful consideration I would have to put LH
at par. Of course I found weakness and strengths from all three carriers but the service and punctuality is pretty much the same. My opinion of AC
is that it is a good airline but the penny pinching was very evident. In regards to aircraft, I would have to put the B777 first both due to comfort level and speed. I personally found AMS
to be the best airport to connect through with LHR
coming a close second. As for IFE, in my opinion AC
’s is the newest and the best. KL
’s is a close second followed by LH
’s and BA
’s. I was however disappointed that BA
don’t use overhead screens on their A32Xs (at least they didn’t on the ones I was on).
Thank you for taking the time to read my trip report!
KLM / Malév YYZ-AMS-BUD (Pics And Vids) (by KrisYYZ May 17 2008 in Trip Reports)
Malev YYZ-BUD-YYZ (Pics And Vids) (by KrisYYZ Nov 19 2007 in Trip Reports)