Good day to you all and welcome to another story of mine! So what’s the story behind this one? Well actually I am trying to log the main Scandinavian airports out of my home airport BRU. For me that is: OSL, CPH, ARN and HEL. Having yet had OSL and CPH I went for a search on ARN and HEL. ARN was quickly ruled out on the days I wanted to travel since fares were painstakingly high…
I had a few options for HEL and to my surprise I found a day return on a Saturday for € 165 (so that’s ~ € 41 per leg) all incl on the ‘full service carrier’ Lufthansa (via FRA). I found this a very good deal and booked it right away. Only downside with this trip were the rather short connection times in FRA (60 mins outbound, 50 mins inbound). However I was still a bit hesitant: how would FRA airport and Lufthansa perform on these connection times? I had no idea… I knew I wasn’t going through security since I would be travelling intra-Schengen all day so that would not slow me down. But what with a delay and the arriving aircrafts parking on a remote stand? That could seriously take some off my precious time… Anyway, I decided not to bother and see what the day would bring me! So off we go:
The preparation for this trip started the day before: OLCI on the clear and easy navigable LH website. Normally I was to fly these aircraft in this order: B733, A320, B733 and A319. When checking in I noticed that the seat maps were not all according to these types. So I checked the LH seat maps on their site and learned that the 3rd leg (HEL-FRA) would be operated by a ‘refurbished’ B733. As some of you might know, the last row on the LH B733 has no window, so a ‘no sit’ for me that is Having completed the online checkin I had the boarding pass sent to my mobile phone. Also something new to try! I got 4 sms’ from LH, 1 for each leg, with links to the boarding pass. All you need is a phone with a web browser and that’s no problem nowadays.
The next day I got up at 4h45 and drove to airport, parked the car at Front Park 2 also called ‘Economy parking’ since it has the cheapest daily rate of € 16.
Then the looong walk to the A terminal where I arrived at gate A45 30 mins before boarding. The scheduled B733 waiting there, but still no activity around it…
Since I had a little time I walked around and spotted some morning activities.
I returned to the gate at boarding time where the gate staff just made and announcement that boarding would be 15 mins late (no explanation given). Damn, that was not a good start...
Seat: 23F (3 for me)
Everyone was quickly seated due to the light load. The captain and cabin crew made their speeches and we were good to go… almost. After sitting idle for about 20 mins, I watched the ground staff messing around with carts and bagage and bags and… They were seemingly arguing with each other and apparently messing up the whole loading process.
The captain came on again stating in German (and as far as I could understand) that this flight was undergoing ‘the most horrible and painstaking loading process he had ever experienced but that we would be on our way soon’. He appeared to be angry and frustrated. Judging from the scene I was witnessing outside I could see what he meant. So with a delay of about 30 mins we finally pushed back and made a beeline for rwy 25R.
We made a rolling takeoff and after a sharp left turn we went direction Frankfurt. Some nice views were possible of the city of Brussels after takeoff.
The cabin crew quickly spring into action: we were given a ‘Leo’ chocolate snake and a drink on this 40 min flight. After cruising for about 10 mins, descent was already initiated into FRA.
We taxied into gate A36. Really good cause with a delay of about 30 mins I would not have wanted a remote parking position.
After disembarking I checked the FIDS and learned that the next flight would depart from gate A28, only a short walk away, phew... In stead of running I could now leasurely stroll to the next gate, meanwhile enjoying all the great action FRA has on offer!
Boarding for HEL also started also some 15 mins late. Due to some operational issues there appeared to be an aircraft swap from an A320 to an A321. Lots of people were assigned new seats but I kept mine, 30A. Unfortunately this was no longer ‘window last row’ but I did not bother changing it.
Seat: 30A (1 for me)
A bus drove us to a remote stand, passing by some more ‘random FRA scenery’:
I got on last since I could not get enough of all the action around me and the smell of fresh kerosine
With everyone settling in I was hoping to having a row for myself but the plane was nearly full and 2 remaining seats next to me were quickly taken.
Pushback was on time and we taxied to 25R for takeoff
Service was a very tasty chocolate muffin and a drink, I had my lemon tea as usual. Then I switched into ‘relax mode’ and listened to some mellow tunes on my phone, occasionally peeping out the window to absorb all the beauty outside.
After about 1h45 mins airtime we started our descent into HEL.
After disembarking I went for a stroll around T1, looking for some action and a bite to eat. HEL gave me a nice impression: relatively small and with excellent views outside through clean windows. And the great weather helped a bit of course!
After a tasty salad and an overpriced bottle of water I sat back and enjoyed some nice views outside
The return flight would be leaving from gate A26. No delays visible for the moment and indeed, a B733 came in on time at gate A26. So hopefuly this would be a ‘refurbished’ one…
Seat: 9F (2 for me)
Boarding was announced on time and as I handed over my phone with boarding pass it was scanned ‘code red’. Due to an aircraft change I had to get a new seat, 9F in stead of 25A. I began to have the feeling that I would not be flying a refurbished B733… Upon entering my suspicion became harsh reality: it was again a ‘normal’ B733. I did not mind because the seating comfort was again extremely good.
We pushed back on time and made our way to 22R for takeoff
The climbout was quite bumpy and the seatbelt sign stayed on for quite a long time.
After some 45 mins, the sign went off and the crew distributed a hot snack (tortilla) which was tasty and we were offered 2 rounds of drinks.
After about 1h50 mins we initiated our descent into FRA. The captain also advised us on the presence of some thunderstorms in the area so we would twist and turn some to avoid them as much as possible. Exciting! The pictures don’t really do justice to as how magnificent the thunderclouds were. And we avoided them all!
With the bad weather passed we came into finals for FRA.
Apparently there were strong winds because the approach into rwy 25L got very turbulent.
We landed a few minutes early and taxied our way to gate A36, yes, the same arrival gate as this morning from BRU. What a coincidence!
Now for the last leg of the day I had some 45 mins to connect to the BRU flight which was to depart from gate A4. That would be no problem and I was there after a 10 min walk. These A gates are very long apparently!
I sat down in the vicinity of the gate and watched the activities outside. An A321 came in and made a sharp right turn to line up for the gate finger passing with it’s wing only a few metres away from the window where I was sitting. Apparently this is gate A1 and for sure the most difficult place to park in FRA I think.
The BRU flight was called on time and we were bussed to a very remote stand past the cargo apron to our scheduled A319.
Seat: 25F (2 for me)
Upon entering the cabin one crewmember already distributed a snack to speed up the inflight service because from the captain’s speech I learned that this flight would just take 35 mins.
This plane was also refurbished I think. It had very, I mean very thin new seats installed. They were narrow and quite uncomfortable. I can’t imagine sitting in these for more than 2 hours…
It seemed only just after takeoff and we already dived down for BRU. Again it was quite a turbulent approach but not for 25L but for 25R this time. I’ve never experienced this approach before so it was a nice bonus!
To conclude this story I can tell you I had a great day flying around and visiting HEL. Lufthansa delivers what I expected. Some years ago I went to Porto on Lufthansa as well and I remember getting a complete breakfast on FRA-OPO and a hot meal on OPO-FRA. Compared to today the offer was substantially less but I did not mind. Connections at FRA were painless and the mobile phone boarding pass worked also very well. As for HEL: a nice medium sized airport, well worth a visit and hopefully next time not only indoors!
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a note