Well, you probably know how it is: one day you surf the internet and stumble upon this website. Sometime later, checking this website has become some kind of daily ritual. And soon enough you reach the point when you spend more time on here than with your girlfriend. Then you sign up and start posting. It can only go uphill from here.
Since I first came across Airliners.net I became especially fond of the tripreport section. Although tripreport sections in aviation-related forums are plentiful, in my opinion the contributions on here are still one step ahead from the rest - be it the telling pictures or the vivid stories, the respectful tone or the sheer variety of airlines, aircraft and airports covered.
So with my first post, and the ones hopefully to come, I try to contribute a tiny bit to this board that has entertained me so much during the recent years. Many of the regular contributors to this board have been an inspiration for what I am about to do in the following. So, if you recognize some traits of your own tripreport writing (and like what you see), take it as a compliment.
While a report of a not-so-special flight between two large European cities with an airline well covered here might not be too interesting for some people, I will post it nevertheless. Firstly, because on here every report seems to be appreciated and secondly, this flight is a prelude of an exciting itinerary, whose flights I plan to cover in following tripreports. So, let’s say for the sake of the start-to-end coverage of my journey,
Welcome to my 1st tripreport!
This report covers my flight with LH's regional subsidiary, Air Dolomiti, LH1862 from Munich (MUC) to Milan Malpensa (MXP) on an Embraer E-195.
It is a special time of year in Munich. We mark the Third of October, which is not only Germany's national holiday (the German Unity Day), but also the last day of the infamous Oktoberfest, those wonderful 17 days when ladies show us their beautiful traditional dresses (Dirndl) and adolescents the contents of their digestive system.
For a person who grew up in Bavaria, for whom Bavarian beer as well as the demonstration of traditional wardrobe is nothing special, I can hardly be blamed for being relieved to leave this mayhem behind.
“I can yodel and rant in Bavarian” - a typical piece of Oktoberfest paraphernalia
Ironically – perhaps – I am on my way to the one country whose citizens are so attracted by the Oktoberfest that there is even a special weekend (“Italienerwochenende“) dedicated to the visitors of this special country. Milan Malpensa (MXP) is the first destination of my trip which will take me on four flights and three new airlines. Lufthansa's subsidiary Air Dolomiti is the first of them. Although they are the third largest operator at MUC (my home base alongside NUE) I have never flown them. So it was about time.
Air Dolomiti has been covered quite well in this forum recently, but I believe this is the first report on the MUC-MXP route. Also, SR117's excellent recent tripreport features a detailed description of both MUC and MXP.
A few hours before departure I find myself at Munich's Central Station, having just waved goodbye to my better 50%, who I will not see for the next months while I am abroad. As today's holiday is on a Monday, trains are packed to the brim on the end of this extended weekend and, naturally, quite heavily delayed. Deutsche Bahn at its best.
Munich Central at Oktoberfest time, with an ICE high-speed train bound for Dortmund in the background
I head down to the belly of the station and board a dead-slow commuter train which needs 14 stops to reach Munich Airport. Embarrassingly for this city, this 45-minute connection is the quickest option to reach MUC from the city by public transportation. I am glad that my train experience is limited to this journey today and I am looking forward to fly on the E-195 over the Alps on this sunny day.
I step out of MUCs underground station and am released to Munich Airport’s plaza, which you have to cross in order to reach Terminal 2, Lufthansa's home base.
The Entrance to Terminal 2 with large Lufthansa billboard
Trying to be creative. Which is greatly facilitated by the nice architecture at MUC’s central plaza
I head into the Terminal, retrieve my boarding pass from a self-service kiosk in less than 30 seconds (self-check-in is mandatory here) and my suitcase is then checked in by a friendly agent. No waiting time at all, despite today being one of the major travel days in the whole year. The whole check-in process took two minutes, a quick and no-nonsense procedure. You can say a lot about Lufthansa, but their ground product (speaking as an economy passenger) is where they excel.
Everything seems okay with LH1862 to MXP today
Check-in kiosks and Lufthansa baggage drop counters for economy passengers to the right. I chose the ones across the hall (not visible, they are to the left of the kiosks), with no waiting passengers.
Now, my departure is still two hours away, but on a sunny day like this, heading airside is not really an option for me. Instead, I leave the terminal and head for the Airbräu beer garden at the central plaza. The beer might just be mediocre, but it is freshly brewed and unfiltrated. Also, it is pretty cheap. If you consider that it is a) a beer at an Airport restaurant and b) it is the Airport of Germany’s most expensive city, 2,40€ for half a liter is a good bargain.
The entrance to the beer garden is visible in the background. On the right are the escalators down to the commuter railway station.
I join an American couple at their table and soon we are accompanied by an older German woman. We engage in an interesting conversation and time just seems to fly by. It turns out the Americans are waiting for their luggage, a consequence of them missing their connection at PHL and having been rerouted through Manchester.
Around 20 minutes before boarding I head back into the terminal and pass security. As usual in Munich, you do not have to wait long in the queues. From my experience, security at Munich is not only very quick but also very thorough. It is no surprise for me that my external hard drive, my laptop and my camera get a special security screening.
After that a bit of walking is in order due to my gate being located at the southern end of the terminal. On the way I stop for an obligatory cup of tea at the self-service bars and grab some of the very few newspapers which are left over from the long weekend. On the way to my gates I pass the so-called “commuter yard”, four parking positions for commuter aircraft close to the terminal.
The commuter yard is exclusively occupied by Avros today
After a quick detour to the loo I reach my gate, where boarding is already well underway. I snap a few pictures and catch the registration until I pass the self-service boarding gate.
The aircraft taking me to Malpensa today…
…turns out to be I-ADJM, delivered in March 2009 directly to Air Dolomiti. It is one of five E-195s in the fleet and it is their third delivered example.
03 October 2011
1720-1830 (on time)
Embraer E-195 (ERJ190-200)
I-ADJM "Madama Butterfly di Giacomo Puccini"
Photo © Alexander Belenkov - St.Petersburg Spotters
Photo © Fabio Lorenzato - Piti Spotter Club
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a door.
I step aboard the aircraft, am greeted by one of the three female Italian cabin crew greets me, “buona sera”, and I make my way down the aisle. The aircraft is in immaculate condition, it is very clean and the blue and white colors give the cabin a fresh, airy feel.
I reach my row of seats settle down and hope that the aisle seat next to me stays empty, not that this would be necessary…
…given the absolutely sufficient legroom. I am 1.87m/6ft1 tall.
For a few minutes half of the seats at the rear part of the aircraft, where I am seated, stay empty. But then the aircraft is entered by a group of about ten men in their middle or late twenties, all obviously under the influence of alcohol. One of them became my new seat member but thankfully he passed out as soon as he sat down next to me and closed his seatbelt. Others however, started singing some football songs (I guess, I only understood “Luca Toni” and “Maccheroni”). Most of the group were scattered around aisle seats at the back of the aircraft and a rather loud conversation took place across maybe five rows. Before starting their safety demo one of the flight attendants approached the loudest one of the bunch and probably (it was Italian) told him to please be quiet. Although I did not understand the words, the mother-like tone of her rebuke was obvious. And this seemed to work with drunk Italians. So for the time being, they were quiet.
To distract myself, I explored the contents of the seat pocket and was surprised to find two airline magazines there:
Air Dolomiti’s own Spazio Italia…
…and the Lufthansa Magazin
Next to us: TC-JHE, bound for Istanbul.
As I expected that the service on Air Dolomiti would be streamlined with the standard LH service, I was very surprised when refreshing towels were handed out before pushback.
The towel was not your average wet wipe, but had in fact a towel-y texture.
Before pushback, the captain, with an heavy Italian accent, gave us some route and weather information. Flight time would be 50 minutes. We then pushed back on time and taxied out for our takeoff from runway 26L.
Quiet before the storm. The next departure wave is due soon.
SP-LID in front of us.
An overview of Terminal 2 @ MUC. Note the ANA 777
An all-white Augsburg Airways E-Jet. The building behind is the baggage sorting hall, which is to become a satellite of Terminal 2 in the near future.
Takeoff in western direction
The Isar river below
The Autobahnkreuz Neufahrn with its new “overfly”-bridge for smoother traffic from the airport to the city center. Heavy traffic on the A9 in northern direction to Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Berlin (north is at the bottom).
The northern outskirts of Munich with the Allianz Arena visible left of the center
The town of Dachau, known for being the location of the first concentration camp in Germany, opened only 51 days after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. The memorial site is clearly visible.
Munich with a hint of the Alps in the background.
From left to right: Starnberg Lake, Wörthsee, Pilsensee and Ammersee
The E-Jet’s overhead panel
And before we knew it, we reached the Alps. For your interest, my neighbor was still peacefully asleep.
At this point, about 20 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendants began their service in the economy cabin and distributed cups with a pineapple-melon fruit salad.
Air Dolomiti fruit cup
It’s certainly better than the notorious Milka bar on LH flights of the same length.
However, it took a while until the drink cart reached my row. So I continued enjoying the views.
Must be cruising somewhere over East Austria right now...
…or maybe already Switzerland? Or Liechtenstein (however briefly)?
Aah finally, a cup of tea.
The beverage cart gained of course some attention from our very special friends, many of whom opted for a glass of white wine. Unfortunately, this had the consequence of, let’s say, stepping on a sleeping lion’s tail. As soon as they had their first sip we were back to stage one, and Luca Toni was again prominently featured in the live onboard entertainment, to which the performers also added clapping. Yay.
Well, the flight attendants did not try to calm them down this time, maybe they knew that this flight would be over soon and so the problem would solve itself half an hour later.
Its much nicer outside of the cabin (well, as long as I don’t have to physically be there)
Soon, we started our descent into Milan Malpensa.
Already lined up for landing
Maybe an oil refinery
Taxiing to our parking position
Intercontinental flights: Air Mauritius A340-300, Oman Air A330-200
A part of the Air Mauritius 340 wing, Oman Air’s 330-200, TAM A340-500 and an Air China A330-200 tail. I will be boarding one of those aircrafts in a few hours!
A final shot of the cabin…
…and of the aircraft.
We were then bussed to the terminal, a quick trip to the loo and when I reached the baggage carousel my suitcase was already there. Good performance MXP!
Baggage claim at MXP.
I then made my way out into arrivals and from there directly up the escalators in order to check in for my next flight…
So, what is to say about Air Dolomiti? Their E-Jets are nice, clean new and still shiny aircrafts in which one can certainly feel comfortable in. The service was definitely okay for a 50 minute flight, the performance was on time and the Lufthansa ground product at Munich as well as the quick baggage delivery at MXP are also strong arguments for choosing to fly Air Dolomiti again.
However, I did not feel that comfortable during the flight. Please don’t get me wrong. My problems do not lie with the lads who had their fun at the Oktoberfest and then got on the same airplane as myself. I do not blame then for having fun, heck, I myself have certainly made some fellows feel not that comfortable once in a while when I was heading out for a party with my friends. Live and let live. I had my problems with the fact that the same obviously intoxicated passengers who were asked to behave before pushback were served alcohol half an hour later, when it was perfectly clear that this would result in an uncomfortable situation and a possible security threat for the majority of the passengers. However, will that result in me avoiding Air Dolomiti in the future? Probably not.
Thank you for reading!
Feedback is greatly appreciated.