To all my fans let me start by apologizing for not posting a trip report in such a long time. I know there are millions of you who miss my wit, my charm and my genious. I will try to repair some of the damage with this trip report.
In the past year my travels have taken me around the globe once again. I have moved from Argentina to Spain (in which many would consider a dumb move, and I am not sure I disagree) and have been to India, Chile, Greece and the UK. Whatever caused my mood to be so negative that I could not take pictures in any of these trips I will never know, but once I decided to fly to California to meet my new born nephew I took the decision to document and choose flights that would be fun to report.
As I had miles on milesandmore I called as far ahead as June to secure my trip which I wanted to have in September. Results were disastrous. I had to settle for something as horrendous as Usairways A333 from Madrid to Philadelphia, United 738 onto San Francisco, United 753 from SFO to IAD and Air Lingus A332. On top of this catastrophe, there was no business class seats available, so I had to endure the horror of Y traveling on US airlines.
As the date approached I did not want to accept my destiny and I kept calling on a weekly basis the good people of milesandmore here in Madrid, so much so that they ended up recognizing the crazy idiot who was obsessed with finding different flights from what they thought were good enough ones given the time of the year.
But, perseverance runs deep in my family and my efforts eventually paid off. I was offered to travel on Lufty from MAD to SFO via Frankfurt, including a seat on the whalejet albeit in Y, and returning on Swiss in their magnificent J class. I was sold immediately.
September 1st. Madrid to San Francisco
Taking the whale had a price. I had to wake up at 3.30 AM to catch a 6.10 AM flight to Frankfurt. I made the faithful decision to trust one of my colleagues here to take me to the airport that morning. Why on earth did I do that? I truly don´t know, but the obvious ended up happening. My friend –let´s call him Iñaki for the time being – calls me pissed drunk at 3.10 saying that because he is such a good friend he is willing to risk others and himself and take me drunk to the airport, but hey, it is entirely my call...
So after hanging up the phone I called a taxi immediately. I arrived at Barajas around 4.10 Am with more than enough time for my flight. I had checked-in the day before so I went straight into the “baggage drop” line and was done in no time. Security was no problem at that ungodly hour and I was airside, angry at Iñaki and ready for my flight by 4.25 AM.
You want to know what Barajas looks like at that time? Take a peek:
Hay balls and all:
Yes, Lufthansa uses the awful T2 in Barajas. It is dated, ugly and a hideous monster compared to the beatiful T4. Here is my plane, not even being prepared yet for the flight:
Sorry about the quality of the pictures. I aint no photographer and they are the best I could do.
I boarded at the rigth time, we took off precisly on-time and there is not much more I can tell you about that flight. I was very sleepy and slept most of the flight. I can tell you the A321 was almost full except for the seat next to mine (yeay!) and that we landed on runway 7R.
As I had very tight 50 minute connection I was, of course, left on the tarmac waiting for a bus.
My plane from the bus:
And me feeling artistic:
As I was in a hurry, the door on the back of the bus did not want to close. It kept springing open. German efficiency took control and a guy in the ramp applied brute force to get it shut. We lost 2 or 3 precious minutes on this process.
See, we had landed smack on time, which meant that we had landed at the same time my flight to San Francisco was supposed to start boarding. Feeling a little nervous I watched 3 Lufty A380s parked on Terminal 1 as my bus took me to the absolute opposite end of said terminal. I got off and started not running – that´s not gentelman-y – but walking fast and pushing people, or biting them when necessary was what I did.
Went through passport control quickly and reached security. There was a dedicated line for the SFO flight at security. It was empty, so I knew I would not be the first to board. Obviously, I also developed a need to pee out of this world just because I had not time to go to the bathroo. There was another checkpoint for the US flights and I went through it gracefully and swiftly, with a swooshing sound even.
I reached the gate looking calm and fashionable. But the gate agent didn´t like that, so she asked me with a forced smile: are you Mr. Fuentes? I am no liar so I had to concede. “you need to board quickly, we were waiting for you” she offered me, to which I replied blushing: “but I have to go to the bathroom, is down the hall I can see it from here”, and she said very serious (why so serious?): “you can go in the airplane”.
Feeling defeated I boarded the A380 for the second time in my life. The first time the experience had been just as embarassing but for different reasons, do you guys remember?
Hard Landing On The A380! QF31 SIN-LHR. (by Ogre727 Sep 21 2009 in Trip Reports)
On that flight, prior to boarding, and overtaken by jetlag and emotions I ended up sheding a tear or two as I was so excited about boarding the A380. No comments.
So this time, bladder about to explote I jumped on the plane, not even hearing the “willkommen” the flight attendant greeted me with. Instead, I run back to the bathroom to relieve the situation.
Once done, I retraced my steps to the front of my section looking for my seat: 63A. I was lucky once again. Another empty seat next to mine!!!
Here it is. Tight legroom.
Prior to my trip, I checked a youtube video on how a Lufthansa marketing guy talked about the Economy section on the A380 and the “living space” and how legroom wasn´t the only important thing... well. Measuring a towering 1.85 meters of height let me assure you legroom is paramount and living space or whatever he called it is... blah
Here are the two other A380s I saw parked when I landed:
Some views from my seat:
We pushed back almost as soon as I got seated and started our taxiing to runway 07L. On the way we passed next to a 787:
We had almost no waiting time before take off. I was amazed again by how quiet this bird is:
Yes, you can make fun of me for using the camera vertically for the video. I deserve it fully. Sometimes I am like that and can´t help it.
Anyways... the first time I flew on the whale-jet I felt the climb was very slow, and I had the same impression this time around. Luckily the weather was good and it was a smooth ride.
Just because I had never done it before I ordered when checking in one of them special meals. I requested the “no fish” option as I hate fish or anything that comes from the ocean... The result was predictable. I was the first to be served my meal. But that came with a horrible price.
First, when asked if I had ordered the special meal I initially said no and a dumb look dominated my face because I honestly had forgotten I had ordered it. So when I remembered I had to call the flight attendant and I felt as dumb as my look. But that was not the bad part. I can deal with being dumb, have dealt with it since day one, back in ´76. The problem was that there was nothing to drink! Only water! I firmly believe some explorers crossing the atlantic for the first time some 500 years ago had it better than me in terms of fresh water supplies, wine, or etc.
What came along was some pasta dish which was... look!
Can you say yummy? I couldn´t....but I was served first! First!
This was the salad:
So, as I said, it´s clear some explorers five hundred years ago had it better than me. That´s for sure.
I had to wait some half hour or 45 minutes before everybody got served their meals before I got my tray taken away. My own fault, I know. Never pulling again the stupid trick of the special meal.
They did come at the end offering tea or coffee. I chose Baileys which tasted good despite the refined plastic cup:
I had serious problems with the reflection of the sun so I took bad pictures such as this one:
Feeling bored, I tried their enterteinment system. Normally my IQ fluctuates between single digits (over the weekend, whisky sour in hand) and almost 100.... but I was so sleep deprived I don´t think I had any IQ left. So when I got this screen I truly didn´t know what to do:
Maybe some day I will fly on Lufty´s A380 again and I´ll know what to do with this message. This time around it led to a frozen brain state from which I have never fully recovered.
Feeling adventurous I decided to walk around a little bit and this is what I saw:
I eventually walked back to my seat and slept. Slept. And then slept some more....
When I awoke I needed to go to the bathroom yet again (it´s the downside of being old and experienced). All restrooms were full so I had to wait a while. Eventually a door sprung open and this asian guy tells me in broken English: no toilet paper, no toilet paper!!!
I was unsure what to do with this information. I didn´t need toilet paper for my pending affairs, but what would I encounter when I entered the toilet he just left?
I really had to pee so I took a deep courage-gathering breath and went in. And it wasn´t too bad! But, he was absolutely right:
No seat covers available either:
Bad job Lufty! Bad job! I mean... both rolls were gone, and no seat covers left... this can only mean that they hadn´t checked those toilets in a while! In their defense I do have to say that they did more than a few water rounds, so it´s not like we had a horrible crew. But they forgot to check the toilets!
Smiling, glad my affairs were simple to deal with I walked back to my seat. Not long after that my special meal number two came along. This time I was better prepared and when asked “you ordered a special meal?” I put on my important-person face on and said matter-of-factly “indeed I did”.
Is it really worth it commenting this meal? Maybe yes maybe no. All I can tell you is that it was small for a second meal on an 11 hour flight. Tasty? Somewhat. Well presented? Efficient!
We flew over Vancouver and Seattle on our way down to SFO.
We flew over San Francisco and I was very unhappy to see it was all foggy so the city couldn´t be seen at all. I had chosen the left side of the plane as on my previous trip with Air France I had taken beatiful pictures when arriving. Not to be this time.
We flew past the airport and right about where Stanford University is we did a 180 degree turn. Here is Stanford:
If you have read my previous A380 report you will likely remember landing was hard, my neck and psyche were scarred forever. Evidently, I was scared of this landing and I started to whimper like a puppy as got closer to the airport
Angels and the like were on my side this time and landing was very smooth, you would not believe it:
Probably one of the best landings I have ever ever experienced. Oh and that lovely crying baby you hear for a second or two pulled the same yelling trick over the 11 hours of flight. The mother tried her best, but the baby won.
One thing I did notice and found odd was that the video coming from the tail camera was a good 5 seconds delayed. It´s like censorship for the superbowl affected even this tail camera! It was very weird.
We taxied gracefully to the international terminal. Why would I bore you with how long the immigration lines were, and how I was asked why was I visiting my brother for only 5 days and if my American Express had a limit to it... (huh?).
After immigration I walked to retrieve my bag. Then, an exact repeat from my 2008 visit occured. Over the PA system:
“would passenger ... er...er... Mr. FUEEEENTES approach the Lufthansa office please”
This could only mean I ran faster than my bag in Frankfurt. It also meant that Lufthansa is selling tickets for connections that ARE NOT realistically achievable. 50 minutes are not possible, period. I had given them the benefit of the doubt, but my bag not arriving, given the fact that our flight into Frankfurt landed smack on time means that it just can´t be done.
Yeah yeah, I know what you will all say, that my bag was delivered on the very next flight, and that Lufthansa did a great job at immediatly sending my bag to Munich so it could make the MUC-SFO flight which was later that very day... Yes... yes.. you are right about all that, and that they showed great coordination and a quick solution.
But don´t you think that the inconvenience of not arriving with your bag, of having to buy toiletries or underware and then have to go through the process of refunding the bills for those expenses, or having to wait till 11PM for my bag to be delivered at my brother´s house (mind you, everybody and the baby go to bed much earlier than that...) Well... don´t you think that this could be avoided by selling tickets for connections that are indeed possible? I trusted Lufthansa and I never will with a short connection. Just like I don´t trust Air France either. Only (I know it hurts) the folks at British Airways have made it possible for me at Heathrow. So there you go.
So I guess, that's it for the first part of my trip report. Impressions? Many. I truly like Lufthansa and will continue to do so. This trip didn´t help much, but it wasn´t horrible either. The crew was very nice and friendly in general. The food wasn´t horrendous (as hard as they tried), and the toilet incident is a minor one. And I was served first. First. The bag incident needs to be looked at.
The plane? I love the A380. It´s roomy, airy, quiet. Perhaps the windows are a little weird with so much separation between you and the actual outer layer of the plane.. but hey, that ain´t no catastrophe. And the landing was spectacular.
If I had to grade this trip... from 1 to 10... 10 being the best... I would give it a 6.5....
I keeeeeed, I would give it an 8. Really. I recommend Lufthansa but they have areas they need to improve as outlined above.
I will do the return trip later folks. Promise.