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zolagola
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Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:34 pm

Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:35 pm

At the end of 2016, Lufthansa eventually received their first Airbus A350 ‘D-AIXA’ in Toulouse and ferried it to Munich where the first 10 A350 are supposed to replace the A346 fleet in the coming months and years.

Whilst the airline advised that BOS and DEL would be the first routes the new type would operate to, they also confirmed that a special inaugural flight would be organized, similar to what was done for the A380 a few years back.

So when Lufthansa opened these flights for booking in mid December 2016, I was one of the few lucky ones to master the technical difficulties on LH.com and complete my booking. I did however have to try a few times, got kicked out of almost complete bookings before eventually securing my EUR 180 ticket after 30-40mins trying.

Despite I had already logged the A350 with Qatar in 2015, I was still looking forward to the flight on 9feb17 as I was hoping to get a lot closer to the plane than on regular flights (and I wasn´t disappointed in that regard).

So I arrived at Munich airport on a grey Thursday morning and headed to the dedicated checkin counters LH had assigned for this flight. There were no people queuing, since you couldn´t check any baggage for the flight, OLCI was also possible and there was no special paper boarding pass for the flight, most people probably bypassed the counter

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The logo for the special flight to Hamburg and back

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Departure gate was K03 in the satellite building which opened just last year, so I used this train to connect to the K gates

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Quick FIDS check, yes K03 is still the place to be. Lufthansa used LH350 and LH359 as flight numbers for this event, which means the regular LH350 service FRA-BRE had a different flight number today

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As I was early and had skipped breakfast at home, I headed to the SEN lounge to grab a bite or two catch up with fellow Avgeeks there

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When we arrived at the gate around 9:30am (boarding was scheduled for 09:45am for a 10:30 departure), a lot of passengers and media reps were already enjoying the gate buffet and the drinks

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Gate buffet snacks

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We were then treated to two short speeches, one by LHs CCO Hub Munich, Steffen Harbarth, followed by the Head of LHs Airbus long haul fleet, Martin Hoell, who not only had picked up D-AIXA at Toulouse in December but also would be our captain today.

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Boarding started on time and because we stood in front of Cpt Hoell during his speech, we were among the first to board (LH did try to do a priority boarding for the Business Class passengers as well but at the same time opened the quick boarding gates so everyone could board already)

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And there she is, D-AIXA waiting at the gate

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Only a week earlier, D-AIXA had been christened ‘Nuremberg’ during the roll-in event at MUC

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View from the jetbridge during boarding

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The Business Class cabin comes in a 2-2-2 layout (as opposed to 1-2-1 other carriers use), so there is no direct aisle access for the passengers in the window seats. The middle block seats are aligned towards each other, so you better know the person next to you well when in one of those seats as the foot rests come quite close.

Notice the hole in the bulkhead between C and Y+ class? Any idea why this is there?

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There are three rows of Y+ seats in a 2-3-2 configuration behind the C cabin

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Y+ gives you the benefit of more legroom, better recline and more personal space due to the wider arm rests

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Whilst C & Y+ cabin have only been marginally improved in LHs A350, the Y cabin comes with a brand new seat and colouring scheme

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The cabin is configured in a 3-3-3 layout and different tones of blue are used for the seats (darker towards the window, lighter in the middle block). Seats 28A and 28K are your options for plenty of legroom as row 27 only features 2 seats in the outer blocks due to doors 3L/R

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Rear section of the forward Y cabin. I really like the new blue colour scheme

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The Y cabin before most of the passengers arrived

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LH says all three cabins received an upgrade in terms of screen size but in Y te change is most apparent

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The overhead bins are huge and passengers should find ample space to store their belongings

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For the first flight, I was in 25A, the 2nd last row of the first Y cabin and with a window in perfect position (I learned on the return flight that misaligned windows can reduce the joy of a window seat massively)

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Another key feature of the new seat is the headrest which can be moved quite high and also folded to support the head when sleeping (I last noticed this in an Airbus in BA’s Club Europe)

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Most of the good impressions of the new Y cabin were gone however once I had settled in my seat. 31in seat pitch were OK for the short flight to HAM, I wouldn´t want to be in this for the flight to DEL however.

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The overhead panel was lacking air vents and only had reading lights which are controlled via the IFE touch screen

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25A is an overwing seat and as such offers a nice view of the typical A350 winglet

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Sitting in an A350 and looking at its biggest competitor – AC arrived with a Dreamliner whilst we were waiting for our departure

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Time to look at the IFE which is controlled by touch screen. I know it’s the new standard but I don´t particularly like it – especially when the system is fairly slow to react (as during this flight), people start hitting the touch screen harder, much to the annoyance of the passengers in front of them. The IFE also has an icon for Live TV but it didn´t work on this flight. What did work was Flynet, the onboard broadband connection. Would have been great to use it onboard to post live reports but Lufthansa asked the regular price (EUR 9/h I believe) so I didn´t bother.

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The screen can be tilted to minimize the impact of light reflections and also features a headphone hack and an USB interface (though charging my phone didn´t work)

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The IFE airshow includes a flight information screen, obviously on the ground only basic details are shown here

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Today’s route, straight across Germany from South to North

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The crew then handed out a small booklet featuring tourist information about Germany’s North

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In the meantime the cabin had filled quickly and people were trying out the IFE

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Which also features three outside cameras, one of them allowed us to watch the ground crew prepare to disconnect the ground power so we could push back

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Push back was almost early then at 10:27am local and taxied to the runway

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My seat neighbours were following the taxi via the nose camera and joked about the pilot not sticking to the yellow line when turning

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We lined up on runway 08L without any wait time

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And at 10:41am local we were airborne, since no cargo was onboard we didn´t need much of the runway length

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Weather was improving…

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.. but only after we completed a left turn and made it through the clouds…

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.. the sun was shining and a blue sky greeted us

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Close-up of the winglet against the backdrop of a picture perfect blue sky

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Once seat belt signs had been switched off, I got up and checked out the cabin. One of the things that caught my attention was this seat – if you can´t sit there during take-off and landing, it´s not additional capacity you can sell. So I am not sure why LH are actually leaving this seat in, instead taking it out and selling the seat behind as “additional legroom” seat could even improve the Yield?

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Looking at the Business Class cabin again. The bigger screen can also be seen here (just comparing that to my recent B744 Upper Deck flight which had a much smaller screen). LH is planning to roll out a new Business Class product in 2-3 years so it will be interesting to see if they include direct aisle access for all passengers then

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One of the highly anticipated new features of LHs A350 was the new self-service area LH had announced. Some (including myself) envisaged it to be similar to the open bar feature e.g. QR have built into their A350. However, Lufthansa took a more… pragmatic approach here. The ‘self-service area’ is not much more than a basic rack to store water bottles and snack items. So in my opinion from a presentation point of view even worse than putting up a snack bucket in the galley.

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We had almost reached FL 380, so a quick look at the Trent XWB engine before heading back to my seat

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The crew handed out maritime-themed food trays, nice job by the LSG team in Munich. I am not entirely sure if it´s correct but I believed it to be egg salad, sweet potato mash and fish as well as a bread roll which came in shape of a muffin

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I finished it with a glass of bubbly

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Another wing view as we were banking on what was already the approach to Hamburg

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A last look at the sun…

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… before flaps were extended and we disappeared in the grey

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Since it was not a normal flight, there was another highlight in the itinerary – paying a visit to Airbus’ home in Hamburg: Finkenwerder (XFW)

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We did a low pass at XFW, past a Beluga freighter and an EK A380

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It was really interesting to see how the cabin went absolutely quiet during the low pass and everybody was watching it on the screen or looking outside the windows

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We then circled over Hamburg and passengers on the right hand side could see the city but most of the time clouds were blocking a better view

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After 90mins we eventually touched down on HAMs runway 15

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Watched by a massive crowd of spotters and ground staff, we taxied to the Lufthansa Technik area

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Here we deboarded and had the chance to walk around the aircraft

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Buses were waiting to bring us to the main terminal

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Before deboarding, several people queued to get a view of the cockpit. Cpt Hoell, who was pilot flying on this flight, welcomed us

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Outside, ground staff had even organised a small ladder to allow people to take better pictures

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She does look beautiful, doesn´t she

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The Trent XWB engine was obviously in the focus for many

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Just to give an impression of its size

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Great for photographers, spotters and vloggers alike, there were no restricted areas

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The weather had improved but it was freezing cold so I was glad when I hopped onboard the last bus back to the terminal. Some apron views on the way

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HAM is pretty much a low cost-heavy airport with German/Eurowings, easyjet, Ryanair and Air Berlin all operating multiple flights from here

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At the gate, there again were speeches, this time by the CEO of Lufthansa Technik, Dr. Johannes Bussmann, and Michael Eggenschwiler, the CEO of Hamburg Airport

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Of course a gate buffet was also on offer, people seemed to be fairly hungry as the queue was endless (fortunately there was a flying buffet as well)

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We skipped most of the speeches and headed to the lounge upstairs as it features and outdoor terrace which offered a nice apron view

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D-AIXA had been towed to the apron in the meantime as well after local media and LH Technik staff had completed their tour of the new aircraft

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At 3pm local boarding for the return flight started, we were bussed to the aircraft which allowed for some more outside shots before hoping back onboard

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The Trent XWB again

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As my seat 29K was in the rear section of the aircraft, I boarded through 4L

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This photo shows how far the overhead bins extend down when open – I hit my head more than once that day

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View of row 30

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The small Y+ cabin – as you can see there is no proper separation from the main Y cabin expect for the shade hanging from the top. Not sure if this would convince me to buy a Y+ ticket

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As I mentioned before, on the return flight I had a misaligned window, if I wanted to look outside I either had to lean forward and hit the seatback in front of me or twist and try to look out this window

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Before take-off, the crew handed out nuts with a special A350 inaugural tag

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At 3:35pm local we started the push back and taxied all the way out to runway 05 where we lined up after a landing A320

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Again a short take-off run only was necessary to get LH359 airborne

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Climbing out of HAM. At the far end you can see a B748 of Qatar Amiri flight as well as a Abu Dhabi Amiri flight B748

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The HAM terminals. A large area of the apron is a building site at the moment so not all gates can be used by aircraft

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The Hamburg LSG team also wanted to impress and provided the food for the return flight in a nice maritime-style bag

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During the entire return flight, the crew advised passengers of the dozen or so different light scenarios they can select, this was the dinner light scenario if I am not mistaken

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At the rear of the plane, just before the aft galley, is the crew rest entrance

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The cabin crew can initiate IFE resets or see passenger calls on the screens which are located at different areas of the aircraft

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Quick look at the aft galley

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HAM had been mostly sunny in the afternoon but the rest of Germany was covered in clouds

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Approaching MUC

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After exactly 1h flight time, we touched down on runway 08L in MUC again where we had departed from just 6 hours ago

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Touchdown

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We arrived at the regular terminal this time

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Look outside during deboarding

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A last look at D-AIXA, wishing her a got flight to DEL

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As we entered the terminal, ground staff handed out flight certificates and a typical gingerbread heart which was a nice memory of the flight (though during the roll-in the prior week, guests had been given a A350 model, knowing that other airlines also hand out models during their inaugural flight, I had hoped LH would do the same)

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That marks the end of both the special flight and thus also my trip report. Overall it was a nice event and two memorable flights. I enjoyed the opportunity to do a walk-around in HAM and chatting to crew and fellow Avgeeks onboard and on the ground. The crew was really lovely, highly motivated, friendly and patient in their interactions with the many aviation enthusiasts onboard (though some of the announcements they made were a bit bumpy). If you discount the poor and buggy booking process I think LH did a good job with this event. I´d definitely be up for similar events in the future.

I hope you found the report interesting (knowing that this event had multiple coverage also here on a.net) and if you fancy feel free to check out some of my other trip reports as well:

2016
European Regionals (incl. CS100)
Round the world (Part 3): Arabic A380 Apogee (Etihad Apartment)
Round the world (Part 2): Skipping a day
Round the world (Part 1): a First Class start
Air Berlin across the pond – AB Y+ & C on DUS-MIA-DUS
A South American Teaser – LAN C 787 on FRA-MAD
Testing The Swiss Triple Seven In C FRA-ZRH-GVA

2015
Tudo Bom! - To Brazil In BA First & Club World
Lost In India – BOM-DEL-DOH-DME In AI+QR C
Meeting The Singapore Girls – ZRH-SIN-BOM In SQ C
At Putin’s Show Room - Maks Airshow 2015
New, Newer, Qatar Airways – A350, A380 & B788 In C
Siam Birds - Nokair & Bangkok Airways

2014
Quick Trip Across The Pond To NYC (SN & UA In C)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P3)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P2)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P1)
Beijing And Back In C: LH A346 Vs. CA B773
A visit To Kingman & Mojave Boneyards With LX & LH
Northwest In Style - FRA-SEA-FRA In LH F (old)
Living The Dream(liner) – LAN FRA-MAD-FRA In Y

2013
Sleep Like An Egyptian:BRU-CAI-BKK-CAI-FRA In MS C
Endangered Species - A Weekend Trip To Russia (P2)
Endangered Species - A Weekend Trip To Russia (P1)

2008
The True Berlin Airport - Last Trip To THF
 
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KruegerFlaps
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:17 am

Re: Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:02 am

Hi Zolagola!

What a fantastic day out. Lufthansa certainly spared no expense in this special flight. No wonder there was a queue at the buffet in HAM.

It was a nice touch that a low-level flight over Finkenwerder was included and a circuit so that passengers on both sides of the aircraft could (weather permitting) view the city.

The new interior looks good although it is a shame about the misaligned window on the return flight.

Thanks for making the effort to write a proper, detailed trip report. It was an enjoyable read.
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves. - William Pitt Speech, 1783
 
debonair
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Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:36 pm

Nice TR...

The hole in the bulkhead between C and Y+ is quite common on every airliner, the crew can check during take-off and landing if somebody stands up. It will be closed in cruising (like curtains).

Do you remember the seat number of this unusable seat? Have you asked why this seat is unusable?
 
OlafW
Posts: 335
Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:15 pm

Re: Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:48 pm

Nice TR, thank you!
As for the mystery seat, maybe it's kept in so there is no need to have a different solution for the IFE of the seat behind it. I guess it would be difficult to stow the screen somewhere else without problems.

It looks like the flight path also took you near Stade, where some parts of the 350 are manufactured - or was it just a holding pattern?
 
PlaneHunter
Posts: 6538
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

Re: Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Mon Feb 13, 2017 6:48 pm

Hi Zolagola,

great report about a truly special and enjoyable event. I also had been lucky to get seats on these flights. Hadn't planned to write an own report, so good to see yours.

I can only agree with you in terms of seating. While I found the seat itself rather comfortable, legroom is simply not enough for longhaul flights. Once inch more would make a difference. Shoulder space isn't generous either, the 3-3-3 configuration on the so-called "Xtra Wide Body" isn't great at all. Give me an A330 with 2-4-2 any day. Btw - I also noticed another passenger hitting his head at an opened overhead bin.

As for Business Class - I tried it on the 748 (upper deck) some time ago and found it very comfortable, but I was travelling with a partner back then. When on tour alone, I'd certainly prefer to have a window seat with direct aisle access. Isn't it quite amusing that LX, OS and SN are using superior configurations? So let's see what LH is planning for the 777X...

Oh, and I didn't meet anyone on board who did not encounter any problems during the booking process. What I found interesting was that LH's hub manager referred to "160 enthusiasts" in his speech...so I guess that means LH only sold 160 seats and gave the rest away to media and other VIPs.

Anyway, the low pass and the short and powerful climb at XFW were among the highlights, even though not as spectacular as the maneuver with the A380 at SZG in 2010. The crew was great and I also found the catering very good, both on the ground and in the air.

Now let's hope for a similar event with a 777 in 2020...


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
mxp
Posts: 485
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Re: Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:38 am

Nice report thx for sharing. Actually i Was airside watching u landing and take off I just came as a day trip from Milan to photograph it. The A350 is so beautiful in LH colors
Alberto
 
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zolagola
Topic Author
Posts: 86
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:34 pm

Re: Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Wed Feb 15, 2017 11:16 pm

Thanks for all your comments.

KruegerFlaps wrote:
The new interior looks good although it is a shame about the misaligned window on the return flight.

I forgot to write but the reason this seat with a misalignd felt uncomfortable was that it very much reduces your personal space. I had a (regular sized) gentleman in the middle seat who occupied the arm rest. With no window at the other side your shoulder hits the wall and you hav problems moving in your seat. Not a nice thing when you would be stuck that way for 5-6 hours..

debonair wrote:
The hole in the bulkhead between C and Y+ is quite common on every airliner, the crew can check during take-off and landing if somebody stands up. It will be closed in cruising (like curtains).

Thanks, didn´t know that and had never see it before :thumbsup:

debonair wrote:
Do you remember the seat number of this unusable seat? Have you asked why this seat is unusable?

It was 18C and we didn´t get to check with the crew whilst onboard.

OlafW wrote:
As for the mystery seat, maybe it's kept in so there is no need to have a different solution for the IFE of the seat behind it. I guess it would be difficult to stow the screen somewhere else without problems.

That could be an explanation but then again they have similar seats where they find a solution for the screen and the tray table (28A, K)..

OlafW wrote:
It looks like the flight path also took you near Stade, where some parts of the 350 are manufactured - or was it just a holding pattern?

No, that was intended and whilst cruising there, the captain came on intercom and explained which section of the aircraft had been manufactured there (I believe the wing or parts thereof). Unfortunately the clouds were too thick to see the compound from the plane.

PlaneHunter wrote:
I can only agree with you in terms of seating. While I found the seat itself rather comfortable, legroom is simply not enough for longhaul flights. Once inch more would make a difference.

Having just flown in a LH A321 the other day, I found it more comfortable from a legroom perspective than the A350 of LH...

PlaneHunter wrote:
Shoulder space isn't generous either, the 3-3-3 configuration on the so-called "Xtra Wide Body" isn't great at all. Give me an A330 with 2-4-2 any day.

Indeed, shoulder space can be a nightmare as well as I experienced on the flight back to MUC. I also prefer a 2-4-2 layout, whether travelling alone or with the family, it´s much more convenient you don´t have to inconvene two people when you want to to get out..

PlaneHunter wrote:
As for Business Class - I tried it on the 748 (upper deck) some time ago and found it very comfortable, but I was travelling with a partner back then. When on tour alone, I'd certainly prefer to have a window seat with direct aisle access. Isn't it quite amusing that LX, OS and SN are using superior configurations? So let's see what LH is planning for the 777X...

To be fair the current LH C was a massive improvement of the previous angled lie flat seats. Not everyone likes the LX C (I do as it offers different options depending if you are travelling as couple or alone) but maybe LH takes up this approach (I can´t see them opt for a 1-2-1 layout as other carriers have as a standard).

PlaneHunter wrote:
Oh, and I didn't meet anyone on board who did not encounter any problems during the booking process. What I found interesting was that LH's hub manager referred to "160 enthusiasts" in his speech...so I guess that means LH only sold 160 seats and gave the rest away to media and other VIPs.

A friend of mine works for LH and was able to get her seat on the flight just the Monday before the flight when LH internally offered 35 seats on a first come, first serve basis. I found it odd they left it to the very last minute, so they had probably blocked a lot more seats for the media.

PlaneHunter wrote:
Now let's hope for a similar event with a 777 in 2020...

I´d definitely be up for that! Just hope they don´t find a way to operate it with a 11 abreast config :gnasher:
 
dcajet
Posts: 4707
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 9:31 am

Re: Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:02 am

The hole in the bulkheads is a very common feature on most planes these days. It has to do with safety, as crews can better monitor the cabins, especially during take off, descent and landing. Once in flight, the openings are closed shut.
Keep calm and wash your hands.
 
dalalways
Posts: 45
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Re: Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

Thu Mar 02, 2017 2:58 am

I know others have mentioned it but... as a flight attendant we have to be able to see at least 50 passengers during taxi, take off, landing and cabin preparations during an emergency. The bulkhead partition allows us to remain compliant with safety regulations. you will notice these on both narrow bodies and wide bodies depending on cabin jump seat placement. They can be quite annoying when passengers decide they want to play with the latches during the flight and they slam open and pinch their fingers! :roll:

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