Although the duration of the trip was only five days it was a trip of many firsts. My first time flying a foreign carrier (Lufthansa), my first trip alone, my first time in Germany and my first time flying the A330. Though the thought of traveling to Germany this time of year (early February) might seem strange it was technically a business trip for my startup as I was attending a trade show called ISPO Munich (a trade show for outdoor clothing and athletic brands). I will be honest however, during the days and hours before the travel date I was riddled with anxiety and stress with concerns ranging from if the trade show would be a success to basic worries such as finding my way in a foreign city making me short tempered, sweaty and a little irrational. In any case I bet you're ready for some pics!
Route: DEN - MUC
Flight Number: LH 481
Flight Time: 10hrs and 45mins
Date: February 3rd, 2017
Taking into consideration my worries, my mom drove me to the airport and decided to stick around until it was time to proceed to TSA to ensure I checked-in ok and possessed the necessary information. We reached Lufthansa check-in desk and there was virtually no line as we were among the first passengers to arrive. The agent invites me over to proceed and I hand him my passport upon request. Interestingly enough for some reason his polished appearance and calm/professional demeanor instantly cleared my anxiety and assured me that I was in good hands (or it could be that the reality of finally being a paying passenger on one of Europe's most well know and respected airlines was beginning to set in!). As a small celebration of victory I grab a small handful of LH bag-tags, raise one to my mother and proclaim that i've finally earned a Lufthansa tag!
IMG_2530 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
F9 and DL narrow bodies
IMG_2531 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Ah! Guten Nachmittag Frau Lufty!
IMG_2532 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
The ship being prepped for her long journey home
IMG_2536 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2537 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Departure gate (A45 for first/business class while A47 for everyone else)
IMG_2534 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
At around 3:20 the boarding call was announced and great anticipation was building. I almost still couldn't believe I was boarding Lufthansa! I get in the queue and eventually hand over my passport and ticket to the gate agent who quickly glanced at the photo, scanned my boarding pass and with a friendly "Thank You, Bye!" I was merrily trotting down the jetway like a giddy 7 year old smiling like a psychiatric patient. Reaching the A330 boarding door I was greeted by a pleasant FA who guided me to the correct aisle. Holy cow! Im in! Once onboard, its easy to forget how much time it can take to reach your seat onboard a widebody. The seat itself although on the firm side was comfortable enough for a long haul and pitch was surprisingly decent with no entertainment box in the way. I will admit once settling down and looking out the window I felt high and mighty looking down at the domestic jets. After getting settled I was joined by my seat mate, a gentleman from Fayetteville on his way to Prague.
IMG_2546 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Wing-view with a humble little Mad Dog on preparing to fly to ORD
IMG_2543 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2544 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
An FA with what appears to be a tray of plush toys for the younger passengers. I didn't know LH (or any airline for that matter) still lended toys to kids
IMG_2547 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Lufthansa Entertainment OS
IMG_2545 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Push Back & Taxi
Not surprising for a German airline our flight pushed back right on the dot. During push back the safety video commenced which was a smart and efficient presentation with soothing electrica background music. Once Frau Lufty regained consciousness and slowly sailed away from the gate we stroll past other wide bodies: A BA747, Mama Lufty 747 and a sleek looking Icelandair 757.
IMG_2551 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2552 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Take-off and first few hours of flight
The aircraft reaches the active runway and we sit for a few moments waiting for the go-ahead from tower. Finally, the RR's come to life and once again in typical DIA fashion Lufty takes her sweet time getting airborne. I will note however, the take-off was a little strange. Minimal power was applied initially and little by little increased until we lifted off. The airbus confidently soars into the sky and we quickly disappear into the dense clouds not to be seen again for another 10 + hours. The first few minutes were quite bumpy as we flew through dense clouds and clear air turbulence from the nearby mountains but over time dissipated. Later, the purser comes through the intercom to inform us on the inflight service and then roughly 45 mins inflight the FA's offer drinks and a light snack. Feeling festive I order a glass of white wine.
IMG_2555 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2556 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2563 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2559 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2562 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Once the snack was finished I took the time to familiarize myself with LH's inflight entertainment OS. A good selection of movies both domestic and foreign along with a travel guide that gave insightful tips on what to see and do in Munich as well as advice on German culture. The overhead lights and the FA call button were also operated via the touch screen PTV. First these buttons were above, then they migrated to the armrest controller and now you access them through the screen. The music selection was a little disappointing as the OS did not come with a radio stream but instead a pre-programed limited selection of music that I've never heard of as the artists were predominately German and Scandinavian. The biggest let down was the dysfunctional inflight map. It constantly froze and flickered thus rendering it impossible to watch. Everything else worked fine.
I decide to stretch my legs for a few moments to review the lav. Everything appeared to be in order. Once returning to my seat the FA's begin a hot towel service in preparation for dinner. A welcome relief for my dry skin.
IMG_2564 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2565 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
No menu was offered as the FA stated the options to the passengers. The predictable usuals of chicken or pasta were offered. I chose the chicken but the pasta option with garlic pesto was quite tempting. Despite reading numerous trip reports i've forgotten how tiny the portions were. The food was actually quite good as the rice was tender and sticky, the chicken was moist and flavorful and the salad cool and crisp but the brownie (although decent enough) was unremarkable. The only downside was the ciabatta bread which was cold and hard and as mentioned already the small portion but it did the job and kept hunger at bay.
Bone app the teeth
IMG_2568 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2572 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
After dinner drink offerings
IMG_2574 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Cabin walk around
After the dinner service had concluded why not take a quick lap around economy!
IMG_2575 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2576 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2579 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2580 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
At this point I've already consumed two servings of two-buck chuck quality wine along with an after dinner hot tea which was making it extremely difficult to stay awake and since i've already watched the films I was interested in I might as well catch some zzzz's while I still can. On the PTV's, there is a function on the screen that enables passengers to set a message that states "Please wake me for meal service" to the FA's. Despite welcoming this feature I was highly doubtful the busy FA's would bother to look and notice so I set my phone buzzer to the estimated time they would commence the breakfast service. All in all, I've managed to achieve about 2 1/2 hours of poor quality sleep (I don't sleep well on planes)
Wake-up, breakfast and arrival
By the time I woke up we were well within EU aerospace with the breakfast service commencing somewhere over southern England with about 90 mins before landing. Again with a hot towel service then shortly followed by the actual meal.
IMG_2581 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2559 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
No options were given for breakfast (usually there isn't an option for economy) but offered on this flight was an egg omelette served with potato cakes and a side of spinach (nice and hot) along with a fruit cup (frozen solid, tasteless and had seen fresher days) and a roll that was again cold and hard (why don't airlines ever warm up the bread) along with an assortment of jams and butter. It was a little greasy but overall a surprisingly good meal and definitely hit the spot although the spinach was inedible.
IMG_2584 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
After the final meal/beverage service ended the captain (or was it the purser?) comes through the intercom notifying passengers that we would be arriving in MUC shortly and to take care of any last minute tasks before the seatbelt sign switched back on.
Last minute packing and preparation for descent and arrival
IMG_2587 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
One of my favorite aspects about this flight was the landing. An absolute visual treat to view the quilt like patchwork of farms and rural villages. Willkommen in Bayern! A magical land with fine beer, luxury cars and all the bratwursts to your heart's desire. The song "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka came to mind during the process. Fun Fact, the 1970s film Willy Wonka was actually filmed in Munich!
IMG_2588 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2592 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
"If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it"
IMG_2594 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Arrived at last! During touch-down we made what was arguably one of the smoothest landings i've ever felt. My only indication that the wheels hit the ground were the deployment of the spoilers
IMG_2598 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
This Shark Fin A330 next to us ended up being the aircraft I take on the return trip
IMG_2602 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2604 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2607 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
It was a pleasure flying with you Frau Lufty!
IMG_2609 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Our flight was parked in terminal 2, which means you'll have to take an underground tram to get to the main concourse for customs, baggage, external transport etc. Once disembarking, it took me a bit of minute to figure out where exactly I needed to go as I had to inquire an agent as to where customs were located. Eventually I make it to baggage but it took ages for the luggage to be delivered I began to think that maybe I missed the window. Customs was across the hall where I joined a long queue for non-EU citizens. I hand over my passport to the customs officer where he asked the usual questions such as my purpose in Munich and for the duration. For whatever reason he takes a longer time to analyze my passport and it begins to make me somewhat anxious and I almost replied "Ist da etwas falsch mein herr?" but by then he stamps my passport and says "thank you" and from there I was exposed to the crisp Munich air.
IMG_2610 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2611 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Despite the fact I spent most of my time at ISPO Munich I still allocated plenty of time for leisure.
IMG_2618 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
IMG_2636 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
Odin's Beard! By the God's of Asgard we feast!
IMG_2659 by Jesse Hester, on Flickr
I did it! I survived and prospered from my first foreign trip alone. Overall aside from the technical and catering quirks I enjoyed my flight with Lufthansa and will certainly consider travel with them for future star alliance flights. The FA's were pleasant and professional but not overly friendly and the A330 is now my preferred method of TATL travel (fewer middle seats and it feels more spacious than a 777) However one aspected that really erked me was having to shell out 35$ per leg per seat in order to pre-select my assigned seat. Please don't go the way of LCC's Lufthansa you're too good to having to stoop that low. Having a non-stop option to Munich from Denver is terrific and Flughafen Munchen was one of the coolest airports i've visited so far. Its so clean and modern and I love the commercial plaza. As far as the trade show ISPO it was enormous and frankly a little overwhelming but I've managed to make some great contacts. The night before I flew back home I had dinner with the family of an old friend of mine that I haven't seen since I was 8 and they treated me like I was apart of their family. This trip ended up being more than simply a business trip but more so of an enriching cultural exchange filled with opportunity and challenges. Stay tuned for upcoming trip reports including my trip to AMS on KLM this May,
Thanks for viewing!