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First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:43 am
by 717atOGG
Introduction:
Hello all, welcome to my trip report. I took these flights on my way to Berlin, my first time traveling abroad. I took this trip with my father, who was visiting Berlin for a business trip, and let me take time off from class (I'm in high school) to visit the city. We decided to take Lufthansa since it had a convenient schedule for our needs, and it had the added bonus of being able to fly on the increasingly rare Boeing 747. I should note that this report won't include details on my FRA-TXL flight for reasons that I'll explain later, but I will include photos from that flight, as well as photos from Berlin, in the comment section.

My itinerary for this trip is as follows:
May 8: LH 491, dep. SEA 1:50 pm, arr. FRA 8:35 am (+1)
May 9: LH 180, dep. FRA 10:45 am, arr. TXL 11:55 am
May 13: LH 175, dep. TXL 7:45 am, arr. FRA 8:55 am
May 13: LH 490, dep. FRA 10:45 am, arr. SEA 11:55 am

Sea-Tac Airport
Unfortunately, the travel experience started out a bit rough for this trip. My dad and I had planned to take an 8:30 ferry to Seattle then take the light rail to the airport, arriving there around 10:45, but the 8:30 sailing ended up being cancelled due to maintenance issues, so we took the next ferry an hour later. We weren't in any danger of missing our flight, but we ended up taking an Uber to the airport, getting dropped off at the Lufthansa check-in counter at about 11:30.
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There was a bit of a line, but it moved fairly quickly. I had already checked in online the day before, so the only thing that needed to be done was getting boarding passes and dropping bags. After that was done, I went through security. I don't have TSA Precheck, so I went through the regular security line.
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I was airside by about 12:20. I wanted something to tide me over before my flight, so I had a bagel from a cafe in the main terminal. It was good, but nothing to write home about. Our flight started boarding at 1:10, so at 12:50, we headed over to Concourse B to take the train to the S gates, where our flight was leaving out of.
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I didn't have much time for plane spotting, but it was international prime-time in Seattle, so I was able to snap pictures of JAL, ANA, and Virgin Atlantic 787s parked near my gate.
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Annoyingly, my plane was parked at the corner of the terminal, where getting a shot of the aircraft was impossible, Lufthansa's boarding process in Seattle had us lining up by rows, and since I was in the forward section of the economy section, I got on towards the end.
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Lufthansa Flight 491: Seattle to Frankfurt
Around 1:30, I finally boarded.
A closer view of the 747 that would soon take me across the Atlantic Ocean. I was flying on D-ABVP, a 22.2 year old 1997-built Boeing 747-400 that had spent its entire life with Lufthansa.
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The elusive staircase. Oh, what I would give to fly on the upper deck of a 747 someday.
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Cabin view during boarding.
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I had paid for a seat assignment when I booked my flights, so I sat in the forward coach cabin, at seat 37A. Lufthansa 747-400 economy has 31 inches of pitch, and has a fairly comfortable seat, though the legroom wasn't great for me (I'm 6'4" or 1.93 m). Blankets and pillows were distributed at every seat, and although they weren't of great quality, it was better than nothing, so they were appreciated nonetheless. As for power, there was a USB port at every seat, and 2 underseat power outlets for every row of 3 seats. The overhead bins were small and dated, but that wasn't an issue for me since I put my backpack under my seat.
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Despite being an older 747, it had a fairly new IFE system.
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It didn't have individual air vents though, which was annoying, since it got kind of warm mid-flight.
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Headphones were distributed to passengers who wanted them before pushback.
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Being peak hour for international departures, there was some ground congestion, so we pushed back at about 2:15, 25 minutes behind schedule. I noticed that there was an empty middle seat between me and my seat mate, and the extra space to store items was appreciated. The safety video was played in German, then English, as we taxied out.
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At 2:34 we lined up for takeoff, on runway 34R/16L.
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A link to a takeoff video is attached below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=968Ee0twO5k&t=21s
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Flying over downtown Seattle.
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Passing over Paine Field, a.k.a., the 747's birthplace, and the San Juan Islands.
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Around this time, I decided to fire up the IFE system, to see what it offered. It had a good selection of TV shows, movies, games, and some videos about Lufthansa and Germany, but I mostly kept it on the moving map, which was rather high-quality.
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Around Kelowna, cabin service started, with pretzels and a drink service. Hot towelettes were distributed shortly thereafter. Like I said, this was my first international flight so I didn't know what to expect and if this is normally done on other airlines, but this was a nice touch that I liked.
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Flying over what I believe is Banff, Alberta.
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Somewhere between Alberta and Saskatchewan, dinner service started. The choices for coach were teriyaki chicken with rice, or pasta puttanesca. I decided to have the chicken, which seemed to be a popular choice. It came with a side salad, crackers with cheese, a roll with butter, and a brownie.
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The brownie was a bit dry, but everything else was good, and the portion size was decent. So far, I was feeling impressed with Lufthansa, and thought their catering was good (though my latter opinion would change once breakfast was served). After the dinner service finished up, we had about 6 hours left in the flight. It was about 5 pm in Seattle, still fairly early, so I chose to listen to some music, do some work, and read a bit of my Rick Steves guidebook about Berlin. I periodically looked outside at the Canadian landscape. I want to say this was around Hudson Bay, but I'm not entirely sure.
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Around this time, I decided to walk around the aircraft a bit to stretch my legs, and change into some more comfortable clothes, in the hope that I could get some sleep. The cabin lights had been dimmed by now.
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I visited one of the lavatories in the rear of the aircraft, and found it spacious, but a bit dirty and somewhat less modern than newer aircraft (not that the latter point is a bad thing, per se)
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Heading back to my seat, I chatted with the FAs a bit, thanking them for the great service so far, and casually mentioning that this was my first trip to Germany. They were nice but a bit standoffish, but I chalk that down to just them perhaps being busy, or the fact that Americans can be more chatty than our European counterparts. They had pretzels and a variety of pre-poured drinks available, which is a nice touch on a long flight like this one.
Making progress, slowly but surely.
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Then, I decided to call it a night (at about 7:30 pm Seattle time, 4:30 am in Frankfurt), took a melatonin pill that I brought with me, and tried to get comfortable. The blanket Lufthansa supplied me with was adequate, but the pillow was a bit lacking; I was glad I had brought one of my own. I slept fitfully for about 2 hours between eastern Canada and Iceland, mainly because I wasn't able to get comfortable and it was still early in Seattle. Due to the northern routing of the flight, it didn't get very dark, but I awoke briefly over western Greenland, to see this. I'm not sure if it was the sun setting or rising, but it looked cool, especially with the tundra in view below.
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After I was done with trying to sleep, I changed back into my regular clothes, and just tried to relax until breakfast. I also tried out their WiFi, which wasn't free, but had a little bit of complimentary content available. I was starting to get a bit dehydrated around this time, due to the 747 being an older aircraft, and water services not being terribly frequent.
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Around the British Isles, hot towels were distributed again, and breakfast was served. Only one choice this time (other than special meals, I presume), just eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms as the main dish, and then a fruit bowl and roll on the side.
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If the photo didn't give it away...oh my gosh, that was awful. The eggs were dry and had a weird texture, the mushrooms were bad (though I've never been a big mushroom fan myself), and the fruit plate was sad. I ate it since I had no choice, but it was easily the worst meal I've had on a plane. IMO, even something cheap like a muffin or breakfast sandwich would be better than this. However, I was still impressed overall with Lufthansa, and the catering on the flight home was good, so I'll just consider this an anomaly in the service.
The pilots announced that we had begun descent over the English Channel. They mentioned that we'd be a little bit late into Frankfurt, getting in just past 9 am, due to some drone sightings there that closed the airport briefly. My flight to TXL wasn't supposed to depart until 10:45, so I wasn't worried, but still found it a bit weird.
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Breaking through the clouds over Benelux.
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On final approach to Frankfurt.
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Landed!
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrydcHABang
While taxiing to the gate, I turned off Airplane Mode. It took a couple of minutes for my phone's international plan to kick in, but once it did, I got this message.
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I was a bit surprised to see this, since I didn't know how many flights were disrupted from FRA being closed. Looking at Flightradar24, apparently all the U.S. flights got in without too much trouble, but lots of inter-European flights were affected. My plane to Berlin was doing a Hamburg-Frankfurt flight earlier that morning, but it had been cancelled, stranding the aircraft there. I wasn't the only passenger with this issue either, since my seatmate heading to Athens had her flight cancelled, and ditto with my dad's seatmate heading to Prague (I think?). I tried to not worry about it too much though, and just focused on getting rebooked once I got parked at the gate.
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I kind of like that Lufthansa has their crane logo at every gate at Frankfurt. Appropriate, given that it's their flagship hub.
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Disembarking.
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One last look at D-ABVP parked at gate Z50. It would fly to Philadelphia next in a few hours.
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In case you're curious, from there, I headed to the Lufthansa customer service desk in Concourse Z, which had a slow-moving line of around 25 people. Eventually, my dad decided to just call customer service, and quickly got rebooked on the 2:45 pm flight to Berlin, effectively doubling my layover. I was seated in a middle seat in the back, but I was glad to be booked on a flight in the first place. From there, I got my passport stamped, officially entering Germany, and hung out in the European gates until my flight left. It was on an A321, and I don't have a review for that flight since I slept for the vast majority of it. I got to Berlin at about 4:30 that afternoon, and got to my hotel, having an early dinner before calling it a night, after a long day of traveling.

Conclusion:
Overall, I was fairly satisfied with Lufthansa on this trip. The crew was friendly, the seat was decent, and the IFE was good. Getting a ride on the increasingly rare 747-400 was nice too. My only gripes were with the subpar breakfast service, dry cabin, and the flight not being well-timed for sleeping, but they weren't too important, in the whole scheme of things. Despite not participating in any Star Alliance frequent-flyer programs, I wouldn't hesitate to take Lufthansa to Europe again, though I might want to take their future Seattle-Munich flight next time instead, since that flight will leave at 6:30 pm, much more reasonably-timed for sleep. Thank you for reading my trip report, and feel free to like it, or leave a comment if you have feedback or any questions.

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 12:46 am
by 717atOGG
Miscellaneous photos from Frankfurt Airport and my flight to TXL. Our departure from FRA was delayed about 45 minutes, but the flight was otherwise uneventful, given that I fell asleep shortly after takeoff and woke up when we were descending into Berlin. If there was a drink service, I would have slept through it, but the FAs were handing out bags of pretzels during boarding. All in all, I don't really have much to complain about in relation to this short domestic German flight.
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Additionally, I had an excellent time in Berlin. I visited the TV Tower, Tempelhof Airport, several places relating to the Berlin Wall, and the Reichstag, among other places. Dealing with jet lag was tough, but I managed to stay awake thanks to the help of caffeine. Overall, although this is the first city in Europe I've visited, I would enthusiastically recommend the city to anyone thinking about visiting, due to its history, it being a melting pot of different cultures, and a haven for hippies, kind of like a European San Francisco. Some photos of the things I did are attached below.
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Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:20 am
by x1234
AWESOME trip report! Love the art!

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:19 pm
by ConnectAir
Very nice trip report.
The before dinner beverage run is an airline specific thing. Some carriers (like LX and AC) do not do it, while others (like BA, and LH) do.

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:13 pm
by HP69
Nice report!

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Mon Aug 26, 2019 3:06 am
by AR385
I loved your report. Berlin seems incredibly nice. I seemed to have a special relationship with D-ABVP. I´ve flown on it over 8 times on a variety of routes. Once, I had to do an EZE-FRA. connecting to MEX and D-ABVP took me on all sectors. The crew on the EZE-FRA part couldn´t stop laughing when they informed me of the situation. They seemed it was very strange. Oh well. I now read a trip report on here on D-ABVP.

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:49 pm
by Blerg
Nice trip report. One of the best things about LH is that there are rarely any surprises and you know what to expect. I don't know if it's me but I noticed that catering on flights from US to Europe is of much worse quality than from Europe to the US.

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:44 pm
by 717atOGG
ConnectAir wrote:
Very nice trip report.
The before dinner beverage run is an airline specific thing. Some carriers (like LX and AC) do not do it, while others (like BA, and LH) do.

HP69 wrote:
Nice report!

x1234 wrote:
AWESOME trip report! Love the art!

Thank you all, glad you enjoyed it!
AR385 wrote:
I loved your report. Berlin seems incredibly nice. I seemed to have a special relationship with D-ABVP. I´ve flown on it over 8 times on a variety of routes. Once, I had to do an EZE-FRA. connecting to MEX and D-ABVP took me on all sectors. The crew on the EZE-FRA part couldn´t stop laughing when they informed me of the situation. They seemed it was very strange. Oh well. I now read a trip report on here on D-ABVP.

Thanks! I personally loved Berlin, as a history buff it was really cool to learn about the DDR and Berlin Wall. And that's cool! I flew on D-ABVY on the return FRA-SEA flight, in case you've been on that one too.
Blerg wrote:
Nice trip report. One of the best things about LH is that there are rarely any surprises and you know what to expect. I don't know if it's me but I noticed that catering on flights from US to Europe is of much worse quality than from Europe to the US.

Thank you! I personally found the service to be quite consistent across my flights, and the FAs were a bit robotic but everything was good overall. I do share your sentiment about the catering though. My food was much better on my return flight, when two full hot meals were served (I had beef with gravy and rice for lunch, then chicken curry for pre-arrival lunch/dinner), and they were both tasty.

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:32 pm
by IAHWorldflyer
Nice trip report, and good pictures. I've flown LH a couple times, and I agree their breakfasts aren't much. Then again, UA has gone to just serving a room temp croissant and yogurt.
I've had pretty friendly flight crews out of IAH.

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2019 12:39 pm
by SaschaYHZ
Thanks for the report! Nice pics and description. I love going over to Germany (maybe I'm slightly biased, my family is partially from there) and haven't been to Berlin in years... takes me back!

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2019 1:55 pm
by AALuxuryLiner
Great report! I'm headed to Berlin in December and loved seeing the photos. I'd prefer the 747 but excited to take the A350 on my flight

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:14 pm
by MartijnNL
ConnectAir wrote:
Very nice trip report.
The before dinner beverage run is an airline specific thing. Some carriers (like LX and AC) do not do it, while others (like BA, and LH) do.

Swiss served me a Coke before dinner when I flew them to Shanghai recently.

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:05 pm
by ConnectAir
MartijnNL wrote:
ConnectAir wrote:
Very nice trip report.
The before dinner beverage run is an airline specific thing. Some carriers (like LX and AC) do not do it, while others (like BA, and LH) do.

Swiss served me a Coke before dinner when I flew them to Shanghai recently.


When I flew them BOS-ZRH in June they did not do a predinner beverage service. Maybe it is flight specific with them?

Re: First trip to Europe: Lufthansa SEA-FRA-TXL 747-400/A321 Economy

Posted: Fri Sep 27, 2019 5:55 pm
by kimimm19
ConnectAir wrote:
MartijnNL wrote:
ConnectAir wrote:
Very nice trip report.
The before dinner beverage run is an airline specific thing. Some carriers (like LX and AC) do not do it, while others (like BA, and LH) do.

Swiss served me a Coke before dinner when I flew them to Shanghai recently.


When I flew them BOS-ZRH in June they did not do a predinner beverage service. Maybe it is flight specific with them?


Possibly a flight length specific thing.