At 0430 the alarm clock on my iPhone 5 64gb sprung into life with “Sound Ascending >” and I jumped out of bed ready to face 12 hours in possibly Europe’s most boring city with a colleague who is quite new.
I turned the shower on, waited for it to heat up, removed my boxer shorts and started washing after I entered. Clairol Herbal Essences, Radox For Men and a Boot’s organic scrubbing brush were the order of the day here. I took particular care over the more hirsute areas of my lower abdomen as I know the Germans particularly the ladies have an issue with that.
My preparation complete, a text message. My pre-booked Addison Lee minicab via the app was en route and currently heading across Clapham Common, hopefully using the road. After getting dressed (grey suit, blue shirt, red tie, red socks, red cufflinks, PINK collar stiffeners, black shoes and a black belt) I gather my possessions for the trip (various Apple items, foreign plugs and the all-important personalised BA
A380 Dunhill travel wallet that I have despite not being one of the First Hundred and despite not having 6,000 tier points) and walk out of the door and into the car (a black Ford Galaxy registration LO14 WPX). Ouch.
We head off through a very quiet south west London only stopping for traffic lights no doubt to prevent an accident. I am not sure of what route we took although we made some turns, went over a river and then went very quickly through that dodgy suburb where all the Australians live. Fortunately soon we reached what passes for a motorway in England and made steady progress at roughly 87 miles per hour for the remainder of the journey apart from at roundabouts. It wasn’t even light yet and for some reason there were no planes in the sky although I then realised Heathrow hadn’t opened yet. Stupid HACAN. Radio 4 was talking, the driver was not.
Approximately 32 minutes and 11 seconds later we arrived at the lovely Terminal 5 which has been British Airways’ home since 2008. Unfortunately it seems that unusually for a Monday morning a lot of other people wanted to use the airport too and therefore there was a serious malfunction at the on-ramp
which delayed me momentarily as in “for a moment” not “in a moment” which doesn’t make sense.
I paid the driver the agreed price of £62.90 and allowed him to keep 10p change because of the Australian situation. I also demanded a receipt for the monthly piece of fiction that is my expense claim.
I entered the terminal building at this point. There was no sign of my colleague.
The information screens said that North security was quiet and South security was busy so I ignored them because they are always wrong and headed for South. I was then naturally surprised to find South security was like a zoo and full of the other passengers that had no doubt impeded my progress on the on-ramp (and probably my driver’s off the off-ramp). Why can’t the BAA tell you about these situations in advance? Resigning myself to the situation (and passing the time by thinking up a new and exciting way of torturing the head of BAA to near death) I waited behind a family who clearly thought they had “arrived” due to their presence in the Fast Track security queue with Bronze card tags on their (non-metal, non-Rimowa, non-reassuringly-expensive) hand luggage. Peons.
My security procedure complete and my virtual blood-lust satisfied, I left the screening area whilst pressing the “dissatisfied” button as many times as possible. I then walked as quickly as I could through the shopping maze whilst keeping my eyes shut so that I didn’t run any danger of being exposed to either the retail temptation or the advertising hoardings. Despite the occasional hairy experience with other passengers and a near-death experience at the bottom of the up escalator to the lounge complex I crossed the threshold of Galleries First at roughly 0600. Only to be told that the gate was 763 and the aircraft had been changed to a B47. Or perhaps the gate had been changed to B47 and the aircraft was a 763, I am not sure. The lady seemed slightly incredulous that I still wanted to enter the lounge despite this information but I reasoned that free newspapers, biscuits, cutlery and large bottles of Highland Spring weren’t available for pilferage anywhere else.
Once in the lounge I inspected the buffet and made myself a double espresso and an apple juice with ice (not all in the same cup). I wandered over to the bar overlooking the threshold of 9R
and tried to get in touch with my colleague who had managed to lose her Blackberry the previous day and therefore was on a alternative number. I then noticed a fellow business traveller tucking into a full English with a glass of champagne which even I as a semi-alcoholic dipsomaniac thought was punchy and slightly inappropriate to the time of day.
After a brief interlude where I mainly stared vacantly into space I left the lounge via the newspaper racks where I stole as many as I could to the detriment of my fellow passengers, even including the ones in silly languages and other assorted hieroglyphics which I can’t read. There was still no sign of my colleague
Down to the transit, a long wait in the company of some BA
flight crew (yet more 12 year olds trilling about the Red Bull Air Race) and then up to gate B47.
Once on board G-BNWB a Boeing 767-336ER manufacturer’s serial number 24,334 line number 231 delivered to British Airways on 8th February 1990 I proceeded to find my allocated seat 1D at the front of the business class cabin which today comprised 3 rows.
At this point my colleague came and found me despite my best efforts to hide in the Club cabin. After a brief exchange of pleasantries she retreated to the Economy part of the aeroplane.
Despite various kerfuffles with hand luggage trying to be stored in the hat racks and hats being stored in the wardrobes with the coats and larger items we managed to button up on time and headed out to the runway. At this point I moved from 1D to 2K because 2J
was free, there was a window and none of my fellow passengers were alert enough to do so. The old safety video with the new voice was played, incidentally I find it the sort of voice that would be good as background music whilst undergoing a general anaesthetic.
We took off from runway 27R and climbed out over The Waterslide Park where Willie and Keith spend their mornings thinking up new and imaginative ways of screwing their customers and their afternoons playing squash with DYKWIAs….
….and then routed over Gatwick where all the low cost people fly from….
before heading out over the channel to the Continent (a place of which I do not generally approve but today needs must) and breakfast:
The choice was continental or Full English with fruit plate however when it came it wasn’t a full English, more like a cheese omelette with bacon but I found it perfectly acceptable. I washed it down with some coffee, tea, more apple juice and a croissant with marmalade. Service was by hand from the galley which was nice, unfortunately there was no curtain separating Club from Economy which I found slightly traumatic. I looked out of the window from time to time. As we approached Germany it started to get cloudy and as we started to approach the ground it got bumpy. A fellow passenger had his tray table down when it should have been up and his hand luggage under when it should have been above and got told off. Idiot.
At about 0930 local time we came into land and landed successfully. We taxied towards terminal 2 and parked up next to an Armenian 777 which was rather dirty:
It was raining at this point. I disembarked the plane and headed towards passport control, availing myself of the electronic gates which in Germany work quickly whereas in England they work slowly. Unfortunately because my colleague is an Armenian she also had to wait with all the other Armenians who had come off the Armenian flight, including the old ones in uniform that serve you drinks and the young ones in uniform that shoot at you.
After another momentarily/moment’s wait we departed the arrivals hall and arrived at the signpost to the bus to the Bahnhof. It was raining heavily at this point, the bus was full of Spaniards with backpacks and there was no-where to sit. My colleague was moaning that her Blackberry kept saying “SOS” and I replied that I knew how it felt.
After a brief faff at the S Bahn station where the machines wouldn’t take my British Airways Premium Plus American Express Credit Card, the departures board was in more hieroglyphics and we didn’t have a clue where we were going, we got on board the train from platform 1 direction “Frankfurt City”. We got off the train at the right stop by some miracle and using the genius of Google Maps, the iPhone 5 64g and the £5 a day unlimited European internet pass from ‘3’ we managed to find the office after going via the Illy shop for a quick double espresso and a toilet break. It was about 11am at this point.
After a quick hello to everyone in the office including the HR
department and a poke around in the fridge, I set up my workstation
and started Googling places to go for lunch. Eventually after about an hour of light Facebooking and intranet flirting we settled on the “Klosterhof” restaurant and hoped we didn’t have a kloster-.... getting there. Fortunately we were with my German colleague who coincidentally spoke German so we managed to get into a cab and find the restaurant. I did notice that they have Über in Frankfurt but no doubt only for a short while until they ban it for being too competitive with the local closed taxi shop.
At Klosterhof we found a table, sat down and perused the menu. Instead of choosing some sausages and potatoes I “opted" for "Bruder Alfred ́s Rostbratwürstchen mit Kraut ind Bratkartoffeln”
as I gather that is the way it is said on Flyer Talk if you are pretentious like me. It was presented with a lightly carbonated diet coke beverage, delicately poured over cubes of frozen water and garnished with a freshly cut citrus fruit slice.
After eating the food and listening to my colleague shouting at the IT
people in London on my phone about her non functioning Blackberry, we (well not me) paid the bill and made the short walk towards the meeting. In doing so we passed through a lovely park and managed to spot at least three heroin addicts shooting up. Well, specifically, one was shooting up and one was applying a tourniquet in preparation. Apparently Frankfurt has a big drug problem because of all the flights to Asia from its big airport but I am sure they are not travelling Oneworld.
The view from the meeting room
After approximately 56 minutes of business related chit chat and a handshake, we returned to the ground floor via lift ‘C’ and decided seeing as our day had been very stressful and arduous thus far the only suitable option was to find a local hostelry and indulge in a brief libation.
Fortunately by this point it had stopped raining so we decided to move outside into the main square which was full of German people doing German things
After another few drinks we decided that it wouldn’t be a cost effective use of the company’s time to find the S Bahn station and go through the nightmare of buying a ticket again, so we concluded the best course of action would be to waste some more time in the square having another beer and get a cab to the airport later.
As it neared home-time we found a taxi after almost being run over by a tram and got in. The lady driver was very nice and instead of practising my foreign I just said “Airport British Airways Please” which seemed to go down well. We sped off.
Upon arrival at Terminal 2 I paid the €23.90 cab fare with €25 and told the lady to keep the change as she had got us to the airport safely. We proceeded up to passport control after noticing that all of the BA
flights to London were delayed as usual no doubt because it had been raining.
British Airways use the Japan Air Lines lounge at Frankfurt which fortunately has a First Class section for Emerald people like myself (not people from the Emerald isle as that would be ridiculous). However as far as I can tell the only difference between the Emerald side and the Sapphire side is that there are fewer people but no doubt they are of a better class.
There is adequate quantities of fresh beer
so I passed the time drinking a couple and helping myself to the snacks
By this point I was feeling a bit rebellious so I decided to annoy everyone in the lounge by calling my brother on speakerphone whilst using the wifi to download the HD
version of “Dead Poet’s Society” in memory of the delightful Robin Williams who had unfortunately decided to go away a few days previously. It completed speedily.
After some time we were called to the gate where we had to go through security before we got on the plane.
I boarded first via the priority lane and after I sat down in 1F a young family took up 2DEF which I thought was a bit odd. Once boarding was complete I heard the purser come up to ask if she could see the family’s boarding pass and then said, “That’s row 14 madam, a little bit further back.” I was outraged and gave my best stare. The purser then moved across to 2A and turfed another lady out of that seat and put her back behind the curtain into row 5. At this point sanctity was restored to the 3 row cabin with only two of us in it. I find this extra space and a private lavatory to be a key component of the Club Europe product offering.
We taxied out and lined up on the runway. Just as the Nigel chap was about to put the gas on someone in Economy decided they needed to go to the toilet. The purser had to shout at them very loudly from the jumpseat no doubt for their own safety and that of others around them. But where on earth do we get these people?
Before long dinner was served however there was no choice just prawns. I managed to deal with this speedily and efficiently apart from a moment when the pressure differential in the caesar dressing almost erupted all over my trousers, which could have necessitated a embarrassing explanation when I got home (although no different to what happens after an afternoon in Twickenham I suppose).
At this point the curtain hadn’t been shut properly and there was a steady stream of people from the lower class using my private lavatory. I decided that this wouldn’t do and mentally composed a “Not Well Done” for the purser for submission tomorrow. However whilst I was doing this she was kind enough to bring me more gin.
And eventually even more gin in a plastic cup before landing which I thought was rather nice of her.
At this point my memory is a little hazy probably because I had been awake since 0430 and had had a very tiring day of work. I do recall landing from the east towards the west and taxiing into the terminal, and it took me exactly 61 minutes from stepping off the aircraft to getting home managing to negotiate an angry man who was about to miss his connection, the passport control muppets in silly uniforms, the Heathrow Express, another Addison Lee Ford Galaxy and the ridiculous double-mortis locking arrangement on my front door.
I think I should probably close now because some people will think I have written enough but if there are any of you who would like further detail on my business trip to Frankfurt then please post in the thread or send me a private message. I realise this should be in the trip reports forum but I am sure someone will be along to move it in a minute.