Background and Booking
During an earlier visit to Hamburg I chanced to hear a distinctive sound and looking up I saw a readily recognisable aircraft. The trimotor, with its corrugated duraluminium hull, was “Tante Ju” - a Junkers Ju 52 built in 1936. I decided there and then that I would return one day and take a flight.
Having determined that I would be on board Emirates’ inaugural scheduled A380 flight out of Perth, with Hamburg the chosen destination, the opportunity to experience an aircraft from another era arose. I visited the website of Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin Stiftung - www.dbls.de - to make a booking. This time I had no problems connecting with my tablet and found a suitable date and time
Booking is like on any other airline: choose the date and time; enter the passenger details; check and confirm everything; make payment. It is not possible to prebook individual seats but the operator will make allowances for those who require special assistance if notified. Once confirmed print your ticket.
There is no questioning the enthusiasm and dedication of those involved in keeping Tante Ju in the air. But that does not mean that amateurism has any role. Flight operations are under the control of the chief pilot and a team based in Frankfurt, while pilots and crew undergo special training to ensure that they can continue to handle an aircraft built before the days of jet airliners and autopilot.
The technical team are all qualified and licensed engineers supplied by Lufthansa Technik. The Junkers Ju 52 is checked daily and after 60 hours in the air undergoes three days of maintenance, and there are the usual annual checks. Every winter the aircraft is virtually stripped down and reassembled, providing a means to retain and pass on skills that might otherwise disappear.
Despite this attention to detail, there are occasions on which it might be necessary to cancel a flight, as an email that I received a week before departure warned.
Check-in and Boarding
According to the ticket, check-in is at the Business Class Counter, row 7 in Terminal 2 and closes 45 minutes before departure. Although I was booked on a “Rundflug”, my ticket reminded me that hand luggage only was permitted, max 55cm x 40cm x 20cm and no more than 5kg. I would be well under that as all I really needed on board was a camera and a smile.
I make my way to the counter and hand over my ID and ticket. The lady at the counter types something into her computer and looks puzzled. She tries something else, apparently to no avail, before asking a colleague “how does one check-in passengers for ‘Tante Ju’?” Her colleague is equally puzzled and suggests doing it under code ***. That doesn’t work either.
As luck would have it, someone with more experience or knowledge came by and said,”You don’t need to any more. The ticket is the check-in and boarding pass. All you need to do is tell which gate is for boarding.”
Ah. The check-in agent writes on my papers A26. This is next to the gate, down the stairs, from where I had left for Friedrichshafen two days before.
But first I decide to see what is happening on the apron. EP-IBL, an A310-300, first registered to KLM but not taken up, then flying for Emirates as A6-EKB, is at a contact stand showing the livery of Iran Air. It has been with Iran Air since November 2000.
Ryanair, who previously thought that Lübeck was Hamburg, now puts in an appearance with EI-EFV.
A Norwegian 737-800, CN-DYA has landed and is making its way to the stand. Already at a remote stand is Finnair’s Embraer 190, OH-LKH, resting for now.
Meanwhile a Boeing 757-300, registered as D-ABOK and bearing Condor colours has been pushed back and making its way to the active runway.
With KLM since October 2011, PH-BGW, a 737-700 arrives from Amsterdam.
Another arrival, OY-KFL, a Canadair CRJ 900 operated by Cimber A/S for Scandinavian moves to keep the Embraer company.
It is a bit cold and windy on the “Aussichtsterrasse”, despite the protective panels so I make my way inside and have some lunch.
Stomach satisfied I go through security and explore along the piers, noticing that it is raining. In this sudden shower an easyJet arrival.
Over at Lufthansa Technik they have been working on a 747. It bears no markings but I am guessing it is the Qatar Amari 747-8KB BBJ. It makes a couple of test runs, throwing up spray as it does so.
While walking along the C pier I can snap a Dornier 328 in BA livery, leased from MHS Aviation and operated by Sun Air of Scandinavia.
Checking the departures board I see flight LH9813 is listed: destination Hamburg
I pass by Destination Hamburg (which I note stocks Lübecker Marzipan) on the way to the gate…
where It seems Hamburg is indeed the destination.
Boarding is called and an enthusiastic mini-crowd is greeted “Moin” as we climb aboard the bus that takes us over to a stand near Lufthansa Technik.