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Puckinflight

An all things aviation blog

Tag Archives: Lufthansa

Okay, we all know about the US sanctions on doing business in Iran. The US Government made a rule that stated that no airplanes could be sold to Iran or an Iranian company if that aircraft contains any parts made in the US. Well that is basically all commercial aircraft except Russian aircraft. When Iranian aircraft buyers want Airbus or Boeing products they have to get more creative to get around US sanctions. Well not that creative I guess, the airlines use straw buyers.

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I originally started planning this trip last July when I booked the “4-mile” deal with United and after they canceled the tickets I said shoot I am going anyways. Michelle and I began truly planning the trip in October when we booked the tickets. So after the jump you have a full trip report from the planning stages to the last flight home.

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I just finished watching season two, episode three of Airport 24/7 MIA. Tonight’s episode featured a bomb threat in the rental car facility, an overbooked Lufthansa flight, and customs search.

Read more after the break for a breakdown and spoilers.

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Aviation Week, is reporting that Lufthansa is looking at acquire 6 777-300’s for subsidiary Swiss Air.

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/avd_02_21_2013_p03-01-550951.xml

While the order if it happens would be small, six air frames, it would mark a shift from Airbus to Boeing. Currently the Lufthansa Group operates only 4 772ERS and they were acquired in a merger. Lufthansa has shown little interest in Boeing planes outside of a token order of 15 Boeing 747-8is. Between Swiss, Lufthansa, Austrian, and Brussels (all part of the the Lufthansa group) the current fleet plan after retirements is 42 Boeing aircraft, 19 747-400’s 15 747-8is, 4 767’s and 4 772ers. This number is really smaller at the 15 748’s will be replacing the 744s, so it is closer to 25 Boeing frames compared with a current fleet of around 480 frames. So less than 10% of the Lufthansa group’s fleet is made by Boeing.

Aviation week cites available slots as the reason for the Boeing order. That’s believable as the the A350, the closest Airbus equivalent to the 773 will not be online for several years.  These 773s will replace Swiss’ A340 fleet. The A340-300 that Swiss currently operates has largely been replaced by the A330-300, basically a twin engine variant of the A340-300. The cost of moving to two engines resulted in shorter range. So, while Swiss was able to replace their Trans-Atlantic fleet with the A330s, they were not able to do so on their Asia flights. The quest for greater efficiency and lower operating costs has led Lufthansa to at least contemplate ordering 777-300s.

One added benefit for Lufthansa would be preferential pricing from Boeing. Boeing would love to book another order from a long time Airbus customer. Also Lufthansa might be able to leverage future Airbus orders.

 

Happy Travels!

Colpuck

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Monday morning.

The plane landed in FRA on time. It’s dark out and I am exhausted and it is only going to get worse. You remember the gent siting behind me demanding car service? Well he started harassing the first LH rep he saw on the jet bridge. Yeah like I said, he’s not only a jerk but a jerk in multiple time zones. Money doesn’t buy class I guess. Have you been through the wonderfulness that is Fraport? If not count yourself lucky, the airport redefines airport batman show on all levels. So here is the basic rundown on Fraport terminal 1. There are three piers: A, B, C,. C pier is international flights, B pier is divided in half, domestic EU and international 1-19 domestic, 20 and higher international. A Pier is the same as B pier except they have dual use gates; Z gates are international and the A gates are domestic EU. To navigate Fraport successfully you must do three things: one, identify your gate; two, follow the signs; and three, don’t think.

I’m dead freaking serious, do not exercise independent thought when it comes to navigating Fraport.

Ving Rhames in pulp fiction says it best. (NSFW F-bomb)

You know what happens Fraport if you think, you get lost. Period.

Now, back to the story. So I get off the plane and I do the smart move, I follow the signs. But there is a problem, I don’t have a boarding pass for FRA-BKK flight. The LH transfer desk people were less than useless, so I resolved to get as close as I could to the B gates and then reassess. I should back for a second, I arrived in the Z gates and had to change piers to the B gates. I followed the signs and I found myself looking at German immigration; ok I guess I am entering the EU. That dumped me out into the new A pier and I just kept walking. I found the elevator and the underground tunnel to the B gates. I ended up the domestic side of the B-gates, I was so close. I walked to the immigration counter that blocked my way. This immigration officer had some questions for me upon looking at the entry stamp I got moments ago. I had to explain that I was on the flight to BKK and that it left from the B gates. He found that to be an acceptable answer and let me pass.

I got in. Note at no point did I clear transfer security. I cleared immigration twice, but not security. Next stop the B First Class Lounge.

I found the FCL on the second floor of B. The lounge matrons took a few moments to verify my eligibility for the lounge. Lufthansa for reasons best known to themselves has some of the world’s most complicated lounge rules. In fact they are so complicated they had to make a chart. As an arriving first class passenger on LH I was entitled to access the arrivals lounge if FRA was my destination, if I was leaving on an another LH international flight in F I could use the First Class Terminal, If I was leaving on any other flight I could use the First Class Lounges. If I had arrived on an non-LH Star Alliance flight in First I would have been limited to the Senator lounges. My head hurts just typing this.

I don’t have any pictures of the FCL. The lounge is very nice and very quiet. Well quiet except for the Russians who were letting their kids run wild. I had a shower in the First spa. The shower rooms are large and have three foot long shoe horns, clearly so you don’t have to bend over. The only thing I love about the FCL showers is rain showerhead and exfoliator. I like high pressure showers, I think that’s because I am man, maybe not as manly as this guy,

but still a man. I got my girlfriend a duck from the shower attendant who was pleased as punch to get me one. Since I had a five hour layover I signed up for a day room to have a few hours rest. I collapsed in one of the lounge chairs facing the tarmac and took these pictures.

The 744 pictured was my ride in Fraport and would later be headed for BOM. Speaking of whisky I had a JW Blue on the rocks. You know I am not a big fan of scotch whisky but JW Blue was pretty damn smooth. I got some food from the Buffet, passing on the restaurant dining. The catering for LH’s FCLs and FCT is done by Do & Co and it is masterful. I helped myself to some cold cuts and rested while waiting for my day room. At around 9:30 the attendant came and got me for my day room. The room is a bed with some personal space. You can’t turn the lights all the way off and the bed the standard European rock hard twin. That being said I was out like a light. Two hours later, I revived myself grabbed some of the lunch grub and headed for the gate to get my boarding pass.

The B pier seems to have been recently renovated because I do not remember it looking the way it did the last time I was there. I made my way to the TG gate just in time for the gate to open. At the gate I checked in not only for BKK flight but also for my RGN flight. The agent again looking through TIMATIC wanted to know where my RGN visa was. Well I didn’t have an RGN visa. A lot of people got their RGN visa in advance, me no way. I could have used a service but again I am not going to pay double for a service that will charge double the visa cost. I went hardcore straight visa on arrival. I got the form from the RGN US Embassy website and kept it in my passport. The agent looked at the form a minute, asked someone else and cleared me. I have no idea if this was going to work in RGN, but I didn’t care, I just needed the boarding pass to BKK which I got.

I had sometime before boarding, so I went to the Senator lounge close to the gate. I could have gone back to the FCL but it was a 10 minute walk and I decided it wasn’t worth it. I passed the BOM flight where I noticed D-ABVK pushing for departure. TG F passengers get to use the Senator lounge, I would have got in anyways as a star gold card holder, and arriving LH F passenger. The lounge was a zoo. There were a couple of Air Canada flights prepping for departure and the place was packed. The food was pretty good, I had a curry and bread pudding. I didn’t take any pictures because it was packed, but I took some of the ramp.

The money shot didn’t come from the photos but from a gentleman at the food counter. He was helping himself to German sausage and asked the attendant for a couple of “hot dog buns.” The poor attendant who probably was not German looked like he was hit on the head and said they didn’t have any. I don’t think the attendant knew what a hot dog bun is much less that Germans do not eat sausage in a bun.

Well when boarding came an attendant came and escorted us to the gate and onto the plane.

Thai decided to put F on the second deck. This is different from most A380 carriers I think and certainly different from KE and SQ.

You can’t see it in these pictures, but the cream colors TG chose for the seats was a bad idea I think. The white scuffs to easy and despite only being in service what three months now, the seats were already showing wear and tear. These are seats that have to last 10 years and they are already looking damaged.

Also due to the fact that they were on the upper deck they were a little narrower than the KE F seat which is very similar in design to this seat. Service was a best muddled. You know how when you go to a restaurant just after it opens and service is genuine but rough, that perfectly describes this flight. There was just no order to the service. F shared galley space with business class and I think the higher demand of business service negatively impacted F service. Both KE and SQ share a galley with economy.

So food porn time.

https://puckinflight.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/tg-f-fra-bkk-1-2013.pdf

https://puckinflight.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/tg-f-wine-list-1-2013.pdf

The food was very good, and I am sorry about lacking a picture of the salad and the main course it was the duck and it was amazing.

Caviar

Appetizers, notice the nicely plated terrine of duck.

Dessert

Breakfast which was ok.

What I regret most about this flight was not getting a shot of the bars in business class and the first class lav. The first class lav had a changing space a little vanity area so you could change into and out of your PJs without being near the toilet. Seriously, who hasn’t thought changing on the toilet is gross. I passed on getting the Thai aircraft model from the duty free because I wanted to save space. I ended up running out of space later in the trip so maybe I should have sucked it up. We landed on-time and went into the E gates I think. BKK is not the biggest airport, but it sprawls like nothing else. It is quite easy to find yourself a kilometer or more away from your gate or lounge. TG provides golf carts for F passengers. However, TG didn’t really think it out. My golf cart had four passengers and one driver. I guess that works if the passengers are fun sized, but we were three burly Germans and me. One of the Germans had to wait for another cart. We sped through the terminal trying not to hit anyone, but still people were jumping out in front of the car GTA style. We made it to transfer security and were escorted into the Royal First Lounge.

Royal First Lounge

People rave about how amazing this place is. I don’t see it, I guess they rave because they get access to the spa and the services there are free. I don’t do strange people rubbing on me, I just don’t. The lounge is all table service, there is a buffet but it is only for you to look at then order from the server. Here are my pictures from the lounge.

Service was slow, the servers rarely made rounds and I had to flag them down several times. I had some fruit (including one redish orange colored piece that tasted like cheese) and a bowl of Thai soup with rice which was quite spicy. I did have a shower which was ok it wasn’t anything memorable. In fact the whole lounge except for the food was meh. They had day rooms, but I didn’t know about them so I didn’t use them. Eventually after a few hours it was time to go; rather than take a golf cart to my gate, I walked. I needed the exercise.

Here is the view from the gate area including my A300 bound for RGN.

BKK-RGN, A300, C

I was inordinately excited about this flight. I would be my first flight on an A300, filling in a gap in my flight memory. The flight was full in C and this is important because the attendants did a full service on an hour long flight. In the US the flight attendants can barely be bother to get out of their jump seats on an hour long flight, these people did a full service with multiple drink runs. Lunch was boiled chicken Singapore style with rice noodles, an appetizer of fried and marinated fish, and a coconut cake dessert. It was all served on a single tray and very tasty. The plane was wired for overhead IFE, but they just kept the flight map up the entire flight. While the A300 appealed to my aviation nutter-self, at the end of the day it was just a short flight in C to Rangoon. The man sitting next to me was Thai but apparently he went to Notre Dame as was unhappy with the turnout of the national championship.

Next up RGN, and my trip to ICN.

Enjoy!

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With the trip set on Friday for a Sunday departure, it was time to go.

Sunday, January 6th, 0430

BEEP BEEP BEEP. The sound of the alarm clock woke me from dream like state and brought me back to the cold dark world that is 0430 in the morning. Why 0430, because I live just under two hours from the airport, so I need to get up and leave about three hours in advance and I had a 0750 flight to Chicago. The drive to the Phoenix airport is a simple one, I-17 South I-10 East and boom airport. I dropped my car at the parking spot, corporate discount, and trucked over to terminal two. Terminal two is currently the oldest terminal in Phoenix and houses UA, AS, and Great Lakes Aviation, though at some point US Airways had an operation there.

Check-in was a smooth as possible. I had a new passport so I had to enter all of my information into the Mr. Chick-in and have it verified by a ticket agent. When she went to verify my information TIMATIC popped up with the relevant information. TIMATIC is the service most airlines use to verify admissibility into the country of your destination. Airlines have to verify if you need a visa and if you need it if you have it. If you don’t have a visa they don’t let you on the plane. This is because airlines get fined when they transport an inadmissible person to country and that person gets denied entry. This will become important latter in the story. I was given boarding passes for the first two segments of the ticket. PHX-ORD and ORD-FRA, I would have to collect FRA-BKK and BKK-RGN down the line.

I took my roller board and backpack and made my way through security. I went through the backscatter machine without a hitch. I know people will judge me for not opting out; I just don’t have the will to care anymore about it. I collected myself and went to the United Club to wait the ten minutes before boarding. Dear lord the United Clubs have gone downhill. They took away the granola cereal, really the only healthy option, and replaced it with rice crispies. So, I had a danish. Boarding started and I made my way over to the gate and got on just as boarding started.

PHX-ORD, UA F, A320

The flight was about what one would expect a domestic flight from Phoenix to Chicago would be like. Since I booked the flight on the previous Friday, I had the choice of 3A or 3A. I went with three A. What surprised me about this flight, was one that it had working empower and two the captain had turned on Ch. 9. Empower is an older DC power system and Ch.9 allows the passenger to listen to whatever ATC radio channel the cockpit is tuned to. I didn’t take any pictures of this flight mostly because I tried to sleep as much as possible. I knew I wouldn’t be getting very much sleep over the next few days so I tried to get it where I could. Also on this flight the flight attendants apparently took meal orders by status because I was the first one asked (1K on a reward F ticket counts as full fare). I had honey nut chex cereal also in anticipation of a massive dinner. We landed in ORD on-time and after landing I made my way over to United’s Global First Lounge. For some strange reason Lufthansa and ANA both depart from United’s B gates. This is odd because they have to arrive at the international terminal on the other side of the airport and be towed over to the B gates from the international terminal. Also, Swiss and Aer Lingus both arrive and depart from terminal five even though they are also United partners.

Global First Lounge.

United’s Chicago Global First Lounge is a part of United’s C satellite lounge complex. There is a United Club and an arrivals lounge attached to it. It is also one of the few pre-merger united lounges that have access to showers. The GFL can be found just to the left of the service counter when viewed from the escalators. The lounge consists of a medium sized lounge area, buffet area, restrooms, business area, and a service counter. When I got there it was packed, then they called the Hong Kong flight and it emptied out.

The view

Lounge space, the buffet is behind the divider.

You can see the C United Club through the window.

The Buffet

As you can see there is a decent selection of food and wine. I was quite happy with the lounge though it is a far cry from LH’s F lounges. I started to have problems when I went to ask for a shower. Apparently because I was on a Lufthansa flight, they didn’t want to allow me access. This is against Star Alliance rules, but I have noticed that UA lounge staff care little for rules. Eventually after some back and forth they let me because I flew UA from Phoenix to Chicago. I’ll spare you all pictures of the shower, it was pretty nice and well designed and in true United Style the hand held showerhead didn’t work. United provided a nice shower kit containing all the basic toiletries and a few extra creams that I am guessing were for the ladies or people who want to smell like summer flowers or whatever.

After a few hours in the lounge it was time to make my way over to the gate in the B gates for boarding. Lufthansa has a very strong gate queue system so everyone knows where they need to be. First Class has a special seating section roped off if I wanted to use it. I noticed that the afternoon ORD-SFO flight was departing late and I had a look at the gate departure screen. Apparently there were over 100 elites on that flight not counting the ones that got upgraded. Remind me never to take that flight. Boarding started and gent starting pushing people out of his way, when he got to me a stern glare put an end to that nonsense. On to the flight then

ORD-FRA, LH F, 83C, D-ABVK “Hannover”

Lufthansa went ultra-prestigious with their first class on the 747-400 first it is on the upper-deck, where let’s face it all the cool kids hang out. Also they cut the number of seats from 16 to 8 and with the 747 replace one seat with a bed. This isn’t a seat that converts into being a bed or a fold down cot, no it is an actual bed next to the seat. It’s awesome. It is sad that Lufthansa decided to move first class on their 747-8’s to the nose and just use a flatbed seat.

Here are some pictures of the sea and bed.

Before departure the purser came by and introduced herself to each first class passenger. This is where one of the passengers went off the rails. Lufthansa provides vehicle transfers to departing flights for first class passengers out of Frankfurt, which is nice. However, one passenger demanded to the purser that he be picked up in car. No matter how many times she said that is Frankfurt’s issue, he wouldn’t accept the answer she gave. He earned the jerk of the day award. The flight attendant in charge of first class cabin was awesome. He was Mexican and lives in Mexico City. He commutes to Frankfurt for work, and I thought I had a long commute. His is 5944 miles each way. I asked him if he worked any of the Mexico City flights (LH has one daily departure) he said “nope.” His preference was South America flights which works as apparently in addition to English, German, Spanish, and possibly French he speaks Portuguese.

Five languages? I was left wondering why this person decided against world domination as a career choice.

Anyways enough silliness I know why you are here, you want the food porn and you shall have it. Lufthansa has a slightly odd menu, they offer a trio of appetizers plus caviar. You can always tell if someone is flying LH F for the first time because they try to choose which appetizers they want. So anyways here is the menu. I forgot grab a picture of the Amuse Bouche and breakfast, sorry.

Lufthansa First class menu.

Bread

Caviar

Appetizer Tower

Crab and avocado in a lemon grass gazpacho.

Seared beef Sashimi with cabbage and gyoza dressing.

Soba noodles and crisp vegetables with roasted peanuts.

Salad with a mango yogurt dressing that was AMAZING.

Main Course: Stir-Fry egg noodles with eggplant, tofu, sesame seeds, and green onions.

For dessert I passed on the cheese cart and stuck with Chocolate pot de crème with vanilla ice cream.

After dinner, I asked the steward for the aircraft model from the duty free cart. What can I say I am sucker for the aircraft models, I’m a nerd. The steward informed me it wasn’t in the first class cart but he would have the other attendants shake down the aircraft. At this point I wanted some sleep, but first the lavatator pic.

Oh yah ladies back off, one at a time there is plenty of me to go around. 😉

During the flight I couldn’t really sleep so I asked another attendant to see how the model search was going, she said people were looking. In the morning, the FA dropped of the model and I paid for it. Then 10 minutes later another FA came by to tell me that it had been sold on the flight to Chicago. Think on that for a moment. The first person found it, and got it to me. The next person heard that it had been sold, rather than tell the first class passenger that it had been sold, they went with a lie. I understand why they lied, they don’t want to tell an F passenger their item had been sold to business or coach passenger but when the first instinct is to lie, that’s not good. Anyways I had the European breakfast and the passenger who demanded the card loudly remarked that he was passing on breakfast because “the breakfast in the lounge is better,” cementing his jerk of the day status on multiple continents.

Landing was smooth and as it was still dark out, there are no pictures until I get to the FCL B, which will be in tomorrow’s exciting edition.

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Today talks between Lufthansa and their cabin crew union broke down. The union gave notice to its members to prepare for a series of surprise strikes. The issues are the crews pay raise; they want 5% Lufthansa only wants to pay 3.5% and the number of contract workers. The issue of pay isn’t a huge concern the issue of contract workers is. Lufthansa largely without notice in the U.S. outsourced large portions of Austrian Airlines operations. It seems like Austrian Airlines has become a shell corporation with limited in-house operations. Even parts of Austrian’s long haul operations are operated by contract carriers. Just imagine the uproar if United Airlines hired SkyWest to fly 747s to Tokyo, United’s employees would be livid. Clearly Lufthansa’s cabin crews see the same in their future.

Lufthansa isn’t known for their dicey labor relations. When I think of European Airlines with bad labor relations I think of Alitalia and British Airways. Lufthansa has been seen as typically German, quiet, reliable and professional. It’s that opinion of Lufthansa that is threatened by this labor action. If you’re traveling on Lufthansa there are a couple of things you can do to mitigate any potential travel interruptions. The best thing a traveler can do is be pro-active in monitoring their reservation(s). Accurate operations information will on Lufthansa.com. Travelers should be in the habit checking the airline’s website anyways, but with potential strikes it will be even more import to monitor the website. In the event of a strike, the alternate travel plans have to be considered. For those traveling within Germany this will be difficult as there are limited options for purely domestic travel. Travel within Europe and intercontinental travel is easier as Lufthansa can push the ticket to another airline.

What to do if you end up stuck in a strike. First, remain calm. Screaming at airline staff will not impress staff. The airport is likely to be crowded with travelers who all need to get to their destinations. Next, before talking to an agent, it is best to already have alternative routings to make the agent’s job easier. Finally, be as flexible as possible. Never, book the last possible flight. If you have to be on that flight then you needed to book a different flight to begin with.

All of these tips can apply to any disruption, weather, mechanical, stupid, or otherwise. By taking a few simple steps any traveler can mitigate disruptions and have a reasonably smooth travel experience.

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Lufthansa set their first route for the 747-8 passenger plane, Frankfurt-Washington D.C., replacing the 747-400 currently on the route. Lufthansa is set to take delivery of the 747-8 in April.

The 747-8 hasn’t been the best selling aircraft in the history of commercial aviation. I have my own opinions of the size of planes and who should buy what, but that is neither here nor there. Either way the plane has the new business seats and I assume the current 747 F seat. With the larger upper-deck I expect the addition of more F seats.

Getting back to the new business class seat on the 747-8, it looks to be very good. It looks like another version of the U.S. Airlines new Envoy seat. I can’t wait to try it myself.

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According to the BBC, German workers at the country’s largest airports are striking today as part of a strategy to get a 6.5% raise. Lufthansa has canceled 400 flights out of FRA, MUC, and DUS

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17522528

If your travel plans included Germany, you may want to contact your airline.

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