I believe I have mentioned this before – already before you’re heading for the airport, Lufthansa does score a point by the Email you receive containing all relevant information for your flight.
Unfortunately, being off to a good start does not necessarily equal all things being good.
First leg, Copenhagen to Frankfurt – run-of-the-mill European flight operated by SAS. Company policy dictates Economy and so it was but at least SAS has relented a little on its food for cash operation in the back of the plane and offers tea and coffee free of charge. With a refill, even.
With a nice chat with the two rear-pantry based stewardesses after an almost endless taxiing and, not unimportantly, the flight being on time as per SAS marketing campaign boasting, I can only call it a good one.
Currently seated in an awful-pitch seat in an old-fashinoned 747-400 with ceiling-mounted monitors, the 8-hours ahead do look a little less promising. And in Frankfurt airport, Lufthansa service also was … varying, I believe is the right term:
1: On arrival from CPH, checking the monitors for the departure gate for BOM only revealed “B”. For a seasoned traveller such as this reviewer, this was translatable as B20+ due to the presence of a passport control barrier between the two parts of the B terminal. But I’d wager that some could be a little confused.
And even I had a wee wish to verify that I was in the right place – just a nagging thought along the lines of “could there be a second part of terminal B for non-Schengen flights?” Unlikely, yes – but? That question was not to be answered until the monitors came up with B22. The Lufthansa service center quite simply remained utterly unmanned for the duration of my time in the terminal…
2: In terms of the boarding process, Lufthansa seems to have given up on German orderliness and now “just boards”. Patiently waiting until the announcement that first/business/elite is now done and economy class passengers are welcome is not really to be recommended – I did and a third to half of the economy cabin was full when I got there. I do dislike generalisations based on nationality but in all honesty, 90% of the “rushers” were Indian. I can’t tell if that is due to an Indian cultural trait of pushing ahead rather than queueing nicely or if it is more due to unseasoned travellers. But for the route, I have to say do get on as early as you can persuade yourself if you want to be reasonably sure to get stuff in the overhead bins…
3: Once I had convinced myself to drop politeness for comfort on board, I was actually held back by some SAS-Lufthansa system incompatibility. I have ranted before that despite both being Star Alliance, when flying Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian there seems to be two levels of Star Alliance memberships – Miles&More and then the general riff-raff. Try to use Eurobonus levels and points to acquire an upgrade before a flight and you’ll see what I mean.
In this case it was more a delay in boarding because the data I’d entered online when checking in didn’t quite get through to the gate in Frankfurt. Basically, all the SAS boarding cards that I saw landed in a little pile in front of a laptop where a gate agent processed them manually before you could go on to the plane. Seems oldfashioned and inefficient to me in this day and age.
But at least, it is preferable to a few years ago when internet checkin for Lufthansa was not possible at all when departing from CPH. And hands down beats the only previous time I’ve flown out of Delhi – where, due to a computer breakdown, we were given hand-written boarding cards 😉 But then, that is 10+ years ago.
4: The flight itself, then – now that in-flight service has brought water and G&T and Men in Black 3 is playing on the aisle mounted monitors of which I can choose between one too far away and one so much right overhead that I get a sore kink in my neck just thinking about looking at it. So, no Will Smith & Tommy Lee Jones for me. Seriously, Lufthansa – get cranking on those long haul airframe upgrades. You’re about the only airline I can think of still submitting us travellers to this kind of ancient entertainment equipment (and the in-flight magazine promises of en-route internet is but a distant dream).
Final outcome of the flight was landing 30 min early – which surely scored on the very-plus side as schedule was well past midnight. Even with carry-on only and a surprisingly short immigration queue, it was still closer to 2:00 than I liked before I was hitting the bed at the Hyatt Regency. And that was uncomfortably close to 07:30, the time for my schedule in India to kick-off and meet colleagues for breakfast so that we’d stand a fighting chance of getting to the office before the worst of the traffic. But all that is another story.
All in all, a medium experience with ups and downs – but surely and steadily getting the major job done. Quite German you could say 😉 If energy allows, I may do a comparison to the home trip which will be on Swiss (first hint: more modern metal as Swiss operates with an A330…)