I’d like to tell about my flight to South America with the air company Lufthansa en route Moscow (Vnukovo) – Frankfurt – Bogota (Columbia) and back.
Moscow – Frankfurt , 2nd June, 2012
Some words about the company. Lufthansa is the biggest air company in Europe (according to Wikipedia) which flies around the world and has the fleet of 308 aircraft compared to Airflot which has only 121 (according to airfleets.net). There are ten A-380 and four new B-747-8!
Lufthansa performs flights to two airports in Moscow – Domodedovo and Vnukvo. Mine was fr om the latter.
The photo from airlines.net
It was my first time in Vnukovo. I liked the airport – not very big, quiet and calm (maybe because it was an early morning). It’s also the closest to the three stations.
It’s interesting that early in the morning there were almost no people in the departure lounge, there were no announcements and it was unusually quiet. However, gradually it got more crowded and nearly all the seats were taken.
Lufthansa’s banner in the airport
The flight to Frankfurt is at 9.25.
Our plane was there already at 7 a.m.
Transaero is flying to Simferopol on board the Boeng, we are going to Frankfurt on board the Airbus.
You could choose the seats when buying an online ticket on the company’s website but for some reason only for transatlantic flights. During the check-in at the airport I asked for a window seat and they gave it to me gladly.
We had to fly on board A-320. Board number is D-AIQE, the aircraft age is 21 years old (has flown since 1991). Surprisingly, it has had only one operator during the whole time – Lufthansa.
If I hadn’t checked its age on airfleets.net, I would have never thought the plane is so old. On the contrary, it looks brand new – nothing comes off, everything is clean, beautiful and neat. The Germans look after their aircraft. Well done!
A320 (the photo from airlines.net)
I liked the seats in the cabin very much.
The distinctive feature of Lufthansa aircrafts is that they have seats with thin backs and that makes the distance between rows bigger. You feel very comfortable during the flight and don’t get tired. One more interesting thing – there are no rows 13 and 17 on board the airline’s planes. (And I kept wondering how A-320 can accommodate all 30 rows taken into account the big space between them plus the business class).
After the climb we were served food. The meals were big and very delicious and on all the flights that I had. I was pleasantly surprised as I used to think that the Germans save on food.
Some words about the cabin crew. Beyond praise! The crew were really nice. Everything was done with a smile and with pleasure. You could see that people actually like their job. During the flight we were given the questionnaires to fill in (if we wanted to) about the airline (the service at the airport, on the plane etc.). You had to put marks next to each point. As I didn’t have a pen, I asked my neighbor for it, but the flight attendant who was standing next to us gave me Lufthansa company pen and said I could keep it.
Right after the take-off
On the way to Germany
Frankfurt from above
I was very surprised that there is such vast woodland near the city.
The flight was very pleasant. In about three hours we landed in Frankfurt.
In one of the biggest airports in Europe
The airport is huge. We taxied for 10 minutes along the airfield looking for a parking place. At last all the passengers got off the plane and got on the bus. Then another 10 minutes on the bus. The airport is unbelievably busy – planes take off, land and taxi every minute, there are also lots of cars and special vehicles. We stopped several times to let planes and other transport pass.
The airlines from all over the world fly to Frankfurt – from ANA (All Nippon Airways) to Air Namibia.
As I had a connecting flight I didn’t have a visa and I only had to go through hand luggage control and find the gate for my next flight.
I had four hours between the flights and both of them were from terminal 1. However, the terminal is so big, that you need to walk quite a lot. Luckily, everything is pretty simple – there are signs everywhere and it’s impossible to get lost. Moreover, you can see the girls by the departures board who can help you understand how the airport is organized (they can speak 5 languages). The flight announcements are in several languages as well (not only in English or German).
You can learn the world’s geography with the departures board (the photo from airlines.net)
By the way, those girls at the departures board gave me a special coin with the airport symbol. It allows 2 Euros discount, but I kept it as a souvenir.
There are lots of shops and restaurants in the transit area. You can buy everything you want. There are even computers with the Internet access.
In a word, the airport is cool. I also liked the big panoramic windows with the airfield view.
Frankfurt – Bogota, 2nd June, 2012
The Transatlantic flight was on board A-340-600. Lufthansa has forty seven A-340 (both 600 and 300). It’s the largest operator of such aircrafts in the world. A-340-600 is the second longest plane after the new B-747-8 (75,36 and 76,25 meters accordingly, the difference is less than one meter). The aircraft looks very big and long. How beautiful it is! What a shame the Airbus doesn’t produce them any more.
A-340-600 (the photo from airlines.net)
Departure to Bogota is at 14.25, arrival is at 7 in the evening.
Our plane by the boarding bridge
There was a traveling rug, a pillow and headphones on each seat. The seats had the same thin backs (as in all airline’s aircrafts). So you don’t get really tired during the eleven and a half hour flight.
The cabin of A-340-600 Lufthansa (the photo from airlines.net)
The seats with thin backs in A-340-600 (the photo from airlines.net)
It was my first time on board a plane with the entertainment program and I liked it a lot. The flight data and the map were transmitted in English, German and Spanish. The program had a lot of everything, but there was nothing in Russian (only in English, German and a bit in Spanish). I didn’t mind though. It’s even better this way. You can learn the language.
Some words about the plane. I didn’t look up its number, that’s why I don’t know how old it is. But the cabin looked very decent (as in all other aircrafts). It was clean, cosy and neat everywhere and everything was in order. I had never flown on board A-340-600 before and I loved it both from the outside and inside.
The service was excellent as well. The meals were served twice and they were big and tasty. Moreover, the flight attendants were serving drinks and giving out chocolate bars (100 gram Tablerone) throughout the flight. There were no restrictions, you could ask for more.
Nearly all day flight (except for the first and the last hour) was over the Atlantic Ocean.
The Atlantic Ocean
Closer to the dawn we approached the South America and across Venezuela over Maracaibo lagoon we headed for Bogota.
As we were flying over Colombia there was a beautiful sight of lightning flashing every second on the horizon in complete darkness.
The airport in Colombia is called El Dorado (is translated as “golden”). Despite the name, it is rather gloomy from the outside (black and grey colors prevail). It looks especially somber in the darkness.
However, at the moment the airport is being actively reconstructed, a new terminal and the road for the express bus Transmilenio are being built (now you can get to the city by a regular bus and you have to change buses on the way). It’s 15 kilometers to the Colombian capital city.
In arrivals area there’s a currency exchange office, taxi order service, tourist information wh ere you can get the map of the city and a tourist guide.
By the way, as soon as you walk out of the boarding bridge, you’re welcomed by a colorful banner which says: “Colombia – the only risk is wanting to stay”. You can see such banners in other parts of the airport and all over Colombia (also in Spanish). It’s the slogan of the Colombian national travel company which fights for the improvement of its international image.
Airport El Dorado (Colombia) (from Wikipedia)
Bogota – Frankfurt, 2nd September 2012
The return transatlantic flight was a night one. The departure according to the timetable is at 21.45. The flight is carried out by the same aircraft which flew from Frankfurt at 7 in the evening (A-340-600).
I have to be fair and say that the international departures zone in El Dorado looks quite decent and cosy (in contrast to the outside of the airport).
My Colombian friends are seeing me off at the airport
The airport is quite busy. It’s the biggest in Colombia. Planes take off and land pretty often. However, there are very few direct flights to Europe (Lufthansa flies to Frankfurt, AirFrance to Paris, Avianca, which is the national Colombian airline, and Iberia fly to Madrid and Avianca performs flights to Barcelona as well).
Most of the flights are local and to the neighboring countries of Central and South America (and also to Canada and the USA).
Departures board in El Dorado (the photo from airlines.net)
If you fly from Colombia to Russia, you need to put a stamp in your passport at a special window about the number of days you spent in the country. If you stayed more than two months, you’ll have to pay (about 20 dollars, I don’t remember exactly).
The departure was scheduled for 21.45, but due to some additional control right before the boarding bridge (they were checking hand luggage by hand and very slowly), our flight was delayed by half an hour. Even the airline representatives asked to speed up the whole thing. And the pilot turned to the passengers with the request to check if their neighbors were in their seats.
A-340-600 (the photo from airlines.net)
Both transatlantic flights were 100% full (about 300 people).
Another interesting thing is that safety information and other flight data are communicated in three languages (German, English, Spanish). The captain can speak the foreign languages fluently (Spanish among them). I think the cabin crew can speak Spanish too.
The routes to America and back were different. The first flight (Frankfurt – Bogota) lied over France, the Lesser Antilles, Maracaibo lagoon in Venezuela, the city Cucuta in Colombia.
From Bogota to Frankfurt we headed straight to the north and then across Santa Marta (the city and the mountains on the Caribbean coast of Colombia), over the capital of Haiti Port-au-Prince and further across the Atlantic Ocean. Along Europe we were flying over South Ireland (Cork), England (London) and Brussels. The sky above England was cloudless but with long-distance flights the portholes become covered with frost that’s why I couldn’t take any pictures (the focus is on the porthole and not on the ground).
The flight went well. I couldn’t sleep well though. Somewhere over the Ocean in Washington latitude at 3 a.m. Colombian time we jostled across thunderstorm turbulence. Maybe it wasn’t very strong but we were flying right next to the thunderhead (the lightning was flashing very close). It was a bit scary (especially remembering the air crash of A330 Airfrance over the Atlantic, which must have hit the thunderstorm).
When we landed in Frankfurt, almost all the passengers were clapping their hands, which is not typical of foreign flights.
About an hour before the landing the captain informed us about the change in gate numbers for transit passengers (Moscow including). The same information was repeated in the entertainment program.
Despite the half hour delay, we arrived 20 minutes earlier. The waiting time for the flight to Moscow according to the timetable is 1h 40 min, which is enough to find the necessary gate within one terminal.
Handsome A340-600 in Frankfurt
I first saw A380. Well, I wasn’t impressed by its looks. Somehow it’s fat and relatively short. I like A340-600 more.
Frankfurt – Moscow, 3rd September
The departure to Moscow is scheduled for 17.40, the plane is A320.
And again vast woodland near Frankfurt
The suburbs of Frankfurt
We arrived in Domodedovo late at night (at 22.50). It was my first time in this airport as well. On the whole, it’s not bad. There are trolleys for luggage and lifts that can take you to the second floor. It’s good that apart from the expensive Aeroexpress there’s a regular green suburban train (100 rubles to Paveletskij Station) and you can take the trolley with your luggage to its doors.
I liked Lufthansa very much – good airplanes with comfortable seats, nice flight attendants, good food, departures without long delays. I also liked the service in the airport at the check-in. It’s a five!
However, most of all I like that Lufthansa regularly has promotion events and sells tickets with big discounts (you have to buy in advance). It gives us the opportunity to travel around the world!
Thanks a lot, Lufthansa!
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