Thereís no need to introduce Lufthansa. This huge European Corporation takes the fifth place in air transport in the world. Apart from being a founding member of Star Alliance, the company also has a significant share in other airlines (mostly regional). Together they form a group of companies Lufthansa AG. The companyís bonus program Miles & More is also one of the largest in the world and the most beneficial in terms of earning miles. Why? Because you can earn miles on one account flying with both Star Alliance and Lufthansa AG ďfamilyĒ. Everything is simple Ė all tickets are sold on the main site http://www.lufthansa.com
Back to flights. In Moscow Lufthansa is gradually transferring its flights to Vnukovo airport. I havenít been able to find out about the reason for doing so, but I guess itís because of better price conditions and the absence of competition regarding departure times. You can get to Vnukovo by underground, by bus, by taxi or by aeroexpress. My choice was the latter one as itís the fastest. First you get to Kiev station, then you buy a ticket from the automatic machine (strangely enough I was unable to buy a ticket on the aeroexpress site a day before the flight). The crowd takes the train by storm, but thereís enough place for everyone.
The aeroexpress runs regularly, the journey to Vnukovo takes 35 minutes, the ticket costs 320 rubles. It arrives at the airport at the underground station under terminal A. That is the terminal Lufthansa operates its flights from. There are direct flights from Russia to Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg and Berlin. My destination is Frankfurt, then I have a connection with an hour between the flights. It all looks fine.
I get to the airport by aeroexpress one hour and a half before the flight. Then going through the check-up and up to the ground level, which is the departure zone. High ceiling makes the terminal look enormous, but itís more long than really big. You can check in either at the check-in desks or at the self check-in points. I donít have to do this, because Iíve already checked in on the Internet, printed out the boarding cards and as for the luggage Ė I donít have any.
What is there in Vnukovo? Well, to tell the truth, thereís nothing worth mentioning Ė a VIP lounge, cafes, shops. Visit the airportís site, look through the sections and youíll have a clear picture of what itís like. There you can also find the terminals schemes. I didnít try to use the Internet at the airport, simply because I didnít have any gadgets with me.
Going through passport control and inspection is quick and smooth. In the secure zone I find out that the flight is delayed by 15 minutes. And this is not yet final Ė thereís still no sign of the plane at the gate, so the delay is growing. It amounted to an hour in the end. And thatís my connecting time.
Iím walking worriedly back and forth. The glass in the windows is at a slant, thatís why strong reflection doesnít allow to take photos of the airfield. The cafes and duty-free shops are not crowded. On the whole, not so many people fly on a Friday night. Some areas are separated by the tape and partitions - new shops are going to appear there soon. Somewhere you can already see a New Year tree.
My fellow-passengers are not making scenes, but they are asking questions and waiting for the plane to arrive. Itís sad that aviators regard ďpaxesĒ as luggage with legs. No one was going to explain anything to the passengers, they just wrote ďlate a/c arrivalĒ and we had to be happy with that. At last the plane is taxing up.
Airbus A320-211. Tail number: D-AIQL.
While standing in line to board the plane (actually, the boarding failed to start at the announced time), Iím watching the aircraft being serviced. The cleaning team has entered inside and the captain is inspecting the plane with a torch. He finds something on the cockpit and tells the technicians about that. In a couple of minutes the technicians bring the ladder and crawl up to see for themselves. From where Iím standing it seems theyíre checking Pitot tubes. Obviously, satisfied with what they saw they take away the ladder, thus saving the passengersí time and my hope to catch the connecting flight. The boarding is announced the same minute.
The tired passengers walk through the gate and find themselves in another line at the entrance of the plane. The line is moving very slowly but finally I get into the cabin. The seats are the same for the whole aircraft and differ neither in business nor in economy class. Itís a typical European cabin assembling model.
At last everyone takes their seats and deicing starts. Meanwhile the captain is talking to us on the radio and is telling about the reasons for the delay. It turns out that the Air France aircraft which landed earlier had some engine problem and all other planes had to move in circles around the airport. I learn about it not from the airport staff or the girls at the gate (those know absolutely nothing), but from the captain at his own wish. So itís like this: if he feels like telling us Ė he will tell, if not Ė then we should be happy with ďlate a/c arrivalĒ. Nevertheless, this information is going to help me in Frankfurt.
In my seat Iím listing through some magazines. Thereís enough room for the legs (I had a window seat but couldnít see anything through it). Then the safety instructions are demonstrated. I am pleasantly surprised by live performance. Most airlines have switched to monitors. There are no monitors on board this plane. The cabin is tidied up, the plane is clean and well-tended despite its age (22 years). Lufthansa got it straight from the plant and it hasnít been used anywhere else.
Taxing to runway 06/24 and almost immediately the take off. The captain is trying to catch up with the schedule. The lights are completely switched off during take-off and landing. A smooth take-off, going through the clouds and climbing. The flight attendants are getting ready to serve food. In the meantime Iím heading to the tail part to the toilets. They are so clean.
Back to my place I get dinner - pasta, potato something, a bun and a pie. As for the drinks Ė wine, beer, juices, tea/coffee. Iím eating and watching the time Ė thereís no way Iím going to make it to my connecting flight. Since itís against my principles to eat at the airports, I got quite hungry by the flight. Giving back the tray I ask for more. I actually say Ė ďIím hungry, can I have one more portion if there are any left?Ē Without being surprised the girl brings me the second portion. Being loaded with food and drink Iím listening to music and dozing through the rest of the flight.
The landing began and they announced the information about the gates for connections. I showed my next ticket and asked if I was going to make it. I got a positive reply but they said I would have to run. It was announced that we would arrive at gate B24 which was good since my next flight was also from zone B. I enquired about the Fast Lane in the airport but didnít get a clear answer. I was told the airport staff was going to meet us.
The landing went smoothly and the taxing also didnít take long. Together with several other passengers I tried to stand up from my seat a bit earlier than others but the stewardess ordered us to sit down again with a gesture. However, when the plane finally stopped, all the passengers stood up and it became impossible to squeeze through. And that let me down. If it hadnít been for the line in the cabin I would have made it to my connection.
Although I quickly went through passport control and inspection, I still didnít catch my flight. Having run to the gate I see the plane off with a stare. At the gate they confirm my late arrival (thanks, Cap) and tell me that I have already been rebooked. They offer me to go to zone A to Lufthansa service center. So my ďflying epicĒ is turning into the night delay, which is forced and not my fault, but I feel sorry for the time lost. So I take photos and head for zone A.
In my previous report I mentioned something about very few photos of Frankfurt. Well, here you are. Iíll show you the photos and tell everything in detail. I recommend all newcomers to get a map of the airport and remember that most flights within Schengen area depart from zone A. Follow the signs because itís almost impossible to know beforehand where passport control and inspection will take place. Thatís why they announce during landing which gate the plane will taxi up to.
The secure zone allows to walk everywhere around the airport. You can have tea or coffee absolutely free. There are Lufthansa coffee machines at most gates. They are easy to find Ė look for a table with a yellow machine.
There are lots of shops, cafes and what not inside the airport. Itís unreal to name all the things you can find there in the review. Frankfurt airport is absolutely huge! I reach Lufthansa Service Centre through the tunnel. The girl at the counter speaks Russian (by the way, most of the airport staff do). I explain to her my situation and get a coupon to join the queue. When my turn comes I find myself confronted with a strict gentleman who I tell my story in English. However, he doesnít seem to care about anything apart from my boarding pass and the reason for the delay in Moscow. So I tell him what I learnt earlier about Air France problems and he ďwavesĒ me to wait. Iím waiting and finally get a new boarding pass for a morning flight the next day and also a coupon for a room and meals at a hotel. I decide not to bother the strict Burger any longer and go back to the girl to ask about the way to the bus stop.
The bus stop is not far from zone A, so I go through other procedures (baggage claim and green corridor) and get outside. The name of my hotel is InterCity Hotel Frankfurt Airport and itís on the other end of the airfield (see the scheme). At daylight the rooms offer an excellent view of the planes taking off and landing. But in my case itís already late and itís dark. You can get to most hotels by bus and itís written on the buses which one goes where. They all stop at terminal 1 (zone A).
When the bus comes I show the driver my coupon and have a free transfer to the hotel. Iím not alone, several more passengers were late for their connecting flights because of the delay. We all check in upon arrival. I get a room and am recommended to come to dinner as soon as I can. Otherwise there wonít be any food left. Wonderful.
What does the hotel offer? You can learn a lot on the hotelís site. For example, apart from standard breakfast from 6:00 till 10:30 thereís also an early breakfast from 4:30 till 6:00. Thereís Internet for ą4,5 an hour or ą14,5 for 24 hours. Hotelís site: http://en.intercityhotel.com/Frankfur...rt-Airport
I have enough time to eat, have a shower and get some rest. The next flight is at 9 in the morning, the busses run every 30 minutes. I make up my mind to get up at 6 and be at the airport two hours before the flight. However, it was unnecessary. I could have slept longer and arrived just 40 minutes in advance. In the remaining time I explore the airport.
Finally I approach my gate where I see the sunrise. Thatís pretty much about my German adventure. It seems I have tried all Lufthansa services from flights to non-standard situations. Have good flights, ladies and gentlemen!
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