Lübeck Air, Economy Class – ATR 72: Heringsdorf to Bern Belp

Lufthansa screws up… again

Originally, I should have returned to Switzerland from Heringsdorf on Lufthansa via Frankfurt. Two weeks before the flight, I receive an email from Lufthansa, advising me to contact them about my booking. I open the app with a due sense of trepidation to find that the original flight from Frankfurt to Basel has been cancelled and I’ve been rebooked. There’s just one little snag in the plan: I’ve been rebooked onto an earlier flight from Frankfurt to Basel which departs Frankfurt before my flight from Heringsdorf arrives in Frankfurt. To cut a long story short, Lufthansa’s customer service was atrocious – as usual. The agent trying to handle the issue was clueless, obviously very badly trained, spoke next to no functional English, German or French (I tried) and was overall just useless, clearly more concerned with sticking to the rules that trying to resolve a situation that had been caused by the airline and not the customer. Eventually, Lufthansa’s grand plan was to rebook me onto a flight to Basel the next day, which also meant that I would be paying for hotel accommodation at Frankfurt of course.

But the Bible teaches us that God helps those who help themselves. On Saturday morning I wake up to an overcast sky in Heringsdorf and ponder my journey back home – and the fact that I really don’t fancy having to spend the night in that hovel they call Frankfurt airport.

More out of curiosity than anything else, I check out the Heringsdorf airport website to find that, lo and behold, there’s a flight in the afternoon from Heringsdorf to Berne with Lübeck Air. I quickly check their website to find they still have seats available on the flight. The flight arrives in Berne at 17h30, which means I’ll be back home in Basel by eight this evening. Sold!

Getting to the airport

Getting to Heringsdorf airport is pretty straightforward. First I catch the 290 bus from Schloonsee to Heringsdorf Bahnhof, and then from there I have a connection on the 284 directly to the airport. If you’re staying at a hotel in the Heringsdorf area, you will receive a complimentary Kurkarte for the local public transport.

The overall journey takes about fifty minutes. The busses aren’t frequent, and only operate to the airport during peak hours. If I’d taken the Lufthansa flight, which departs at 19h00, I would have had to take a taxi.

Check-in

What you see in the photo below is both departures on the right, and arrivals on the left, so basically the while terminal. Heringsdorf airport is just a little bigger than a shoe box.

Inside there is a large seating area and a bar serving hot and cold drinks and a few snacks.

There are four check-in counters, although only the one is open when I arrive, which serves all airlines. The check-in agent checks my suitcase to Berne, and then wishes me a pleasant flight. She’s also the person who does the boarding for the flight, which means that while boarding for our flight is underway, check-in for the Luxair flight departing after us has to be interrupted.

More importantly, there’s also a viewing terrace on the first floor of the adjacent building housing the tower.

I wait on the terrace to watch my flight arrive from Lübeck. It’s really quite a nice view from up here.

The queue for security starts on the pavement, by the bus stop. Which probably sounds a lot more dramatic than it actually is, given how small the building is. There is only the one gate, and the holding area is not all that big.

Boarding

Boarding for the flight starts ahead of schedule. I count 44 passengers in total for the flight.

The cabin

The cabin is in pristine condition and looks very new, and the aircraft even still has a bit of that new car smell to it. The most striking feature of the cabin is the exceptionally generous seat pitch of 35 inches. There are only 16 rows in a 2 + 2 configuration and I have plenty of space to stretch my legs.

There’s also a very funky sick bag in every seat.

The service

There are two female cabin crew. Both are in their mid-thirties. They’re very unusual in that they look perfectly content in their profession. I noticed on this vacation that you rarely see cabin crew anymore these days giving you a genuine smile.

The flight time is announced as two hours and twenty minutes.

The meal

Lübeck Air prides itself on not producing any package waste. Which I guess is a nice gesture, although I really don’t think it makes that much of a difference. Sure, they produce less plastic waste on the flight, but it also means they use more fuel to uplift the heavier crockery and glass ware. But anyway…

On offer is a small chocolate cup filled with chocolate mousse.

And a small glass jar with with savoury snacks.

And to drink I have a cup of coffee, which is actually quite good, and a glass of sparkling water.

The crew do a second drinks round and then finish the meal service with candy from a big jar.

Arrival

Our approach into Berne brings us in right over the city and the Bundeshaus, the seat of the Swiss Parliament. In the distance the Alps are clearly visible. Berne airport is not all that much bigger than Heringsdorf, I’d say.

I enter the terminal and just have enough time to visit the loo before the luggage starts arriving on the belt. All in all, it takes me seven minutes from deplaning to reaching the bus stop.

The bus stop is located just to the right when you exit the terminal building. The bus runs every twenty minutes to Belp railway station. The journey from the airport to the railway station takes ten minutes.

At Belp there is a train connection to Berne main station. The journey takes fifteen minutes.

And then in Berne I catch a train to Basel, which takes one hour.

Conclusion

This brings to an end my summer vacation. The flight with Lübeck Air was unexpected and unexpectedly pleasant. Other than that, it’s quite amazing just how unpredictable travel has become in 2022 in the post-pandemic haze. In summary:

  • The Basel to Rennes flight was changed twice, including a rerouting and schedule change.
  • The Eurostar to London changed schedule twice and also the rolling stock that was used on the journey.
  • The Air Europa flight had a schedule change and an aircraft change.
  • The Aegean flight was a replacement for a booking I had made originally on Scoot to Berlin, which had three schedule changes that eventually resulted in a completely different date of departure.
  • And the Lübeck Air flight was instead of a Lufthansa flight which also had a schedule change that would have meant me spending an extra night in Frankfurt and arriving home a day later than planned.

Luxair, Business Class – Bombardier Dash-8/400: Luxembourg to Genève

Introduction

I’ve just finished the week working in Luxembourg. It’s Maundy Thursday before the long weekend. Originally, I would have just returned to Zürich in the late afternoon. But then within two weeks of booking my flight, SWISS had already cancelled it again, which seems to be a recurring theme with them these days. In May I should have travelled to Brussels on SWISS, but that booking didn’t survive for very long either. So instead, I’ve decided to return from Luxembourg to Geneva and then to spend the long Easter weekend in the Bernese Oberland, which should be nice and relaxing.

Getting to the airport

I leave Eurocontrol just before 14h00 on Maundy Thursday to catch a number 6 or 16 bus to the airport. There’s a bus every ten minutes, and the journey only takes about 15 minutes.

Check-in & security

Luxair has its dedicated Business Class check-in area off to the far right of a long row of check-in counters.

This afternoon there is only one counter open, but it’s not looking very busy. From check-in, Business Class passengers have a direct access to the fast track for security. Which doesn’t get me very far today, mind you. There’s a young couple at the head of the queue and I’m wondering if perhaps this is the first time they’re travelling by air. They have multiple pieces of hand luggage with them and the poor security agent looks close to tears. She more or less has to ask them item by item to remove things from their bags, take off their jackets, etc.

Airside

By the time I’ve checked in, bought an Easter bunny and gone through security there’s only about ten minutes left before boarding starts at 14h55. So I figure I might as well go directly to the gate on the B concourse. The airport is really very quiet today, which is surprising given that it’s the long Easter weekend. I would have assumed people would be going off to make the best of the short break.

Boarding

My flight is departing from gate B07. Just as boarding is called, my bladder decides I need to visit the rest room. When I come back just a few minutes later, the gate is deserted and the gate agent is giving me her patented “you do know we’re only waiting for you” look. So I inquire about the load of the flight today, to which she answers that there’s a grand total of 13 passengers on the flight.

The cabin

I always like the Q400, although my colleague the Flying Dutchman tends to disagree. Of course it also helps that there are five rows of Business Class and there are only two of us sat in the forward cabin today. On the port side of the aircraft, the first row is row 1 and has very good legroom. On the starboard side, the first row is row 2 by the emergency exit. Legroom on row 2 is good too, although the location of the emergency exit means that my fellow aviation geeks do need to lean forward to look out the window. In Business Class the aisle seat on each row of two is kept empty.

The crew

There are three crew on this flight, and from what I gather one of them has her first training flight today. And it shows. She seems very nervous and when she brings me the tray, she’s holding it the wrong way, so that the food is on the far side of the tray from me. Other than that though, the crew are all very friendly.

The meal service

Before departure, one of the crew hands me a disinfectant towel and the menu for the flight, which is surprising given that the flight time is only 55 minutes.

The meal is nicely presented and I’m positively surprise by the presentation and quality of the dishes. It’s quite an unusual meal. Personally, I’m not a fan of duck, but I think Luxair certainly deserve Brownie points for effort and presentation.

To drink I have a Coke Zero. The cabin crew ask me if I’d like that with lemon and ice, which is also a nice touch you don’t get that often any more on short-haul.

Arrival

As we head south, the weather starts to improve. By the time we reach Geneva, there are only few scattered clouds and the pilot reports a ground temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. The approach into Geneva brings us in over a mountainous are to the south of the city. In this distance you can see the famous jet d’eau in action.

Eventually we pull up to our stand on one of the funky satellite gates at Geneva airport, which look as though they haven’t been upated since they were built sometime in the 1970s.

The terminal at Geneva airport is a strange set up. The main issue is that there’s hardly enough space for the terminal building, because there are public buildings and roads encroaching on the airport on all sides. As a result, there are many long, narrow corridors with little natural light that give the place a gloomy apprearance.

Eventually, my suitcase arrives and I make my way towards the railway station at the far end of the terminal.

Conclusion

I rather liked my flight with Luxair. Even though it wasn’t very long, I found there was something charmingly old fashioned in Luxair’s service delivery. I also thought the meal was a pleasant surprise and different to what you normally get on short-haul European Business Class.

Epilogue

Nearly eight months to the day after I contacted Lufthansa to request a refund of the ticket for my sabbatical in Australia, they finally managed to actually pay back the money that they owed me to my credit card.

I have to admit that I was not expecting ever to see the money I paid for that ticket again. Of course, I’m not complaining that I finally got the money back. But if I were Lufthansa, I think I’d be somewhat alarmed by the fact that their customers don’t even trust them enough anymore to refund money that rightfully belongs to them.

IATA, the airlines and airports have put a lot of time and effort in recent weeks into demonstrating that the risk of infection with the COVID19 virus aboard an airliner is minimal. And I’m willing to believe that’s probably even true. Some people are indeed reluctant to fly for health reasons. Others are likely very frustrated by the uncertainty of planning a trip due to the seemingly constantly chaning travel restrictions and entry requirements from one country to another. But I suspect that a large proporition of former customers are simply no longer willing to trust the airlines with their money. And frankly, I don’t blame them.

So instead of trying to prove to customers just how effective a HEPA filter on an aircraft can be, perhaps now would be a better time for airlines to show that they can be reliable and dependable partners that actually do put the customer first for a change.

Malaysia Airlines, Business Class – Boeing B 737-800: Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur

This is a previously unpublished post from 2011.

Introduction

After four days in Langkawi, I make a move to return home. The first leg will see my flying to KL and then connecting to another flight to Bangkok the same day.

Getting to the Airport

I’m not sure there actually is any reliable public transport in Langkawi, which is why I decide to avail myself of the hotel shuttle to take me to the airport.

Check-in

At the airport there are dedicated counters for Malaysia Airlines and there is one counter for Business Class passengers. Passengers need to go through security screening before accessing the check-in area.

Airside

There is no Business Class lounge at the airport, but instead they have something much, much better: from the public gate area you have excellent views of the ramp. Aircraft tend to park nose in, which means it’s just perfect for people like me to geek out while they await their boarding call.

Boarding

Boarding for the flight starts rather abruptly without any calls being made.

The Cabin

This aircraft has yet a different cabin interior from the ones of the two previous flights. Apart from the fact that it’s a more modern seat, the covers are in violet (!) leather and the bulkhead is in some bamboo inspired pattern.

There is no service on the ground. I think there simply isn’t enough time for that, given that the taxi time is very short.

The Meal

The snack is pretty much the same concept as that on the outbound flight. Except that this time, one canapé is with camembert and fruit and the other is with smoked salmon, an olive and a pickle.

Once more, the dessert is an undefinable but very tasty sweet thing in a rather unappealing shade of green.

Arrival

There’s a bit of a hold up for us to start our descent into KL due to the presence of thunder storms in the area. On the row behind me is an Arab woman with her teenage son.

As soon as the pilot announces that we can start our approach soon, I hear somebody behind my spray and spraying and spraying. And just a short while later a horribly heavy scent starts wafting through the cabin. It’s so bad I have to stink my fingers up my nose and breathe through my mouth. It’s probably a very expensive scent, but it’s just way too strong. One of the cabin crew, who is already sitting on the jump seat, sees me and gives me a questioning look. To which I can only motion that somebody behind me just sprayed themselves. She covers her mouth and tries not to laugh. By the time we land I have a serious head ache…

Malaysia Airlines, Business Class – Boeing B 737-800: Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi

Introduction

With social distancing still in force in Switzerland and much of the global aviation industry having come to a grinding halt, I obviously haven’t been travelling at all since the beginning of March 2020. On a positive note, that has given me ample time to make a few changes and update to my blog. In the process, I also stumbled across a few previously unposted reports of past trips. And so, for your reading entertainment, I have decided to add them here.

I’ll start with a trip I took to Langkawi in Malaysia back in 2011. Nonetheless, I will keep to the usual style of writing and use the present tense.

Getting to the Airport

I arrive in Kuala Lumpur the evening before on a flight from Bangkok. The next day I’m on my way back to the airport for the flight to Langkawi. I suppose I might have stayed at the airport, given that it’s quite far out from the city. But then I figured it would still be nice to be able to go into town, which is why I eventually spend the night in KL at the Hilton Sentral Stesen, which sits right above the railway station.

The KLIA Express train is not full at all. In fact, I think every time I’ve taken this train it hasn’t been full. The price for a oneway ticket is MYR55.

Check-in

Malaysia Airlines and most of the legacy carriers operate out of KLIA1 or Terminal 1. There is also KLIA2, but that wasn’t even open in 2011.

Airside

My boarding pass for the flight to Langkawi was already issued the day before when I checked in for the flight from Bangkok to KL, so I can head straight for security.

Strangely enough, no distinction appears to be made between international and domestic passengers as far as the flow of passengers is concerned. Also, there seems to be a general security screening for all passenger, the point of which eludes me. And then there is a second check before entering the gate.

Irrespective of whether they’re domestic or international departures, short-haul flights tend to use gates at the main terminal concourse, whereas the widebodies tend to use the satellite terminal.

Boarding

The flight to Langkawi is operated by a Boeing B 737-800. An announcement is made for passengers in Business Class passengers to board first, but this is not something anyone ever seems to pay much attention to in KL and the gate staff don’t enforce it either.

The Cabin

The seats on this aircraft are slightly different to those on the previous flight I took from Bangkok. It’s not just that they have red covers, as opposed to the blue ones on yesterday’s aircraft, it also seems to by a different type of seat. It looks more like an old fashioned Economy Class seat but with a wider armrest in between.

The Service

While we’re still on the ground, the crew pass through the cabin with English language newspapers and a glass of fresh guava juice.

The Snack

The flight time to Langkawi is short at only 40 minutes. The service starts with the distribution of scented cold towels that are nice and thick.

Despite the short flight time, the Malaysia Airlines Business Class service includes a small snack, a dessert and some Cadbury’s chocolate biscuits. And they insist on using a table cloth.

The main dish consists of two canapé sandwiches. One is with cream cheese, while the other is with pieces of chicken in a spicy curry marinade and lemon.

I have no idea what the dessert is and when I suggest pumpkin, the crew aren’t sure what that is in their language either but are too polite to say so. One way or another, it’s very good and has a spicy aroma combined with saffron.

Arrival

No sooner as the tray been removed, we start our descent into Langkawi. What I remember most about this flight is how calm and unrushed the whole service by the cabin crew is.

Langkawi is a fairly small facility and I’m only travelling with hand luggage anyway. So once the doors open, I’m out fairly quickly. The hotel has sent a driver to pick me up. And so I resist the temptation to take photos of my aircraft as I walk across the apron to the terminal.

Getting to the Hotel

In Langkawi I’m staying at The Datai, which is about 40 minutes away from the airport. That’s not necessarily because Langkawi is that big, but rather because it’s a fairly circuitous route and there are no fast roads on the island.

Luxair, Economy Class – Bombardier Q400: Paris Roissy to Luxembourg

Airline: Luxair
Aircraft: Q400
From: Paris Charles de Gaulle, Terminal 2G
To: Luxembourg Findel
Departure: 10h30
Arrival:
11h15
Flight time:
45 minutes
Seat:
14F, window

The Air France Lounge

As soon as I enter the terminal building coming off my flight from Basel, I head straight for the Air France lounge to get some breakfast. I don’t quite know what it is about this lounge, but I really like it. Even when it’s quite busy, it still feels very cosy, as though you’re sitting in somebody’s living room. The view of the aircraft approaching the southern runways is also nice.

My flight is scheduled to depart at 09h35, but there’s an initial delay of 35 minutes due to bad weather in Luxembourg. The new departure time is 10h10. The flight is operated by Luxair, with Air France as a code-share partner. As such, you can make use of your SkyPriority privileges, such as lounge access or priority boarding, just as long as the flight has been booked on the Air France flight number.

Boarding

The gate areas of Terminal 2G have the look and feel of a provisorium, as though the building is only there as a temporary installation. The gate area also tends to be quite cold.

The Cabin

The cabin of the Dash 8 is very tight and uncomfortable. There just isn’t really any room for anything much. Usually, on these small aircraft it’s a lot more comfortable once you’re seated.

But sadly, that isn’t the case for the Dash 8. I have to make a mental note to remember not to select a window seat ever again on these planes. Because the rail the seat is mounted on is in a rather awkward and uncomfortable position.

On row 14 I’m sitting pretty much under the wing, so the view of the outside is somewhat limited on the ground.

By the time we push back from the gate, it’s already past 10h10. And although Terminal 2G is located close to the threshold for runway 26R on the south side of the airfield, we’re still guided to runway 27L on the north side of the airfield, which only helps to add to our delay.

The Snack

In Economy Class the service consists of a small chocolate muffin that is served in a paper bag with a napkin. In addition, the crew pass through the cabin with the drinks trolley, which has a very limited selection. I mean, they don’t even have sparkling water.

The Crew

There are two cabin crew working the cabin this morning. And both of them are quite dreadful. It’s not that they’re rude or anything of the sort. They just come across as being somewhat lacking in interest for their job.

Arrival

Very soon we start our descent. The crew inform us that we’ll be doing an automatic landing due to the low visibility conditions at Luxembourg airport, and therefore we are all required to fully turn off our mobiles.

The landing is smooth enough, and indeed, the runway only comes into view a short moment before we touch down. Judging by the splash we’re making as we taxi in, it must have been raining fairly recently.

Conclusion

Luxair is a somewhat boring, nondescript little airline. There really isn’t anything remarkable about them, which is okay I guess, seeing as you’re only every going to be likely to really have to fly them if you’re intending to visit Luxembourg.

Lufthansa, Business Class – CRJ-900: Frankfurt to Basel

Airline: Lufthansa Cityline
Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-900
From: Frankfurt
To: Euroairport Basel-Mulhouse Freibourg
Departure: 22h05
Arrival:
22h40
Flight time: 35 minutes
Seat:
4A

My flight from Malta ends at gate A18. I now need to make my way through that depressing tunnel that connects the A pier to the B gates. The lifts taking passengers down to the tunnel at basement level are hopelessly overloaded, so I take the stairs instead.

Part of the tunnel is closed, hopefully for embellishing, but in this rat hole I‘m pretty sure that‘s a lost cause… at least there aren‘t that many people down here and I make quick progress.

As soon as I arrive at the gate, they make an announcement inviting all passengers who have been to China in the last two weeks, or to a country with reported cases of corona virus or who have a Chinese passport to contact the ground staff. I find this rather odd. While I understand that there is clearly cause for concern over the spreading of the corona virus, I still think it’s racist and rather awkward to single out the nationals of one country only.

In any case, once boarding begins, we go down once more into the bowels of the terminal complex and then take the compliemtary bus tour of Frankfurt airport to reach our aircraft, which is literally parked on the remotest remote stand, in the eastern-most corner of the apron.

Boarding is quickly completed and the flight is not full. The Business Class cabin has eight rows. Although there are only two people on row 5, behind me, and another passenger across the aisle from me on 4F.

There are two male crew in the cabin. Again, they make an interesting linguistic case study. The purser is obviously Australian. His German is very good and he only makes few mistakes with his declensions. His colleague is probably German. His English is fine, but with a slighly strange accent. Allegedly, he also speaks French, most of which, though, is incomprehensible.

As passengers board, they are handed a packed of almonds.

We make our way out to runway 18, which is at the completely opposite end of the airfield, despite the fact the threshold for runway 25C is only a few hundred metres away from our stand.

We reach the runway, stop abruptly and then turn back. Apparently, the wind has changed and runway 18 is no longer available. So we have to make our way back to the threshold of runway 25C and wait for a slot for us to open…

One hour and fifteen take-offs later it’s finally our turn to make our departure. The initial climb is very bumpy, but then very quickly we settle into the cruise and the crew begin their service.

For dinner there is small plate with a skewer of feta cheese, olive and cucumber, another piece of vitello tonnato wrapped around some leaves of rocket, and a few slices of melon. For dessert there a passion fruit mousse and more of the chocolates. By the time the crew clear away the trays, we’re already descending into Basel.

We land at 22h40, one hour behind schedule. Which is not so good, because it’s also around the same time the easyJet fleet based in Basel returns home. As a result, the bus heading into town tends to get very full. As we taxi in, I notice the KLM flight from Amsterdam is nowhere to be seen, which is strange and slightly worrying, considering it should have landed at 21h45. I suppose I should be alarmed, but that’s another story, I’m too tired…

Lufthansa, Business Class – Airbus A 320: Malta to Frankfurt

Airline: Lufthansa
Aircraft: Airbus A 320
From: Malta International Airport
To: Frankfurt
Departure: 17h25
Arrival:
19h50
Flight time:
2 hours 25 minutes
Seat:
2F, window on the starboard side

Introduction

Lufthans currently operates three daily flights out of Malta. There is one flight to Munich and two to Frankfurt. The last flight leaves Malta at 17h10 for Frankfurt, which is nice because it gives you a full day on the day of departure.

Check-in

At Malta airport Lufthansa has its own dedicated check-in, which usually opens three hours before departure. There are three Economy Class and one Business Class/First Class counters. In order to access the fast track lane for security and the La Vallette lounge, you need to have an invitation issued at the counter.

The La Valette Lounge

These days the lounge in Malta tends to be crowded no matter what time you‘re there. It is a nice lounge, though, and has a good selection of local snacks and drinks. And the outside viewing area is just brilliant!

Boarding

Boarding for the Frankfurt flight is at gate 5. Lufthansa tends to park on the same position at the north end of the apron, which requires passengers to be brought to the aircraft by bus. Much to my surprise, there is a dedicated bus for Business Class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members only, which is very pleasant.

The Cabin

The Business Class cabin has six rows, and from what I can see, there are twenty passengers in the forward cabin this evening. On row two the seat pitch is generous.

We start taxiing out just as the golden hour begins in Malta. It’s that special time of day when the setting sun casts a golden light on the Maltese limestone. Be depart in a northwesterly direction, flying down the full length of the island before heading north to Palermo.

The Crew

The crew on this flight are polite but reserved. And the purser’s enunciation when she makes an announcement is just strange, even in her first language… The service is pretty much the same as on the outbound yesterday, except with better food.

The Meal

There is a small dish with a chunky piece of smoked salmon on a very tasty potato salad, some vitello tonnato with parmigiano shavings and some soft cream cheese on a coulis of bell peppers. For dessert there is some vanilla cream with strawberries and a small box with two pralines, but the chocolate is not as refined as the Swiss stuff.

En route we’re treated to a gorgeous sunset, until eventually the world disappears into darkness. It’s quite poetic to watch!

Arrival

Our descent into Frankfurt, on the other hand, is very rough, with low clouds, rain and gusting winds. We touch down at 19h50 and make our way to the A pier, and by 20h00 we‘re pulling on to our stand at gate A18. I now have thirty minutes before the flight to Basel starts boarding.

Lufthansa, Business Class – Airbus A 320: Munich to Malta

Airline: Lufthansa
Aircraft: Airbus A 320
From: München Airport
To: Malta International Airport
Departure: 09h30
Arrival:
11h15
Flight time:
1 hour 45 minutes
Seat:
2F, window on the starboard side

The Lufthansa Business Class Lounge

The flight to Malta will be departing from one of the K gates, which is the Schengen concourse of Munich‘s satellite pier. The transfer by underground from the main building takes about two minutes.

There is a lounge on the K concourse, and this morning it‘s very empty. When Lufthansa opened its lounges in the ‚new‘ corporate design a few years, I thought they looked fresh and modern. But I don‘t think the design has aged well, looking at it now. Don‘t get me wrong. The lounge is in great condition and very clean. But the whole design seems slightly old-fashioned now.

Boarding

At 09h00 I leave the lounge and make my way to gate K07, where boarding starts just as I arrive. It‘s a Saturday morning in February and Lufthansa manages to get the flight full. I count 24 passengers in Business Class. I‘m not surprised about Lufthansa but by Malta, and the fact that it appears to have become a year round destination. Forty years ago, when we emigrated, everybody was just trying to leave the island…!

The Crew

The crew on this flight seem friendly enough. If I had to guess, I would say the purser is a Dutchman who has been in Germany for quite some time. At least for a linguist his accent is interesting.

There is no cold towel, no welcome drink or anything else of the sort while we‘re still on the ground.

The Cabin

The cabin is your typical European Business Class set up. The seats are exceptionally thin but sufficiently comfortable. There are no power plugs and there are no overhead screens either.

Once we take off, we turn south towards the Alps. Our flight is routing from Munich to Ljubljana and then along the Croatian coast to Zadar. From there we cross the Adriatic to Pescara in Italy and continue on to Palermo and finally Malta. It‘s an unusual routing for sure. But we have a strong tailwind, giving us a very short flight of only one hour and 45 minutes.

The Meal

The meal service is from a trolley and every passenger is served their meal first. Once that‘s out of the way, the crew take the trolley back to the galley and then return into the cabin with the drinks trolley. I‘m guessing this is the most efficient way to do it. Because then they can just keep on going with the service in Economy Class.

The meal service hasn‘t changed at all since the last time I took this flight a year ago. And I really mean, not at all.

The tray consists of a small dish of smoked salmon on buttered pumpernickel, a bowl of cream cheese sprinkled with radish, a bowl with a slice of salami, parma ham and one stick of a bell pepper and some yoghurt with a few berries on it. The crew only pass through the cabin once offering bread, and seconds are obviously discouraged. Other than that, salt and pepper are absent from the tray.

The crew are efficient and clear away the trays promptly.

Arrival

For the rest of the flight I nap, it‘s been an early start today. But then we start our descent, and suddenly I‘m wide awake again. I don‘t know how many times I‘ve returned to Malta since we left in 1979, but somehow the approach never seems to get old. Not for me at least.

We make a slight left turn and Malta comes into view. We pass Kalafrana and continue out to sea before doing a sequence of gentle right turns until eventually we’re lined up for a runway 34 arrival, bringing us in right over Birzebbuga, where I spent my childhood.

Conclusion

While there’s nothing overtly wrong with the Lufthansa service, I think it’s blatantly obvious that the airline is trying to save costs at every corner. Which is what pretty much every airline is trying to do these days. What I find problematic with Lufthansa though, is that they’re obviously trying to save money in all the wrong places. First of all, because I think the premium cabins are definitely not where the money should be saved. Secondly, what’s worse is that as a passenger you actually notice the cuts, and that’s never a good thing. Other than that, if an airline really has to rely on not having a small packet of salt and pepper on the tray, then they really must be in a very sad state.

But apart from all that, even if the airline isn’t really able to offer the passenger anything much in terms of the quantity or quality of the food that is served, that is still no reason for the service, such as it were, to be so indifferent and tired.

Lufthansa CityLine, Business Class – CRJ-900: Basel to Munich

Airline: Lufthansa Cityline
Aircraft: Bombardier CRJ-900
From: Euroairport Basel-Mulhouse Freibourg
To: München Airport
Departure: 06:30
Arrival: 07:20
Flight time: fifty minutes
Seat: 2F, window seat on the starboard side

It‘s just coming up to five o‘clock on Saturday morning as I make my way across the station square to catch the airport bus. Remind me, why am I doing this again?

There aren‘t many people about at this time of the night. The bus isn‘t very full either. So I grab a seat at the very back and desperately try to catch just a few more minutes of sleep.

At least that means check-in and security are quiet too.

My flight to München is boarding from gate 60, which is inconvenient because it means I shall have to pass through the duty free shop to get to the lounge – and I really do need a coffee right now – and then back again to board my flight.

Boarding starts on time. By the time I reach the gate there are only a few passengers left… ‚after-you-no-after-you-please-I-insist-after-you…‘.

As passengers step on board, we are handed a small chocolate biscuit sandwich. In Economy Class that is the full extent of the inflight service. But it is a very short flight after all!

The crew aren‘t exactly exuberant, but they seem friendly enough and a vast improvement over my previous experience with Lufthansa.

There are six rows of Business Class for a total of twelve passengers. And the cabin is full. On the CRJ-900 the bulkhead row on the port side of the aircraft is row 1. On the starboard side, the bulkhead is on row 2, because the toilet is located on what would be row 1.

The CRJ-900 is a dreadful aircraft, it‘s tight and cramped and the cabin colours Lufthansa went for are just drab, dull and dark. Not sure in what universe off-grey is not depressing and ugly… on the upside though, on row 2 the aircraft really is exceptionally quiet.

Once we‘re airborne and the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off, the service begins. First the crew roll down the aisle with the food trolley, dishing out the trays. Only after all passengers have their meal do the two flight attendants return to the galley to bring out the drinks trolley.

The meal is presented in a small basket with a checkered pattern, which is kind of cute. The basket contains a müsli bar of sorts, which is rather vile, a bottle of strawberry and banana smoothie that gives me heartburn before I‘ve even finished it, a few grapes, and a ham sandwich. As I said, it‘s only a short flight.

The cruise isn’t very long obviously, and very soon we’re already descending into Munich. Eventually, we land at 07h15.

The flight comes to an end on one of the few remote stands for the CRJs immediately next to the terminal building. So at least there will be no bus transfer and passengers can just walk straight into the terminal.

I now have two hours before my onward flight.