Luxair, Economy Class – Dash 8-400: Luxembourg to Paris

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Introduction

For my return trip back to Basel I normally take the KLM flight at 18h20, which gets me into Basel at 21h45. But today I’ve decided to travel via Paris, mainly due to the fact that my meeting already ended at 14h00 and I didn’t fancy hanging around the office until the evening.

Getting to the Airport

Fortunately, my meeting is with the Luxembourg Civil Aviation Authority, whose offices are also located near the airport. Very kindly, after the meeting they offer to drop me off at the terminal.

The roads aren’t very busy, mainly because the summer holidays have started across Europe, during which most the many expats living in Luxembourg abandon the city and head home.

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Check-in

Yeah, about that… You see, I’m travelling on an Air France ticket. The French airline has a code-share in place with Luxair on the Luxembourg to Paris CDG route. Check-in is not possible though, neither on the Luxair nor the Air France app. However, eventually I do manage to complete the process on the Luxair website. It’s a bit awkward though that the Air France site will not automatically redirect you to Luxair and the error message I keep getting on the Air France site is not particularly useful either.

Alternatively there are slef-service machines at the airport. But you’ll have to select Luxair on the main screen to start the process, even if you’re travelling on an Air France flight number.

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The Lounge

So now what? I’m a Platinum member with Air France. But although my flight is operated under an Air France flight number, Luxair is not a member of SkyTeam, so I’m not entirely sure I even have access to the lounge.

I enter the lounge with my boarding pass and Platinum card ready, but there’s nobody at reception. In fact, I can’t see a single employee anywhere. I wait a few minutes for somebody to arrive, figuring they’re probably just busy. While I’m waiting, an utterly fashionable Italian guy walks in, sunglasses donned, talking on his mobile phone in an irritatingly loud voice. He ignores me but immediately notices the absence of the lounge dragon from reception. Without batting an eyelid he puts away again his boarding pass and heads straight for the buffet, behaving quite as though he belongs here. I figure, when in Rome…and follow him in.

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I spend about forty minutes in the lounge, during which I don’t encounter a single lounge employee. Judging by the emptiness of the buffet, they’ve been gone quite a while. So I still don’t know if I’m actually entitled to lounge access.

The lounge in Luxembourg is quite nice, but it does tend to get fairly crowded in the evenings. Toilets are available inside the lounge and the food options, although basic, are not bad. Oh yes, and the views of the apron and runway are pretty decent.

Boarding

My flight is departing from pier B. The building that houses pier B used to be part of the original terminal facility at Luxembourg but was shut down in 2008 when the new, current terminal opened. Due to a significant increase in traffic in recent years, the pier was recently renovated and eventually reopened in June, once a walkway to the new terminal had been constructed.

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From what I understand, the new pier is intended for use by Luxair’s regional aircraft only. The building is nice and very bright, with lots of natural light. But keep in mind that there are really no facilities at all here – no shops or anywhere to buy a drink.

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The Cabin

The Bombardier Dash 8/400 forms the backbone of the Luxair fleet. What I like about Luxair’s aircraft is that the seats that are installed on these planes are very comfortable and have significantly better padding than the slim and flimsy seats many other carriers have installed on the Dash 8.

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One thing to be watchful of though, is that the ventilation system runs along the floor and takes up some leg space if you’re sitting by the window due to the curvature of the hull. Fortunately, the aircraft is only about half full this afternoon, which means the seat next to me stays empty and I have enough space to spread out.

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I’m seated on 8F, which is right under the wing. There is not really that much to see from this seat while you’re on the ground, because you have the engine right in front of your window. But obviously, with the Dash 8 having a shoulder-mounted wing, once you’re airborne you have an unobstructed view below.

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The Crew

There are two female cabin crew working the cabin. Both are middle aged and very friendly. Announcements are made in French, English and Luxembourgish. The latter is really hilarious to listen to because it sounds like a rather unfortunate and unsuccessful attempt to merge German and French. But Luxembourgish is actually a thing, in case you were wondering.

The Meal

The flight time to Paris is only 45 minutes. Immediately after take-off, the crew pass through the cabin distributing small paper bags containing a bottle of still water and a packet of those notorious Happy Snacks. Still, for 45 minutes it’ll do.

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Arrival

We land in Paris on time. Luxair operates out of Terminal 2G in Paris, which is the facility used for regional aircraft and Air France’s HOP fleet.

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Making a transfer from 2G is always a bit of a wild card. I now there is an airside shuttle transfer because I’ve previously taken it. But if you blindly follow the signs for flight connections to 2F, from where my flight to Zürich is departing, eventually you will be spat out in the arrivals hall, landside. This is not a particularly big deal as such, because there is a complimentary landside shuttle too. But it does mean that you will have to go through security again for your next flight.

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Conclusion

Luxair is a neat little airline that is tailored to the needs of its local market. Recently Easyjet and even Ryanair have started flights to Luxembourg, but so far the little carrier seems to be fairing pretty well against its much larger competitors. I wouldn’t go out of my way to travel with Luxair, but they’re definitely okay. Of course it helped that today’s flight was only about half full.

Korean Air, Business Class – Boeing B 747-400: Auckland to Seoul

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Introduction

In Auckland I attended the wedding of a very old friend of mine. Obviously the whole thing was very romantic and it certainly helped matters along that in the end both parties clearly enunciated an enthusiastic and excited ‘I do’. And now it is time for me to start my long journey home to cold and dreary Switzerland.

Getting to the Airport

Transport: Car.
Journey time: The distance from Devonport to Auckland airport is approximately 22km. On an early Sunday morning the journey will take roughly forty minutes to complete. There is not much traffic on the road at this time of day, but there does not seem to be a main road that leads you from the city to the airport. As a result, you end up having to take the smaller roads.

Check-in

Location: Departures and arrivals are both located on the ground floor level at Auckland airport.
Counters: There are six counters open for check-in this morning. One for First Class passengers, one for Prestige class passengers, one for Morning Calm Programme members and the remaining three for Economy Class passengers.

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In Seoul I shall be stopping over for one night, there is no same day connection to Frankfurt, what with the flight from Auckland only arriving in Seoul around 18h00. Even so, the check-in agent issues both my boarding passes and asks me if I would prefer her to check my suitcase through to Frankfurt or if I shall be need it before in Seoul. She also hands me an invitation to the lounge.

Departures is one floor up from check-in. The escalators are at the back of the check-in hall. Before you go through passport control, you will need to complete an embarkation card.

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The one thing I really never understand in New Zealand in why it always takes so long to clear emigration. I mean, you would think they would not be too bothered about who is leaving the country. In any case, the queue is pretty long and it takes me twenty minutes to reach the front of the queue. Well, at least security does not take long.

The Air New Zealand Longe

Location: Immediately behind security there is a huge duty free shop. As you exit the shop, do sharp right turn and follow the signs marked ‘Airline Lounges’. All airline lounges are one floor up from the general departure lounge.
Type of Lounge:
Korean Air uses the Air New Zealand lounge.
Facilities:
Toilets and showers in the lounge, workstations, and extensive buffet with hot and cold dishes.

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Really charming. I arrive at the reception of the Air New Zealand lounge and the lounge dragon has evidently decided to ignore me by not acknowledging my existence. I am standing in front of her while she persistently concentrates on scribbling something tremendously important on a piece of paper. Probably her shopping list. She does not look up once. Eventually another attendant comes along and beams a loud ‘Kia Ora’ at me. Not that her colleague notices or even cares…

The lounge looks, I am sorry to have to say this, like a right shit hole. First of all, the place is crawling with people frantically trying to get a cup of coffee and something to eat before their flight. There are nearly no more places left to sit and all the tables are piled up with dirty dishes and stacks of half-finished meals.

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But apart from that, the place just looks shabby. Most of the chairs and seats look worn and are stained from god knows what. The toilets do not looks so fresh any more either and the used paper towels are spilling over and lying on the ground. Not that anybody seems to care around here.

It should also be noted that boarding announcements are made in the lounge. So just in case you thought you might encounter an oasis or tranquility in the lounge. Think again.

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Boarding

Boarding for the flight starts at 09h25, thirty minutes before departure. Passengers seated in the Business and First Class cabins are invited to board at their leisure. There is a separate queue for SkyPriority passengers.

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There is a trolley with newspapers for passengers to help themselves as they board the aircraft, although in Business Class the crew will come round to every seat offering papers and magazines.

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The Cabin

Configuration: 2 x 3 x 2 on the lower deck and 2 x 2 on the upper deck.
Seat:
17C, aisle seat on the upper deck.
Pitch:
60 inches, which is 10 inches less than on the B777-300.
Width:
21.6 inches.
Facilities:
Reading lamp, USB port, power outlet.
Audio and Video:
Audio and video on demand. The selection of films and music is quite limited through.

Korean Air operates the Boeing B 747-400 in three different configurations with either 45 or 61 seats in Business Class. In all three configurations there are six rows with four abreast on the upper deck, which is really the only place to sit when you are flying on the Boeing 747.

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The seat on this aircraft is slightly different to the one on the A330-200 and the B777-300. It looks older. Even so, I think I like it better because there is a lot more storage space. On the downside however, this is an angled lie-flat seat.

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Earphones, a blanket and pillow and slippers have already been placed at every seat before boarding. A vanity kit and the menu are distributed after take off.

The Crew

Once more the crew are very friendly and willing to interact, even with the Western passengers. There is a woman sitting in the row in front of me who is travelling with a little boy. The crew go out of their way to make sure the mother has everything she needs and do baby talk with the boy, who is obviously enjoying all the attention.

With this being a morning departure, the service on this flight is in reverse order to the previous two I took with Korean Air. The first service is just the snack, with the full meal being served before arrival later on in the day.

The Meal

Welcome drink on the ground: There is a choice of Guava juice, orange juice and still water. The welcome drinks are served with sweet, coated peanuts.
Hot towel before the meal: Scented hot towel.
Choice: There is a choice of two Western breakfasts and an Asian dish.
Delivery:
Trolley service.
Type of meal:
Breakfast.

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The Main Course

Pork and shrimp Wonton soup with noodles and pak choi with chilli sauce, pickled onion and pickled cucumber.

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Dessert

Selection of fruit.

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With the Western dishes yoghurt and bread are also served, but these are not part of the Asian meal.

After the meal, the crew hand out immigration cards and customs forms for South Korea, a bottle of water and fresh water spray to keep you hydrated. And then the lights go out.

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The Second Service

Choice: There is a choice of one Korean dish, one Western dish and one Asian dish.
Delivery:
Trolley service.
Type of meal:
Dinner.

Amuse Bouche

Roasted bell pepper roll with cream cheese and a balsamic reduction, served with pre-meal drink.

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The First Course

Tomato and mozzarella with Italian dressing.

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The Soup

Green pea soup, offered only with the Western dish.

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The Main Course

Beef tenderloin with wholegrain mustard sauce, roasted potatoes, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and onion rings.

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The Cheese

Cheese: Camembert, Cheddar and blue cheese.

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Dessert

Frangipane tart.

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The second service already begins four hours out of Incheon and by the time the meal is over, we still have more than two hours to go. So the crew switch the lights off again to allow passengers to continue napping. It is not a big thing really, But I think I would have preferred for the service to start a little later.

Arrival

Incheon is very busy when we arrive, which is probably why we end up pulling onto a stand at the satellite terminal. Gates numbered 1 through 50 are in the main terminal complex, while the gates in the hundreds are in the satellite.

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From the satellite there is an automated shuttle to take passengers across to the arrivals concourse. The journey takes approximately two minutes. I am slightly apprehensive as I alight from the train, there are people everywhere and there is a long queue for the escalators. Fortunately, it turns out that most of the passengers are not heading for Seoul but are only changing planes in Incheon. Subsequently, the queues for immigration are not at all that long. By the time I reach the carousel, my suitcase is already expecting me.

Once I am through customs, I head for exit 14 to catch the shuttle to The Nest Hotel.