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.

Seebad Bansin

Bansin was established in 1897 as one of three imperial baths on the island of Usedom, together with Heringsdorf and Ahlbeck. Following the reunification of Germany, a lot of money was invested in the three baths in the 1990s in a bid to improve their infrastructure and to generate revenues for the former DDR holiday spot. Today, Usedom is well connected to the mainland, and there are frequent and reliable rail connections to Berlin and Hamburg. There’s even an airport that sees mostly seasonal holiday traffic in the summer.

Bansin is very quiet. It’s not a place you go to if you’re looking for excitement or entertainment. The average age of visitors is somewhere between sixty and seventy, if I had to guess. In as much, life happens at a very leisurely and laid back pace here, which is really nice! A stay in Bansin is relaxing to the extreme, and that’s what I enjoyed about it. You can spend your days on the beach, walking in the dunes or just simply reading a book on the balcony of your hotel room.

Just watch out for the seagulls. One of them shat on the keyboard of my laptop while I was sitting outside on my balcony. Chapter 13 of my PhD thesis will always be remembered now as the chapter I was working on when the seagull poo incident occurred. I swear I could hear the bastard laughing at me as he flew away…

Seetel Hotel Atlantik, Heringsdorf-Bansin

When I decided to take this trip to Usedom, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. And that made finding a hotel a bit difficult. Moreover, if you’re looking for the big hotel chains here, you’re out of luck.

Eventually I settled on the Hotel Atlantik because I figured it offered the best mix of proximity to the beach, accessability with public transport and food.

I’m in room 10, which is on the first floor and has a balcony overlooking the promenade and the dunes behind it. The room is small but obviously well maintained and looks new. There are no tea of coffee making facilities. Only a bottle of sparkling water is provided.

The food at the hotel’s restaurant is very good. There is a three- or four course set menu every evening and the standard à la carte menu. However, the staff are great, and you can mix and change as you like.

An extended à la carte menu and a vegan menu are also available, but dishes from those menus need to be ordered in advance, at the latest by 16:00.

On one evening, the meal started with an amuse bouche of Mediterranean crêpe.

Then to start home made gnocchi with sweet potato, tomato and gorgonzola espuma from the set menu.

And then a Thai fish curry with rice for the main course, which was also from the set menu.

And then for dessert the divine Apfel Tarte, which was an interesting mix between a tarte Tatin and an apple pie. This was not part of the set menu, but I could change without any hassle at all.

The Thai curry was unusual. It tasted authentic, although the lemon rice was more like risotto than anything you’re likely to get in Thailand. The breakfast spread is also excellent and very extensive.

The hotel is small enough to be familiar, but big enough to have all the amenities you’d expect. And the breeze, sitting out on the balcony in the evenings is priceless!