What does an AvGeek do with only 24 hours in Frankfurt with some great aviation connections? It is all still a blur, but I think I can remember most of it.
I have now been to Frankfurt twice; yet I have spent less than 50 hours total there. My first trip was to take the inaugural Lufthansa Airbus A380 flight from Frankfurt Airport (FRA) to Miami (MIA) and more recently, I was invited to go back for the inaugural Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental flight.
First of all, the non-stop Lufthansa flight from Seattle to Frankfurt is a challenge. It leaves at around 1pm PST and then arrives at midnight PST, which is 8am local time in Germany. This means, I need to get sleep during the flight or I go a whole day without any. It was unfortunate that I was only able to get two hours of sleep on the flight over — mostly from being excited about the trip.
After landing and having some issues with my bag (took 45minutes to get, but at least I got it), I was off to find the Sheraton at the airport. Once arriving at the hotel a bit after 9am, I had about an hour to get showered and changed before starting an airport tour that Chris Sloan, with Airchive.com, nicely set up for us.
Chris and I met up with Robert Payne and Roy Watson who are not only both spokesmen for the airport, but also all around awesome guys. Much like the rest of the trip, we had a whirlwind tour, since we only had two hours, but it was well worth it.
We quickly took a look at the airport’s classic, yet still impressive baggage system before heading out to the tarmac. If you ever need an adrenalin shot to counter lack of sleep, a trip to an airport tarmac is always a nice cure.
We were able to stop and get out of our vehicle and take photos. at multiple locations. For such a short period on the tarmac, we caught some great stuff including a Kuwait Airways Airbus A300, an ANA Boeing 787 Dreamliner and being able to walk around a Lufthansa Boeing 747-400.
Getting off the tarmac for a few minutes, we took a tour of one of the tarmac towers that guides airliners around the gates. It provided amazing views.
By noon, we were back at the hotel to meet with our media group, who was led by Martin Riecken, Director Corporate Communications The Americas, Lufthansa Airlines. Events like these are a home coming for aviation journalists. You can imagine there is always non-stop, great conversation going on with a group of folks who write on aviation and travel.
After meeting up in the hotel lobby, we loaded onto a bus and were taken to Lufthansa Technik Hangar 7, which was very different from last time I saw it. Instead of the vast open spaces that a normal maintenance hangar might have, it was set up for a party. With a bunch of tables, a large stage and a curtain made of up thousands of LEDs, which I assumed was hiding the 747-8I (spoiler: it was).
Some speeches were given and some videos were shown before the curtain was raised not only to unveil the Intercontinental, but also different stations where we would be able to learn about different aspects of Lufthansa, the 747-8I interior and the future. For a little bit of fun, there was also a Lufthansa Airbus A380 in the background as well.
After our hangar and aircraft tour, it was time to head back to the hotel. I had a two and a half hour break before we would head out to dinner and the big question was: to nap or not to nap? Well, at this point I had been awake about 24 hours and I decided to go for the nap.
Waking up was a bit difficult, but I was excited to get to downtown Frankfurt. You know, when I visit a foreign land, it is nice to try to get out of the airport at least once — but I am old fashion in that way.
Our media group went to dinner at Apfelweinwirtschaft Wagner, where I got to have my first apple wine. It tasted like apple cider, without the bubbles and hefferveisen — it might be a bit of an acquired taste. I was hungry, but no worries. A platter with a farm-load of animals on it was delivered to our table. Probably not the best call for any vegetarians out there, but it worked great for us.
After dinner and a short walk down the street, it was about 9:30pm. Two choices were given: go back to the hotel or check out Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal at the airport. Again, the adrenalin rush of checking out the impressive lounge kept me nicely awake and I kept on rocking.
When I finally returned to my hotel room after 11pm, I was more than ready to get some sleep. It wasn’t easy getting a good night’s rest with the excitement of my flight the next day, but it didn’t make getting up at 6am easy. We all met in the lobby at 7:45am and made our way to the lounge at the gate.
Then we boarded the 747-8I and off I was heading back home. My second 24 hours in Frankfurt trip I have done and it was great, but next, I hope to hang out a bit more and get to know Frankfurt.
More Connected to 4 Hours in Frankfurt
* 52 Photos from the day
* Flying on the Inaugural Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Flight With Lufthansa
* Lufthansa Airlines Takes Delivery of Their First Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental
So I have to be an aviation WRITER to get all that behind the scenes stuff? :c and no pictures from my home airport either?
Oh, and that WiFi antenna might be one from now defunct Connexion by Boeing. Seems a California company, Row 44, bought up the rights, but use a newer style, but similar hump.
Interesting and informative article – I especially enjoyed the photos of the Frankfort facility and the local area. As a programmer for Flying Tigers (FTL) back in the early 80’s, I spent several weeks at the Flying Tiger facility in Frankfort re-programming some IBM computers at the site. After a steady diet of German cuisine, I complained one day that I was having a “Big Mac” attack (This was before the days of world-wide franchising.) The local Tiger manager grinned, and said “OK, I’ll take you to lunch today.” He drove me across the airport to the FRA passenger terminal that contained, to my delight, a full service “Mickey Dees!” As I recall, it was one of the very early McDonalds opened outside of the United States – I must have made at least a dozen trips over to those Golden Arches in the ensuing weeks….
Thanks for bringing back some fond memories.
The German wheat beer is properly spelled as Hefeweizen (Hefe = yeast, Weizen = wheat).