Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 with a KLM Boeing 747-400 in the background in Amsterdam.
This was my last leg of my RwandAir adventure. I had already flown from Seattle to Rwanda in a 737 and just completed a 10 hour flight from Kigali, Rwanda to Amsterdam on a KLM A330. I was already pretty tired and wasn’t sure how my mind, body and spirit would do on another ten hour ride in a different A330. On the positive side, I was looking forward to comparing two international Airbus A330s back-to-back. Overall, I have to say I like the
Northwest Delta Air Lines A330 long haul premium economy a bit better than KLM’s.
When arriving into Amsterdam, I had a three hour layover and I was hoping to check out their observation deck. Before plane spotting, I needed to do some charging of my laptop and cell phone, since my last ten hour flight did not have in-seat power and neither would my next one. The classic hunt for an open outlet was on.
I started down the concourse looking from side to side. I kept going and going and’¦ well, going. Seriously? After 45 minutes looking up and down concourses D, E and F, I found an outlet about seven feet up for vending machines, one in the bathroom, one on a fire hose holder and one on a center pillar in a crowded walkway. I choose to deal with the crowds and sat down on the floor (looking like an idiot by the way) by the pillar, plugged in my phone and then’¦ nothing. Sweet, this outlet did not work. Now the debate was did I want to look like even more of an idiot standing in the bathroom charging my phone, climbing on a vending machine or using an outlet on a fire hose that might cause some alarm to go off. I figured my best bet was with the fire hose and luckily it worked. The bad part was it took so long to juice up, that I wasn’t able to check out the observation deck ’“ save it for next time I guess.
Delta Economy Comfort seat on an Airbus A330.
I figured I might as well head to the gate, where I received my first body scan. We had to wait in a small waiting area at the gate for our flight, which had little entertainment before being able to board. I was sitting in Delta Economy Comfort, which gave me four additional inches of seat pitch, 50% more recline, priority boarding and free alcohol. You also sit near the front of the plane, which means you are first to customs after arriving in Seattle. .
Even with the extra four inches, I was unable to fully stretch out my legs since there was a huge in-flight entertainment box under my seat, negating the extra leg room. You would think with a large electrical box like that under your seat, they would at least give you an outlet, but there was none. Reading on SeatGuru.com, it looks like only Business Class has outlets. Good thing I did some charging during my layover.
One nice surprise was seeing an air vent in the overhead bin. I absolutely love my air vents, since I am normally hot and that little breeze can make a huge difference. Sure, most domestic aircraft have air vents, but I am finding more and more long haul Boeing 747, 777, Airbus A330/A330 and the A380 are lacking them.
During both legs (KGL to AMS and AMS to SEA), I had window seats. When flying on the KLM A330, I noticed that there was quite a bit of room between the seat and the wall and was wishing the outer arm rest would raise, allowing me access to that extra room. It was too bad that the armrest would not rise on the KLM A330, but it did rise on Delta’s. This gave me an extra three inches or so of seat width and I was starting to get the feeling that this might be a good flight. Unfortunately we ran into some trouble pretty quickly.
Taking off from Amsterdam.
After boarding we were told there would be a delay. It turns out that the amount of fuel that the truck indicated being pumped into the aircraft, didn’t match the A330’s gauges. Delays can be annoying, but I am willing to wait to make sure we have enough fuel — I am old fashioned like that. It took about an hour to determine that the truck had the failure and after all the paperwork was completed, we took off.
When getting my free headphones given by Delta out of their plastic bag I accidently ripped one of the wires. Not a big deal, I figured I could just ring the call button and quickly get a new one. I decided to try something new; time how long it would take for a flight attendant to assist me after ringing the call button. I decided I would make eye contact with a flight attendant walking by, but I would not say anything like “excuse me,” to put them to the test.
I rang the call button and waited. And waited. And holy crap waited some more. At the 10 minute mark I turned off my call light and rang it again. During those ten minutes I had two different flight attendants walk by, but they did not stop’¦ they did not even make eye contact. At the 15 minute mark I turned off my call light and rang it again. Another flight attendant walked by, but still nothing. I could see that my call light was on and the “ding” noise was definitely making its sound.
At about 18 minutes a flight attendant came by for trash. I was waiting for her to ask me about my light, but she didn’t. I decided I really wanted to start watching a movie, so I asked her for another head phone set, which she got right away. I am not normally one who uses the call button and I have never timed it before, but I am pretty certain that 18 minutes and three flight attendants walking by is not okay. It takes a lot to get me annoyed or frustrated on a flight and this definitely did it.
OH YES! The armrest near the window moves, giving me more room.
When trying to relax, the recline of the Economy Comfort was great. However, when the person in front of me was enjoying their extra 50% recline, it was not so great ’“ actually pretty annoying. I am normally one that doesn’t recline my seat, since I do not want to disturb the person behind me, but I really had to recline a bit to open my laptop, even with the extra four inches.
During the flight, I was served two different meals. One was your standard airline pasta, but the second was pizza. Both of them were pretty decent and I thought it was pretty slick having pizza on the plane. I really didn’t get to enjoy all the amenities in the flight, since I slept through most of it. Having the ability to raise my outer armrest really gave me one of my best economy sleeps with someone sitting next to me. I landed in Seattle feeling a lot better than I thought I would after 24 hours of economy flight.
A FEW MORE PHOTOS
Kigali International Airport (KGL).
When flying out of Kigali, Rwanda, it is best if you have a lot of patience — there is a lot of waiting in lines. I got to the airport about five hours early, so I was prepared to wait. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal, since I read there was free WiFi in the front lobby, which consists of only a coffee stand and a few seats. Unfortunately, the WiFi was not working, so I got myself a cold drink and started going through all my photos from my trip to Rwanda.
Passengers are not allowed to leave the lobby area to go to the ticket counters until it is two hours or less before your flight departs. Once I reached the two hour mark, I was able to go outside and wait in-line to go through the first set of security. Since three flights were leaving about the same time, a large group gathered outside waiting to get back inside. Before getting back inside we all had to have our documents reviewed and since I did not have access to a computer, I had to show my passport and my confirmation on my smart phone. I was given some looks, but they still let me through where I had to wait in another line to be screened. The first security screening was much like in the US, where I had to take off my shoes and take out my laptop.
After I went through security, I headed to the ticket counter, but was stopped by a security agent and told I had to go back and wait in a second line to have my passport scanned and my documents reviewed again. Sigh…okay.
After waiting about 15 minutes in that line, my documents were checked and I was finally allowed to wait in the ticket counter line. I was previously given a center seat, not something I wanted to have for a 10 hour flight. Luckily, I was able to get a window seat, so I thought I was set and headed towards the gate.
It is awesome to board a wide-bodied A330 on the tarmac of a small airport.
I followed signs telling me to head upstairs to get to the gate waiting area. On top of the stairs there was another, yet short, line for customs. They checked my forms, asked me a few questions and off I went to another waiting area, but this was still not the gate.
I was now in another waiting area with only 32 seats and a small bar area. Although outside it was cool, the upstairs waiting area was hot. There was a very small, maybe 19″, TV playing something not in English in front of the seats, but there weren’t enough for me to sit down. After a while we were allowed to move through another security check point to wait in a larger waiting area, which would be our departure gate.
Yes! After a six hour wait at the airport, our KLM Airbus A330 had arrived and we were told to start lining up. I knew there were no jet-ways, but I wasn’t sure if we would be bussed out to the plane or able to walk from the door to the plane; I was hoping for the walk. At the terminal door, we had our documents checked again and out onto the tarmac we went — sweet, no bus.
Kigali Airport is small and it was neat walking along the tarmac seeing a Brussels A330 and KLM A330 both in the middle of Rwanda sitting next to RwandAir’s two 737s and two CRJ200s. After having my documents checked one more time at the bottom of the stairs, I was on board the A330 and ready to find my seat.
Normally, I am aware where my flight came from and where it is going. However, I just received my itinerary for my flight home the day prior and with limited internet access, I had no idea. It didn’t seem like there were many folks in the waiting area to fill up an Airbus A330, so I did not know what to expect when getting on to the aircraft or even if we would have a few stops between KGL and AMS. When boarding, it became clear the aircraft had come from somewhere and I was guessing it was a long flight since the plane was full and people looked tired and grumpy.
Map of my flight from KGL to EBB then AMS on a KLM Airbus A330.
Turns out the flight had some passengers from Amsterdam, but was heading to Entebbe, Uganda (EBB) from KGL. It was pretty lame, since the person who had had my seat obviously had just gotten off. It was still warm and there was trash everywhere. However, I was told it would be a quick 35 minute flight to EBB where the aircraft would be fully cleaned.
I did not have far to go to find my seat. I was sitting in seat 15A which was in the KLM Economy Comfort section located near the front. This gave me priority boarding, a few inches of additional leg room and more recline. It was nice, but there was an in-flight entertainment computer under the seat in front of me, eliminating half of my leg room. I thought with the big box in the way, I would at least have an outlet, but there was no in-seat power which was very disappointing. Kigali Airport is not known for the abundance of power outlets and by the time I boarded my electronics were needing some juice.
KLM definitely has their official color of blue down. Not only is the outside of the airplane blue, but the carpet is blue, the seats are blue, the bulkheads are blue and the flight attendants are all wearing a bright blue. When the flight attendants have their dress jackets on, the blue seems almost a bit overpowering and almost feels like I am on the official airline of the Smurfs. Good thing I like blue.
Blue is an obvious theme on KLM aircraft.
The aircraft loaded up quickly and we were ready to head to EBB. That was the shortest wide-bodied flight I have taken. It was just enough time for the flight attendants to run up and down the aisle to give us orange juice boxes and sit back down.
By the time we landed in EBB, it was obvious that the flight attendants were done with their shift. Along with the passengers, they came across as very tired and grumpy. This was okay, since they got off in Uganda and a new, fresh crew got on board.
During the layover, there were not too many of us left on the plane and a cleaning crew came on and worked around the passengers. It was interesting to see them in action, but it was obvious they were annoyed that so many passengers were in the way… I do not blame them. We had only been on the plane for about 40 minutes and passengers were out of their seats and walking around, getting in their way like we had just completed a marathon flight.
The seat-back in flight entertainment isn't the best, but surely better than nothing.
During the down time, it got amazingly hot inside the aircraft. The information screen showed it was only 73F outside, but it had to be over 85F inside the aircraft. The unfortunate part was the gentleman in front of me, apparently had made a life decision not to wear deodorant.
I am not quite sure why they weren’t able to run the APU and A/C while we waited and I heard multiple passengers complain, but the cabin did not seem to cool down until we started boarding again. Maybe it was an oversight with the changing of the crew, but after working up a nice sweat, I wasn’t able to cool down until almost landing in AMS.
Every economy seat has its own in-flight entertainment which is nice. The system seems a bit old and takes a little more time to navigate, but it is all free, which makes it worth the trouble. There is a decent selection of movies and TV shows in a number of different languages. It was entertaining enough for a one-way ten hour flight, but if you had more than that, the entertainment would get stale pretty quickly.
Talking about stale, we were served some hot food during the trip and a choice between beef and pasta — I chose the beef. I guess “stale” might be an unfair way to describe the food, it was not that bad, but not that great either. It is what one would expect from economy food from an airline.
My KLM Airbus A330 (PH-AOL) at Amsterdam after my flight.
I was actually quite surprised how quickly the flight went. I watched some movies, got some sleep, ate some food and BAM we were heading into Amsterdam. I think even though part of my legroom was taken by the in-flight entertainment system, the extra room and recline really helped. It was a little frustrating when the person in front of me decided to recline their seat all the way (remember Economy Comfort has the ability to recline more), but being by the window with only another seat next to me, with a few inches of extra room made the flight enjoyable.
After landing, I had a four hour layover in Amsterdam before flying on a Delta Airbus A330 back home to Seattle. I will be reviewing that flight in the near future.
A FEW OTHER PHOTOS OF THE TRIP
Temo Madrigal is a good friend and is a correspondent for my blog. He also is not loyal to any one airline and normally tries to find the best deal possible, especially when flying with his wife and three kids. Recently he had a flight by himself from Seattle (SEA) to Indianapolis (IND) with a layover in Minneapolis (MSP) on Delta Air Lines. I asked if he could check out the SkyClub during his four hour layover in MSP and give his honest impressions since he had never been in an airline lounge before. He agreed.
The SkyClub located at the entrance of the F and G concourses at MSP (there is another located on the C concourse) is Delta’s busiest club after Atlanta and takes up about 12,500 square feet. The club was re-done in January 2011 as part of Delta’s more than $2 billion investment in airport facilities and global products, services and technology upgrades. Here is Temo’s experience in his own words:
Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 at MSP. Photo by Daniel Betts.
Some of my fellow travelers like to book their flights direct with no stops. I, on the other hand am all about saving money, even if it’s a measly twenty dollars. As a stay-at-home-dad, I like to enjoy the few hours I spend alone in the sometimes-busy airport terminals. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but getting to read more than one chapter of a book in one sitting is a rare treat.
Recently, I was traveling to the Midwest and had a four-hour layover in Minneapolis and the Airline Reporter (aka David) asked me to check out the Delta Sky Club and provide readers with an inside look at the amenities of the club and if a one day pass (normally $50) would be worth it.
The Delta Sky Club in Minneapolis was formally the Northwest Airlines Worldclubs and is one of the oldest lounges in the Midwest. One wouldn’t be able to tell since it was first updated during the merger of Delta and Northwest in 2008 and then again January of this year.
Honestly, before seeing the Delta Sky Club, I had never actually been in an airport lounge. In my mind I had imagined dark painted walls, black ceilings, old style leather couches, and maybe even a stuffed moose head on a wall over the bar. I usually travel with a child or two in-tow, so running up and down the terminal is something that we do to tire-out our kids and help them be less of a hassle on the plane (mostly to respect our fellow travelers), and due to my vivid imagination and ideas of what an airport lounge includes, I never looked into them. This trip had definitely helped me change my mind.
A good club takes more than just a comfy place to sit -- it takes good staff and Delta delivers.
The foyer of the Delta Sky Club looked inviting and the young ladies at the reception desk welcomed me with genuine smiles and some humor. Something you might not see at every airport establishment at 6:10 AM. I was quickly asked if I had ever been to the Minneapolis club and if I needed any assistance with the services. I let them know that I had not and one representative provided me with a brief tour of the club and the amenities that are offered. I quickly realized that there was no moose head and my ideas of what I would find were completely the opposite.
The entire lounge was actually had a retro-yet-new-feel with florescent lights dimmed by blue stained glass, both the furniture and artwork were a cross between modern and art deco that gave the entire lounge a chic and upscale look and feeling. Being in the club actually made me feel as if I had entered an exclusive nightclub, but yet somehow I belonged.
Delta's SkyClub in MSP has lots of different seating options.
After the brief tour I decided to use the amenities of the lounge. First, was the men’s room and I was a little disappointed. Being that I was on a red-eye and had a full day ahead of me, I was hoping that there would be showers at this location, but there were not. I felt awkward having to brush my teeth in sinks that were directly located in front of bathroom stalls for some reason. At least the restroom was very clean, so it that wasn’t a big deal.
The good part is most people won’t spend most of their time in the bathroom. The seating areas were outstanding, with the two level lounge being open and ample. There were a variety of seat options ranging from nest style seats that provided some privacy, full reclining chairs, living room style seating arrangements with coffee tables at the center, and bar table and stool seats as well. It also featured a ’œquiet area’ that was in a sunken nook style space in the far corner of the club with full reclining chairs.
One can sit and relax or get down to business in the SkyClub.
The business office area offered both desks with internet hook-up and telephones, as well as desks with ready-to-use desktop computers, printers and a fax machine. I was able to use the free Wi-Fi with my tablet after being helped by the reception desk. There is also satellite TV available, but if you are looking for non-electronic entertainment, you can find plenty of daily newspapers (Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, etc.) and magazines.
The Delta Sky Club offers what Delta calls ’œSnacks Served All Day’. I perused the continental breakfast selections; oatmeal with the trimmings, bagels, trailmix, fresh fruits, cereal, yogurt, and a multi-selection beverage dispenser that offered coffee, tea, and hot cocoa. I’m a Seattle coffee drinker and give kudos for the strong coffee that came out of the dispenser.
There might not be a ton of food an drink options, but you can have as much as you want.
The bar was stocked with complimentary premium wines, beer and liquor. Again, there was no moose head over the bar, but there were three large plasma televisions offering both news and sports options for patrons to watch, and now that I think about it, it’s definitely better than having to stare at a dead moose head for four hours. The bar was clean, attractive, and the bartenders, Taslfalem and Sebele, were polite and very attentive. Both were able to multi-task by holding a great conversation and do their work with precision and a smile.
When heading back to Seattle and stopping at Detroit, I was offered a one-day pass to the Delta Sky Club for only $39.00. I had a four-hour layover once again and sitting with the “normal” people just didn’t seem appealing. I wanted to see the difference of how much money I would spend normally on food, drinks, etc. at the airport. I spent a total of $29.17 for an appetizer and two drinks in a bad Mexican restaurant with uncomfortable chairs. For ten dollars more (even for $20 more at the standard $50 price) I could have had the same positive experience I had in Minneapolis at the Delta Sky Club.
The bar was my favorite place. Good drinks and great conversation.
So is the cost of a day pass or even a yearly membership worth it? Well, I met a gentleman at the Sky Club Bar that mentioned he had become a member of The Delta Sky Club (formally Delta Crown Room Clubs) almost fifteen years ago because he wanted to find a better place for his kids to have a soda and relax during 2-4 hour layovers. He is a loyal member and feels that it only keeps getting better. I have to agree. It will be pretty hard for me not to have lounge access, but I do not travel enough for a yearly membership. Delta better believe they might see me a time or two using a day pass in the future, which is a big statement coming from a conservative spending guy like me.
B757 image by Daniel Betts
All others by Temo Madrigal
A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 sits at Tokyo's Narita Airport.
When talking airlines, I have heard over and over again that Singapore Airlines had the best international business class product and I recently had the opportunity to try it out. It was on flight SQ11 and SQ12 which is an Airbus A380 that flies to and from Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN) with a stop at Narita (NRT) in Tokyo (disclaimer: I was able to fly at no cost by the airline to and from Singapore).
I am pretty big guy, around 6’1″ and 250lbs or so, which means I can truly appreciate a larger seat with a little extra room. Most business class seats do a great job of making me feel comfortable, but Singapore Airlines business class seats border on insanely big. They have a seat pitch of 55″, which is nothing to write home about, but they also have a seat width of 34″ — which is almost three feet. To compare, the international business class seat width on Lufthansa’s Airbus A380 is 20″ and All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-300ER has a respectable width of 21″.
Singapore’s business class seats are arranged in a 1:2:1 layout, meaning every seat has access to an aisle. That eliminates having to trip over a seatmate in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Unfortunately I was not able to catch a window seat to or from Singapore, but with all the available in flight entertainment, who really needs a window anyhow (okay, I was disappointed, but it worked out).
Singapore Airlines sets up their Business Class seats in a 1:2:1 layout -- meaning everyone has aisle access.
When taking a 20 hour flight twice in one week, there needs to be a decent collection of entertainment. Singapore Airlines came through, giving each passenger easy access to a better-than-average selection of movies, tv shows and music all on demand. You are able to recline back and still easily view the 15.4″ screens. I did end up having a few issues during my flights, where the entertainment system would tweek-out and restart on its own or cause my movie to stop for a bit. This happens to be a common occurrence since I have a knack of causing entertainment systems to crash. For some additional fun, there were quite a few “real” game options that you can play with other passengers, like Tetris and Battleship, but never got around to trying them out.
When it becomes time to sleep, the seats fold flat, but it requires you to stand up and fold the seat-back forward. The manual process was decided on to save the weight of additional mechanics, but it can be a bit annoying when you are about to fall asleep and you have to get back up to make the bed (yeah I know, life is rough). It is all worth the effort — I was able to sleep comfortably for about 7 hours on the flight home.
There were so many meals served on my flight to Singapore and back, with multiple courses, I am not even sure what this was. But I know it was good.
If you decide to sleep, you risk missing a meal or two — which would be a shame. Because of timing, I enjoyed three different dinners on the way over and two lunches and a dinner on the way back. My first meal started with parma ham and ginger-infused pear, char-grilled vegetables and balsamic dressing. Then the the main entree was seared beef fillet with port wine sauce, mushrooms in spice cream and dessert was New York cheese cake ice cream with cherry compote. Yes, a lot of fancy names, but it actually tasted quite divine.
Just when I thought the formal meal was done, here came a cart with cheese on a cutting board. You tell them what you want and they will cut it up, served with fruit and even a glass of port. Each meal has multiple courses and by the time the cheese cart rolls around you are pretty full. If for some reason you are hungry during the down times, there is still a “light bites” menu available, where you can get anything from noodles, to sandwiches to even a Krispy Kreme doughnut (only from LAX to NRT).
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous there is also an Asian option including seasoned kelp, grilled fresh water eel braised in egg and pike eel roll with kelp. I normally love trying different food, but was not in the right mood. It is always nice to have a drink while dining and if you become thirsty, no worries, you have eight pages of drink options to choose from including the classic Singapore Sling.
Singapore Airlines has different lighting modes for different parts of the flight on the A380. This purple was my favorite.
ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿Singapore Airlines is very proud of their Singapore Girl brand of service and on board my A380 flight there were 23 flight crew. Something I didn’t notice on the way over, but learned while in the Singapore Airlines Training Center, is that the flight attendants have different ranks. Although their uniforms have similar designs, there is a variation of color based on seniority. The majority of men and women serving you will sport the color blue which is entry level. Green are the lead flight attendants in charge of a section and reds are chiefs in charge of each deck. On the A380 there will be one person in charge who sports purple. It became a game to try and find one of each color (hey, it is a long flight).
This is a new flight for the airline and was started on July 1. Singapore Airlines also operates a non-stop from Los Angeles to Singapore using an Airbus A340-500. Why would anyone take the longer trip with a stop in Narita? First, the non-stop flight (SQ37 and SQ38) is the second longest flight in the world and takes about 18 hours. That is a long time to be locked in a aluminum cylinder and some people might be willing to make the trip longer to have the ability to split up the trip with a short stop in Narita. Also, the non-stop flight only has business class seats, so if you are looking to fly first class or economy, the A380 flight is a must. If you are flying business class, the A380 product is similar, but the seats are wider compared to the A340. Probably the most important reason for airline geeks is the ability to fly on an Airbus A380 vs a more common A340.
These seats are so wide that the seat belt comes up in the middle of the seat and they give you a pillow to fill space.
The first leg of the flight from LAX to NRT was about ten hours before a 1.5 hour lay over in Narita. Flying business class gave me access to the business class lounge, but it was a bit annoying having to get off the aircraft, go through security at Narita, before starting the boarding process.
Los Angeles becomes the eighth destination in Singapore Airline’s network to operate the Airbus A380. They were the first airline to operate the world’s larges airliner in October 2007 and they have clocked around 128,000 flying hours on more than 13,000 flights. The airline currently has 12 A380s in service and seven more on firm order. It is definitely worth the extra time to try out the A380 product and if you are flying economy, you still have a shot to fly on the upper deck.
Now, the bar has been set high. Have you flown in business class seats that you have found to be what you consider “the best”? If so, please tell me about your experience in the comment. Also be sure to check out my other photos of the flight including first class, the lay-flat business class seats, and my seat neighbor who was wearing cowboy boots.
Lufthansa Airbus A330 at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) waiting to go to Frankfurt (FRA).
Recently I had the opportunity to fly from Seattle (SEA) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) on a Lufthansa Airbus A330 in Business Class. This was my first Lufthansa A330 flight and figured it is time to do a review. I was flown to Germany by the airline to experience the first Airbus A380 flight from Frankfurt to Miami, but getting there is half the fun.
I felt a lot of pressure to get some rest on the flight over to FRA since I was only spending 24hrs there before heading back to the US. Flying in a premium seat better prepares a passenger to arrive well rested and ready to go — something I needed, but never got. The down side of flying in a premium seat, at least for me, is I want to enjoy the experience and I fight sleeping through it.
On the day of the flight, I decided to leave home early to get to the airport. Although Lufthansa does not have their own lounge at SEA, they share one with British Airways in the S-Terminal. I was able to hang out in the lounge for about three hours with free drinks and snacks until my flight was ready to board — never a bad way to spend an afternoon.
What flight can be complete with out a winglet shot?There are so many business class seats, they go to the wing.
Lufthansa flies from Seattle to Frankfurt daily and is the only flight they operate out of Seattle. The great thing about only operating one flight per day is the aircraft was already sitting at the airport and we boarded and departed right on time. I remember the days when an Airbus A340 flew the route (not exactly sure of the dates) but today they have the A330. Luckily for us aviation nerds you can still catch the Air France A340 that flies to Seattle.
Once you get to cruising altitude on a wide bodied airliner, it is easy to forget you are flying. Most people shut their window (even me, I know, I know) to better view your in-flight entertainment screens . A flight on a wide body airliner is just a different experience, even in economy, allowing less of a closed-in feeling. Half way across the ocean, I couldn’t help but stop and realize how amazing it was traveling from Seattle to Frankfurt in just under ten hours. To think what that trip would have entailed just 100 years ago to accomplish the same task makes me happy that airlines offer a much better solution.
The seats provided quite a bit of room and there was a pretty good selection of entertainment, but I wished there was a bit more privacy between me and the person next to me. I have no problem sleeping in economy in standard seats, but when I am lying flat, I feel a bit more exposed and would enjoy more privacy. I also wish the TV screen was closer, since, when lounging back, the screen got smaller. I ran out of movies I wanted to watch on the flight over there, but luckily my flight back was on the A380, which had additional options for me to enjoy.
Yum! This was one of three courses. Being served in glasses with the airline's logo is a nice touch. Yes, I was watching a movie with Matt Damon.
Up in Business Class, one has ample choices for food during your long trip. There is an appetizer, entree and desert and for each category, you have three choices. I decided on the, “chilled honey roasted Chicken Breast with water crest salad and cranberries, then Zinfandel braised short ribs with garlic mashed potatoes and baby carrots and finally finished it up with sage derby, gruyere and cambozola cheese.” The food quality is what would be expected from an international business class experience. I only wish there were more offerings of German in nature. If possible, I prefer to have the cuisine of the airline’s home country versus standard fare. Back in economy, they didn’t have it too shabby either. They didn’t have all the choices, but at least they were still getting meals that looked pretty decent for airline food and it was all free (well included in the price of the ticket).
I know this is silly and really not a reason to choose an airline, but Lufthansa’s warm wash cloths that are handed out at the beginning of the flight and before the meal, smelled amazing. I can’t even tell you what the smell was like, but if they made that into an air freshener I would definitely get it.
After meal service almost everyone in the front of the plane went to sleep. I tried, but it just wasn’t happening. I even took part of a sleeping pill (something I do not usually do while flying), but I never got tired. This was bad news because when we landed it was midnight my time, but 9am local time and I had a full day of events to participate in. I welcomed jet-lag with open arms.
One reason I think I couldn’t sleep was it never got dark outside. The concept was pretty cool, but not getting any sleep wasn’t so cool. Yea, sure, the shades were all down, but mentally, I knew the light was there. Even the eye mask can’t stop the mental sunlight getting in.
When arriving in Frankfurt, we had to take a 10 minute bus ride back to the terminal.
Once we landed I was confused when we started taxiing away from the airport. I had forgotten that Frankfurt has many airline parking spaces where buses take people to and from the terminal. This was a bonus for me, being able to de-plane on the tarmac, then taking a five minute bus ride through the airport, but I could see how that would be a huge annoyance for people who are not into planes. I really wouldn’t want to ride an airplane for 10 hours, then get stuck on an even more crowded bus. You better believe the first class passengers are not riding the bus; many get a private Mercedes or Porsche to take them to the terminal.
Lufthansa also has an arrival lounge at FRA, but I was tired and in need of a shower, so I headed out of the airport and to my hotel. The flight went quick and was a great combination of comfort, high-end service and entertainment. I can’t wait until the next international flight.
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