To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

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sn26567
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To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by sn26567 »

I had booked a second cruise with Costa, starting and ending in Miami. The organisers wanted me to fly Air France Economy from Paris CDG. I declined and I decided to fly Lufthansa instead, even though it was 100 euros more. I thus booked the flights BRU-FRA-MIA-FRA-BRU and selected window seats at an additional cost of 70 euros (10 euros for the European legs and 25 euros for the intercontinental ones). I know I could have selected seats free of charge 23 hours in advance, but with the risk of having a limited choice.

The day before the outbound flights, I downloaded the boarding passes into the Lufthansa app on my phone. Surprise: the seats registered on my booking had been changed. I tweeted to Lufthansa to complain, but they replied that only the type of seat (aisle or window) was guaranteed, not the seat itself.

On Saturday, 07 March, I arrived at the airport at 5:55 (one hour and ten minutes ahead of the flight, and not two hours as recommended. At least that gives some additional sleep). I dropped my suitcase at the Lufthansa baggage drop counter in row 3.
LH1025 to Frankfurt
LH1025 to Frankfurt
I proceeded immediately to Gate A49. Boarding started 20 minutes before departure and was completed 5 minutes before departure. The captain wanted to leave right away but told us he had to wait for the last pieces of luggage to be loaded.
A recent A320 with sharklets
A recent A320 with sharklets
BRU-FRA Saturday, 07 March 2015
Flight LH1025 (codeshared with SN and AC)
Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 « with sharklets » D-AIUB
(When booking my flight 4 months earlier, I was surprised to see that they knew already it would have sharklets) (strangely enough, this plane has no name, like usual with LH)
STD 07:05, actual 07:07 from gate A49 (GMT+1)
STA 08:10, actual 07:57 at gate A23 (GMT+1).
Total time: scheduled 1 hr 05 minutes, actual 0 hr 50 min.
Seat: booked 11F, actual on boarding pass 19A (window)


Warm welcome on board by 2 stewardesses who gave a cereal/chocolate bar to every passenger. Most of the 24 seats (6 rows of 4 seats with the middle seat empty) of the business class section were occupied, and economy was also rather full, mostly with passengers connecting further in Frankfurt. Safety demonstration in German (first) and English.
Good view of BRU and RWY 01
Good view of BRU and RWY 01
Take-off from the usual 25R. After 15 minutes drinks were served to accompany the cereal bar. I had coffee and orange juice. Nice view of Liege and its airport in clear weather.
Over LGG airport
Over LGG airport
Very light breakfast: orange juice, cereal bar, coffee
Very light breakfast: orange juice, cereal bar, coffee
Landing on 25C and deplaning at Gate A23 in Terminal 1.
Taxi at FRA airport...
Taxi at FRA airport...
... to a stand next to a 748i
... to a stand next to a 748i
After arrival, I had more than 2 hours to change gates and to wait for my next flight. I had to go to Z66, but first to clear customs, as I was leaving the Schengen area. My passport and my boarding pass were checked no less than three times!

In fact, the Z gates are exactly above the A gates with the same numbers. Nevertheless it was a long walk forth and back (Frankfurt is huge and Terminal 1A is the biggest of all).

Boarding started 40 minutes before departure by no less than 3 boarding bridges (one for F and C on the upper deck, two for Y at the lower deck).
The big one to Miami. No less than three boarding bridges.
The big one to Miami. No less than three boarding bridges.
A lot of catering being loaded for the long trip
A lot of catering being loaded for the long trip
LH462, A388 to MIA
LH462, A388 to MIA
FRA-MIA Saturday, 07 March 2015
Flight LH462 (codeshared with OS and TG)
Aircraft: Airbus 380-800 D-AIMI “Berlin”
STD 10:20, actual 10:22 from gate Z66 (GMT+1)
STA 14:50, actual 14:58 at gate J17, terminal S (GMT-5).
Total time: scheduled 10 hrs 30 minutes, actual 10 hr 36 min.
Seat: booked 96K (upper floor window), actual on boarding pass 51K (lower floor window)


Polite welcome at the front door of the lower deck by two stewardesses. The cockpit door was open and I asked a stewardess if I could visit. She went to ask the captain, who agreed. I had a small chat with the three pilots (for longer flights there is an additional pilot. They stay a mere 21 hours in Miami and then come back) and took some photographs with their consent.
The cockpit with three pilots for longer trips
The cockpit with three pilots for longer trips
I then went to my window seat 51K, in the second row of the lower deck. I understand also why I did not get the booked seat 96K on the upper deck: it does not exist on this particular plane, since the whole upper floor is entirely occupied by First and Business. My seat was not the best one: it is comfortable, but the room for the legs is narrow because of the badly placed IFE box.
The IFE box doesn't leave a lot of room for the legs!
The IFE box doesn't leave a lot of room for the legs!
Load factor was approximately 80% in Economy (I didn’t see the upper floor for First and Business), and I had a free seat between me and my neighbour (in a 3-4-3 configuration).

Safety demonstration on the screens, first in German and then in English, during the push-back. It was interrupted by the captain who mentioned there was a problem with the APU and he could not start the engines. He would try again; if that didn’t succeed he would have to return to the gate. Fortunately, everything went OK after 10 minutes and we could taxi to runway 18 for take-off.
Gate A/Z66 empty after push-back
Gate A/Z66 empty after push-back
The big tractor that pulled our A380 from the gate
The big tractor that pulled our A380 from the gate
WiFi was available on board. You could see some world news for free, but surfing and emails were at a cost. IFE had its problems: at first the sound didn’t come through and the system had to be re-initialised. And later, when listening to music, it often automatically switched back to flight data. Eventually that was also fixed.
Flying over the Rhine river
Flying over the Rhine river
After 15 minutes drinks were served with some biscuits. Since it was not yet noon I had another orange juice. One hour later, time for lunch: a selection of three dishes: beef, pasta or chicken. I chose the latter, served with rice, a small salad with balsamic vinegar dressing, bread, butter and cheese, and a pastry and a small chocolate as dessert. And real metal cutlery! A large glass of red wine served from a bottle and water were my drinks during the meal, before coffee and Bailey’s on ice.
Lunch: salad with balsamic dressing, chicken and rice, bread, cheese and butter, pastry (and a hidden chocolate). Wine and water before coffee and Bailey's.
Lunch: salad with balsamic dressing, chicken and rice, bread, cheese and butter, pastry (and a hidden chocolate). Wine and water before coffee and Bailey's.
The flight continued without problems over Luxemburg, Paris, Quimper and the tip of Brittany before the Atlantic Ocean, and later the Azores Islands. The aircraft gained altitude, starting at FL350 on the continent before mounting successively to FL370 and later FL380 over the Atlantic.
The coast of Brittany near Quimper
The coast of Brittany near Quimper
A second hot meal was served two hours before arrival: a choice between pasta and vegetables, or meat and mashed potatoes. I selected the pasta, which was quite nice, accompanied by bread and butter and a chocolate pudding as dessert. A glass of white wine (Riesling) and a glass of water to wash this down and a cup of tea to conclude. But for this meal, cutlery was made of plastics.
Second hot meal: pasta with vegetables, bread and butter, chocolate pudding. With a glass of Riesling and one of water.
Second hot meal: pasta with vegetables, bread and butter, chocolate pudding. With a glass of Riesling and one of water.
A last view on the Bahamas (where I would be the next day) before landing on Rwy 9 (not 09 like in Europe) and docking at Gate J21 barely 8 minutes late, amidst scores of planes from South America (mainly Avianca) and a Swiss A333.
Over the Bahamas before landing
Over the Bahamas before landing
Passing in front of the city of Fountainbleau on short finals
Passing in front of the city of Fountainbleau on short finals
Being in the second row, I was quickly outside, but that didn’t help too much! Long walk to a long queue at immigration, which I cleared in 15 minutes after having been taken in picture and given the fingerprints of all my fingers. It was even longer at the baggage claim: the priority passengers had their baggage waiting for them, but ordinary travellers l:ike me had to wait 45 minutes after the landing to see the first bag appear on the carousel, and my suitcase was there only after 55 minutes. OK, an A380 has many passengers, but if there is a sufficient number of cabin crew, there should also be a similar number of baggage handlers…
Long wait before delivery of the baggage at the carousel
Long wait before delivery of the baggage at the carousel
People from Costa Cruises were all over the airport to guide me all the way to the buses going to the Port of Miami where the Costa Luminosa was docked for a Caribbean cruise.

-----------------------

For the return flight, the bus that had taken me for a guided tour of Miami arrived at the airport at 14:30, three and a half hours before the flight. Horror: there was already a queue of several hundred people in the economy line for the Lufthansa and SWISS flights (both departing at 18:00). I had downloaded the boarding passes in the LH app, but that didn’t help: there is no baggage drop desk at Miami International Airport. I thus had to stay in line. After more than one hour, I was finally at the check-in desk, and despite my electronic passes, I got another two boarding passes for my two flights to FRA and BRU. Not very efficient!

The hand baggage scan was very smooth: thanks to new equipment, no need to remove laptops from the bags, nor to take off belt or shoes!

Time for some wandering through that huge airport and a last Corona beer.
Spotting an Avianca A320 at MIA
Spotting an Avianca A320 at MIA
... and a LAN A330
... and a LAN A330
Boarding started at 17:30 by row numbers, after people had already to form in the hall the groups that would board together: that’s a nice idea, although there are always smart asses that will jump to a group that is boarding earlier.
LH463 to FRA...
LH463 to FRA...
... and it's on an A388
... and it's on an A388
MIA-FRA Tuesday, 17 March 2015
Flight LH463 (no codeshares)
Aircraft: Airbus 380-800 D-AIMB “München”
STD 18:00, actual 18:20 from gate J17, South Terminal (GMT-4)
STA 08:00+1, actual 08:26+1 at gate Z54, terminal 1 (GMT+1).
Total time: scheduled 9 hrs 00 minutes, actual 9 hr 06 min.
Seat: booked 96K (upper floor window), actual on boarding pass 52K (lower floor window)

The little A333 sister from Swiss was at the next gate and deârting at  the same time
The little A333 sister from Swiss was at the next gate and deârting at the same time
... well, a little earlier after all!
... well, a little earlier after all!
My seat in the front section of the lower deck was not hampered by an IFE box this time. Boarding was completed almost on time (with a load factor of about 90% in Economy, but I still had a free seat next to me), but departure was delayed because of the strike of Vereinigung Cockpit in Germany, said the captain. As I didn’t understand, I asked the steward what that meant: due to a LH pilot strike in Germany the next day, many people had changed their travel plans and that was the reason for the long queues at check-in and boarding, and thus for the slight delay.

Furthermore, immediately after push-back, the plane waited for a long time before taxiing to Runway 9 (not 09 like in Europe) and taking off at 18:50. The delay would never be recouped.
Nice bird!
Nice bird!
Soon we flew over the Bahamas and the city of Freeport.
Over the suburbs of Miami
Over the suburbs of Miami
... and Miami itself
... and Miami itself
Thirty minutes into the flight, a drink (orange juice for me) and crackers were served. Soon thereafter this was followed by dinner, with a choice between chicken and pasta all’arabiata. I selected the latter, which was appetising.
Dinner: pasta all'arrabiata, salad with caesar dressing, bread, butter, crackers and cheese from Wisconsin, tiramisu
Dinner: pasta all'arrabiata, salad with caesar dressing, bread, butter, crackers and cheese from Wisconsin, tiramisu
The night has fallen and I managed to sleep a couple of hours while the aircraft was climbing from cruise altitude FL350 to FL390.

One hour and 30 minutes before landing, we were treated with a hot breakfast: scrambled eggs with vegetables and potatoes.
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with fired vegetables and potatoes, bread, butter, fruit salad
Breakfast: scrambled eggs with fired vegetables and potatoes, bread, butter, fruit salad
Meanwhile, the first lights of a new day were appearing on the horizon and the aircraft had a first contact with Europe in Cornwall, exactly at Penzance, followed by Newquay, Southampton, Southend, Dover, the Channel, Dunkirk, Ypres (hello Belgium!), and then right above my home, Wavre, Huy and Germany (Hahn?).
Yes! Going right over my house at 11,880 m height
Yes! Going right over my house at 11,880 m height
Hahn?
Hahn?
The itinerary of LH463
The itinerary of LH463
Landing on 07R with nearly half an hour delay, but I was not afraid as I still had 55 minutes to clear customs and passport control and proceed to Gate A1 which was not far away. I was more afraid that my flight would be cancelled because of the strike of short- and medium-haul Lufthansa pilots, but already before landing I had received an SMS from Lufthansa informing me of a gate change, meaning my flight would proceed normally. Which was indeed the case!

FRA-BRU Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Flight LH1008 (codeshared with SN and AC)
Aircraft: Airbus A319 D-AILK “Aschaffenburg”
STD 09:25, actual 09:38 from gate A1 (GMT+1)
STA 10:25, actual 10:29 at gate A49 (GMT+1).
Total time: scheduled 1 hr 00 minute, actual 0 hr 51 min.
Seat: booked 11F, actual on boarding pass 18A (window)

LH1008 to BRU at Gate A1
LH1008 to BRU at Gate A1
D-AILK to BRU at gate A1
D-AILK to BRU at gate A1
Boarding started with some delay, and all passengers received a chocolate bar at the entrance of the plane. Load factor of nearly 100%, both in C (20 seats) and in Y. The non-striking pilot announced that departure would be further delayed as three passengers had not appeared and their baggage had to be unloaded. Furthermore, there was fog in Brussels and he had to get clearance from Belgian ATC.
The non-striking pilot preparing the  flight
The non-striking pilot preparing the flight
The aircraft was positioned so that it did not need to be pushed back, and we started taxiing right away to RWY 18.
Hahn again?
Hahn again?
The breakfast on LH463 was better!
The breakfast on LH463 was better!
Drinks were served to accompany the chocolate (a strong coffee for me). Short flight at a moderate altitude (FL220) and landing on the usual 25L to gate A49 almost on time despite the late departure.
Itinerary of LH1008
Itinerary of LH1008
In summary
  • Good flights (with attentive service, good food and plenty of free drinks) despite some slight delays
  • All 4 booked seats had been changed. What’s the point in booking them in advance against 70 euros? (Except that a window seat was guaranteed)
  • No baggage drop and printed boarding passes in Miami, despite availability of electronic ones, but nice pre-boarding grouping of passengers
André
ex Sabena #26567

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by airtrainer »

Nice report André !
Damn, 70€ for a not-guaranteed seat is a rip-off :(
Arriving into MIA is indeed a nightmare, not only when flying LH's whale. Nearby FLL is way more convenient...

OO-ITR
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by OO-ITR »

Nice report. Already flew two times with LH to MIA. 3 stretches in C and one in Y. Love the A380!

Homo Aeroportus
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by Homo Aeroportus »

Thanks André for this nice and detailed report.
I don't know how tall you are but it seems you didn't have much legroom and that box is definitely something you can do without on such a long flight.

I don't think either of your airport pictures are showing Hahn.
The second one, on your FRA-BRU flight (pic "Hahn again?"), is definitely Spangdahlem (ETAD). It has a recognizable huge apron. Former home of the A-10s.
As to the second one, I don't know for sure which one but it must also be an "ETxx", a military base with its parallel taxiway / emergency RWY and the dispersals at both ends in a wooded area top left and bottom right.

H.A.

mrx161
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by mrx161 »

Nice and very interesting, thanks !
sn26567 wrote:Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 « with sharklets » D-AIUB[/b] (When booking my flight 4 months earlier, I was surprised to see that they knew already it would have sharklets) (strangely enough, this plane has no name, like usual with LH)
They don't get always a city name : http://www.lh-taufnamen.de/lufthansa/

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by Comet »

Interesting report and great photos. The inflight food looks quite good as well.
Sabena and Sobelair - gone but never forgotten.
Louise

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sn26567
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by sn26567 »

Thanks to all for your comments. I'd loved to travel in C class, but when there is no company to pay for your trips anymore...

airtrainer, I doubt that FLL is equipped to handle A380s (a suitable runway and 3 boarding bridges!). And Alex McWhirter, the editor of Business Traveller agrees with you and me that 70 euros for booking a non-guaranteed seat is a rip-off.

Homo Aeroportus, thanks for the information on the German airports. Your nickname is well deserved ;)

Nice reference to the names of LH aircraft, mrx161. I see that most of the recent A320s with sharklets have no name!

Comet, the food not only looks good but is also very palatable, considering it is airline food.
André
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by Comet »

sn26567 wrote: Comet, the food not only looks good but is also very palatable, considering it is airline food.
I remember the snacks I had on LH from MAN-MUC and MUC-MAN two years ago - the first one was a hot pizza (very nice to have a hot snack on a plane) and the second was a pack of three sandwiches - two of which were very palatable. A pity more airlines are charging for inflight snacks - LH must be one of the few flying out of MAN which provides a free snack onboard.
Sabena and Sobelair - gone but never forgotten.
Louise

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by luchtzak »

Nice report André! I hope you get a compensation for the 70€ "guaranteed" seat though .... Upgrade to C next time with LH !! ;-)

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sn26567
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by sn26567 »

luchtzak wrote:I hope you get a compensation for the 70€ "guaranteed" seat though ....
I will not get a compensation: I asked for window seats and I got window seats. That's all they guarantee!
luchtzak wrote:Upgrade to C next time with LH !! ;-)
This time, my T fare didn't allow for an upgrade with FF miles (I did ask!).
André
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by Homo Aeroportus »

André, did you book this 96K seat on the LH website?
According to SeatGuru, the upper deck is only for First and Business. Economy is on the main deck, rows 50 to ... 94.

Or maybe you were planning to have a seat on the rear terrace? :lol:

H.A.

P.S. : Thanks for your comment, but I know feel compelled to find which airbase was this other "Hahn". :oops:

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by Homo Aeroportus »

Think I got it.

Looks like it is Büchel Airbase (ETSB) with a 03-21 runway, compatible with your assumed flight path.
ETSB Buechel.jpg
Threshold 21 at bottom of pic.

Honestly I have never been there, no even knowing about it except for my database.

H.A.

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by sn26567 »

Homo Aeroportus wrote:André, did you book this 96K seat on the LH website?
According to SeatGuru, the upper deck is only for First and Business. Economy is on the main deck, rows 50 to ... 94.
This is indeed the current configuration of some of the LH A380s (including D-AIMB and D-AIMI on which I flew), but on other ones, there was a small portion of the upper deck for economy with a 2-4-2 arrangement.

Thanks for finding out the airport in Germany :)
André
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by MD-11forever »

Thanks for the nice report!

Could it be that the LAN is a 767-300 instead of an A330?

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sn26567
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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by sn26567 »

MD-11forever wrote:Could it be that the LAN is a 767-300 instead of an A330?
Indeed. My mistake!
André
ex Sabena #26567

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by Flanker2 »

The meal service is a disgrace. It doesn't look like there's enough food for a decent meal.

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by sn26567 »

Not so. There was certainly enough food for me.
André
ex Sabena #26567

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by speedbird1 »

Thanks for the report Andre. Your picture of the IFE box interested me. I find these IFE boxes very annoying. I recently flew AMS-IAD-AMS on a KLM A330-200 and the box takes almost half of the feet space. I had to sit slightly sideways for the trip, very uncomfortable!

Rgds,
Speedy

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by convair »

sn26567 wrote:Not so. There was certainly enough food for me.
Maybe Flanker was misled by the fact that you showed twice the breakfast plate for the return flight. ;)

But very nice report indeed Andre! What is your impression of the 380? Had you flown it already before?

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Re: To Miami on the Lufthansa Airbus A380

Post by sn26567 »

convair wrote:
sn26567 wrote:Not so. There was certainly enough food for me.
Maybe Flanker was misled by the fact that you showed twice the breakfast plate for the return flight. ;)
Oops! Indeed. I've put the right image for the dinner now :oops:
convair wrote: Had you flown it already before?
It was my first flight on the A380 and I was impressed again by the size of the plane, that I had already visited when Lufthansa had sent D-AIMA to Brussels back in 2011.
André
ex Sabena #26567

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