It was still early october of 2014 when i started planning my next vacations. Europe was a certain choice and I had it pretty clear in my mind that whichever itinerary I would follow it would include Germany. Amazing country, tons of history (through good and awful years), amazing airports (yes, that's important for me lol) and a travel plan that had already been delayed much more than it should. That in mind, I managed to swallow my brazilian pride (sorry folks, 1x7 in the world cup was too much for us all) and decided not only go to Germany, but too spend 11 days to fully explore Deutscland.
My ticket was purchased in Lufthansa's website that is clear, functional and easy to use for anyone, payment was uneventful, the only sad thing about it is the - considerably high - price for seat reservations. Congratulations for lufthansa website staff, the portuguese version of the website is really good. Rare to see.
It was friday just after lunch time when I left the chaotic, yet amazing, Sao Paulo in a taxi and headed to Guarulhos International Airport, the airport that serves Sao Paulo megalopolis and its surroundings. It's located about 30km of downtown Sao Paulo, that is where I live. 40 minutes later, and not much traffic in our way I got to the, 1 year old, International terminal of the so called GRU AIRPORT. One of the most important hubs of south america, finally has a terminal on the level of its mightiness in the continent.
GRU AIRPORT departure level
Got to the check-in area and went straight to check-in F self check-in kiosks, my check-in was actually already done, but I wanted to get a printed version of my boarding pass and to see if my booking was as it should be.
I think it's quite clear that this is check-in F, right?
It was on those kiosks where I had an unpleasant surprise. For an unknown reason, this partucular flight would not be operated by the 747-8i, that usually flies this route. So the experience of flying the biggest of the jumbos would have to wait untill the flight back. Fortunately I knew the 747-400 of our flight had its cabin renovated.
Then, I went straight to bag drop-off check-in that was absolutely empty! The total process of printing my boarding pass and dropping my luggage took (believe me) 5 minutes. Well done GRU, Lufthansa and the 'early bird' right here.
Time to go!
Anyone who flew in GRU's older terminals knows it was a huge sacrifice going through security checks and immigration in the old and small terminals 1/2. Fortunately, this was solved in the new terminal 3, the security check area is massive, couldn't count how many positions there were, and so is the imigration desks right after. Even if it's rush hour, the line keeps flowing and you never spend much time there. Too bad we had to wait so long for a decent terminal!
Entering the security check area.
Going through immigrations, right after.
This is a sequence showing the way between the terminal, after immigrations untill the gates area. It's called GRU Avenue, is where the stores are located and those who can, get to spend their precious money.
Nice place for some last minute spotting, no airplanes on display though.
At the gates area, i still had 1 hour before boarding, and there was some interesting visitors, at least for me, so I went on to say hello.
Hasta España, amigo!
Our Spanish friend on its way - in the tip of the departure area.
Enough with the walking tour. The time of our boarding was getting close, so I headed to our departure gate on this afternoon: 42-43.
A little more walk…
At the departure gate, people were already gathering expecting the boarding procedure that began 5 minutes prior to the scheduled time. I knew we had a busy flight but, when you see all those people in line waiting to board the 744, you realize how amazing aviation is.
Boarding took place respecting priorities: disabled people, elder citizens and frequent flyer program status. I didn't mention First and Business Class passengers because with the double jetbridge one of the gates (42) was exclusive for them.
Our ride to Germany.
On our way down.
Don't ask me why the bananas, because I have absolutaly no idea!
I was greeted by the purser on the door 2L and went on walking towards the rear of the aircraft, untill my seat 49C aisle seat.
Economy class cabin
The 3 seats row where me and my companion would be seated for the next 11 hours.
Waiting for the boarding to end.
During the boarding procedure absolutely nothing happend, and I say that in a good way. Everything was going on smoothly.
As I said, I was on the aisle seat 49C on the last economy cabin of the 744. It's hard to say something about economy class seats nowadays since they are all pretty alike. I can say I'm not a skinny person, so to fit and find a confortable position on Lufthansa seats were as hard as it would have been in any airline around the globe. What I can say is that the pitch and width were CORRECT, the seat cushion was also ok and nothing more than that. No good surprise, no disappointment. As people say: I got what I paid for. The good thing is that in the 3 seats row i was, the middle seat was empty, so i was able to raise the armrest and get a few extra inches.
Doors were closed on time and Our Jumbo began its Taxi to rwy 09L. Since I was not in a window seat, I kept exploring the IFE system.
It was a good surprise, since the aircraft interior had been renovated, I was afraid the PTVs would be small as some older planes have. I was wrong, the size was good, the system is really easy to use. It didn't work on ground, so the safety instructions had to be performed on the old way. In flight system was perfect.
We took off with no delays, and so our 747 began its heavy journey.
As soon as fasten seat belts signs were off, cabin crew began their service, offering us a hot towel, followed by a quick snack before dinner.
Sunset in northwestern Brazil.
Not long after the snack the dinner service began. The options were beef or pasta and wide variety of drinks. Chose the pasta. A penne with cheese, with a salad and a delicious dessert that I have no idea what it was, and all this with orange juice.
The aspect of the pasta wasn't inviting, but it was good actually.
The mysterious dessert on high speed.
We were leaving Brazillian soil over Natal when the crew dim the lights and the passengers began to surrender themselves to sleep, me included. Had to much walking that day.
Slept for three hours and woke up with a moderate turbulance over the atlantic ocean , When everything was calm again and seat belt signs Were off , went to the galley to get some water . Water , juices and a few snacks Were available . The Lufthansa cabin crew was very polite and correct. Spent about half an hour stretching my legs and got back to my seat . Tried to watch a movie , but slept again, woke up When sun was already shining and people Were forming those huge lines to restroom. Common on the morning of red -eye flights .
My battery died on that moment so i could not take pictures of breakfest that was also good, fruits, yogurt and ommelete with ham and cheese. Everything as expected.
About two hours later, we began our descent to Frankfurt airport. Heavy and cold rains was our welcome gifts from germany. Our arrival was expected to happen 25 minutes in advance. WAS. Probably because of the weather we kept waiting and the landing time was as scheduled after all.
Landed smoothly in Lufthansas main hubs and made our way throug the gate basically among 747, A380.
Parked along his brothers.
Just as soon as we parked, the the entire airplane got up desperate to get out. I knew I was on the last cabins, so to rush is useless. Fifteen minutes later (and yet confortably seated) I left our friendly jumbo and went for another long walk untill the bagage claim.
There was a point where passengers connecting to other destinations would have to take another way. Then, I could undestand how important is Frankfurt as a hub for Lufthansa. I can say that around 50% of the plane was in connection.
Staircase to immigration procedures.
Immigration was a breeze, Thought it would be crowded, since i was on of the last passengers to leave but it was incredibly empty.
Reached Bag claim and the carroussel wasn't even working yet, but as soon it started (5 minutes later) something incredible happened. MY LUGGAGE WAS THE FIRST. and I wasn't in buisness or first class. Maybe It's just Germany apologizing for humiliating me on the world cup. lol.
As you see, in the first days, Germany didn't seem happy to see me. It got better a few days later!
Sao Paulo - GRU
Frankfurt - FRA
Lufthansa: Is what we say about economy class. You get what you pay for. What I can say is that Lufthansa service is perfectly compatible with the best economy class services around the world. The seat wasn't the best, the food was not like the best restaurants in the planet, but it would be the same anyway, anywhere.
Best: Structure in Frankfurt airport and IFE system. Worst: I know paying for seat reservation is common nowadays, but the price seems pretty high for these purpose.
GRU: Way better than it once was, big, organized, well dimensioned. Maybe employees should make a way not to make the boarding procedure so confusing. FRA: Confortable, easy to reach from/to city, well signed. Its bigness results in huge walks, but that's part of the show.
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