Welcome to Part 1 of my trip report, that covers the Bangalore to Frankfurt leg of my Bangalore- Frankfurt-Detroit trip in May 2018.
After grinding it out for two years in my Master's program, I finally had the chance to visit home for a 3 week break before I started work. Little did I know that this 3 week break would fly past, as though it was only 3 hours long! Time, as they always say, flies when you're having fun. It was great to spend those memorable 3 weeks with my family, and it was very hard to say good bye. One common refrain is that: you can always take an Indian out of India, but you can never take India out of him. This was so true, and I felt this each of the 3 times I had visited home over the past 2 years. Before I digress any further, lets get started!
My family had come to see me off, at Bengaluru's Kempegowda International airport. My flight LH755 to Frankfurt was scheduled leave at 3:05am. Midnight is usually a very busy time at BLR, and I got to the airport at 12:15am, sufficiently ahead of time to avoid getting stuck in long lines at check-in and immigration.
The Kempegowda International Airport, really well lit!
Lufthansa was using counters 41-50 for check-in and I was directed towards the baggage drop-off line by a friendly Lufthansa agent, as I had already checked in previously. The baggage drop-off line moved fairly quickly. My 2 check-in bags, which were well under the prescribed weight limit, were tagged all the way to Detroit. I requested for my boarding pass to be printed out as I had some issues getting the barcode on the home printed boarding pass read during my first trip in August 2016.
The check-in agent reprinted my boarding pass for both legs of the journey
With check-in done, I headed one-level up to the immigration and international security check area. While riding up the escalator one could see the crowd in the check-in area. Midnight, as I had said earlier, is a very busy time at BLR with flights operated by Air France to Paris, Jet Airways to Amsterdam, Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lankan to Colombo, Scoot to Singapore, Cathay Dragon to Hong Kong, Lufthansa to Frankfurt, Qatar Airways to Doha and India's unofficial national carrier, Emirates to Dubai all between 12am and 4am.
Check-in area at Kempegowda International Airport
Immigration and security were fairly quick, the CISF just decided to open another bay for security check and I was instructed to head there, so no waiting in line either. Post security, I walked to the duty free area of the airport and bought myself a water bottle before heading out to the gate.
Duty free stores at KIA
In the gate area, Malaysian Airlines was making the final boarding announcement for their flight to Kuala Lumpur. Some of the older gates at KIA aren't spotter friendly and I couldn't get a picture of Malaysian's 737 and the Scoot A320.
Meanwhile 9W235 and AF192 had come in from Amsterdam and Paris respectively. The passengers leaving this flight could be seen, one level above the boarding area. My cousin was on the AF192 flight from Paris that day, and I was trying to see if I could spot him, but he had made his way out earlier and was apparently waiting for his bags. The crew for the outbound AF191 to Paris were waiting near Gate 20.
A short while later boarding for the flights to Hong Kong (Cathay Dragon- KA153), Paris-CDG (Air France - AF191) and Amsterdam (Jet Airways - 9W236) was announced. From the looks of it, there was a very decent demand for all these routes. The gate area was getting filled up pretty quickly. In an effort to avoid the crowds I headed out to the far eastern end of the terminal, near Gate 22 to find something to eat.
9W235/236:VT-JWR, a Jet Airways A330-300 at the Gate
AF191: F-GZCE, an Air France A330-200 to Paris-CDG
KA153: Cathay Dragon's A330-300, B-LBF in the new color scheme
Boarding for KA153 underway
All the while, I had been checking the status of the inbound LH754 from Frankfurt on FR24. The flight had left Frankfurt with a significant delay, and was to land in Bangalore 30 minutes behind schedule (when I checked before leaving from home). Very worrying, given that I had only 1 hour in Frankfurt to make the connection to the Detroit flight! While some time had been made up en-route, the flight was still arriving late, but only by 15 minutes.
Over the next 45 minutes, boarding for the flights to Paris and Hong Kong was completed while I had my late night snack, a vegetable puff from the Urbanfood Market. AF191 and KA153 soon made their way to Runway 09 for departure.
As the Cathay Dragon made its way to the Runway, D-ABYJ from Frankfurt landed as LH754, 20 minutes behind schedule. The Boeing 747-8i made its way to Gate 22.
D-ABYJ at Gate 22
I then found myself a place to sit near Gate 22 and read a book for a while. The Gate was filling up quickly. There were quite a few senior citizens (if I may put it that way), with special arrangements for wheelchair assistance, possibly to visit their kids in the US, I presumed. The flight crew for LH755 then arrived, with 3 pilots (Captain, Senior FO and FO) and the flight attendants. As we approached the scheduled boarding time of 2:35am, an announcement was made stating that boarding would be delayed by 15 minutes due to late arrival of the inbound aircraft. I made a quick visit to the washroom to answer nature's call and then joined the line that had built up at the Gate.
Boarding began at 2:45am with passengers with infants, and passengers requiring special assistance and HON Circle Members. This was followed by First and Business Class passengers, and then economy class passengers, row-wise. While boarding, Emirates and Qatar Airways jets, both Boeing 777-300s docked at the neighboring gates. While boarding, I quickly checked LH755's arrival gate in Frankfurt on Google. I was hoping to see something in concourse Z, this would significantly cut down the transit time, I didn't have to take a train or bus between concourses at FRA. What I saw pleased me greatly! I took my seat 29K at 3:00am IST.
Arrival Gate Info!
Airline: Lufthansa Origin: Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India (BLR) Destination: Frankfurt Am Main Airport, Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany (FRA) Flight Number: LH755 Aircraft Type: Boeing 747-830 Registration: D-ABYJ “Hannover” Scheduled Departure Time: 03:05 IST, 17th May, 2018 Actual Departure Time: 03:32 IST, 17th May, 2018 Scheduled Arrival Time: 09:00 CEST, 17th May, 2018 Actual Time of Arrival: 08:53 CEST, 17th May, 2018 Actual Flying Time: 8 hours and 51 minutes
View from Seat 29K
Boarding was completed at 3:05am and Captain Oliver made his announcement from the flight deck. A flight time of 8 hours and 50 minutes was announced along with a brief description of the flight path. The Captain mentioned that the incoming aircraft was delayed due to computer problems at Frankfurt, but reassured that we would reach Frankfurt at least 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
We pushed back from Gate 22 at 3:14am IST and the the 4 GEnx-2B67 engines were started. This was followed by a 7 minute taxi to Runway 09, during which the safety video was played. We took-off heading east and made a left climbing turn to set a north-westerly course towards Frankfurt.
Departure from Bengaluru
Once we had settled into a cruise, the flight attendants served drinks and a (very) hot towel. I opted for apple juice. This was followed by a snack: a hot vegetable roll, served with ketchup and sponge cake. A non-vegetarian (chicken roll) option was also available.
I saw a wonderful documentary by the one and only David Attenborough titled: David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities, where he discussed some fascinating stories of creatures in the wild. I was really sleepy post dinner, and drifted in and out of sleep.
It was quite uncomfortable. When I asked the passenger sitting behind me if it was ok for me to recline my seat, she said that she was trying to put her little one to sleep (he was constantly kicking) and said that it would be easier for her if I didn't push my seat all the way to the back. To this I complied, but the wonderful passenger in front of me was in deep sleep, gloriously snoring away, above then din of the engines with his seat all the way back. It stayed this way until the seat belt signs were turned on for landing.
To make matters worse, I was also very thirsty, and it didn't help that the cabin crew didn't perform a drink run every now and then. They usually do one or two on this flight. I was also sitting beside the window, and that doesn't help either. An airplane cabin isn't the right place for acrobatics (read: jumping over sleeping co-passengers).
After several failed and partially failed attempts at sleeping, I woke up when we were flying over Iran. The flight attendants finally brought something to drink, and I picked up a glass of orange juice and a glass of water.
I then saw The Post, a political thriller starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. The inflight entertainment screen on Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i, has a reasonably sharp display for an economy class IFE screen, but was very slow and unresponsive. Breakfast was then served, I picked the vegetarian option. The breakfast tray had a bread roll, some fruit (papaya, pineapple and grapes), Mango flavoured yogurt, rock hard frozen butter chiplet-extremely inconvenient to spread, strawberry preserve, cream cheese, a nice mini-masala dosa, and some button idlis dipped in thick sambar and a packet of Dhilkush Saunf mouth freshner, just to help the conversation with the passport check officer at FRA a little more pleasant for himself. Overall, the food was good.
Once the food trays were cleared, I disturbed my co-passengers in 29H and 29J, so that I could walk down to the toilet to finish my morning duties. At around 8:25am CEST, Captain Oliver was back on the PA system and announced that we had left our cruising altitude and would be landing in another 30 minutes. Frankfurt was reporting a temperature of 12C with cloudy skies and some rain. What was also mentioned, was that we would be parking at Gate B23A and not Z54A as I had seen earlier. This meant that I had to get my skates on (in cricket commentary parlance). The cabin crew then moved around to clear the aisles and pick up our headsets. Inspite of the forecast, I think the pilots did a wonderful job. The landing, in fact, was very smooth.
Descent into Frankfurt
We made a rather sharp S-Shaped turn before landing
During the final phase of descent something quite interesting happened (at least, it hasn't happened before to me). Around 2 minutes prior to landing we made a quick turn to the right and then straightened and made another quick left turn. We had made a quick change from RWY 25L to RWY 25C. Here's a video of the landing, the time where we switched to 25C is mentioned in the description.
Initial approach for RWY 25L
After we switched to 25C
Flying past the Commerzbank-Arena
Landing on RWY 25C
FR24 indicating the Runway switch
After landing, I quickly packed my stuff away, picked up my boarding pass for the next flight while we taxied out to Gate B23A. It was going to be a crazy run to Gate Z19, with the morning lines at security and passport check at FRA. But all that is for part 2. I hope you enjoyed this one!
Comments are always welcome! Part 2 will be out soon.
Bangalore - BLR
Frankfurt - FRA
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