Welcome to the first trip report in a series of four detailing my November 2018 escapade to Budapest! Links to the next trip reports coming soon - :)
After a second visit to Tokyo in May last year, I had a busy summer of work, spending a good chunk of a particularly sunny season inside a windowless call center. By the end of it, I was tired, exhausted even, and was in the need for a quick break.
Now I've always been a city break type of person, even if my Spanish roots suggest otherwise. I don't mind beaches, but they're normally not my first thought when choosing a destination (never been south of Madrid because of this, lol). In previous summers I head east for Barcelona, which features a nice combination of city life and beach-fairing (much to my mother's delight). But the busyness at work made a visit this year impossible.
By the time I started searching for flights, in October, we had already returned to the usual drab and depressing weather San Sebastian is known for (that, unless you're one of the unfortunate many who think we're as sunny as the Mediterranean), but so had the rest of Spain except for the Canary Islands. Which, sure, would be a great choice, but I'm more of travelling around Europe in the winter. The lack of a summer Barcelona trip this year left me yearning for the first time ever for that same mix of city life and relaxing watery enjoyment my mom loved. (Guess I'm getting old…)
It was very obvious I'd have to visit a thermal-bath-loving city instead, and you can already guess which one came to mind first… Also helped I was in the mood for visiting an ex-Warsaw Pact country (yes, I know Budapest has changed quite a bit since then, but even so there's always tiny things that just make them slightly different from their counterparts across the curtain).
I decided to look up Eurowings as I was feeling in the mood to fly with them again, however I did check out other airlines first (like Ryanair which flies out to BUD from Santander), however none of them flew on the days I was looking to fly out. I checked out Lufthansa, which did offer flights on the days I wanted… and offered cheaper fares that those of EW, in Economy Classic! No brainer, went for Lufthansa instead - BIO-MUC-BUD-FRA-BIO. Thus making this my first ever LH experience.
Except not really. During the booking process I'd noticed the first flight was to be operated by Adria Airways:
Knowing LH's weird history with wet-leases (remember those CityLine Star Alliance A340s from a while back) I just thought it would've been a Lufthansa A319 temporarily wet leased to Adria for cost reasons or even just JP staff on an otherwise fully-owned by LH plane. What I did not expect, however, was that the flight would be operated using actual Adria aircraft, with Adria crew but with LH's soft product. And as the flight date approached, this very much became the case! It appears that, due to low fields back on JP's home turf of Ljubljana, their small fleet of A319s had been leased out to LH to be operated on their inter-european flights in and out of Munich for the winter season - including their MUC-BIO-MUC flight. Guess I was going to wait until I headed back home, on the 27th, to enjoy the real LH short-haul fun. Ah well, least I would experience another airline I otherwise would've never thought of flying with!
The 6-am afternoon departure
After 6 hours of sleep (more of a power nap really) I got up at 6 am at got myself ready to head over to the local train station:
…to catch a train to San Sebastian's bus station:
…where I'd then catch a stupidly expensive bus to BIO:
And as usual it was just too early to check in, so it was time to get a quick drink: an extremely sweet bottle of water with lemon in it.
3 hours of mobile browsing and shop snooping later, check-in was done and I was on my way to security. Unfortunately, after recent renovations BIO has become part of the ever-growing community of airports all across the world that likes to give its pass- sorry, "customers" a nice consumerist slap in the face after exiting security.
All these name brand perfumes - yet I stick to my 14€ eau de parfum from Zara ;)
Time for some planespotting - and boy have we got a great spot here! While I first thought this Zimex ATR-72 was carrying out charter services for TAP (they use ATR on their BIO - LIS flight and usually park in this particular stand) I later discovered this was a special cargo charter carrying… who knows? (Probably oil or humanitarian related though as they generally work in these industries)
This BA A320 was on its way to LHR, while the LH in the background took off towards Munich. (Guess it got delayed?)
A (blurry) picture of one of Volotea's 717s. Hope I can fly one before they're all gone…
Finally, EC-LAB here taxied out towards windmill-land, while a UX E190 got ready to head home down south:
While S5-AAP flew over Ain…
…I got myself something to eat. This fast food joint to the left of the airport serves not only sandwiches but also coffee and pizza (no word on how good they are though, lol):
-AAP would see it's arrival onto Basque lands around 1:25 PM, with boarding starting 10-15 minutes later - talk about fast! First delivered in 2010, -AAP has flown under Adria colors its entire life.
This new LH livery sure looks great! /s
My seat for this flight: 17A. Looking a bit worse for wear but still quite comfy.
Sadly no Wi-fi on these wet lease flights.
Test Horatius : nul!
Same to you (you rarely, if ever, see screens on A319s nowadays):
Pushback begins at around 2-2:10PM while Adria's (rather stilted) safety video were played on the screens, first in Slovenian, then in English:
Donostia-San Sebastian, with Santa Clara Island sticking out at the front of its bay:
Quiet cabin right after take-off, not much people on today's flight - least I have the whole row to myself!
Legroom - just a bit tight.
Most of the seat pocket literature was replaced by LH's own mags and catalog (and vomisac!) - only the safety card remains…
Meal service begins half an hour after takeoff. The usual LH stuff - a choice between ham or chicken sandwiches and a free drink. Got myself the chicken sandwich and a Coke:
Time to take a look at the restroom - all clean:
Smooth sailings as we fly over southern France…
Around 3:30PM, and over Swiss skies, we began our descent into MUC. Daylight Savings Time screwiness meant the whole landing (and indeed every picture from this point) would be shaded in a lovely brownish tint - a sharp contrast from the dreariness on arrival at Munich.
Seatbelt signs switched on:
And but of course, Allianz Arena!
Whilst taxiing to the satellite terminal, we pass by one of BAE Systems own BAE 146, G-TYPH…
…as well as a certain financially-unstable carrier heading for hotter climates:
AAP's neighbor would be the absolutely adorable D-AILU, featuring their family-oriented services mascot, Lu. D-AILU is also probably the only aircraft in the world with its own playground equivalent, as shown below:
Same to you!
After this bizarre Lufthansa-but-not-really flight experience, it's time for me to get a move on…
…and head over to my next BUD-bound not-so-LH flight.
Bilbao - BIO
Munich - MUC
While technically a LH flight with LH service, I was still pleased nonetheless with the few Adria-related things that were left. The cabin crew was nice (although their English wasn't that great) and the seating, while dated and dirty, was still cushy and the legroom offered was much nicer than what I'd get later on, and having an airshow onboard is a nice touch, especially nowadays where they're relegated to whatever silly app the airline forces you to fill up precious memory space in your smartphone before your flight. Would've loved better cleaning and functioning Wi-fi, however.
Overall, an unexpected but pleasant way to enjoy an airline I probably would've never flown with otherwise (even more so now that they're in a dire financial situation, having dropped most of their routes just a few months before the publishing of this report).
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