The airline with the best average rating is Lufthansa with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 1 hours and 51 minutes.More information
Welcome to yet another Flight-Report series concerning a brief trip to Sofia, Bulgaria that I took back in Fall 2019! Perhaps the one good thing that's come from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is the fact that we Flight-Reporters can take advantage of being locked-down and publish some older reports. But I do hope that everyone reading this is healthy and doing well in these difficult times. We'll get through it. With that out of the way, let's get into the report!
The routing for this series will be announced with each new installment. All I can tell you is that this trip included 3 flights on 2 different airlines with 2 types of aircraft, and all flights were flown in Economy Class. Here's where the routing stands in part 1:
Here's how final routing looks like on a map, courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper:
The booking will also be revealed in the final sector, as the trip was booked under one itinerary.
The morning began in Innsbruck at a way-too-early 4 AM which was followed by a drive through the Alps. Instead of driving through Kufstein and the Inn Valley, which is the fastest way to Munich from Innsbruck, I opted to drive via E533, also known in Austria as the Seefelder Straße. Route 533 links Munich and Innsbruck, but goes via the mountain towns of Scharnitz, Mittenwald, and Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I was treated the a gorgeous sunrise and an empty Autobahn. While I wasn't able to safely grab any pictures of the mountain passes, I did manage to take one picture of the Allianz Arena, beautifully lit in the dawn light.
I dropped off my rental car at the Sixt facility and from there it was a quick walk to Terminal 2, Lufthansa's home in Munich.
At check-in, I was informed that there had been an aircraft change, and that I had been moved back to seat 6F instead of 4A, the seat that I chose online. It wasn't much of a problem for me, as I was still in a window seat towards the front of the aircraft. I headed to the priority security lane and was soon airside. I was hoping to first head to Lufthansa's Senator Cafe, which is located in the Schengen part of the terminal. Unfortunately, I was travelling on a Sunday, and apparently the Senator Cafe is only open on weekdays. I decided to then head upstairs to the non-Schengen part of the terminal, where my flight to Sofia would be departing from. Before heading to the lounge there, I went to see if there was any action on the tarmac. I saw a Croatia Airlines Dash 8 which had just arrived from Rijeka…
…and a Helvetic Airways E190 operating a SWISS flight to Zurich.
I headed to my usual hideout at Munich Airport, the non-Schengen Lufthansa Senator Lounge, which is located near Gate H24. The lounge dragon welcomed me and pointed me in the direction of the Senator-section of the lounge, which was absolutely packed. So much so that I was unable to take pictures. I thought that most LH intercontinental flights from Munich leave in the afternoon, but it turns out I was wrong. Regardless, here are some photos from my previous visit, back in July 2019.
Unfortunately, my favorite Lufthansa Waffles (which I've had in FRA and in the same lounge at MUC) seemed to be an afternoon dish, so I only ate some cold cuts. While eating breakfast, I checked to see if I could find out anything about the aircraft swap. The night before the flight, the Lufthansa app reported the tail number as D-AIWB, a new A320WL in the high-density configuration, with 180 seats. On the Lufthansa app, high density A320s are listed as A320neos, and regular density A320s with 168 seats are listed as A320-200s. The Lufthansa app showed the latter type for my flight, but didn't give me a tail number. I'd find out soon enough. For anyone who's interested, higher density LH A320s don't have WiFi and are coded by Lufthansa as 32Vs. The tail numbers for those birds are D-AIUQ to D-AIUZ and D-AIWA to D-AIWK. After a pleasant stay despite the crowded lounge, I headed to my departure gate, H41, located towards the south end of the terminal.
Boarding was underway when I arrived at the gate, and to add to the mystery of the A320 that would fly me to Sofia, there wasn't an aircraft at the gate. So everyone went down to the ground level and piled on to a bus that would bring us to the aircraft. Great news for me, as I love bus boardings! We were shortly underway, and I spotted a few aircraft, including a Lufthansa A350 'Karlsruhe' to Osaka…
…a Lufthansa A340-600 'Wiesbaden' from Boston…
…and the best for last, a United 787-9 to San Francisco.
After driving for quite some time, we finally arrived at my A320!
I was happy to see that my ride was one of Lufthansa's oldest A320s: D-AIQA, built and delivered to Lufthansa in April 1991, making it 28 years old at the time of my flight!
We were let off the bus as soon as we arrived at the aircraft, and boarding was a bit of a free-for-all. I didn't care though, as I was up close and personal with the bird. Unfortunately, the airstairs were covered, meaning that I could only snag one shot of the fuselage.
I was greeted with a "Guten Morgen!" by 2 friendly flight attendants and made my way to my seat via the small Business Class cabin, which I thin remained mostly empty.
The middle and aisle of my row were already taken, so I squeezed my way into the window seat. The downside of switching to an aircraft with less seats than originally planned meant that there were no empty seats (as far as I could see). The good news: more legroom!
The literature pocket contained the safety instructions, the Lufthansa Magazin, the Lufthansa WorldShop Catalog, and a FlyNet® information card.
Good wing view from my seat.
Lufthansa CityLine A319 'Heide' to Toulouse.
Lufthansa CityLine A319 'Tübingen' from Bremen.
Cabin before departure. Gotta love the darker colors of older A320s!
Once everyone was onboard, Captain Thomas came on the PA to announce a flight time of 1h40m and that we'd be taking off from Runway 26L toward the west. Shortly thereafter, we pushed back, and the crew performed the safety briefing.
Lufthansa A320 'Gotha' to Madrid.
Taxiing past some hangars on the way to the runway.
SAS 737-800 'Frida Viking' to Oslo.
Lufthansa A320 to Sarajevo.
Aegean A320 to Thessaloniki.
Lufthansa A320 'Schwäbisch Gmünd' to Malaga.
Lufthansa A380 'Tokio 東京' to Miami
Lufthansa A320 to Porto.
Lufthansa A340-600 to Los Angeles.
Air Dolomiti E195 'Madama Butterfly Giacomo Puccini' from Bologna
Left turn after departure.
Munich City Center in the distance.
Our reflection on the engine.
Over Austrian airspace.
Enn Valley, Austria.
Shorter after we reached our cruising altitude of 33,000 feet, the service began. I had a glass of water.
There was a choice between a vegetarian and a turkey sandwich, and as usual, I went for the vegetarian. It was with pesto and cheese, and was actually one of Lufthansa's better sandwiches.
Overflying Graz, Austria.
As we crossed into Hungarian airspace, the captain came back on the PA to announce that we were flying west of Lake Balaton and that we'd fly past Pécs, Novi Sad, and Belgrade before commencing our descent near Niš.
For entertainment, I read the Lufthansa Magazin and saw something that I can't unsee. Really Lufthansa? Boeing A350-900?!?!
Disgusted, I closed the magazine and turned to the outside views for entertainment. Here's where the Danube meets the Drava, on the Serbian-Croatian border.
It's easy to tell when you start flying over Eastern Europe, as the pollution is very visible from the air.
Over the Balkans, it became hard to tell what was smoke and what was pollution, as there were quite a few fires at the time.
Mt. Vitosha, Bulgaria.
Over the airport.
Touchdown on Runway 27 at 1:03 PM, 2 minutes ahead of schedule, after a flight time of 1h34m.
Vacating the runway.
Austrian A320 to Vienna
Into the terminal.
We made a 180-degree left after our departure from Munich and initially headed towards Austria, north of Salzburg. From there it was direct to the Hungarian-Serbian border, Niš, and Sofia Airport. We cruised at an altitude of 33,000 feet.
Immigration was relatively quick, and after a short cab ride I was in Sofia City Center. Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment, and see you in the next report!
This was a very ordinary Lufthansa intra-Europe flight.
+ Efficient Munich Airport
+ Friendly crew
+ Sandwich service
+ Nice views
- Overcrowded Senator Lounge
I've never had any bad experiences on Lufthansa, and I've flown them a lot. While Aegean is my favorite European airline, Lufthansa will always be my airline of choice, because it's the most convenient for me, being Innsbruck/Munich-based.