The airline with the best average rating is Lufthansa with 7.3/10.
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Welcome to final installment of this series concerning a recent trip I took to Sofia, 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. I do hope that everyone reading this is healthy and doing well in these difficult times. With that out of the way, let's get into the report!
The trip consisted of 3 flights on 2 airlines with 2 types of aircraft, all in Economy Class. Now we are at the final installment of the series, so you can see that the entire routing looked like this:
And on the GCMapper:
This trip was book as a round trip MUC-SOF-MUC. I didn't use miles for this trip instead booked an Economy Classic fare directly from LH.com. In the end, I booked the following interary:
October 27th, 2019: LH1702 | Munich → Sofia | Airbus A320 Sharklets
November 3rd, 2019: OS798 | Sofia → Vienna | Airbus A319
November 3rd, 2019: OS117 | Vienna → Munich | Embraer E195
But thanks to an aircraft change and a missed connection, the actual itinerary flown was this:
October 27th, 2019: LH1702| Munich → Sofia | Airbus A320-200
November 3rd, 2019: OS798 | Sofia → Vienna | Airbus A319
November 3rd, 2019: LH2333 | Vienna → Munich | Airbus A320-200
On to the report!
Let me preface this by saying that Vienna is quite possibly my least favorite hub in Europe, and definitely my least favorite Star hub that I've been to. Sure, Concourses F and G are modern, but there is nothing to do. Planespotting is hard, the lounges are just fine, and there aren't really any stores. It's basically just a long hallway with gates and occasional food stands.
Now let's talk about transiting in Vienna. I've only transited from non-Schengen to Schengen at VIE, so I don't know how other types or transit work at VIE. Maybe it's better, but I don't know. Transiting from non-Schengen to Schengen is a pain, because it's one of the view airports where you have to re-clear security before connecting. A waste of time in my opinion, but fine. Now let me tell you about my connection.
As you may recall from the previous report, my flight from Sofia arrived 5 minutes late and parked at a remote stand. I ended up deplaning around 7:35 PM, 5 minutes after my connecting flight was scheduled to start boarding. As I rushed down the airstairs, there was an Austrian ground agent "helping out" with connections. He had a van that would take passengers with tight connections to the terminal. I inquired about my connection, OS117 to Munich, and he said that it was too late for me to get on, and that I'd need to go to the service desk in the terminal. He said I needed to take the bus like all other passengers. Urgh.
10 minutes later, when everyone was on board, we started driving to the terminal. The ride was short, and so was immigration but then came security. No only do all connecting passengers have to clear security, but as far as I could tell there wasn't a priority lane. So I had to wait another 15 or so minutes in line. After I cleared security and was airside again, I made a mad dash for the service desk. There was a bit of line there as well, and by the time I was helped it was already coming up on 8:15 PM, 15 minutes before the final flight of the day to Munich.
Luckily the agent who helped me was a total sweetheart and phoned the gate agent of LH2333 to Munich to see if there was still boarding. The flight was about to close, but the gate agent promised to keep the door open to me. I got my boarding pass, thanked the agent profused, and ran to the gate. My boarding pass was scanned, and the agent closed the door to the jetbridge right behind me.
Thankfully I made it to the next flight (barely), but I was reminded just how awful it is to have a short transfer at VIE. Be warned.
Walking down the jetbridge, relieved and out of breath from running.
Queuing up to board along with the last few passengers.
I was very happy to find out that I had won the old Airbus lottery again! My ride to Munich was D-AIPS, named Augsburg, the 116th-built A320. It was delivered new to Lufthansa in September 1990, making it a little over 29-years old at the time of my flight. As the older LH A320s are going away, I was thrilled to be able to fly in such an oldie for what would probably be the last time.
I was greeted by a super-chipper crew at the door and headed to my seat.
I was sure that I'd probably end up in a middle seat due to my late arrival, but much to my surprise, I ended up in 19F, a window seat on the trailing edge of the wing. Score! As I sat down and looked at the neighboring Austrian A320 'Carnuntum' which had arrived from Brussels, Captain Johannes came on the PA to say that we'd be leaving the gate as soon as the tug was connected.
We ended up pushing back at 8:30 PM sharp.
Austrian E195 to Innsbruck. I would have tried to get on that flight if I couldn't get on mine.
Austrian A320 'Bregenzerwald' going back to Sofia.
Taxiing to Runway 16.
Iberia A320 'P.N. Picos de Europa' to Madrid
Holding short of the runway.
Cabin after departure. Not much to see.
One last view of Vienna as we turned towards Munich.
Forgot to show you during boarding that even in the back the legroom on LH A320s is really good.
During the climb, the lights turned on and the crew sprung in to action. I love the darker cabin of old Airbuses!
Because of the short flight time, there was only a drinks service, and the crew came with carts from both the front and the rear. While I only chose water, there was free alcohol on offer. This is why I love Europe - there's free beer, wine, and champagne on a sub 40-minute flight, whereas you have you to pay for alcohol on any American airline in coach, regardless of the flight time. Good job Lufthansa! ?
Despite the crew only serving drinks, they gave us a little snack upon boarding. It wasn't much, it I wasn't expecting anything, so I was happy ? The crew was all smiles in a genuinely good mood, and added some color to what would normally be a boring flight.
During the 3 minutes that we cruised, First Officer Jonas came on the PA to inform about the weather in Munich as being rainy and windy. We'd be landing to the west on Runway 26L.
Nothing to see outside as we began our descent over the Austrian city of Steyr.
"Lufthansa 06 Echo, runway 26 Left, cleared to land".
Airport in sight.
Over the runway.
Touchdown at 9:13 PM, 22 minutes early, after a very short flight time of 38 minutes.
The landing was a little on the firm side, but the breaking was really hard, most certainly due to the slippery conditions.
Vacating the runway less than a 1/3 of the way into it. That's how hard the breaking was ?
Into the terminal area.
Passing a Lufthansa CityLine CRJ900.
Lufthansa A320 'Deggendorf' pushing back before a short flight to Brussels. Deggendorf was actually already 30-years old in this picture!
Pulling in to our gate next a Lufthansa A320 'Sindelfingen' from Helsinki.
One last look at my seat.
I bid the wonderful crew farewell at the door and headed for the exit. We parked at the Terminal 2 Satellite, which meant that I had to take the people mover to the main terminal. MUC is my favorite airport in Europe, and my second favorite in the world, after HKG. Look at that architecture!
We departed Vienna from Runway 16 and flew the RUPET 2B departure. From there we climbed to our cruising altitude of 28,000 feet and shortly afterwards descended towards Munich. We flew a pattern approach to Runway 26L.
Luckily for me I rarely check in my bags, so I didn't have to deal with any baggage issues due to my misconnection. After I exited the terminal I, I picked up my rental car from Sixt, and drove to Innsbruck, this time via the Inntal Autobahn, which is the fastest way. Thanks for joining me in this series, and I hope to see you again for my next series, regarding a weekend trip to the Netherlands!
This flight was really an enjoyable, memorable flight, which is something I'm not used to saying about an intra-European flight in coach!
+ Lucked out and got a 29-year old A320
+ Fantastic crew
+ Free alcohol
- No FlyNet WiFi access/entertainment
- Awful transit at Vienna Airport
This flight reiterated my belief that LH is probably the best intra-European airline (after Aegean!), and made me swear to never transit through VIE again, unless I have a long layover.