The airline with the best average rating is Lufthansa with 7.4/10.
The average flight time is 2 hours and 3 minutes.More information
A very warm welcome to the second and final installment of this short series, follow Flight-Reporters and visitors! This one is covering another short week-long journey to Sofia, Bulgaria. This was also my last trip before the Covid-19 pandemic effectively shut down world travel, and was taken while the virus had just spread to Europe. In fact, just a week before this journey began, the virus had spread to Munich, so I was a bit more cautious than I'd usually be.
This trip was very boring, as it only included two Lufthansa A320 flights in Economy Class, so nothing that I hadn't experienced before. The flights were as follows:
In order to earn miles, I booked these flights via LH.com under an Economy Classic fare.
I chose LH1703 because it's an early afternoon flight, which is my favorite time to fly. It allowed me to wake up when I normally would and enjoy a hearty breakfast before heading off to the airport, which is exactly what I did. Soon enough, at around 11:50 PM, I called a taxi to take me to Sofia Airport. Some parts of Sofia, like Lozenets, the area where I spend my time while in Sofia are very nice…
…but unfortunately, to get to and from the airport, you need to pass through Druzhba, which is arguably one of the ugliest places in Sofia. It certainly doesn't give visitors a good first impression!
The ride to the airport is usually quite quick, and that day was no exception. I was at the terminal around 12:15 PM.
Upon entering the terminal, I noticed a sign warning people about the Covid-19 pandemic, which was creeping into Europe at the time.
The check-in area was moderately busy…
…while the Lufthansa check-in was the busiest that I had seen it in a while.
Check-in was quick and easy, and I then headed to security. The departure gates are located a level up from the check-in hall, so I took the escalator up, while a pretty TK flight attendant smiled down upon me. I think that their new uniforms are gorgeous.
Security and immigration are usually the weakest links at Sofia Airport, though surprisingly it was breeze that day. I was airside around 10 minutes after arriving at the airport.
View of the tarmac, including the same Bul Air 737 and Germanwings A319 here for maintenance, as well as an Aeroflot A320 'S. Vavilov / С. Вавилов', which would soon fly to Moscow.
Funnily enough, the FIDS were displaying the arrivals. Yet another Sofia Airport quirk.
I first headed to the Vitosha Aspire Lounge, Lufthansa's contract lounge, which I've visited many times. As an OS flight to VIE, an LH flight to FRA, and my flight to MUC were all departing within an hour of each other, it was packed to the hilt.
Much to my surprise, the lounge also had some hot food out, which was a first for me. In addition to the usual sandwiches, I got two hot mini pizzas (which were about as good as they looked like), a tasty warm meatball, and some Bulgarian offerings, which were also hot. The two things under the pizza were what's called Kashkaval Pane (Кашкавал пане), which is basically fried Kashkaval cheese. Peering below the other pizza was a Bulgarian breakfast pastry called Banitsa (Баница). The two Bulgaria specialties were really good.
To drink, I grabbed a bottle of iced tea.
I wasn't very hot on the idea of sitting next to so many people as a pandemic was forming, and as soon as I heard someone cough, I bolted out of the lounge as quickly as I could. I decided to visit another lounge.
Located down one level is the Preslav Lounge, which is a Priority Pass lounge.
The inside of the lounge isn't as nice as the Aspire lounge and I don't necessarily think that green is the best color for a lounge (it sure beats purple, though…), but it's the largest lounge at the airport, and it's quite comfy, too.
The food selection left a bit to be desired. I didn't take a photo, but it consisted of Bake Rolls and a few pastries. I enjoyed a croissant, which was still on the crisp side. Perhaps the best thing about the Preslav Lounge is that it offers a view of the tarmac.
I stayed at the lounge for a short time, as boarding was commencing shortly. I'll try to make a longer review of the Preslav Lounge the next time I visit Sofia, but Opoman has a nice review of the lounge (in French) with many photos. Check that out if you're interested.
On my way to the gate, I noticed a FlyDubai 737-800 preparing for it's flight to Dubai, while an Austrian A320 'Neusiedlersee' had just arrived from Vienna.
At my gate, I found my ride to Munich. Flying me back to the German-speaking world was D-AIUR, a February 2016-built A320SL that had been with Lufthansa for the entirety of its short life. Funnily enough, I had already flown with D-AIUP and D-AIUQ, and now D-AIUR. Maybe my next LH A320SL would be D-AIUS? Only time will tell 🙃
Priorities were followed as boarding was called, though we still had to wait until the door to the jetbridge was opened.
The wait wasn't long, and I was the first one down the jetbridge.
Two upbeat two attendants greeted me with a "Guten Tag!" and I headed towards my seat, 4A.
As expected, the legroom at in row 4 was superb.
Modern Airbus PSU.
Nice wing view, though for such a new aircraft, I surprised at how dirty the window was.
Our flight was almost 100% full, and once the "boarding completed" announcement came from the purser, Captain Julia added her welcome on board and announced a flight time of 1h45m. There weren't any other announcements from the flight deck during the flight.
Pushback. The Bulgaria Air A319 to had arrived from Brussels two days earlier and didn't fly again until February 18th, when it flew to Paris CDG.
Taxiing past the Lufthansa Technik…
…and the VIP Terminal.
A field of old aircraft, including 3 MD80s, 2 737 Classics, 2 A320s, and an ATR.
Rolling takeoff from Runway 09.
Note the Avianca Airbus off our sharklet. I have no idea why it was in Sofia
Passing a series of lakes called Blatata.
Left turn after departure.
Looking back at the airport and a hazy Sofia.
Cabin after departure. Just like on the outbound flight, row 3 was empty.
Even though the flight was very full, I lucked out by having an empty middle seat. Yay!
Once the seatbelt sign was switched off over Northwestern Bulgaria, I used the restroom. D-AIUR is one of Lufthansa's dense A320s, which seats 180 passengers. All A320neos and A320ceos after D-AIUQ have this configuration, and the placement of the lavatories on these birds is very weird. Lufthansa opted to add an extra row of seats where the lavatories of an A320 usually are, so the lavatories are actually located in the galley. They are also smaller than on LH's 168-seat A320s. You can see the difference in seatmaps between the two types of A320s here.
On the way out, I took this cool shot from door 2R.
Cabin from the rear.
I got back to my seat just as the crew commenced the service at my row. To drink, I had a lemon water.
I once again chose the vegetarian sandwich, which was the same one I had on LH1702 in October 2019. It had pesto cream cheese and sliced cheese. It tasted pretty good.
Slight left turn while climbing past 27,000 feet over Belogradchik, Bulgaria.
Despite the clear skies, we hit quite a bit of chop as we flew over Serbia. Try to notice the wingflex in the photos below.
The Danube River near Belgrade and Batajnica Air Base (BJY/LYB).
Novi Sad, Serbia.
Clouds forming over Hungary.
Lake Dubrava (left) and Lake Varaždin (right), Croatia
At some point, there was nothing but clouds below us. The 180-seat A320s don't have FlyNet internet access, so my only form on entertainment (looking out the window) went away.
A few different shots to curb my
enthusiasm boredom 😜
Mountains in sight while we commenced our descent over Styria, Austria.
Our CFM56 engine.
Beautiful sight while descending. The valley in the right of the photo is the Pinzgau.
Descending through a cloud.
Passing the southern end of the Tennengau Valley.
Over German airspace.
Right turn to begin our pattern approach.
Slats coming down.
Slowing down a bit.
Passing the town of Schwaig.
Over the airport.
Landing on Runway 26L at 2:40 PM, 10 minutes ahead of schedule, after a flight time of 1h44m.
Vacating the runway.
Passing some parked airplanes, including some government jets still in town for the Munich Security Conference which took place a few days earlier.
Lufthansa A350 'Mannheim' to Newark.
A lineup of LH narrowbodies.
From another angle, plus two Embraers added to the picture.
Pulling in next to a Lufthansa A320 to Frankfurt.
I'd say that that jetbridge is a bit big for an A320.
One final look at my seat.
Nose of the aircraft.
D-AIUR on the ground, before its next flight to Oslo.
We left Sofia via the OGOTA 1R departure from Runway 09. We flew at 38,000 feet until we reached Lake Balaton, where we descended to 36,000 feet. We commenced our descent to Munich over Styria, Austria, and landed in Munich on Runway 26L.
Well folks, that's it. That's the last flight I took before the pandemic shut down travel. Unfortunately, that likely means no more Flight-Reports from me until my next flight, unless I find some old photos from other flights. Luckily, it looks like I'll be flying back to Bulgaria in July, but I still have no idea if that'll happen or how I'll fly down there. Originally, I was planning on heading back to the States for the summer, but that's almost certainly not gonna happen. Anyways, thanks for reading this report, and I'll definitely be back with some more Flight-Reports…eventually.
This was another uneventful Lufthansa intra-European flight, if not a bit bumpier than usual
+ Hot food at the Aspire Lounge
+ Large, airy Preslav Lounge with tarmac views
+ Newer A320 with fresh cabin and great legroom
+ Free sandwich
+ Friendly crew
- Packed Aspire Lounge
- No FlyNet/Entertainment
I have nothing to say that I haven't already said. LH is my European carrier of choice after Aegean. Period.