Heyho! Welcome to my first proper Covid-era flight report. As many of you might be aware, the situation has improved in Europe and restrictions have been lifted to a certain point. As a friend of mine is spending the summer in Trieste (Italy), I thought it would be a good idea to visit him and use the chance for a little getaway. Originally, I was booked on the direct flight to Trieste with the flight back from Venice operated by Air Baltic. However, both flights were canceled without notice, which I only found out after contacting Air Baltic to make a seat reservation. That was a bummer, because I was looking forward to both trying new aircraft types for me (CRJ, A220) and a new airline. Calling Lufthansa revealed that rebooking to other flights to and from Venice wasn't a problem, which I did without a charge - of course, after all it wasn't my fault that I couldn't take the original flights. A few days later I discovered that a cash upgrade for my outbound flight was available for as little as 29€, which I didn't have to think about twice - yes I knew what Business Class in Europe looks like. And thus came not only my first LH experience in 5 years, but also my first flight in LH's European Business Class. Without further ado, let's jump straight into it.
Frankfurt airport and lounge experience
My parents were kind enough to drop me off at the respective area outside the terminal. There were quite a lot of people doing the same thing, but it was still easy to find a spot. Getting in the terminal and finding the baggage drop area (I checked in online) was straightforward as well. There was basically no line for the baggage drop. Many shops were still closed, including the LH shop. Even though many people are traveling again, some spots in the airport looked kind of empty. I guess Cupra and Skoda, who were paying to exhibit their cars in the airport, were probably paying to much for that kind of exposure.
Security for premium cabin passengers is located in a slightly different place. There wasn't really an advantage in taking this lane, as it was a longer walk with the only "real" benefit being pseudo-wooden flooring in the security area. This might be different, of course, in normal times. After the mandatory duty-free shop visit I turned left, as the sign said that the Business Class lounge was there. But it seemed that I overshot the lounge by a lot as I at some point ended up at the end of the A gate section of the airport. Only heading back I noticed that the only lounge that was open at that point (more have opened since) was located basically right at the exit of the duty-free shop! Noob mistakes, I guess. The Business Lounge was very full, but it was still possible to secure a spot. There were not reading materials offered in the lounge, but a full assortment of beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) as well as snacks and some meal items as well. The alcoholic beverages and warm food was located behind a plexiglass pane, and there was no self-service for these kinds of items…
… which kind of explains the flood of sausages on my plate, at least compared to the potatoes.
However, the lounge is no good place for planespotting. These days, there's not much to see anyways except a few UA planes and then mostly LH A319/320/321s.
All in all, the lounge was clean and a good, albeit not luxurious, place to spend some time in, even though it was packed with people. The other offerings in the terminal included free newspapers and a (paid) Nespresso machine. With some time reserved I made my way to gate A69, which is located at the other end of that part of the terminal. It began to fill up quickly.
The plane was already there, of course. It was an A320-200 registered as D-AIWF, named Bruchsal, delivered to Lufthansa in May 2019. I found it very nice from the crew that they wrote a little positive message on the "welcome square" on the side of the plane door. The cabin was the usual Lufthansa short-haul cabin with ultra-thin seats and without headrests. The first three rows constituted the Business Class on this flight; out of the 12 theoretically possible seats, only four were occupied (including mine). As usual, C had the same seats as Y, only with the middle seat blocked. Legroom seems to be a bit more than in the back rows (see the return flight, which I will link here). In my opinion, the cabin was adequate for this flight duration, but I find it a bit lacklustre for flights of more than two hours, especially when considering what airlines offer in Asia or North America. Boarding was somewhat chaotic, as only the first boarding group was announced. After that, it seemed that they stopped caring about the groups. However, it was completed quickly enough, which meant that the doors were closed at 12:10 for a 12:15 departure.
My particular seat, 2F, is not that recommendable for planespotting, as this row's two windows are positioned in an awkward way.
The cabin felt quite new and was very clean. One thing that struck me was the quality and clarity of the PA system.
Parking next to us was LH A321 D-AIST (Erbach/Odenwald) heading to Ibiza. The cabin crew distributed Covid-related papers during the boarding process. One has to be filled out by every passenger (contact tracing), the other was specifically for people coming from outside the Schengen area. However, every passenger received both forms. A refreshing (cleaning?) towel was handed out while boarding as well, see below. Wearing a mask covering mouth and nose was mandatory on this flight as it was in the airport and lounge, except for eating and drinking.
Inflight & Views of the alps
Some random spotting while rolling around the tarmac…
It wasn't long until it was time for take-off. By that time, surprisingly many planes were on the way to the runway.
Taking off and disappearing into the lush layer of clouds flying high over Hessen… and the Northern runway seems to be open again, or at least not occupied by parking planes (?)
Inflight service began very shortly after cruising altitude was reached. In fact, it was pretty much instant. No wonder, as the whole offering was cold. There was no choice, thus also no menu card. Drinks came separately. The only food choice was a cold plate of mozzarella with tomatoes, pesto, and pine seeds. This was complemented by a bun with butter and a little cake creation as a dessert, as well as some chocolates. The meal was served on porcelain with real metal cutlery. All in all, this was a nice selection for this short flight. I had some questions because of allergens, but the CA working in the front cabin was very happy to help out with this information. (And a random photo to fill up the gallery…)
With some coffee I enjoyed the views as we were cruising over the Alps. Coffee, by the way, is one of the areas where LH doesn't disappoint in my opinion; it was always good in my memory, and it was on this flight. I also realized that this was the first time for me crossing the Alps by plane. It was certainly worth it. Soon, however, the mountains faded into the Northern Italian plains and quickly I was able to see the Aegean Sea. Chioggia appeared on the horizon, which I first mistook for Venice.
Captain Schwarz announced that we would be landing very soon and not long after Venice came into sight. A very nice descent indeed, and a good choice (and good luck) to have reserved a seat on the right side. Below you can find some nice shots of the historic Old Town, complete with the Campanelle, Piazza Ducale, Piazzale Roma, and St. Lucia railway station.
Arriving at Venice Airport
Just in time, or so it appeared, a runway appeared in the salt marshes around Venice, and we touched down safely.
After leaving the runway and turning around to taxi to the terminal, I was surprised to find a Superjet hangar on the side of the airport. But it made sense to have this here, as I remembered that Sukhoi had partnered up with Alenia to market the Superjet. An Interjet SSJ and another one were parked before the hangar. Everything looked a bit dead, to be honest. It's really a pity that apparently they aren't able to get maintenance and support issues under control, because I've heard that the SSJ is basically a good design.
However, the SSJs weren't the only ones parked at VCE. The Easyjet A320s looked quite active, but I don't think the Alitalia 777s are here usually…
VCE is basically ruled by Easyjet and Volotea, but also has many international connections, at least in normal times. For me it was nice to see a 717 again. Volotea is one of 3 airlines worldwide that still operate this type, as far as I know (the other ones being Delta and Hawaiian Airlines).
Our parking position was reached very soon next to this AZ E-jet.
Disembarking was very quick and kind of unorganized, at least compared to the return flight. Being in Business Class and being able to jump out of the plane quite rapidly helped as well, even though I wasn't in a particular hurry. Below you find a last view at the plane that brought me here through some dirty finger windows.
Not much was going on in the arrivals part of the airport.
The case was similar with the baggage claim area. The carousels themselves were shaped in an interesting style, as if to deliver the baggage in the most dramatic way possible without being extravagant. The suitcases literally come from above (=from the sky?) to make half a round around the carousel before anyone is able to fetch them. The upside was that you could quickly see if your baggage was coming. Priority baggage didn't help at all, as all pieces of baggage seemed to come out in a random order. I was almost worried that my suitcase got lost somewhere on the way.
I made my way through the very sad and empty looking arrivals part of the airport to meet up with my friend who had come to pick me up with his car. This concludes this flight report. Thanks a lot for reading and I hope you found it entertaining or useful in another way :) If you have questions or general comments, please let me know in the comments below - I'm happy to read them and help you out. Stay tuned for the report on the return flight in Y.
See the tourism bonus for some impressions of Trieste, a fascinating city lodged in between the Italian mainland, Slovenia and Croatia with an interesting history.
Bonus : Click here display hide
Trieste has had an eventful history indeed. From being a rather insignifant fishing town in the Middle Ages, it has developed to a center of industry and education. It is also very varied in a cultural sense; you can clearly see the influence of centuries-long Habsburg rule in this town, but also a certain Slavik/Slowenian touch (which you will especially notice when exploring the vicinity of the city), which, together with strong elements of Italian culture make Friaul, the region around Trieste, unique. Still today it is an important port town with the internationally know companies Illycaffè and Generali.
Historically, there was a sizeable Jewish population in Trieste, which built this impressive synagogue. In the next image, you can see the remains of an old Roman theater. The next photo shows the historic stock exchange of Trieste. If you look around town, you will find numerous hints to the importance of Assicurazioni Generali for the city. This insurance company has built many buildings in the city center and still owns many of them.
The city center proper is arguably the Piazza dell'Unità, a sizeable square located smack at the bay of Trieste. Not only will you find some government buildings there, but also some impressive flagpoles (look at how big the flag is compared to its height and the pole!) and the famous Caffè degli Specchi. If you cross the street towards the bay, you will find the very place where the Italians have first entered the city after the Austrian capitulation. The Molo Audace, a quay that is a popular meeting place nowaways, is not far as well.
Even though WWI never reached Trieste itself, the surrounding countryside was the site of multiple heavy battles. As it was typical for this war, they were battles of heavy machines and entrenchments, costing hundreds of thousands of lives and ruining whole landscapes. North of Monfalcone (not actually Trieste, I know), a large monumental area was created by the Italian government under Mussolini in the 1920s. The monument itself, carved in the mountain, was impressive, indeed, even though it was somewhat exhausting to navigate the area in the burning mid-July heat. Part of the area are also some original trenches and MG posts. On the opposite hill to the large monument there is another memorial, created out of a hill and various pieces of military equipment, most of all artillery guns of both sides. Some entrances to the natural caves which served as command posts and military hospitals were also visible. There is also the Museum of the 3rd Army in the area, which exhibits manifold pieces of contemporary military technology. However, this was closed.
Some more beautiful and less melancholic sights of the region are, for example, the many beaches in the region, the local Osmicas (traditional Slovenian taverns serving regional wines and foodstuffs), and castles such as Miramare (pictured below).
If you kept reading until here, I would like to thank you again. I'm leaving you here with a photo of the little cormorant friend we made in the port of Muggia - he seemed to enjoy the attention a lot and let us come quite close, even though we christianed him Eberhard.
Lufthansa Business Lounge - A
Frankfurt - FRA
Venice - VCE
LH: An overall very satisfying experience. Of course, the inner-European Business product is very basic, but in my opinion adequate for such a short flight. I was surprised by the great crew and the nice catering on this flight. Regard entertainment/wifi as not rated, as I didn't use any on this flight, and personally don't really deem that necessary on a one-hour-flight. I was also satisfied with the lounge, even though it was quite full. However, they have opened more lounges since I have taken this flight, so the situation could/should be better by now. The Business Lounge was not luxurious by any means, but it was a comfortable place (in any case more than the general gate area) to wait for my flight.
FRA: The drop-off/pick-up area and getting (in)to the airport worked perfectly fine. In general, the airport was clean, and processes efficient. The airport staff was pleasant enough to deal with. It appeared as if they renewed the signs to look a bit nicer. I appreciate the free newspapers in the terminal, even though these seem to be from LH.
VCE: Nothing remarkable to note here. Except maybe the not very efficient delivery of baggage, which also didn't consider priority baggage. Finding the pick-up/meeting point was not quite straightforward, but easy enough, and the airport is connected to the highway system as well to the Alilaguna boats to Venice.
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