Hello ladies and gentlemen, and a very warm welcome back to my current series, covering my recent trip to the wonderful Croatian peninsula of Istria. These flights are a part of my "Maturareise", which is a tradition in Austria. Upon finishing high school, classes go to some sunny destination to celebrate their graduation and the start of a new chapter in their lives. While most of the rest of the class drove to and from Croatia, I flew, and therefore was able to earn precious miles that I couldn't earn in 2020. Now let's dive in to part 2/4!
I booked these flights as a multi-city itinerary. As I needed to be in Sofia on July 19th, I terminated the trip there. The trip would include 4 flights on 3 different airlines, flying on 4 different aircraft types, and passing through 5 different airports. The routing is as follows:
Of all these flights, 1 would be a new aircraft-airline combination for me (leg 3). This and the next leg also covered my first time flying through Pula Airport.
Unlike Vienna, Frankfurt Airport is a wonderful place to connect. After deplaning my flight, I found myself towards the end of Pier A, where most Lufthansa and Star Alliance Schengen flights depart from.
As Croatia still isn't a part of the Schengen agreement, I had to clear immigration in Frankfurt. Lufthansa's Schengen flights depart from Piers Z (located directly above Pier A) and B, which is connected to the A/Z gates via an underground walkway.
My flight to Pula would be departing from gate B41, so I followed signs for the tunnel to Pier B.
The tunnel is usually wider, but was under construction at the time, so only one half of it was open. The walk from pier to pier took around 5 minutes.
Soon enough, I arrived at the immigration checkpoint in Pier B.
The process was seamless, and I was soon in the non-Schengen section of Pier B.
I love that Frankfurt Airport offers great views of aircraft parked at the gate! I spotted the famous ANA Star Wars 787-9…
…as well as a Turkish Airlines A321neo.
Feeling hungry, I stopped by a small eatery called Minibar to grab a bite to eat.
My panini was fine. Edible, but definitely not worth 6 Euros! 🙈
After filling up my stomach, I took a lap (or two) around the pier.
Gates B60-62, which were previous used for bus boarding, had been converted to an airside health center, which I thought was pretty cool.
Upstairs, on the top level, I passed the empty Air Canada lounge…
…and stumbled upon a hidden gem: an outdoor terrace!
Look at those views! 🤩
After spending a good hour watching flights taking off (and wishing that I had a good camera for spotting!), I headed to the gate.
My inbound aircraft arrived a bit late from Malaga, but the turnaround was fairly quick. My ride down to Pula was D-AINJ, a 3.7-year-old Airbus A320neo delivered new to Lufthansa in November 2017. Unfortunately, gate B41 seems to be one of the few gates in Pier B that doesn't have great views of the aircraft.
For some unknown to me reason, the boarding group listed on my boarding pass said 'PRE', or Pre-Boarding. I have no idea why, but I went along with it and was one of the first to walk down the jetbridge.
The purser and a young flight attendant warmly welcomed me onboard and handed me a disinfecting wipe as I made my way to seat in the exit row, 12A.
Being in the exit row, the legroom was naturally fantastic.
Not having to store my bag under the seat in front of me only made me feel more spacious. You can't beat that legroom on any other seat in a LH A320 - not even in Business Class. Funnily enough, Lufthansa doesn't mark row 12 as an exit row, so I assigned myself this seat completely free of charge.
In the literature pocket was the safety instructions card…
As well as the new 'Onboard Delights' menu.
Fresh Airbus PSU.
Some features unique to the exit row are this sticker on the tray table…
…and the instructions on the door.
Our flight was fully booked, with every seat in Economy Class taken. The boarding process took quite some time, which further delayed our departure. My seatmate, a kind elderly gentleman from Berlin, told me that the ground staff were looking for a passenger to fly the next morning to Pula via Cologne, as the flight was actually oversold by 1 seat.
Once every was onboard and someone took Lufthansa's offer of 250 Euros and a hotel in Cologne for the night, the captain announced that we were fully ready to go and that further information would be given later on in the flight by our first officer.
Taxiing to Runway 18 for takeoff.
Making a left turn as we passed the town of Mörfelden-Walldorf.
Cabin after departure.
After the seatbelt sign was switched off, the flight attendants began the onboard service, first passing out bottles of water and then taking orders from the menu. See how it's done, Austrian? 😉
The crew also passed out a health form, which they then collected on our approach.
I didn't order anything from the menu. Here's a look at the selection (taken on a Lufthansa flight which I had flown a week earlier; don't worry that report will come eventually 😃):
I spent most of the flight looking out the window and chatting with my seatmate, who also gave me some tips of what to do in Istria 😄 Despite being such a new aircraft, D-AINJ, like all other Lufthansa A320neo's does not have any form of entertainment onboard, which is really a shame. One would expect a 5* airline to have a wide variety of entertainment even on such a short flight 🙃 I hope that they figure something out soon.
Perhaps the worst thing about sitting in the exit row on an A320 is that there are no good views of the landscapes down below. Because of that, even though we flew just west of Munich, I was only able to see the airport from a distance.
A look towards our gorgeous Pratt & Whitney engine.
After a short cruise, we commenced our descent over Salzburg State, Austria. At that time, First Officer Kevin provided us with a very detailed summary of the route that we had flown and what our approach routing would be like. Am I the only one who loves pilots that make long, informative announcements??
The Adriatic island of Cres off to our left.
Established on our approach. As we were descending, I experienced the rush of landing in a new place for the first time. While it's always a great feeling, it was especially powerful after quarantined for a long while.
Over the runway.
Touchdown on Runway 27 at 6:03 PM, 23 minutes late, after a flight time of 1h4m.
Vacating the runway at the last exit.
Bok Pula! 😁😁
Pulling into our stand.
Deplaning, which the crew passing the new LH chocolates at the door while saying goodbye. I have nothing but good things to say about our crew. They were kind and fun, which definitely helped everyone get into their holiday moods.
Clear fuselage shots.
And a look at the nose.
Thanks for the ride, November-Juliet!
Walking to the terminal.
One last look at the tarmac before clearing immigration and officially entering my 35th country.
We departed Frankfurt's Runway 18 and followed the RATIM 1S departure out. We flew directly past Munich, commencing our descent over Salzburg State, towards Carinthia, Austria, where we made a slight right turn towards Trieste and Pula, where we flew an approach via Rijeka leading to a straight-in landing on Runway 27. Our cruising altitude was 37,000ft.
Immigration was a breeze, and after my friend picked me up from the airport, it was time to enjoy a well-deserved week of pure bliss and fun in a new country. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in the next installment! ✈️
It was a perfectly average flight intra-European flight with Lufthansa.
+ Easy transit in Frankfurt
+ Jolly, friendly crew
+ Loads of space in the exit row
+ Free water handed out
- No entertainment/WiFi
My only problem with this flight is that there was no entertainment. It really is a shame that an aircraft that's as good as brand new doesn't have any form of entertainment whatsoever. Hopefully LH gets around to fixing that soon. Other than that, it's always a pleasure to fly Lufthansa.