My friend dropped me off at the airport at about 2 1/2 hrs before departure and I knew that going through security in Israel was going to be more involved than in other places so I was mentally prepared for the lenghty process.
I had a slight problem finding the LH counter because it was not at departure level where most of the carriers were but tucked in a corner at the arrivals hall. Signs pointing to it were few and not clearly marked. I dutifully stood in line waiting for the agents to pre-screen me before I could reach the counter to check in. It took a good 10 minutes and agents were moving back and forth between the LH line and OS one. Some psgrs in line were getting impatient already.
The questioning was the standard how long have you been in Israel, what was the purpose of your trip, did anyone give you anything to carry, etc. Afterwards my bags were screened and then opened up for physical check. When I finally approached the counter the agent issued me a boarding pass and invitation to the Dan lounge. The process was quick but robotic and marked with indifference. It was far from the joyful experience I received at Frankfurt where agents smiled and provided direct eye contact. Most of the agents at the counter appeared disengaged somehow and I wonder if they are true LH employees or contracted ones. I then headed to the gates and another round of screening followed. I had to remove my shoes, belt, watch and anything in my possession and place them on a tray. Furthermore, I also had to remove the batteries, coins and electronic equipments inside my carry-on backpack and placed them on another tray as well - that was a first one for me. The agent directing the passengers was competent and professional but it was a pain to go back and take things out. Once at the other end I repacked my stuff when I realized to my horror that the lens cap of my Canon DSLR was missing. I went back and asked the agent if they have found one by chance and after checking with her colleagues the answer was negative. It must have dropped in between the ongoing opening and closing of bags.
After that ordeal I finally headed towards the Dan lounge looking forward to chill out. The agent took my invitation and escorted me to a separate small room with a well stocked bar and snacks. There were a couple of publications available and a TV playing soccer. Large windows afforded a limited view of the tarmac in this intimate setting. The room is ideal for 1-5 people but anything over that it would have felt crowded.
Dan Lounge F section
The agent checked back with me to make sure everything was OK which was a nice touch. I then decided to leave the room and venture into the rest of the lounge where it was crowded and resembled a long hall with seating areas and tables. At the end there was a pantry with cookies, pastries, and drinks. I stopped by the two internet terminals on the side of the hall and checked my emails.
I then proceeded to the gate where there was a sizable crowd of people waiting. However, today's flight was not full and once again I witnessed the indifference from the agents at the gate as they were more interested in chatting among themselves than answer passengers' questions. We finally boarded about 25 min. before departure and as expected it was chaotic with everybody congregating at the gate. At least the agent made the announcement to welcome F psgrs to board first.
Plane at the gate
I climbed upstars and today's flight had 3 psgrs including myself in the upper deck. Two FA's were assigned and performed their duties efficiently by hanging coats and helping psgrs. settle down. I was offered an amenity kit, pajama and slippers but declined the plate of macadamia nuts as I was feeling a bit full so I settled for a glass of water as pre-dept. drink. As was the case on my previous flight, the purser introduced herself and handed me the menu this time with my name and seat number written on it.
The door closed and we started taxiing to the runway. I caught a glimpse of a LY 777 and DL one parked next to us and thought about flying with LY next time I return to Israel. The sun was setting down and it afforded a beautiful view during our ascend. The male FA sat in front of me during take off occupying a jumpseat in front of 83AC and made some small talk.
Once we leveled off the dinner sevice started with the offering of an interesting goat cheese and beet amuse bouche.
No Star Chef featured on today's flight
Variation of Hors d'oeuvres
Caviar w/traditional garnishes Seared Venison Carpaccio, Pepper Salsa in Raspberry Vinaigrette and Chesnut Marinated Prawn with Tarama Salad and Salmon Caviar Baba Ganoush Salad, Tabbouleh Cake with grilled Zucchini, Cherry Tomato and Pesto
Seasonal Green w/Dressing
Choice of Main Courses
Tenderloin of Beef with herbed Pecorino Cheese, Potato, roasted Carrot, Scallions and Red Wine Sauce
Bouillabaisse w/Scallops, Prawns and Seabass, Rice
Lamb Cutlets w/Falafel Crust in Thyme Jus served wtih Sweet Potato Mash, Asparagus and Zucchini
Fettucine w/Vegetable Juliennes in Ginger Coriander Jus accompanied by tofu Eggplant sweet Chili Brochette and sauteed Mushrooms
Selection of Cheese and Dessert
Manchego, Brie, aged Gouda, Blue and Goat Cheese garnished with Grapes and Nuts
Grilled Pineapple w/Vanilla Ice Cream
Caramel Mousse Cake served with Orange and Mint Compote
Specialty Dessert Wines
I sampled all the appetizers and they were delectable. The salad was uninspiring but the vegetarian entree was wonderful with good portions and the perfectly spiced jus complemented the sweet heat of the tofu and eggplant brochettes nicely. Afterwards I enjoyed a good piece of Manchego, Gouda and Goat cheese with grapes and to finish I tried the Caramel mousse with the rich caramel and chocolate lovely balanced by the orange segments. To round this off the obligatory chocolates were offered.
Table set up
After the meal service I decided to walk around and went downstairs to visit the Business cabin. The last section of it behind the galley was completely empty and I tried the seats which I found comfy but a bit narrow. In addition if one occupies a window seat I think it would be a bit challenging to exit if your neighbor is in the sleep position.
Overall the service on this flight was good as expected but it was not as stellar as the outbound with the more engaging crew. My experiences flying in international F are limited and LH is my third airline in this cabin. My previous ones were Swiss and United. Needless to say, UA is not in this league and meals do not compare favorably with either LH OR LX. If I had to choose between LH or LX, I am inclined to go with LX. Perhaps it is the layout of the seats affoding more privacy, or the ability of the crew to truly pamper its guests with greater latitude, but LX seems to have the upper hand when it comes to F product in my opinion.
Independent Dan Lounge
Tel Aviv - TLV
Frankfurt - FRA
Overall a good experience but not outstanding like on the previous flight to TLV. This time there were 3 passengers in the F cabin including myself. There were 2 FA's assigned to the upper deck and the purser was present earlier distributing menus and introducing herself. Once the meal started she went downstairs to assist the J cabin. The meal was great and more than enough. The crew was friendly and professional, but they were strict and did not deviate from the norm. When I asked if I could have an extra kit the FA told me that she had to check with the purser and later advised me that he couldn't give me another one and apologized. This rigid attitude left me a bit of a disappointing taste in my mouth.
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