LH 511 EZE-FRA
|Scheduled Time of Departure||18:10 (ART, UTC -3)|
|Actual Time of Departure||18:28 (ART, UTC -3)|
|Scheduled Time of Arrival||11:20 (CET, UTC +1)|
|Actual Time of Arrival||11:08 (CET, UTC +1)|
|Flight Time||12:35 hours|
|Distance||7140 mi (11490 km)|
|Aircraft (Type/Registration)||Boeing 747-430 / D-ABVS “Saarland” *|
|Departure Gate||Gate 5 @ EZE|
*D-ABVS entered service with Lufthansa on April 18, 1997 (source: Airfleets.net)
Boarding started at 17:40 from Gate 5, which is located in the first gate area after emigration/passport check at EZE. As with all gates at EZE, the waiting area was too small for the night’s relatively full 747 flight to FRA. Boarding followed a standard and rather civilized process considering the space available. Passengers requiring extra time boarded first followed by First, Business and status passengers. When it came to economy, the gate agents asked the first half of the cabin rows to line up at the right exit of the gate and the second half to line up on the right. Surprisingly enough, most people followed these instructions and within a short time I was excitedly walking down the jet bridge, looking forward to my longest 747 flight yet. A range of Argentinian and German newspapers were offered at the door, which is always a nice touch.
Now, I was anxiously looking forward to see whether our plane, D-ABVS was already equipped with Lufthansa’s new First and Economy Class products. I could have answered this question at the gate when discovering our plane’s registration, however, I had just packed up after the lounge and there was no free Wifi available at the gate area. A simple search on Airliners.net would have showed me that our ship was in Hamburg back in September 2011 for a small makeover session at Lufthansa Technik...
The suspense was held when entering the plane as it is not easy to determine its refurb-status from the Business Class cabin. Soon enough, however, I saw a distinctive blue hue coming from the Economy cabins, confirming that LH’s old grey-with-sharp-yellow-headrest Economy seats had been replaced by the new Recaro slim-lines. I was very excited and began eagerly snapping away with my camera to collect some good images to share with the aviation-enthusiast community. We are all aware of the specs and seat design of LH’s new Economy product, however, I have found that there is a general shortage of good pictures showing the 747 model of the seat. I hope to share a more detailed overview through this report.
Because I only changed my flight about three weeks before the day of departure, the number of Economy window seats available for pre-selection was very limited. Luckily, 56B, the last row in Economy, freed up about one and a half weeks before the flight. I always try to pick a seat in the last three rows of the LH 747, given that the cabin changes to a 2-3-2 configuration, with ample storage space available for the window seat. A potential major disadvantage of this seat is that you are one of the last to deplane and, therefore, you could end up at the back of the immigration and customs lines. At Frankfurt this is not an issue, however, as immigration takes place in the general terminal area for all flights. As an EU citizen, I also knew that I would be able to pass through immigration quickly, which mitigated any concerns about sitting at the back. Noise from the toilet area was also not an issue as there is a lot of space between it and the last seat.
The only disadvantage I experienced was that the crew seats had a direct view of my seat and window during takeoff and landing, which meant that I had to be very discreet about taking photos and videos during that time. The result is somewhat shaky video footage :)
A very friendly captain welcomed us on board, wishing us a Happy New Year and providing a lot of detailed information on the flight. The most interesting piece of information was the relatively high temperature in Frankfurt and the rest of western Europe. In true Lufthansa fashion we pushed back perfectly on-time at 18:08, and the wheels were up at 18:26 after a powerfully exciting rolling takeoff from EZE’s runway 11.
The first half of the flight was extremely turbulent, which was accentuated by the fact that I was sitting at the back of the Queen of the Skies. This was no problem for me, however, as I actually enjoy the feeling of turbulence and watching the “flapping” of a massive aircraft wing that accompanies it! The seatbelt signs stayed on for about 45 minutes as we made a few turns over the Rio de la Plata. Once they were switched off, the crew sprung into full action. Hot towels were handed out first followed by a round of drinks. Luckily for me, service in this cabin started from the back row, which meant that I was always the first served! When the incredibly friendly and smiley FA serving my section asked what I would like, I responded that I had been waiting for seven months for a good “Apfelsaft Gesprizt”. You see, I consider myself a true apple juice connoisseur, with my favorite being the sparkling apple juice (Apflesaft Gesprizt) that is commonly found in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The FA responded that seven months was much too long and that she would have to give me two of the drinks to compensate :) For the next 11 hours, I remained well refreshed with a supply of good German apple juice.
The meal service started around half an hour later with the two standard options of “chicken or pasta”. I asked the FA whether the pasta had a lot of cheese and she surprisingly answered with a friendly “nope”! I am not the biggest fan of cheese and, therefore, rarely choose the pasta option in planes (the dishes normally contain more cheese than pasta)! This dish contained penne in a simple but tasty tomato-based vegetable sauce. The meal was accompanied by a small salad with prosciutto and caramel cheese cake. While the portions were of regularly small Lufthansa size, the meal tasted very good and was made of quality ingredients. Most notably, the pasta was not soft and overdone as it tends to be served in the air.
The trays were soon cleared and I spent some time listening to music and staring out the window at the beautiful sunset and equally beautiful 747 wing. Turbulence continued as we crossed Brazil and the Atlantic due to strong winds in the region. Our path followed a fairly standard Great Circle Route, taking us over the Rio de la Plata, to Uruguay and then Brazil, with our Atlantic crossing starting just after Fortaleza. We crossed Gran Canaria and entered the European continent in southern Portugal. After crossing Southern France, we took a slightly odd route that passed over Zurich and headed almost directly north to Frankfurt. This deviated somewhat from the standard Circle Route.
Even thought there were PTVs available, the selection in the Lufthansa MediaWorld was somewhat limited. As I had prepared for the option of not having a PTV equipped aircraft by renting some movies on my laptop, I decided to watch these and kept the Airshow running like a true aviation enthusiast.
The crew on the flight was fantastic; easy going, helpful, personable and incredibly friendly. A number of drink runs were made following dinner, with wines, coffee and tea offered separately. Further drink runs were made regularly throughout the night, always with a genuine smile. Being in the back seat I was able to listen in to the crew chatting just before landing and heard them mention that they too found this one of the best and most easy-going crews they had worked with in a long time. They represented a fairly broad age range, which I have found very common on Lufthansa long-hauls. A number of them also spoke impeccable English and Spanish, with all announcements made clearly in the three languages.
Breakfast was served about 1.5 hours before landing, starting with another hot towel service to freshen up. There were no options this time and instead we all got served the standard hot Economy breakfast with a fairly rubbery omlette, potatoes and a sausage. This was accompanied by some excellent fruit and a less tasty roll than the one offered at dinner. Drinks, as always, were plenty.
By this time the cabin was getting a lot lighter as people had started opening the blinds. I spent some more time staring at the wing in true fascination and eventually prepared for landing once our descent was announced with half an hour to go. The winds around Frankfurt were again very strong, which made for an incredibly bumpy descent. We eventually touched down at 11:08 local time on FRA’s 25R. Our taxi to the B Gates at Terminal 1 was long and provided a good view of the ramp and morning activity at FRA. It also appeared that the new runway was being well-used that morning.
Disembarking started fairly quickly after we reached the gate and even though I was one of the last to leave, I decided to take my chances and ask the very friendly purser whether I would be able to visit the flight deck of this wonderful aircraft. The purser rushed me upstairs and we managed to catch the captain just as he was leaving the flight deck. In the process we passed through the new First Class cabin, which looked amazing! The photos I have seen already do it justice, however, they do not quite communicate how wide the seat and bed actually are. The captain was friendly but obviously eager to head out. We chatted briefly about the flight and the planes he previously captained, including the 737 and A320. I snapped a quick photo and headed into the Terminal, passing quickly through the Lufthansa Business Lounge before boarding my connection to Vienna.
Ratings and Impressions
Overall, this was a great flight with Lufthansa and a welcome change to the rather subpar flights I had experienced over the last seven months. Lufthansa scores points on consistency and overall quality of both their soft- and hard-product. The planes were immaculately kept, as usual, with the new Economy seat adding a welcome upgrade to the cabin experience. LH does need to work on offering more IFE content to Economy passengers, however, as the selection was somewhat limited. The food was very good, with dinner scoring higher than the breakfast offered. The crew were absolutely fantastic and truly genuine, which made the flight very comfortable.
As mentioned at the beginning of this report, I love flying Lufthansa and, even though they have some areas to improve on, I will continue to book with them in the future.
The following ratings are, of course, subjective and are referenced according to my previous flight experiences and through education from other trip reports on the economy service of different airlines.
The overall rating for this flight was 7.79