After a whirlwind tour of Cologne and an excellent hot dog (read about that here!) I headed back to Cologne airport about 3 hours before my flight. This is generally a bit longer than I’d usually allow myself for a short-haul flight; however on this occasion I had good reason, I was flying Business Class!
The ‘Biz Class’ (Eurowings branding for their Business Class product) fare cost me about £55 more than I would have spent on an Economy ticket with extra leg room upgrade and with that I get the extra leg room, access to the Lufthansa Business lounge at Cologne, A-la-Carte dining on-board and (not that I needed it for my day trip) an allowance for two 32kg checked bags. Despite all of this, my main reason for opting for the £99 fare was I wanted to experience a European Business Class product and this fare wasn’t unreasonable.
At Cologne there was, as expected, dedicated Business Class check in desks, however having checked in on my phone prior to travelling I headed straight to security. Security also has a dedicated lane for Business & First class passengers, meaning there was no queue at all and I was on my way to the Lufthansa lounge within about 15 minutes of getting to the airport. The Lufthansa lounge was easy to find and was well signposted from security.
The lounge was extremely busy when I arrived, so much so that I was lucky to get a seat with a table allowing me to get on with some content writing. On offer was a fairly wide range of cold food ranging from a very nice feta salad to some just as nice marble cake (via the abomination that is a pretzel cookie – why would you do that to a cookie!). There was also a hot soup on offer, the standard mix of hot and cold drinks, as well as one of the local Beers on tap. Unfortunately, I had to drive when I arrived back at Stansted and so was limited to a single glass of beer.
The lounge is fairly spacious and has a variety of seating options including comfy armchairs, standard tables and also breakfast bar style seating (which is where I had ended up). One thing I did notice was that a lot of the seating areas had no access to plug sockets, with the only easily accessible ones that I could see being near the standard tables and chairs (which were right next to the food and beverages).
My flight was boarding at gate B50 which required a 10-minute walk back towards security and so I left the lounge with plenty of time. Boarding started approximately 25 minutes prior to departure, and it turned out that I was one of only two Business Class passengers on the flight. Whilst Eurowings allows a few minutes between boarding the ‘priority’ passengers and everyone else, there were a lot of people with fully flexible fares on this flight which comes with the benefit of priority boarding. Due to this there was a lot of people in the priority lane, although I luckily manager to get to the front and so was first on-board and able to store my belongings and get comfortable in my seat whilst everyone else was boarding.
Boarding was completed in about 15 minutes, although just after the door was closed it was announced that we had a 20-minute slot delay imposed due to a strike by Air Traffic Controllers in the Brussels EuroControl. I was impressed that the captain came out into the cabin and made this announcement in front of all the passengers, which gave the impression that he did appreciate that this could inconvenience people. This delay did allow for the cabin-crew to serve me and my ‘Biz Class’ companion a pre-departure beverage, although I don’t believe this is a standard practice. We pushed back from the gate about 13 minutes late and after quite a long taxi, took off to the northwest and with an immediate left turn had the city of Cologne to our right as we climbed.
Our route then took us slightly southwest and across the German/Belgian border, completely avoiding Dutch airspace. Turning right and crossing Belgium, we left mainland Europe just north of Bruges and headed back toward the UK. Making landfall just north of the town of Felixstowe, we appeared to be heading for Stansted’s south-westerly runway, until a change of route took us looping around the airport to land on runway 04.
Within 10 minutes of take-off, the cabin crew started the on-board service and I got my first experience of European business class A-la-Carte dining. To be completely honest, I was slightly underwhelmed as this is reality meant I had a choice of anything of the in-flight menu, and there was nothing specifically for Business class passengers. I chose to have the Tapas and a waffle, both of which were pleasant, but neither were exceptional. Whilst I wouldn’t usually drink coffee this late in the day, with my energy flagging and at least an hour’s drive home I had another cup of the very pleasant but strong coffee served by Eurowings. Incidentally I have a rule that I don’t drink tea on aircraft as tea is designed to be me made with the water at, or extremely close to, 100 degrees centigrade, however due to the air pressure water boils at nearer 90 on aircraft. This unfortunately can make tea taste not particularly great and so I tend to choose coffee or soft drinks when flying.
We had made up some of the lost time en route and so landed at Stansted less than 10 minutes late and were very quickly at our gate. With the westerly direction of the flight we had been chasing the sunset most of the journey and it had only gotten fully dark just before landing. Timing my arrival at the automated transfer train just right, I was at passport control within about 10 minutes from getting off the aircraft. Unfortunately, due to our arrival time (and the fact that Stansted doesn’t let you buy access to the ‘Express Passport Control’ lane at passport control), it took me about 20 minutes to get through passport control and customs.
All-in-all my journey with Eurowings in ‘Biz Class’ was pleasant but, in my opinion, probably not worth the extra I paid on this occasion. The great advantage of the Business Class fare was access to the lounge at Cologne as this is not available via DragonPass in Terminal 1 (it is if flying from Terminal 2!), however unfortunately I felt the on-board offering let the side down. I calculated that the food & drink I had on-board would have cost me about €13 if I had purchased them and that’s without considering the free coffee & cake you get if you purchase an extra-legroom seat. In conclusion, in future I will definitely fly with Eurowings again, however, will probably stick with an economy fare and just purchase an extra-legroom seat.
Flight #: EW355
Route: CGN – STN
Date: Wednesday 27th March 2019