Airline: Lufthansa Flight #: LH903 Route: LHR-FRA Class: Economy Seat: 21F Date: Thursday 5th December 2019
Since arriving back from Madrid in September, I had been yearning for an adventure and whilst my day trips have been great, the 2-night trip to the Ukrainian capital is what I’d really been looking forward to. Most of my trips have an element of similarity, be it the destination, airline or some other aspect. This trip to Kiev would be a dive into the complete unknown for me with a new country, new airlines and my first time using connecting flights.
I stayed overnight at Heathrow as although I could have got there that morning for a 1030 departure, I didn’t fancy the ridiculously early start that would mean. A short 4-minute train journey took me from Terminal 4 (where the Premier Inn is) to Heathrow Central for Terminal 2, the home of Lufthansa and its Star Alliance partners at Heathrow. Terminal 2 is the newest of Heathrow’s terminals having opened in 2014 replacing the original 1955 Queen’s Terminal.
Check-in at Terminal 2 is a ‘do it yourself’ arrangement with automated check-in kiosks printing boarding cards and luggage tags and touch screens next to the luggage belts allowing you to send your bag into the depths of Heathrow. I’m not a fan of these systems as they are not the most intuitive and I witnessed numerous passengers requiring assistance from the single member of staff covering the bank of belts. Having finally fought to send my bag into the unknown, I headed through security and to the first stop on my trip, the lounge.
As with Terminal 5, Terminal 2 has a Plaza Premium Lounge which allows access via Dragonpass and other lounge access providers. The Terminal 2 lounge is on the lower level of the main departure lounge and is unfortunately located on the side of the building away from the windows and aircraft views. The lounge had a cosy feel, despite being quite spacious, and had a range of seating area including relatively secluded pods. There was a range of hot and cold food and drinks available at the buffet and alcoholic drinks could be purchased from the bar (I didn’t partake at the early hour, but some did!)
With about an hour to departure I decided to head out to the main terminal to explore and hopefully catch a view of my aircraft arriving on the inbound flight from Frankfurt. I needn’t have worried about the inbound aircraft as within a couple of minutes of leaving the lounge I received a notification from Lufthansa that my flight had incurred a 30-minute delay. In most situations a delay doesn’t bother me, however I had just a 45-minute connection in Frankfurt and checking on FlightRadar24 I discovered the aircraft was still taxiing at the German hub.
Thankfully Lufthansa’s twitter team are quick at responding and the confirmation of a later flight to Kiev and further delays (50 minutes and then 1 hour) to the flight actually put me at ease as I knew there was no chance of me making the original flight and I had a safe plan B. Deciding to wander around the terminal, I was surprised to find there were only relatively upmarket restaurants and cafés with a distinct lack of any basic coffee chains like at many airports.
About 10-15 minutes after our original departure time I saw the aircraft finally arrive and our gate was soon called for boarding. Despite our aircraft being a larger A321 (D-AISD for those interested) the boarding process was fairly efficient and everyone was on-board the aircraft within about 35 minutes of the aircraft arriving. Pushing back exactly an hour after our original departure time, we looped around T2B, the satellite of Terminal 2, before queuing for departure from Heathrow’s runway 27R.
Taking off westwards at 1147, we took an immediate turn left towards the south-east and headed over Sussex and Kent on our way to the channel. The weather in the south-east was cold and sunny but weirdly hazy, something which remained as we climbed, providing views of the countryside that reminded more of a summer’s evening than a December morning. Our route took us out over the channel at Dover, across Belgium and entering German airspace to the south of Aachen.
About 10 minutes after our departure the crew began the on-board service. Lufthansa, unlike British Airways, but similar to many legacy carriers in Europe provide a basic snack and free non-alcoholic drinks on-board their flights. Our choice for the short 1 hour hop to Frankfurt was either a cheese or pastrami sandwich which I accompanied with a coffee and an orange juice. Whilst I was fortunately towards the front of the economy section (there was a very large business class section), I was impressed with how quickly the crew seemed to finish the service with the entire cabin having been served within 15 minutes of the service starting on what was a very full flight.
The flight was uneventful and, other than realising noise cancelling headphone would have been a blessing, I relaxed and watched some pre-downloaded episodes of The Crown on Netflix for our journey east. Lufthansa do have Wi-Fi available on-board many of their aircraft including D-AISD, the A321 that took me to Frankfurt. There are a couple of options available for selection on the Wi-Fi, with the cheapest costing €5 for an email and social media package and the more expensive €10 option allowing the use of VPNs and streaming. Although I didn’t feel the need to use the Wi-Fi, I thought this was reasonably priced for the flight and certainly could see myself potentially using it in future.
Shortly before arrival into Frankfurt, we were provided an update by the crew on our progress and also informing those of us booked through to Kiev (there seemed to be a few) that we had all been automatically re-booked on the later flight and we just needed to collect our boarding cards upon arrival. We had been told by the captain whilst on the ground at Heathrow that the delay was due to fog at Frankfurt and upon our approach to the airport, I realised just how thick the fog was. Only being able to see the ground seconds before landing is an odd experience and I was slightly surprised by our landing.
After the increasing delay at Heathrow we had eventually landed at Frankfurt about 55 minutes late. I’ve got to say, that despite the frustration of the delay itself, Lufthansa handled it brilliantly with both prompt communication on social media and by automatically rebooking us on the later flight. All in all, the flight was pleasant and reminded me of how short-haul economy with British Airways had been before their cost saving. The crew on-board were excellent and reassured passengers in regard to the delays and connections and I ended the flight looking forward to a break in the lounge and then comparing my second Lufthansa flight of the day to this one.
Lounge 0* Seat/Facilities 4* Food 3* Service 5* Punctuality 1* Overall Rating 13/25 (read about my rating system here!)