Flight #: LH2473
Date: Tuesday 4th January 2022
Almost exactly 20 months since my last flight (read about that KLM flight here), I was finally heading to an airport ready for a trip abroad, with this one being a multi-country, week-long exploration of Central Europe covering Czechia, Hungary & Slovakia. But before I got to tick off any new countries, I had a journey to Heathrow and two flights with Lufthansa to complete.
Arriving at Heathrow about three hours before my flight, I checked in at one of the self-service kiosks before joining the queue to drop my bag and have my paperwork checked. Along with the various Covid requirements such as passenger locator forms (PLFs) and my vaccination certificate, I also needed to have my passport checked as Brexit now means British passport holders need a minimum 6 months left before the passport’s expiry and it can be no more than 10 years since it was issued (you used to be able to ‘carry over’ validity if you renewed early.
It took about half an hour of queuing to get to one of two desks open for the trio of Lufthansa & Austrian flights that were checking in, however once at the front it was a quick and painless process, partly because I’d made use of Lufthansa’s online pre-check process which meant only showing one document rather than the full bundle.
Security was another fairly quick and painless process, with me making it from the bag drop desk to airside in about 10 minutes, leaving me plenty of time to grab some breakfast before finding my gate. The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen was my destination as despite Terminal 2 now being Heathrow’s flagship terminal, there are only a couple of places that offer a substantial meal rather than a coffee and a snack.
Breakfast was good, if a bit overprices, but then that’s usual for airport food. With about 90 minutes left until departure, I found a section of unoccupied seating in a corner by gates A18 & A19. Whilst a lot of Covid restrictions have now been removed and travel is allowed again, Heathrow was still extremely quiet in comparison to my previous journey, allowing me to have this corner of one of the world’s busiest airports to myself.
Shortly before our aircraft’s arrival the Lufthansa app pinged and provided me with our gate information a couple of minutes before it appeared on the screens, giving me the opportunity to beat the crowd. Unfortunately, gate A25 is in a corner of Terminal 2 that provides awful views of the airfield and so, other than a quick glimpse, I wasn’t able to get a photo of our arriving aircraft. Boarding wise, Lufthansa do things in a nice, organised manner that is actually enforced, with priority passengers boarding first, passengers seated in window seats next, then middle seats and finally aisle seats.
D-AINN turned out to be our ride, an Airbus A320neo delivered new to Lufthansa in October 2018. Efficient boarding is important with these new aircraft as the A320neo’s can carry a dozen more passengers than the older A320 variant. In addition to carrying more passengers the ‘neos’ are also more 15-20% more efficient than their predecessors and so help reduce the impact of flying, especially on a per seat basis.
Whilst there are more seats installed in a fuselage that hasn’t changed in size, the cabin doesn’t feel cramped. It probably helped that the flight wasn’t very busy and, through some studying of the seat map at check in, had a row to myself, however the streamlined design of the seats allows for a reasonable amount of leg room whilst still be pretty comfortable for the flight of a couple of hours.
My last flights with Lufthansa were from London to Kiev via Frankfurt before the pandemic (here & here) and at that time all flights included a free drink and sandwich. Unfortunately, cost-cutting disguised as Covid measures have resulted in this being reduced to a bottle of water and piece of chocolate, followed by a ‘buy-on-board’ service similar to the low-cost carriers. Until the pandemic British Airways was the exception to the rule of food being generally included on full-service airlines, however this seems to have vastly changed through the Covid period. I opted for the Apfel-Hafermilchreis (Fruit & Nut rice pudding) and a coffee, which cost €7, or £5.90 at the time. The rice pudding was very nice and filling, whilst the coffee was decent and all in all it wasn’t badly priced for an airline.
After a few episodes of Parks & Recreation and a flight of just over an hour and a half we touched down at Lufthansa’s second hub, Munich. Arriving in between rain showers, we had timed it well with us alighting via steps with a bus to take us to the terminal. Immigration was nice and smooth with just a couple of questions given I was transiting and the only difference to pre-Brexit being having to join the ‘other passports’ queue.
Customer service wise I’ve always found Lufthansa quite good. When I last flew with them, a delay to my first flight meant I missed connection and I landed at Frankfurt to find they’d already booked me on the next one. This time, although booked via Lufthansa, I’d actually planned to travel on Brussels Airlines and six weeks or so before travel was emailed to advise that this flight had been cancelled and I’d been rebooked the day before. Calling the Lufthansa customer services, they booked me on a similar Lufthansa itinerary without any hassle, meaning my I could keep my pre-booked trains at either end.
Generally, I’ve found I enjoy flying with Lufthansa, and this flight was no exception. It was good to be flying again, although sad to see Heathrow, and my flight to Munich, so empty. The main disappointment was discovering that Lufthansa no longer included food in their offering and this now has to be purchased separately, removing one of the selling points for taking a full-service airline over a low cost carrier. All in all though it was a enjoyable flight and my transfer in Munich was no hassle at all.
Overall Rating 16/25 (read about my rating system here!)