Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Flight Log : August 2008 : LH426

Frankfurt (FRA) - Philadelphia (PHL)

In line with my new-found allegiance to Star Alliance, and with positive impressions of recent Dubai flights still fresh in my memory, I'd managed to snap up an excellent Summer Sale fare to Philadelphia in Lufthansa Business Class. The journey started at EDI, not surprisingly, and routed via Lufty's FRA hub and its unattractive Terminal 1. Amazingly, my friend Ross was also passing through FRA at the same time, on an intra-European itinerary. We exchanged a few texts, but never did manage to meet up.

Boarding of my flight got underway with the usual German-style scrum at 1320, having been delayed due to late-running refuelling of the aircraft. I quickly found my excellent pre-assigned seat, 1K. My jacket was taken immediately and as I settled down, I quickly spotted the bottle of mineral water in the pocket in front of me and my amenity kit nestling in the slot between my seat and 1J. Pre-departure drinks of orange juice, sparkling wine and water were offered. As I sipped my OJ, I noted that the slight tapering of the fuselage at this point affected my legroom only and not the seat area itself. This was good news as I remembered after I'd selected the seat that there was a risk of a narrower cabin width at this point.

The female Captain announced our estimated flight time as 8hrs and shortly after this, we pushed back just a little down on the schedule at 1346. We taxied out to 25R and, following a somewhat leisurely roll, took to the air at precisely 1400 (or 0800 Eastern time ) by my watch. The flight was rather bumpy initially, but in due course the cabin crew were released from their seats and got busy distributing menus, hot towels and tablecloths. These were followed by two drinks rounds - I had Champagne, water and Macadamia nuts, all times two   Meanwhile, I got stuck into the IFE system and was soon listening to Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski playing Beethoven. It had only been a few months since I'd attended a live performance by him at Edinburgh's Queen's Hall.

The lunch menu, created by Star Chef Rey Lim, was as follows :-



Hors D'Oeuvres   Champagne
Chicken Terrine with Tomato Couscous   Jacquart Brut Mosaique
Tartare of Salmon Teriyaki style with Pimento Puree    
    White Wines
Salad   2007 'Vom Kalkstein' Riesling trocken, Weingut Peth-Wetz, Germany
Seasonal greens and Bell Pepper served with Herb Dressing   2006 Chardonnay Trentino 'Virtuoso', Casa Girelli, Italy
Entrees   Red Wines
Spicy Breast of Poulard with Sugar Peas and Long-grain Rice   2004 Chateau Leboscq, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc, France
Prawns served with Chilli Sauce, Bok Choy and Egg Rice   2006 Monte da Cal Reserva Vino Regional Alentejano, Portugal
Macaroni in creamy Tomato Sauce with Shiitake Mushrooms    
Cheese and Dessert    
Nettle, Blue and Buttermilk cheese    
Brownie with Cashew Nuts and Dates    
Fruit salad with Blueberries    

I like the way that Lufthansa cabin attendants show passengers example meals, so that they can confirm their selection. I already had my eye on the salmon starter and was happy to confirm this when the crew member showed me both available starters. Just as on BA, the starter is served on a tray with the salad and dressing, and warm bread is offered from a basket. I had a very 'seedy' (in the nicest possible sense!) roll, followed by some German rye bread - a treat not much appreciated by Brits, but I'm happy to be the exception to that particular rule. Unlike BA, the tray is then removed and everything else is placed directly on the tablecloth. I had the prawn main course, followed by cheese, followed by coffee. As previously, I noted that extensive use was made of a restaurant-style trolley, which gave a good impression and seemed more worthy of First Class than Business.

Duly satisfied, I thumbed through the somewhat uninspiring movie selection and chose The Bank Job, which was much better than it sounded and which, intriguingly, is based on a true story! I followed this with the dated and extremely daft, first-ever episode of the TV series The Persuaders. After all this, I listened to some Shostakovich music in the style known as Russian Jazz (which, for anyone who is unfamiliar with it, is a genre of light classical music).

A second round of hot towels was distributed about 1.5 hours prior to the scheduled arrival time. Intriguingly, and unlike the first round, these were made of really good quality material, providing a far superior experience to the usual rags. (The same pattern would later be repeated on my return flight : cheap rags for the first round and a quality product on the second run.) This was immediately followed by a drinks run through the cabin, allowing those who had been asleep to have some refreshment on waking up. All this was, of course, a prelude to the second meal service, for which the menu was as follows :-



From ancient Olympia : Greek Specialties   Fried Breast of Chicken with Thyme served with Tsatsiki, Orzo Noodle Salad and stuffed Vine Leaf with Greek Farm Salad
Olympia today : Chinese Delicacies   Papaya with Curry Dressing and Asian Vegetable Salad, fried Filet of Chicken with Satay Sauce and Egg Noodle Salad
Cream of Coconut Tapioca Soup with Lychee    

A very nice touch, I thought, having both choices inspired by the recent Beijing Olympics. I thought that the Greek and Chinese options both sounded nice, but on being shown sample dishes from the trolley, I opted for the selection of Chinese delicacies, washed down with a bottle of Warsteiner beer. Very nice it all was, too! Following this light meal, we proceeded to work our way down the Eastern Seaboard, just off Long Island and passing close to New York City. It was an intermittently bumpy ride and the seat belt signs in fact stayed on until arrival, giving no 'official' time for washroom visits. We made a couple of loops in a holding pattern near NYC before being allowed to proceed closer to our destination. Jackets were returned very early - half an hour prior to our ETA of 1620.

Just when everyone thought they were nearly there, we were asked to hold for a further 20 minutes in the vicinity of Atlantic City, NJ. Philadelphia weather was announced as 25C ( ) and light rain ( ). Oops, things seemed to be heading suddenly downhill!   In the event, even the revised ETA proved to be optimistic and it was 1648 before we finally touched down at PHL. That still wasn't the end of the story, however. We needed to cross the live take-off runway in order to reach the terminal and a seemingly endless queue of departing aircraft ensured that we had a frustratingly long wait. We arrived at the gate at 1659, well behind schedule - an unfortunate conclusion to an otherwise excellent flight.

Date : Fri 29 Aug 2008
Aircraft : A340-300
Scheduled dep : 1340
Actual departure : 1346
Scheduled arrival : 1620
Actual arrival : 1659
Cabin : Business Class

Seat : 1K

Flight History 2008