Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Flight Log: January 2013: LH462

Frankfurt (FRA) - Miami (MIA)

Surprisingly, given the number of A380s in service around the world (believed to be 98 at the time of writing), this was to be only my second experience of the giant Airbus 'super-jumbo'. As I approached Gate Z58 at Frankfurt Terminal 1, it quickly became apparent that six years after its maiden flight with Singapore Airlines, the aircraft was still capable of attracting a lot of attention, as numerous passengers walked up to the large windows to photograph the beast in which they would soon be spending the next ten hours of their lives. The allocated member of Lufthansa's flagship sub-fleet was D-AIMJ, named Brüssel.

Even the simple act of boarding was a novelty with this leviathan: it was the first time I had ever entered the upper deck of an aircraft directly from the outside. As I made my way back to my chosen seat (25K), it was good to see that my cabin section was relatively small, and was itself divided into a group of four rows, a gap for the doors and a final group of two rows. It was also pleasing to see the provision of some very handy storage compartments along the side walls, making use of space under the windows created by the curvature of the fuselage.

Precisely twenty minutes prior to the scheduled departure time (as is customary on Lufthansa), pre-departure drinks were offered, the choice being Sekt, water or orange juice. The expected flight time was announced as ten hours exactly and, part-way through the safety demonstration, we pushed back from our gate four minutes before 10am. I was able to follow our taxi out to runway 07C on my IFE screen, a tail-mounted camera providing the pictures. My second A380 take-off run once again proved to be amazing: the giant aircraft slowly coaxed itself into motion, quietly and unobtrusively gathered speed, and whispered its way into the cold winter air at 1015. The relative lack of noise in the cabin was nothing short of astonishing. I set my watch back six hours.

As our initial routing took us over the Cologne-Bonn area followed by Düsseldorf and Amsterdam, cabin service got underway with the distribution of hot towels and then menus. (Amenity kits and bottles of water had been in place since boarding.)

Appetizers   Champagne
Prawns with potato salad, tomato jelly and avocado cream   Jacquart Brut Mosaique, France
Stuffed veal Involtini, Brussels egg salad and Belgian    
mustard sauce   White wines
Mixed winter leaf salad with brown mushrooms, bell papper   2011 Grauer Burgunder Qualitätswein trocken, Alde Gott,
and cherry tomato, with vinaigrette dressing   Germany
    2011 Cuvée "Benedict", Dveri Pax, Slovenia
Main courses    
Salmon trout in vegetable and mushroom stock, with boiled   Red wines
potatoes   2008 Château La Roque de By, Médoc, France
Belgian beef goulash in chocolate and beer sauce, with   2008 St Laurent, Klosterneuburg, Austria
mashed celery and caramelized apple wedges   or
Pasta roulade filled with ricotta, on lemon sauce   2008 Enira, Pzardjik Region, Bessa Valley Winery,
Cheese and Dessert    
Morbier, yogurt cheese and ashed goat cheese, presented   Port
with fig and walnut chuitney and sliced apricot   Graham's Late Bottled Vintage Port
Chocolate and coffee cream, pear compote and caramel    
Fresh fruit salad    
Express Service    
If you need more time to work or relax, we offer a cold Express Meal instead of the complete multi-course dinner: your choice of appetizer, cheese and dessert upon your request.

I had a glass of champagne and some still water with ice when the drinks cart made its first pass. These were served with a packet of cashew nuts, flavoured with a most unusual combination of mango and vanilla; I wasn't at all sure that I approved of the innovation. As I sipped my bubbly, it felt odd to hear the captain say: "We are currently over the North Sea and heading for Glasgow". We crossed the British coast near Newcastle and in the event passed to the south of first, Scotland's capital, and then the country's largest city.

1. The City of Edinburgh, with the airport runway visible to the west of the built-up area
2. Some familiar names, although I wasn't convinced about the accuracy of their placement on the map
3. Heading for Argyll
4. Crossing Loch Fyne
5. The town of Oban is just discernible, with the islands of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull
6. The Inner Hebridean island of Coll

I enjoyed a starter of prawns and potato salad, accompanied by a couple of slices of German Schwarzbrot and a glass of the German white wine, as we completed our passage across my homeland. As we flew over the Western Isles, serving of the main courses was delayed due to severe turbulence. Once we got back to business as usual, I had a highly unusual main course of Belgian Goulash, featuring beer and chocolate - it was nicer than it sounds, especially when washed down with a glass of the Médoc! I finished off with the cheese course and a cup of coffee.

I watched two movies back-to-back, Enemy of the State and In Bruges, while our route took us well to the south of Iceland, barely clipping the coast of Greenland, and making our North American landfall over north-east Canada. (Is it just me, incidentally, or did this flight have a strong Belgian theme running through it?) I was kept well supplied with fruit juice during this time. With two films under my belt, I then decided to read for a while.

With two hours left to run, a further round of hot towels signalled the start of the second meal service. In accordance with the Lufthansa Hot Towel Conundrum that I have pondered over many a time, these were - as ever - the good ones, while the first round had used the basic variety. It seemed only right that I should enjoy a performance of Dvořák's Symphony No 9 in E minor (subtitled From the New World) as I enjoyed the light second meal along with some apple juice and coffee.

Creamy mushroom soup with Shiitake mushrooms and herbs
Mixed leaf salad with fried, corn-fed Poulard, apple and celery, boiled egg, cherry tomato, zucchini and red radish, presented with French dressing
Chocolate and raspberry cake

We left the coast near Wilmington, North Carolina and flew past Charleston and Savannah - both upcoming destinations for yours truly! Eventually we turned back inland across Miami and executed a U-turn to make an easterly landing at the airport. I was able to watch the tail camera's view of the final approach. We touched down at 1412 local time and after a remarkably short taxi, were parked at the gate within a mere three minutes.

Overall, I once again realised that I love travelling in the awe-inspiring A380 - even when it isn't in Singapore Suites and even when it isn't Lufthansa's latest Business Class product, as featured in the new Boeing 747-8s.

Date: Sat 26 Jan 2013
Aircraft : Airbus A380-800
Scheduled dep : 0945
Actual departure : 0956
Scheduled arrival : 1400
Actual arrival : 1415
Cabin : Business Class
Seat : 25K


Linked reports from same trip:

Key Largo and the Overseas Highway

Key West

Miami Beach