Traveling went fine for me getting over here. It took a while and I had a 4 hour layover in Frankfurt, but it was nice there. I got outside of the airport and walked around a bit over there. At least I can say that I’ve been in Frankfurt instead of just passing through the airport.
Anyway, the most interesting flight I’ve been on a number of times is this Lufthansa LH 758 flight. It’s from Frankfurt to Chennai. Here’s how it goes…
I’m not a huge fan of the Frankfurt airport. The first time I was ever there, I really needed to find a bathroom when I got off the plane and I ended up in this tiny bathroom that made me think of a World War II gas chamber since there was no air circulation in there and with only 2 stalls. I didn’t consider it adequate. Also the airport was super smokey. People were lighting up everywhere and it was hard to breathe. The smoking seems to have moved outside now (new this year it seems) and I’ve never seen a tiny bathroom there again, so at least those things have improved. The other crazy thing is how you get to the waiting area for this flight.
Now, I don’t know if they just do this for this flight or for all flights, but you have to wait in line to get into the waiting area. The first time i went, I was already in the waiting area at the gate and they moved us all out (lots of people) into the hallway / corridor and then checked our boarding passes as we waited to get in and then again getting onto the plane. A little excessive. They might have a good reason for this, read on.
So this time, since I went outside into the city, I had to get back in which wasn’t a huge deal. Security wasn’t too busy and they didn’t hassle me (unlike last time, I felt like someone owed me dinner). I check out which gate to go to and when the flight finally appeared on the monitor, it said “B”. Well, there are like 60 gates that start with the letter “B” so that was no help. I kept checking and finally, like a half hour before we were to start boarding, they changed it to B45. Ok time to get over there.
I get to B45 and there’s a long line to get in. That’s good, I haven’t missed much apparently. I get in find a seat, get the European version of USA Today (about 8 pages) and buzz through that in 10 minutes. About 10 minutes late, they start announcing that they will begin boarding. Here’s where the fun always starts. OK, they call First Class, Business Class and people that are elderly or have small children… just about half the people get up. You think, wow, economy class is going to be pretty empty. Good. Oh no, that’s the the case. So they then call seats with my row, so I get over there. The line’s not moving. Things must be moving slow. They start calling the next group, even though we’re not moving. What gives?
Here’s what’s happening… I equate this whole process to being on the high school bus. They said boarding was beginning, so no matter where people are sitting on the plane, they get up and get in line. I don’t know why since they’ll check your boarding pass and not let you in, right? So although they can’t get in, they get up and stand in the way so that the people that are supposed to be boarding can’t get there. The airline sees that nobody is coming through (because they can’t get up there) and so they start calling more people.
So you finally make it to the plane about 15-20 minutes later and the stewardesses greet you. They’re very nice but since I’m a white face in a sea of darker ones, they assume I know German and give me some instructions that I can’t understand. Fortunately, I know where I’m sitting and know what aisle to use. As I walk to my seat, it seems strange that Lufthansa tried to board people in the back of the plane first but nearly half of the seats in the front are full. Well, that explains the 15-20 minutes standing in the jetway… people in front were getting situated, thus slowing things down since we all have to wait for them. If we would have done this how we were supposed to, we’d be walking straight to the back of the plane without delay so that others could also board.
I’ve learned enough to ask for a window seat. I’d rather be the one walking over someone since I only do that 1-2 times, I also hate getting hit with the drink cart and other people coming down the aisle. This time, I learned that by ordering the lactose free meal, you get your meal first and, as a bonus, I don’t get sick on Lufthansa’s food – the regular food seems to be made entirely of condensed milk or something. I always seem to get seated next to Mr. Fidgety on this flight, too. It’s always full, so there’s no chance of having an empty seat next to you and this guy doesn’t seem to know how to respect your space, so you keep getting bumped.
One thing I don’t get is how mothers can’t quiet down their kids. I’m don’t have children and only have limited experience taking care of them but in the US, it seems like a crying baby only lasts about 5 minutes and by then mothers are able to console their child. Not so on this flight. We had to listen to a screaming baby for 45 minutes – and this was even BEFORE we took off (another great thing about Frankfurt is the long taxi line out on the runways). Sure, I can understand that climbing to 40,000 feet can be upsetting to babies whose mothers don’t give them a bottle to help them swallow and deal with the pressure change but what’s the deal with not being able to calm down a baby when we’re just sitting there? Does the high decibel, bloody murder scream fall on deaf ears? Does the thought of trying to console your upset offspring not come to mind? Did you not bring a bottle or a stopper? (A “stopper” is what i call a “nook” since I think “nook” is a stupid name for that). Never mind that some of us haven’t had any sleep and that the people within a 6 foot radius have now lost their hearing. That though doesn’t enter your mind, no.
Somehow mothers in the US are able to magically take care of their upset kids but not mothers on a flight to India. Weird. I guess Americans are just “rude” when things like that bother us. Never mind that there’s a problem with your helpless baby. Sure, there’s a time to just let babies cry and get it out, but that time is when they are alone in their crib – not on a flight with 400 other people…
I was at Sparky’s last night and I was talking with an Indian woman about this and she didn’t seem to understand what the problem was, so there must be some kind of cultural difference here.
Anyway, it could be worse, I know but this flight consistently seems to leave 20 minutes late because of all the chaos of just getting people settled on the plane. It’s the last leg getting there and the first leg out though. Here’s another good one…
One time, leaving Chennai, they called for First Class boarding and literally, everybody got up and went to the gate. They then had to tell everyone to go sit down. They did and then First Class was called again. Just like the first time, everybody got up and went to the gate. They had to do this 2 more times until people started obeying. Crazy! That’s the flight that got Kenton and I in late to Singapore by only 15 minutes and because of that, we missed our connecting flight back to the US. We had to stay in Singapore 24 hours and got up way early and were first in line to try to get on the next flight since they told us we could have been delayed up to 10 days (which we got onto). Yeah… chaos like the high school bus pretty much describes it well.