Return to India: Part 2 - Detroit to Frankfurt on Lufthansa 443

The flight back from Detroit to Bengaluru was part of my basic round trip booking. There was no involvement of mine in this booking, since I had just selected the ticket on the basis of cost. But then, this booking had some interesting stuff - this would be my first flight in an Airbus wide-body, and also the first in an Airbus quad engine! Yes - I was taking the Airbus 340-300. I did an online check-in a day before my flight and selected a seat over the wings in the forward half of the economy section. I did try if upgrades to premium economy were available - it showed unavailable - either due to my fare class or, it was really sold-out.
A Lufthansa A340-300 D-AIGS approaching Detroit.. I flew in a similar aircraft..

May 16, 2017:
After getting my bag, I walked towards the ground transportation centre. Although the ground transportation centre was located in the same level as the baggage claim, there was no direct way, and I had return to the upper level, take the passenger bridge, and take an elevator to come down to the ground level. As I reached the ground transportation centre, a silver-and-blue coloured interterminal shuttle rolled in. A few people got in, and we got moving. There was an attendant, who helped passengers with their bags, and the operator. It was a short 10 minute ride to the North Terminal.  I spent some time at the ground transportation centre at North Terminal since I had a lot of time to go for the check-in to open.
The free inter-terminal shuttle at Detroit..

Lufthansa check-in counters at Detroit..

I walked into the terminal a little post 1210hrs. An agent at the entrance of the check-in queue verified the weight of my carry-on bags, and put tags on them. The check-in agent did not check my ticket, instead asked me for my passport - he swiped my passport and retrieved my booking. He confirmed my seat selection. My bags were weighed - both well below limits, they were tagged and I received my boarding passes all the way to Bengaluru. I spent some more time in the waiting area before I headed to security check. I cleared security check by 1243hrs, and began my long long wait for my flight.
A Delta B744 touching down at Detroit..

I spent some time spotting, since the terminal overlooked Runway 22L-4R. It was fun watching an assortment of aircraft - it ranged from the puny Delta CRJs, to United Express ERJs, to Spirit/Frontier A320s and the Delta B744. The incoming aircraft, D-AIFD, came in a little past 1300hrs. I was expecting her to touch down on Rwy 22L, but it went straight to Rwy21L. I was hoping to capture it land, but missed. The aircraft, D-AIFD, named "Gießen" (Giessen) was delivered to Lufthansa in March 2001. The 16 year old aircraft (cn: 390), powered by 4 CFM56-5 engines, came in an docked at the gate a little past 1310hrs.
D-AIFD being marshalled to the gate..

D-AIFD coming in...

The gates! Gate D5A & D5B. "A" was used by the "elites" while "B" was for the "commoners"

Boarding queues for domestic passengers..

Date of Journey: May 16, 2017
Airline: Lufthansa
Flight No: LH443 || Seat: 21A
Aircraft type: Airbus A340-300 || MSN: 390 || Regn: D-AIFD "Gießen"
Sector: DTW-FRA
STD: 1550hrs, ATD: 1555hrs
STA: 0540hrs, ATA: 0600hrs
All times local.

This particular gate (#D5) seemed to be used only by Lufthansa, since all signages around bore Lufthansa logos, and the Senator lounge was nearby as well. There were no staff or activity around the gate till well past 1400hrs. I headed to Mediterranean grill nearby for my lunch - a vegan burger and a coke. I was quite surprised by the lack of choices around - most F&B shops were shut. I picked up some chocolates from the Duty Free, and some other stuff to serve as a snack during my long layover at Frankfurt. The first pre-boarding announcement was made at 1504hrs - I was now sure that there was no way we'd depart at 1540hrs. Boarding actually commenced at 1506hrs.
D-AIFD, once again..

They had enforced zone-wise boarding, with the economy class passengers divided into three zones. I was in #21A, meaning, I'd be in the group boarding last. Interestingly, all passengers were called together, and passengers seated in the forward rows ended up having to stand in the queue for over 30 minutes! I felt they could've instead called only passengers in the boarding group to queue up. I was among the last people to queue up, but I still ended up waiting for close to 30 minutes before my boarding pass was swiped at the boarding gate. The agents repeatedly announced that the passport is not valid unless its signed - I was a little flummoxed with this announcement, but later understood that the US passport had a field for the signature of the bearer. An agent checked every passport for signature as well.
Inside D-AIFD..

I finally passed the boarding gate by 1537hrs, and got into the aircraft by 1539hrs. The very friendly crew at the gate welcomed each passenger and guided them to the correct aisle. My co-passenger was already at his seat. A pillow and blanket was already at my seat. The A343 has a rather lavish 2-4-2 seating. The seat felt comfortable at first, but I changed my opinion a little after take off (read on). Boarding was completed by 1554hrs, and the doors were armed by 1555hrs. Welcome announcements in German and English followed. Welcome message flashed on the entertainment system as well. The safety demonstrations were also displayed on the entertainment system. The AVOD system was very responsive, and was fun to use. Headphones were distributed before we left the gate.
The entertainment system..

Right after pushback..

We were pushed back at 1559hrs - and, it was one long push. Taxi commenced at 1603hrs - it was a fairly long roll till we reached the holding point of Rwy22L, at 1609hrs. The engines powered up as we turned on to the highway, and it was one long take off roll - we were airborne at 1610hrs. We climbed up slowly. We turned around soon after we took off, giving a good view of the airport as we turned around and began flying North-East. We were over Canada in no time. The entertainment system was turned on soon later, while the seatbelt sign was turned off by 1621hrs. Soon after this, the carts were out, and beverage service followed. I opted for a tomato juice (with salt and pepper) along with some pretzels. The attendants disappeared for a while. The lady seated in the seat ahead of me had fully reclined her seat and things were getting a little tight for me - the seat suddenly felt very uncomfortable now!
Right after take-off.. the airport at the left..

Heading to Canada...

Tomato Juice with Happy Mix..

The meal carts came out about a hour later - passengers with special meals received their food first. I had reserved my AVML, and I was among the first to get my food. The tray had two a chickpea salad (chickpea and onions with herbal dressing), a few pieces of cut cucumber and a diced cherry tomato to go with the chickpea salad, some cut fruits (mainly honeydew and cantaloupe, with one piece of strawberry), a bun (with whipped spread), a curd based Kachumber and the container with the main course. The main course had rice with two vegetables - one was a creamy dish made of fenugreek leaves and green peas, while the other was dry dish made of potatoes. A very Indian tasting meal, I must say. Hot Beverage service was provided after all passengers had received their meal - that was like an hour after I had received mine! I tried sleeping for a while after the tray was cleared - I did struggle hard to sleep a bit, but did not succeed.
The meal tray..

The salads..

The main course..

I spent most of my flight watching the Indian movie selection available on board - and a little time listening to some music. I could see a spectacular sun-set, and then let the window blinds closed so that I could sleep a bit. I did sleep a little after that. The flight was largely uneventful. One thing I noticed, that was different from my earlier Lufthansa flight, was the FAs were constantly walking around, and served water/juices to passengers who were awake. Hot tissues were served a little before 2200hrs (US EDT). A little after that, the crew came around with the breakfast service. Breakfast was served in a small paper tray - it had some cut fruits in a plastic container, a wild blueberry muffin and an oatmeal energy bar. As I opened the window shade, I realised that I'd be witnessing a sunrise as well - a little over 4 hours after I saw the sun set!
The sun is setting..

still setting...

The sun has set...

The sun rises.. River Main below.. 

As we prepare to land..

The breakfast.. Muffins, fruits and a oatmeal bar..

The seatbelt sign was turned on again at 2324hrs (EDT). The final approach over River main was amazing - with the sun raising in the horizon, it added to the effect and I really loved that approach. We finally touched down on Runway 07R at 2353hrs (EDT, 0553hrs CEST). We finally docked at gate A58 by 0600hrs (CEST). I was out of the aircraft by 0607hrs. I clicked a couple of images after I got to the terminal, and began my long walk to the C-concourse, and for my long wait for my flight to Bengaluru.
D-AIFD after we go to Frankfurt..

Boarding: 4/5 (Was "organised". Would've prefered a little late queueing)
Cleanliness: 5/5 (Very Clean)
Punctuality: 4.85/5 (A little behind schedule - but was good for me)
Crew: 5/5 (Good service. They were seen almost through the flight)
Catering: 5/5 (Great food)
Overall: 4.9/5 (No-nonsense)
Tracking from Flightradar24..

This was my third international flight, second on Lufthansa and first on an Airbus widebody! This was an interesting flight - a little sad about returning after a month long stay in the US, and excited about returning home! The seating was bit of a put off - while it appeared very comfortable at the beginning, things got a little too tight once the seat ahead was reclined. The entertainment system was very responsive and helped me spend most of my time. The food was great - probably they could've given something better for breakfast, than just a muffin. But then, for the time, it seemed appropriate as well. The crew were great - they were very attentive as well. Overall a 'good' flight. 


Anonymous said…
Very nice trip report. Interestingly, I flew the same aircraft from DTW to FRA, 3 weeks before you did and had exactly the same menu for the AVML.