Winner March 2013
The winning user review for the March 2013 Seatplans.com competition for the prize of a two night stay at any Marlin Apartments property in London
Remember to review your next flight on seatplans.com for a chance to win a prize
Gatwick - Dubrovnik return in CE for leisure.
Did not use check-in at the airport, but security quick and efficient although couldn't find any fast track. We went straight to the lounge to get a snack. While a good size, very busy with few available seats. It was late morning, and food on offer was breakfast; fairly good choice, although nothing hot besides beans or porridge. Requested and received champagne - twice. Always nice, but why not just put out the whole bottle! Guess that will have to wait until I'm Gold.
Boarding and departure smooth and on time. Had seats 1D and 1F, bulkhead. Plenty of room. Plane looked a bit worn, but relatively comfortable even though seats are simply economy with the middle one empty. Staff functional, although no particular warm welcome. Disappointed with food: flight was 2 1/2 hours, departing after 11 am, and the only food on offer was "brunch", which consisted of a cold plate with some meat and cheese and fruit. Uninspired. Drinks only came after the meal was served, and then the only offer was coffee/tea. I had to ask for something else, after which drinks were replenished often. I found this a bit odd - there was no juice or water on the tray, so it meant trying to down food with no drink. Given the relatively long flight, I was surprised there was no proper "drink, food, coffee, drink" itinerary. Flight attendants were fine but I did not notice any discernable difference from economy.
Flight landed early and being at the front, we were first through immigration, which was the highlight of the flight as far as I'm concerned.
Had to check in as on-line not available out of Dubrovnik. Easy and fast. Quick through security and up to a stifling and full contract lounge, which had plenty of drinks but nothing in the way of food besides packets of nuts and crisps. Flight departed on time.
Was seated further back in CE in A and C. This side of the aircraft is preferable if you are travelling with someone you actually want to speak with, as the gap between A and C is smaller than between D and F, while still offering extra room. If travelling alone, then D or F would be preferable. The leg room was a joke; except for B remaining empty, there is no difference from economy.
Service was perkier than the outbound, and followed a proper meal service with drinks, followed by dinner, coffee and more drinks. Dinner was a choice between beef stroganoff and cajun salmon salad, both of which were tried and found delicious. Flight attendants were a bit hurried, as there were 9 rows of business, but managed to still give personable service.
Landed a few minutes early and quickly out of LGW to the train station.
Verdict: A pleasant enough experience, with the punctuality the best thing going for a precious weekend away. CE tickets were a very good deal, only slightly more than economy, but in reality the benefits of CE were minimal except for the empty seat in the middle and slightly better food and service on offer. I certainly would not choose to pay a multiple of economy even for a longish European flight like this. It's just not worth it. But for about 50 pounds extra, it just about makes this a good value. I do think if BA wants to keep a business product, they need to keep up a noticeable difference from economy. The difference in pitch - or lack of - really lets the product down. I can deal with the economy seats (with middle empty) rather than proper business class, but the pitch needs to be upped if BA wants to be able to really charge a premium for CE.
LH Business MUC EWR 8 hours 50 minutes
Flew in on KM and made my way through passport control to the senator lounge, where I had a very pleasant lunch of meatballs and pickled red cabbage, washed down with a glass of trocken (not Henkel.)
Got a couple of hours or work done and then it was time to go to the gate, which was straight forward, apart form the G4S asking to see a copy of my ESTA, which I finally had to explain several times (eventually, ironically) was an ESTA, not a STA, because it exists in the virtual world and I don't carry a copy of it (just the reference number.)
Once again, the MUC experience was excellent, so easy to transfer from one flight to another.
Boarding commenced promptly, with first, business, *premium card holders and families with small kids.
I was greeted in a friendly manner at the door and directed to 3G, which was a bulkhead seat in the first business cabin and featured the famous 'Eddie the Eagle' practice slope when fully reclined.
I found a 50cl bottle of water in the seat, along with an extraordinary amenity kit, not because the contents were special, but because it featured the weirdest plastic container I've ever encountered on an aeroplane - it looks as if if could contain a set of screwdrivers and had an ominous notice declaring 'this is not a toy.' Damn, no fun allowed, then. As I carry my own amenity kit of great mask (EY), proper earplugs and hairbrush, I promptly disposed of the contents of the LH kit and trousered the container - it will make a great protective cover for my backup hard drive, in the office. (I have tried to find a pix of this amazing thing on the net, but it is not there - not to be confused with the cute Rimowa amenity kit they hand out in first class.)
After all the excitement and novelty of my new 'non-toy', I took a glass of something white, sparkling and pleasant and then we departed on time.
Lunch was an elegant starter, followed by choice of shrimps or a couple of other dishes, sorry I can't remember and I really can't be arsed to write down the fatuous names that airline chefs use to describe a bit of fish or meat. Anyway, it was very good and I washed it down with a glass of spruedelwasser (my favourite German word, for Martyn S.)
After lunch and bearing in mind that it was a longish flight, I decided to do some more work and found that the ski slope seat was excellent for sitting and working, with the table being easy to position; the only neg was that the power to my laptop kept dropping out every 10-15 mins, requiring a 2 min wait to restore it. The crew reset the seat, but it persisted.
I finished my work by mid atlantic (delighted, as I had managed a day's worth in the combination of KM/LH lounge/aircraft) and decided to crank the seat back and listen to some music on my iPod, which passed a very pleasant hour or two, especially as this was one of the smoothest TATL legs I've had, not a bump between feet wet on the western Irish cost, to St John's. The seat isn't the best for sleeping (mind you, having done a lot of TATL in Y, earlier in my career, it is pure luxury compared to the back), but in the 'Z' position, it is really relaxing for snoozing on a lazy Monday afternoon.
The crew were super, really friendly and they brought juice/water round every 45 mins or so, as well as making it clear that they would be pleased to bring whatever else was requested.
I then decided to watch a movie, whoever said that Germans don't have a sense of humour? The screen and (lack of) content made BA's IFE look best in class and this was the worst aspect of the flight, athough it was a minor matter as I found a film I liked and took the opportunity to relax ahead of what will be an energy consuming trip with meetings in NYC and San Francisco.
As we arrived at Novia Scotia, we finally found some jetstream activity and had a couple of mod turb encounters down the eastern seaboard of Canada and then off Maine, but nothing that required the crew to sit down or that interrupted the lovely soup and salad second meal (BA please note, this was proper catering, not a sad cellophane wrapped sandwich.)
The initial descent all went very well, but EWR then got a little busy and we were stacked somewhere near Poughskeepie for about half an hour, which was a pain, as was the recalcitrant jetty at Newark that delayed deplaning by 25 minutes.
Mercifully, depsite rumours of long queues due to the effects of the recent sequester, entry to the US was painless and swift, with a professional and courteous border control officer showing what a careful, but polite, inward immigration screening should look like.
Finished off with the AirTrain to P4 (parking and hotel shuttle stop) and then a 10 min minibus ride to the Doubletree on Frontage Rd, near the airport.
All, a very classy and professional flight showing that Lufthansa, on their day, are a quality airline.
Congratulations to our winner!