4 engines 4 long haul – From Dallas to Mumbai on A340 & B747

It was time to head back home with two more flights and a good 5 hour layover in Frankfurt. There were chances of the trip getting extended by a few days, which were successfully thwarted & threat of Lufthansa pilots being on strike, which thankfully did not happen. 

While the onward journey was booked in fare class Y, the return was in L. Not only did it mean lower miles, it also meant pre booking a seat would cost INR2100 onwards. I was expecting both flights to be relatively empty since they are midweek and glad I was not wrong at this.

This report will cover two flights, an A340-300 between Dallas & Frankfurt and B747-400 between Frankfurt & Mumbai.

 

Airbus A340 has always been on my wish list and one of my favorite aircraft, since I saw the A345 (Leadership) in 2004 in Singapore. I flew the A346 last summer from Delhi, and I doubt I would ever get to fly the A345. 

Dallas Stay


The stay was short, of which I spent the Sunday going to Founders plaza and overall it wasn’t a pleasant experience since the downtown was closed and the usual elements in full form. 
America seriously needs to look at these security and social problems first before dealing with world security.

Web-Check in

Web check-in opened up over 24 hours ago and I was quick to select seat 19A & 19C. I did not mind being seated on the wing for the A340 and enjoy the view. The check-in for the next segment opened up a little later and I selected 44A & 44C for FRA-BOM sector, hoping that the middle seat would be empty, this being a mid-week flight.

 

With this, started my quest of predicting the aircraft, which I was tracking for the last few days.

 

438/439

DFW-FRA

Prev. sector

Airfleets

Planespotters

7-Sep

D-AIFE

PHL

44/222

8/48/165

8-Sep

D-AIGL

IKA

42/225

8/48/165

9-Sep

D-AIGS

DXB

8/36/197

8/48/165

10-Sep

D-AIGM

KUL

42/225

8/36/197

11-Sep

D-AIFE

BKK

44/222

8/48/165

12-Sep

D-AIGI

DXB

44/222

44/222

13-Sep

D-AIFC

IAD

44/222

8/36/197

14-Sep

D-AIGX

SHE

42/225

8/36/197

15-Sep

D-AIGZ

DXB

44/222

8/36/197

16-Sep

D-AIGU

KUL

44/222

8/36/197

17-Sep

D-AIFC

BKK

 

There always is some method in madnessand the way these aircraft are rotated, looked like the bird operating to BKK would operate to DFW. A quick check on the Frankfurt airport website confirmed this and obviously I was elated! Similar method in madness did not exist for the BOM rotation, probably due to more number of B744s in the fleet.

 

The popular websites, like Planespotters and Airfleets had conflicting information on the seating configuration of the A343s as well as B744 for Lufthansa and this was surprising. The Lufthansawebsite continued to say that the aircraft operating this sector is a two class configuration and so was the case on the day of flight.

 

Day of departure & Flight

We reached the airport well in time for the 1555 departure. Lufthansa operates out of Terminal D and our gate for the day was D-7. As we entered the terminal at 1255, the counters were already open. Lufthansa flies only to FRA and not MUC and none of its sister carriers like Swiss operate flights to DFW. The entire check-in & baggage drop process was quick and hassle free.

 

Few steps away, a long line was forming for security which was a messed up affair. As I joined the line, the TSA staff kept yelling on people to remove shoes. Suddenly, the TSA staff stopped security and decided to re arrange the tables near the x-ray machine. Once this re-arrangement was done, security started again and the line moved.

Once on the other side, it was time to explore the terminal, shop, eat and take pictures. My colleague & I had lunch at TGI Fridays and I headed out for some spotting and had a great time.

DFW – Terminal D is good, with a lot of options for shopping, food and large areas near and away from the gate where one can seat with Television sets and chargers.

 

As we made our way towards our gate at 1500, KLM was boarding for Amsterdam, operated by A330 on the gate next to us. Lufthansa, got people to stand in line behind a board, which denoted their zone and released people accordingly.

Boarding was complete for a not so full flight and we were ready to depart at 1535. The seat was fantastic and the leg room was much more than that on the other Lufthansa flights I have been so far. 

There was a long wait for pushback since the Quantas B747 was pushed back and parked away from the gate and was followed by pushback of KLM A330, after which our bird was pushed back. The pilot came on PA to inform us that there is construction work happening around and we would be pulled by the vehicle for a certain distance before we could be on our own power. 

Soon the four CFM engines powered up one by one, as we made a long taxi across terminal B, crossing the International Parkway over the bridge and next to the General Aviation terminal and coming to a halt on taxiway EG as aircraft after aircraft landed. Next to us was a beautiful MD – 83 was next to us. A line of aircraft formed, as the pilot came on PA and informed that there is communications failure in the DFW tower and hence all take-offs are on hold.

Soon, we were on runway 17R and powered up for a take off towards the north and banked left, climbing for the next 35 minutes to stabilize at FL350.

As I started exploring my IFE, I realized that the movies on my IFE were lesser than that of my colleagues IFE on seat 19C. This was surprising and unheard off. I requested the crew to re-set this as the crew was surprised too. A few crew members came to see this phenomenon, which I assume that they had seen for the first time too. 

Service was good, quick & efficient. Dinner & Breakfast would be served on the flight. I started with two good of Finlanda and chose the veg pasta option which was delicious. The rest of the flight was uneventful. The galley had biscuits & juice/water available all throughout.

Breakfast came in about an hour and a half before landing at Frankfurt. The breakfast which comprised of Omelets, potato wedges, chopped Onion & Tomato wasn’t really the best of food I had on this trip.Trays were quickly cleared and we started our descent into Frankfurt.

A few twists and turns later, I realized that this looked like a different approach and indeed it was since we landed on runway 07 L and had a long taxi to one of the gates in B zone. Thankfully for us, as we deplaned, there were people around who kept asking if our connecting flight is from Zone B to which I nodded and without checking the boarding pass for the next flight, we were let in, into the B zone.

A lot of time was spent at the McDonalds sitting near the windows, giving good view of the runway. My colleague ordered coffee in Hindi –“ Do cappuchino dena” which received blank stares. This was followed by me putting in Salt instead of sugar in the coffee! Looks like we were Jet lagged already!

 


As I kept tracking the incoming bird from Buenos Aires, I realized that the gate would be revised from B25 to B45 and so it was. The Google now service was updated before the FIDS as we made our way to B45 and waited.

 

The aircraft was cleaned and loading had started within minutes of the entire cargo of the previous flight being unloaded.

 

Boarding was unruly, as expected and we settled into our seats on this 22 year old bird, the age was showing when I took a look at the overhead bins. The seats however were new and similar to those on the B748i.

 

I asked the crew if the boarding was complete just to check if the middle seat would be empty and came to know that 100 seats are empty in economy. I was certain that we would have this seat empty and so it was.

 

We had a delayed push back and a taxi to runway 18, where we made a powerful take off and climbed on to our cruising altitude of FL350. It was cloudy and that was a dampener since I could not see traffic around.

 

Service would be Lunch and Light dinner before landing. Service started with drinks cart, followed by Lunch in which the only option was AVML – the Asian veg meal, since they had ran out of chicken options. For this flight, there was no snack in the galley, only water and juice.

The flight was uneventful again, with the light dinner service starting an hour and a half before scheduled landing time. The options were Chicken or Veg Roll. I opted for Chicken and it was delicious.

 

I decided to watch the movie – Queen, and as I was about to enjoy the scene where the actress boards a B777, push back with A320 and take off with A380, the scene was completely deleted. Guess it was due to the airline being a competitor – Air France!

The pilot came on PA announcing that we would touch down at 1255 hours and made a superb landing on runway 27 at Mumbai. It was memorable to see the flaps extended fully on the mighty B747-400.

 

We taxied to one of the gates at T2 and I was excited to be here for the first time. Next to us was South African A340. The crew had not uplifted the customs cards for this flight and that meant filling them up on ground. Surprisingly we were not asked for the custom cards and the constable at the gate only checked if we were on the Lufthansa flight, after nodding, he let us go.

 

T2 is nicely done, including the area which is like a museum as we walk from the gate to immigration, which itself is housed in a large hall, which is well lit and controlled well. Both immigration & customs was a breeze with the only bottle neck being baggage claim which took 40 minutes. The first bag was on the belt, 25 minutes after we landed, by when we were already at the belt.

 

Headed out to Pune and this journey seemed longer than the flight!

 

Aircraft Details

DFW-FRA

D-AIFC / A340-300 / Gander & Halifax / Delivered – Jan’01

STD: 1555, ATD: 1550

STA: 0850, ATA: 0855

On-Time: 5/5 (Pushed back on time, but delayed due airport issues)

Website &Check-in: 4/5

Check-in & airport experience: 4/5 

Aircraft Cleanliness: 4/5

In-flight experience: 4/5 

Food: 4/5

Alighting & Arrival experience: 4/5  

FRA-BOM

D-ABVN / B747-400 / Dortmund / Delivered – May 1992

STD: 1330, ATD: 1350

STA:0100, ATA: 0055

On-Time: 4/5

Website &Check-in: 4/5

Check-in & airport experience: 4/5 

Aircraft Cleanliness: 4/5

In-flight experience: 3/5 

Food: 3/5

Alighting & Arrival experience: 4/5  

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