- Lufthansa LH981
- Dublin to Frankfurt Main
- Airbus A321Neo D-AIEB
- Monday 12th August 2019
After arriving into the middle of a rain storm in Dublin and a very wet walk up O’Connell Street, I decided instead of getting even more soaked to head straight to the Airport.
The Airlink 747 buses pick up on O’Connell Street up to every ten minutes to go to the Airport, single fare €7 cash or less if bought online in advance. Travel time is around 30 minutes, depending on traffic. It proved to be a good decision to head there earlier than planned as we hit some heavy traffic enroute that took about ten minutes extra to negotiate.
Soon enough I was dropped off at Terminal 1 to check in for my flight to Frankfurt. I was travelling with Lufthansa for the very first time and was a bit unsure what to expect, especially when I got to the self check in machine and it refused to find my booking. Sure enough the wonderful staff took me to an empty desk at the business class check in to sort it for me, and soon I was on my way to the gate.
Dublin’s Terminal 1 always seems so crowded when you get airside – it’s as if everywhere could do with extra space and there is never enough seating capacity. I started to miss my lounge access that I enjoyed when travelling BA… I decided to head for Burger King for some tea given I’d not be arriving in Frankfurt until 9pm.
Checking on the inbound flight it was running around half hour late. Nothing too amazing. Sure enough they had it turned round swiftly and we started boarding around 1745 for an 1800 (supposedly) departure. No sooner had we got on then the flight crew came on with a message, in German and then perfect English, welcoming us onboard but unfortunately telling us that we’d be stuck for around an hour here in Dublin due to weather enroute and in Frankfurt. Slot time was 1920 apparently, and they were anticipating an hour late arrival in Frankfurt.
This didn’t really affect my plans but it was bad news for the many connecting passengers on my flight. The cabin crew had been wandering around answering questions as best as they could but the general theme seemed to be that Frankfurt has a strict curfew on movements at 11pm, “well 2259 actually” explained one of the crew. Soon after they were round with water for anyone who wanted it. So far so good.
We eventually pushed back at 1910 ready for our slot at 1920. Flight crew were hopeful of it improving but it seemingly never did. With around an 80 minute departure it meant at least an hour late arrival back at the hub in Frankfurt. The service included a drink and some biscuits for everyone in economy, a token gesture maybe but it’s all I really needed on an evening departure having already eaten.
As we crossed the coast near Eindhoven the flight crew came back to us – again once in German and then in perfect English – giving us an estimated arrival time of 2200. The captain explained how “we’re flying as fast as we can, and taking all the shortcuts we can get, but on such a short flight there’s really nothing more than five minutes to be saved” said in a very German matter of fact way! They said they were in contact with the company about connections and would have further information later.
Sure enough we landed into a dark Frankfurt nearly bang on 2200, and the cabin crew reeled off all of the connection information. Not one connection had been made and they basically told everyone they’d been rebooked on a specific flight the next morning or evening, depending on destination. The list of destinations was quite impressive – Kiev, Leipzig, Nuremberg among the European ones, as well as further afield to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, both of which had to wait until the next evening for the next flight.
We parked at a remote stand and had to get buses (bendy Merc Citaro) into the terminal, although they were ready as we pulled up so no delay here! It was interesting to note they too had the flight number programmed into the destination displays just like the BA Citaros at Heathrow! I ended up sitting next to a bunch of (as far as I could work out) Ukrainian teenagers who were rather excited when told they were staying over in Frankfurt!
Having waited ages at the border thankfully the bags were straight out when we got to the carousels. I walked outside to try to find the bus to my hotel. It didn’t take long to find the hotel bus stops, given the huge crowds of displaced passengers waiting for buses, judging by the amount of people with vouchers from Lufthansa in their hand.
I’d read the shuttle bus to my Hampton hotel ran every 30 minutes but finished at 11pm, and given it was getting on towards that I rang the hotel who confirmed the next service would be 2310. There was shuttles turning up every few minutes, all for different hotels but sure enough at 2308 mine arrived. I don’t get why hotels don’t publish the schedules and routes so people know when to expect a transfer from the Airport. Just saying “every 30 minutes” just isn’t good enough. Thankfully I’d read up about which hotels it did stop at so I knew it was the right bus, as otherwise you may not notice as the destination didn’t mention every hotel! Can’t help but think the Heathrow hotel buses have it right with specific route numbers for each route. Much easier to identify your bus! (even if I don’t use them…).
It proved to be a very late night getting to my room at 2340. My flight the next morning departed at 0650, so I was in for around 5 hours sleep!