Lufthansa to Oslo from Striking Frankfurt
On days of industrial action your best bet is just not to fly at all. These actions happen for good reason, although they usually cause huge disruptions. A lot of short and mid-haul flights had been cancelled today, including mine. I was lucky to get advanced notice and sort out my situation but others may not have been so lucky. I would be flying to Oslo with Lufthansa after starting with a SAS youth/student ticket. Frankfurt Airport was both quiet yet super hectic in parts. I brought a lot of patience, expecting the worse, which helped as we experienced several delays, not all related.
I took the train as I was staying overnight near Frankfurt Main. Didn’t want to run for the train departing so jumped on the next one leaving. It was a regional train there was no-stop to the airport.
It’s a bit of a walk through the train terminal, the rail and train connection facilities and then the actual airport. Upon arriving into the terminal there were a moderate amount of people scattered, plenty of cancellations on the departure board, television news crews and piles of water bottles and the Lufthansa response cart to help with disruptions.
I went to the Lufthansa First Class check-in desks, which handle all Star Alliance carriers and for Star Gold. The first class ticketing office opposite had already issued my boarding passes the day prior but I still had to check my bag. Had one of those British Airway sort of moments (BA supposedly rotate their ground staff between duties often, so they can be not 100% up with policies, leading to internet horror stories). I casually waved my boarding pass toward the woman at the front counter who barely peeled her eyes off her phone. “Are you first class?” she asked, “star gold” I replied, with my *G card in hand. A ten second back and forth repetition ensured until she said “you can try” without an ounce of care, returning to her phone. The counters were all empty. I asked the check-in agent, whether I should be here or not – I’ve used these counters every time in Frankfurt except when at the First Class Terminal. “Of course” the agent said, slightly doubting herself, “well it is on the sign!”. Indeed, every screen and sign here with the first class logo has a star gold logo adjacent. It happens but I’ve come to expect Lufthansa’s first class services to be top notch every step of the way.
The security gate adjacent to the first class check-in and the one closest to my gate was unfortunately still shut due to the strike. Only the central B entrance was open. It makes sense if there was only one operating but most LH non-Schengen flights operate from pier A, requiring a slightly annoying walk through a pedestrian subway. I had a similar situation when departing from Frankfurt to Copenhagen in Christmas 2014 – checked in at the Lufthansa first class desks but departed from B gates, only to track back to A anyway for lounge access. Unsurprisingly security wasn’t good today, not at capacity but probably a good half hour wait to get through. Thankfully for the Star Gold status there was a priority lane which dropped the wait to a few minutes. At least one guy jumped in, under the tape and frankly I couldn’t blame him.
Lufthansa has many Senator and Business lounges in Frankfurt International. The former are superior lounges for passengers with Senator status or Star Alliance Gold equivalent, business lounges are for business class passengers or those with status. Pier A of the airport is used for Schengen flights, shadowed by non-Schengen Z gates a floor beneath them. Pier B and C are also non-Schengen. Each has a number of Business, Senator and First Class lounges. The non-Schengen A gates have a Senator and Business lounge near the security entrance. Because I came via the tunnel from pier B I decided to head the opposite direction. They have an extra business lounge in this area, near gate A26 but one level up.
Lufthansa Business Lounge Frankfurt T1 gate A26
Because of the strike = no passengers = no lounges open. By the time I arrived they had just reopened and just removing a makeshift closed sign, but there was no food out yet. I was welcomed in and asked if they could keep an eye on my gate changing (it already had).
Not long after I arrived the agent from the reception came back asking me for my card. Because I had been rebooked into full Y I had changed the frequent flyer number. And now for some reason the system was having difficulty registering my status. I had already seen this early as a couple boarding passes came out without the status, others came out with Star Gold. I remember it happening once before but not sure what to make of it. They removed it and re-added it a couple times until it finally showed up. Annoying but the lounge staff were both really good about it before and after the problem occurred.
This business lounge being away from the main lounge complex isn’t as crowded, although it built up over time. From the entrance you pass a bar and dining area. There’s a small buffet around the bar to your right and seating all along the back windows. It is small and cozy so if you have a long time to wait as I did, it may be worth checking out this lounge in case it is less crowded.
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt T1 gate A50
Within an hour from boarding I decided to head closer to the gate. It was now right next to security checkpoint near check in. I figured I’d head to the Senator Lounge, how badly crowded could it be anyway?
Well the answer is beyond busy. Not a single seat free, plenty of people standing and my phone continued to take blurry photos…
Shouldn’t have left the other lounge. Oh well, there is somewhat better catering and alcohol in the Senator Lounge but it’s just not worth it when at capacity. I eventually got a single seat in a crowded spot near the food. They make some things fresh here, otherwise there’s a good selection of hot and cold stuff and of course, the pretzels. So may as well grab something.
I didn’t stay long, not when it’s like a zoo. These are meant to be places to relax and take it easy. I get everyone want the free food and drinks but they’re letting it run itself into the ground when it’s so crowded. I don’t think the strikes had much effect as they had not put extra services on, it was mid-week and was told it was normal by staff. Crazy really, the grass is greener no on the outside.
Onboard Lufthansa to Oslo
I went to the gate early to find it was nowhere ready for boarding so went off to look at shops. I came back thinking I’d now be late however they still had not started. Strikes + bussing to remote stand = having to wait an extra half hour waiting for someone to find someone who can drive a bus and find another person who knows where a bus is. Logically this called on just buying more alcohol before heading to lands of losing your life savings over a beer. Luckily by the time I arrived back at the gate… it was only yet another ten minute wait.
Once onboard I remembered just how much space these exit rows have on the Airbus A321. Literally metres of leg room and with no overhead lockers here it’s quite the open space. The downside is people can congregate here.
I tried to take a panorama but my potato phone was having none of it.
Looking out as the rain kept contemplating itself, another LAN 787 arrived – the flight I arrived on 24 hours ago.
Eventually we took off, although by now it was quite delayed. But on a day like today, delayed is a lot better than cancelled.
It was a long enough flight to appreciate the exit row. The flight was full of course, with all the cancellations. The others in my row were stretching out so I figure we should all be rockin the leg room.
Arrival into Oslo was mostly smooth until we were at short final. I was quite looking forward to touching down when I hear the two moderately powerful engines power up. Here we go I thought, clearly a go-around. It was interesting to me to feel the delay before there was any actual lift generated from the surge in thrust. I probably counted to ten before some passengers started doing that look around of mild concern. Although uncommon for passengers it wouldn’t be for aircrew. The captain confirmed it was the most obvious, an aircraft had yet to clear. Unfortunately it would take 10-15 minutes for another approach.
Second time all good. The flight eventually arrived very late into Oslo. I had been rebooked on the last connection to Stockholm so still had an hour to spare. I went straight to the SAS Lounge before my next departure.