Farewell Miles – A Mileage Burning Party with All Nippon Airlines, Thai Airways and Asiana Airlines in Business Class (with a BMI Leg)
Featuring the ANA International 787-8.
- Oh BMI *shakes head* (The Introduction)
- The Off, Birmingham Airport, Birmingham Airport to Frankfurt with BMI for Lufthansa – THIS SECTION
- Hotel Savigny, Around Frankfurt
- Frankfurt Airport and Meeting the 787
- Frankfurt-Tokyo Haneda with ANA’s International 787
- The Strings by Intercontinental, Tokyo
- One Time Exception: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
- Tokyo Haneda International – Hong Kong International with ANA’s 777-300
- Crown Plaza Causeway Bay (Happy Valley)
- One Time Exception: An Emergency Camera Clean…
- Hong Kong to Seoul with Thai Airways International
- Ramada Seoul Dongdamun
- One Time Exception: Jongmyo Shrine
- Seoul Incheon to London Heathrow with Asiana Airlines
- Wrapping up
Yes, it’s part one of the trip. It’s going in small bits due to the sheer volume of images and writing that I have to do. Look out of the big bits arriving in a couple of days….
To BHX on a cold and winter morning.
To say I had a bad nights sleep the night before would be an understatement. Since I was up, I completed my packing and watched the news, with BBC News 24 in the background. I wasn’t exactly awake, but my ears pricked up when I heard there was a strike at Frankfurt. And I breathed a sigh of relief that I had booked my connecting flight the next day as if things went wrong, my connection times could had been shaved to nothing
I continued packing (and probably to forgot to pack a couple of things), and settled in. It then of calling a cabbie to take me to the train station
The call was placed, and I got outside to take the first photo of the trip, and right on cue the cabbie turned up. By 05:15 I was five pounds lighter and at New Street station. Another £2.40 and I had a single ticket to Birmingham International airport.
Wandering downstairs to the platform the train had just pulled in. I took my opportunity and boarded. Now the problem with public transport is… the general public. Here’s a great example of a very loud couple of friends chatting laughing out loud. Which is fine and dandy. Except at 5:15 in the morning, the last thing you want are two people who you hear from one end from the carriage to another.
The service pulled out on time, and quickly enough the train deposited at Birmingham International where I left the chattering ladies to the London bound commuters and headed for the Air-Rail link. Although I had checked in, I needed to deposit my bag… and actually get my boarding pass. Call me olde fashioned, but I do love a proper boarding pass. That and when I checked in I got a express lane pass. This will come in useful in a moment.
Now, as UK Airports seemingly cannot handle the concept of a rucksack, I trapsed the bag over to the oversized bag area. The bag dumped, it was time to through the fastlane. And this was a darn good thing considering the size of the normal queue. Which was long. Meanwhile I was through security and scans in 5 minutes flat.
Guess it does pay to check in normally sometimes 😉
After briefly looking at how much Dixons Travel wanted to rip me off for headphones, I headed to the lounge for a bit.
Lounge Stop: ServisAir Lounge.
I’ve written about this place before… and it still fails to impress in any way. But it’s good for a Vodka and orange. And in better news, it seems Birmingham Airport has actually got its WiFi working. It’s just a shame that there seemed to be a distinct lack of power sockets – or if they are there they’re almost flush to the floor. But still. Vodka, Orange Juice, Cofffee. Not bad things.
Still boarding time was nearing, and nothing was on the monitors. Something… didn’t feel right to say the least. I wandered over to the gate, where the gate was shut (with the plane parked up). As boarding time approached, the gate opened, where my boarding pass was scanned, and invited to wait for actual boarding to commence.
Looking at the clock, the chance of making our departure slot was reducing by the second. At this point we were invited to board.
LH959 – Birmingham Airport to Frankfurt-am-Main International Airport
Operated by British Midland International for Lufthansa, Airbus A320
Seat 11A, Economy Class (Exit Row)
477 Miles Flow, 125 Miles Earned + 32 Miles Senator Bonus.
If there was a definition of the word “irony”, then here it is in full Technicolor. A BMI plane operated for Lufthansa, but in full BMI Brown cow leatherwork, ex Lufthansa seats and BMI Livery on the outside. There were other little touches, such as dual-language signs, and a lovely yellow and blue stripe at the top of the safety card.
The crew itself was British with a “Language expert” aboard (and looking at their collection of ID badges, Birmingham based).
The plane was boarded with about 70% load – but whilst the isle seat was occupied, the middle seat was free. Combined with the massive legroom, this is better than business class up the front (bar the food…)
Anyway, the door closed, and the captain came on the speakers explaining that the Frankfurt Airport strike had put a major dent in the schedule with a 1 hour 20 minute delay posted. I began to feel sorry for the people in the rows behind and in front of me a I had a pile of legroom to settle down for the hour. The crew did a full water service through the plane, with a round of top ups.
In the end, we got a 10 minute advance on the delay, and at 8:20, the wheels came up as the plane departed Birmingham.
Climb-out was quick as we left the cloud layer tracking towards The Netherlands, Brussels, Liege and finally towards Frankfurt.
The crew sprang into action once cleared, and the brown curtain was pulled dividing Business and Economy Class.
Food was distributed, and it was… Yes, you guessed it – this being BMI, it was a Montys Hot Wrap
And again, a constant product delivered quickly and efficiently. The drinks service followed (very much to BMI standards as opposed to Lufthansa – a very sad but easy way to tell is that BMI use Pepsi whilst Lufthansa uses Coke). This as a bit more sluggish, but the drinks were free flowing with the flight crew seemingly happy to be there.
Now that’s a strange concept these days!
By the time the channel had been crossed, the drinks were done and the cleanups were occurring. Effective and quick. These are things we like.
The crew didn’t do a sales round, but were walking through the cabin constantly, checking if drinks were needed – or in some cases, extra wraps were wanted.
Again, the pilot came on the blower over Liege, and informed us of the decent that would begin shortly, and that we would be landing on the Airport workers bone of contention – the “new” runway, which was “a way” from the terminal
Soon enough the cabin was buttoned down for decent, and I do have a video of it… except it’s completely out of focus so I’m not even going to bother publishing it. Dratted windows.
After landing the blame begun it’s taxi from the end of the new runway, past Lufthansa Technics, Past the T1 Complex and almost all the way the end of T2 until we reached a parking position at the far end of T2.
The mad rush to exit the plane was awaiting me, but I took some time to say thank you to the staff – and to wish them luck for the future.
Overall: I am going to miss BMI when it’s been subsumed into whoever buys it in the end. The demonstration that BMI gave today reminded me why I loved BMI in the first place – the friendly service and the people aboard who fly for the BMI flag. And I’m honestly going to miss them when they’re gone. It seems like a lot of the improvements came too late, with various mistakes made by BMI’s old management and yes, Lufthansa as well who have to take their fair share of blame of the complete mess-up that has been ownership
With two buses, it seems most people went for the 1st bust they could see.. were as muggins on the 2nd bus had a seat, a window view of the ground action at FRA. As we passed I could see the bird that ANA flew into Frankfurt for today – A Boeing 777-200ER. Don’t get me wrong, the 777-200ER is a good plane. Just not the plane I wanted to be on tomorrow 😉
The bus made it to the Non Schengen bus arrival area, and it was a hike upstairs to a very quite Immigration point. Past customs (which was manned for once!), it was a case of going through the warren that is Frankfurt International Airport to landside, and finally (phew!) to luggage claim.
Of course, the Birmingham fight was assigned belt 22 – down the far end. The good thing was that my luggage had beat me to it at the other end, and was making its way around the belt. Through another set of customs, and I was in Germany.
I took a few minutes to sit down and contemplate my next move. Whilst buying a Frankfurt card in some respects is a lazy way of doing it, it saves on RMV’s fares. Of course, I needed to also check in for my flight the next day. Thankfully, it seems someone at Frankfurt Airport has seen sense and now offers 30 minutes of FREE WIFI (and that’s still better than London Heathrow…). Miracles take a little longer 😉
After finding out where to buy the card (and finding the counter was unstaffed for a bit), I checked in online, praying that a window seat was available for tomorrow flight. And as it’s a staged seating, its actually a bit more difficult- you can have a “Window Window or a Window Aisle”. Thankfully 7K was free, giving me a my precious two windows. And don’t look at me in that tone of voice. I like me windows :p
After getting the e-boarding pass, I found that the hotels sales person had returned, and I could collect my pass after handing over €13.50. For the convenience sake, I’ll take it – besides I’d recover the savings in tram ride costs.
From there it was downstairs, a 15 minute wait for the train, an arrival into Frankfurt Hbf and a short walk to the hotel.