With the collapse of Air Berlin, Lufthansa´s traditional daily winter service from its Southern hub Munich has been rerouted three times a week via Duesseldorf, allowing formerly passengers of the leisure airline to fly nonstop from the capital of North Rhine Westphalia to the Sunshine State. The new/old connection (LH served MIA from DUS a few years ago already) operates Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays only while the remaining weekdays are operated from Munich. So it was bad luck that we were rebooked automatically via Duesseldorf on the day of our departure. Proved that a provincial airport does not meet the criteria of a sophisticated network carrier.
It all starts with the layout and offerings of the A Wing at Duesseldorf International, as the airport cockily calls itself. We had about three hours to spare as I had decided to take an earlier connection to be safe from any disruption or delay from a sudden onset of winter. But seriously, what do you do in an airport that more or less consists of a duty-free shop and a few bars? Not speaking of the impossible lounge offering.
Thank goodness, our outbound flight from Munich was almost one hour late, that spared already 60 minutes of boredom. So we spent the remaining time with a breakfast at one of the places and then proceeded through passport control to the upstairs waiting area. Due to the additional security checks, it was not the worst idea to arrive 30 minutes prior to boarding. And this is where the small size of the airport actually comes handy. With only two US flights handled simultaneously, waiting times and queues were of a minor inconvenience. It was just the very sober flair of the gate area that made every minute of waiting unnecessary.
Notably was the mixture of passengers that apparently was waiting for the Miami gate to announce boarding. A leisure crowd with a wild mix of styles and looks, lots of families with children and a few people with emotional dogs. A complete different picture to the regular Miami bound passenger traveling through Frankfurt or Munich.
The aircraft operating the sector was a refurbished Airbus A330-300. Refurbished, because it only carried Business, Premium Economy and Economy as travel classes. Business covering rows 1 to 11 in a 2-2-2 layout, offering 48 lie-flat seats in two compartments. We were allocated 4A and C in the forward compartment, just around the corner from the main galley and the two washrooms.
Service is the same as provided on any international Lufthansa flight and while we were warmly welcomed by our crew member, the flight proved in the end to be less routined and seamless than if performed by a Frankfurt or Munich based crew. Flying less long distance sectors could be a reason for this.
After settling down, a glass of welcome sparkling wine and the menu were served. Our attendant introduced herself and everyone in the cabin started to become comfortable. The flight was almost full and just across the hallway were seated two families with altogether four children and a woman with her dog in a crate.
After take-off, I kicked off with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck brut champagne. Shortly after, the orders for the menu were taken. From this moment on, the kids and the dog would not halt still for the remaining 9 hours 30 minutes in the air and even the noise cancelling head seats were not able to completely outdo the noise level in the cabin.
As appetizer, I opted for the Red Beet and Spinach salad with Lime Tofu, currants and pistachio. The salad could have used a bit of a dressing for my taste, yet the combination of spices and the firmness of the tofu were positively surprising. Along, I enjoyed a glass of the 2015 Aconcuagua Chardonnay by Luis Felipe Edwards from Chile. A rich and intense white wine with an excellent fruit and a perfectly tender texture.
Being one of Lufthansa´s classics, the Roasted Goose with Red Cabbage and Potato Dumplings was my next choice. It was served with a mixed salad and after trying the 2015 Rheingau Riesling “Gold Star Edition” by Johannishof-Eser, I quickly changed to a red instead. The 2014 Meifort from Buitenverwachting, South Africa would proof as the perfect company to this sumptuous meal with a beautiful intensity and delicate tannins. The meat looked better on the plate than it actually was. Being a bit dry and tenacious, I happily transferred it over to my partner´s plate.
As always, I skipped dessert and opted for the selection of cheeses. If you know me, I normally stick to champagne throughout the entire flight. Yet the South African red had truly casted its spell on me. An excellent wine which you will simply love!
Round up to the meal was a box of “Finest Pralines”. They surely were not bad, but seriously, I have had way better ones before. If the children were not jumping up and down their seats all the time or playing hide and seek in the cabin with their parents showing no signs of supervision, I might have taken a little nap at that time. But with the circus around, there definitely was no chance to do so. And if the kids took a moment of silence, it was the dog that was constantly yowling.
At least this saved time to entertain myself with the media library. I watched a few movies, grinned my way through the “Big Bang Theory” and listened to an audio book about a new “Alien” episode which was much better than I expected. I also tried out the so-called “Companion” feature of the system. Therefor, you can download the LH Companion app prior to the flight and connect your device to the onboard screen. It then serves as remote control and on the A350, you may even compile your entire playlists of movies and music prior to the flight. Worked well.
About 1 hour 30 minutes prior to landing, a light snack was served in form of a delicious salad and a Thai style chicken broth. The creamy soup was well seasoned and truly outstanding. And while the onboard catering lived well up to the normal standards one is used to when traveling Lufthansa Business Class, unfortunately it was the lack of professionalism and routine as well as the circus like background noise that made this flight rather a disappointing experience. Being truly sweet and nice, our flight attendant continuously served the wrong meals and drinks despite the restaurant style service, where every order is noted on a sheet of paper. This should happen once or twice, but every time after simply becomes tiring.