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Almost alone in C: FRA-LCY/LHR-WAW/WAW-ORD

Almost alone in C: FRA-LCY/LHR-WAW/WAW-ORD

Old Jan 20, 11, 4:16 am
  #1  
TPJ
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Almost alone in C: FRA-LCY/LHR-WAW/WAW-ORD

Welcome to my 2nd Trip Report. My first report is available under this link: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...-first-tr.html

This time my trips took me from FRA to LCY (LH) and then from LHR to WAW (LO) and then from WAW to ORD (LO).

If you only like to view pictures (with some comments), links to Picasa albums are identified with bold word ‘pictures’

FRA-LCY (in Y, 8am departure from FRA) is nothing to write home about, apart from the fact that I like these new LH breakfast items (cereal bowl with milk). B-gates SEN lounge was as average as always – I have only noticed they replaced ‘pasta counter’ with ‘Asian soup serving station’ (that was closed in the morning). But the Asian soup menu looked promising and I need to give it a try next time… After arriving at LCY (on time), I took a cab to client’s office.

My meeting in Canary Wharf ended much earlier than expected and I took another cab to get to LHR. My client’s secretary by mistake booked me a taxi ride to LCY and the cab driver was extremely unhappy that I actually wanted to go to LHR - IMHO he should be a bit more grateful - the bill was quite high, even after taking GBP weakness into consideration.

LO280: LHR-WAW (5.50 pm departure)

6 Jan

Business Class, seat 5F


I reported to LHR Terminal 1 *A Gold designated area some 4 hours prior to ETD. I was served promptly and was soon given my BP (I had hand baggage only). After clearing security, I decided to go to the BD lounge (aka ‘Great British Lounge’). It is still my preferred *A Lounge at LHR. I was warmly and genuinely greeted by one of the BD Reps. The lounge was not busy at all, and I managed to get one of the best armchairs facing towards the LHR runway. I still like lounge’s fantastic design and I have not noticed any food or drink cutback (times are hard and one should appreciate when airline is not cutting back).

About one hour prior to departure, I went to the *A lounge, only to have something to eat (the situation is still that *A Lounge is a dark dungeon place, but food-wise it is better than the BD lounge). As always, I had some Indian food and – about 30 minutes prior to ETD - went to the gate area.

I almost had a heart attack, when I noticed the flight will be operated with a charter aircraft (it had LOT Charter name pained on the fuselage). The seat pitch in C was REALLY BAD… Maybe slightly better than with FR and Wizz, but quite unacceptable for a so called ‘full service airline’.

Most (if not all) B737-400’s aircraft used by LOT are probably 20 years old, but this bird was very well maintained. The seat fabrics were brand new and they really invested a lot of effort to deep clean this particular machine.

There were only 3 pax in C that evening (for 28 seats) and after boarding I was almost immediately approached by purser who offered re-seating to 1F (I declined, as I already removed laptop and printed material from my bag and started settling in). As the other 2 folks were not offered this, I believe I was the only *A Gold on this flight (at least in C). Am I the only one who thinks, that these small gestures really allow airlines to differentiate one from another? While I still believe LOT should not use charter aircraft for scheduled flights, F/A’s action somehow erased these very bad original impressions… Kudos to her!

Config was 2 plus 2 with middle seats blocked.

Before take-off we were offered welcome drink (water or OJ) in plastic glasses (I guess LO Product Mangers fly too frequently with US and UA). After departure purser offered cold towels and a round of drinks (proper glasses this time) and I asked for red wine. I was offered 2 to choose from: Bordeaux and Italian 2009 Bolla Valpolicella. As I am not a fan of French reds, I have chosen Valpolicella which was awesome (maybe slightly too intensive & heavy to be served on board the aircraft, but still awesome).

Again, I am happy to report, that no cutbacks were observed: they still set-up tables with tablecloths (yes, I really mean it: tablecloths), dinner still consists of an excellent appetizer (goat cheese in peppers - kind of stuff one would expect in fusion restaurants - and it was awesome) & dessert of a huge piece of cheesecake with cherry syrup. We were offered 2 main courses to choose from: I have chosen turkey with veggies and cuscus. Overall meal was truly outstanding – big thumps up to LOT for maintaining high catering standards!

After service I was offered another wine (offer was accepted) and then crew F/A’s basically disappeared. I do not like when load is too low as F/A’s then have a tendency of just disappearing (my worst flight in 2010 was from ZRH to CAI, when F/A’s virtually neglected all of us in C – and the total load in C was 5 pax for 42 seats). Some 30 minutes prior to landing purser started patrolling C cabin again and I was offered another Valpolicella (I declined and asked for water, instead).

I didn’t take any pictures on this particular flight, I took a few on another WAW-LHR trip a few days later: link to pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink). Flight was operated with a ‘normal’ B737-500 that had good seat pitch in C, but somehow was not very well maintained (I should even say was a bit dirty). So what’s LOT logic: charter aircraft was deep cleaned/very well maintained BUT ‘normal’ aircraft was a bit dirty????? Looks like you cannot have everything with LOT

VERDICT:

Overall it was not a terribly bad flight:

Check-in (by Menzies): 10 out of 10: prompt service, I was asked if I knew where *A lounge was

BD Lounge: 10 out of 10: fantastic design, warm greeting at entry

*A Lounge: 7 out of 10: more light please

Seat: 3 out of 10: it should be 1 out of 10 (1 just for blocking middle seats), but purser’s proactive approach with re-seating me to row 1 increased the score to 3

Aircraft appearance: 8 out of 10: old aircraft, very well maintained, new seat fabrics

Food: 10 out of 10: I only hope LO will not try to cutback in this area, plus I think there are only 2 airlines that still set tables with tablecloths on short-haul flights in C: LOT and Aeroflot

Wine: 10 out of 10: Valpolicella on board

F/A: 9 out of 10: it would have been 10, but they disappeared after meal service for good 40 minutes

Punctuality: 10 out of 10: punctual departure and arrival

Overall: 6 out of 10: not a very bad flight, but dear LOT please DO NOT use charter aircraft on your scheduled flights!

UPDATE: a few days later I flew from LHR again (this time with LH to MUC) and I noticed another LOT Charter aircraft parking at the terminal. Looks like they regularly use these charter machines to operate scheduled flights… THIS MUST STOP! Unfortunately, it means that for now I am not going to use LOT…

Last edited by TPJ; Jan 20, 11 at 4:26 am
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Old Jan 20, 11, 4:25 am
  #2  
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LO001: WAW-ORD (12.05 pm departure)

7Jan

Business Class, seat 1F


I arrived at WAW airport some 90 minutes prior to ETD and was promptly checked-in at LO HON/*A Gold counter. The check-in lady was nice and chatty – she discussed various seating options with me, but when I learned booking is only 3 pax for 16 seats, I decided to stick to my pre-assigned 1F.

There was a separate Security Check for C-class passengers (but not for *A status passengers traveling in Y) and some 10 minutes later, I was in LO Business Lounge. There is a separate thread about this new lounge on M&M forum: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/miles...-dec-22-a.html. And I have to admit, I am still impressed with this lounge, however I wonder why they do not offer any hot meal option (even something like soup as in BD*G lounge at LHR) . Link to my pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink Apologies -I was trying to be discrete, so the quality of the pictures is not that good…

Some 35 minutes prior to ETD I left the lounge, passed through passport control (lounge is in the Schengen area) and went to the gate. As always in WAW boarding was a little zoo, but I have to recognize, it was the second time I have actually seen some effort to organize the process. C-class passengers and *A Gold members were invited to board at their leisure. At one stage they started calling passengers over the PA system and I thought they would be Op-Uping folks, but no – they were just verifying API data (Advance Passenger Information required by the US government) for passengers originating in CAI or DAM. When boarding ended the load was still 3/16 in C (and quite full in Y).

The cabin was a bit refurbished. The seats were lie-flat (new fabrics & upholstery, old curtains): similar to seats used by Asiana (OZ) on flights from ICN to Europe. They biggest drawback: no PTV monitors (LO offers digiPlayers, instead). Once I settled in 1F, I was promptly approached by purser who offered OJ or water– this time in proper glasses - and refreshing towels. Despite of only 16 seats, there are 2 F/A’s working in C cabin. Even for 3 of us, they still had 2 F/A’s working. Truly impressive…

Link to the pictures of the seat: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink

Just after take-off we were offered hot towels, low quality headsets for general audio programs (i.e. the same programs that are available to Y passengers, digiPlayer had proper noise canceling headsets – read on) and low quality amenity kit (link to pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink, there was not even a lip balm, grrrrr)

Then we were offered drinks (tables were set-up with tablecloths) and nuts in small china bowls. Re-fills followed… I have to report some cut-backs in C-class catering: salad is gone (as Poles are meat eaters, I doubt they have even noticed it). Below please find links to pictures of the menu:

2008 (I flew from WAW to ORD on the day Lehman Brothers went bust) – champagne is still there: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink

2010 – champagne is gone, Chivas is gone, wines are down to 2 x red/2 x white, salad is there: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink

2011 – salad is gone, wines are back to 3 x red/3 x white: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink

I wonder who that bloody id..t (aka LOT Product Manager) was, who decided to get rid out of champagne. IMHO LOT is now WORLD’S ONLY AIRLINE, that does not serve champagne in long-haul C (even Vietnam Airlines – that I flew once from FRA to HAN in 2009 - served Pommery in small, individual bottles – something LX does in short-haul C).

Regardless of the cutbacks, the meals were still excellent: roast tuna (one of two appetizers – everyone gets two appetizers) was just awesome. It was not even looking like tuna and tasted great - and combination with wasabi was unusual, but absolutely fantastic… So yes: another round of kudos goes to LO caterers! Main course was a bit overcooked, but I hate pasta al dente, so it was fine with me. For wine, I have chosen Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc (Framingham) that was nice.

These 2 F/A’s (i.e. Purser and F/A, I believe Purser is the highest rank with LO) working in C were fantastic: attentive, smiling and professional. Glasses were re-filled promptly.

Cheese plate (cheese, nuts in honey) was served after the main course (accepted, some port requested, re-fill offered) and then dessert (declined). I only asked for some tea and I was offered about 10 kinds of teas to choose from (no special menu as with Air China, but the purser quoted all the choices from memory). She also asked, if I prefer a small cup or in a proper china mug (that I have chosen). Impressive…

Pictures (in-flight food & drinks): http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink

At this time they distributed digiPlayers with acceptable amount of entertainment options. I watched ‘The City’ with Ben Affleck (IMHO Affleck’s first good performance after ‘Good Will Hunting’) and listened to Take That. digiPlayers went with noise canceling headsets, that were not of the Bose quality, but still acceptable.

Pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink

Cabin was patrolled every more or less 30 minutes, apart from the time of Duty Free sale. I guess LO F/A’s get some commission from on-board sale as they all gathered in the front galley to prepare for the sale and then – once sale ended – to reconcile/calculate revenue generated. This was the only time when I felt a bit neglected (why can’t it be done in the rear galley). Otherwise their performance was truly awesome… I remember one LO flight to ORD (November 2009?) when almost all F/A’s gathered in the front galley and chatted loudly for a couple of hours (aka ‘Galley FM’ broadcast). This time the purser kept all other F/A’s out of the C galley (even the other F/A working in C during the meal service) and she spent good 5 hours there by herself reading a book and patrolling C cabin regularly. She was smiling and attentive during the whole 10 hours of flight. I guess this statement would be controversial: but IMHO even OZ (Asiana) and TG (Thai) F/A’s could learn from this particular LO purser…

Dinner was served some 90 minutes prior to ETA and was done in a right way: tablecloths, round of drinks, large tray (the same that is used in European C) with appetizer, fruit salad and hot main course (some kind of stuffed Mexican burrito – not bad).

Link to pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink

VERDICT:

Overall it was a good flight with LO:

Check-in: 10 out of 10: prompt, attentive service

LO Lounge: 9 out of 10: fantastic design, but no hot meal option

Seat: 7 out of 10: lie-flat, no PTV monitors

digiPlayer: 7 out of 10: not THAT bad, but next time I would bring my Bose headsets

Aircraft appearance: 8 out of 10: old aircraft, recently re-furbished, new seat fabrics/upholstery

Food: 9 out of 10: some cutbacks noticed

Wine: 10 out of 10: 3 x white, 3 x red are back

F/A’s: 10 out of 10: but could Duty Free sale preparation & revenue reconciliation be done in the rear galley?

Punctuality: 10 out of 10: on-time departure and arrival ahead of schedule

Overall: 8 out of 10: as I value soft product more than hard product, quite possibly it would have been 9 out of 10, if they have served champagne. IMHO the wholesale price of a nice Moet & Chandon is in the USD 35-45 range a bottle…

Please, however, note that they would probably score less on a full flight. As the seat next to me was empty, I could place digiPlayer there and still work on my laptop using my seat’s tray table… This is not something one would be able to do on a full flight…

BONUS:

I think LO is one of a very few airlines that overfly Norway en route to the States. I took some pictures of Norwegian fjords: http://picasaweb.google.com/10012290...eat=directlink

Last edited by TPJ; Aug 9, 11 at 4:05 am Reason: 7Jan not 7Feb
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Old Jan 20, 11, 5:06 am
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Nice report. The roast tuna sounds darn good!
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Old Jan 20, 11, 6:29 am
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Always thought plastic glasses go as far as pre departure drinks, as they don't have to be collected before take off (which doesn't help if haven't finished your drink).

I never had a problem to go through the separate security check as M&M FTL or SEN in Y - though it's been a while since I visited that airport.
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Old Jan 20, 11, 7:53 am
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Very nice trip report.
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Old Jan 24, 11, 6:24 am
  #6  
TPJ
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Originally Posted by sobore View Post
Nice report. The roast tuna sounds darn good!
Yep - tuna was delight of the day
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Old Jan 24, 11, 10:50 am
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Thank you! Great TR! I just booked a LOT flight in C and was having second thoughts, but I'm going to give them a try.
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Old Jan 24, 11, 7:31 pm
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Originally Posted by TPJ View Post
I wonder who that bloody id..t (aka LOT Product Manager) was, who decided to get rid out of champagne. IMHO LOT is now WORLD’S ONLY AIRLINE, that does not serve champagne in long-haul C (even Vietnam Airlines – that I flew once from FRA to HAN in 2009 - served Pommery in small, individual bottles – something LX does in short-haul C).
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Old Jan 25, 11, 4:17 am
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Wow, LOT doesn't seem as bad as it used to be. Great report and two thumbs up to the excellent LOT purser!
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Old Jan 26, 11, 3:31 am
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Nice report! Hope I will have a chance to fly LOT after they receive the 787s!

Originally Posted by TPJ View Post
I think there are only 2 airlines that still set tables with tablecloths on short-haul flights in C: LOT and Aeroflot
Czech Airlines does it, too (as you can see on my picture from late December: http://i54.tinypic.com/2dsn6hj.jpg)
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Old Jan 26, 11, 6:57 am
  #11  
TPJ
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Originally Posted by jakub7 View Post
Nice report! Hope I will have a chance to fly LOT after they receive the 787s!



Czech Airlines does it, too (as you can see on my picture from late December: http://i54.tinypic.com/2dsn6hj.jpg)
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Old Feb 1, 11, 11:21 am
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I can see that other people are noticing lack of champagne in LOT's C.
Is LOT really the only airline that is not serving it on long-h ?
I know that there are dry airlines, but we are talking about airlines serving alcohol.

Thanks for t-report.
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Old Feb 3, 11, 11:05 am
  #13  
TPJ
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Originally Posted by bwiadca View Post
Is LOT really the only airline that is not serving it on long-h ?
I know that there are dry airlines, but we are talking about airlines serving alcohol.

Thanks for t-report.
I recall IB serves cava - technically not champagne but I like cava, anyway

I do not recall any other airline not serving champagne... and I just realized, somehow I have never flown on a dry airline
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Old Jan 10, 12, 7:21 pm
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Could you please talk about the seats a bit more? Do they go completely flat? I looked at the pictures and wasn't confident - also, it appeared that the footrest was an extended bar. I read a 2007 report that had a report on the (then) newly reconfigured LOT flight and the seat was definitely angled to the floor. Have the seats been changed since then?

I am specifically concerned about the seats used on the ORD-WAW flights.
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Old Jan 11, 12, 3:52 am
  #15  
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Hi SanDiego1K,

These are lie-flat seats (angled to the floor). If you are familiar with LH or SK or OS C-class product, LO seats are more or less the same (minus PTV's).

A small warning: check seat map and make sure there are 3 rows of seats in C cabin (2-2-2 abreast, seats 3A/3B might be blocked for Flight Deck use). If your seat map shows different configuration do not book this flight.
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