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Sydney to Stockholm with *A during Covid-19 (NH/LH J)

Sydney to Stockholm with *A during Covid-19 (NH/LH J)

Old Jun 28, 20, 4:11 am
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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Sydney to Stockholm with *A during Covid-19 (NH/LH J)


We live in Australia however my wife is Swedish so we do the annual trek once or twice a year. This year was to be a little different. We received the news that my wife's parents had contracted the virus, it quickly deteriorated for her Dad and sadly he passed away before we could get there. (But her mum is doing fine.)

In Australia, Citizens and Permanent Residents currently need permission from the Department of Home Affairs in order to travel overseas (and all inbound passengers are subject to 2 weeks enforced quarantine in a Hotel of the Government's choice). We requested a letter from the treating hospital (which had to be delivered by snail mail), added a birth certificate proving he is my wife's father, then we applied for permission under urgent family business grounds. Approval took 3 days and within minutes of receiving the email we were booked on a Lufthansa fare to fly out on the next available flight in 3 days.

There were a few options. SQ was flying a couple of times a week, but at the time was not permitting transit in Singapore, QR was flying multiple times a day but were very expensive and LH had a reasonable fare - especially considering the situation and short notice - to fly via Tokyo. The itinerary is:


In total: 35 hours of planes and lounges.

Last edited by sydunipete; Jul 1, 20 at 6:32 am
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Old Jun 28, 20, 4:23 am
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NH880 SYD-HND 20:55 - 05:30+1 B787-9 JA896A

I'll try and focus on the covid specific aspects of the program.

We arrived outside Sydney terminal by car and we were the only car where usually there is a queue of honking vehicles. 2 customs officials greeted us at the only terminal door that was operational, asked if we were citizens or PRs then we were allowed inside the weirdly silent terminal. Next agent asked more questions and referred us to the counter where most customs agents were waiting. We were introduced to one who said he would look after us. I was tempted to hand him my bags but thought it wasn't the right place for attempted levity. It was here they checked our printed approval to travel, plus passports and eTickets. It took 30 minutes, a hand completed form, multiple signatures. Meanwhile other would-be travellers got the spanish inquisition if their movements didn't match what they said.

Once checked out we were referred to the ANA checkin counter just as the agents bowed to an empty terminal. Zero queues we checked in but there was confusion between our baggage allowance on an LH ticket. 32Kg vs 23Kg. It took 3 agents / supervisors close to 30 minutes to resolve. Our bags were held to one side while this was done and a phone call was made to Dept of Home Affairs to verbally confirm our approval to travel. Could something change in the distance from the customs desk to the checkin desk? There was no lounge invitation because the lounge is closed and no express pass because there is no need.

Once we passed all those hurdles customs was a breeze (so far I was loving the queue free travel), then the TRS desk which had moved from its room to just behind customs, security then a lonely looking immigration agent who was happy to chat to relieve the boredom.

Airside it was weird. No duty free, most of the airport roped off (the whole section extending down to the SQ and NZ lounges for example). In total there were 3 flights departing from before noon to closing time. There were 2 food shops and 1 pharmacy open. $26 (AUD) for a beer, water and half a wrap - thanks for coming.)

Travellers mostly seemed to be younger backpacker types.

Two flights departed within 5 minutes of each other and of course they were at adjacent gates. Here you see the passengers for 2 flights shortly before boarding.

Last edited by sydunipete; Jun 28, 20 at 5:20 am
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Old Jun 28, 20, 4:39 am
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2025 Boarding. Very slow and deliberate to avoid congestion in the jetway or onboard. Business Class boarded last. Bottle of water provided but no champagne etc.

Departure was delayed due to a discrepancy in the passenger numbers so at that stage they decided to offer Champagne / OJ. (With a closed lounge I thought they probably could have done this before.) It was served in a plastic cup.

We were asked if we were transiting in Tokyo - hence no need for a quarantine form, however we were given one anyway (6 pages). The reading tray was empty except for safety card and sick bags.

21:14 Doors closed and 21:20 Push Back. A FA manually checked every overhead locker door was physically closed - twice.

Seat contained a pink iPad mini size amenity kit, blanket, mattress, slippers and headsets. Unoccupied seats were left this way - and there were a lot of them. J and Y were both only about 20% full. No duty free. Paper disposable moist wipes were handed out.

The menu (for both HND-SYD and SYD-HND):

21:32 Take off and dinner service started at 21:55. The Japanese dinner was delicious but a bit on the small side. They did seem to be worried about this and several times offered that I could have anything from the light snack menu at anytime.

The seat is quite basic with a large flat area for storing things, but no cubby holes. Great anywhere for solo travellers but the spacing was not so great for couples or families.

The IFE controls are a bit dated but the system worked well. The movie selected is a bit dated because (I presume) Hollywood isn't releasing many movies at the moment.

The moving map seemed to spend much of its time showing the world's timezones.

The provided slippers weren't of much use to me (what's Japanese for gringo?)

The seat was comfortable enough but even at the diagonal I couldn't stretch out fully. I am 192cms tall.

Toilets were spotlessly clean throughout the flight.

There was no second meal but again I was offered the light meal menu and chose the croc monsieur which was really nice for breakfast.

Masks were required through the entire flight (except when eating / drinking) or in the case the oxygen masks are required.

There was one passenger not too far from us who coughed quite regularly. I'll call him coughing man and we meet him again, and again ... unfortunately.

We didn't see any temperature scanners throughout the entire trip.

Before landing every overhead locker door was manually checked twice.

We landed to another quiet airport at 05:32. Gate 144 at 05:41.
All up - a low touch, modified service but quite pleasant. I probably prefer SQ / QR but I understand why NH would have its fans.

Last edited by sydunipete; Jun 28, 20 at 5:24 am
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Old Jun 28, 20, 4:45 am
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Tokyo airport was so quiet and almost deserted with some of the public areas fenced off.

We were in the only lounge open to us (Suites lounge near gate 110) by 06:05. The showers (4) were fantastic and we made ourselves at home for the next close to 9 hours sampling different Japanese food and drink options. Again, everything was modified and a lot of things plastic wrapped.

I got to try several Japanese whiskeys, plum wines, foods etc. The staff couldn't do enough to help. They were amazing.

I had a 3 prong Japanese power adapter but the only socket at our seat used a two prong system so I had to borrow an iPhone charger from the desk (in exchange for my BP). WiFi worked well without a key.

The terminal was deserted when we went for a walk - in the middle of the day. One duty free shop was open (from 10am), plus a few food shops (maybe 4) and one pharmacy.

We were offered a buggy from the duty free shop to the gate which we accepted and couldn't resist one small jinglish photo.

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Last edited by sydunipete; Jun 28, 20 at 5:26 am
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Old Jun 28, 20, 5:01 am
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LH717 HNA-FRA A340-313 (ex Eurowings) D-AIGY

14:05 - 19:25

I should have mentioned that coughing man was in the lounge (no face mask) and joined us on this flight. In fact for most of the day there were only 3 parties in the lounge: coughing man, us and one solo gent.

Boarding started early, we were onboard at 13:20 and one of the last even after battling the desk staff who were operating off a system not up to date with the latest changes in Europe. Even with my EU passport they struggled. Once onboard - there was the same low touch approach with LH as we experienced with NH. Business class was less than 1/4 full. The front lav was reserved for FAs, one of the rear lavs was broken leaving just one for business class so we were directed to economy. PY was totally empty and Y probably about 20% occupied.

13:36 boarding was complete (30 minutes prior to scheduled departure), Takeoff at 13:59 for maybe my last 4 engine flight? They seem to be getting rarer.

Before the seatbelt signs went out coughing man removed his mask, reclined and went to sleep. (He later woke to order a meal and the FA must have said something because he then wore his mask the entire flight like the rest of us.)

I normally don't order beef on a plane because it's often tough and dry. But this was superb. The french red wasn't so great but the South African hit the spot.

It was cleared away by 1521. All the staff were excellent. Our FA was knowledgable, proactive and nothing was too much trouble. The purser introduced herself and was very pleasant.

The IFE had a different control:

The second meal was served without the main lights. The chicken was ok and filling. Each meal service was served individually. The FA would take food and drink orders, get them from the galley, serve then move on to the next one.

About 90 minutes before landing we were frustratingly close to our final destination but we wouldn't reach it for another almost 7 hours.

Just time for a nice chocolate...

Blankets etc were not collected, cabin temperature was set quite warm through the flight and there were no announcements from the cockpit.

One good thing, there were no air traffic problems and we landed in FRA about an hour early at 18:20.

The whole operation was so quiet.

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Last edited by sydunipete; Jun 28, 20 at 5:28 am
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Old Jun 28, 20, 5:04 am
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Disembarcation was from the front door only, staged section by section. Doors open at 18:28.

No queue at immigration, no queue at security - there must some positives to covid travel?

Only the Senator lounge near A50 was open offering pretzels, alcohol free beer, soft drink and water. It was over half full but our flight was the last one out that evening so it emptied pretty quickly as we left.
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Old Jun 28, 20, 5:05 am
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Interesting. Looking forward to the rest!
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Old Jun 28, 20, 5:12 am
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LH808 FRA-ARN 21:45 - 23:50 A320neo D-AINW

It was a bit of a walk to gate A26 and beyond that was fenced off.

21:15 pre-board commenced and some gate lice attempted to join them but got turned away (yay!) Then priority boarding through just one automated gate to spread everyone out. Masks were once again mandatory.

On boarding a hand wipe sachet was handed out with lots of alcohol. Very good.

I counted less than 100 people at the gate but the flight ended up quite full. Business Class was full except for the last row - and to prove some things never change two crying babies were in the J cabin. I also observed that social distancing is important except of course when you are queued up in a single aisle aircraft waiting for your seat.

Take off at 21:53 then a lightening quick drink and single tray meal service of cold meats and dessert.

The FAs kept that front curtain hard closed all the rest of the flight. I don;t even know if the toilet was open - I didn't see anyone try.

All that was left was to enjoy the late evening sunset all the way to Stockholm where we landed to yet another empty airport at 23:37.

This was SkyCity at 10am Saturday morning!

Unfortunately I wasn't allowed to bring my tear gas to Stockholm. This was near the luggage belts. Is this seriously a thing?

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Old Jun 28, 20, 5:17 am
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Just to cap it all off when the bags arrived (at 00:07) a well packed bottle of wine had been smashed and a funeral suit ruined. My run of bad luggage luck at Arlanda continues.

Most people continued to wear masks at the luggage racks but quite a few took them off as soon as they left the plane. There were a lot of Police at the Jetway and I had never seen so many people stopped at customs. Something must have been going on. I'm curious as to why.

The whole 35 hours was functional and professionally delivered in a way that minimised the exposure for the crew. Pre-flight I was worried we might get sandwiches and water all the way, but apart from the Senator lounge we got some pretty decent food and drink.

I wish you all safe travels, hopefully soon and definitely under better circumstances.

Last edited by sydunipete; Jun 28, 20 at 5:32 am
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Old Jun 28, 20, 8:31 am
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Thanks for the TR and sorry to hear about the circumstances as to why you had to travel.

Your food seems to have been much better compared to other TRs that have been posted for travelling during C19 times.
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Old Jun 28, 20, 9:19 am
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great TR thanks!

Originally Posted by nequine View Post
Thanks for the TR and sorry to hear about the circumstances as to why you had to travel.

Your food seems to have been much better compared to other TRs that have been posted for travelling during C19 times.
Indeed Iím impressed.
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Old Jun 28, 20, 9:22 am
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I’m sorry about your in-laws and for your loss. Thank you for the Tr!
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Old Jun 28, 20, 9:31 am
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Great report thank you.

Nice to see LH providing proper ramkins of nuts. Try that on AA. Covid is the ultimate excuse for AA to reduce service to almost nothing.
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Old Jun 28, 20, 2:54 pm
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That was a great report.
I really enjoyed it.
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Old Jun 28, 20, 4:08 pm
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Thank you for sharing. Definitely a stark contrast compared to travelling pre covid.
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