No less than 7 new models are in transit so I have this one chance to slip one of the most exciting passenger transits I’ve ever had through Frankfurt Airport. You’ll have to forgive me for my somewhat childish enthusiasm, and an iPhone 6+ camera – the 7+ didn’t arrive until after we were back, and I’d love to have tried out it’s new 6-lens image stabilised camera, which would have been great in these very circumstances.
One of the awesome things about this return transit, was because I hate being rushed through airports we had a 4 hour lay over – Lufthansa seem to think it’s entirely feasible to get from A3 in T1 to B47 in around twenty minutes, including the infamous underground tunnel, the slow, painful passport readers, and depending on which way you’re flying, another round of security (UK into Germany requires passports, connecting flights require a security line from UK into Germany/Schengen, but not on the return).
This gave us the opportunity to enjoy the long bus ride from the hard stands – almost a 20 minute journey with compulsory stops on route for aircraft to pass, then the long walk from the remote Austrian Airlines permanent gates (it’s almost an Austrian mini-hub as many long haul destinations require a Vienna/Salzburg/Innsbruck/Graz-Frankfurt flight before onward transfer on Lufthansa).
This brought about a stunning opportunity to see aircraft up close and in their working environment. 99.99% of passengers couldn’t give a flying monkey about what passes them by or its significance, but to me it was like being ten years old and let loose in a giant airport play pen!
I love two airports more than any other, Heathrow and Frankfurt. They couldn’t be more different and have one thing in common, a giant dominant airline, though Lufthansa Group does have almost 75% of the slots at Frankfurt, and IAG,through BA/Iberia/Aer Lingus and Vueling, only 60% of Heathrow’s.
Frankfurt has more cargo, with vast parking areas and dedicated infrastructure that Heathrow can but envy. However Frankfurt is covered in operational “litter”, hundreds, if not thousands of items from stairs, ladders and luggage lifts, trailers, tractors, tow bars, generators, you name it, the entire airport, and almost every last space seems, crammed with operational detritus just randomly left lying about. There just isn’t room at Heathrow for such haphazard behaviour!
We’d left Salzburg on a Fokker 100, probably the last time I’ll ever get to fly on one as Austrian are slowly taking delivery of Lufthansa’s old ERJ’s as they get new CRJ900’s.
Fokker 100’s are fast, rapid take off, surprisingly comfortable, but have this odd pulsing humming sound that comes from the rear, giving them this odd atomic age reactor hum. They seem so dated externally, but internally they were modern and comfortable. As we came out of cloud on the way into FRA, I fully appreciated why I keep my seat belt done up – we drop-slammed about five feet with a jolt that took everyone by surprise. If you weren’t belted you’d have hit the overhead’s, and it would have hurt – a lot.
These are far from being “spotting quality” images, but I can’t help it at airports, I get carried away with the detail, vehicles, the buzz of it all. The organisation, systems, controls, efficiency that has to function relentlessly, automatically, every minute of the day or it all falls down. One break of a rule, one out-of-order process or routine, and the whole system can start to jam. It’s awesome. And yet most passengers take it for granted, not having a clue at what happens to make flying so easy.
Now and again we get to see the inside of it all, even just for a few minutes. I can’t help myself. I snap hundreds of photos in the hope of getting something decent, and I don’t care who gets in the way, one chance to see something I may never see again cannot be missed. Just to give you an idea – these are the boiled down versions – of 465 photos. Even I was a bit surprised at that total!
Four things really put me into school boy hyper mode; the new China Airlines 773ER B-18007 in Dynasty Dreamliner livery. I first saw her on her maiden flight into SFO back in May, then on the way out to SZG in the distance, but this time she was virtually on top of us. The bus had to stop to let her pass. I just couldn’t believe my luck! Nothing is like being that close, I could barely contain my excitement. My better half just puts up with it and looks at me with a smile that makes me feel like a small child being indulged with some special treat.
The second was the 748i, then the A343 in Star Alliance livery. Last but not least Air China’s first 787-9 B-7877 – and the model hasn’t even arrived yet!
So apologies for indulging myself with some mediocre photos and a long list of aircraft, but I so rarely get to see this much so often…models next week should be here Monday, so plenty of reviews in the pipeline….have great weekend!
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