Flying massive A380 to Christmas market in Germany

When I read that BA flew A380 from London to Madrid and Frankfurt, I knew it was time to fly somewhere again. BA used November for re-training their pilots on A380, and there was one flight to Madrid and one to Frankfurt daily. So why not use this opportunity and enjoy their business class on this widebody aircraft? Madrid would have been a better choice, but who wants to wake up at 4 am? Not me, thus I got the tickets to Frankfurt.

Well, that was the original plan. But nothing went well that day. Germany required either PCR or Lateral flow antigen test. I did my antigen test in the morning, but the Randox application didn’t work when I wanted to report the result. Having waited 20 minutes in line, I got to talk to their support staff. They tried resetting my password, but it didn’t work as the app was down (as I learned from their email later). I had to book a clinic appointment and get tested there with no other options.

Christmas tree at Heathrow

I checked in at the airport, as the online check-in was unsuccessful (not sure why, as I uploaded all required documents). Once I showed all documents (German version of the passenger locator form, passenger locator form for flight back, antigen test result), I got my printed flight tickets. Then I noticed that my seat number had changed. When I asked the staff, they couldn’t tell me why. When I checked the BA app, I noticed that the aircraft had changed from A380 to A320. What a disappointment!

A320 business class
A320 business class
A380 business class
A380 business class

Having sat upset in their lounge, I enjoyed a glass of my favourite rum Zacapa. The food counters with hot food and sandwiches were closed. The passengers could order food via the QR code on each table. There was the usual offer for hot food – chicken, beef, vegetarian options; sandwiches, and cakes. The staff brought the food to the indicated table once the food was ready. Easy.

When the gate for my flight was shown on the board, I started slowly, moving towards it. In a normal situation, it would mean that the boarding has started already by the time I reach the gate. Not today. There was a delay due to the aircraft change. Many people complained about it as they bought the tickets because of the A380 aircraft. Who wouldn’t complain? There is a vast difference in the business class between the tiny A320 and the colossal A380. BA staff was very apologetic, but let’s be honest, it’s not their fault that the aircraft had changed. They tried to accommodate as many requests as they could.

While waiting for the boarding, I chatted with a guy flying to Sao Paulo. He said that he had only 1h45min at FRA to change his flight. Due to this delay, he didn’t want to spend a day in Frankfurt. When he asked about his connecting flight, the staff checked their system and said he should catch it.

Another guy standing next to us was disappointed as he flew from Switzerland and had bought business class tickets just to experience the business class on A380. He wasn’t worried about the delay as his only plan in Frankfurt was to stay in the hotel near the airport and fly back the following morning. When I asked him about the Christmas market, he wasn’t interested in going there.

Food on board

Finally, after 45 min of waiting at the gate, the boarding started. To my surprise, the guy flying to Brasil sat next to me, and we continued chatting. Taking off was a bit bumpy, but the pilot informed us about it before the take-off. Once we were up in the air, it was time for our food and drinks.

I appreciated the new procedure for disembarking the aircraft. It is based on the seat rows, so people can stay seated and wait for their row to be called. Smart idea. I have never understood why everybody stands in that tiny aisle as soon as the seatbelt sign is off.
To my surprise, border control was speedy. I showed my passenger location form, proof of vaccination and test result. They didn’t even properly check it. The border control staff were happy I got all documents needed. Some people didn’t have the passenger locator form and had to leave the queue and fill it in.

Christmas market map
Covid regulations

I took the train from the airport to Hauptwache, where the Christmas market stalls were. Due to the delay, I was worried I couldn’t make it as the Market closes at 21:00 (9 pm) this year. The stalls were spread out over several squares and streets. Aside from food and beverages, they sold Christmas decorations, candles, crafts and other stuff. Some areas were closed, and people had to show their vaccination pass or test result.

Having had apfelwine (apple wine) and some wurst, I finished my visit and went to the hotel.

I didn’t have high hopes that we would fly with A380 when I got to the airport in the morning. I wandered around the airport to see if any lounges were open so I could have a coffee. Unfortunately, all of them were closed. Only a few coffee shops were open, and all required proof of vaccination or negative test result.

Another delay. It was our departure time, and we were still sitting at the gate without communication from the staff. Luckily this time, BA didn’t change the aircraft. Several people complained they would miss their connecting flight as the delay was almost two hours.

Travelling is fun when there are no delays and everything works as planned.

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