Back in November I had to get from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Frankfurt, Germany. I had a DEL-FRA leg booked on a RTW fare, so picked up a fare with low cost Kyrgyz carrier, Air Manas (I also had a flight booked from Almaty in Kazakhstan to be safe).
So first and foremost, here is the video I made - the video covers the entire Lufthansa flight - filming in Kyrgyz airports is very illegal and there were issues with passengers on the flight from FRU to DEL so I thought pointing a camera at it might make things worse, so I'll save that flight for the written report only. The video is not a photo slideshow, it is a full narrative and worth watching.There are also videos on my channel of what I got up to in Central Asia. I put out a new video approximately every week.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_e5AKOvowoFirst Leg: FRU-DEL, Air Manas Economy Class
I didn't have a lot of choice when picking flights from Bishkek. I wanted to maximise my time in Kyrgyzstan, so chose to fly directly from FRU-DEL on Air Manas. Air Manas did not open bookings until a few weeks before the flight departed, so I also booked a flight from ALA-DEL to be safe, but never intended to use it. I chose correctly, as the Air Manas flight turned out to be one of the most eventful of my life.
Air travel in Kyrgyzstan is a fun one - videography is illegal in Kyrgyz airports, but I did take a few pictures. Upon entering Bishkek airport and waiting for the check-in queue to die down, a military officer walked past, and was not wearing the best uniform for peace-of-mind. For about 2 seconds I legitimately thought the airport was under attack.
Check in queue took forever. I was the only obvious westerner on the flight, which made me a stand out to one particular, very drunk Russian man. Let's call him Boris, because stereotypes. Boris approached me in the queue and started yelling at me in Russian and beating his chest. I laughed at him, which seemed to go down well and all of a sudden he was hugging me and crying and yelling "This man from Australia" and drawing the attention of everyone in the airport. Thankfully a Russian girl in the next queue over started translating for me and soon I was able to get Boris off me and make my way to the counter.
As an Australian citizen, I had an e-Visa to enter India, which no one manning the counters had ever seen. I was put to one side and everybody else checked in in-front of me. At this point I was fairly sure I was going to be denied boarding, but after some phone calls, I was allowed to security and made it to the gate just as boarding started. Boarding was a painless experience, thank God.
The plane was a Boeing 737-800, one of the most boring planes in the world (I fly these on Qantas every other day at home). Thankfully there was something more interesting on the apron - an Uzbek Ilyushin IL-76:
The flight took off and I was treated to some spectacular mountain views. Lunch rolled around - I had prebooked lunch, my choices were either: chicken sandwich
or chicken sandwich with cheese
. Obviously, I chose the latter, which was actually quite delicious.
About halfway through the flight, Boris came to visit me, and was quite aggressive. Now I've worked as a bartender for a large portion of my life, I don't have even the slightest trepidation towards drunk people, but the lady next to me wasn't having it and she started yelling. Boris stormed off, but was back 10 minutes to grope a flight attendant. At this point he was handcuffed/cable tied to his chair and passed out. I spoke to the flight attendant (service was excellent btw, staff were all lovely) and she said she was having an otherwise lovely day and this was not uncommon "in Russia", despite it being 10AM.
I was thankful to land in Delhi and make my way to Ibis Hotel Aerocity.Second Leg: DEL-FRA, Lufthansa Business Class
I got to my hotel in Delhi around lunch time, so my room wasn't quite ready. I had about 12 hours before I had to get back to the airport, so was keen to do a little sightseeing. While I was waiting in the bar/restaurant, drinking one of the worst mojitos I've ever had, I got chatting with a group of girls who turned out to be Saudia flight attendants on layover (*might not have been Saudia, but they had just flown in from Saudi and they mentioned living there). As some of the ladies were Russian, they found my story about Boris on the Air Manas flight to be quite relatable. 3 of us headed out to lunch and sightseeing - checking out the Red Fort and riding in some tuk-tuks before getting back to the hotel for some rest.
The hotel was awesome and panders to your inner 12 year old. I'd selected a "mystery theme room" and the room I got was themed around Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
I slept until about 11.30PM and then headed back to the airport to check in. At the counter, I pulled out the credit card and asked for an upgrade to first class, but apparently it was full! The immigration queue was chaos and it actually took me a while to realise that there was a shorter (though still chaotic) business class queue.
I hadn't slept very well, and had been going since very early in the morning, so I resolved to sleep as much as possible on the flight and made a beeline straight to the lounge to fill up on food and drink. I really like the Lufthansa lounge in Delhi, it has a very cosy feeling, which is what you want at 2AM. Free, unlimited Schnitzel and beer is also a plus. I also tried some Morpheus "cognac" from India. Not a huge fan.
After I was full, I made my way down to the plane and my excitement started to grow. I think I've flown every airline that operates the A380, but I had somehow never actually been on an A380. So this was my first time, and I was doing it properly - sitting on the upper deck!
I was originally seated on the window seat, next to a young kid, and was pretty stoked because he was very unlikely to complain about me filming everything. Unfortunately my excitement at being sat next to a 10 year old must have shown, because I was promptly asked to move seats, and the new seat was an aisle seat sitting next to a lady who very much did mind me filming everything.
First impression of Lufthansa was that, despite a full business class cabin (and a large one at that), staff knew everybody by name, even though I had switched seats. Service was lightning fast, personable and friendly. Unfortunately, my second impression of Lufthansa was that with my feet up, it felt like I was touching toes with my neighbour. No privacy dividers and the seats facing inwards meant I felt like I had no personal space. The seats were comfy enough though, and I was desperate for sleep at this point.
As soon as the plane was in the air, meal service started. I had no plans to eat, but since the service was so quick, I decided to have an entree & dessert, but skip the main meal. The entree (appetizer for you Americans) was a salmon tartare. It was delicious, but it was still just raw Salmon. The dessert was an Opera cake that wasn't very flavourful, and tasted largely of flour so I didn't get through it. I had a decent-enough German Riesling to go with it, but it was nothing spectacular. Wasn't the most inspiring meal I've ever had, but I'd eaten plenty in the lounge and was keen to get to sleep, so promptly put the bed to lie-flat mode and put my feet up next to my neighbour's. I was asleep almost instantly - though the A380 was considerably louder than I expected.
I woke up to breakfast service, and seriously considered just sleeping a bit longer as I wasn't that hungry. However, the seat was a bit narrow for me and I had pins and needles in both my arms and legs, so got up, went for a stroll and ordered a small breakfast. I decided to do the same thing as I did for dinner and just have a side of fruit, some muesli and some juice, skipping the hot component of the meal.
Landing took place in Frankfurt, dead on schedule at ~9AM, Since I couldn't check into my Airbnb until 5PM, I decided to kill a few hours in the arrival lounge. Frankfurt's welcome lounge is fantastic. Good selection of hot and cold breakfast - plus more schnitzel - and private shower/bathroom suites with included razors and toothbrushes to bring you right up to freshness. I stayed in the welcome lounge until 11AM where I then headed into Darmstadt for some sightseeing.
Overall it was a pretty good flight, but Lufthansa's seat is probably my least favourite business class seat - it's not comfortable AND it's not private. The "X factor" on the flight is the good lounges at both ends, meaning you will certainly arrive in Frankfurt rested and at peace.
I will be flying Lufthansa in J again to GRU, so stay tuned for that - I cover that in a lot more detail as I have a seatmate who was happy with me filming, and I had the full 3 course meal.
Thanks for reading, check out the video if you haven't already!