Since Lufthansa has started pushing many of their short-haul flights over to the germanwings subsidiary I figured it was time for me to try the product out and my recent trip to Hamburg gave me the opportunity to do so. Partly because I wanted the new line, partly for the new carrier and partly because I figured there was a better chance of the upgrade clearing I booked my return flight as Hamburg-Stuttgart-Newark. The upgrade cleared a few days out for the longer segment but I knew there was no chance of that on the short hop. Mostly because germanwings doesn’t offer business class, but also because my upgrade instrument wouldn’t cover that even if it was available. And so I few in coach. It actually wasn’t all that bad.
The Hamburg airport is easy to get to on public transit from town which was nice. Finding the check-in counter was a bit more challenging and a bit of a schlep but I got there eventually. And the agent was polite enough in checking my bag through to the United connection. No priority tags as they’re not a Star Alliance member but that worked out OK at Newark anyways. And the agent was willing to move me to a window seat which ended up having an empty middle next to it. No complaints there, really. No priority screening at security either, but the lines moved well and I didn’t have anywhere really to go; I wasn’t going to be in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge for this flight (again, not a Star Alliance member).
I did duck in to the Airport Lounge (yes, that’s really the name) thanks to Priority Pass and it was fine. Nice views and some snacks but that visit was mostly just about getting some photos to add to the Lounge Guide site. Other than that I spent my time out in the terminal, awaiting the slightly delayed inbound and our similarly slightly delayed departure.
Once on board I walked past the “Best” seats (their version of premium seating) and back to my seat well behind the wing. I chose to go further back to get my window option and I’m completely OK with that decision. The seats are Recaro slimlines, just like the NEK product on Lufthansa. I’m not a huge fan but they are wide, there was knee room and I slept half the flight so it couldn’t have been that bad. Or I really was that tired (a bit of both, honestly).
Food & Drinks
Essentially everything in the cabin is buy-on-board so be ready to pay for most snacks, drinks or anything else. The food choices for sale looked decent enough and that had me slightly optimistic. See, I was on a relatively higher fare class which meant I I received a complimentary snack during the flight. And the flight attendant had my seat marked as such on her checklist as she came down the aisle.
Alas, I was given two specific choices, not any snack in the menu. And, while it was cute in the little bag, the snack is not something I’d likely want to eat again.
There is no in-flight entertainment unless you count staring at the ad in the seat back in front of you. For this particular flight I filled my time reading and sleeping, like I do on most trips. I looked out the window a lot, too.
And then, some nap-time later, we landed in Stuttgart. It was a hard stand which I very much enjoy in good weather as it means different views of the plane. For this trip that included using the rear door to leave. I’m generally a fan of such; it makes for fun photos.
In the end it was fine. I certainly won’t go out of my way to fly on germanwings but they still provide connectivity for many cities on award trips which otherwise might not happen so that’s a benefit. And it was worth the connection for me this time to be able to get the upgrade on the way home.
A few more photos available on Facebook and Google+.
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If you had a same day J ticket out of STR on UA why would you not be able to visit the LH lounge at Hamburg airport? I’m under the impression that same day *A tkt + Gold will get you into a *A lounge anywhere in the world as long as you manage to get to it?
Both *G and Business Class lounge access are predicated on departing the local airport on *A metal. I was not so no lounge access would be provided.
First of all, thanks for the review. I think I shall fly the airline several times next year and I appreciate the writing.
Secondly, this is a dumb question, but for flight log purposes, would you count Germanwings as a separate airline or Lufthansa? I count flights on things like Delta Connection and American Eagle as Delta and America, respectively, but they’re marketed as being Delta flight 4858 or what have you. Is Germanwings the same, or should they be considered their own airline?
I count germanwings separately as they are not an “express” carrier d/b/a the parent company like the US airlines have.
I flew German Wings LHR-HAM and I got the same snack as you, actually I think everyone got a snack. The sandwich was a bit iffy, but the German passengers liked it. The Airport Lounge was ok, they don’t get many Lounge Club guests (Chase Ink freebie) but it all worked out. I thought the seats were pretty good, planes seemed pretty new.
thanks for the review. So I am guessing no extra luggage? Would be hard if you are connecting to international flight with 2 luggages…
I only had the one bag (filled with goodies from the conference) so no experience with a second bag, but my read of the rules is that I’d be charged for such unless I was on a “BEST” fare.
I flew germanwings for the first time on the same day and my experience was entirely consistent with yours.
A couple of things that are worth mentioning:
(1) A SMART fare, which you must have been on if you were given the free “snack,” would have allowed you to sit in rows 4-10 (I think) which offer a bit more legroom.
(2) UA status does not count for much with 4U, but (assuming one has a UA *G card) 4U offers access to priority check-in (the BEST line).
(3) 4U’s baggage rules are more restrictive than LH’s: in addition to the 8 kg maximum for hand baggage, they allow only one item of hand baggage regardless of fare. LH allows two items in C.
It will be interesting to see whether LH fares are valid on 4U. In the past, I have often flown on several-segment LH tickets that include sectors now flown by germanwings (e.g., CDG-TXL or HAM-MAN). If they are not included, that would make such tickets more expensive, even though 4U’s fares are much lower on a per-segment basis than LH’s are.
My fare was UA-issued and included the 4U segments. I believe that most LH fares will continue to as well for the connection options.
And you’re correct that I could have been seated further forward, but no windows were available there. The agent didn’t mention to me that I’d be getting less space when making the swap which, in retrospect, I’m a bit annoyed at. I did use the BEST check-in line; it was reasonably well marked at HAM.
The difference in seat pitch is much clearer on 4U’s website (which has its own challenges: you can’t change your seat once you are checked in, so you have to cancel check-in if you are unhappy with your seat or want to change).
I figured you would have used the BEST line at HAM but you didn’t mention it in your review 😀
what’s the best way to search award space? does it come up on UA’s search engine?
The UA site will show them generally. I also have an alert/search set up (and it is still working). Access that here: http://wandr.me/Award-Search/Germanwings-Award-Availability.
In my family we call that bread “fingernail bread”. It’s not an insult, either.
We just booked a ow flight VIE-BER on their cheapo fare (non-BEST) and had to pay extra for our carry-on suitcases as I know they will weigh more than 8KG (for our 2 weeks in Europe). It does look as though you can credit the miles to LH, but no one else. From the commenters above, it sounds as though my *G card should get us priority checkin, but not much else? Also have the Lounge card, so if we end up having time to kill in VIE will check out their lounges.
Depending on the fare you can also credit to UA; mine posted about a week later. More details: http://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/marketing/custcomm/promotions/Pages/AirlinePartnerDetails.aspx?ItemId=625.
And, other than that, not much in the way of *G benefits as you note.
Seth thanks for your review of Germanwings! I’m actually taking my first flight on them this weekend to MXP from DUS. They have a feature called ‘Blind Bookings’ which is exactly as it sounds — you don’t know where you are going until you pay. For €75 I’m game in that decision and it is still a mileage earning ticket which you can bank to Lufthansa’s Miles & More. Anyways, I’m excited to see how this blind booking works out.
Sounds like fun, Drew. I could get behind that sort of adventure.
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