FIRST IMPRESSIONS I entered the small, square metal and glass terminal building at Dresden airport at 0940 for my 1110 flight back to London Heathrow (to see a review of the outbound leg click here).
The ground floor has a small supermarket, car hire desks, arrivals and a small cafe-bar. I went straight upstairs via an escalator to the check in area which caters for all flights out of the airport. I checked in via an electronic kiosk which serves Lufthansa as well as Swiss, Germanwings, Air Berlin and Cirrus airlines.
Each of the eight kiosks had around four people lined up waiting to use them apart from the one machine which had frozen. There was no one around to deal with any technical issues. Therefore some of my travelling party decided to attempt to check in with a member of staff as there was no queue and three staff members twiddling their thumbs behind their desks.
I persevered down the electronic route only to have the machine fail to read my passport several times. I entered my flight details manually and when prompted to scan my passport again was told there was an error. However when I went to give up the machine spat out my boarding pass. This also happened to one of my travelling companions.
Following the technical issues we were through security (laptops out, shoes on) and airside by 1015. There were two security channels operating although one would probably have sufficed as there were so few people around.
Once airside there is a cafe, souvenir shop, newsagents and small duty free if you want to pick up a last minute loaf of stollen cake. The departure area is open and was very quiet, offering plenty of seating.
BOARDING Boarding commenced at 1045 at gate 1, which is located at the far end of the departures area, still not a long walk. We showed our passports and there was no queue to board. We were taken to the aircraft by a bus, but only after being kept waiting, and standing, on board for 10 minutes.
We were given no tags for our bags and no instructions but soon realised that they should be placed on a trolley before boarding so that they could be deposited in the hold and were waiting for us on disembarkation at Heathrow. The aircraft is configured 2-2 throughout (to see a seatplan click here) and is narrow with very small overhead lockers. There were three rows of business class with the accompanying spare seats identified with ‘your space’ headrest covers.
THE SEAT I was allocated seat 21D, which was an aisle seat, however when boarding completed I relocated to the two seats behind me in 22D so I could have some extra space. Although not as empty as the outbound flight there were five rows of spare seats at the back of the cabin and these were soon similarly occupied by likeminded travellers. Rows 15 and 16 are located at the emergency exit and offer extra legroom.
THE FLIGHT Boarding completed at 1110, our designated departure time, and we commenced our loud, rattling taxi to the runway soon after. We took off at 1130 and the seatbelt sign was soon off, and stayed off for the entire flight this time.
Food was brought round at 1200 and consisted of a luminous yellow potato salad with a single cherry tomato, two crostini and some diced, spam like meat which came in a jelly which made it look unsettlingly like cat food. I ate some and both of the crostini but left a great deal, preferring to have a nice large glass of sparkling wine and a water when the full hot and cold drinks service soon followed.
We began our descent at 1150 and many people still had rubbish on their tray tables which wasn’t taken. We landed at 1215 and disembarked at a stand at 1230.
ARRIVAL Passport control at Heathrow was very quiet but I still decided to try the e-passport gate as I had yet to have success with them. There was a member of staff on hand but the machine worked seamlessly, reading the passport and letting me through in 10 seconds flat. I was on the underground back to central London by 1300.
VERDICT A smooth, swift and comfortable flight, somewhat afforded by the bonus of a spare seat.
PLANE TYPE CRJ900 NextGen
SEAT CONFIGURATION 2-2
SEAT PITCH 31-2”
SEAT WIDTH 17”
SEAT RECLINE 110 degrees
PRICE Through the Lufthansa website a midweek return fare in December start at around £190 in economy.