Lufthansa Business Class Review A320neo Athens (ATH) to Istanbul (IST) via Frankfurt (FRA)
I was initially booked on a Turkish Airlines flight from Athens to Istanbul but that would be canceled just 48 hours before my departure time. The call center agents offered to rebook me on Lufthansa (despite the obvious round trip) and I accepted.
After a productive few hours at the Lufthansa Business Class lounge in Athens I made my way to the gate - only to realize that departure would be a good 35 minutes late because deplaning from the arriving plane was just happening while boarding should have started. Athens airport was rather crowded despite COVID but most planes now operate on time (given the little traffic there is left).
The plane would be 100% full and Lufthansa leaves the middle seats empty but otherwise you get an Economy seat. However, there is usually good catering and attentive flight attendants plus drinks that are being served.
Boarding took forever (so it felt) and I ended up with an extra anxious flyer just in front of me. For the next 2.5 hours, he would call the flight attendant constantly, bounce in his seat (shaking my laptop around), forget to put up his mask, or make his carry on dog bark up the cabin. In sum, a total disaster of a passenger. For a while, I was sure we'd turn around and deplane him but that never happened. The flight crew tried their best to keep him in check but that only happened after another pill he took and he eventually fell asleep just before landing. Oh well.
For such a rather short flight the quality and quantity of catering was very good and I liked the main entree as well as the cheese desserts a lot. I'm not a fan of cured meats so I skipped the appetizer.
The pilot mentioned that 'no connections' would be missed due to our late arrival. Good news I thought but I wasn't giving too much thought to it.
Once landed we got off and I made my way through border control (there was no line despite just two immigration officers on duty) and once on the non-Schengen side, it was obvious why. The place is deserted! There was just one more gate active (besides Istanbul) and one coffee shop. All the lounges are closed (though the Senator lounge opens in the morning). The Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge has not re-opened yet.
Indeed it looks a bit like San Francisco downtown - not like an international airport. The list of flights was also depressingly short.
I hurried to my new gate - but only to discover it was simply the non-Schengen side of my existing plane - indeed once everyone deplaned and it was cleaned - I chatted with the same crew again. Oh well.
The flight to Istanbul was much faster (so it felt) and I was the only passenger in Business Class). Economy was about 20% full maybe. The catering was even better this time - I really liked the chicken served (it looked suspicious but tasted great).
After a delightful 2.5 hours we landed at the new Istanbul airport just before midnight.