Flight check: Berlin to London on Germanwings

By Andrew Potter

Andrew Potter flies from Germany to England aboard 4U8460.

Germanwings' fare options range from Basic to Best, the latter getting hold baggage and food, the former getting carry on and going hungry. Photo / Thinkstock
Germanwings' fare options range from Basic to Best, the latter getting hold baggage and food, the former getting carry on and going hungry. Photo / Thinkstock

The plane? An Airbus A319-112, one of the smaller jets in the A320 family.

Class? Germanwings' fare options range from Basic to Best, the latter getting hold baggage and food, the former getting carry on and going hungry. I'm Basic. The 12 "Best" seats up front are all empty.

Price? $98, an absolute bargain for a flight from Berlin to Heathrow with its close proximity to Central London and connections to the Underground. Low-cost airlines normally use London's Luton or Stansted, which are miles away and require pricey train journeys.

On time? It's a cliche, but Germans really do love efficiency. True to form, our captain hooks reserve and we glide away from the gate precisely five minutes before our scheduled departure. No surprise: we lift off - and land - dead on time.

My seat? 16F, thin as a deckchair, but fine for the hour-and-a-half hop from Berlin. Legroom seems quite generous for a budget airline. Magazines are stowed in a pocket at eye level so my knees have a bit more room, which is a smart use of space. What did I say about efficiency?

Fellow passengers? My sister, who impresses the Germanwings crew with her innovative new term: "Danke you".

How full? Only 50 of the 144 seats are occupied, that's why this was so cheap. Germanwings doesn't have a Row 13 - superstitious?

Entertainment? Counting passengers. Then I flick open Germanwings' inflight magazine GW. It's surprisingly well written, and asks if Hollywood is running out of ideas with all its remakes, prequels and sequels.

The service? Germanwings is the low-cost arm of the country's national airline Lufthansa, and the quality shows. Flight attendants wear fitted jumpsuits in deep burgundy and are cheery but unobtrusive.

Food and drink? As Basic fare passengers, we have to buy our snacks. A cheese-filled baguette and small can of Coke cost me $9.80.

The toilets? There are three of them.

Luggage? Carry-on for me, which isn't policed for size or weight at the gate - a refreshing change.

The airport experience? Although not related to the famous chicken brand, Berlin's Tegel Airport has a weird layout and the lack of space is enough to drive you clucking crazy at busy times.

Would I fly this again? Ja, Germanwings ist sehr gut!

- NZ Herald

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