Grant Bradley travels from Berlin to Frankfurt flying aboard Lufthansa 187.

The plane:

An Airbus A321-100 - Lufthansa has 64 of these. The largest member of the A320 family, it has up to 200 seats and is the workhorse of the German airline's short- to medium-haul fleet. My plane was a ripe old 23 years of age - more than twice the average age of the Lufthansa fleet, according to

My seat: 12B in the middle of a row of three at the very front of Economy. These are seriously slimline and as ubiquitous as they get in grey leather, but they were comfy enough and there was adequate legroom. Fortunately, my row mates were reasonably slender so we weren't elbowing each other. I moved early in the flight to the rear of the cabin where there was plenty of space and ended up having a row to myself. Odd, maybe something to do with the price of the ticket because when I had earlier changed my seat online to get closer to the front no empty rows showed.

The price: Skyscanner finds seats for $139 booked a month out. It is about a 420km flight.


On time: No. We were told we would be delayed for 30 minutes but it turned out there was just a 20-minute hold-up. Whether it was lost in translation or just an admirably droll pilot, he informed passengers there had been "some delay caused by some problems we don't know". However, the flight time was shorter than expected and we landed ahead of schedule.

The airport experience: Tegel Airport was quickly developed after World War II as the main base for the Berlin Airlift. Usually a pleasant, manageable airport but on a Thursday earlier this month it felt swamped. It was a slog to get there by road and hard to get a seat in the departure lounge. A new Berlin airport has been delayed. However, on the plus side, Wi-Fi's free for an hour at Tegel and is easy to access and super quick.

Check-in: Lufthansa's mobile phone check-in worked fine, I changed a seat to further up the plane but when I had to check a bag at the airport the process became cumbersome.

Two or three staff seem to be dealing with one problem instead of spreading themselves across a range of them. Others in the group I was with had to pay $115 to $230 for excess baggage. My Economy-Class ticket allowed me one piece of checked luggage and there wasn't a problem getting a small backpack and computer bag into the cabin.

Entertainment: Some Lufthansa A321s have Wi-Fi but this plane didn't. No seatback entertainment. Otherwise, there was Lufthansa Magazin, which had a feature about Thailand, some useful fleet information and a good guide to Frankfurt Airport. If you're making connections there you'd be wise to take a look.

The service: We were advised before takeoff we wouldn't be disturbed by the three-person cabin crew but they did come around with a Nussini hazelnut chocolate bar and a cup of coffee later in the flight. Pleasant and unobtrusive service.

Toilets: Two at the back; clean, when I briefly visited but one seat was a bit wonky.

The flight: Some fairly radical turbulence caused by high-altitude winds just as we began our descent. A good shake and the crew got us into seatbelt lockdown for the remainder of the flight.

The bottom line: Lufthansa has been hit by industrial turbulence too and like other legacy carriers in Europe it is coming to terms with budget airlines so is in a period of transition. It shows. Flight 187 was efficient once airborne but it got me thinking about taking a train instead of enduring the hassle of getting to the airport, security, delays and - initially at least - a cramped plane.