My own private....

November 14 2004

Ever since it was announced, I've wanted to try out this flight.  The Chicago to Düsseldorf route, sold by Lufthansa as LH437, is operated by a Swiss charter airline called PrivatAir.  The plane is an Airbus A319, configured only with 48 business class seats.  That makes this a fairly unusual flight -- no economy class, in a smaller plane than one typically experiences across the pond.
With few exceptions, it is a Lufthansa flight.  Pre-flight amenities were provided in a United/Star Alliance lounge.  The menu, video selections, magazine, and amenity kit are all the same as Lufthansa's business or first class.  The cabin itself is the only place it feels different.
I'll post a few pictures later; if you are particularly interested, you'll find more than I've shot at  (just search on PrivatAir).  With 30 passengers aboard today's flight, it's particularly comfortable aboard.  I have an aisle and window seat to myself.  There is one lavatory for every ten passengers.  The PrivatAir flight crew is attentive, generous, and friendly.  It certainly feels like a "private" airplane, though obviously quite a bit bigger than, say, IBM's Falcon 2000.
The seats are a little different than other airplanes.  They are fixed-position rows; the seat cushions themselves adjust to convert from upright to reclining.  With clever design, this results in about five feet of seat pitch...with a somewhat-strange 35-degree angle for the "fully flat" recline.  It works, but it wasn't the most-comfortable in-flight seating I've experienced.
One other difference in the seating arrangement is how wide the center aisle is.  I'd estimate that it is over a meter wide, meaning that the service carts don't block flow.  That's a good thing, since I think the cart came by six times during the dinner meal service.
One unusual bit of onboard experience relates to soap.  I've been to Germany a dozen times, and every hotel I've stayed in has provided only "soft soap" in the bath.  Here, in a communal environment, there is a bowl of tiny unwrapped bars of soap in the lav. Maybe they weigh less?
We left O'Hare about 25 minutes behind schedule.  At first, this was announced as an equipment concern, but the secondary indication was that it was actually an air traffic control issue.  If we had left any earlier, we would have arrived at Düsseldorf before the airport's 6 AM opening hour.  
Flight 437 is the very first commercial flight to arrive at DUS each day, which should result in a particularly quick exit from the terminal.  Good thing, too, as I have a train to catch.  I'm actually planning to spend my morning in Köln (Cologne), touring the Kölner Dom (main church) and possibly one of the museums.  Because I mentioned this on Friday's blog entry, I seem to have picked up my own private tour guide.  Felix Binsack, of IBM business partner TimeToAct, is generously meeting me upon my arrival.  More about that in a later blog entry.

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