Meeting “Munchen”

This afternoon, Star Mega DOs 1 & 2 came full circle with a visit to the “Munchen,” a.k.a D-AIMB, the Lufthansa Airbus A380 we last saw a year ago on the assembly line in Toulouse. (And if that wasn’t enough, we caught a glimpse of last year’s charter, the Condor 757 D-ABON, as we were leaving the hangar area). Lufthansa’s second A380 (of three so far, with the fourth set to follow shortly) the Munchen had arrived from NRT earlier this morning and was being prepped for its NRT return flight the following day.

Splitting into small groups upon arrival, FlyerTalkers literally kicked the tires (rated to 235 mph and costing $16,000 a piece) and stroked the fuselage and found the orange waterspouts where the water you washed your hands with exits the aircraft. Our tour guide, a retired 747 captain named Ulrich Fuchs (who led tours of that plane a year ago) explained how the landing gear folds up in upon itself and told the story of the stowaway found frozen on one of his runs between FRA and Accra, Ghana. “Boeing likes to boast the 747 is made of 6 million parts,” Fuchs said at one point. “Well, 3 million of those are rivets. The A380 has 6.5 million parts, but you hardly see any rivets.”

On board, the Mega DOers politely milled about in Economy for awhile (“Look around,” Tommy said, “This is your first and last time on the lower deck!”) before being led upstairs to the new First Class. Designed in a typically restrained Teutonic style in grays and blacks, most of the amenities on display were expected (lie-flat beds, pajamas, humidifiers, his-and-hers kits by Porsche Design) and a few surprises (instead of overhead bins, personal lockers; instead of showers, bathrooms with full sinks, leather benches, and cabinets stocked with razors, toothpaste, and makeup remover).

We skipped business class considering many of us flew in the same product the night before, but the Lufthansa execs on board were quick to defend the absence of a refresh. When LH was finalizing its A380 layout in 2004 in expectation of a 2007 rollout, the nearly-flat beds were still in the top tier. But the endless series of supposedly minor delays hamstrung their ability to rethink the product in time. (Although the first row of seats in business class can be made full lie-flat if you know which levers to manually push. Ask your purser; she’ll know how.)

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