Lufthansa 1713 Zagreb to Munich
Dep. 1:30PM Arr. 2:50PM
From the Westin Zagreb, it was an easy trip back to the bus station, reversing my trip back on the tram. On my way to the hotel, I hadn’t known that paper tickets had to be validated in the front of the tram. This time, I was prepared, which was a good thing, as ticket control officers boarded to check tickets.
Once at the bus station, there were clear signs leading to the Croatia Airlines bus, so I went through and got on line to buy my ticket. There’s no true public transportation to the airport, which is a ways outside the city. But Croatia Airlines runs a bus every half hour during the day from the central bus station, taking about 30 minutes for about $5. There were lots of Croatians on line at the ticket counter, which was for bus tickets to all destinations it seemed, and each seemed to have 1000 problems and questions. 10 minutes before scheduled departure, a man came in to usher people onto the bus, and I was starting to get worried. But he then said – “for airport, buy tickets on the bus.” A sign would have been helpful.
The bus was about half-full, and left a few minutes ahead of schedule. As we drove through the southern, more suburban part of Zagreb, I saw a lot of Communist-era apartment buildings, which I had been surprised not to see in the city in the previous days.
As much as I liked Zagreb, the airport was a surprising dump. (Though a major new construction project is supposedly in the works.) I was pretty surprised how much smaller and less full-service than the Belgrade or Dubrovnik airports – surprising given that Zagreb is comparable in size and is a Star Alliance hub. There was one check-in area for all Star Alliance flights, which led to lots of lines, as there were flights on Croatia, Lufthansa, and Austrian all leaving in the next 3 hours. I saw that my inbound aircraft was running about thirty minutes late, so was a bit worried about my connection, but figured I should still be fine.
When I booked my award ticket, there was no business availability on the short ZAG-MUC flight, which I was fine with given the length of the flight — 55 minutes in the air. Even though my first leg was in coach, I got on the business class line, where I was stuck amongst some very aggressive, pushy French passengers. After check-in without incident, I headed to security and immigration which, though crowded, moved quickly, even though several of the French people cut in line because they had a flight boarding in 30 minutes.
Immediately after immigration was the one lounge, which was horrible, and particularly disappointing after Belgrade. I used my Priority Pass membership to enter, but it is also used for Business Class/elites for all flights. There was no bathroom in the lounge, and two small seating areas. There was a self-serve fountain for soda, though NO DIET COKE, a machine for coffee, and some liquor and juice. As for food, there were unappetizing small plates with petit fours and savories, as well as chocolates and pretzels. There was free internet access though, via passcodes on slips of paper. The lounge was very crowded, making photo-taking hard, but I did what I could.
I didn’t stay long in the lounge, as I had some Croatian kuna I wanted to spend on souvenirs before my flight. Unfortunately, the gate area had a total of one stores, which was a packed duty free shop with a small souvenir area and a standard booze/candy/cheese/perfume area. There wasn’t much, but I picked out a few things and waited on the long line – only to be told that certain of my items could not be purchased at the regular cash register, and I had to find someone to help me at the special souvenir register. Blargh.
So after about 30 minutes of waiting on various lines, I finally got done with most of my kuna, and walked over to the gate, where it was boarding time already.
As a reminder, when I originally booked my ticket, I had an insane routing home – flying from Zagreb to Vienna on Croatia, Vienna to Dusseldorf on Austrian, Dusseldorf to Chicago on Lufthansa, and Chicago to DCA on United. A few hours later, availability on the Munich to Dulles flight appeared, so I was able to change for free, flying Zagreb to Vienna on Croatia, and Vienna to Munich, Munich to Dulles on Lufthansa. And then at the end of the day, Zagreb to Munich opened up, alas only in coach, so I ended up with a relatively easy one stop trip home, albeit with this coach leg.
We were bused to the plane, a new Lufthansa CityLine E90 with the Lufthansa Regional livery, with 2 by 2 seating and the lovely (uncomfortable) Recaro slimline seats. I saw the plane was only configured for one row (2 seats) in business. The rest of the pretty large jet was close to full . Newspapers were available upon boarding, so I was able to grab a Wall Street Journal, which hadn’t been available at either my hotel or in the lounge.
Boarding and takeoff were efficient, and we were soon airborne. Despite the short flying time, small snackboxes were distributed in coach, with a few tiny pieces of wienerschnitzel, potato salad, and some pretzels. I thought I’d have abundant food awaiting me in Munich and on the next flight, but was it was 2pm, and I was hungry, having had nothing of substance other than my little bakery sandwich all day. Even though I’m not a huge pork or mayonnaise eater, it was actually pretty tasty and appreciated on such a short flight (in coach!). I entertained myself for the hour or so without incident, and we were soon on the ground in Munich, about 20 minutes after our scheduled arrival.