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Longhaul with Lufthansa (and 2 kids in tow)

A huge thanks to Weronika who gives us our first Lufthansa review – Hong Kong to Warsaw via Frankfurt…

Jasiek_with_his_luggage

Who:
I was travelling alone with my 2 boys: Jasiek (3.5yo) and Antek (4 months). I was carrying the younger in a Bondolino carrier (no stroller) and the older one had to walk.

Where were you travelling to and from?
From Hong Kong to Warsaw via Frankfurt, both legs on Lufthansa (flag carrier of Germany). We departed from HK at 11.40pm, arrived in Frankfurt at 5.20am, departed for Warsaw at 7.10am and landed there 8.45am.

How did you book the flight tickets?
Thru my husband’s company travel center (tickets for the whole family back to our home country are a part of his package)

Did you prebook anything e.g. bassinet, kids meal?
Yes, we prebooked a bassinet for Antek and kids’ meals, but we had some troubles with Antek bassinet on our way to Frankfurt: a stewardess said they didn’t receive any booking for bassinet, only for baby food (I almost had a heart attack at this moment!), but as I was the only one in business class with a baby plus we had the right seats booked, we got it installed without previous reservation.

Did you do online check-in?
No, as we’d have to queue for bags drop-off anyway, so kind of waste of time (especially as we were told by travel agent that a bassinet and seats close to the bassinet are already booked for us).

AT HONG KONG AIRPORT
We took a taxi and arrived 2 hours before the plane’s scheduled departure – wanted to have some extra time as it was the first time I was travelling alone with two kids and didn’t know what to expect.

How was check-in? 
Very smooth and with no problems; our luggage was send straight to Warsaw and we got tickets for both legs of our journey issued in HK, together with departure gates for our Frankfurt – Warsaw flight.

Did you take your stroller with you to the Gate or give to check-in? 
I wasn’t taking one with me – as I was visiting family for a longer period of time I’ve rented a stroller at the destination – but we were offered to check-in our baby car seat, which we declined (I already have car seats for both boys at my parents place, so no need to take those from HK). As far as I know, one stroller or one car seat per child can be taken on Lufthansa flights without any problems.

I’ve seen a few families travelling with strollers on our first flight – those were checked-in at the gate and delivered really quickly at Frankfurt just outside the plane. Unfortunately there were no babies on the plane to Warsaw, so I can’t comment on how it was done on European flight.

How was security?  

Security in HK was really quick and kid-friendly: there is a special gate for families, I didn’t have to take out Antek from the carrier or taste any liquids (as I’m breastfeeding I had only 1 emergency bottle of ready-to-drink milk for Antek and 1 bottle of water for Jasiek in my hand luggage plus a few drugs: painkiller, teething gel, cough syrup, eye drops, hand disinfectant, nappy rash cream). Also security officers offered to help me with holding the kid or putting my backpack back on, which I found super nice.

Frankfurt is very much different – although they have a special security gate for families, nobody offered to help, and I ended up asking other parents in the queue to hold Antek while I unpacked, as they required me to take out the baby from the carrier and send it thru X-ray machine; they also requested my older son to taste the liquid in his water bottle and carefully examined all the drugs. Thank God they didn’t ask me to open the emergency bottle of milk or confiscated medicine (what really helped was that each medicine – except for nappy rash cream and hand disinfectant – had an official hospital sticker with patient name on it, and the names matched the names in boys’ passports).

Security in Warsaw is also pretty strict – you need to take out baby from a carrier – but they’re willing to help you with holding your baby and nobody asks kids to taste their liquids. They also didn’t examine the drugs.

What did you think of the airport?  How were the baby changing facilities?  Any kids playground?
Frankfurt airport is huge – I had almost 2h to connect and made it from gate to gate with only 10 minutes to spare, because I had to do a quick bathroom trip for my older, and change a nappy for my younger son on the way… Therefore I have no idea if any sort of playground exists at Frankfurt airport, but their changing facilities are good (basic, as they’re in the same room as toilet for disabled people – changing table, chair for feeding, sink to wash your hands – but there is a lot of them).

Warsaw airport in comparison is pretty small, but they have a few playground areas (again – nothing special, but it should hold the kid’s interest for quite some time as they’ve installed TVs with Disney cartoons inside 🙂 Same can be said for changing facilities – basic & simple- however a plus in my opinion as there are special “baby care rooms”, not together with a toilet.

Kids area in Warsaw Airport

Kids TV in Warsaw Airport

Did you get priority boarding?
Yes we did – Lufthansa offers priority boarding for all families travelling with kids, no matter if you have business or economy class ticket. I took it as I know Jasiek likes to sit & play inside the plane, but if you have easily bored kid, I’d opt out and let him run outside for as long as possible.

ONBOARD

We managed to get business class tickets, so we had fully reclining seats which made for very comfortable beds for me and my older son. We were also located right behind the bassinet, which was great, as we had a little corner of a plane just to ourselves, plus it was close to the toilets (super important with my boy who still can’t hold it for a longer time)

How was the bassinet?
Bassinet in itself was ok – I believe the restriction is 80cm and 12kg (I didn’t check the details, as I was pretty sure my 4 month old was nowhere near those limits), but its placement was the biggest disaster during the whole trip! Bassinet was located above the shelf which held our screens and magazines, which meant it was really high (eye level for me, and I’m 1,7m tall, so I a) had problems with putting my son in it and b) wasn’t able to see him at all while sitting on my seat). Moreover, there was just 30cm or so between the rim of the bassinet and the ceiling, which meant further troubles with getting the wriggling baby in and out, plus it was directly below the fan/ aircon – the cold air was blowing directly on my baby, which I suspect contributed to him getting cold just after the flight. Because of those issues I’m seriously considering flying economy next time – I remember the bassinets were located lower.

sleeping_Jasiek

Did your child get offered any activity bag etc?
Yes, my younger son got a sweet mini-pillow with Lufthansa logo, which he absolutely adores (that’s why we got two more on our flight back home – just to have some spare ones  ) and my older got a whole big activity bag (crayons, puzzles, drawing book, stickers, some woolen threads for making bracelet, note pad, story book in 3D and 3D glasses, bag of Haribo gummi-bears). He was very happy with it and made a total mess, scattering everything except Haribo on the floor, but nobody batted an eyelash! 

Jasiek_with_giftset

How was the meal?
I was offered two baby food jars for Antek – I declined, he didn’t eat solids at the time, but noticed it was a dinner jar and a dessert jar, and the brand was really good (HiPP organic).

Jasiek fell asleep before they served dinner, but got a very nice breakfast: fresh fruit, yoghurt, pancakes, Nutella, porridge with fruit sauce, chocolate milk, selection of breads. Before serving I was also asked if I’d prefer an adult breakfast for him, so I guess having scrambled eggs & sausage for your kid is also an option.

There was no baby food on the shorter flight, but Jasiek again got an option to choose if he wanted an adult sandwich or packed cake and muesli bar (that was not a ready kid-meal, they put it together for him on the go)

kids_meal

How were the changing facilities in the toilet? 
Each toilet I visited had the changing table, but it was pretty small: I’d say you can fit a baby of 70cm quite ok, but will have to do some aerobics to change the diaper of a taller one.

How was the staff?
The staff was extra helpful when I was travelling alone with the kids – they helped Jasiek to buckle his safety belt, made sure his seat is in the correct position for landing, patiently ignored him when he was playing with the “assistance” button, assisted him when he was making trips to the toilet for tissues to blow his nose; he also got breakfast as the first person on board.
I also received a lot of help with my younger boy: a couple of nice stewardesses were checking him when I needed bathroom break and even held and comforted him when he woke up during my breakfast so I could finish eating; the really tall and very sweet steward helped him in and out the bassinet and entertained him when he cried.

How was the entertainment?
I don’t know if it’s a business class thing or a Lufthansa thing, but they had really great movie selection, both for adults (including newest blockbusters like Thor 2, Saving Mr. Banks and Grand Budapest Hotel and full seasons of some TV series – I think I saw Homeland) and kids (over 10 cartoon classics like Peter Pan or Lilo & Stitch, but they also had Frozen!). 

Any tips?
Double check with your agent you have a bassinet booked and allow yourself plenty of time if catching a connecting flight at Frankfurt.

ARRIVAL

I wasn’t travelling with one, but other families got their strollers immediately after leaving the plane – and without the long wait.

How was immigration?
Very detailed in Frankfurt – they made me wake up my sleeping baby to get a really close look at his face and compare it with passport photo. I have also heard they were asking older kids for their names to check with passports (“what’s your name, boy?”) and to point out their parents and siblings (“who is your mummy?” and “what’s your brother’s name?”) at the other immigration gate. 

As I was later travelling within EU, there was no immigration check in Warsaw.

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