The Airbus A340-300 is becoming increasingly elusive within Europe and throughout the world as airlines opt for more efficient twin-engine wide body aircraft over the 4 engine A340. The same can also be said for fellow 4 engine aircraft such as the Boeing 747, Airbus A380 and Avro Rj85/100.
As a frequent flyer, I’m always searching for the best deals on long-haul planes. You can read how we fly long-haul aircraft on short-haul routes here!
I have set out on a personal mission to fly as many 4 engine aircraft before they eventually become obsolete in the near future. I have already flown the Swiss RJ100 and the Qatar and Qantas Airbus A380 but I still needed to fly at least one of the variants of the Airbus A340.
The larger -600 variant is regularly used on the Madrid to Heathrow route so that is easy enough to come by and I will still fly that sector in the near future, however for a limited period, Eurowings are using their leased A430-300s (from Brussels Airlines) on the morning Dusseldorf to Palma route and also in the evenings to Vienna (as crew training for their JFK service later this year). This was the perfect opportunity to catch the more elusive A340-300, tainted for being under powered and subsequently nicknamed the hairdryer.
Being an avgeek, I looked deeper into the roots of the aircraft and I noticed it was ex-Lufthansa. I googled the registration of the aircraft (OO-SCW) and I noticed through pictures and online reviews that it had not been retrofitted. This meant it was still spotting the Lufthansa mainline long-haul configuration for the A340-300. Using seatguru.com and various other websites I noticed that the extra legroom seats bookable on the ‘SMART’ fare were actually Lufthansa Premium Economy seats which was worth the extra £15 in my opinion.
Just a small note if you book ‘best class seats’ you will actually fly in Lufthansa business class, as shown below. I booked my flights through Kayak it is one of the few sites that shows aircraft type.
So far, I had the DUS-VIE leg booked and my VIE-LGW leg booked through EasyJet however, I still needed to get to DUS. It surprisingly turned out that the cheapest way was via Alicante with TUI UK then Eurowings. This was quickly turning into a very long 4 sector day.
After 2 of my flights already completed, I arrived in Dussledorf ready for some planespotting! If you head upstairs from the departure lounge, DUS offers a really nice place to sit and watch the action on a stopover with a small vending for snacks and drinks. Admission is only a couple of Euros, too, so make sure you visit when you’re there!
My A340 (OO-SCW) was patiently awaiting outside as everyone started to board, which was chaotic, unorganized and tiresome, actually delaying our departure time by 20minutes.
We were prematurely boarded and consequently the traffic piled up into the jetty way which was extremely hot and quickly became sticky and sweaty. I made it on-board eventually and was ushered to my seat, 6K, Lufthansa’s premium economy seat. This small section of the cabin was fitted in a 2-3-2 configuration was full, but I later discovered that only a third of economy was booked out and only a couple of passengers were in ‘BEST’ class (aka Business Class). My seat had a perfect view of engine 3 and 4, worth the surplus of £15 on my ticket.
We took off from Runway 05R, the more unusual configuration for Düsseldorf, bound for Vienna.
Once at our cruising altitude the on-board service began. This was where things got interesting. The flight attendants went around distributing the free snacks and drinks for those booked on the SMART fair bracket, when she arrived at my seat the lady beside me received her small food box but I was handed nothing, when I made my presence known she looked at me, looked at her sheet and shook her head. I assumed at this point that maybe I did not book the SMART fare bracket as I did pay extra for my extra legroom seat but after my flight I had realised that booking extra leg-room seats does not put you in the SMART bracket – oops.
It was not long until we were starting our descent into Vienna, the sun was starting to set and this short flight was sadly coming to an end. From an aviation geek point of view this flight had been a total success.
We touched down on Runway 16, only running 10minutes behind schedule. During de-boarding I asked the Cabin Manager if there was any chance if I could visit the flight deck, and unsurprisingly they said no, they didn’t even ask the flight deck crew which disappointed me more.
I finally made it onto an A340! Flying Eurowings was a real experience, while I didn’t find the crew overly friendly, it was a great surprise being able to fly on an old Lufthansa cabin. By purchasing a ‘BEST’ ticket I would have been overjoyed by the Lufthansa business seats.