I lived a beautiful dream in September and October, 2020 when I visited Turkey and Ukraine and that was after being stuck in Kuwait for long months due to the lockdown there. However, this dream -just like any other beautiful dream- was coming to an end. On October 19th, 2020 I had to leave the Ukrainian capital and to fly back to Toronto, Canada to start a new job (and probably a new life). I made a decision to fly with Lufthansa as I am a member of their loyalty program and also, there weren’t really any other better or cheaper options.
I was excited about flying with Lufthansa as I wanted to fly with them during the global pandemic and to compare my experience with the one I had with Turkish airlines. However, to be honest, I wasn’t very excited about returning to Canada as I knew that 2 weeks quarantine would be waiting for me there. Besides, as I mentioned above, I was truly living a dream in Ukraine and I didn’t want it to end but sadly, it had to end.
Kyiv Boryspil International Airport
Everyone knows that I am a big lover of former USSR countries. However, I am not a big fan of most of their airports. I flew out of Kyiv’s largest airport twice in the past so this was my 3rd time and I must admit that there wasn’t anything special about this airport so I wasn’t really looking forward to fly out of this airport this time.
My flight from Kyiv to Frankfurt was scheduled to take off at 6.55 am. I left my apartment in Kyiv to the airport at around 3.30 am. The airport is about 40-45 minutes away from the city so I had to leave the apartment very early. Furthermore, I must admit that I’m a paranoid person who likes to show up for flights very early so that I can avoid all long queues and all the stress related to that.
I was picked up by a nice Uber driver who is originally from Azerbaijan. I was able to have a nice conversation with him with my terrible Russian and his broken English. I arrived early in the airport and headed directly to Lufthansa’s check-in counter. I was traveling with 2 suitcases and the check-in agent was kind enough to check-in my 2nd suitcase for free. I was supposed to pay about 150 dollars for checking-in an extra piece of luggage but I didn’t end up paying anything. Danke Lufthansa!
After a quick security check and passport control, I directly headed to the business lounge “comfort”, I knew where it’s located as I flew out of Boryspil airport twice in the past. I expected to see the same old and terribly designed lounge which I tried in the past which was by the way one of the worst airport lounges I’ve ever seen (along with the business lounge in Almaty airport in Kazakhstan). However, I was pleasantly surprised that the lounge was refurbished and it looked so beautiful and spacious. I really liked the new seats. There was a variety of food and drinks to choose from, and there were some power outlets. I am not saying that it’s the best airport lounge in the world but it’s definitely a huge progress in comparison with the old lounge. Sadly, it was still dark so I was unable to see planes parking right outside.
Kyiv to Frankfurt flight with a brand-new A320neo
After spending a bit more than an hour in the lounge, it was time to head to the boarding zone. Boarding was chaotic, flight was full, many people were not wearing a mask properly. However, I wasn’t completely surprised as I saw that not many people really care about wearing masks or social distancing in Ukraine. Anyhow, I got inside the plane; the plane smelled new! It was spotless clean and it felt so good to be there but sadly legroom wasn’t the greatest.
It was a relatively short flight from Kyiv to Frankfurt (a bit more than 2 hours). Unlike my experience with Turkish Airlines, there was a service on this flight. I enjoyed a cup of coffee with milk and a tasty chocolate. I flew with Lufthansa numerous times before and I must say that I really enjoy their service every time I fly with them. Also, when it’s time to order something to drink from a flight attendant, I often love to exploit this moment to show my German language skills and to order something in German, hopefully not with a super thick accent.
The flight was generally nice and pleasant and I enjoyed the window view. I was hoping to see the sunrise but we’re flying towards west so my seat faced north so I didn’t end up catching sunrise, it was still great to enjoy magnificent scenes while sitting next to the window.
I love to stop at Frankfurt airport because I have many memories attached to this airport. I believe that I made more stops in Frankfurt airport than any other airport in the airport (Except Kuwait and Toronto as I lived in these 2 cities) so I know how to navigate it very well. It’s an old airport and probably not the fanciest and the nicest airport in Europe but I often know how to enjoy my time while I am there. However, the stop this time was depressing due to Covid situation. Most of restaurants and lounges were closed so dining options were very limited. I finally managed to find a restaurant that is still open and since I was in Germany, I wanted to try something German so I had a tasty chicken sausages with potato salad.
Frankfurt to Toronto flight with A330
When time to board the plane was approaching, I went to the boarding gate and had to go through some extra security measures (they often do that in flights to Canada and USA). While waiting to board the plane, Lufthansa agent announced that they’re selling business and premium economy seats for discounted prices. I can’t remember the price exactly but I believe it was around 650 Euros for a business seat for this 8 hours flight from Frankfurt to Toronto. I personally wasn’t sure of what level of service I will be getting because of Covid restrictions. I decided not to take the offer and I was praying that the seat next to me would be empty so that I will have a lot of space during the flight and luckily, that’s what happened.
Even the seat behind me was empty so I had the chance to fully recline my seat; I hung my jacket on the seat next to me, sat down and relaxed. I love the 2-4-2 and 2-3-2 layout of this A330 economy cabin as I like to always take the window seat so even if the flight was full, I would still need to ask only 1 person (not 2) to stand up in case I needed to go to the washroom.
Service started a few minutes after takeoff; I didn’t see any significant difference between Lufthansa’s service on this flight versus service pre-pandemic. Probably the only difference I could notice was the lack of hard liquor (I didn’t care). Another thing which I noticed it wasn’t there was the a la carte dining service which Lufthansa introduced a few months before the pandemic (they restored this service now – May 2021).
Moments after serving drinks, they started to serve lunch and it was the same level of service which I am used to get from Lufthansa cabin crew; incredibly polite and exceptionally professional. I had beef with pasta with a small salad and a tasty cake for dessert. They also served fresh German bread. The meal tasted good enough but not great.
A few hours into the flight, they continued serving more drinks such as coffee, tea, water, and other soft drinks. About an hour before landing, they served another light meal which consisted of roast beef, salad, and a piece of German bread. This dish tasted much better than the main meal I had a few hours before so I would say that it was great.
I truly love how Lufthansa restored the high level of service fairly quickly while some of their competitors such as Turkish Airlines and British Airways took them almost a year into the pandemic to restore their usual service. I didn’t feel any difference in this flight as it felt like any other Lufthansa flight I had before the pandemic; probably the only difference was the mandatory mask wearing but apart from that, I can’t say that the flight was stressful or anything like that. On the contrary, it was one of the most pleasant flights I had with Lufthansa mainly because the plane was half empty so I had a plenty of room to stretch, to relax, to store my belongings, and even to walk around the aisles. This was the last flight I had and 6 months later, words can’t say how much I miss flying with this great airlines.
Arrival in Toronto and the 2 weeks quarantine
I landed in Toronto airport; passport control officer asked me the usual question (Do you have food?) and I answered him with “no” and then he asked me what I was doing outside Canada and I answered him with “I was working in Kuwait” and then he saw my Russian visa and asked what I was doing in Russia. Why did he only ask about Russia but not about Ukraine, Belarus, Morocco or any of the 20 something countries I visited in the last 2 years? I have no idea. Anyhow, I told him that I was visiting Russia because it’s my favourite country and he obviously didn’t like my answer.
I saw they’re doing a free optional PCR test on arrival so I went there and did the test and got the result next day which was negative. I ordered an Uber to drive me to the apartment where I spent 2 weeks of quarantine in addition to 5.5 more months (I moved to a new apartment 2 weeks ago). I rented this apartment from a good friend of mine and I was lucky that I had everything I needed there, it felt like home and that helped me a lot in surviving my home quarantine period.
Apart from that, I instantly noticed the moment I landed in Toronto that the city looked terribly sad. I understand that Toronto can look so in October as it’s usually dark and grey during that month but in addition to that, the lock-down due to pandemic had its toll on people so everything looked gloomy and unwelcoming. Honestly, I didn’t feel good about returning there.
This is all I can say about my Lufthansa flight experience from Kyiv to Toronto via Frankfurt during Covid for now. I am stuck in Toronto now until further notice so I am not sure when I will be able to travel again but let’s hope we will be able to do that soon. I am scheduled to get my 1st dose of Covid vaccine on May 9th so let’s see if vaccination will expedite the return to normalcy.