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ATW Editor's Blog

Dulles to Hamburg, hassle-free and bag delivered

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The first leg started and finished well. Bag drop-off at Washington Dulles was a breeze – I had checked in online, walked right up to the counter and the bag was tagged and placed on the belt in two minutes.

It was a busy Sunday afternoon at Dulles, but a sign at the entry to TSA security said the line was six minutes. Excellent. In reality, it was 16 minutes, but still not bad. Lots of agents, all 14 security lanes open, and lots of people being efficiently processed.

The British Airways Airbus A380 transatlantic flight was also smooth all the way to Heathrow, where I arrived at T5 with three hours before the onward flight to Hamburg.

T5 is a rabbit warren, unnecessarily complicated, and there was another security screening even though I was a connecting passenger, had not left the “clean” airside since departing Dulles, and was flying from the same terminal with the same airline. However, the T5 security process was reasonable – about 15 minutes. In all, it was about an hour to do the transfer.

The BA Airbus A320 took off on schedule and at Hamburg, voila! – my checked bag was delivered pretty quick. So in all, an excellent start to the trip with passenger and bag reconciled at arrival, security processes pretty much hassle-free.

Hamburg is quite the bustling airport these days. On arrival there were low cost carrier aircraft from just about everywhere in Europe – Wizz Air, Vueling, EasyJet, Ryanair, Germanwings, Eurowings, Norwegian, SunExpress. An Emirates Boeing 777 also landed right after my BA A320. You can see, frankly, what has some US airlines spooked about Norwegian Air International coming into the US. Low cost doesn’t mean the end of the legacy carriers – also at Hamburg there were aircraft from BA, Lufthansa, Aer Lingus and Air France. But they have to compete on price against the LCCs as well as on service against the Gulf carriers. In my opinion, what the US airline unions are most afraid of is the cost competition and its potential implication for their compensation. But bottom line, Hamburg’s daily schedule shows you the power of the LCCs, as well as the staying power of the legacies.

 

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