TRIP REPORT: Zagreb - Baku via Frankfurt

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Written by Erik Tomori

Date: 15.3.2018

Zagreb to Frankfurt
Flight number: OU 410
Airline: Croatia airlines
Aircraft: Bombardier Q400 9A-CQB

Frankfurt to Baku
Flight number: LH612
Airline: Lufthansa
Aircraft: Airbus A321-200 D-AISI

There are not many options to travel to Azerbaijan from Slovenia where I live. I have planned my trip to the European youth parliament session three weeks in advance so there were not many reasonably priced options left from Ljubljana. Therefore, I decided to fly from Zagreb instead. It looked like there were only two options: Turkish or Lufthansa. I went for the latter because the time of arrival was better (21:20 instead of 1 AM). The booking process on Lufthansa.com was very easy and there weren’t any ads. Seat selection and checked bag were free because I had the “basic‘’ fare. I must say that Lufthansas seatmaps can be very helpful during seat selection because they show the real position of the windows.


This was my first time flying from Zagreb and also my first time flying Croatia Airlines. A couple of days before I got an e-mail from Lufthansa about the change in my departure time for 35 minutes earlier. I knew immediately that this meant an aircraft change from the A319 to the Q400. This was my first time on a turboprop and I must say I was looking forward to it.



Since it was early, the drive to the airport from Ljubljana didn’t take too long but as we know that can change during busy periods because of waiting times at the border. The new terminal is really nice, it probably leaves a great first impression on someone who is visiting Croatia for the first time. There were only two check in counters open for all Croatia flights but there was no need to wait because it was early. Boarding was done by bus, I was used to small planes before because of Adria so the size of Q400 didn’t surprise me. I must say that seats and legroom are worse than on Adria's CRJs. What shocked me the most was the lack of window blinds (I found out later that they are present on newer Q400s). Inflight service was great for a flight that short (biscuits with the taste of olives and a glass of water). Croatia is no better than Adria in terms of good parking positions at FRA but at least the almost 20 minute bus ride gives great views of other aircraft.

I had a 5 hours layover, enough time to clear security and two passport controls. This was my first time using e-gates for passport check in Germany (they are 18+ here and 12+ in the UK), compared to the British ones they worked perfectly. Frankfurt is not that bad for transferring but I still prefer Munich. I had a 5 hour layover at concourse B. Time passed quickly because I was checking other planes. I also saw at that time the only Lufthansa plane with the new livery (747-8i) in the distance, because it was cloudy the blue on the tail looked too dark in my opinion. I have heard later that Lufthansa decided for s brighter shade of blue for other planes.


I was boarding by bus again for my next flight. There were pillows and blankets provided at every seat. Mine was 11F which was considered as an emergency exit row seat. Despite that, the legroom was standard but still above average compared to other airlines thanks to slim seats which can feel quite hard. The flight to Baku used to be served by A340s, but nowadays that never happens because of low demand. The LH612 is actually a flight to Ashgabat but it stops in Baku. It is considered as a long-haul flight by Lufthansa. The meal was served half an hour after takeoff, the size was decent, this was the first time for me to eat something more than sandwiches on a plane. To be honest, I was expecting the food to taste worse. There were two options (pasta or chicken), there was also a salad with French dressing, a bun with butter and a small cheese slice and a piece of cake for desert. Everything tasted great apart from vegetables in the main course. Drinks were served several times and they were also available at the back galley along with some snacks. The crew did a great job and was very friendly.




The flight took the route along the northern coast of Turkey and over Georgia (avoiding Armenia). It took about 4 hours and 20 minutes to reach Baku. The flight passed very quickly despite the lack of IFE. I had my iPad which fitted perfectly into the seatpocket above the tray table. The views were amazing because the sunset overtook us. It was completely dark until we reached the Caspian Sea and the oil rigs could be seen. Landing was on-time and quite turbulent because it is always windy in Baku.


The arrival process at GYD was very easy. I must say that the airport itself is amazing but a little bit spooky due to the lack of people. The immigration and baggage claim took less than 10 minutes. Entry requirements for Azerbaijan are the same for EU member states and all Balkan states, there is only e-visa needed which is easy to get and costs 24 USD.

I must say that Lufthansa didn’t disappoint despite the flight being operated by an aircraft used for shorter flights. I still think that USB ports and head rests would be great additions to the cabin. I have been using Lufthansa quite a lot for the past 2 years and I was always impressed, especially by the friendliness of the cabin crew. Croatia also didn’t disappoint and I won’t hesitate to fly with them in the future.


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Comments

  1. Nice report. How much was TK from LJU?

    Also how was the load from ZAG? I guess they downgraded the flight because of light loads?

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    1. Thank you. TK from LJU was about 700€ return and I would arrive very late. The flight from ZAG was empty indeed. A lot of seats around me were free.

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    2. Such a shame that OU couldn't fill a small turboprop to Frankfurt.

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    3. OMG, total lack of objectivity :( I mean if someone here is critical towards OU it would be me, but saying shame for low LF on one of 5 daily FRA's, on one single day, in full swing of winter season, is absolutely unnecessary. I mean there are really many shames that could be put on OU but not for this one, sorry.

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    4. Why not? It can mean that five daily flights to Frankfurt is too much capacity. Kucko did say that all of their winter flying is unprofitable including flights to LH hubs. Who else can we blame besides OU? If they actually bothered to expand there wouldn't be such a need to feed LH flights.

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    5. I wouldn't take for serious everything Kucko said :) But I fully agree with you OU should have been much bigger and much better, and should have had its own hub in ZAG and feed it for long-haul, from Croatia, ex-yu and entire Balkans. And just to answer to your "why not" question : Because you cannot have any observation, conclusion, remark, comment or suggestion, based on one single particular flight, or in general, for anything else in the life that occurred just once. And I don't know if FRA makes profit for OU or not but I know it is the service with one of the best LF's. Maybe I am wrong but that's why I think you cannot say "shame" for this one.

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    6. Well people were saying how DBV and SPU were fantastic for OU abd then the other day we read their numbers were falling.

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    7. In full swing of winter season? Man, are you alright? Since when 20-something August is the Advent of the winter season?

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    8. ^ You might want to read the trip report and when the flight was taken.

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    9. @An.16.00
      Once again some Anonymouses here must spit on everything I say, I really have no clue why . Man are YOU all right? If you have problem understanding what is written, maybe you should look at the photos, ha? Than you would see everything is on fog and with snow. August how yes no. Maybe if it's not to difficult for you, maybe you should take a look at the date of the trip report - March 15 - North Hemisphere Winter Timetable

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    10. Still an empty flight is miserable.

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    11. I saw the date but imagine if FRA is that empty and like you said, it's the route with the highest LF then imagine how empty other flights were? Also ZAG really doesn't handle that many passengers in March.

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  2. Very good and detailed report Erik! Congratulations!

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  3. How come you didn't select flight over Moscow with Aeroflot? I think it is much cheaper.

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    1. I remember checking Aeroflot but the prices were about the same as I was booking quite late and time of arrival was better on LH (Aeroflot was around 4AM I think)

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  4. super nice report. why passport control at FRA? more passengers to Baku or to Ashgabat?

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    1. Thanks. According to my experiences FRA puts everyone arriving on non-schengen flights through passport control and security (MUC does only passport control) . On this trip I had to go through passport control twice (to enter and exit the Schengen) despite I arrived and departed from concourse B. There were much more passengers to Baku, I think that’s why Lufthansa is dropping Ashgabat this winter.

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    2. makes no sense.a person transiting through FRA would need schengen visa.I thought this is only a case in UK,USA and Canada where visa is required even staying airside

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    3. Sorry to say this, but if you went through passport control twice during your transit, that means you followed the wrong path, because you were obviously on non-Schengen airside. There is ALWAYS a way to connect non-Schengen to non-Schengen airside without passport control at FRA.

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    4. @Anonymus I have probably done that by accident because I was used of non-Schengen to Schengen transfers and I had it in my mind to go through passport control.

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