A surprisingly good flight, free entertainment and an expensive aircraft model - in the Eurowings Discover A320 from Frankfurt to the Canary Islands.
It was a cold, dark January morning in Frankfurt, there had been night frosts and the day had started with my windshield being scraped clean. This trip report aroused my anticipation and curiosity when I booked it a few weeks ago. What hadn't I read and heard about Eurowings Discover in the weeks before. The most recent "favourite tool" of the Kranich Group Board, which was founded under the project name "Ocean", initially began flight operations on July 24, 2021 under flight number 4Y/OCN134 with an A330 previously operated by Sun Express Germany.
Just in time for the changeover to the current winter flight schedule, Discover then started to operate on short and medium-haul routes. In recent years there have been a large number of at least questionable decisions relating to the proclaimed "Wings concept".
The Eurowings brand, which incidentally will celebrate its 30th birthday next year, mutated into a kind of guinea pig, accompanied by the associated negative press, which had to be coped with.
There was the first attempt of the “own” Eurowings long-haul route from Cologne/Bonn, operated by Sun Express Germany, which got off to a rocky start with record delays. Then there was, for example, the integration of Brussels Airlines into Eurowings, which seemed haphazard and has since been canceled, while the A320 OO-SNN is still a single aircraft as a kind of "contemporary witness" (to this day) in Eurowings livery, happily flying through Brussels Airlines flight numbers flies the area without ever having flown for Eurowings.
The Brussels Airlines A330s, which also fly in Eurowings optics, were actually also on the road for Eurowings from Düsseldorf and later Frankfurt, at least in the meantime, even if the attempt at our own outstation in Düsseldorf had an unexpectedly short guest appearance for me. Finally, there is the Eurowings Europe Station Vienna, which never really caught fire in its own right, was then on the road for Austrian Airlines until the Corona Pandemic and today has apparently lost any (own) raison d'être. Future? Questionable.
The whole thing could now be expanded indefinitely (e.g. LGW or 4U), which is why I have one question in particular: How much Eurowings is actually in this new "Eurowings Discover"?
Flight destinations / arrival
As of January 2022, Discover currently flies to 11 destinations from Frankfurt with a fleet of 8 aircraft, 330 long-haul aircraft of the type A200 (-300/3) and 320 - A200-21 (Sharklets version).
Traveling to Frankfurt by plane should not be a problem, as Discover is fully integrated into all Lufthansa sales channels and Rhein-Main Airport is connected to a large number of airports in the DACH region. Like the departures of the Lufthansa Group, the departure gates are generally located in Terminal 1, which means that Business Class or status guests can easily use the Business Class/Senator lounges in Frankfurt. However, due to the current legislation, a daily negative test was required to visit the LH Lounge this morning due to the 2G+ regulation, which was checked professionally and friendly separately before entry.
On the one hand, Discover has separately designated check-in counters in Terminal 1 of Frankfurt Airport. Depending on where the flight was booked, check-in is also possible via the Discover web check-in or via the Lufthansa app/website (this opens 23 hours before departure when combined with a Lufthansa flight).
Despite the fact that I had already uploaded the Covid documentation required in the course of the pandemic the day before and had also received confirmation by email, I did not receive my boarding pass in advance on this flight, which is why I had to go to the check-in counter in person in the morning for a follow-up check .
However, both the check of the documents and the subsequent security check went smoothly, so that I had already passed all checkpoints less than 15 minutes after reaching the terminal.
Since the aircraft was parked in an outside position with a short taxiway to Runway West that morning, bus boarding took place. Unfortunately, I have to say that boarding was very unstructured. At least this morning there was still plenty of room for improvement from the boarding crew in Frankfurt.
After about a 5-minute bus ride across the apron of Frankfurt Airport, I reached the A1 with the first bus about 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, which is why I saw a punctual departure as a long way off. The crew greeted the boarding passengers in a friendly manner this morning with the plain white disinfectant wipes familiar from Lufthansa.
What immediately caught my eye was the completely different uniform of the cabin crew. Kept in a dark tone and only with light blue and violet accents, this, unlike the "smurf blue" Eurowings uniforms, was much more unobtrusive and classic.
The three A320s currently in service all have 174 seats in a 2-class configuration. Depending on requirements, the mobile class divider is installed in the front area and, together with curtains and privacy screens, separates the economy class from the business class.
In preparation for this flight, I had followed the prices and the seatmap for a long period of time, which fluctuated greatly. In the meantime, rows 1-7 were intended for business class, but on the day of travel "only" rows 1-4 were separated as business class. I think it's worth mentioning that in the end it was almost fully booked with 15 out of 16 available places.
With an upgrade system that works well like Lufthansa, there might have been even more in it, but unfortunately this doesn't really work at the moment and only for M&M miles plus a surcharge. On this test flight, the economy class started from row 5 and was also well occupied with 120 passengers on board.
Sockets or the like are not installed on the former Lufthansa A320SL, so the battery should be well charged on board. A minimal adjustment of the backrest (recline) is given, which means that the 3000km long flight in the front seat area (regardless of the travel class) can be survived without any difficulties.
In general, it can be said that the seat spacing in front of the emergency exit, as already mentioned, can be described as generous and is therefore absolutely worth the surcharge (when booking economy). The cabin was generally in very good condition and had obviously been carefully prepared again before the AOC change to Discover.
Since the A320 fleet usually only operates 2 flights a day at the moment and can therefore be regarded as being busy “half a day” at most – another clear indication that the cabin appeared almost untouched. However, this is likely to change quickly with the start of the 2022 summer flight schedule and the planned route network.
The flight / service on board
Like its competitors on short and medium-haul routes, Eurowings Discover offers a fee-based sales service in Economy Class with an extensive range of hot and cold dishes, sweet and salty snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Cold snacks such as a pretzel roll with chicken breast or the Vegan Chili Sin Carne Wrap (see slideshow) are available on board from €5, hot options such as (currently) Mac&Cheese or Chicken Terriyaki are available on board from €9,50. Half a liter of water is offered on board for €2,50 and is therefore slightly cheaper than at sister company Eurowings. As is often the case on board these days, you should have a credit or debit card to pay on board, as cash is not accepted on board.
In Business Class, you have the option of ordering one of the hot meals offered for sale in Economy Class free of charge. Open drinks (by the glass) are served in the same way as in Lufthansa Business Class. Before the start I was offered a non-alcoholic "Moscow Mule" as a welcome drink, but of course there was also a choice of water or orange juice. However, the reusable coffee cups made of gray plastic are a matter of taste.
Personally, I find a coffee from a porcelain cup that is also washable and therefore reusable much nicer and somehow more hygienic. However, this is solely due to the perspective of the beholder and, of course, the purchase of porcelain should also be associated with significantly higher costs. In Economy Class, I counted 4,5 sales runs on this flight, which lasted just over 3 hours.
In Business Class, after the aperitif and the selected warm meal including drinks, the Discover Cookie Service, which is familiar from long-haul routes, was carried out. In addition, about 50 minutes before landing, another drink request was made and (on request) a pack of biscuits was served.
All in all absolutely sufficient, friendly and courteous. The crew seemed present and experienced as well as attentive but not intrusive. From the in-flight sales range, which applied to short/medium and long-haul routes, I was able to gather that blankets can be bought for €9,50 in economy class on long-haul routes. However, anyone who wants to buy a Eurowings Discover model airplane with a stand for €42(!) decides my idea, even for me as an aviation fan a little too much of a good thing.
The three A5 Sharklets currently in use that are a good 320 years "old" from the Lufthansa portfolio are actually aircraft that were previously also equipped with the Wifi service when the Mainline was deployed. Since the aircraft have now been in the service of Discover, this is no longer the case, at least for the time being.
Instead, you offer your own, extensive entertainment tool under the name "Eurowings Discover Onboard Cloud" on your own device. The overall appearance was appealing, clean, understandable and clearly structured. (see slide show)
First of all, I was extremely surprised that all content was offered free of charge. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case during the introduction (as was already the case with Eurowings) or permanently. In addition to the interactive flight map (as known from Eurowings), there was a fairly large selection from over 20 different films, 15 series and selected episodes of “ARD Tatort”, which was also announced directly after take-off. Both on the phone, but especially on the tablet or laptop with a larger screen, a great way to pass the time if you show up "unprepared" for the flight. In addition, of course, there is also the possibility to choose from a selection of games and for me personally, probably the most useful tool, was the possibility to choose from numerous, different, current journals and magazines free of charge and to download them as PDFs to your own device .
It is very much to be hoped that this cloud variant will remain 1:1 in scope and content in the long term and that this "USP" may even be expanded further (e.g. with Wifi service analogous to sister company Eurowings).
The author's conclusion:
From the pure point of view of the guest, without making an assessment of the tactical gimmicks of the group board, from which the German equivalent of the "Edelweiss" was forged, one must say clearly that "THE new holiday airline" of Lufthansa offers a good and absolutely competitive product, which surprised me positively in a few respects.
The visual appearance of the cabin in the Lufthansa outfit with the simple Discover accents looks just as chic as the more inconspicuous uniform of the crew. This is definitely good for the external image as a whole. It remains to be hoped that this line will be maintained with the foreseeable expansion of the fleet in the coming weeks and months and that no "general store" will emerge. The control of daily operations by the Lufthansa channels is a learning effect from the first attempt and clever.
This brings a certain routine, experience and calm into the ops, especially in the "ramp up phase". The seamless connection with Lufthansa worked flawlessly in the test, as did the handling both in Germany and on the Canary Islands. For premium passengers, the problem-free use of the Lufthansa lounge is another pleasant advantage.
The “casual” style announcements – “your Discover crew has prepared everything for it” or “if you liked it, why not tag us on Instagram with @eurowingsdiscover” are certainly more youthful and fresher on the one hand, but I personally like them little too "loose" and appear artificially put on and rather deterrent.
For me, the entire short- and medium-haul product of Discover is somewhere in the middle between Lufthansa and Eurowings within the group. If you are traveling in economy class with Discover on medium-haul routes and in the A320, you will find a new player who is on an absolute eye level with the direct competitors on the Canary Islands routes from Frankfurt (Condor and TUIFly). With the free options of the OnBoardCloud, you are modern in the field of entertainment and currently well ahead of the competition. The trend underlined by the corona pandemic, according to which more and more guests are also looking for and booking premium products in the "leisure" aviation sector, is completely taken into account by Business Class. The existing spatial separation alone (unlike the BizClass at sister Eurowings), which gives the flight more peace and quiet in the front part of the cabin (which of course is also noticeable in the front part of Economy), makes the C-Class at Discover look like a full product.
From the point of view of sustainability, I also find the idea of being able to choose food from the "normal" sales menu to be justifiable and intelligent, as this not only reduces waste at the end of the day, but may even generate additional income as business class does not consumed free food that can easily be sold in economy class. Air Berlin had already demonstrated this idea when introducing European Business Class.
After this extremely positive overall experience, I would currently prefer Eurowings Discover to the competition when booking a flight in the “premium range” and with similar flight times. Apart from the name "Eurowings" on the outside, Discover currently has little in common with the sister company of the same name, apart from their DNA. It is not a clone on short-haul routes, but a separate product, which in many areas is based more on Lufthansa than on Eurowings. It remains to be hoped for the colleagues that the decision-makers will also enjoy this project in the longer term and thus longer than was the case with the first attempt at Eurowings long-haul routes. All in all, this flight makes me very curious about my first long-haul flight with Discover on the A1, which will definitely follow in due course.