Category

Lufthansa

Lufthansa Card Changing On July 1st

For anyone that has been thinking about getting the Lufthansa Premier Miles & More credit card, I just got an email saying that on July 1st, the offer is changing!

The current offer ending June 30th is:

  • 20,000 miles after 1st purchase
  • 30,000 additional miles after spending $5,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days of opening your account

So in total, if you can spend $5,000 in 3 months, you can earn 50,000 Lufthansa miles!

The new offer starting July 1st is:

  • 20,000 miles after 1st purchase
  • 15,000 miles when you complete an initial balance transfer within the first 30 days of account opening

While both offers give you 20,000 Lufthansa miles after 1st purchase, the new offer starting on July 1st, there is no additional bonus for doing any minimum spend. Additionally, the balance transfer bonus (15,000 miles) is only half of the current offer (30,000 miles).

Although Lufthansa miles aren’t great for flights on Lufthansa (due to high fuel surcharges), they are great if you want to use the Lufthansa miles for Domestic flights on United (no fuel surcharge)!

Assuming you sign up for the current offer and complete the minimum spend, with 55,000 Lufthansa miles you could get 2 Domestic Economy tickets on United or 1 Domestic Business Class ticket on United! Not bad!

Anyways if you are interested in getting this card, I’d recommend signing up before the offer changes on July 1st!

 

 

-Parag

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India Trip Report – “I Can’t Go Back To Coach” – Lufthansa First Class Terminal

India Itinerary

  • Lufthansa A380 First Class – Frankfurt (FRA) -> Tokyo (NRT)
  • Thai 747 First Class – Tokyo (NRT) -> Bangkok (BKK)
  • Thai First Class Lounge & Royal Orchard Spa – Bangkok (BKK)
  • Thai 747 Business Class – Bangkok (BKK) -> Bombay (BOM)

  • Air India Economy – Bombay (BOM) -> Udaipur (UDI)
  • Sheraton Udaipur
  • Site Seeing – Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur
  • IndiGO Economy – Jaipur (JAI) -> Bombay (BOM)

  • Bombay Airport Clusterf$#%
  • United BusinessFirst – Bombay (BOM) -> Newark (EWR)

The Long And Winding Road

After deboarding from my Lufthansa 747-8 IAD – FRA flight, I made my way to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal.

For those of you not familiar with the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, it is essentially the Mecca for Frequent Flyers. Basically it is an entire separate Terminal that Lufthansa built for its departing First Class Passengers and HON Circle Members.

Since it is “primarily” designated for departing First Class Lufthansa Passengers (although transiting Passengers like myself are allowed), there isn’t a direct connection from the Airport.

So to access the FCT, you have to clear Immigrations as well as Customs and then physically walk outside of the Airport and basically turn left and walk a few blocks to get to the Terminal Building.

Before I left the US, I made sure I wrote down the directions so I would be able to find it.

After a short walk in the snow, I had finally arrived, both figuratively and literally. 

I entered through the bottom entrance, and took the Elevator into the Upper Lobby.

I don’t know if it was because I was so excited or because there was no one in the Bottom Lobby, but it reminded me of one of those spy movies where you enter into a non-descript telephone booth which doubles as the entrance to the super secret lair.

Upon exiting the Elevator, I was greeted by the person who would become my “Personal Assistant” for the day. Needless to say, she was extremely attractive…

I didn’t get any photos of the Upstairs Lobby because I didn’t want to look like a tourist, but overall it was very elegant and looked almost like a Hotel Lobby. 

I showed my Personal Assistant (PA) my First Class Boarding Pass and Passport. She escorted me to the FCT private security line, for which there was no line and took less than 60 seconds to clear.

While I was going through Security, my PA took my Passport Downstairs to clear it with their in-house Immigrations Desk.

After clearing Security, my PA returned and asked me if I had ever been to the First Class Terminal. I responded with no, so she proceeded to show me around.

My favorite part of the tour had to be the end, where she made the explicit point of saying “Everything here is free”.

I found this absolutely hilarious given that her statement was 100% true but only if you didn’t factor in the ridiculous cover charge of having to purchase a First Class Ticket : )

After getting settled into a Couch in the Living Room area, my PA instructed that she would find me when it was time to Depart.

I had about 5 hours to kill, so first thing I decided to do was shower.

Shower / Bathroom

I headed down to the Shower Area and asked an Attendant about signing up. There wasn’t a queue, so I was shown to the Shower.

I didn’t realize that there were Bathrooms with Bathtubs and then Bathrooms with Showers, and that you ONLY get the Rubber Ducks in the Bathrooms with Bathtubs!!!

I accidentally chose the Bathroom with a Shower : (

The Bathroom was really nice and spacious. I particularly enjoyed the Shower because it had both a Shower Head and a Waterfall Shower Head in the ceiling which was awesome.

 

The amenities were ETAO, which had a very strong fragrance so it was more or less like bathing in perfume.

When I first saw them though, I had to do a double take because the logo and name looked STRIKINGLY SIMILAR to Etihad, especially from a distance.

I don’t know why but showering after a flight always make me feel extremely refreshed and gives me a huge boost of energy. After my Shower I was ready to tackle exploring the rest of the First Class Terminal.

As I was leaving my Bathroom, I peaked into the Bathroom with the Bathtub and noticed a Rubber Ducky.

I was half contemplating just taking it, but did not want to be the first Passenger ever to be deported from the First Class Terminal.

Ironically though when I was leaving for good, I peaked in again and someone else had already taken the duck!

As I was leaving the Bathroom Area, I ran into the Bathroom Attendant and asked if there was any possible way to get a Rubber Ducky for “my kids”.

She gave me a funny look and asked which size Duck I wanted.

Since I wasn’t even aware there were 2 sizes of ducks, I asked for 1 of each since I conveniently had “2 kids at home and wouldn’t want them to fight over just 1 Duck”. Oh the things people will do for those damn ducks…

After securing my First Class Terminal trophies, I strolled around the Terminal.

First Class Terminal Layout

Although the pictures and descriptions of all different features of the First Class Terminal make it seem really big, it is surprisingly average size.

The photo below, taken from the Bathroom Area, shows the length of the Main Hallway which basically covers 80% of the FCT. 

 

Off the Main Hallway there is a Work Area, Sitting Area, Bar, Restaurant, Cigar Lounge, Day Rooms, and Showers, but they all kind of flow into one another.

After exploring, I settled down in the Restaurant and had Breakfast. Like an idiot, I sat there for a while wondering why there wasn’t a Waiter until I realized that Breakfast was served as a Buffet…

There was quite a large spread of anything and everything imaginable. I had a little bit of everything and it was all delicious.

I was fairly amused by the Ham Machine because I am sure it cost like $3,000.

While the food was good, I think I was most impressed by the Bar in the First Class Terminal.

I have never seen such a large variety of high end alcohol in my entire life. Also the photo below is just the overflow, the entire Bar behind it is also completely stacked.

It is almost lucky that I didn’t arrive in the Evening or fly with a Friend because I can imagine that the First Class Terminal being a blast during the later hours when drinks are freely flowing.

In my delusional mind, I just imagine the FCT turning into a full fledged Night Club in the Evening.

I remember Lucky wanted to become the first Citizen of the First Class Terminal, so maybe I can become the First Resident DJ? As you will see in the next installment, it was very ironic that I thought that given who was sitting next to me on the Plane…

Lounge Area

After eating Breakfast and Showering, I still had about 3 hours to kill, so I checked into FourSquare. 

One of the people I met at FTU LAX, Amol (also the creator of the infamously awesome Hitler Finds Out About Vanilla Reload Clawbacks video) had left a tip on FourSquare saying to check out the Massage Chairs, so I did just that and settled in to do a Blog Post. 

I’m glad that I read his tip because those Massage Chairs were amazing! Even better than the Massage, the Chairs legitimately rocked you back and forth like a baby.

It was very difficult trying to Blog because all the rocking was putting me to sleep.

After a few hours of work, it was getting close to boarding time!

Even though I knew my Personal Assistant would get me, I was getting nervous that she wouldn’t see me napping in the corner, so I relocated to the Couch and indulged in some more Wasabi Peas (FYI: I recently discovered that you can buy them at Traders Joes).

Eventually my Personal Assistant found me and told me they were ready to board. She still had my Passport and said we could collect them from Immigration downstairs.

All the Passengers on the LH A380 Frankfurt – Tokyo flight boarded the Elevator to go downstairs and collected our Boarding Passes and Passports.

There were a few flights departing at the same time, so there were 20 or so people waiting for their rides in the Downstairs Lobby.

Personal Chauffeur

One of the coolest features of the First Class Terminal is that they will drive you in a Mercedes or Porsche to your Plane. Obviously this is not anything revolutionary and strictly a novelty, but given that I get excited when I have to take a Bus to Remote Gates, I was especially excited about getting to ride in a Car under all the Planes.

Unfortunately there were 4 of us on the FRA – NRT flight, so we didn’t get a Sedan or SUV and just ended up all getting in a Mercedes Van.

I was really hoping for a long ride around the Airport so I could see all the Planes, but the ride literally took 30 seconds since the A380s have dedicated gates since they are so damn big.

In all honesty, we could have easily walked to the Gate and it would have only taken us 1 minute.

 

After stopping, our Driver took us to the elevator and brought us all the way up to the cabin door, which I thought was a really nice touch.

People don’t realize how big an A380 is but as you can see in the Photo, there are 3 – 4 different Jet Bridges used just to board the plane.

Thanks to the Elevator ride and glass Jet Bridge overlooking everyone else, it honestly felt like I was an Astronaut boarding a Spaceship.

Recap

Since there isn’t really a competitor to the First Class Terminal (besides the Thai First Class Lounge coming up later but that is also in a league of its own), I will refrain from grading it.

I will say overall that the First Class Terminal was awesome and it lived up to everything I had previously read about it.

If you have never been to the FCT, then I highly suggest that everyone should go at least once to experience it.

While I am extremely happy to say I have been to the FCT as well as collected my Duckies, rode in the Benz, napped in the Massage Chairs, etc, I am going to take the rare stance that I am not sure I would go out of my way to return to the FCT.

At the end of the day, the First Class Terminal does have more of everything, in terms of Privacy and selection of Food & Drink, etc. However the basic features that actually matter like Showers, Snacks, Food, Drinks, Internet, Couches, etc you can all find in the Lufthansa First Class Lounge (which I stopped in during the SMD3) and it is actually connected to the Airport.

If I was flying Lufthansa First Class and was already in Frankfurt, then I would definitely return to the FCT for the sheer novelty and to collect more ducks, but I am not sure I would purposely route through Frankfurt (like I did this time), just to solely stop in the First Class Terminal.

The 5 hours that I spent in the First Class Terminal I think was the perfect amount of time. I got to see everything that the FCT offered and do some work, but was never bored.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Lufthansa A380 First Class – Frankfurt (FRA) -> Tokyo (NRT)

-Parag

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India Trip Report – “I Can’t Go Back To Coach” – LH 747-8 First Class

India Itinerary

  • Lufthansa A380 First Class – Frankfurt (FRA) -> Tokyo (NRT)
  • Thai 747 First Class – Tokyo (NRT) -> Bangkok (BKK)
  • Thai First Class Lounge & Royal Orchard Spa – Bangkok (BKK)
  • Thai 747 Business Class – Bangkok (BKK) -> Bombay (BOM)

———————————————————————————————————————

  • Air India Economy – Bombay (BOM) -> Udaipur (UDI)
  • Sheraton Udaipur
  • Site Seeing – Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur
  • IndiGO Economy – Jaipur (JAI) -> Bombay (BOM)

———————————————————————————————————————

  • Bombay Airport Clusterf$#%
  • United BusinessFirst – Bombay (BOM) -> Newark (EWR)

Washington Dulles Airport (IAD)

After deboarding my ORDIAD United Flight, I took the train from the Domestic Terminal to the International Terminal.

I have never connected through IAD before, so I was really surprised at how nice the International Terminal was.

This may not sound like a big deal, but the fact that there was both a Chipotle and Pot Belly right next to each other was mind blowing since O’Hare’s food selection is quite terrible (with the exception of Rick Bayless’s Frontera).

I honestly had to refrain from getting Chipotle and bringing it onto my First Class flight. Real classy, I know!

Before heading to the Gate for my Flight, I ducked into the Lufthansa Senator Lounge.

Lufthansa Senator Lounge: B+

Overall I was really impressed by the Lufthansa Senator Lounge.

The Lounge was kind of small and fairly packed but it was probably the nicest Lufthansa Lounge I have seen outside of Germany (although the JFK one is also really nice).

There was a wide selection of food and drink including beer, alcohol, sandwiches, cheese, nuts, soups, salad, and even some entrees.

Although I had some snacks on the United Flight, I still ate a few mini sandwiches and wasabi peas, but was careful not to fill up before my Lufthansa Flight.

After spending about 30 minutes in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge, I headed to my gate which was conveniently right next door.

Boarding began promptly on time, and my months of anticipation for flying in First Class were about to turn into reality. 

Flight Statistics

Lufthansa – Flight 419

Washington D.C (IAD) – Frankfurt (FRA)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Depart: 5:40 PM

Arrive: 7:40 AM (+1 Day)

Duration: 8hr 0min

Aircraft: Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental

Seat: 1K (First Class)

I have never flown on the 747-8 Intercontinental in Economy or Premium Cabin, so honestly pre-trip, this was the flight I was most excited for.

The First Class Cabin on the 747-8 is in the nose of the Plane, so upon entering I turned left and was instantly greeted by the Purser (aka the Person who takes care of the First Class Passengers).

The Purser showed me to my Seat, which again was 1K.

She also showed me all the storage options, including my own overhead bin, ottoman storage, and a personalized compartment in the rear of the Cabin that could be locked.

                      “Rear Lockable Storage Compartment”

The Purser took my jacket and hung it up in my personalized compartment.

I also opted to put my Carry On Bag in there, which conveniently allowed me to discover the Lufthansa First Class emblemized Garment Bags. Let’s just say that my Suits now have a new First Class Bag to travel in…

After I stowed away my Luggage, the Purser offered me a drink from the huge Alcohol spread in the middle of the Cabin. I gladly accepted a glass of champagne.

Given the intricacy of the spread, I assumed it would be out during the duration of the flight however it was promptly removed before take off.

I was the first passenger to board, so I took full advantage by snapping too many photos for my own good.

I am fairly certain that I gave away that this was my first ever International First Class flight, as the Purser was just giggling at me. Notice in the picture below, she opted to turn away from the Camera.

After the other Passengers boarded, we were offered re-fills on Drinks as well as Macadamia Nuts.

I am all for nuts on Planes, but from this entire First Class experience, it seems that all the food on board is extremely salty. Not sure if it has something to do with your taste buds while in the air, but just something I noticed.

Amenity Kit: D-

Before Departure, we were also offered Amenity Kits, Pajamas, and Slippers.

Being my First International First Class Flight, I don’t have anything to really compare the Amenity Kits to besides Thai’s, but the Lufthansa’s Amenity Kit was really basic and far from remotely cool. It is currently serving as a case for my Kindle.

Even the United Amenity Kit on my flight back from Bombay was better than Lufthansa’s

Thankfully the Lufthansa Pajamas were nice. I found the Shirt to be extremely soft, while the Pants are basically just grey scrubs.

After receiving my glass of Champagne and Amenity Kit, I settled into my Seat and prepared for Take Off.

Seat / Cabin: A+

The only way to describe the First Class Cabin on the 747-8 is elegant.

If I ever buy a house, I plan on trying to mimic the Lufthansa First Class Cabin ambiance. It isn’t flashy or pretentious, but at the same time it has a very refined and sophisticated feel about it.

Case and point, Lufthansa even went as far as draping the walls with a soft “velvet like” texture. I wouldn’t have even noticed it if I wasn’t playing around with the Windows, but it just shows that Lufthansa is willing to take that extra step. 

As for the actual Seats, they are extremely comfortable.

It is really hard to tell from the photos, but these First Class seats are enormous and have a good 6+ feet of space.

What is also really great is that the Ottoman can be moved by remote, so you can slide it closer to you to use as a foot rest.

The Ottoman also doubles as a large storage compartment, which is where I opted to keep my backpack.

Although I was traveling by myself, if I was traveling with someone else I would really like the option of being able to sit next to each other and talk.

The great part, as you will see below, is that there is a Privacy Screen that can open up between the Seats.

Basically once you have had enough of your Significant Other, you can just raise the screen and be done with them ; )

                                                       “Ottoman Storage” 

                              “Automatic Window Shades”

                                                    “View From My Seat”

The only 2 “complaints” about the Seat are that the Seat Lighting was terrible (as demonstrated by the poor lighting in the food photos) and the lighting knobs were difficult to find / operate.

The other thing that I thought was weird was that the In-Flight Entertainment Television isn’t in HD. Clearly these are #FirstWorldProblems, but just something I noticed.

Dinner Service: B-

Once we got into the Air, the Purser brought around a Hot Towel infused with Rose Water, which I thought was a very nice touch, as well as the Dinner Menus.

To start our Dinner, the Purser brought everyone a Salmon Starter while we were looking over the menu.

Dinner Menu

Items that are Italicized & Underlined are what I got.

Choice of Hors d’oeuvres

Caviar with the traditional Garnishes

Nantucket Scallop with Jam and Split Pea Puree

Seared Beef Tataki with green Papaya and Peanut Sauce

Beet Ravioli stuffed with creamy Goat Cheese and toasted Pistachios

Salad

Seasonal Salad with dried yellow Tomatoes and green Bell Pepper Julienne presented with a delicious Dressing

Choice of Main Courses

Tenderloin of Beef with Sweet Potato Hash and Ginger Plum Chutney

Poached Lobster Tail and Claw in Saffron Reduction with simmer Mushrooms and Butternut Squash

Semolina Potato Cake with Tomato Cream Sauce and fresh Vegetable Ragout

Braised Chicken Breast with Tamarind Sesame Glace, Quinoa friend Rice and Bok Choy

Selection of Cheese and Dessert

Sage Derby, Parmesan, Gruyere, Cambozola and Humboldt Fog Cheese garnished with Grapes

Warm Chocolate Cake with Yogurt Ice Cream

Crème Caramel

There was also an extensive drink menu, but it is too long to type out and the pictures I took are too difficult to read.

You will just have to take my word that any high-end wine, champagne, or liquor that you wanted, they had and that your glass would never be empty.

I was debating between the Braised Chicken Dish or Poached Lobster Tail, so I asked the Purser which one was better. Given she saw my earlier picture taking, she said she would be happy to bring out both dishes so I could sample each!

For the Hors d’oeuvres, you can actually order all of them, so I did just that. The 4 dishes came out on this really cool looking tower, but I will just say that the tower looks WAY BIGGER in photos than it actually is. Each dish is more like a Tapas Plate with a few bites.

I really enjoyed the Seared Beef Tataki with green Papaya and Peanut Sauce and the Beet Ravioli stuffed with creamy Goat Cheese and toasted Pistachios. The Nantucket Scallop with Jam and Split Pea Puree was served as a cold dish and was not very good.

I also had some Caviar with the traditional Garnishes which I have never had before. I wasn’t sure what to expect besides something fishy, but I was surprised that Caviar doesn’t really have a taste. Instead it is extremely light and basically melts in your mouth.

Although it wasn’t something I would eat on a normal basis, it was pretty good.

After the Hors d’oeuvres, I had the Salad.

I normally enjoy salads, but this one was highly questionable given the use of Bell Peppers.

For my first Main Course, the Purser first brought out the Poached Lobster Tail and Claw in Saffron Reduction with simmer Mushrooms and Butternut Squash.

The dish was alright but sounded and looked much better than it tasted. 

After sampling the Lobster, the Purser brought out the Braised Chicken Breast with Tamarind Sesame Glace, Quinoa friend Rice and Bok Choy.

The Tamarind Sesame Glace was delicious, especially with the Quinoa, but I was not really digging the Braised Chicken.

For Dessert, I went with the Warm Chocolate Cake with Yogurt Ice Cream & my customary Baileys on Ice. Both were absolutely delicious! 

After Dinner, I got up and reclined my seat all the way into a Bed, and went into the Bathroom to change into my Pajamas.

Bathroom: A-

The Bathroom in the 747-8 is not as large as in the A380 (as you will see in the next Report), but once again, it was extremely elegant. It is not often that you see a Toilet Seat cover draped in Leather.

Also the Sink was motion activated and I especially enjoyed the Fresh Rose on display.

In the drawers there was mouthwash, combs, make up remover, shaving cream, and razors.

The most shocking “feature” (which I quickly picked up on in all my Flights going forward), was that even though this is a BRAND NEW plane, Boeing included an Ash Tray in the bathroom.

Now outside of a few Russian East Bloc Domestic Airlines, no Airlines allow you to smoke on the Flight, so I don’t know what purpose these Ash Trays serve. Feel free to share if you know.

Having Ash Trays on a Plane is about as practical as offering Passengers a seat with a built-in gun holster. Who knows if in the future Passengers will be able to carry guns onto a Plane…

Bed: A

After I returned from the Bathroom, the Purser had gotten the hint and had made my Bed for me.

As part of “making your bed”, the Purser puts down a Mattress Pad and give you a real comforter, so my Seat was surprisingly comfortable “bed”.

The other really cool thing that I loved about these Seats is that they have a retractable privacy shield. So when you sleep, you can throw it up and your seat essentially becomes a mini enclosed suite. 

                                                     “Privacy Shield Activated”

I slept for a good 4-5 hours and had asked to be woken up for Breakfast before landing.

Breakfast Service: A-

Breakfast consisted of the following:

American Breakfast

Fresh Orange Juice

Fresh Fruit

Farmer’s Frittata with Mushrooms, smoked Bacon and Tomato Olive Ragout

Assorted Breads

Everything was surprisingly delicious and the freshly squeezed orange juice was a great touch.

Before landing, I made sure to change back into my normal clothes and not make the mistake of being “that guy” who goes through the Terminal in their First Class Pajamas.

Recap: A-

Overall the 747-8 Flight was fantastic and I really enjoyed the experience. It was the perfect mix of elegance and class.

As for the actual Plane, it was probably the smoothest flight I have ever taken. I couldn’t even tell that we were flying.

In terms of Seat design, not only are the Seats extremely comfortable, Lufthansa has also thought of everything from Automatic Windows, to Privacy Screens, and even a moving Ottoman.

While I give points to Lufthansa for making an enormous effort to try and get the food right, unfortunately in the air, things just do not taste very good. The 2 best parts of my meals were the Garlic Bread and the Ice Cream Sundae. They weren’t exceptionally spectacular, but instead they had the most flavor and resembled their counterparts on the ground.

After this Flight, I can legitimately understand why everyone talks about Lufthansa’s service. After experiencing both Lufthansa Business and First Class, I can say there is a night and day difference between the two.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Lufthansa First Class Terminal – Frankfurt (FRA)

Parag

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