Lufthansa tagged posts

My first and last time on Germanwings: Mykonos to Cologne

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My flight to Cologne left Mykonos at 9:40 am, which made for an early morning. It was about a 5 minute drive from the Geranium to the Mykonos airport, which I arrived at about 90 minutes before my flight. The small airport was a mess! A large part of this was due to the fact that the other two flights leaving the International Departures area were on EasyJet to Naples and Milan, so the terminal was packed with Italians flying EasyJet, about half of whom I’m guessing did not go to sleep that night. Lines were snaking in every which direction, and it took me awhile to realize there actually was no line at the Germanwings counter.

International Departures at JMK

International Departures at JMK

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Busy early morning at JMK

Busy early morning at JMK

I flew Germanwings, and chose Cologne, expressly because of its nonstop flight from Mykonos to Cologne. There aren’t many places in Europe you can get to nonstop from Mykonos, and on a shortish vacation, the time saved by a nonstop flight matters. (Alas the flight is not daily, otherwise I would’ve flown the following day).

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3.5 Hours in Zurich, the Zurich Airport, and Zurich to Catania on Swiss/Edelweiss

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Due to the delay of our American flight from New York, we ended up with only about 3.5 hours in Zurich, which isn’t a very long time to do anything but wander and get a decent feel for the city. We started with a walk down the Bahnhofstrasse, the main shopping street in Zurich. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, so nearly all the stores (even the chocolate shops!) were closed. We peeked into the one open restaurant – a McDonald’s – and noted that value meals were going for about $18. From the Bahnhofstrasse, we looped back around and into the Altstadt, or Old Town, where the streets are narrower, and the buildings a few centuries older and much prettier. It was a gray day, and there weren’t a lot of folks on the streets, so it felt like a bit of a ghost town. Nonetheless, we had great views of the other side of the city from the Lindenhof, a park on a hill at the top of the Old Town.

Zurich Train Station

Zurich Train Station

Main Sprungli Cafe on the Bahnhofstrasse

Main Sprungli Cafe on the Bahnhofstrasse

View of Zurich from the Lindenhof

View of Zurich from the Lindenhof

We then crossed the Li...

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Re-Finding Myself: Trip Report: Washington to Frankfurt to Berlin in United Global First and Lufthansa Business

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As my last post discussed, I spent a long Labor Day weekend having some solitary time in Berlin, a city I haven’t spent much time in and one I figured would be a good one to explore and wander for 4 nights.  I was write.  This is part 1 of my trip report.

United Flt. 932 Washington-Dulles (IAD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Boeing 777 Dep. 12:08pm Arr. 11:50am Global First
Lufthansa Flt. 186 Frankfurt (FRA) to Berlin-Tegel (TXL)
Airbus A321 Dep. 1:59pm Arr. 3:03pm Business Class

My flight out of Dulles was a late one – not departing until 10pm, less than ideal for a lot of reasons, including that it wouldn’t get me to Berlin until late afternoon. But it did allow for me to have a full day at work and take a leisurely trip to Dulles. I figured it would be a good chance to try the new Silver Line metro, which will eventually get to Dulles, but now gets you almost there. The train itself was a pretty pleasant ride, though it is still a long ride. I boarded in downtown DC at around 6:45, and at 7:35 got to the terminus. You’d think a brand new station which is known to be the connection to the Dulles bus would have good signage and a convenient transfer, but no. It was a long and confusing walk of up and down, inside and outside, before finally reaching the bus bay, where you had to guess which direction to go to to find the Washington Flyer. I found it…as the bus was pulling away. I figured I’d just take a taxi rather than waiting 20 minutes for the next bus, as I figured it couldn’t be that much more expensive. I was wrong – it was $18 sans tip for the 10 minute ride, compared to $5 for the Flyer. Oh well. I made it to the airport in 80 minutes, which is good for Dulles, but just reminds me I hate Dulles.

There was no line at the United Global First check-in counter, which is just a kiosk in the counter position, which I think is tacky for a First Class product. I pushed all the right buttons, and an agent tagged my bag, and I was headed on my way. No mention of lounges or any sort of individual recognition or treatment — a good synopsis of the Global First experience in general. Although I had booked via Aeroplan, I had got my United Mileage Plus number on my reservation, so I was able to use Precheck, though the airport was pretty empty anyway (and a woman was holding up Precheck by taking everything out of her bags). Security was quick and I grabbed the train to Dulles’s B-gates.

My flight was actually out of Dulles’s C-gates, where there is a United Global First Lounge. But my research had suggested that the Lufthansa Senator Lou...

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Anatomy of an Award: Labor Day in Berlin on Short Notice in Premium Cabins

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A few weeks ago, I decided I really needed to get away for a long Labor Day.  Preferably to a city where I could explore nightlife if I wanted, but also could lose myself walking or sitting at a cafe.  Oh, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, I didn’t want to repeat a city I’d been to recently, and I wanted to be able to get there relatively quickly from DC.

Berlin seemed like a great choice, as I’ve only been once — in 2004 with my study abroad program on a “study tour.”  10 years older, and for leisure travel, it would be a completely different city.  Berlin is also a very reasonably priced city, and would serve as a place to use my expiring free Hyatt night that I get as a Hyatt Visa cardholder, as the Grand Hyatt Berlin is somehow only a category 4 hotel.

But late July is not the best  time to be looking for premium transatlantic availability for Labor Day,  particularly to a city like Berlin that has almost no direct transatlantic service  — just Newark to Berlin on United, and Chicago and JFK to Berlin on Air Berlin.  So I wasn’t surprised to see there was nothing available on the days I could travel.  So I watched  both Star Alliance and One World availability on all transatlantic flights like a hawk for a few days, and when a flight from Venice to Philadelphia on US Airways in Business class opened up, I grabbed that for 50,000 American miles  (which ends up as 45,000 miles since I’m an AA credit card holder).  Unfortunately, there was no Air Berlin connection into Venice that would get in that time, so I figured I’d fly in the day before and have 22 hours in Venice.  I hadn’t realized how expensive Venice hotels were though, and 22 hrs is kind of a rush through a city like Venice.  So I figured I’d keep my eyes open, as AA has a free change policy on award tickets so long as the origin and destination are staying the same.

I wasn’t that concerned about an outbound flight, because I...

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Trip Report: To the Seychelles Part 1: Ethiopian Airlines Washington-Dulles to Addis Ababa, Cloud Nine Business Class

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Ethiopian Airlines Flt. 501, Washington-Dulles to Addis Ababa, “Cloud Nine” Business Class
Boeing 777-200LR
Dep. IAD 10:15am Arr. ADD 6:35am +1

Our trip to the Seychelles started out unglamorously early on a Sunday morning. Dulles is not a great airport for those living in downtown Washington, with taxi fares easily hitting $70 plus tip. Originally, I had found us a one-way car rental from a location near our apartment to Dulles for only $22, which was an obviously better choice for the 35 mile trip (public transit would have cost at least $7 each person). We ended up needing a rental car the day before, so we lengthened the reservation and found street parking for the night. Leaving DC at 7am on a Sunday morning meant the drive to Dulles was quick and painless, and we got to the Avis return in about 30 minutes, where a shuttle bus was just arriving, and whisked us off to the terminal – about a five minute drive.

Once we got to the terminal, a little over two hours prior to departure, we saw a huge line at the Ethiopian counter. The business class line had about five passengers on it ahead of us, and only one agent checking in business class passengers. There was an agent theoretically directing traffic from the line, but she mostly seemed overwhelmed. I am not sure why, but each passenger, including business class passengers, was taking forever to check in – perhaps due to baggage issues (each seemed to have at least four pieces), or issues with ticketing.

After 10 minutes with no movement, and a business line continuing to grow, the director finally directed some business class passengers to coach counters. Once we got to the counter, check-in was pretty quick, so it wasn’t an issue of agent efficiency. Our bags were checked through to the Seychelles, and we got boarding passes for both legs. I thought it was funny that our bags were given a “quick connection in Addis” tag, as we were scheduled to have a 2.5 hour connection.

We headed through main security at Dulles, which I hadn’t done in a long time due to PreCheck. Alas, Ethiopian does not participate. There was a separate line for premium cabin passengers, but that just provided a shorter line for ID/boarding pass check, and dumped you into one of the two lines for x-rays, with only one metal detector, despite several large departing flights, including one to Japan. But we made it through and then headed on the underground airport train to Dulles’ B Gates.

Although Ethiopian departs out of an “A” gate at Dulles, it uses the Lufthansa lounge at the “B” gates, which are just a short walk away. I’ve talked about Lufthansa’s Business Lounges before here and here. With three levels of lounges (Business, Senator, and First), Lufthansa’s lounge is about the same level as a domestic lounge, maybe worse. Through the doors at the lounge, we were directed to the basement Business Lounge, which was pretty much what I expected. There were low ceilings, and two seating areas – one that reminded me of an office lunchroom and the other with lounge chairs. It was pretty small, and was already crowded with passengers from our flight and the ANA Tokyo flight. It would definitely be rough in the evening when Europe-bound flights are boarding.

Lufthansa Lounges at IAD

Lufthansa Lounges at IAD

Lufthansa IAD Business Lounge

Lufthansa IAD Business...

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Croatia Trip Report: Journey’s End: Lufthansa Old Business Class Munich to Dulles

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Lufthansa Flt. 414  Munich to Washington-Dulles
A330, Old Business Class
Dep. 3:55PM Arr. 8:00PM

My flight from Zagreb landed about twenty minutes late, depositing me onto the second-longest bus to the terminal I’ve ever taken (after DeGaulle in Paris), taking another fifteen minutes, presumably driving us to Austria.  That meant my comfortable 80 minute layover was shortened to about 45 minutes.  Although I knew my next flight was likely boarding soon, I stopped into the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge as I passed it, which looked nearly identical to the one in JFK where I started my trip. There was plenty of food, though none anywhere close to the quality of the First Class Lounge I experienced on my home from Asia.   I downed a manicotti, had a scoop of ice cream, checked my email, swigged a diet coke, and headed to the gate.

MUC Business Class Lounge

MUC Business Class Lounge

There was a lot of crowding and pushing as I approached the extra security screening for US flights at Munich, with lots of people insisting that they should get to go in front, as there flight was boarding soon – though we were all trying to get on one of three flights boarding soon. By the time I got through to my gate, business class had already boarded my flight. The trend of disappointment with the Lufthansa business class experience alas, continued, as I boarded my flight – which had been scheduled to be fitted with Lufthansa’s new lie-flat business class, to find instead it was the ancient, mildly better than coach, old business-class, with angled-flat seats, tiny video monitors, and, most disappointing – no power plugs. Luckily, my extra laptop battery was charged. This product has been outdated for years, and I probably would have taken a more indirect routing had I known this would be what I was flying. I also had a neighbor who refused to sit down until the last possible minute, as he is very important and must remain standing. At each seat was a small pillow, blanket, bottle of water, and an odd summer fabric amenity kit, including sunscreen and after sun lotion by Nivea, earplugs, toothpaste and brush, socks, eyemask, ear plugs and lip balm.

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Croatia Trip Report: Homeward Bound: Lufthansa from Zagreb to Munich in Coach and the Zagreb Dump, I mean Airport

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Lufthansa 1713 Zagreb to Munich
Dep. 1:30PM Arr. 2:50PM
Embraer 90

From the Westin Zagreb, it was an easy trip back to the bus station, reversing my trip back on the tram.  On my way to the hotel, I hadn’t known that paper tickets had to be validated in the front of the tram.  This time, I was prepared, which was a good thing, as ticket control officers boarded to check tickets.

Zagreb Bus Station

Zagreb Bus Station

Once at the bus station, there were clear signs leading to the Croatia Airlines bus, so I went through and got on line to buy my ticket.  There’s no true public transportation to the airport, which is a ways outside the city.  But Croatia Airlines runs a bus every half hour during the day from the central bus station, taking about 30 minutes for about $5.  There were lots of Croatians on line at the ticket counter, which was for bus tickets to all destinations it seemed, and each seemed to have 1000 problems and questions.  10 minutes before scheduled departure, a man came in to usher people onto the bus, and I was starting to get worried.  But he then said – “for airport, buy tickets on the bus.”  A sign would have been helpful.

Airport Bus

Airport Bus

The bus was about half-full, and left a few minutes ahead of schedule.  As we drove through the southern, more suburban part of Zagreb, I saw a lot of Communist-era apartment buildings, which I had been surprised not to see in the city in the previous days.

As much as I liked Zagreb, the airport was a surprising dump.  (Though a major new construction project is supposedly in the works.) I was pretty surprised how much smaller and less full-service than the Belgrade or Dubrovnik airports – surprising given that Zagreb is comparable in size and is a Star Alliance hub.   There was one check-in area for all Star Alliance flights, which led to lots of lines, as there were flights on Croatia, Lufthansa, and Austrian all leaving in the next 3 hours.  I saw that my inbound aircraft was running about thirty minutes late, so was a bit worried about my connection, but figured I should still be fine.

ZAG Check-in Area

ZAG C...

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Meh: From JFK to Vienna in Austrian Airlines’ New Business Class Trip Report

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As previously discussed, I had some free time between jobs, in which I would be relocating from New York to Washington, with some time for a vacation as well. I ended up using 100,000 United miles for a trip to Croatia in business class, choosing the destination based on award availability and the range of sights in the country. I ended up settling on Croatia with relatively little thought, and then booked everything- including my internal flights and my hotels – in one day. I should have spent some more time thinking about where within Croatia to go, as I ended up with some duds. But hopefully my slightly disappointing trip to Croatia will provide learning material for you.

This was my first long solo trip in awhile, so I was a bit nervous about lonesomeness. But to make up for it, I was getting to try three new airlines: Austrian on the long flight out, Croatia on the connection down to Dubrovnik, and Jat flying from Southern Croatia to Northern Croatia via Belgrade (which ended up being 5 hours faster than flying on Croatia airlines).

I started my journey at Terminal 1 at JFK, which is a zoo, with a hodgepodge of international airlines from all over the world. My flight was at 5:40, on the early side for a transatlantic flight, so I mistakenly thought it might be relatively empty – forgetting there are so many random airlines at T1 that it’s always crowded.

Unfortunately, the Austrian experience wasn’t as amazing as I’d hoped, though ended up being a lot better than my return on Lufthansa. Austrian doesn’t have any dedicated staff at JFK, and shares everything with its parent company, Lufthansa. I got to the check in area for Lufthansa and Austrian to see one counter accepting First Class and Star Alliance Gold customers, one counter accepting Business Class, and about 8 counters serving economy customers. In general, I find Lufthansa really doesn’t care about its Business Class customers, and this was consistent with that. The Lufthansa Group is the only airline I know with three levels of lounges, the lowest being for Business Class customers – inferior to not only First Class but the “Senator Lounges” provided to Lufthansa elite customers, even those traveling coach. As a model of efficiency, I can’t see how this works. I also don’t understand why they wouldn’t encourage people paying thousands of dollars for business class transatlantic tickets to have access to a nice lounge.

Anyways, after waiting for about 10 minutes, the sole First Class agent pulled me over to his line and quickly checked me in. From there it was to the clusterf*ck that is T1 security, where the First/Business/VIP dumped into the general area where an agent corralled me into the slowest moving line ever. On my line included a man who forgot his large carry-on at the conveyer belt and had to go back to retrieve it, an African man bringing eight tablet computers in his carryon, and people who, though apparently fluent in English, did, not appear to understand universal commands such as “next” and “step through.

Just through security were the Lufthansa Business and Senator Lounges. I presented my credentials and was simply told “lounge is this way,” and pointed straight ahead to the base lounge.

Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK

Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK

To the lounge’s credit, the food spread was pretty good, with a salad bar, two types of sandwiches, some prepared salads, pastries, soups, and candy, as well as plenty of self-serve wine, spirits, beer, coffee, and soft drinks. I knew I’d be eating plenty on the plane so had only a small snack and a diet coke. I tried to connect to the wifi, but was unable to. Upon asking, I was told, “Oh, we usually have T-mobile, but it’s not working today.” Well then Lufthansa should have arranged for Boingo access codes for an hour for anyone who wanted them, or at least told people when checking in that wifi was down. Wifi is a basic element of a business lounge, and Lufthansa should be embarrassed. I had hoped to get some stuff done on the computer, but I guess not.

Lufthansa Business Lounge spread

Lufthansa B...

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YWW is Moving . . . to the Capital – and Croatia

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YWW is Moving . . . to the Capital – and Croatia

No, the blog will stay at this web address, but, as alluded to in a previous post, I’ve accepted a job offer in Washington, DC, and will be moving there later this summer.

How does this affect you, dear reader?  Well, first, I am not sure whether my new position will allow for as much long weekend travel.  But time will tell.

Second, relocating from New York to the DC area will likely result in a change of airlines for me.  Right now, Delta and the Sky Team are my primary carriers, with United and Star Alliance as secondary.   I have been living in Queens as opposed to Manhattan’s West side for the past few months, and this has caused United to fall far behind, though, as Newark is a PITA to get to.   I’m not sure what I’ll do once I get to DC.  US Airways is dominant at DCA, which will almost undoubtedly be my preferred airport for domestic travel.  And United dominates at IAD for international travel.  Until this year, this worked great, as you can credit US Airways flights to United and vice versa.  As US Airways merges with American and leaves the Star Alliance, though, this will change within the next 12 months.  Whether I focus on United or US Airways/American will likely depend on where my work assignments take me, but I am leaning towards focusing on United miles for the rest of the year, as I already have 8000 premier qualifying miles.  Then, in 2014, I can try for a status match or challenge to US Airways/American.

Finally, I’ll have about a month between jobs, and will use the opportunity to take an unexpected second summer vacation.  I was late to be booking, either a cash flight, or a mileage award, but I was able to find award availability on dates that worked in business class going to Croatia – a country I’ve never been to, that combines cities and beaches. 

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YWW Does East Asia: The End: Lufthansa First from Munich to Newark Trip Report

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This is my last post of my adventure through East Asia.  My apologies for the delay, and I hope to return to posting non-trip report posts soon.  There’s been a lot going on in my life travelwise and otherwise, so blogging hasn’t been a huge priority.  But I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts about my experiences!

 Lufthansa Flt. 412, Munich to Newark, 8h 2o min, A340-600, First Class

Alas, no one was waiting for me when I got off the plane in Munich from Paris, so I had to find my way through the terminal without any assistance.   The terminal itself was very nice, quiet – not surprising on a Saturday afternoon, with free newspapers (still not in English) and coffee provided by Lufthansa.   There was no wait at passport control, and soon I was in the non-Schengen terminal.  I followed the signs to the First Class Lounge and rang the bell.

Changing my routing to go through Munich instead of Dusseldorf not only got me on Lufthansa’s newer first class product, but also allowed me to check out a Lufthansa First Class Lounge — which are only located at Munich and Frankfurt (not to be confused with the Frankfurt First Class Terminal, which is a whole different ballgame).

The woman at the front of the First Class Lounge was very friendly and directed me to “Passport Control” while she registered me.  I’m not sure why, but I had to surrender my passport for my stay in the lounge.  Although the Lufthansa website suggests that there are “Personal Assistants” available, the agent explained to me that I would have to direct myself to the gate for the flight, and get myself through security.  Not a big deal, but definitely different than the Thai First Class experience.  It seemed most of the perks for First Class passengers in Munich really were only for passengers originating and thus checking in in Munich.

Munich First Class Lounge

Munich First Class Lounge

Once through...

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