Hello Flight Report community and welcome to my first attempt to join the ranks of Flight Reporters. I have recently discovered the site and spent many hours enjoying the variety and detail of reports. I very much appreciate the ability to satisfy my airline travel geek needs without the cost and time away from home!
For my first report I will offer a look at my most recent travel adventure. I took a brief RTW trip in April of 2015. The trip started out with a desire to sample Turkish Airlines and visit the city of Istanbul. And it grew from there. The final product came in the form of: SNA-DEN-FRA-LHR-IST-PVG-SEA-LAX. For this journey I utilized Southwest Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Alaska Airlines.
I will break the journey down as follows:
Planning and LH DEN-FRA (this report) FCT and LH FRA-LHR (coming soon) LHR Lounges and TK LHR-IST (coming soon) TK Lounge, Istanbul, and TK IST - PVG (coming soon) DL PVG - SEA (coming soon) AS SEA - LAX (coming soon)
I strongly believe that I derive almost as much pleasure in researching, planning, and anticipating such an adventure as I do in the actual trip. Anyone else like that? As I noted above the genesis of the trip was a desire to sample Turkish Airlines and visit the city of Istanbul. I have read many accounts of the fantastic Do & Co catering and IST lounge offered by TK so I decided to see for myself. I have a small balance in my United MileagePlus account and TK being a member of Star made a good fit. The idea of experiencing their regional offering and long haul in one trip appealed to me so I came up with a Europe - IST - Asia vision. 75,000 UA miles later I was ticketed LHR-IST-PVG. Exorbitant price, yes, the UA devaluation remains painful.
Another factor in my route planning is the privilege I have to travel on Delta Air Lines at a greatly reduced fare as NRSA. Long story short is family member in their employ allows me unlimited yield fare tickets on DL metal. This is very helpful to plug the gaps where my lack of miles/points would leave me stranded.
So, with this TK ticket in hand I moved on to how to get to LHR. Delta has, as part of the JV with Virgin Atlantic, commenced LAX - LHR service. My home international airport is LAX so this was an easy choice. I listed myself for April 8th LAX - LHR. In addition I also planned to complete the loop using DL on PVG-SEA-LAX.
As the days leading up to departure got closer my thought turned to other ways to get myself to the UK. Through he help of the av geek blogosphere and my ample supply of Amex Membership Rewards points I learned that one can use Air Canada Aeroplan to obtain Lufthansa award travel at a far more reasonable rate than United. Starting 2 weeks prior to departure I frequently visited the Aeroplan site to see if any LH 1st class space would open up. I focused on Denver and Seattle as I was really keen to ride the 747-400 before it is reconfigured. The avgeek gods smiled and space opened up on the desired day. The Amex MR points transferred instantly and I was ticketed. I bought a Southwest ticket SNA - DEN to position (no report) and I'm off.
After a very bumpy arrival into DEN I decided to leave the secure area and check in with Lufthansa at the ticket counter. I was curious to see how this station handled the 1st class experience. The answer was not well.
Sorry for the blurred image, the sun was streaming in.
I waited on the red carpet for the agent to become available. I was greeted by a surprised, First class? I answered int he affirmative and approached. I don't think she initiated any other dialogue. I was presented my boarding passes and I inquired about lounge access. Through my research I knew the answer was United Club but I refused to believe that was seen as a suitable lounge for LH First. Alas, that was her response.
The premium security line wasn't bad however it just delivered you to the main scrum of converging lines so the advantage was minimal. I was through in 10 minutes and decided to walk the various concourses to stretch my legs and spot some airplanes. DEN isn't the most glamorous spotting destination so after an ample supply of UA and SWA 737s I decided to stop at one of the United lounges to have a pre-flight cocktail and use the wifi.
The G&T was fine with a good view of the apron. I was surprised to see the majority of the UA 737s that I spotted were already fitted with the split scimitar wing features. After a short stay I ventured down to the gate to get a look at my ride to Frankfurt.
Nordrhein-Westfalen would be doing the duty today.
Parked next door.
Pre-boarding commenced pretty much on time. Shortly after I and another passenger were paged to the podium. We were the lucky two who would be traveling upstairs today and they were going to take us aboard prior to general boarding. The other passenger explained to the agent that his wife was seated in Business and he was goign to trade seats with her so she will be boarding now with first class. Quite the gentleman.
I was greeted very warmly at the front door by the purser/flight leader (can't remember the term LH uses). She inspected my boarding pass and apologized that I will have to endure a flight of stairs to reach my assigned seat. We shared a laugh and I remarked that I wouldn't want it any other way. With that an few other warm and genuine welcomes from various crew I proceeded to climb the stairs.
I knew this was a unique cabin configuration going in but it even surpassed my expectations in both appearance and comfort. I was blown away and almost didn't believe it was really happening to me.
Seat across the asile from me. i had quickly cluttered my area with my luggage and such.
I exchanged introductions and pleasantries with the two flight attendants that would be taking care of me this afternoon. The male who did most of the in aisle service (probably on account of his English skills) went by the name of Winnie. Winnie announced to me that he took the liberty of opening the 2007 Tattinger and , was this OK? I replied in the affirmative and the service commenced.
After chatting with Winnie for a while I could tell right away this was going to be a special flight. From the door to the seat I was greeted with such genuine warmth and hospitality. I am sure the light load upstaris (2/8) contributed to the level of service. I was very impressed right out of the gate (pun intended).
Shortly after getting settled one of the Captains came out to speak with both passengers. He introduced himself and noted that this might be a flight I wished would be longer. Looking around the cabin I wholeheartedly agreed. I asked if a flight deck visit was possible while we are waiting for the boarding to complete and he obliged. I was introduced to the other Captain and FO. The were very generous in discussing our departure, wight, and flight path. The airplane was light today but the thin Rocky Mountain air still required a generous amount of runway.
Careful not to take too much of their time I profusely thanked them for the opportunity to visit the best office in the world and returned to my seat to enjoy the Tattinger.
We pushed back with a minimal delay. The climb out was mildly turbulent but once were above the cloud layer it was smooth.
Soaking up the moment in the comfy LH pajamas.
I opted for more Tattinger and to enjoy the meal directly after takeoff. Winnie obliged and delivered the amuse bouche.
I expressed to Winnie my excitement for this flight today any my enthusiasm for Lufthansa 1st class in general and he was very pleased that he had a willing recipient for all of the culinary delights on offer.
The caviar trolly came next and a generous portion was delivered. Truth be told this is probably my favorite part of the service. Caviar just feels so luxurious and the presentation adds to the event. I tried pairing with both chilled Russian Vodka and the Tattinger. Both offered unique and worth while pairings.
I would love a set of these to take home. I wanted to ask Winnie if anyone would notice if they were missing but I thought better of it. I didn't want to put him in a position of having to say no, you may not steal from my employer!
I switched from the Tattinger to this lovely Italian Chardonnay. It was from the Piedmont region near the Pyrenees. Very lightly oaked and enjoyable.
Up next were the appetizers. I know from previous LH 1st class experience that you have to pace yourself and this involved only tasting everything on offer but not finishing any of the portions (caviar is the exception). This is my strategy to maximize the experience. I let Winnie know that I was very pleased with everything so please don't take exception if I am not cleaning my plate.
The deviled egg with crab and salmon stood out here.
Would a flight on Germany's flag carrier be complete without a German wine? I think not. Dry Riesling to the rescue. I will add that Winnie's knowledge of the wines and the pairings was impressive. He paid attention in training.
For the main I opted for the seafood chilaquiles. I was astonished to see such a dish in LH First. It was too interesting to pass up. I will say my review is mixed. Kudos to attempt something out of the ordinary but it fell short.
Winnie asked if I would like to sample another main and I opted to give the beef a go.
Paired with this delicious Shiraz blend.
The beef was very pedestrian as well.
Cheese trolly! Probably my second favorite part of the service.
Armagnac to enjoy with cheese.
Spicy chutney works so well with the cheese.
Late harvest Riesling next
Salted brownie and ice cream dessert.
Cognac and chocolate. What a delightful finish to a fun meal.
Sleep time. The bed on this aircraft is sensational. Any sleeping position can be achieved. Opening the window and star gazing as I drift off to sleep.
I awoke as we approached Scotland.
I was quickly greeted and offered a beverage. I opted for a cappuccino.
Next the breakfast trolly came around. I opted for a selection of meats and cheeses.
Cooked to order eggs. Overcooked actually, but nice presentation.
Before I knew it we were on short final to FRA and my fairytale flight was coming to an end.
As we taxied to our parking point I was hoping for a remote stand. A ride around the airfield in a car is always a treat for and avgeek. Alas it was not to be as we were assigned a zed gate.
The jet bridge was attached and after gathering my things and thanking the crew, I reluctantly left the airplane. Anyone familiar with FRA knows it's a long walk to immigration but after all that lounging and eating/drinking a long walk is welcome.
Up next, FCT and a short flight to LHR.
United Club (East)
Denver - DEN
Frankfurt - FRA
If I had to use one work to summarize this flight it would be perfect. The special configuration of the LH 744, the light 2/8 load, the warm and sincere crew all made for one of the most memorable flight of my life. Kudos to Lufthansa. I cannot fathom how an airline can do this any better.
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