Greetings Flight Reporters and thank you for stopping by this report.
I have not made the time to file any FRs lately due to a number of life events (including baby boy #2) but now I am in a position to spend the time sharing something I truly enjoy.
The lack of reports on my part hasn't been due to lack of travel, so no concern is due in that area.
I am starting with my most recent flights and will work my way back to the FR that I abruptly abandoned. This trip was a RTW that came about as an excuse to enjoy some quality Lufthansa lounge and airplane time and pop in on the Swiss First Class Lounge on the E gates in Zurich. A recent Aeroplan promo had a bonus for moving Starpoints to Aeroplan. When combined with the bonus Starpoints that SPG provides on airline transfer partners is was not a terrible value.
Some of the reports will be a little light but I think with the lounge additions they will be sufficient to interest someone. They did me.
The routing and procurement method were as follows:
Delta Air Lines LAX-MSP 737-900ER First (Cash- No Report) Delta Air Lines MSP-LGA MD-88 Economy Comfort (NRSA - No Report) Lufthansa JFK-FRA B747-8i Business (United Miles - This Report) Swiss FRA-ZRH A320 Business and Lufthansa Business Lounge (United Miles - Here) Swiss ZRH-FRA CS100 Business and Swiss First Class Lounge on the E gates (Aeroplan - Here) Lufthansa FRA-PVG A380-800 First and LH First Class Lounge and Terminal (Aeroplan - Here) ANA PVG-NRT B787-9 Business and Air China Business Class Lounge (Aeroplan - Here) Delta Air Lines NRT-PVG B767-300ER Business and Delta Sky Club (NRSA - Coming Soon) Delta Air Lines PVG-LAX B777-200ER Business (NRSA - Coming Soon)
First, some background on how I ended up in seat 9G on LH401. I had a shiny ticket booked with Aeroplan routing AMS-ZRH-FRA-PVG-NRT. My task on this morning in February was to get to AMS (or ZRH for that matter) in time to enjoy the Swiss lounge before heading on to points east. Over the days preceding the flight I was confident that something would work out with Delta and flying NRSA (non-rev space available). I had some Delta gift certs acquired from credit card "travel credits" so I even purchased a ticket to position to MSP on a red eye from LAX. The idea being I could get to almost anywhere in the Delta system for the best chance to make it across the Atlantic with a sufficiently early arrival time to enjoy the ZRH Swiss Lounge. That was the an idea that never came to fruition. I won't bore you with all of the permutations that I monitored but i finally resigned myself to getting to JFK for either JFK - AMS or JFK - ZRH. When it became apparent that both of these were out of reach I flirted with the idea of JFK-FRA but that would mean no ZRH time and that was a big draw for this whole experience so I decided to look elsewhere.
I had two choices really, call Aeroplan and cancel the big fun ticket (which you can do up to two hours before departure) or find another way over the Atlantic. I started with Aeroplan and after a one hour hold they wanted some $700+ in fees to book JFK-FRA-ZRH in J. After several rounds of me repeating the number for clarification I politely declined. I had resigned myself to defeat and sat down in JFK T4 for some lunch when I remembered United Mileageplus should have access to the same inventory as Aeroplan. Low and behold they do and a few keystrokes later I had ticketed myself in J on Lufthansa and Swiss! The mileage cost was higher but the fee was only $118.00, most of which is the $75 "close In' booking fee that Mileageplus imposes.
In my sleep deprived state I didn't fully grasp the flight I just booked departed in 90 minutes. I was seated in JFK T4 and needed to make it to T1, and quickly. With the advise of a lovely and friendly Delta agent I opted to take the Delta "JFK Jitney" bus from T4 to T2 and then run as fast as my plus sized American body could muster between T2 and T1. I arrived at the LH counter and after a brief wait I presented myself to the agent and requested to be checked in for FRA. The reply seemed to come in a slow muffled tone, "I'm sorry, that flight is closed." I hadn't considered that the MUC flight leaves later so when i saw activity around the check in counter I thought I was fine. Well my heart sank and my mind raced. I countered that it's still D-55 and I have no checked bags. She asked if I was in J and I replied in the affirmative. She took my passport and said she would see what she could do. She returned several minutes later with boarding passes in hand and said, "You need to get to the gate right now." Happily.
I wasn't in the clear yet as the TSA/Security lines were massive. Even though LH participated in pre-check there were no dedicated lanes. Between a TSA ID checker who repeatedly wandered off and a large Air France crew that (rightfully) jumped the line I was in my confidence level went down. In the end I made it in time to even pop into the LH J lounge and use the toilet gratuitously ingest water after my airport fun run. I arrived at the gate with boarding well under way. It was then I bothered to look at my BP and note my seat assignment. I had no knowlege of where 9G was so I checked with a gate agent. I was told it was a aisle seat and that all other J seats were occupied so there was no opportunity to change it. I was interested in upper deck but it was not to be. I was also a little surprised that "last seat" was sold via mileage unless of course there were op-ups in the 90 minutes that I was en route to this gate.
So, with all of the logistics sorted out I was finally able to be excited that I was boarding the most beautiful flying machine ever conceived of for an evening hop across the Atlantic Ocean. Life is so very odd sometimes. I started to become a little giddy that this adventure was back on and I was going. I wanted to tell those seated around me how 91 minutes ago I had no idea that I would be flying with them tonight. Of course I thought better of playing the part of a rambling mad person.
The greeting at door L2 was warm and full of smiles. I was directed across the aisle and told to make a right turn for my first ride in LH long haul J. The cabin was very full at this point so I didn't take pictures with the same uninhibited manner that I usually do. I was familiar with the J seat product from reading other FRs and I have to say my expectations were tempered.
Seat 9G is in the last row of the larger J cabin on the main deck. This pair of seats has a nice advantage of extra storage in the area that would be the foot well for those seated behind. I was a good place to keep the pillow and bedding handy rather than taking up bin space. Bin space isn't a premium it this low density cabin with huge bins, but still it's worth noting.
Full cabin, as advertised.
Shortly after getting settled I was offered a choice of sparkling wine, water, or orange juice. I was also presented with an amenity kit. And, like a total ponce, I donned some LH F slippers from a previous outing.
I found the seat to be quite comfortable in both resting and bed configurations. The controls were easy to use and quality headphones were on offer.
I made a stop in the lav which was directly behind my seat. One would think that this would be to my detriment but I can't say I even noticed the traffic. Sufficient amenities were provisioned and replenished throughout the flight.
I took a peak out the R2 door window to gaze at the stunning wing and power plants. The A340-600 to MUC was right next door.
Menus were distributed while on the ground and were as follows. I failed to snap pics of the beverage list. I was granted my first choice in both starter and main. The flight attendant also asked about breakfast and whether to wake me but I declined in preference of sleep.
We pushed on time and had a short taxi to 31L for takeoff. Without a window seat I was resigned to the moving map.
I took the opportunity to gaze out the R2 door whenever it was not in the way of the crew and adjacent galley. This is my preferred IFE.
Beverage service started promptly and I requested a G&T and a glass of sparking water with ice. They were presented with some non-warmed cashews and by tray rather than cart. When I initially observed that this was going ot be all hand delivered service rather than cart I was concerned. The flight time tonight was a brisk 6:40 but the LH crew made the service very quick yet elegant and un-rushed.
The table was set by hand and no tray was used. Again you would think on a short red eye that would be a no no but they pulled it off.
I opted for the herb shrimp and fennel salad. The dish was bright and flavorful with good texture on the prawns. The bread basket was passed and a pretzel roll jumped onto my bread plate. Must have been turbulence.
A small salad was served along the main. I selected the salmon. Nicely cooked with a flavorful topping. I'm a sucker for beets so those were enjoyed as well. A bright white wine was served but I cannot remember the grape, vintage, or anything else about it really.
Dessert and cheese were offered and accepted. I was also offered port wine and obliged. The dessert and cheese was teh weakest part of the meal with a very institutional appearance and flavor.
The table was cleared promptly, water bottles were distributed and I was down for the count. Having only minimal sleep the night before I was in need of a power nap. I would say I managed about 4 hours of good sleep before stirring at the sounds of breakfast service and the increased lighting in cabin. Once awake the flight attendant made sure to offer me a meal but again I declined and opted for some coffee instead.
Soon the cabin was cleaned up, the wings were configured with flaps, and we were touching down in the limited pre-dawn light at FRA. It was a whirlwind flight but I was very happy to be a part of it.
New York - JFK
Frankfurt - FRA
What an exhilarating day. Last minute flight changes, running through airports, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. OK, maybe not that dramatic, but I do derive enjoyment from the thrill of the game.
The Ground Service: I was a bit put off by the LH agent I encountered at check in. I was late and she did eventually allow me to proceed but she could have been less dramatic about it. Since in the end I was tardy I cannot be too critical. I never did ask what the check in deadline was. Why is it so early for no checked bags? Notoriously slow TSA lines perhaps?
The Lounge: I cannot say much here as I was in there for maybe 3 minutes. The space was nice looking and since most of the passengers were at the gate it wasn't crowded!
The Cabin: Business class without direct aisle access from each seat is below standard these days. That said I had aisle access and found the seat to be comfortable in multiple positions. I'm not one who requires a ton of privacy to sleep so that wasn't an issue for me. Seat storage was ample with a small compartment for amenities and chargers, etc. Under the ottoman storage was sufficient for shoes. The extra space behind the seat for bedding was a plus.
The Crew: I was very pleased with the interactions I had with the crew. I was primarily attended to by a very conscientious male FA who had a good balance of humor and professionalism. Also a female FA who was very attentive. I stopped her as the IFE was not working correctly. Not only did she reset it without delay but came back to verify it was operational. I also noticed these two were overall very observant. Walking by and offering a top up on a beverage, picking up a discarded wrapper, clearing a dish, etc.
The Food and Beverage: Above expectation for certain. Portions were ample and quality seemed good. The pace of the meal was perfect as well.
Overall: A very good transatlantic J experience with LH. Again I'll use that word expectations, in that Mine were not that high so i was pleasantly surprised when they were exceeded.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for the next segment, and happy flying.
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