Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I plan to share a series of flights that provided a chance to try several First Class products and lounges that were new to me and also enjoy some familiar but fantastic experiences along the way. A while back I had enough Krisflyer miles in my account to wait list for SQ25. This is a tough nut to crack for us mere mortals. (Rewardflying uses Jedi mind tricks to secure space on a whim.) I went about searching the SQ award engine for the rest of the year and wait listed on the only 4 dates (that could possibly work with my schedule) where even wait listing was available. I wait listed for both JFK-FRA and JFK-SIN. Fast forward several months and the magic email arrives telling me I have 48 hours to confirm my booking but only on the JFK-FRA segment. I'll take it!
If I'm going to be in FRA and flying Star Alliance I will all too sad not to drop in on my German friends and their spectacular lounges. The problem is I cannot book LH F through Krisflyer until space opens two weeks prior to departure. This date would come after my 48 hour window to book SQ. In comes the trusty Star Alliance member Asiana and their ever present F availability. I booked JFK-FRA-ICN on SQ and OZ as a place holder until LH comes calling. The SQ change fees are so very minimal it was worth it to me to have something. Worst case scenario is 10 hours in an OZ A380 suite. Concurrently I place flight alerts on Expert Flyer for just about every LH flight heading east form either FRA or MUC. The two week window arrives and the emails start flying in. Well, not really. FRA-PEK, FRA-PVG and, most interesting to me, MUC-PVG all offer O class space. Munich piques my interest as I have never done LH F from there and I know they have a new F lounge as well as a remodeled F lounge. Oh and expert Flyer was showing F8 for MUC-PVG.
I can't leave the table while I'm up so I start looking for where to go after PVG on this ticket. I would like to get to Tokyo but the connections don't work without an 8 hour wait. International to International MCT at PVG is 2 ours, just FYI so the other options didn't allow enough time. What about Osaka? I do like Osaka a great deal for night time food and adult beverage consumption. Plus, it's closer to Tokyo… Great, let's add PVG-KIX and book this thing! The Krisflyer rep on the phone had me hold to verify this was a legal routing but I'm confident. Shortly I have an email confirming JFK-FRA-MUC-PVG-KIX. What fun!
Now to get to JFK. I had a little snafu, you may have read about, with a ticket issued by American Airlines. Due to a date error i wasn't able to use it when I expected. I think I will try to use these miles/ticket to get to JFK. Then, in a somewhat miracle fashion, the points blogosphere blows up with news of AA releasing a lot of F and J space on the LAX-JFK transcon routes. Normally this is none. OK, this was meant to be. I look up my date and low and behold it's there. F space from LAX-JFK that fits perfectly. A call to AA and a super agent even waived all the fees. She siad technically I'm upgrading to a higher class of service so she can waive the change fee on the award ticket. Never mind that the city pairs had changed… I had to kick in 20k extra miles but i was excited to try the new AA F experience with new lounges and dining.
There is now one hole. TYO-LAX. I suppose you know how that ends. ANA of course. My favorite redemption, for 110k Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, I booked NRT-LAX-NRT with the outbound to complete this mission and the return to begin another adventure in November. Enough talk, let's fly.
Behold the visual representation courtesy of gcmap.com:
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
I dropped off the rental car and retraced my steps back to Terminal 2. I noticed the advertisement for the LH A380 coming to MUC.
I followed the signs to Lufthansa First Class check in and used the security screening there. I don't know if it was any faster as none of the lines looked very busy.
First stop was the old (now remodeled) First Class Lounge in the main building. This lounge is just adjacent to my departure gate but, wory not, I'll make the trip out to the Satellite lounge as well.
The entry on the 1st floor. The lounge is one level up. You turn over your passport to the immigration office stationed just outside the lounge entrance.
Even on my first visit the lounge had a familiar feel and aesthetic.
To the left of the entry is the bar and just beyond is the buffet and dining area.
As soon as I enter I am approached by lounge staff, females dressed in traditional Bavarian Dirndl, and offered service. Something to drink, a look around, etc. It's quite the opposite of the Frankfurt experience. I am slightly overwhelmed and decline as of now. I will get my bearings and then circle back.
The space is compact and nicely sectioned off to avoid a large hall feeling.
The Cigar Lounge is present.
The tables throughout the lounge are adorned with snacks, similar to FRA. There are different snacks in MUC.
Having snooped about I was ready to enjoy the dining room and buffet. I chose a seat and was presented a moist towel and offered a beverage.
I requested the Champagne Pommery Cuvee Louise 2004.
Each table was adorned with pretzels hung from antlers.
There were two menus available.
The standard menu
Promotional menu. The Starkbierzeit is the strong beer festival.
The specials were listed on an additional flyer.
If that isn't enough choice there is a beautiful buffet.
I can't find where it was listed but I started with a truffled beef carpaccio with horseradish cream. It was beautifully presented and had lovely flavors.
I was tempted by many of the offerings but could not get past the schweinefleisch: crispy suckling pig / bread dumpling / Jersey cabbage / Stout jus. This one didn't fare as well. Although beautiful to look at the skin was chewy and the meat was not as tender as expected. Perhaps this is good, it saved me from eating too much of it. The bread dumplings and sauce were spot on.
Service throughout the meal was exceptional. I think I counted 3 servers tending to the 5 (at most) occupied tables. The woman taking care of me was a spectacular Bavarian blond bombshell, so that was nice as well.
Bath time is up next. There is no wait to use the facilities. The bath check in desk has drinks and snacks too, just in case you missed all of the other food on your way back to the showers.
I was assigned a bath room with Jacuzzi tub.
There is also a toilet, sink, and shower. Alas, no Etro toiletries.
Shower with multiple shower heads.
Some familiar slippers were also included.
I can't forget this quintessential addition to the collection.
Feeling refreshed and positively delighted by my stay I consulted with the staff about venturing over to the Satellite lounge to have a look. After all is was the latest greatest. Even though my flight was leaving from a gate quite near this lounge. Normally these types of shenanigans are received by the staff as confusing but in this case they were wholly supportive and excited that I wanted to see their facilities. We covered the basics in how to get there and how much time to leave to get back. Unbeknownst to me they called the other lounge when I was walking just to give them a heads up and probably ask for help getting me back here in time to depart.
The K and L gates are accessed by a train.
The new terminal is beautiful. I will have to make time on a future visit to explore.
The FCL here has a rather austere entrance from this level. It's interesting as they have access from this level for Schengen passengers and the top level for non-Schengen. I think. I was rather tired and confused by how it works but I think that they stamped my out of Germany at this lounge so I returned to the flight as a non-Schengen. Anyhow, as with the other FCL, I turned over my passport to the immigration officer stationed outside the lounge entrance.
I was welcomed by name and told they had been alerted to my visit from the other lounge staff. I also get a nice guided tour with one of the front desk staff. A strong service move.
This lounge has a long L shape. Basically two long hallways. It also seems far larger. Perhaps double the size.
Row of seating facing the ramp, my favorite seats in this space.
Again the design is a collection of more intimate seating areas. As in other LH FCLs there is a snack of some sort on almost every surface int he seating areas.
The dining room here is not only larger but offers ramp views as well.
The food selection was nearly identical to the main terminal FCL.
I'll enjoy a refreshment during my visit and a nibble on the more interesting looking charcuterie.
As boarding time approaches I thank the staff and we discuss my return to the gate. They recommend taking care of the immigration formalaties at their lounge and returning to the gate on a different level (non-Schengen I presume). I visit the immigration desk and am on my way. This time I reenter the terminal on the same level as the lounge.
I ride the train back and I am segregated from all of the other passengers. I suppose it's unusual to travel in this direction at this time.
I get to the gate at the advertised boarding time but boarding has not begun. In fact it's almost 30 minutes until we do. In that span there is one announcement saying there is a delay with no estimate of boarding time. We we finally do board it's a scrum with a call for First, Hon, and Business coming after those who require extra time and families. I am among the first to board as I happen to be standing near the lane that opens first. Poor showing here Lufty.
All is forgiven as I board the Lufthansa A340-600 for the very first time. I am warmly and promptly welcomed and informed that the cabin is all mine tonight. This could be a very memorable flight indeed, depending on the crew. Spoiler alert, they were fantastic.
I take some pictures of the cabin, mindful not to disturb the other passengers. :P
The bar is setup for pre-departure beverage service.
I am promptly refreshed and showered with gifts. Pommery Cuvee Louise 2003 is on offer. Funny with the 2004 in the FCLs.
A bit of an odd amenities kit.
A trip to the lav to change into the lounge wear. Surprisingly there is no wait. As usual it's well stocked.
Soon we push back and make our way to 08L for departure.
There are two flight attendants serving the F cabin tonight, on in the aisle and one in the galley. The FA providing the service could not be more delightful. Turns out she is a part time FA. Maybe that's why she still enjoys her work? ;) Anyhow we have wonderful chats on the food, wine, her travels, my travels, and family. She is the perfect blend of formal by the book service and informal personality. I opt to start the meal straight away and request to continue with the Pommery Cuvee Louise 2003.
The Champagne is served with an amuse and warm towel. The rose pedal is one example of attention to detail that I would be the benefactor of for the entire flight.
The wine list for tonight.
The stage is set and the show is about to begin.
Caviar to start as my usual preference. I was somewhat surprised that they setup the entire cart with all the trimmings. I don't think I would have been to critical if they had plated in the galley. I much prefer the show so i was tickled to see it put on for an audience of one. As you would expect the portion was beyond generous. I wonder why they can't have a proper caviar spoon? I was hoping to try the Alain Ducasse Grey Goose Vodka but it was not provisioned on this flight. The standard Grey Goose was substituted. There was a note in the bar cart saying the Ducasse vodka was unavailable for March.
I was offered a second portion of caviar and of course accepted. In another mark of excellence the FA cleared all of the plates and brought fresh garnishes (egg, creme fresh, etc.) and then presented the second portion. Could ANA and LH have merged to create a super airline?
The caviar was cleared and the cart was brought back with the appetizers. Of course I was going to taste them all anyway but the FA's enthusiasm to do so made it even more enjoyable. For my tastes the goat cheese tart was the best of the lot.
The salad was served next. I opted for the "Spanish Dressing." I didn't use the butter but I get a kick out of the stamp.
For the main I selected the monkfish with shiitake stock, macadamia not and green pea hummus. Unfortunately it was not an enjoyable dish. The fish was overdone with a rubber like texture. Also, I was just a down right ugly plate. I taste all of the components but that's all. Of course offers are extended for a different main but that will not be necessary, there is already too much.
I selected the Albarino from Spain to enjoy with the fish. It fared far better than the food.
LH service procedures dictate the cheese cart is offered so that was presented next. The fruit beautifully arranged as well. Being the only passenger I didn't have to be self conscious about ogling the cheese and capturing pictures. I asked to enjoy the cheese now and take a dessert in a bit.
I had my eye on one of the red wines to enjoy with the cheese. The 2012 Stellenbosch Cab/Merlot. Perhaps my conversation about travel earlier wiht the FA influenced my decision. She was very high on Cape Town and the wine making regions adjacent. Anyhow it was a excellent choice for me.
And of course the cheeses.
I was encouraged to sample the Nieport 20 years old tawny as well. If I must.
After lingering with the red wine and cheese I surrendered the plates and opted for the chocolate cremeux and mango sorbet dessert. It was quite lovely and light.
After dessert I was asked if I wold like some coffee or tea. I declined but indicated that I was interested in a digestif and I will give it some thought and get back to her. Of course a professional identifies this as an opportunity to exceed expectations and delight your guest. The FA arranged the offerings she thought I might consider on the cart and brought it out to display. Above and beyond, I'd say.
My choice. Always excited to try a new (to me) dram.
Of course the chocolate is about and finds it's way to me. The pour on the Scotch, oh my.
Reflecting on the amazing hospitality I have experienced this evening as we glide seemingly effortlessly over Russia.
During boarding, when I was informed that I was the only guest today in F, we joked about how to use all the space. Perhaps start the meal in 1A, take the main in 2A, etc. She mentioned she would put the bed wherever I desired. I joked about 2k so I could star gaze from bed. I thought we would revisit this subject when bed time rolled around but the FA was so awesome she took initiative and setup a lovely bed in 2K. It's a wonderful spot but it does require passing through the galley to get from seat to bed. It certainly doesn't bother me but I feel as if I am intruding on their space when I do so. The lavs are in the cabin so there really is no reason to breach the curtain and go in the kitchen area. Except to get from the A aisle to the K aisle. I wasn't about to ask her to move it so I will do my best to not to switch between the two. I know, it's a heavy load to bear.
Before turning in for the night I decided to take a stroll about the aircraft. The main goal of the excursion was to see for myself the lavatories located on the cargo level of the airplane. What a brilliant idea. The are in fact downstairs.
Walking through the J and Y cabins i couldn't help but think, "None of you wanted to burn some miles and upgrade to F?!?!" This seems like the perfect flight to do so. The J and Y cabins were hot and crowded. It was quite the stark comparison returning to the cool dark F cabin.
I finally overcame my excitement of being on this beautiful aircraft with a private cabin and tried to lay down to rest.
It was a tad eerie to be alone in the darkened cabin. The heavy curtains (lead I think) that LH has between cabins really seal off the area. I was able to have a solid sleep and awake in tomet o enjoy the breakfast show.
Awake and returned to 2A I open the shade to inspect the landscape below. I was confident the flood of light wouldn't bother the other passengers.
We are heading south on one of those wacky Chinese airspace routes.
Passing through the galley on way over I was offered some coffee or juice and I requested a cappuccino and some water.
At about 90 minutes out I am asked if I would like to begin breakfast. Yes, please. At this time request the pineapple and coconut smoothie.
Then the full cart breakfast service begins. My goodness the time and care to present this in such a fashion for just me.
I ask for a taste of each of the meats, cheeses, and berries to start. The flight attendant mentions that some of the caviar remains from the dinner service and perhaps I would enjoy another serving now? Um, yes, that is a next level idea. Perhaps with your scrambled eggs? Uh huh, please.
Of course in my head I am picturing a dollop of caviar on some nice fluffy eggs. Her vision was a bit more decadent. It would appear that I have polished off the entire tin of caviar at this point. In hindsight I should have had some Champagne.
I ready myself for arrival. Change of clothes, brushing of teeth, half arsed arrangement of hair. Some coffee as we descend.
Close to the field now.
Chasing the shadow down.
The taxi was long, all the way to the opposite side of the airport. As we pulled in I spotted another A340-600. These beauties are all to rare these days.
Some final goodbyes and an escort past the J passengers to the L2 door and I was off to enter China, with the sole purpose of my visit to leave China. Of course I was greeted with the LH F sign, along with one other HON Circle (I presume. Why aren't YOU riding in front?!?) passenger and escorted to Immigration, placed in a short VIP line, and then met after only to inform the kind woman that I have no baggage and can find my way from there.
Lufthansa First Class Lounge
Munich - MUC
Shanghai - PVG
The Ground Service: MUC didn't whisk me away in an S-Class so it cannot compare to FRA. In fact the boarding in general was unrefined.
The Lounge: They're beautiful and more service minded then the FRA versions. The food and beverage were top notch and I appreciated the local Bavarian touches. The satellite lounge has an open air viewing/lounge area that was of course shuttered for night and winter. The lounge agent opened it for me after I expressed interest but it was too dark for photos. I imagine this would be most lovely in spring and summer.
The Cabin: Already a visually pleasing place to spend time having all 8 seats to yourself is rather unreal.
The Crew: Exquisite service above and beyond my expectations. This is instantly one of my all time most memorable flights.
The Food and Beverage: The main was a total miss but the balance delivered and enjoyable culinary tour. The whole tin of caviar is food porn to the highest degree.
Overall: What a special experience to have the entire cabin as my playground and a fun and engaging crew to pair with it. If the FA had been a frumpy Frau I can imagine how being alone in F could become a bit tedious. This was anything but.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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