Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. In this series I will present a really fun round-the-world party including Lufthansa, JAL, and ANA. While these are all familiar and sought after experiences for me I was able to bring a friend along this time and groom a new airline geek and Flight Report follower. We visited some fantastic lounges, saw some wonderful cities and were spoiled with culinary delights and divine intoxicants the entire way.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
We decided to go landslide at ORD and take in the entire Lufthansa experience from curb to gate. It was a long walk from where we parked in the H gates of T3 to the extreme landslide end of T1 but this was a great thing for us to move about. Unfortunately I didn't calculate when the check in counter would open so we had about a 15 minute wait. As the staff were taking their positions there was an angry passenger standing in front of us in the First Class line, sort of straddling the First Class line and the line to the right for ANA. I asked her if she was waiting in line for Lufthansa First and she barked that she was waiting in the line that could find her luggage. I see. When the check in opened she was kindly redirected to the correct area of the airport and we were helped directly. The agent was an older Japanese woman who was very sweet. Obviously the same contractors handle ANA as well. She asked us if we would like an escort from the lounge to gate and we gladly accepted for the experience.
Lufthansa is now part of TSA Precheck so our trip back into the secure area was as painless as possible. It's a good walk back to the TSA Precheck entry but walking between flights is most welcome.
After a quick and painless TSA encounter we were on the walk through the neon tunnel to the C gates. My favorite feature of United Airlines is their embrace of George Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue. That melody has some sort of magical power over me and they way the tease it in the walkway is very alluring.
As you rise up from the tunnel into the C concourse the Polaris lounge is directly in front of you.
The entry desk and nearby seating area.
Our entry is processed quickly and we're on our way in. First stop is the restaurant to enjoy a nice lunch. This was my first visit since the expansion so I had to ask where the restaurant had gone as it wasn't adjacent to the bar any longer. The new dining area is much improved with comfortable booths in addition to tables.
Menus were presented by a friendly female server.
We both enjoyed the mezcal version of the Negroni presented beautifully.
We also requested the beef carpaccio, tuna tataki, shrimp and grits, and rib eye. All the plates are favorably presented and perfect in portion size. I was, again, very impressed by the food/beverage/service offered in The Polaris Lounge.
Perfectly sated we took seats by the window and enjoyed a glass of Piper whilst waiting for the LH agent to arrive. I took a spin around the buffet to survey the offerings. I suppose it's nice for those who don't have the time to sit in the dinning room.
The lights of Polaris lead to to the toilet.
The valet, shower, and nap services are also adjacent to the buffet.
Soon we could hear a call of someone walking through the lounge asking for "Lufthansa 430 for Frankfurt" in a very authentic accent. I couldn't tell if she was perhaps Austrian or further east. I was off as Mikka was from Ukraine (by way of Germany) so the accent was muddled. Anyhow she could hardly have been more delightful and we had a nice chat on the walk back through the tunnel and over to B17. She stashed us next to one of the podiums while she went on board to make arrangements for us to board early. She confirmed what I already suspected which was that we were the entirety of the first class passengers for the crossing today. I finally allowed that excitement of having the nose of the 748 as the exclusive disposal of myself and dear friend to hit me. This could be a special experience.
I wandered over the to the window to take a picture.
Mikka returned and led us on board before even the pre-boarding began. The entrance is grand and sets the tone.
I intentionally didn't share with my travel buddy, Mark, anything about this airplane or experience. I told him it was nice and they have caviar, that's it. The idea was to allow him the surprise and delight that come with doing this for the first time. I ruin every new encounter for myself with volumes of research and pouring over reviews. This lack of information proved to be a good strategy.
Mikka introduced us to Kristine and Claudia, the exceptional crew taking care of us today and we bid Mikka adieu. We were instructed to address Kristine as Kris. Only her father called her Kristine and that was when she was in trouble. Kris announced that, "this is all yours and we are here to make sure that you have as much enjoyment as possible with everything we have to offer. Shall we open the Champagne now?" Concurrence was swift and we began to wander and take it all in. They could tell who they had on their hands today and Claudia added, "we are departing on a 7 hour party." Kris went so far as to gather many of the roses in the cabin so they could be displayed on the service counter for our photos.
The Champagne today was the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle, and it was tasting quite well.
Menus, mixed nuts, and free wifi cards were distributed. All the while we chatted with Claudia and Kris and found that they have known each other for a long time and were good friends. It showed in their service for sure. This experience can only happen on board the Queen of the Skys. As we're enjoying delicious wine and banter the aircraft is boarding behind us but there is no reason for anyone to tread this space so you can almost forget all of that is happening.
A look at the food offerings.
Amenities were distributed which included new-to-me slippers and sleep wear. The slippers were incredibly plush and had a memory-foam type padding.
The lavs on the 748 aren't especially spacious but they are well provisioned as always.
It was decided that Mark and i would enjoy the takeoff from seats 1A and 1K.
Some excellent airplane gazing as we taxi.
We managed to get off the ground just before some ominous weather entered the area.
After it was safe to move around we moved the fiesta back to 3D&G. Mark is embracing his inner ponce.
This is when the show really started. Kris made it her goal that we see touch and taste just about everything the Lufthansa manages to cater for the First Class cabin. First there was a parade of wines for inspection and discussion. Whites were previewed first,then reds.
Oshibori with the LH signature rose pedal.
We both wanted to enjoy some more of the LPGS with the caviar. The amuse was a spring roll of sorts and was a perfectly nice bite.
Kris is mostly in the cabin and Claudia is doing the galley. I was surprised to learn that this is the staffing for F if there is one passenger or 8. Kris wheeled out the caviar cart much to our delight. Lufthansa do a great presentation here and the ceremony thoroughly ups my enjoyment of the dish itself. That said, all of this effort and no correct caviar spoon is odd to me.
In discussing the meal prior to departure we both were excited to try the Russian Vodka with the (Chinese!) caviar. In preparation for this Claudia had placed the vodka and the two glasses on dry ice to super chill them and create a dramatic presentation. I mean come on!
Some serious joie de voler going on here.
The appetizer cart is paraded next with another dollop of the fish eggs to go with it. I must say all of the flavors here here well received. Especially the revelation of "balsamic pearls" ! We're very mindful of tasting everything here in small quantities.
We were taken on a side excursion through Germany and California.
We also strolled Pessac-Léognan and Napa Valley.
The breadth of our debauchery.
We were informed that we had to taste the soup. Well of course we did! All bathed in the golden hue of the setting sun.
This remarkable service was all paced and presented in the most friendly and flexible manner. We got up to stretch, move about a little, and just reflect. The beds were setup in 1A and 1K during one such break. I'm not leaving without a wing shot.
The J cabin and some meal foreshadowing.
The sun is setting and main courses are presented. Mine the almond crusted halibut and Mark's the seared veal medallion. Both were cooked to oblivion most likely due to all of our goofing off and stretching this meal duration. Perhaps this was a blessing to save room for the remainder of the bounty.
Again, as if it was dinner theater(who am I kidding, this is precisely theater) , Kris brought the ice bucket with dry ice to create a smoke effect and begins rolling out all of the digestif options for the evening. There are many.
Our hearts are a flutter for the cheese.
Tastings ensue and a little bit of this and a little bit of that leads to some fuzzy logic. Kris was so much fun pouring tastes and taking away the ones that were not to our taste. She would assuage our concerns over waste imploring us that "this is here for you to experience." I could not have made up a more joyful and generous spirit if I tried. I apologize to whomever had to wash all the stemware. I'm certain we generated more dishes than a full cabin.
The sun has set as much s it is willing.
At some point a box of chocolate in dropped in by parachute.
The party had to wind down at some point and we did eventually hit the rack for a couple of hours. Kris inquired if she should wake me for breakfast but I opted to remain unconscious as long as possible.
Kris nudged me awake as we were nearing Frankfurt. Mark had risen earlier and was enjoying Claudia's cooking.
I had time to change and buckle up.
Goodbyes were difficult as we had a hard time letting go of this experience. There was one last glance back to our chariot as we began the trek to a First Class Lounge.
Bonus Section: First Class Lounge and a Porsche to the FCT via the Rheingau
Bonus : Click here displayhide
We walked, and walked, and walked. Went through security and finally found ourselves in front of the First Class lounge on the B pier.
The lounge is not busy at this hour and we have a plan. Have a look around, bite to eat, and hit the nap room and catch up on the sleep we for fitted last night for the "7 hour party." The lounge is beautiful and both sleep rooms are available so we stash our bags there while we look about.
Looking back at some of the A gates our inbound aircraft is visible at the end.
The dining and buffet areas.
Can't help ourselves and share a Benedict.
A trip to the loo.
The nap room is a fantastic feature. It was because of this amenity that we saw fit to cut sleep on the airplane and enjoy that time knowing(hoping) we have a bed awaiting on arrival.
Refreshed and caffeinated after a 3 hour nap we were off into Frankfurt to pick up the car and enjoy the autobahn.
The 911 is a special machine to me and it was a pleasure to share the driving with Mark. I marvel at the engineering that makes 256 kph seem as stable as 120 kph.
United Polaris Lounge
Chicago - ORD
Frankfurt - FRA
The Ground Service: No escort through security but Lufthansa in Pre-Check is a great development. The escort to the aircraft was totally unnecessary but we very much enjoyed meeting Mikka.
The Lounge: I'm a believer in this United Polaris movement. The lounges are consistently good to great. I don't want to tempt fate and try Polaris in flight but I commend the team on the lounges.
The Cabin: Any seat of a 747 is special to me. Upper deck, even better. The entire nose as your private playground? Yes, this is truly special. The seats have been around for a long time now but still retain their elegance. The cabin is not especially private but the shields help. Of course this was not an issue on this flight.
The Crew: Kris and Claudia are unlike anything I have experienced. We were together for 10 minutes and it felt like we were friends since primary school. They evaluated us quickly and put on the best show I have ever experienced in the air. The spirit of generosity, playfulness, and genuine hospitality was astounding. Easily the most memorable flight of my lifetime.
The Food and Beverage: The LPGS was scrumptious and seemingly bottomless. The caviar is always a treat. Balsamic pearls, that's a thing now. Our mains were cooked too long but I am culpable in that doing. The Scotch and Cognac were fantastic. It's rather astounding the variety of booze they cater.
Overall: This was Mark's first time on LH and this is what happens. Where do you go from here? Well, we get to do it again in 10 hours so we'll see.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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