I just completed a roundtrip aboard Lufthansa in their International First Class cabin, and I thought I would share the details of the trip with you. The flights I took were as follows: Atlanta-Frankfurt-Rome then returning from Barcelona via Frankfurt to Atlanta. The international equipment was an A330 on both trans-Atlantic crossings, equipped with the old style Lufthansa First seats. I was really hoping to try the new product, and was actually booked to return via Munich which would’ve given me a good shot at doing so. In the end, convenience won…as I did not want to make 2 connections on my return and end such a great trip in an RJ from Dulles.

Lufthansa First Class has been reviewed extensively on Boardingarea, so I won’t get into every nitty-gritty detail of my trip. I will give you an overview of my experience and comment on some of the specific service experiences which were just about flawless in every respect. I already touched on the departure and a portion of the inflight service experience when departing Atlanta here (including the Senator Lounge at Atlanta) and here. First, a little on the hard product.

I found the super-sized recliners in the “old” cabin to be quite comfortable, although it took judicious use of the fluffy pillow for the upper back to make the seat really comfortable to me. The arm rest contains a fairly large storage area, just right for placing your amenity kit, pajamas, etc. in. Both of the A330s I flew on were equipped with in seat power and wireless internet. On the way to Frankfurt, neither worked, at least not for me. On the return, both worked, and I gave trans-oceanic internet access a try, and found it it work quite well for basic surfing and emails. On the return, I used my international charger which worked fine. Not sure if that was the issue on the outbound or not. Should not have been as the seats are equipped with plugs that should work for European and American power supplies.

The big seats were great. I probably would have liked the newer ones even more, especially the bigger video monitors that don’t have to be folded away, but life goes on. :) And the champagne was nice too. Meal service was excellent on both flights. I love the big menus, separate wine lists, and all the little things that went into the service to make it special.

I went light on dessert. ;) I mostly skipped the pre-arrival meals in both directions. A double espresso on landing in Frankfurt and a little fruit on the way back to Atlanta, so I did not bother with photos. Service in both directions was great, especially on our return to Atlanta. MrsMJ and I were the only 2 passengers in First Class on the way home, and the crew went out of their way to please. In both directions, the purser took the time to drop by and introduce themselves, and say goodbye to us and thanks prior to landing. I really liked our crew on the Frankfurt – Atlanta flight. With an otherwise empty cabin, there was more time for interacting with them, and I’m sure that’s part of it. And the rest….I really think had to do with the ground experience in Frankfurt prior to our flight.

We arrived Frankfurt from Barcelona onboard a relatively full A319. Arriving at the remote parking stand, MrsMJ remarked “great, we have to ride the bus.” I pointed to a silver Mercedes van and said, perhaps not. Sometimes it’s good to park remotely, especially when you are connecting to or from a Lufthansa international first class flight! Here’s a shot I snapped of ramp operations as we were being whisked to Passport control and the First Class lounge via private car.

We visited the smaller lounge in B, mainly because that’s where we were driven to. We had a 2 hour 50 minute layover, and I’m not very familiar with Frankfurt airport. That just didn’t feel like enough time to wander outside security and try to get to the First Class terminal, or to what I hear is the better lounge in Terminal A. Not to worry, as I found the lounge accommodations more than satisfactory.

The B lounge is just beyond gate B22. At check in, the agent crossed out our 10:35 boarding time on our boarding passes and told us to be back at the front desk no later than 10:40 for transportation to our airplane. With that, we went to find ourselves a spot to camp out for a couple hours. The lounge was very quiet, and within seconds of sitting down, we were offered the drink of our choice. I went with a double espresso given our 3:30am wakeup call! After my coffee, it was time for a shower.

After a refreshing shower, MrsMJ and I enjoyed a little breakfast in the restaurant. Lufthansa offers a plentiful menu of items to choose from, but we went with the basics, eggs and bacon. :) Oh..and champagne.

One of the lounge attendants came by with a chocolate covered strawberry and truffle to top things off because…well…you know….after a 14 night cruise I need to eat more. :) All of this was nice, but these 2 pictures summarize the highlight of our visit (to me).

Enough said. :) Soon, we were being driven to our flight home. I have to say that being driven directly to our gate, escorted up the elevator and down the jetbridge onto our aircraft was pretty darn cool.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Bobby Burns at awardbookingservice.com. I already posted about some of this previously, but I wanted to add that our return flight was a change in our original plan. We were booked in Business to return a day later than we did with a double connection. Being on a cruise with less than optimal internet and expensive cell service, I was not in a position to effectively deal with any changes to my itinerary myself. I emailed Bobby in the middle of the night on a whim and just asked him to check availability one day early with only one connection via Frankfurt as opposed to the double connect I was on. He emailed back within minutes that he would check and get back to me. The next morning, I woke up to find we were booked in Lufthansa First Class on the flights we wanted.

I can’t think of a better way to travel to and from our wonderful Mediterranean cruise than aboard Lufthansa. Looking forward to the next opportunity! If you have any questions about the service experience that I didn’t cover in this post, feel free to comment, and I will reply with an answer if I can.

As I wrote on Saturday, I am flying from Atlanta to Rome via Frankfurt this week in First Class. This wasn’t my original plan as I had booked MileagePlus award flights on United many months ago. At the time, I was living in Washington, DC, and United’s nonstop flight to Rome was an attractive option. Later, I relocated to Atlanta, so I simply added an Atlanta – Washington Dulles segment onto my original award trip and sat back to wait for my flight. As the big day has approached, a little thing called Hurricane Sandy began to severely impact flight schedules in and out of the northeast, and I grew increasingly concerned about the viability of making a connection in Washington, DC this week. I started looking at alternatives to get to Rome and found that Lufthansa had plenty of First Class availability from Atlanta, but I did not have plenty of time to get on the phone and handle rearranging an award itinerary. Enter awardbookingservice.com.

Let me give you a little background. The change to my outbound trip was short notice, there was a specific reason (weather) behind making the change, and I had already been in touch with Award Booking Service about something else….my return from Europe in November. I am booked in Business Class on Lufthansa from Barcelona to Munich, and then on to Washington Dulles with a final RJ flight on United Express. Unfortunately, the nonstop from Frankfurt to Atlanta does not operate on the day I need to travel, so this itinerary is what it is. That said, I’ve been thinking for months that I would really love to sample Lufthansa First Class. The issue is that as most of you know, Lufthansa doesn’t open up F award inventory to partners (I’m using United miles) more than 2 weeks in advance. I am capable of making phone calls and surfing the internet so this would not normally be an issue except that I’m going to be in the middle of a Mediterranean cruise at the all important 2 week before departure window.

Yes, cell phones do work on ships (mostly) and in European ports of call, and they do have internet that works, if not swiftly. But I have been concerned that it would be challenging to make the necessary phone call(s) when the time came to try and get my tickets upgraded from Business to First. The thought crossed my mind that using one of the award booking services that are out there in order to help make this a little easier for me. I met Bobby from awardbookingservice.com at the Chicago Seminars earlier this month just by chance. Enjoyed chatting with him about miles and points, and thought I’d give his booking service a try. A couple weeks ago I went to his website to enter the trip information for my return trip from Europe. Received confirmation of the details shortly thereafter, and didn’t think much else about it.

Then came Sandy. Late Friday things began to be look increasingly bleak with the weather forecast for this week in Washington, DC. I was busy, on an airplane with a barely passable internet connection, and using about all of that barely passable internet connection to work an office issue. I shot an email to Award Booking Service asking for help. I had a response within minutes, and before I landed in Atlanta, I was sitting in First Class on Lufthansa a little sooner than I had planned.

Now, I realize that was a bit of a roundabout story of how I came to use awardbookingservice.com to help me secure award seats. But at least you have a good idea of how I came to my decision to use the services of a professional award booker. I know a little bit about booking awards, and I’m not afraid to do it myself. But I am very time challenged right now, and I don’t mind paying someone to help me out of a bind. There are a handful of folks out there that provide these services, but I was quite pleased with awardbookingservice.com.

I’ve been blathering on and off about our upcoming trip to Italy for months. The excitement is really building, and we are very anxious to get started on our adventure. Our original plan was to fly United in First Class from Atlanta to Washington Dulles to Rome this coming Tuesday evening. And then along came Hurricane/Tropical Storm/Frankenstorm Sandy. I started paying attention to Sandy earlier this week, but I didn’t really begin to worry about the storm until Thursday as it began to appear increasingly likely that the Washington, DC area might see a major impact.

I was devouring every kind of random weather geek information I could get my hands on in an effort to determine whether I should just stick with my original plans or try and reroute via a different hub. The only thing that was holding me back was our plan to meet family at Dulles and then start a private tour in Rome that included airport pickup. So I procrastinated. After debating for what was probably too long, I decided to pull the trigger at just about the same time that United expanded its storm waiver policy to include the Washington DC area airports.

Sometime during all this, I took a quick look at ExpertFlyer and saw that First Class was wide open on the Lufthansa nonstop from Atlanta to Frankfurt, and there was availability onward to Rome from there. Hmmm… Lufthansa First Class vs. United First Class? Exactly! I wanted those Lufthansa seats! And thanks to Bobby at awardbookingservice.com, I got them! Happy Birthday to MrsMJ who will now be crossing the pond in style! Why would a guy who can book his own awards use an award booking service? It involves an airplane, a slow GoGo connection, MrandMrsMJ celebrating their anniversary, and a chance meeting at the Chicago Seminars. Stay tuned for a blog on my first experience using a service to book an award flight for me.

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