Europe for the Holidays: Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

I found myself relaxing most of the night before my flight to New York. At about 1AM, I looked at my United reservation in dismay.  My flight from Zurich to Frankfurt was there, as was my onward flight from New York.  The Lufthansa First segment was missing in action. Fast forward an hour later and with the help of a United agent, I managed to get the segment restored.  Nevertheless, it seemed prudent to head over to over to the airport a bit early.  If everything was fine, I’d wind up enjoying more time in the First Class Terminal.  If things weren’t, I’d have more lead time to resolve everything.

After catching a few hours of sleep, I checked out of the Sheraton and walked along the arrivals level to the First Class Terminal.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

The main entrance to the building is on the second floor, with a driveway attached to it.  The first floor entrance, accessible from the sidewalk from the arrivals level, has an elevator up to the check-in desks.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

I quickly checked-in with the agent and then passed through the most courteous security screening before entering the lounge.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

The lounge had a small display case filled with some of the collectible-edition, Lufthansa rubber ducks.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Having put down my bags, I ventured over to look at my options for breakfast.  (On account of the precarious state my reservation was in, I opted to head straight to the terminal rather than visit the lounge at the Sheraton for food.)

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Shortly into my meal, the check-in agent returned with my boarding pass, my passport, and a New Years edition rubber duck.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Rather than list all of the day’s flights, the First Class Terminal’s departure screens are customized to the passengers actually in the lounge.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

The tables throughout the lounge had drink menus.  I think those are fairly understandable.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

…but water?  That seems a bit more far fetched.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

About 30 minutes before departure, I began packing up my laptop bag in anticipation of needing to depart.  Around then, one of the lounge attendants found me and escorted me to the lower level so I could exit the Schengen Area and be driven over to my flight.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

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Changes You’re Going to Like

United finally announced that they’re shifting to a revenue-based earning scheme for 2015.  Given the announcement looks like a copy-and-paste (and a find-and-replace of “Delta” for “United”) from Delta’s announcements, it’s surprising it took them this long.

We knew this was coming.  Some are talking about the destruction of the program, but fortunately, credit card spending will save us.

This change might finally spur me to get on the Delta bandwagon, though.  At least with them, I can earn elite qualifying miles entirely from credit card spending with American Express.

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Europe for the Holidays: Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

Since I had a morning flight out of Frankfurt Airport, I decided to stay at the Sheraton rather than try to stay in city center.  While Germany has terrific trains to most (I’m looking at you, Tegel) of its airports, it’s hard to compete with taking an escalator and walking across a skybridge to the airport terminal building in the morning.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

I was given a king room on the 8th floor with a not particularly exhilarating of a view of the airport terminal.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

Having settled into my room, I ventured up to the club lounge.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

Late in the evening, most of the food options had been picked up, but a few deserts remained.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

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Devaluations Abound

After writing up my post about the AA award chart changes, I took a quick glance at Twitter.  There’s not quite the sharp response that was elicited by United and Delta during their recent devaluations, but I caught notice of American Airlines promising that all would be revealed in the morning.

Well, okay, they didn’t quite say that.  They went for:

You’ll see some changes to the AA and US websites. We plan to officially announce some new policies later this morning

Then the other shoe dropped:

"Amol ‏@PointsToPointB  AND the other shoe drops. USA to North Asia on US Airways now goes from 90,000 to 110,000 miles."US Airways has a new award chart out, increasing the price to 110k miles roundtrip for business class to North Asia.  Somewhat oddly, first class remains at 120k miles roundtrip.

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There’s a Storm Coming

While it’s not quite as bad as the feared fuel surcharges of last August, One Mile at a Time discusses how AA has quietly restricted its AAnytime awards.  In between his original post and my write-up of this, AA has released a new award chart with “five” tiers:

  • MileSAAver Level 1: This looks like AA’s old off-peak awards.
  • MileSAAver Level 2: These look like AA’s traditional peak MileSAAver awards.
  • AAnytime Level 1: Old price
  • AAnytime Level 2: New higher tier
  • AAnytime Level 3: A very vague asterisk.

One commenter on FlyerTalk suggests that this is the start of market-based awards for last-seat availability:

It is meant to be announced tomorrow. AA did everything in their power to keep it hush hush until they sprang it on us.

AAnytime awards will now be dynamic, meaning we will have to pay a premium on high demand dates/periods, and less on off peak periods.

What is also unannounced as of yet is that International Gateway City Stopovers are also gone.

Emphasis mine on the real nugget in there.  Edit:  A quick search of NRT-LAX (stop)-BOS shows that this is pricing as two separate awards:
American Kills Stopovers at International Gateway City

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Europe for the Holidays: Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich

This trip was originally built around a segment starting from Zürich back to the United States.  During my trip, though, I kicked around dropping my United-ticketed return leg in favor of an American Airlines award.  As I had some domestic (yes, domestic) award travel in three-cabin first class on AA already ticketed, it dawned on me that I could add on flights from Zürich to New York for a marginal cost of 30k miles, some taxes, and a helping of British Airways-imposed fuel surcharges.

I’ve never been thrilled by BA’s fuel surcharges, but spending $340 in lieu of an additional 32.5k isn’t a terrible deal.  While a similar analysis could be done for making use of my stopover on my United award, UA didn’t have saver award availability on my desired dates of travel (nor did it ever end up opening up).

Meanwhile, as I kicked around rebooking myself, Lufthansa opened up some first class availability to New York from Frankfurt, so I jumped from the United-operated nonstop from Zürich and abandoned my aspirations of flying BA First (for now).

When I arrived at the lounge, the attendants directed me to the Business Class side of the lounge. The Lufthansa Group family of airlines are sticklers for making passengers show their Star Alliance Gold cards to have access to the senator lounges and my experience was no different.

Once inside, I visited the buffet for a light snack.

Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich Swiss Senator Lounge Zürich

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Europe for the Holidays: Zürich

After leaving the Park Hyatt Zürich, I wandered around the surrounding neighborhood and the northern end of the lake.

Zürich

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A Bit of a Reprieve for the American Express Platinum Card

With the impending loss of American Airlines Admirals Club access for my Platinum card, I’ve been wondering what to do with it lately.  Previously, I had waived my hands and justified the $450 annual fee with its $200/yr airline fee reimbursement to get my cost of lounge access down to $250/yr, far below the discounted rate for Executive Platinum members.  (Plus, I’ve made occasional use of the card to visit US Airways Clubs and Priority Pass lounges.)  I’m still not sold on the swanky American Express Centurion Lounges, as I spend most of my time in airports with disconnected terminal buildings (JFK, LAX, and SFO) rather than those with a unified airside concourse (DFW).

Yesterday, American Express announced two new benefits for the card:

  • Beginning in June, cardholders will get free worldwide Boingo access.  I currently pay $12.95/mo for domestic Boingo access, so I’d be able to drop this in favor of the card-provided benefit in a few months.  After adjusting for Boingo and the airline fee reimbursement, my effective cost of holding the card is about $95/year.  There’s still some benefit from Priority Pass and the global aspect of this Boingo offer that I’m not accounting for.
  • As an alternative to the Global Entry fee reimbursement, American Express will cover the TSA Precheck enrollment fee.

 

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Europe for the Holidays: The Park Hyatt Zürich

In early 2013, I had signed up for the Chase Hyatt Visa card on the eve of losing Hyatt Diamond status. As a result, I had two free suite award nights for any Hyatt worldwide.  While I had managed to use one night in October at the Park Hyatt Milan, I still had a night expiring in mid-January.

To make the best of it, I decided to use it at the Park Hyatt Zürich.

Park Hyatt ZürichPark Hyatt Zürich

 

Park Hyatt Zürich

 

 

 

Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt ZürichUpon check-in, the clerk escorted me to my suite and showed me around.

Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich Park Hyatt Zürich

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Europe for the Holidays: British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow and British Airways Club Europe London to Zürich

For my flight to London, I booked an Avios award in Club Europe for 9k Avios points.  While coach would have been good enough, this decision–similar to my flight from Berlin–was driven by award availability rather than personal preference.

After clearing security, I made my way to the Galleries First lounge.  As I was checking in at the front desk, the clerk suggested I might want to visit the Galleries Club lounge on account of traveling in Club Europe rather than the Galleries First lounge via my Executive Platinum card.

“Isn’t this one supposed to be nicer?”

“Well, yes, it is.”

I’m still puzzled why this conversation happened.

British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow

I made my way into the lounge to look into the dinner options I had available.

British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London HeathrowTerminal 5 would have sweeping views of British Airways’ various aircraft, but most are unfortunately obstructed by the terminal’s architectural features.

British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow British Airways Galleries First Lounge London HeathrowWith boarding about to commence, I made my way from the lounge to the remote terminal 5 pier.  Virgin Atlantic has taken to advertising in the middle of British Airways’ “home.”

British Airways Club Europe London to ZurichSadly, not my chariot to Zürich was not a 747.

British Airways Club Europe London to Zurich British Airways Club Europe London to Zurich

Club Europe’s legroom leaves a bit to be desired.

British Airways Club Europe London to Zurich

Once in flight, I got to discover the joys of children in premium cabins.  A family seated next to and in front of me had brought two children with them.  As to ensure I had a pleasant flight, they took turns screaming, crying, climbing over the seats, and throwing toys throughout the cabin.

We arrived at a remote stand in Zürich.  My luxury car rides to planes aside, it was one of the more pleasant remote stand experiences I’ve had, thanks to stereotypical Swiss efficiency.

British Airways Club Europe London to Zurich

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