Thursday, February 16, 2012

Flying to Europe to Get to Asia Part 1

  1. United First Orange County to San Francisco and United International Lounge
  2. United Business San Francisco to Frankfurt
  3. Lufthansa First Class Lounge
  4. Lufthansa First Frankfurt to Tokyo
  5. Tokyo for a Day
  6. ANA Business Tokyo to Frankfurt
  7. Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport
  8. United Flight Frankfurt to San Francisco
  9. United First San Francisco to Orange County
  10. Trip Summary

Part 1 - United First Orange County to San Francisco and United Club

United Airbus 319
Seat:  2F
Cabin:  First
Date:  02/16/12
Scheduled Departure:  6:45am
Actual Departure:  6:47am
Scheduled Arrival:  8:22am
Actual Arrival:  8:34am

The typical John Wayne Airport rush hour was in full swing when I arrived at the airport at 5:40am this morning.  The airport check-in area is still undergoing renovation work which adds to the general confusion all of the early morning passengers experience.  The recently remodeled security checkpoint has added new x-ray machines as well as body scanners.  I am not a fan of the scanners as I feel they provide a false sense of security – let alone the radiation that the machines emit. 

I didn’t have to wait long to get through the checkpoint and over to my gate thanks to my upgrades clearing for my outbound flights.  The flight boarded a little bit early and I was expecting an A320 with three rows in first class but we were heading up on an A319 which only has two rows.  All the passengers boarded quickly but we were several planes behind in pushing back from the gate.  By the time we reached the taxiway, four flights had taken off and four more were in front of us. 

The clouds and rain from the past few days had past and the morning sun rising over the CA coast was a nice view outside my window.  Flying up the coastline is always great, particularly if we fly west of Big Sur on our approach into SFO.  This time though, we headed back over land and just west of San Jose airport before landing in San Francisco. 
The CA Coastline

Service was prompt as there were only eight passengers in the cabin.  Drinks first with orange juice served in a United tulip glass and then freshly warmed scones.  United started offering these about a year ago on their morning flights and it is a nice little airborne snack to have.  The cranberry scones on this flight were very tasty and had the perfect amount of flakiness. 
A Nice Breakfast Snack

I always worry when connecting in San Francisco due to the fog and low clouds which frequent the airport.  Even if my flight is later in the afternoon, I will still take the first flight out of SNA as it is the flight with the fewest delays.  We landed today with clear blue skies and were next to a CRJ-700 landing on the right runway.  It’s not often you are lined up perfectly to see another plane out the window as it lands alongside.  Our gate was occupied for a few minutes before we could pull up, but after that it was a quick deplaning and off to the United Club in the International Terminal.

The United Club is located right at the airside connection between the Terminal 3 and Terminal G.  The main lounge is up a set of escalators so you have a view of the bay and the planes taking off.  It was an enjoyable window office for the few hours I worked while waiting for me flight.  The Club doesn’t have great amenities in terms of food or drinks, but they did have some bagels and yogurt available which filled me up enough and saved me a few bucks.  Free wireless internet is one perk, once my laptop finally recognized the service.  United schedules many of their trans-Pacific flights in the morning which meant for a crowded lounge, and some waves of people entering and leaving as the flights were heading out.  Last time I was here, I ran into Iron Chef Morimoto.  No celebrity sighting this time though.  
United Club International Terminal


  1. Great in-flight pic, Matt! Also, I have to compliment you on how much useful travel information you convey in these blog entries. Great job! Can't wait to hear more about the trip.

    PS - Dyana is writing you an email as we speak on how you should spend your day in Tokyo.

  2. I meant "as I type" not "as we speak". That's ridiculous.