Friday, February 17, 2012

Flying to Europe to Get to Asia Part 3

  1. United First Orange County to San Francisco andUnited 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

Lufthansa First Class Lounge

Now this is where my trip gets a little interesting and is the reason my family and friends think I am a little bit crazy.  My original plan was just to do a quick trip to Frankfurt for a mileage run.  Then I started to get into the whole award redemption madness and started researching options of where I might be able to go from Frankfurt.  ANA had announced that they would be flying their new Boeing 787 from Tokyo Narita to Frankfurt.  I was able to find a business award seat that fit my timetable on the return and managed to also get a business class award seat on Lufthansa’s A380 on the outbound.  It wasn’t until a few weeks before this trip that a first class award seat on the A380 opened up and I snapped on the chance.  Not only did it get me into one of the best airline seats out there but also gave me access to Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal. 
The Terminal Building (Picture Stolen From Another Blog)

The First Class Terminal is a separate terminal, outside of the main terminal serving Frankfurt.  You have to walk out of the main terminal, turn left, and then walk about five minutes to the building.  On the lower level there is a small lobby space with an elevator up to the main floor where you are greeted by a personal liaison who takes your passport and checks you in.  The security checkpoint is a breeze with much more professional and friendly staff than in the US and there are no lines.  My liaison gave me a tour of the terminal since it was my first time and she pointed out the office space, lounge area, bar, restaurant, cigar lounge, and restrooms.  I grabbed a seat as she went to get my boarding pass and a few minutes later she returned.  My passport was still held until I actually left for my flight.  My boarding pass even came with a fancy first class folder.  The backpack in the photo below is the only “luggage” I brought along with me; hopefully I can manage with just that. 
Very Cool Boarding Pass Sleeve

One of the benefits of having status or airline lounge access is the ability to get cleaned up and take a shower.  I was able to get into one of four shower rooms in the Terminal.  The shower room had the same d├ęcor and feel of the overall Terminal with a toilet behind the wall on one side and shower on the other.  The shower even had a rain-type nozzle with the water falling from the ceiling.  There is nothing like a shower to get you refreshed after a long day of travel. 
First Class Terminal Wash Room

First Class Terminal Wash Room

I went back to the lounge area and grabbed one of the seats to relax in for the next few hours while I waited for my flight.  There were thirty or so other people in the lounge scattered throughout.  I was tempted to try out the restaurant but I knew I would be getting a big meal on my flight so I passed.  I did get a rather nice glass of Bordeaux which came with some olives, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, and breadsticks. 
Bordeaux and Snacks

The bar area also had a self-serve sweet section with candies and pastries.  The powdered sugar covered pastries with chocolate inside were delicious. 

The Terminal was great.  It has to be one of the highlights of travel to enjoy this type of experience, and I’m grateful that I have the miles to make it happen as there is no way I will ever be able to afford to actually purchase a ticket.  The seating was comfortable although I wished more power outlets were present.  The view wasn’t the greatest looking out over buildings versus the airport but that is a small gripe.  The food menu as well as drink menu looked very good.  The alcohol list in particular was extremely long with varieties of wine, beer, whisky, vodka, rum, etc. 
Nap Room

One of the Seating Areas


Cigar Lounge

More Seating



Wine Menu

When your flight is ready to board, your liaison returns and greets you by name before escorting you downstairs to the departure area.  There you are given your passport back then taken to your plane by Mercedes.  One other passenger in the Terminal was on my flight so I shared the car ride with him.  It turns out that he was a fellow award ticket holder starting his trip in Atlanta and going all the way to Sydney.  Once in the car, we headed onto the airport tarmac and drove by the various gates at Frankfurt.  We passed by planes pulling out and getting ready to take off, and then passed by the larger international flights of 747s and A380s. 
My Ride to the Plane
Driving by an A340
We were dropped off just outside of the plane.  I stood there for a minute just looking at the mass of the A380 I was about to board.  It is a four engine beast to say the least.  It’s not as elegant as a 747 but I was very much looking forward to heading up and trying out my first international first class experience. The driver took us up an elevator to the third level where the jet bridge connected to the upper deck of the A380.  I will admit to being just a tad bit excited about getting on board the plane.
My Ride to Tokyo
My Two Rides

And here is a sneak peek at what was waiting for my when I boarded.
First Class on the A380


  1. OMG. I'm going to fly first class to Tokyo someday even if it means I have to mortgage my house to do it.

    Pictures are great Matt! Have an awesome time! As usual... I hate you so much... I'm filled with much jealousy! The loving kind of course.

    1. Has my blog convinced you of the value or at least a few benefits of flying in first or business instead of economy??