Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Slow News Day

It's a slow news day, no mergers, no smoking deals, and I don't have any flights booked until mid April.  All that aside, a Untied 747 can still create some excitement.  It looks great and is going somewhere far away and interesting.
United Airlines 747-400 White Over Blue

Monday, February 25, 2013

Japanese Airlines Work A Little Different

Japanese carriers work a little different than American and European carriers.  They seem to enjoy flight more than anyone else.  Two examples are the ground crew waiving (after a respectful bow) to their departing 777.  I also spotted a Panda colored 767 (ANA also did a Pokemon 747 that has since been repainted in normal colors).
Bow Then Waive After Push Back
ANA's 767-Panda

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fun Picture

Sunrise at the airport is always a great time, too bad you have to leave two hours before sunrise to enjoy the view.
Denver Morning

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Milwaukee Airport's Deserted D Terminal

Milwaukee's Mitchel Airport has a creepy deserted terminal that I never knew about until I flew through it last week.  Since Frontier changed their hub operation in Milwaukee to a lonely outpost, there are just two flights to Denver and a less than daily one to Mexico.  For this minor operation, Frontier has 26 gates and an entire terminal to themselves. There were several restaurants, but only one is open.  The closed ones still had all the fixtures and supplies to open any day, but are deserted.  The ground level gates with zero flights a day sill had a moving walkway and escalators running. It is an airport ghost town 
Moving Walkway to Nowhere
I'm surprised the airport authority doesn't move Frontier to an unused gate (they only need one or could share even) in another terminal and close the D terminal until traffic picks up enough to necessitate it.  The costs to keep a terminal up and running must be exorbitant and Frontier's landing fees don't cover the operation.  It would also remove a creepy ghost town, it was seriously disturbing (Omega Man?).
View On The Way Into Milwaukee
MKE still has a cool airport museum, I enjoyed browsing through it again.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Enjoy a photo from the LUV airline.
New Southwest Airlines Logo.
Southwest started flying out of Love Field in Dallas (LUV airport code) and their NYSE ticker is LUV.  They also are loved their customers (or so their marketing tells me).

Thursday, February 14, 2013

US Airways & American Airlines Merger Thoughts

I originally though US Airways was talking about buying American Airlines to thwart AA's restructuring process then pull out last minute and create a very weak AA. I was very excited to see this fun way to cripple a competitor in action.  US suggested better terms than AA to unions and creditors throughout the process.  Then at the last minute US signed the dotted line and overpaid for an expensive operation.  Not quite as I expected.  But what does this mean to frequent flyers?
These Jets Will Need New Paint Soon
US Airways will be folded into American Airlines and the new airline will be a oneworld (still better than Skyteam) member.  This is bad news for me because I am a loyal Star Alliance flyer and soon (but not sure when) will not be able to fly US for cheap EQMs.  The merger will take a while to happen, so I'll sill get EQMs for my US flight in April.
Star Alliance Quote
Once the merger is completed, CLT and PHX will probably lose out to DFW and MIA (even though MIA is stupidly expensive and out of the way) for hub traffic, PHL should be fine.  Dividend Miles will be transferred 1:1 to AAdvantage Miles and the AAdvantage award chart will be devalued slightly.  The US award chart, with it's cheap around the world awards, will vanish.  I also won't fly the new airline if a United option exists, so none of this will bother me and I'm not interested in the on board experience.
American Jet at CLT

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt & A330 First Class to Detroit

This is the return part of my Lufthansa first class adventure (Lufthansa A380 first class review).  The centerpiece of this part of the trip was the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.  Only passengers flying in first class on Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian airlines that day.  The First Class Terminal is the cornerstone of Lufhansa's strategy to elevate the entire first class experience to make it beyond compare.  It worked.

Some quick highlights:
  • Personal assistant to take care of everything for your trip, concierge for everything else.
  • Full service restaurant plus buffet plus ice cream.
  • Cigar lounge with complementary cigars.
  • 80+ Scotch options, the average age of my drinks was 15 years.
  • Shower and bathtub facilities. The bathtub comes with a rubber duckie with Lufthnsa First Class Terminal logo.
  • Chauffeur service to flight.
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Seating
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Cigar Lounge
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Restaurant
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt Buffet
Chauffeured To My Plane
The A330 was parked at a stand position with two sets of stairs for the front two doors on the left side.  As my Mercedes pulled up to the front stairs, a bus from the terminal started unloading passengers on the rear stairs.  I got stares from everyone on the rear steps as I hopped up the front steps and my driver followed with my carry on bag.
Lufthansa First Class A330 FRA
The seat on the A330 is a large recliner, antiquated by current standards.  It's comfortable, but I would prefer a lay flat option for overnight flights.  It worked great for an afternoon trip to Detroit. The service on the flight was the best I have ever experienced.  The crew was outstanding and surpassed anything I've ever experienced in air or on land.  The meal service was great too, the best I had the whole year.  Really.  The pigeon strudel was ineradicable.  I ate every bite despite having fill up in the FCT 90 minutes earlier. It was a truly unmatched experience. I was first line line to customs and cleared in less than two minutes. 
Lufthansa First Class Caviar Service
Pigeon Strudel For Lunch - Lufthansa First Class
Mmmmmm....Roquefort Cheese
Lufthansa Chocolate Yummies
Light Salad Mixed At Your Seat Before Landing
Unfortunately I had a connection on United to get home that was cancelled.  I'm glad I didn't have the perfect trip, otherwise I could never fly again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Airbus Shop Sale

The Airbus Shop is having a sale!  30% off select items, mostly clothing; the PacMin models are still full price.  They are located in German, so shipping is a tad expensive, but the prices online include 19% VAT which is taken off at checkout, so Americans get 19% everything.  I've ordered from them before and the products are top quality, but the lead time on a custom A380 shirt is over 4 weeks.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What Is Travel Hacking?

Travel hacking could be anything, from booking error fares, breaking routing rules with hidden city ticketing, or just working to the limits of the rules.  Booking error fares and breaking rules can be harmful to your mileage balance.  Airlines have closed accounts, cancelled tickets, and taken miles from people who break the terms and conditions.  Usually it requires a pattern to emerge, but only one infraction could cost you all your miles.  They can also bill you the extra cost you avoided when you do hidden city ticketing or just void your ticket.  
Lonely CRJ-700 Taxiing at CLT
I'm not a travel hacker.  I just enjoy taking advantage of poorly thought out marketing decisions.  I stay within the rules at all times.  I do work somewhat at the bounds of the rules, but make sure I am always on the good side of the line.  There is no hack to my process, just a good bit of leg work researching deals and finding flights.  There is plenty of value to be had staying within the rules, so don't risk your gains for a few extra points.
E175 Engine Detail

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Upgrade List Ranking

Always fun to be first (United shows cleared upgrades alphabetically, but that doesn't take away from the fun).
United Upgrade List

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fun While It Lasted

Office Depot isn't selling variable value Visa or Amex gift cards any more.  I was using my Chase Ink card to buy them and get 5% back on the office supply store bonus category.  After fees it worked out to be 4% back everywhere.  They still sell gift cards to select stores, so 5% on Amazon and Bass Pro Shops still works.  I still have a decent collection of cards, so I'm not stopping cold.  Good deals are always temporary, there usually will be another.
A Few Jets at BCN
Update: I stopped at Office Depot while picking up my cleaning and they still had the Vanilla cards.  Worked just like last month, this deal might not be dead yet.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lufthansa A380 First Class Review

I flew on Lufthansa's A380 in first class before I started this blog and it was an amazing experience.  A friend asked me to write a post on it and let the pictures tell the story, so here goes.

In 2011 I used some United miles for a Luftastic flight experience and a few days in Copenhagen.  I was able to find a first class seat on the new A380 from SFO to FRA and I quickly built my trip around that award space outlier (I used ANA to search, but would work too).  I also wanted the Lufthansa First Class Terminal experience in Frankfurt and grabbed a FRA-DTW flight in the antiquated A330 first class (more later).  The DEN-SFO, DTW-DEN, and FRA-CHP-FRA flights were wide open and easy to make work.  A quick call to reservations and I was booked.

Lufthansa's A380 first class is an amazing product that puts United to shame.  The seat is outstanding with ample space.  It reclines into a fully flat bed and the flight attendants will make your bed while you change into your special Lufthansa PJ's. 
A380 First Class Seat and Personal Space
View From 2A
Flight Attendants Made My Bed, Then I Messed It Up
Lufthansa's flight attendants are the best I've encountered. The crews always proper and polite.   They also seem to genuinely care about your flight experience. I wish I could fly with them every trip.  They even helped explain the caviar service (it was my first time). The food was amazing.  The eggs and super crispy bacon (by request) were cooked fresh and better than room service.  
Post Departure Snack and Blue Label
Caviar Service
Salmon Fillet
Made to Order Breakfast, With BACON!
The cabin is unlike anything else.  There is increased humidity to help you feel refreshed.  The sound absorbing material was great, it was as loud as regular airliners when I wear earplugs or Bose noise cancelling headphones.  The bathroom is epicly huge.  The electric window shades were a fun touch too.
A380 Bathroom, It's Huge
First Class Lavatory
First Class Cabin Forward Section
I was disappointed to hear the captain announce we were 20 minutes from landing and I can't wait for my next Lufthansa A380 flight in first class.  
Morning Light

Friday, February 1, 2013

American Miles Are On Sale Too

American is following US Airways' lead and selling miles at a discount.  The American deal gives up to a 50% bonus on purchased miles.  This isn't a very good deal because 90,000 miles costs $1,809 and that isn't enough for a business class award to Europe.
American Airlines 737 Taking Off From LGA