Wednesday, July 17, 2013

GVA-FRA-Sheraton Frankfurt Airport-ARN

I wanted to change my United award ticket after I started travelling and it was easy really.  A few caveats, I’m a 1K member, so there was no fee, (a fee may apply to general members), also I was not changing my city pairs or connection point, and finally I verified availability before booking.  That said, the process went smoothly really.
Lufthansa Cityline E190 Coach Seat Recline
Geneva was proving to be a bit dull, so I wanted to grab an earlier flight into Frankfurt.  I had booked an overnight connection and was happy to get to the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport in time to grab a bite in the outstanding club lounge.  Lufthansa had plenty of availability too, so it was looking promising.
Business Class Seats Lufthansa Cityline E190
The one complication was that I had no way to economically call United (this type of change can’t be made online).  Google Voice is charging for calls originating from outside the US and I never signed up for Skype.  Luckily my girlfriend was able to help.  I gave her my United number, pin, directions on the flight I wanted changed, and an overview of what to expect.  After a few minutes, I got an itinerary update from United and a reply email reporting success.  Easiest flight change ever, I didn’t even have to wait on hold.
Intra Europe Lufthansa Snack
Another bonus is that I went from coach on a full CRJ-900 to coach on a 40% full ERJ-190.  The E-190is a great 100 seat plane and there was plenty of space for everyone.  The flight from Geneva to Frankfurt was only an hour and light snack was served in coach.  It was a bumpy flight, but things went smoothly on arrival.  My bag quickly appeared at baggage claim and it was a quick walk across the terminal to the Sheraton. 

The Sheraton Frankfurt Airport hotel is my favorite airport hotel in the world.  I even stayed there when I was visiting Frankfurt rather than going to a hotel downtown (the rail link form the airport is fast and reasonably priced).  The hotel service is very good and the club lounge has an outstanding breakfast (including omelet station) and dinner presentation.  The rooms are fresh and well maintained too.
Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Club Level Room
Things did not go as smoothly the following morning.  I was scheduled on the first flight to Stockholm at 7:10 AM.  The security lines were long and slow (last time I went through the First Class Terminal with no problems), so I didn’t have much time to grab a bite in the lounge (also packed with long lines).  I soon had to go to the gate and the plane was at a remote parking position so a bus ride was required.  I always like being one of the last to board so I am not stuck on the bus forever. 

That idea didn’t go well because the first bus filled up and pulled away with 12 passengers waiting for the next bus, which pulled up immediately.  Then we waited for 30 minutes until we were told the plane left without us.  We were rebooked on the next flight 2 hours later and given €250 cash vouchers (really, they just added $315 to my checking account).  I’m fine with being paid $100 an hour to sit in the Senators lounge and waiting for the next flight.
Lufthansa A321 Intra Europe Snack and Seat
The flight to Stockholm was fast and enjoyable with great views heading north.  The aircraft was a new A321 and the middle seat was empty.  The sandwich was good too.  Upon landing there was a cabin announcement apologizing to those that missed the earlier flight and informing us that our checked bags had already arrived.  I quickly grabbed my bag, bought a ticket for the Arlanda Express train and was heading into Stockholm.

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