|Plane-spotting at JFK's Lufthansa business class lounge|
As a big fan of all things that fly, nothing gets me more excited now than the A380 (the much newer Boeing 787 and Boeing 747-8 will hopefully follow in the near future). There's always that 'wow factor' about it I still haven't gotten used to despite having previously flown on two (Emirates and Air France). There's the obvious size, the bigger windows, the two-deck design and well, only 7 airlines currently fly this behemoth.
What's got me even more excited was flying the A380 in business class - this on the New York-Frankfurt route on Lufthansa Airlines. Seldom do I get to fly on premium class. Thanks to that American Express miles bonanza, I got my ticket for free. After years of flying economy class, isn't it cool to feel 'snobbish' treated like a VIP?
|Lufthansa business class lounge at JFK|
|Tuna sandwiches & Coke Zero|
My flight was scheduled to depart at 3:50 PM. After a slight delay at home and still opting to use public transport using subway and Airtrain, I managed to arrive at JFK's Terminal 1 with only an hour to spare. "Don't worry", the very friendly Lufthansa check-in agent reassured me, "You're still flying today". My one bag was checked through all the way to Athens and I was given 2 boarding passes and a lounge invitation.
Since this was my first time at Terminal 1, I merely queued with the first line I saw waiting for security check until I was told "oh, you're in business class, there's a separate line over there". Never even thought about that. Duh! There wasn't much people in that section anyway so I was quickly cleared.
|The Big Bird|
|Business class cabin on the upper deck|
With only a few more minutes before boarding, I visited Lufthansa's business class lounge which had sweeping views of the tarmac. It was a busy lounge since there were two departing Lufthansa planes that late afternoon. I got a table and decided on a quick nosh. There's a selection of sandwiches, fruits, drinks, even hot soup.
Boarding was announced just as I finished eating my sandwiches. I went to our gate where a humongous line for economy class has already begun. There are 420 economy class seats after all. Someone in that line must have spotted me zooming right in through what seemed like a velvet rope for Very Important Passengers. It was a different entrance, one that ultimately led to the upper deck where First and Business class cabins are.
|My seat: 20A|
|Plenty of storage space beneath the windows|
Two flight attendants greeted me at the door. I wasn't escorted to my seat but finding it wasn't a headache. There are 98 business class seats up there, about 60% only of which were occupied on this flight. Seat arrangement is 2-2-2 abreast. Luck was on my side as I eventually had no seat mate for this 7 hour overnight flight to Germany.
As soon as I got settled, I was offered a drink. There was already a bottle of water and an amenity kit on the seat along with a blanket and pillow. The seat offers an angled lie-flat for sleeping, certainly not the best when compared to Cathay Pacific or British Airways. Nonetheless, there was plenty of space for personal stuff along the window side.
|Starters: grilled shrimp with cilantro pecan gremolate|
|Dinner entree: seared salmon, wild rice & baby carrots|
|Dessert: ice cream|
Due to congestion at JFK, our departure was delayed for 40 minutes. In the meantime, the flight attendants distributed hot towels and menus. Once airborne and in cruising altitude, the inflight service began. I started fiddling with the inflight entertainment and its rather tiny 10.4-inch TV screen and watched "Safe House" with my dinner.
There was only about 5 hours flying time left after dinner so I hurriedly brushed my teeth and went to "bed". Despite the hefty size of the aircraft, it was still a choppy flight. In fact I wasn't comfortable as I kept sliding down my bed. Oh! First world problems!
|Breakfast: pastrami & chicken breast|
|Amazing tail view on descent to Frankfurt (with Main river in the background)|
By the time I peeked out from my eye shade, the cabin lights have been turned on and flight attendants were already handing out hot towels. There wasn't anything to choose from for brekkie so I merely got whatever was served to me (something which is really odd given that even coach class on other airlines would have at least 2 choices!).
One of my fave features on the A380 (apart from quieter cabin & bigger windows) is the tail camera view. I've turned it on during take off and turned it on again just as we were descending to Frankfurt. I just wish they'll install HD cameras one day as the view is truly impressive.
|Frankfurt Airport's retro-looking mechanical flight information display|
Since we had a delayed departure and a moderately turbulent flight, the pilot couldn't compensate for the loss of time, arriving at 6:10 AM, or more than half an hour late. I wasn't too worried. My next flight was not leaving until 9 AM.
I walked from one terminal to another, following the signs only to end up scratching my head. Before me was a queue for German immigration. It was then I remembered that entering a Schengen country like Greece required clearing immigration & customs in the first port of entry - in this case Germany. Duh!
|Another busy day at the lounge in Frankfurt Airport|
|Quick meal at the lounge|
After getting stamped "Frankfurt Main" without so much as stepping outside to breath German air, I merely walked into another part of this huge terminal building where my Athens-bound flight was set to depart from. With almost 3 hours to kill, I went straight for Business Lounge A.
Even at 6:30 AM, it's a beehive of transiting passengers, not exactly as relaxing as lounges should be. There was even a waiting list to take a shower. I checked on e-mail and had a quick breakfast while waiting for my turn. My name was called and went to the shower room which only offered basic bath towels and bath gels - no razors, cotton buds or toothpaste like in other lounges.
|Inflight meal Frankfurt-Athens|
|Aboard Lufthansa A321|
A few minutes before boarding, I walked to my gate which was not far away from the lounge. For this 2-hour flight to Athens, Lufthansa was using an Airbus A320. Nothing special with their business class seats on intra-European flights - it's basically the same seat as coach except for a blocked middle seat.
Departure was on time. After taxiing to the runway for not so long, we also had quick take-off roll. A few minutes after the seatbelt sign was turned off, the flight attendants swung into action. Inflight meal served was breakfast which was filling - in fact, I ate everything since I knew I'd be hitting the ground running once we reached Athens.