Lufthansa A330 Old First Class DFW-FRA
Driving the Nurburgring Nordschleife
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Oslo to celebrate Chris Guillebeau
Singapore A380 Suites Class FRA-SIN
Singapore Airlines Private Room and Singapore 777-300ER First Class SIN-HKG
Hong Kong and the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui
Cathay Pacific’s The Wing Lounge and 747 First Class HKG-SFO
When it comes to First Class, the airlines are in a bit of an arms race, and we all benefit. While many airlines want to cut service and reduce cost, they all carve out a little in the budget to take care of their Very Premium Customers. These are the ones that pay thousands of dollars/euro/pounds/wampum for First Class seats and service. Then there are people like me, who use points to do all of it for free. But I digress.
If you go to Lufthansa’s website, or look at the back of your First Class ticket, you’ll read about the myriad benefits available to First Class customers on zie airline. They have a Business Class Lounge at Frankfurt Airport in addition to a First Class Senator Lounge. These are well-stocked, uniquely designed, and may or may not be reviewed here in a few days. But there’s another service available to First Class customers flying Lufthansa. Hidden off to the [whatever cardinal direction it is] is an experience unlike any other: Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal.
First things first: how do you get to it? Well, most of Lufthansa’s literature will say you have to be departing Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class. This posed a problem for me, as my flight from Dallas to Frankfurt was indeed in First Class, but my onward flight to Oslo (after my jaunt to the Nurburgring) was in Business. So what did I do? Cued the music and got on the internet. According to numerous posts at flyertalk.com, my favorite frequent flying forum, if you were arriving at Frankfurt on First Class and had an onward flight where Business was the highest class offered, you could gain admittance to the coveted terminal. When in doubt, trust the internet, I’ve always said, so I decided to give it a shot.
When arriving at the First Class Terminal, there’s the glamorous way and then there’s the way I did it. The glamorous way would be your chauffer dropping you off in their very nice and well-appointed driveway. I didn’t have a chauffer, and I left my glamour back in Dallas. So, I did it the old-fashioned way: walking. And what a walk it was! From the Arrivals level, walk outside, turn left, and start hoofing it. At about minute 3 of your walk, you’ll think you’re definitely in the wrong place. You’ll see Lufthansa’s offices on your left and amidst all your doubts keep going until, finally, you get your first views of: a really big taxi lot. “But have faith!” I said to myself and a random passerby enjoying a cigarette. All of a sudden I saw a building come out of the midst. There wasn’t quite a chorus of angels, but the smoker from two sentences ago started coughing pretty aggressively, so take what you can get I guess. There it was, the First Class Terminal.
I’ve seen nearly every travel blogger post the following picture, and had to pay homage to their efforts by posting my version of it.
After deftly maneuvering around the traffic gate, I walked into the lower level and took an elevator up to meet my personal assistant for my stay.
I was greeted by a lovely attendant who carefully inspected my boarding passes to ensure I had access to the terminal (probably wise since I looked mostly homeless at the time) and very happily welcomed me to the First Class Terminal. I was whisked away from my luggage to a private security screening (and when I say private, I mean it was two security agents and me). Unlike the TSA back in the States, I was treated with dignity and securedly entered the coveted Terminal. Could it be as good as I had read? Were the pictures part of an elaborate photoshop hoax?
Put simply: it was everything and more. Well, aside from one small quip from my personal attendant: “Mr. Travel Blog, we kindly ask that you not take pictures inside, to respect the privacy of our beloved guests.” Not just guests, but beloved guests. What kind of senseless, selfish idiot would disobey such a kind and guarded request? This idiot.
Now, idiocy confessed, my attendant watched me like a hawk to ensure I wasn’t taking any pictures. I had to sneak some with my iPhone, so if they’re out of focus…it’s her fault. I was actually proud of myself, I’d leave a slight mess at a table (for the First Class Terminal a “slight mess” is a cashew shard left on a table) as a diversion and sneak a picture when no one was looking.
So, where to start? I had allowed myself more than enough time to experience everything (about 5 hours, probably an hour too long honestly). My stomach decided that a snack would be first, and it just so happened that on pretty much every table in the lounge area they had little snack stations with nuts and dried fruits.
Also, a whiskey menu. With 87 whiskeys. I asked if they could mix them all together in a big pitcher for me and they gave me one of those “that’s why we don’t allow the homeless in here” looks. Having enjoyed a snack, I sauntered (one doesn’t merely walk in the First Class Terminal, it has to be classier than that, a saunter was called for) over to the attendant guarding one of the Travel Blogger Checklist items: the cabana with the bathtub, featuring A Rubber Ducky. I was informed by the attendant that it would be about a 20 minute wait, perhaps I would like to enjoy a few drinks while I waited? WELL, the attendant had me at “enjoy a few drinks while I waited”. After said drinks, and another to wash them down with, my cabana was waiting for me.
I took many pictures of the cabana, which strangely disappeared. I managed to salvage the most important picture of all though. If Lufthansa cared enough to leave me a rubber ducky, I sure as heck would draw a bath and play with it.
Bath over, I took a nice relaxing shower, resolving that in my life I would absolutely get one of those waterfall showerheads. Afterwards, I put on the robe, because why the heck wouldn’t I, and freshened up. The end result of my freshening: a less smelly homeless-looking guy.
I sauntered back through the lounge area to what I thought were massage chairs, and they could have actually been the best massage chairs in the world, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how the heck to get them to work, so I just sat in one, pressed a few buttons, and acted like it was massaging me so no one would think I was an idiot.
I relaxed for a bit, may have dozed off, and awoke even more freshened. Keep in mind this whole time there are people unobtrusively checking on you every so often, truly professional service.
I hadn’t sauntered anywhere in a while, so I decided to try out the incredible dining in the Dining Room. It was across from the Cigar Lounge, which had a (I’m sure) nice selection of cigars, although I’m not much of a cigar smoker so I didn’t venture in.
It was dining time.
My first item was a glass of whiskey, followed by the obvious chaser, Tom Ka Gai, which is a Thai soup made by a guy named Tom. It was excellent. My Thai craving satisfied, on with the meat!
The beef was excellent, I’d say the best cut of meat I had on my trip, and the salad was marginal, in the way all salads are when you could instead be eating More Beef.
For dessert I had the Wow You Ate That Obnoxiously Fast, which is what the waiter said (my paraphrase). After dinner, I relaxed for a little while longer, and decided to look out the window by the “massage chairs” and was greeted by a sight I’d been looking forward to ever since reading about it on the internet.
Just a normal parking lot, right? WRONG, HA (sorry, healthy pour in my wine glass tonight). The First Class Terminal is a good 15 minutes walk away from the regular terminal, and I had already cleared security, so it wasn’t like I could just walk back (since I’d no longer be able to saunter). The building is pretty far from some of the airplane gates, so what is a passenger to do? Well, when my flight was called, I bid a fond farewell to the First Class Terminal and told it I’d see it soon (“The homeless guy is now talking to an airline terminal,” the No Picture Lady thought). I was escorted downstairs for a cursory passport and boarding pass check, after which I was introduced to my driver and his Mercedes S-Class. You don’t walk to your flights, you’re driven to them. I hopped in the sedan and we began a (thankfully) very long ride out to my Lufthansa A319 that would be taking me to Oslo. It was an incredible experience to be driven all the way to the steps to the plane!
I was first to board the plane and settled into intra-European Business Class, which is a laugh. It’s simply a seat at the front of the plane, it’s no different than the economy seats, aside from there’s no one sitting next to you. The excitement of the day wore on me and I managed to sleep through general boarding, a delay, takeoff, the flight, and landing. I awoke, confused and probably slightly drunk, and walked into Oslo’s lovely and modern Gardermoen Airport.
Up next: Oslo’s creepy statue park and celebrating the End of the World.