Last chance for a free seat on StarMegaDo 2010

A huge special thanks to one of our partners, Lufthansa, for making this opportunity available! You’ll join us for the whole trip – from Frankfurt to Houston to Phoenix to Seattle and back to Houston. Hotel and airfare are included for the lucky winner and the event covers almost every meal (and most of the booze) in between. This is truly a unique experience and one worth going for, especially since it is so easy to win.

Check out the rules here: http://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/lh/us/nonav/local?nodeid=2795872. Then get on Twitter and go for the win.

All entries must be received by 6pm Eastern Time on Monday, October 25, 2010.

Good Luck!

Earn US Airways points on StarMegaDo charter flight

US Airways is the latest carrier to join us as a mileage-crediting partner for StarMegaDo 2010. Much like Continental, Lufthansa and bmi, US Air will be providing full credit for the whole itinerary at a flat rate, even if you choose to not take the charter flight back to Houston on Saturday morning. United is also an earning partner for the event. The miles will credit as both RDMs and EQMs.

We’re almost sold out so sign up now and make sure you get a spot to join us for this aerophilic adventure!

As a reminder, here’s the itinerary for the charter portion of the event:

Nov. 4

Houston – Continental/United day in Houston

Meet with the new management of United Airlines. See the inner workings of the Houston hub, etc.

Houston – The Frequent Traveler Awards

Representing the Voice of the Frequent Traveler, The Frequent Traveler Awards represent excellence in frequent travel programs worldwide, rating the best frequent flyer and frequent guest programs across several categories. Experience the thrill of attending the award presentation in person.

The cost of this event is NOT included in the price of the StarMegaDO charter. RSVP here if you wish to attend.

Nov. 5

Houston – Fly to Phoenix

Our chartered Continental Airlines 757-300 aircraft will be waiting for us at terminal E. There will be dedicated checkin counters for our flight.

Phoenix- US Airways program

Upon arrival in Phoenix, we will park at the US Airways hangar to deplane. US Airways has a special program prepared for us. This includes meetings with Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of US Airways as well as other members of the company’s senior management.

Phoenix – Lufthansa Flight Traning program

A select group of participants will be whisked off to Lufthansa’s nearby training facility. There, they will be given a private tour and experience how Lufthansa trains its elite pilots in the Arizona desert.

Phoenix – Flight to Paine Field, Everett, WA

In addition to other amenities, there will be an on-board raffle with a variety of great prizes.

Paine Field – A visit with Boeing

Upon landing at the Boeing factory in Everett, WA we will be given very special private tours on the factory floor. These include the 787 and 748 assembly areas and a number of surprises.

Seattle – Starwood reception

Starwood welcomes the participants to a meet-and-greet reception. Participants will be able to provide feedback on future product innovations. Senior Sheraton and SPG executives will be there.

Nov. 6

SeaTac – Return flight to Houston

The cost of the charter is the same regardless of whether or not you take this flight.

Welcome to StarMegaDo 2010!

Great Circle Map

  • Are you ready for an exciting flight full of your fellow frequent travelers?
  • Would you like to party while winging your way across the USA?
  • Does getting behind the scenes at airports and airplane manufacturers sound better than your normal workaday plans?
  • Would you like to earn miles at the same time?

If you answered yes to any of the above — or even paused to think about it — then StarMegaDo is for you! Our annual StarMegaDo charter flight is scheduled for November 5, 2010. This year we have chartered a Continental Boeing 757-300 to take 216 enthusiasts across the USA. We’ll be meeting with top executives from several different airlines, getting an exclusive tour at Boeing — up close and personal with the 787 and 747-8i — and getting to go behind the scenes at an airline or two along the way. Some lucky participants will even get to go through flight simulator training. StarMegaDo is the ultimate aerophile adventure and it is almost sold out.

Sign up now and reserve your spot!

Our Partners:

Starwood Lufthansa Logo Star Alliance

 

  

 

Itinerary

Oct. 31

NYC — Pre-DO party in NYC

A small gathering of food and booze to get us started for the week of festivities.

Nov. 1

NYC – Starwood Tour in NYC

SPG will put on a program in NYC. 

JFK Airport — Lufthansa sendoff / party

Lufthansa will give those headed to Frankfurt a special sendoff in the Lufthansa Flagship Lounge. There will be food, beverages, and few people from Lufthansa to mingle with.

JFK Airport — Scheduled flights to Frankfurt

After lots of liquid libations in the lounge, we’ll depart for Frankfurt on three different flights. This will allow us to compare and contrast the service and on-board amenities.

Nov. 2

Frankfurt Airport — Tours and focus groups

During the afternoon and early evening, Lufthansa will host tours and focus groups with its Star Alliance partners. You will be able to peek at product, service and technology innovations currently in development.

Frankfurt Airport — Evening Events 

A special dinner will be held for all event participants. There will be several special guests from The Lufthansa Group in attendance. This will be followed by a very special nightcap reception in a very special location.

Nov. 3

Frankfurt — Fly to Houston

As the day begins, event participants will get set to jet off to Houston, TX, USA for more festivities.

Nov. 4

Houston — Continental/United day in Houston

Meet with the new management of United Airlines. See the inner workings of the Houston hub, etc.

Houston — The Frequent Traveler Awards

Representing the Voice of the Frequent Traveler, The Frequent Traveler Awards represent excellence in frequent travel programs worldwide, rating the best frequent flyer and frequent guest programs across several categories. Experience the thrill of attending the award presentation in person.

The cost of this event is NOT included in the price of the StarMegaDO charter. RSVP here if you wish to attend.

Nov. 5

Houston — Fly to Phoenix

Our chartered Continental Airlines 757-300 aircraft will be waiting for us at terminal E. There will be dedicated checkin counters for our flight.

Phoenix- US Airways program

Upon arrival in Phoenix, we will park at the US Airways hangar to deplane. US Airways has a special program prepared for us. This includes meetings with Doug Parker, Chairman and CEO of US Airways as well as other members of the company’s senior management.

Phoenix — Lufthansa Flight Traning program

A select group of participants will be whisked off to Lufthansa’s nearby training facility. There, they will be given a private tour and experience how Lufthansa trains its elite pilots in the Arizona desert.

Phoenix — Flight to Paine Field, Everett, WA

In addition to other amenities, there will be an on-board raffle with a variety of great prizes.

Paine Field — A visit with Boeing

Upon landing at the Boeing factory in Everett, WA we will be given very special private tours on the factory floor. These include the 787 and 748 assembly areas and a number of surprises.

Nov. 5

Seattle — Starwood reception

Starwood welcomes the participants to a meet-and-greet reception. Participants will be able to provide feedback on future product innovations. Senior Sheraton and SPG executives will be there.

Nov. 6

SeaTac — Return flight to Houston

The cost of the charter is the same regardless of whether or not you take this flight.

 

Map Created By Great Circle Mapper

bmi joins the StarMegaDo party

StarMegaDo is happy to announce that bmi has signed on as a mileage-earning partner for the charter flights. Similar to Lufthansa and Continental, bmi will be issuing points at a flat rate for all participants of the charter flights. The points will be issued at the 100% level (4031) for Y passengers and 300% (12093) for F passengers. Status bonus for Gold and Silver members will also apply. These points will count for both award and level miles.

Representatives from bmi will also be participating in the events at Frankfurt during our stop there.

There are only a few seats left on the charter. Sign up now!

Public Charter flights operated under Title 14CFR Part 380 DOT PC 10 153 by TomOli, LLC with flights on Continental Airlines. Conditions applicable to the charter are in the operator-participant contract, available here.

More Starwood news for Star Mega Do 2010

Starwood Hotels, the official hotel partners for Star Mega Do 2010, have announced some additional promotions for the event. On top of the previously announced 1,000 bonus points per room per night for all participants that was previously announced, here are some other benefits that participants can enjoy:

  • Everyone participating will get Gold status comped immediately: For folks who do not hold status with other programs this is a great way to jump in to the SPG program and get a feel for their into level elite tier. You’ll earn bonus points on all stays, have access to some room upgrades and other benefits.
  • Platinum status match if desired & eligible: For folks who currently hold a top-tier status in a different hotel loyalty chain, Starwood will match this status to their Platinum level. SPG Platinum Preferred members earn even more points per stay, are eligible for suite upgrades in some cases and receive complimentary high-speed internet access at properties where it is normally a paid service. A welcome gift upon arrival at the hotel, complimentary gym access and the Platinum Concierge are also part of the benefits. This status match is subject to the regular SPG one-time only restrictions.
  • Current Platinums will get goodies as well, but it will be a surprise presented later: We’re not in a position to announce the exact details of these benefits publicly yet, but believe me when I say they are quite choice. If you have the means I highly recommend it.

There’s still more to come. every time it seems we cannot make the event better another partner steps up to prove us wrong. We’re almost sold out – only 30 seats remaining – so sign up now and join the fun!

The status match benefits will be valid through the 2011 program year.

Friday night party plans for Star Mega Do 2010

We knew from the beginning that Star Mega Do 2010 was going to be one of the biggest parties thrown, with action in 5 cities on two continents. But even we didn’t know just how big it would be. Big just got a bit bigger, with confirmation from Starwood regarding the details for a cocktail reception on Friday night after the tour of Boeing’s Everett facility. We’ll be mingling with Starwood executives and enjoying some quality adult beverages at the Sheraton Seattle.

Just one more awesome event in what will be an incredible week of travel, tours and revelry. Join us by registering here: www.StarMegaDo.com.

Earn with United Airlines’ Mileage Plus program on StarMegaDo 2010

We’re happy to announce that we’ve reached an agreement with the folks at United Airlines so that members of their Mileage Plus program can earn points as part of the StarMegaDo 2010 event. This is in addition to the participation of Lufthansa and Continental as mileage earning partners.

For participants who choose to credit to United the following rules will apply:

  • United will give both Mileage Plus Award Miles and Elite Status Miles (EQM) to Mileage Plus members on the CO charter flight
  • Mileage Plus miles will be awarded as if the customer were ticketed on a paid Continental flight, crediting to their Mileage Plus account
  • Miles will be awarded based on the actual routing flown by the customer-i.e. if one flies IAH-PHX-PAE and takes a different return flight, miles will only be earned on IAH-PHX-PAE
  • Mileage Plus elite members will receive the appropriate number of Elite bonus Award Miles, based on their elite status at the time of the charter flight
  • Customers ticketed in the First Class cabin will receive the appropriate Class of Service bonus for Award Miles and Elite Status Miles

We’re very happy to have United as a partner again this year and look forward to a phenomenal event this November!

Not registered yet? Sign up now. You know you want to.

Starwood steps up for Star Mega Do 2010

As the official hotel brand of Star Mega Do 2010 the participation of Starwood Preferred Guest in the week’s events was never in doubt. Nor was earning of SPG points for stays booked as part of the event. But there was a small amount of unknown about just what special benefits the brand would bring to the program. At least part of that question has been answered with an announcement last night.

Starwood will be providing all paid rooms with 1000 bonus SPG points per night for stays booked on the discounted group rate throughout the week. These points are in addition to any other benefits, earnings and promotions that would be accrued through stays at the properties. In addition, Starwood is offering an instant status match to Platinum, the top tier in the SPG program, for top tier folks in other major programs. Enrollment for this match is expected to be available in August.

Combined with the commitment from Continental and Lufthansa to issue miles for the charter portion of the trip – and we’re still working with other Star Alliance carriers to secure their participation as well – the earning potential for the event is significant. It is still outweighed by the behind-the-scenes experiences that all participants will get to participate in, but certainly a nice little bonus.

Star Mega Do 2010 Bookings open on Friday!

By now you’ve probably read all about the itinerary and just how much fun is going to be had during Star Mega Do 2010, so much so that you’re ready to book. Right? The wait is almost over. Booking will open this Friday, June 11, at 12 noon EDT.

The best part is that you do not need to pay the full booking price this Friday. You will need to pay a non-refundable $100 deposit for your space on the charter. The balance of the payment will be due towards the end of July. Space on the charter is limited and will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so if you want to guarantee a space for yourself – particularly in the highly demanded first class cabin – you’re going to need to book quickly.

The booking process will require you to specify, among other bits:

  • Your personal details
  • The legs and class of service for the charter
  • which of the scheduled flights you intend to book and on which date (UA feeder flights, TATL eastbound on LH/OS/LX, TATL westbound on LH, final TATL eastbound SEA-Europe on LH)
  • Specify if you require a discount / Continental MeetingWorks code to get to/from IAH and later SEA
  • Indicate if you will stay at the Starwood properties that will host the event on the ground

If you do choose to stay as part of our negotiated group at the hotels then we’ll take care of all the ground transport issues and the booking process; you’ll be responsible for paying the hotel directly at the time of the stay.

Got any questions? Post a comment or send an email to airbusdo@gmail.com.

Pricing announced for StarMegaDo 2010

Following on the recent announcement of the itinerary, we are pleased to announce that the few lose ends have been tied up and that we have finalized the pricing for the event. Here’s a recap of the schedule:

November 1
We meet at JFK airport for a snack and drinks to board LH 405 (dep 22.45) to fly to FRA
[or for those who want to try LX: we board LX 15 (dep. 20.55) to fly to ZRH and then LX 1072 to FRA]
[or for those who want to try OS: we board OS 88 (dep. 18.55) to fly to VIE and then LH 1235 to FRA]
November 2
We arrive at FRA, the participants starting the SMD2 in Europe join us from this point
Evening reception at 19.00: TBD, we surely will make it an event similar to last year
November 3
We board LH440 (dep. 10.40) to fly to Houston (arr. 15.30)
Evening reception at 19.00: will be a quiet event, to allow people to recover from the past flights. Participants starting the SMD2 for the domestic US portion join us from this point
November 4
Continental day: CO will host us in IAH.
Evening: we take a break from SMD 2 to join the Frequent Traveler Awards event in Houston
November 5
8.00 am Charter flight in IAH to fly to PHX
The charter will be operated by a Continental 757-300 with 24 F and 192 Y config. We have the option to add a 737-900 with 20F/153Y or bigger if the booking situation demands it.
On arrival in PHX we join US Airways for an event.
~12.30 pm: We depart PHX for PAE
TBD pm: we arrive in Paine Field at Boeing to tour the facilities and visit LH’s latest aircraft type, the 748i
November 6
Participants start their their journey home:
Europeans take LH 491 (dep. 15.45) back to FRA,
Domestic participants take the CO plane back to IAH at 9 am. This is optional, you will have the option to request the additional leg if you desire. This will a be no-frill standard catering flight back as if you are flying a regular commercial flight; if there is overwhelming demand seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are two cost components that we have details available for at this time, the TATL flights originating in the USA and the charter flights.

For the TATL there are three Star Alliance carriers offering discounted rates for us, Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian:

  • LH JFK-FRA-IAH: 2748US$++ (3128$ a.i.) in Z, 320US$++ (700$ a.i.) in W/S
  • LX JFK-xZRH-FRA: 1566$ a.i. in Business, 341$ a.i. in Economy (P)
  • OS JFK-xVIE-FRA: 1369$++ in Business (J)

For the charter flights there are two classes of service available, First and Coach. In addition to the bigger seats the first class cabin will include premium catering and booze, though the back of the plane will hardly be a dry experience. The pricing will be: $1,499 for first class and $699 for economy.

The charter price includes transportation and service from/to IAH-PHX-PAE. If you choose to attend the event starting in PHX, no discount will be available. As mentioned above the repositioning leg back to the location where the charter came from is optional (so PAE-IAH on the morning of the next day is included in the price, but you don’t have to take it and can stop in PAE/SEA). Also included in the price are all the meals noted above, ground transfers, tours and more.

Sign up will be coming soon, just as soon as we have a booking system in place.

Star Mega Do 2 Happy Hour in Stockholm: 3 May

No, it isn’t an official part of the main trip, but for folks in the Stockholm area interested in having a few drinks and chatting about SMD2 with one of the organizers, Tommy is going to be drinking in Stockholm on Monday, May 3, 2010, and you’re all invited. No guarantees that it will be as much fun as the official launch party last week, but there’s a pretty good chance of fun and just a bit of troublemaking.

Scandic Anglais, Humlegårdsgatan 23
102 44 Stockholm
Time: 9PM–

A Mega itinerary for a Mega Do!

This past Friday night the itinerary for the 2010 Star Mega Do was announced at a party in Marina del Ray, California. The room was packed with veterans from the 2009 edition and other FlyerTalkers who all wanted to be involved in the event as well as folks looking for a good party out on the West coast. Some of the photos suggest there were upwards of 50 folks crowded into the room for the event; the bar tab suggests even more. Either way, this luck group was the first to hear the official news.

IMGP0845 IMGP0854 IMGP0859 

And now that I’ve recovered from the rather vicious hangover (Marty, I’m gonna get even!) here’s the itinerary for everyone else to chew on:

Monday, November 1

JFK-FRA: We expect that to be on the LH A380 though the aircraft is not yet confirmed to be on that route.

Tuesday, November 2

Arrive FRA. Party with *A and LH in FRA.

*For folks starting in Europe you will be invited to join on Tuesday evening

Wednesday, November 3

FRA-IAH. Arrive IAH and dinner with CO.
*For folks who want to only do the USA part of the event you’ll be joining us in IAH for the dinner or tomorrow morning for the tours.

Thursday, November 4

CO tours in IAH.

Thursday, November 4 – Evening

The First Annual Frequent Traveler Awards!
Built on the legacy of The Freddies, the FT Awards will allow the community to honor the loyalty programs that make everything we do just a bit more fun.

Friday, November 5

Charter flight!
IAH-PHX: Meet with US Airways in PHX
PHX-PAE: Fly in to an airport that doesn’t really see traditional commercial service (cool new dot/line) and go on a special tour of the Boeing factory where the 747-8i is being built.
Party in Seattle area Friday night

Saturday, November 6

Charter flight back to either Chicago or Houston, depending on which aircraft we end up chartering.

We thought we had figured out the details of which aircraft we’d be using for the charter but we had a last minute entrant from another carrier that is interested in providing us with that service. So we are still working out the details and hope to have more specific pricing and an answer to which aircraft we’ll be using (747, MD-11 or 753/73E/738s) in the very near future.

Regarding pricing of the event, we expect that the charter price point will be at or below last year’s price. Depending on the aircraft selected there will be a mix of F, C, E+ and E- available. The TATL flights will be about the same price in Y (~$600) and will be more expensive in C (~$3000).

We’re getting a great rate with Starwood for the hotels along the way and there will likely be a Fast Track promo for status associated with it.

Star Mega Do 2: Another wild ride!

Things have been a bit quiet on the Star Mega Do front lately, but only on the public side. In the background our crew has been toiling away day and night putting together an itinerary that will knock you socks off. Tonight, at 6pm PDT in Los Angeles, California, the itinerary will be unveiled and the details shared. If you’re in town (or one of the ~75 folks traveling in just for the party) you can join us at Tony P’s in Marina del Ray to hear the details in person. If you cannot be there, I’ll drink your share and still manage to post here what’s going on.

Will there be long-haul flights full of partying aerophiles? You bet!

Charter aircraft with custom catering and ridiculous antics? It wouldn’t be a Star Mega Do without those bits!

Surprises that I’m pretty sure you cannot guess yet? Absolutely!

The party tonight is going to be great and the party on the planes is going to be even better. Get ready, because you’re not going to want to miss this event!

A ton more Star MegaDo videos

Sure, it has taken way longer than it probably should have, but I’ve finally managed to get a bunch more videos uploaded.  These are mostly from the presentation on Friday from Thierry Antinori, Lufthansa’s Executive Vice President Marketing & Sales and Member of the Executive Board though the first one is the opening greeting from Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber.

Enjoy!

More photos from the Airbus factory tour

Just a few more photos from inside the final assembly building at Toulouse…

SBM_1096 SBM_1098 SBM_1100 SBM_1103

A party on neutral ground

Following the long day of flights and tours Lufthansa was gracious enough to host us for a night cap in the Tower Lounge near gate A65 at Frankfurt International Airport.  This is one of their newer lounges and it is quite impressive.  It also is outside of the Schengen border control zone.  That meant all 200 of us had to pass though immigration to attend the party.  Fortunately they had warned the border police about our plans so there were a couple guys there ready to work with us.

At that point we were no longer really in Germany from an immigration perspective.  But we weren’t really anywhere else, either.  We were essentially nowhere and having a phenomenal time!

And then, about an hour later when the lounge closed, it was back into Germany and another pass through the border check and another stamp on the passport.  We visited two countries during the day – Norway and France – and did it with nary a glance at most passports.  But to get to a party 500 meters from the gate took two stamps.  Certainly strange, but also a great story.

Star Mega Do coverage in the WSJ

Check it out…

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703808904574529622404278810.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

If you were always on the road and seemed to live on airplanes, would you spend your vacation visiting airlines?

More than 200 vagabond business travelers, peripatetic frequent-flier-mile addicts and aviation enthusiasts did just that last week. Over four days, they traveled from the U.S. to Germany, Norway and France to meet with executives, pilots and mechanics at four airlines—plus representatives of aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The event, organized by members of FlyerTalk.com, a Web site that caters to frequent fliers, even included chartering a Boeing 757-300 to zip from airline hangar to airline hangar.

Plane spotting at Toulouse

What great fun to be at the factory and see the planes from so many carriers all in one place.  And there were plenty to be seen.  Check out some of these beauties:

SBM_1031

SBM_1036  SBM_1039

This is the plane we were touring in all day:

SBM_1022

Not all the planes on the ground were Airbus, but they were still cool:

SBM_1049

Some of the bigger birds on display:

SBM_1027 

Of course, the main focus of the visit to Toulouse was plane spotting of a different kind.  We were there to tour the A380 final assembly line.  We did, and it was amazing.  More stories, video and photos from that soon.

Inspecting the crew rest bunks

As a group of mostly very frequent flyers, getting to go behind the scenes and see the other side of the operations is always interesting.  After all, we’ spend plenty of time on the customer side.  Hitting up the crew side is the next step in the adventure.  So when Lufthansa opened up access to their Technik facility – their maintenance operations – scores of our group showed up to take part. 

Among other things, the group wandered through a couple planes that were in for their regular maintenance checks.  These planes are essentially fully disassembled and then put back together, with various bits replaced and refreshed along the way.  One of the more popular scenes during these tours were the visits to the crew rest bunks.  They may not be glamorous, but they are fully flat, quiet and dark.  Not too shabby.  I could travel like that.  Then again, I’ve been in an overhead bin and didn’t think it was all that bad. 

Anyways, here are pictures of some folks having fun in the crew rest bunks:

2Q2H0422

SDC13227

SDC13228

Videos from Oslo and StarMegaDo

I’m not a great videographer and probably worse at video editing.  But I have a bunch of content that I’ve been slowly getting uploaded.  Here are a few clips from various bits of the Oslo stop.

 

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