And The Big Day Begins – Flight DE9254 is ready to board!

Photo courtesy of Perlman via Twitpic:

Mr. DeVille, I’m ready for my close-up

As part of this week’s events a number of reporters have joined the events.  It turns out that I know one of them through my brother-in-law (that was a strange coincidence to discover, especially after we had talked for a couple hours) and they are all working the story on various angles.  Just who are these crazy folks that love to travel so much?  Are there really people who spend every week on the road and then go out of our way to travel more when work stops sending us on the road?

Yes, these people really exist, and they are us.

One of the crews working such a story arranged for a photographer and the associated support staff to be available to shoot a photograph related to their story.  I participated in that event and we had a blast.  I cannot share the name of the publication or the real details of the shoot as of yet, but I’ve been told to expect the article and photo to be published in the February issue of the publication and you can be sure that I’ll be sharing more of that once it is official.

In the meantime, here are a couple shots of our group relaxing before and after the shoot.

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And, just for fun, a cool shot of one of the interior lobbies in Lufthansa’s headquarters near Frankfurt airport.

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Lufthansa flight 405 to Frankfurt is now boarding

I’m pretty sure that the Lufthansa folks have never had over 100 passengers show up for the Star Gold boarding line.  Yet there we all were, a hundred of us, lined up waiting to board Lufthansa’s flight 405 from New York’s JFK airport to Frankfurt.  And we had a ridiculously good time.

We filled up the plane.  Literally.  We had almost all the seats in business class and a whole bunch in coach, too.  The plane was 100% full, plus a couple extras.  The Lufthansa employees from NYC coming over to Frankfurt for the event had to ride jump seat rather than even getting seats in coach.  There were literally no seats left on the plane.

The good news is that the seats we filled were done so with great fun and excitement.  The bad news, such as it was, is that the tailwinds on our flight meant that total flight time was just a hair over 6 hours to get to Germany.  That’s really fast.  So fast that full enjoyment of the meal service and the Business Class experience and also getting some sleep is really hard to do.  Almost impossible, really.  But that didn’t stop us from trying.

 

Here are a few photos from in flight:

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And then, before I really had time to understand just how much fun I was having, we were less than 4 hours from arrival in Frankfurt!

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Through some means that I have yet to fully understand, one of the folks in our group got access to the flight deck and rode up there for the landing in Frankfurt.  Seriously.  And he’s given me copies of the photos to prove it!

 

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Yeah, that was our plane coming in for a landing in Frankfurt.  Finally, a shot that is often repeated but always enjoyable upon arrival in Frankfurt, the reflection of the plane:

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More tours, lounges and incredible fun later in the day on arrival.  Those posts to come eventually.  Right now I’m too tired and drunk for my fingers to really work any more.

Welcome to the Welcome Lounge in Frankfurt

IMG00221-20091104-0558Our flight was early.  Almost ridiculously so.  We actually circled a bit near London and slowed down coming into Frankfurt and we were still ridiculously early.  What we lost in terms of sleep time in-flight, however, was made up for in terms of time spent in the Welcome Lounge arrivals facility in airport.

For me that meant grabbing some food – I slept through the brekkie service on the flight – as well as a bit of a pick-me-up drink.  The bar had all the makings available for Bloody Mary’s, including a nice little setup of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, black pepper and lemon.  But no Vodka.  And when asked the agent seemed dumbfounded that such a thing could even be considered.  Alas, I was relegated to a glass of beer instead.  These are the sacrifices I’ve learned to make for my devotion to the cause.

We managed to be parked at one of the most remote hard stands which meant a 15 minute long taxi and then an additional ride on buses over to the immigration facilities.  We spotted the Lufthansa retrojet along the way.  She’s a beautifully painted Airbus A321 and looks just as lovely as the Continental retrojet.

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Everyone headed off in their own direction at this point, mostly to the hotels to freshen up and prepare for tours of the Lufthansa facilities or other events on-site Wednesday evening, including a dinner hosted by Star Alliance and Lufthansa.

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Lounging at JFK

Lufthansa is quite proud of their new flagship lounge facilities at New York’s JFK airport and rightfully so.  The lounges are quite impressive.  And it really is multiple lounges.  Through just one one door there are actually three lounges in increasing levels of quality as you ascend the internal stairs.

The Business lounge at concourse level offers up a large space, phenomenal views of the apron and some pretty good food, along with beer and wine.  It is the largest of the three areas and is where our group was based for the evening.

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Next level up is the Senator lounge, reserved for Star Alliance Gold elites.  It is even nicer, with additional meal options and a full bar.  It is quite nice.  If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

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The top floor is the First Class lounge, with even more booze choices and even more exclusive access.  No photos were taken (by me) up there.

There were a few speeches made by folks from Lufthansa and our hosts and then much socializing.  With lots of champagne consumed.  It actually appeared a bit as though we overwhelmed the staff there but they took it in stride and were were cared for phenomenally well.  Did I mention the lots of champagne?

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And then our plane arrived.  She’s a beauty.  Non-stop Boeing 747-400 service from New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport to Frankfurt Main.  The flight wasn’t long enough to truly enjoy the fantastic Lufthansa service that we received, but we did our best. SBM_0854

Oh, and we we actually beat the Van Wyck Expressway.  Seriously.  We made it from Newark Airport to JFK in incredibly good time.

Welcoming Continental to Star Alliance

Continental Airlines is no stranger to providing quality tours to the FlyerTalk crowd, and the Star MegaDo was no exception.  By the time we got to Newark our crowd was about 100 strong.  There were three different tours offered, ranging from the maintenance hangar (a 757-300 was having an engine swapped out) to the Operations tower to the catering facility at Chelsea Kitchens.

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I got to go on the Chelsea Kitchens tour (a good thing, since I’ve done the other two already) and it was truly amazing.  The operations is as much large-scale manufacturing – thousands of pounds of ice every day and millions of dollars of inventory moving through monthly – as it is a kitchen, but that isn’t to say that they don’t run it as a real kitchen.  The operations run 24/7 every day, cooking, baking and packaging up meals for hundreds of flights per day.

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Leon is one of the shift managers in the kitchens and he was kind enough to walk us through the operation, showing us everything from packaging of ice cream sundaes to the baking of thousands of fresh breakfast muffins daily.  And, in case you’re curious, they do bake the rolls for the turkey puck in house every day.

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Then it was off to JFK for some partying in the lounge and the not-so-long flight over to Frankfurt.

A Lufthansa Gate Agent Shows Her Colors…

… with a splash of Continental as well! Thanks to XYZZY for zipping this photo out during the taxi of the Mega DO Express to FRA.

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LH405 The Mega DO Express | Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 D-ABVR Köln

Moving on to Newark

First flight of the Star Mega Do is now done and it was phenomenal.  United was nice enough to up-gage the scheduled CRJ-700 to an Airbus A320 so there was plenty of room for our crowd, with a lot of empty middle seats to make everyone rather comfortable.  Plus, free snack boxes for everyone on board so that we were all able to have some lunch in the middle of a ridiculously busy day.

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Captain Bob Hart, who stopped by earlier in the day to hang out at the RCC with us and chat did a great job keeping the cabin informed on the couple small delays we had and also had some fun with contests and other bits of information shared over Channel 9.  Among other things, we learned that the plane used 4900 of the planned 8300 pounds of fuel during the first half of the flight.  I was nowhere close in my guess.

And then the seatbelt sign was off and I wandered the aisle of the plane, documenting in great detail some of the many FlyerTalk folks on the flight.  Here are the pictures to prove it:

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At one point in the flight I was called upon to perform some Flight Attendant-ish duties.  Woohooo!

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Randy Petersen, enjoying a bit of reading and some quality leg room in the exit row.

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And then there was the collection of luggage and the march over to Terminal C to meet up with the Continental folks for the afternoon tours.  Randy even pitched in on the luggage schlep.  What a guy.

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We’re now boarding the 747-400 (D-ABVR, Koln) for the flight from JFK to Frankfurt.  More posts to come once we land!

FlyerTalk 1

Here’s the aircraft that we are flying, boarding right now. Word has it that the tower will clear this flight as it taxis and takes off as FlyerTalk1. Now, how cool is that?

via First Annual Star Alliance MegaDO

NEW PHOTO: Continental Airlines Boeing 757-200 in Star Alliance Livery

A great shot of the newly painted 752 arriving in Madrid. Notice the Star Alliance logos on the winglets!

Condor Airlines Boeing 757-300 D-ABON “Willi-Bird”

A 360 degree view of the A380 Cockpit

Click here to open an amazing view of the A380 cockpit.

Star Alliance – Continental Airlines Entry Ceremony Photo

Star Alliance - Continental Airlines Ceremony Picture

Best Airports for a Layover – Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt

Designed by Frankfurt architects Hollin & Radoske in a former Frankfurt Airport parking lot, the €30 million, two-story structure is an beautiful appointed space awash in hand-tufted woollen carpets and bespoke designer fixtures. It’s available only to first class passengers or Lufthansa’s elite frequent fliers. Russet shades from B & B Italia, meantime, dull the daylight filtering into the cigar lounge, where some 36 single-malt Irish whiskeys are on offer. Boarding is unlike that at any terminal: it’s done via a chauffeured Mercedes S-Class or Porsche Cayenne that will elegantly whisk guests plane-side.

via Best Airports for a Layover – ForbesTraveler.com.

Now Open | Lufthansa Lounge – The Moment Blog – NYTimes.com

The New Lufthansa First Class Lounge | New York JFK

Now Open | Lufthansa Lounge – The Moment Blog – NYTimes.com.

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