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.
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
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.
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.
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.
I’ve never seen so many people quite so happy to be boarding a plane at 5:15 in the morning. And yet there we all were. Nearly 200 mostly awake and in a remote gate area of Frankfurt International Airport, ready to climb on board the first of three flights in our chartered Condor Boeing 757-300.
Plenty of sleepy eyes in the gate area but once boarding started most folks perked up in a hurry.
Maybe it was that we were giving out lies in conjunction with the first flight’s theme – a Continental Airlines flight from Hawai’i to Los Angeles in the 70s. Or maybe it was because the excitement all finally just bubbled over. Who really cares why…folks were downright giddy and it showed in their faces and behavior.
And the party never stopped. It would be days before things calmed down. But it is still before 6am on a Thursday morning in this story and we haven’t even taken off for our first stop, Oslo and a breakfast party with SAS.
Wrapping up the first day of the tours here in Germany, our group was treated to a meal by the folks from Lufthansa and Star Alliance. The event was held in the main dining room of Lufthansa’s executive offices just off the airport grounds and we were very well taken care of, to say the least.
Good booze and good food flowed, as did good friendship and camaraderie.
Jan Albrecht was present, along with a number of other executives from airlines and the alliance. They were happy to circulate among the crowd and get feedback from our group, with one of them noting rather humbly that they knew that the FlyerTalk community has a more in-depth understanding of their products than even they do and that they depend on us a good amount to know when things are broken.
A few more speeches, including the very appropriate and heartfelt thanks being extended to the organizers of the event.
Lufthansa had some flight attendants at the event as part of the photo shoot and then to be at the party to show off some of the retro uniforms that they used to use. Quite sharp, to say the least.
Boarding passes being distributed:
John celebrating the fact that he managed to lose and find his passport in the 12 hours prior to the departure from the USA. He had great reason to drink and celebrate, not that we really need good reasons.
Getting ready to head out on the first charter flight now.
Our 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.
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.
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.