Charter flight #1 – Houston to Phoenix

StarMegaDo 2010 kicked off at the ungodly early hour of 5am today with the first round of transfers to the airport from the hotel. By 6am the last group was climbing on the shuttle buses and we’d put away a half case of Veuve in celebration of the crazy that we are. The folks unlucky enough to be on the earliest buses were rewarded with the opportunity to visit the flagship Continental Presidents Club in Terminal E while the rest of us barely cleared security in time to get to the plane on time.

IMGP6876Boarding was somewhat chaotic – you’d think a group of 200 frequent flyers would be better at getting their bags in the overheads – but we pushed back on time and cruised west from Houston at 36000 feet through cloudless blue skies. It was a beautiful day for flying. Oh, and we did have the oldest unaccompanied minor ever to fly on Continental with us as well. In case you’re curious, he is a big baby, but also a great guy.

IMGP6879The in-flight service was truly special. One of the flight attendants is an avid participant in the FlyerTalk community and managed to trade to pick up the trip at the last minute. The entire in-flight crew was phenomenal, pouring bottle after bottle of Monopole (and whatever other drinks were ordered) and serving up a hot meal for us as well.

IMGP6891The service was more than I’ve had on just about any flight in the past couple years. I mentioned that to one of the flight attendants and she noted “we haven’t worked this hard on a two hour flight since the MD-80s.” Yeah, that was a long time ago. Still, they were working with smiles on their face and having a blast traveling with us

IMGP6887Wheels down in Phoenix was right on time. We deplaned into buses where most of the group headed to a reception with US Airways while a smaller group headed west to Goodyear Field to visit Airline Training Center Arizona, the Lufthansa flight training facility where all of their pilots learn to fly.

So we’re mostly working on very little sleep and quite a bit of Champagne. Doesn’t seem like all that bad a deal to me at all.

A Mega Simulator opportunity

This year’s Star Mega Do is not just about shmoozing and tours. There are a few special opportunities that will be made available only to subsets of the group. One of these is the opportunity to visit Lufthansa Flight Training’s Airline Training Center Arizona (ATCA). This is the facility that the carrier uses to train their pilots and, well, it is going to be a phenomenal experience. It will also be limited to only 20 participants of the 200 who are on the trip.

The participants going to the ATCA will experience the following:

  • Briefing about the ATCA on the bus ride over to Goodyear, AZ
  • A tour behind the scenes of the flight training center
  • A look into the various aircraft they have on site
  • Briefing about the simulators
  • A simple Beechcraft — F33A Bonanza simulator flight for each participant with an instructor

The 20 ATCA slots will be assigned through a silent auction. The entire proceeds will go to the Helpalliance. HelpAlliance was founded in 1999 by staff members from all parts of the Lufthansa Group. It is a voluntary, non-denominational, politically independent organization.

In order to submit a bid, please email me the amount you would like to donate to the Helpalliance in order to be in the group visiting the ATCA. Bids should be emailed in USD or EUR to The cut-off time to submit bids is Oct 29 Friday noon NYC time.

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