Before we get too deep into today’s charter activities, a quick story: Faced with four hours to kill following the CO presentation Thursday afternoon, 15 of us decided on a pub crawl… through the Presidents Clubs. Exploiting the PC’s unique ability to issue gate passes for members and up to two guests, the group started at Terminal E and progressed through the alphabet in reverse, visiting Terminal C South, C North, B, and A in a state of increasing inebriation. Three of us — Scott, Marty and myself — snuck out to the KLM lounge for a bit, bringing the total group tally to six. By the time we caught up them again, the Clubs had begun calling ahead to warn of our group’s approach. “They’re coming,” the receptionist at C South informed her counterpart at C North. “All they want is a few pictures.”
At each stop, there were photos. First, it was a group shot outside the Club in Terminal E; then one in front of the counter at Terminal C South. By C North, we were behind the counter. In B, we were in the front of the bar. Finally, by the time we reached the Club in Terminal A — by which time the first (annual?) Presidents Club Margarita Contest was nearing its conclusion — we were behind the bar. (Photos below). As for the contest results:
1. Dina at Terminal B. The secret of her success? Adding a splash of amaretto to the mix.
2. Keri at Terminal A
3. Charles at Terminal C South
4. Veronica at Terminal E
5. Unknown at Terminal C North. “Definitely the strongest, though,” the judges ruled. “His goal was to get alcohol into you as quickly as possible.”
It’s 6:15 AM, and most of the Mega DO is eating breakfast in the Terminal E President’s Club before their 7 AM departure to PHX aboard CO 1905. There’s not much to say about last night’s first Frequent Traveler Awards that hasn’t already been said on FlyerTalk or at the awards site itself, other than that it was an unqualified success and that the after-party ran a little bit late for a 5 AM (in coach), 5:30 (in Randy, Tommy, and “Marty” class) or 5:45 AM (in first) wakeup call.
Check in throughout the day for coverage of the ride in each class, along with reports from US Airways in Phoenix and the Boeing assembly line at Paine Field. The last day of SMD 2010 will no doubt be the longest!
When I wrapped up last year’s Star Mega DO by (quite legally) crashing the Lufthansa First Class Terminal along with a small gaggle of FlyerTalkers, I figured it was literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But here we are a year later, and I’ve been back not once, but twice in a span of less than 12 hours. As mentioned in a previous post, Lufthansa took the unprecedented step of busing the entire roster of this year’s Mega DO to the FCT for a nightcap after dinner — the first and only time in its history that non-HONs and non-ticketed first class passengers have ever been allowed inside. This was especially impressive considering the terminal is technically airside, which meant stationing personnel at every exit to keep the entire terminal in lockdown.
So what did you miss? First, the basics: the FCT is a standalone building, built at a cost of $43 million. The best-known feature is the fleet of Porches, BMWs and Mercedes downstairs waiting to whisk you to your flight. (This morning, I settled for a Mercedes van; Randy hitched a ride in a Porsche. “I can cross that off my frequent traveler bucket list,” he said.) Equally famous in FT circles are the rubber duckies in the bathtub, which had been removed for the evening to keep people like me (and Will Steele) from making off with them.
I’ll leave it to others to debate which airline has the best lounges, or which is the single best lounge in the world, but the FCT has to be in the uppermost tier with the Virgin Clubhouse at LHR and the Wing and the Pier at HKG. (If anyone would like to argue why their favorite is better, I’d love to see it in the comments.) One myth that was shattered for me was the fact that the pastries — which years ago on a quick press tour I’d been told were flown in fresh on the first flight from Vienna each morning — were more or less baked locally, with only a handful of delicacies being flown in from Austria. (Why shouldn’t the FCT be hand-stocked with air-freighted delicacies?)
On Tuesday night, the restaurant was closed and the bar (which prides itself on its single malt selection, delighting Tommy) was limited to a small selection of scotches, cognac and grappa, but a small expedition the next morning (thanks to our HON chaperones) sampled breakfast, toasted with Tattinger, and did the things “air warriors” do in these situations: enjoyed our good fortune.
You may recall that while the majority of Mega DO participants flew Lufthansa JFK-FRA, a handful opted to transit via ZRH, VIE (and in one case, GVA) on LX and OS. How were their flights? I have yet to meet either of the pair who opted for OS, but I do have a pair of trip reports from LX. After dropping $2,800 on a refundable gate pass to enter Lufthansa Senator Lounge at JFK, Pat hopped the AirTrain from Terminal 1 to Terminal 4. Upon entering the Swiss lounge (which is land-side), he was greeted by the head of U.S. PR, who took him on a tour of the first class lounge and then helped clear an entire lane of security for him to pass through. The flight to ZRH in business class was outfitted with fully lie-flat beds, and upon arrival he was taken to lunch by the head of operations, which blew Pat away. After lunch, he was driven to his plane. “I have to call about my miles because they never scanned my ticket!” he says.
Meanwhile, Marty booked himself on JFK-GVA-FRA and apparently fell through the cracks, as Swiss was unaware of his presence. So what is it like when they don’t roll out the red carpet? “The Swiss flight was great… in the air,” said Marty, obviously hesitating. “The lounge was better than advertised, and the service was fantastic. But there was a slight delay in Geneva, and when I got here, they had decided to send my luggage on to Rome. So I was an hour late at baggage claim while retrieved my luggage from the Rome flight, and by then the Welcome lounge was closed.” The lesson, as always: being on the official roster of a Star Mega DO makes every flight better.
Unless you’re a StarMegaDo participant, that is.
For the first time ever the lounge was opened up after hours to host a private event for customers and we had a blast. For about an hour we mingled, sampled a collection of the fine beverages on offer and enjoyed the luxuries that the lounge offers. A few lucky folks even managed to score one of the coveted rubber ducks from the bath suites.
…on sleep and on keeping current with these posts. That’s what happens when your whirlwind evening includes workshops with Lufthansa and Star Alliance (more at USA Today on that one), dinner at Lufthansa headquarters with 76 Mega DOers and executives from across Star and the Lufthansa Group, and a nightcap (one of many) at the First Class Terminal — the first (and certainly the last) time it has ever been opened to non-HON, non-first class passengers. A truly amazing, exclusive experience. Seth will hopefully toss a few photos of the latter on the Web this morning, but more detailed posts on Tuesday night’s activities will have to wait until we’ve touched down in Houston. In the meantime, I have Tattinger Rosé to drink over breakfast at the First Class Terminal. See you on the other side.
“Apparently we all can’t go inside the A380 at once so it doesn’t get too crowded. Are they aware it seats 900 people?”
“Do you want to go to the First Class Terminal in the morning?”
“The answer to that question is always yes.”
(Randy standing in coach, looking puzzled) “I’m not sure we really want to see this section. I really have no interest in this cabin.”
“Don’t worry about me; I’m never going to be down here anyways.”