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.
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:
At one point in the flight I was called upon to perform some Flight Attendant-ish duties. Woohooo!
Randy Petersen, enjoying a bit of reading and some quality leg room in the exit row.
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.
We’re now boarding the 747-400 (D-ABVR, Koln) for the flight from JFK to Frankfurt. More posts to come once we land!
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?
LUFTHANSA LEADS UNIQUE BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY FOR 200+ FLYERTALK MEMBERS – WebFlyer.com
From operations to maintenance, catering to crew training, Star Alliance carriers Lufthansa, United, Continental and SAS, along with Airbus, open their doors to Frequent Flyers from around the world in this first “Mega DO” celebration
Colorado Springs, Colo. (November 3, 2009) When Lufthansa flight 405 lifts off from Kennedy airport this evening, the passengers onboard will represent one of the largest concentrations of frequent travellers ever to occupy a widebody flight – until the group triples two days later. Some 60 Business Class and 28 Economy Class passengers representing six different frequent flyer programs and collectively holding over 24 million frequent flyer miles will make their way to Germany today as members of the world’s largest online frequent flyer community, FlyerTalk. By the end of their five-day journey, over 200 members from around the world will have come together to celebrate their love of airlines and flying. Dubbed the “Star Alliance Mega DO”, the trip will offer these airline enthusiasts a behind the scenes look at Lufthansa, United, Continental and SAS, as well as an Airbus A380 being assembled in Toulouse. It will take members away from the familiar setting of an aircraft cabin to meet with executives from the world’s leading international airlines, and explore their worlds from a different angle – and altitude.
“While FlyerTalk has provided its members with other unique experiences, the breadth and scope of the Star Alliance Mega DO is unprecedented in terms of the number of participants as well as the exclusive access afforded by our Star Alliance hosts,” said FlyerTalk founder Randy Petersen. “At a time when the airline industry as a whole is struggling, this event represents a $300,000 cash injection under which our members, and the airlines involved, get to understand one another better and just plain have fun.”
The Mega DO begins the morning of Tuesday, November 3rd with a group of FlyerTalk members touring the United Airlines operations facilities at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Participants will later fly to Newark, where a larger group will assemble as Continental, the newest Star Alliance member, showcases its Chelsea Kitchens and operations tower. Next is a transfer to JFK Airport for a send-off party at Lufthansa’s new three-tier flagship lounge.
“We’re honored to host such an extraordinary event together with our Star Alliance and industry partners,” said Wolfgang Mayrhuber, Chairman and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, who will welcome the 200+ members in Frankfurt. “We have great respect for our frequent flyers and high admiration for the FlyerTalk community’s unparalleled understanding of the airline industry. We especially look forward to welcoming Continental’s frequent flyers for the first time to introduce them to our Lufthansa world.”
After LH 405 touches down in Frankfurt, the group will undergo cabin crew training in Lufthansa Flight Training’s aircraft simulators, to prepare FlyerTalk moderators for their role in the next day’s events. In the evening, Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht and Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Vice President of Marketing, Hubert Frach, will co-host a retro- themed dinner that commemorates the heyday of commercial aviation.
Day three finds the FlyerTalkers jetting around Europe aboard a chartered Boeing 757- 300 Condor plane aptly painted “Wir lieben fliegen” (“We Love to Fly”). FlyerTalk leader Randy Petersen and over a dozen moderators from FlyerTalk airline forums, including Lufthansa forum moderator and DO co-host Oliver Majumdar, will put the previous day’s training to the test when they serve as cabin crew and/or pursers onboard the aircraft. First stop, Oslo, Norway, where 35 additional FlyerTalkers will join the trip beginning with breakfast hosted by SAS executives in the airline’s hangar. Immediately afterwards, the charter flight will depart for Toulouse, France with a full complement of 230 FlyerTalkers and international media onboard.
“Passengers can look forward to an onboard experience unlike any before,” said Tommy Danielsen, FlyerTalk’s SAS moderator and one of the trip’s three co-hosts. Upon arrival in Toulouse, Airbus will provide tours of its A380 Final Assembly Line and Mock-up Center. Guests will get a peek at one of Lufthansa’s first A380s in production. The group’s whirlwind day concludes with a return flight to Frankfurt and evening reception at Lufthansa’s award-winning Tower lounge, offering the ultimate view over the apron.
On the final day of programming, Friday, November 6th, Lufthansa and its partners will open their doors for a full day of tours and information exchange. Participants will take part in focus groups hosted by Lufthansa to debut an exclusive meta-community mobile phone application that will enable the real-time exchange of information and tips, including a location-based feature facilitating spontaneous meet-ups with fellow FlyerTalkers while in transit. To conclude the DO, members will overnight at Lufthansa’s new training and conference center, which is located outside Frankfurt in the town of Seeheim, where they will partake in the ultimate insider experience – mingling with hundreds of Lufthansa staff from around the world.
One of the world’s largest and most prestigious airlines, Lufthansa flies to 191 destinations in 78 countries, with hubs in Frankfurt, Munich, and with its recent acquisition of Austrian Airlines and SWISS – Vienna and Zurich. From its 21 North American gateways, Lufthansa serves over 400 destinations in more than 100 countries. An industry innovator, the airline has long been committed to environmental care and sustainability, operating the most technically-advanced and fuel-efficient fleet in the world. Its long-haul fleet to and from North America includes the Boeing 747-400, as well as the Airbus A340-600, A340-300 and A330-300. Currently, Lufthansa has 170 aircraft worth more than $20 billion on order. It will be the largest European operator of the A380 and is also the launch customer for the new Boeing 747-8, the industries’ two most fuel-efficient passenger aircraft. Known for its premium services, Lufthansa is currently investing $190 million in building new or upgraded lounge facilities across it worldwide network. In January 2009, it opened a three-story, U.S. flagship lounge at JFK Airport. For more information or reservations, visit http://www.lh.com.
With more than 170,000 members and nearly 13 million comments posted, FlyerTalk is the world’s largest frequent traveler community. Started by frequent traveler guru and publisher of InsideFlyer magazine, Randy Petersen, the interactive online community has over 150 forums on all things travel – from individual airlines to airports, dining, destinations, earning and redeeming miles, solving problems, and more. For the latest updates from the StarMegaDo, visit the official event website and blog at: http://www.starmegado.com, where pictures and video from the event will be posted. You can also follow the conversation in the Lufthansa Miles & More forum online at http://www.flyertalk.com or on Twitter under the DO’s official hashtag, #starmegado.
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|GoJet CRJ-700 N153GJ Operating as United Express, my ride to Chicago, with a Continental 737 in the background|
Yeah, I’m excited to be flying on the CRJ-700 this afternoon from Newark to Chicago as the first of many flights in my StarMegaDo experience. No, I didn’t get upgraded into ExPlus. I didn’t even make it into the Economy Plus section. No Channel 9 to listen to the air traffic controllers along the way. Heck, there is barely even a window at this row. There really is very little about this that should really make me particularly happy.
And yet, here I am, happily ensconced in seat 15C and really quite pleased.
Due to work commitments I originally had to book the 7pm departure from Newark this evening. Fortunately, however, I was able to adjust that schedule and get to the airport around 1pm, plenty early for the 2:36pm flight to Chicago. I was flying standby at that point and it turns out that there was a small chance that I wouldn’t make the flight – there were more folks who wanted to go standby than seats available. But as they started boarding I heard my name called and I was handed my new boarding pass. Not much could have made me happier.
Even better, the flight departed on time and is expected to arrive early into Chicago this afternoon. That means plenty of time for me to hang out before heading out to meet the rest of the pre-party crowd for dinner.
So, yes, I’m happy to be on the CRJ-700. I never really thought I’d write that.
CONTINENTAL AIRLINES JOINS STAR ALLIANCE
Strategic Network Expansion in the Americas, Asia and Europe
New York/Newark Becomes New Star Alliance Hub
NEW YORK CITY, USA – October 27, 2009 – The CEOs of the Star Alliance member carriers today welcomed the alliance’s 25th member: Continental Airlines. Continental’s joining Star Alliance will further enhance the alliance’s three main customer benefits: global reach, worldwide recognition and seamless travel. Continental’s membership follows last year’s announcement of a strategic partnership between Continental and United Airlines. Experts from both airlines and Star Alliance have been working together over the last 18 months in order to ensure the first successful transition of a major airline from one global alliance to another.
“Bringing Continental Airlines into Star Alliance has been a truly unique experience. This is the first time an airline has moved directly from one alliance to another and I would like to thank all those involved in ensuring a smooth switch,” said Jaan Albrecht, CEO Star Alliance. “Our travelers can now begin to appreciate the advantages Continental brings to the Star Alliance network, while Continental’s customers now enjoy enhanced alliance benefits.”
“Continental’s transition to Star Alliance is one of the most important strategic moves we have accomplished in my career at Continental,” said Chairman and CEO Larry Kellner. “Our membership in Star Alliance positions us to deliver a broader network to our customers, and to achieve better business results and a stronger future for my co-workers, our customers and communities as a result of the benefits from participating in the world’s largest airline alliance.”
“Continental’s joining makes the Star Alliance network even more extensive, offering our customers the broadest global access and greatest choice of service,” said Glenn Tilton, chairman and CEO of United Airlines. “We welcome our partner, Continental, which brings tremendous value to our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.”
Due to the limited overlap between Continental’s and Star Alliance’s networks, Star Alliance customers now have a choice of 19,500 daily flights serving some 1,071 airports in 171 countries. The main network enhancements are taking place in North America, to and from Latin America, as well as across the North Atlantic and the Pacific.
In North America, Continental adds its three hubs – New York/Newark, Houston and Cleveland – to the network, providing more choice to Star Alliance customers. Continental’s extensive Latin America network will increase travel options for Star customers to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Across the North Atlantic, Continental will also add choice for Star Alliance travelers, especially on the very important New York to London market. Options in the Pacific region are enhanced by Continental’s trans-Pacific flights to mainland China, Hong Kong and Japan, and by Continental Micronesia flights centered on Guam.
In addition to the network benefits, Continental flights can now be used to create itineraries for the Star Alliance Round the World fare as well as for the North American Airpass. Moreover, Continental will sell all 13 Star Alliance fare products and as well as participate in the Star Alliance Conventions Plus product.
As part of its Star Alliance membership, Continental OnePass members will now be able to earn and redeem miles on all other Star Alliance member carriers. OnePass Gold and Platinum Elite members automatically have Star Alliance Gold Status, and will receive benefits such as access to more than 954 lounges, extra-baggage allowance, priority baggage delivery, dedicated check-in counters and priority waitlist (reservation) and airport stand-by. OnePass Silver Elite have automatic Star Alliance Silver Status, entitling them to priority waitlist (reservation) and airport stand-by.
Participants in any of the existing Star Alliance Frequent Flyer Programmes can now earn and redeem miles on Continental. Moreover, OnePass members will be able to use their miles as part of Star Alliance Upgrade Awards for a one cabin upgrade when travelling on participating* Star Alliance member carriers.
The Star Alliance network aims to provide fast and convenient connections for customers needing to transfer between flights of different Star Alliance member carriers. Effective immediately, through check-in from the originating airport is available for any itinerary involving a Continental flight in conjunction with another Star Alliance flight. In addition, all Star Alliance Connection Centres will now also encompass all flights operated by Continental. These special behind the scene centres look after passengers and baggage transferring between Star Alliance member carriers, in case of flight irregularities. These centres are currently in operation at selected airports across the network like, Frankfurt, Munich, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tokyo-Narita and Bangkok. Moreover, plans are already underway to co-locate member carriers in the same airport area or terminal at numerous destinations served by Continental. By the end of this year Continental will have physically moved airport operations at 11 airports around the world. For instance, on October 27, Continental moves to Terminal 1 at Frankfurt and on November 1, to the South Wing of Terminal 1 at Tokyo/Narita. Other airports where co-location moves have been made include: Beijing, Chicago, Honolulu and Shanghai.
About Star Alliance:
The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.
* the following member carriers currently offer Star Alliance Upgrade Awards:
Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Continental Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI and United