Monday, December 21, 2009

Trip Report: AMS-FRA-ORD-SAN part I

What usually is a 16 hour journey from Eindhoven to Southern California became a 24 hour journey since the cheapest ticket connected twice, once in Frankfurt (FRA) and once in Chicago (ORD). Plus, with the connection into FRA departing AMS early in the morning at 7:15am, I ended up leaving my apartment at midnight in order to get the last bus to the train station (otherwise I would have had to walk ~30 min with two large suitcases and my computer bag in the snow).

AMS is supposed to be a 24 hour airport, and there were plenty of people, but I'm not sure what airlines people they were flying in the wee hours of the morning because even KLM check in counters were closed. I waited until about 4:50am for Lufthansa check in to open, and I was through within 5 minutes.

I got a present at duty free, and then proceeded to the Servisair contract lounge that LH uses. Interesting, it's a different one from the Menzies contract lounge that Swiss uses (which I tried during my Spain trip). I thought the Menzies lounge was meager food-wise (crackers and ham for breakfast), but the Servisair lounge was so much worse. The lounge attendant was so lethargic, barely able to look up from her newspaper to check me in, and the food selection consisted of potato chips, Cheetos, freeze dried soup (in the glass cup below - could only take a few sips), and indeterminate pastry.

I was looking forward to having a nice sandwich on board my flight, having had a nice little sandwich last time on MUC-AMS (trip report here), but it turned out to be rather industrial-tasting like the sandwiches I got on Spanair.

I landed in FRA in concourse A, and it took almost an hour and another security check to get to concourse C. I only had ~15 minutes to use the LH Senator Lounge in C but what a salvation it was! Real Food!

There was a selection of three smoothies and I was so parched for fruit and liquid that I had all three (my favorite was the rhubarb/strawberry/cherry/raspberry/pineapple one), real bread with ham and cucumbers, muesli, assorted chocolate and a really nice almond cookie in the shape of a palm tree. I usually don't eat muesli, but I have fond memories of the muesli I had on an LH flight many years ago so I decided to give this one a try. Also very good.

But my favorite part of the lounge and probably the highlight of the whole trip was how I got to board the aircraft! Basically when the lounge attendant announces it's open, you walk through a door at the end of the lounge (past the food area and past the bathrooms).

You then end up walking through the landed gentry in the Business Lounge (if you're the aristocracy in the Senator Lounge, and the true first class flyers are the royalty in the FRA First Class Terminal). The picture below was actually taken in that lounge - yes indeed, it does look like a regular gate area, but trust me there's food and beverages right behind where I'm standing.

I suspect this is how upper deck boarding for the A380 will take place, because we had to go down a couple flights of escalators and passed a set of doors for boarding before we got down to the level where our jetways were. Nice - no mingling with the plebes! Here's the view from the upper deck boarding level, looking down on our looooong Airbus A340-600.

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