Stuttgart-Frankfurt-Valencia: First time with Lufthansa Express Rail
When I was choosing flights coming back to Valencia from Stuttgart, I noticed something interesting: there was a flight around 6:30pm to Zurich, connecting to a flight to Valencia; there was ALSO a train around 6:30pm to Frankfurt, connecting to a flight to Valencia. While the trip time was about the same for both, I would have had to get on an airport train from Hauptbanhof at around 4:30, giving a 2 hour advantage to the train itinerary.
Traveling with "Lufthansa Express Rail" is as similar as possible to boarding a flight as possible. First, there are Lufthansa self check-in kiosks on the ground floor of the train station, in the Deutsche Bahn travel assistance center, the "Reiseservice."
You can even select your seat on the train! Unfortunately, it didn't mean a lot to me, because I couldn't tell which was the travel direction of the train, and whether the seat was facing forwards or backwards.
Once you check in, the kiosk spits out your boarding passes. The train boarding pass is just like the airplane boarding pass! And here's a tip, where it says gate, the number after the "T" is your track number. I didn't realize this, and was just standing at the departure information board waiting for them to display the track number. (Which gets me thinking, if from the day before, they already know the track number, why do they wait until 15-20 minutes before departure to show it on the departure information board?)
At the track, they show the Lufthansa flight number, in addition to the Deutsche Bahn train number, like a codeshare flight.
The entire car is reserved for the Lufthansa Express Rail service, and there's an attendant who comes through and checks your boarding pass and cross you off some kind of list. They also made announcements specially for us, e.g. about how to transit in Frankfurt.
Now, speaking of Swiss/German non-punctuality, my train was also delayed arriving into Frankfurt airport train station. Then there is the long walk from the long-distance train station to the terminals. On top of that, my flight to Valencia was departing from the B gates, where there aren't any lounges! The gate attendants advised me that it was a very long walk through an underground tunnel to get to the lounges in the other concourse, so I wouldn't have time to go.
I was quite thirsty though, so I did powerwalk over to the A gates where I had a nice chicken curry and cherry cake. And water of course.
Then back to the B gates, where I boarded a bus to take me to the plane. Boy, this was the longest tarmac ride I've ever experienced, probably 20-25 minutes. People were joking on the bus that we were actually going to be driven all the way to Spain!
On board, there was a choice of turkey or cheese sandwich; I took the turkey. Also apple juice and water, to quench the thirst. The flight attendant also offered coffee or tea, but I didn't want caffeine at this point.
A few days later, I checked my United MileagePlus account. The train segment from Stuttgart train station posted to my account just as if it were a regular Lufthansa flight, with PQMs and RDMs according to the fare! I'd definitely take the Lufthansa Express Rail service again, since you do save time at your departure city, leaving from the in-town train station rather than the airport.