Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spending Christmas and New Year in Paradise: Austin to Frankfurt


We had spent the night before at the Hilton Austin Airport as I needed a night to qualify for Diamond status. The hotel was nothing too exciting and was running at low occupancy probably due to the holidays. We got our day of to a good start thanks to the free breakfast thanks to my Gold status. We could order any hot options of the hot menu since there was only a continental buffet due to it's low occupancy.

We had already turned in the rental car the night and 1.5 hours before departure, we took the efficient 5 minute shuttle to the airport. I was surprised that the airport was relatively empty considering it was the 24th and was expecting everyone to be rushing of home to their families. Check-in and security was a breeze thanks to my United Premier status. Instead of heading to the boring United Club, I picked up some overpriced Austin souvenirs for my brother and his girlfriend who we would be meeting in Bangkok.

The United flights to Houston and Orlando was as usual nothing interesting except that we got a pretty new CRJ-700 for the hop to Austin and it would be my first time on a ERJ-145 for the flight to Orlando. Yea, 737s are still better than this regional jets.

On-board the CRJ-700
We had a four hour layover in Orlando which was a bit too short to head out. It was our first time flying through Orlando and we were surprised how fun the airport was. It was literally like a mall which plenty of shops to browse. After collecting our bags, we grabbed a bite at the food court before just doing some window shopping.

We had to wait a couple of minutes before the check-in counters were opened around 2.5 hours before departure. Check-in was pleasant and I was happy that the agent was able to check through our luggage from Osaka to Bangkok on a separate United redemption ticket. They did inquire if we wanted an escort through security which we declined since we wanted to further browse the shops at the airport.


Lufthansa uses the Delta Skyclub at Orlando. We are frequent visitors to United Clubs around the US and this would be our first in a Delta Skyclub. Overall, it was slightly better than your average United Club. The drinks and snack selection seems to be better although I just stuck to water and coffee and they serve all their drinks in real glassware instead of the plastic crap in the United Club.

Boarding was almost completed by the time we got to the departure gate and we were invited to cut the line and directly board after a ground agent saw our first class boarding passes. As soon as we boarded, the flight attendant asked for our choice of pre-departure beverage (champagne of course!) before bringing us newspapers, magazines, pajamas and amenity kit.

Pre-departure Nuts and Champagne


Rimowa Amenity Kit
A couple of minutes after take-off, the flight pursuer came around and introduced herself and wanted to make sure we were well taken care of and had a wonderful flight. Ah.. the joy of flying first class. We were then served an amuse bouche of cucumber and salmon before our meal orders were taken.

We started with the caviar and shared one of the "tower appetizers". Lydia chose the steak which was tender and flavorful and I went with the lobster which could have been better presented but was pretty tasty.

Amuse Bouche

We were stuffed after dessert and it was time for bed. I was initially planning on skipping breakfast on the plane and opting to eat in the lounge later but having waking up an hour and a half before landing, I changed my mind and had some of Lufthansa's famous fresh made scrambled eggs with some coffee.

Right before landing, the pursuer once again went around to all the first class passengers and made some small chat making sure we had a wonderful flight. Overall, the "old" first class seat and horrible IFE was slightly disappointing but the wonderful crew and food more than made up for the flight.

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