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Flights and Lounges on my Journey to Thailand and Hong Kong. Lufthansa and Turkish First Class

I've blogged a lot about my hotels and other parts of my trip to Thailand and Hong Kong, but I haven't covered how I got there or how I got home.

ORD_Tunnel

This was a Star Alliance First Class redemption from North America to Asia via Europe.  It was 145,000 miles per person (now this award is 140,000).  I made several changes after booking, usually trying to get the Manila call center theorizing that they would be more open to the exact changes wanted to make.  I did availability searches primarily using the ANA tool.  It was originally  booked by what I believe was the Dearborn call center, or at least someone that talked like me, sounding like they were from the midwest US. 

My routing was as follows with links to related blogs:

ORD-MUC LH F 346  (8 hour layover)

MUC-IST TK C 738 (2 hour layover)

IST-BKK TK F 77W (3 hour layover)

BKK-HKT TG C 744 (Destination) JW Marriott Phuket, Le Meridien Phuket

HKT-BKK TG C 744 (23 hour layover) Grand Hyatt Erewan

BKK-HKG TG F 744 (stopover) W Hong Kong

HKG-FRA LH F 744 (overnight) Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

FRA-ORD LH F 744

I wanted to take advantage of the best in flight and ground experiences I could on a single award.  I managed to hit several what some consider to be the best of both.  I flew in the Jet Airways F suites (operated by Turkish Airways), Lufthansa First on a 346 and the now old 747 configuration.  As for ground services, I really did well here also, with First class lounges in MUC, IST, BKK and HKG, and the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in FRA.

My trip began in Chicago.  Upon arriving, we checked in with Lufthansa.  Though the flight was departing from the B concourse, were directed to the United First International lounge on the C concourse.  I walked by this lounge countless times, but never entered, as I've never had access at ORD.  The RCC nearer the Lufthansa gates is certainly more updated, but the offerings are not nearly as nice, and its much more crowded

United_IFL_ORD_nuts

United doesn't really provide much variety at even their top tier lounges.  These ramekins contain the same nuts as offered on meal flights, although they aren't warm.  

United_IFL_ORD_drinks

Diverse liquor selection, but hardly 'first class'.  Then again, it very much puts to shame what is offered at the Red Carpet Club on the other side of the wall.

Next stop, the A340-600 to Munich.  8 seats in First class, only one other occupied besides my wife and I.  The other person slept the entire flight, so we basically had our own cabin. 

Lufthansa_First_first_view

It was a very nice flight.  Nice new plane, excellent service.  Great meal, and got some decent sleep.  I really don't like redeyes, but this later departure time (8:50pm) made sleeping much easier.  We arrived at MUC early afternoon.  There were limited flights to IST, so we had a long layover in MUC and therefore a short one in IST. 

Munich

As nice as the First Class Lounges are in Munich, we decided to spend a few hours in the city.   As always, transportation in Germany is so simple. 

Next up, the only non-widebody flight on the itinerary, European buiness class on a 737-800 to Istanbul.  This was rather unremarkable, although there was a menu provided for the meal on the 2 hour flight.  I wasn't really hungry with recent meals including one first class flight and several first class lounges visits.  We had a short time in Istanbul, but we were driven to the Prime Class Lounge (thanks to Ben for the report).  A full meal service was offered, but we only had a few nibbles knowing more food was to come on the flight. 


After our time in the lounge, we were driven to the plane via cart, and escorted directly to our seats.  This is of course the Jet Airways owned plane that Turkish flies. 

Turkish_First_Suite_legroom  

This was quite simply, the best airplane seat I've ever experienced.

 

Turkish_First_Suite_Brad

Yes, I was watching Date Night....

 

Turkish_First_Suite_seat_control

Seat controls

 

Turkish_First_Suite_starters

Canapes with some funky Vodka drink they offered me

 

Turkish_First_Suite_salad

Salad course

 

Turkish_First_Suite_main

 

Chicken Tikka main course

After the meal it was definitely time to sleep.  Turkish_First_Suite_toilet

The lavatory decorated with flower petals.  Unfortunately, this large main lav did not have working fixtures.  One of a few issues with TK service on board.  It worked fine to change into pajamas.

Turkish_First_Suite_bed

Upon returning to my suite, it was made into a bed, with a mattress pad, duvet, 2 pillows, and a lavender sachet. 

Turkish_First_Suite_DND

Turkish_First_Suite_stars

gazing at stars before sleeping

 

The hard product was incredible.  The service itself was not so good.  The crew was very friendly, but not at all polished in their service.  Caviar was offered after dessert and I was not woken for breakfast as requested.  Neither are major issues by any means, but I expected more in International First Class. 

 

Upon landing in BKK, we were met with a golf cart and driven to priority immigration then transferred to the domestic terminal for our flight to Phuket.  Flights to/from Phuket were flown on Thai Airways 747s, but only sold as 2 class, and we were seated in Business class. 

 

Flying back, we had a layover in Bangkok, and a few days in Hong Kong.  From there, it was back to Lufthansa, for a flight to Frankfurt. 

Lufthansa_First_table_set

Classy Lufthansa place setting.  

 

Lufthansa_First_butter

Even the butter is first class.

 

Lufthansa_First_second_dessert  

post-meal sweets

 

It was a nice flight, with predictably good Lufthansa service on board.  Despite the long flight time for HKG-FRA, no pajamas were offered, since it was not an overnight flight.  We arrived at FRA in the late evening, and headed over to the Sheraton across the street.  The next morning was our first trip to the First Class Terminal and then FRA-ORD.

Lufthansa_FCT_exterior

Walking from the Sheraton was easy, despite the cold weather. 

Lufthansa_FCT_menu

breakfast offerings in First Class Terminal

 

Lufthansa_FCT_shower_room

Bathroom at FCT.  Can anyone spot something out of place in this photo?

 

Lufthansa_FCT_shower

Shower in FCT


The First Class Terminal in Frankfurt was an amazing experience as others have stated before.  In terms of overall ground experience,  Thai airways in BKK does more pampering, with the carts to and from planes and the complimentary massage, but to me, the FCT is a unique oasis to relax or work, eat, sleep, really whatever suits your fancy.  Its well equipped for all of those and more.  As a Star Alliance flyer, its great to have such good options to choose from.  I'll certainly make an effort to route through BKK and FRA on future award trips.

The Turkish Airways First Class experience was good, mostly due to the plane itself.  Unfortunately, this is going to be gone soon.  They are phasing in their own two class 777-300ER aircraft on many routes.  As of July 2011, these Jet Airways owned planes are still available on some routes with Turkish, as well as some routes flown by Thai Airways, currently BKK-NRT and BKK-CDG.

 

Note: This trip was taken in late 2010, before I had a blog, so I apologize for the inconsistent nature of photos.  Thanks for sticking with me through this whole report!

Comments

#1
Sean July 21, 2011 at 09:41 am

Where's the Lufthansa Rubber Ducky in the bathroom photo!?!? I'm guessing that's what's out of place.

Great trip report! Thanks for posting!

#2
Brad July 21, 2011 at 01:36 pm

Thanks Sean.

Good guess on the rubber ducky, but that is not what I was referring to. I'm looking at something more obscure, and likely very airplane-nerdy...

I now understand that one has to request the duck most of the time, and regrettably, I did not. I already felt I was causing the attendant enough trouble to clean the room just so I could experience seeing it, although I did shower.

#3
BR July 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I don't see anything out of place. What is it?

#4
Brad July 23, 2011 at 01:53 pm

I'm referring to the old United First amenity kit that I put on the counter. Sorry, probably too obscure, and definitely only notable for me with my odd obsession with amenity kits.

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