A while back I did the status challenge to become Executive Platinum with American Airlines. As Executive Platinum I get Systemwide Upgrades (SWU). That means I can book an economy class ticket and get confirmed for Business Class during the booking process. Same works if I book a Business Class ticket, then I will get upgraded to First Class. The problem with SWU is that you can’t always use them even that there are free seats in the next higher class, in which you would be upgraded too.
I had to go to Munich, Germany and I called the AA Reservation Hotline to use my SWU’s. The representative checked and the only option for my travel date to Germany was a flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Frankfurt. My trip would originate in Seattle, WA and from there I would get also upgraded (to a Domestic First Class) and from DFW I would fly in Business Class to Frankfurt. The problem was I had to get to Munich. I talked to the representative and he booked me on another flight on Lufthansa from FRA to MUC. Since Lufthansa is not in the Oneworld Alliance, I was afraid of having to re-check my baggage in FRA and even pay for them again. I was surprised when I found out everything was included. I didn’t have to pay any extra money nor did I had to re-check my bags. I only had to go through customs and immigration at Frankfurt Airport and catch another plane to Munich.
The flight from Seattle to Dallas was on an Airbus A321-200 and as mentioned in First Class. It was a nice flight with good service but I was more excited about my international flight from Dallas.
Unfortunately the layover was so short, I couldn’t even make use of the Admirals Club in DFW and headed straight to the departure gate. At the gate I asked an attendant if I could pre-board to take some pictures of the plane and my seat before it gets crowded and I would interfere with the boarding process and worse, all the people would stand in my pictures ;).
The plane was a Boeing 777-200 (version 1) with three classes. American Airlines has another Boeing 777-200 (version 2) with only two classes. The higher class is Business Class for international travel and on domestic routes it is considered “First Class”. American Airlines also has a newer 777 with extended range, the Boeing 777-300ER. When you see a 77W during the booking process on the American Airlines website, you know it is a 777-300ER. The two other versions have the same labeling on AA’s website.
I was waiting in the boarding area for the boarding to start and as mentioned the allowed me pre-boarding to take some pictures. During the waiting I saw some big black smoke on the tarmac, at least it looked like it. You could see an airplane on fire. First I thought oh my gosh what happened, but found out later that DFW has one of the nations biggest Fire Training Centers. They train national and international firefighters on handling an airplane fire. They have a variety of mock-ups from different airplane models to train at.
Shortly after me the regular boarding started and the First Class passengers boarded, followed by Business Class, Elite Members and Economy. During boarding the flight attendant for my section came and offered the passengers a pre-flight drink. We could choose between water, orange juice or Champagne.
Every seat already had an amenity kit, blanket and pillow laying on top of it. My seat was an aisle seat and the seat next to me stayed empty. It had a sign with “Do not occupy” on it. I didn’t mind at all. Means I have the whole right side of the plane for myself.
After boarding was completed the crew introduced themselves and we pushed back from the gate. Minutes later we were airborne and heading towards Frankfurt. Once we reached a safe flying altitude the flight attendants distributed the noise-canceling Bose headsets and gave a short introduction how to use them.
I started to watch some movies I missed in theatres. Flying is for me always a great chance to catch up with missed movies. Best thing about it, it’s completely free. The entertainment system had quite a big selection of movies and TV shows.
A while later my flight attendant came back and she took the order for my dinner. You had the choice to select between the full course or just an express dinner to have more time to work. I went for the full dinner course option and combined that with a movie. What better can you do for dinner anyway ;).
After dinner I kept watching movies with the amazing Bose headsets. Once you turn them one, you barely hear anything around you. Later on during the flight I folded the seat completely to become a flat-bed. It is awesome when you have that option instead of just a reclining seat. I felt asleep and woke up shortly before landing.
I started to watch another movie while I was waiting for the breakfast to be ready. I liked the three cheese omelette and had coffee and orange juice with it.
We started the decent to Frankfurt and the flight attendants started to collect the headsets. I told her that my movie was almost finished and she told me she would come back in a few minutes to collect mine. This was very nice of her and for all the great service throughout the flight I gave her one of the “Excellence of Service” tickets I got from AA as an Executive Platinum member to honor great service.
It was early morning when we landed in Frankfurt and it looked like it would become a nice day there. Once at the gate, I left the airplane and headed to my connecting flight and needed to go through passport control. Unfortunately Germany doesn’t have TSA Pre Check and I had to wait in a long line. Once through security I headed towards my gate. I still had an hour left before boarding would start. Because I don’t have any status with Lufthansa or Star Alliance, I was not able to use any of the lounges. Also Priority Pass didn’t have any lounges in this terminal. That was the first time again when I didn’t have at least the chance of using a lounge at the airport. I still needed a boarding pass for my ongoing flight on Lufthansa and I asked the gate agent if he could print it. He told me I have to wait for a while, because he hasn’t opened the flight yet on his station. Basically he was there but didn’t do anything until he was maybe supposed to open the flight. A bit later he called me over to the podium and gave me my boarding pass. It was about time to board when the agent announced that the flight is late and will be approximately 10 minutes late at the gate, then they still need to let everyone disembark and check the plane before they can start the new boarding process. Luckily it was only a small plane, an Airbus A320-200.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.