Old Apr 27, 09, 6:03 pm
  #1  
baggageinhall
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: London
Programs: BA
Posts: 2,361
India in F (Lufthansa F, Thai F, Swiss F and Jet Airways domestic J) Pics

Note, this is a long trip report. I have broken into into several posts to make it easier to read in more that one visit. But hey, grab a coffee and read it one go!

My previous TR's can be found here:

Swiss and SQ F LHR-JFK-LHR

SAA J LHR-CPT-JNB-LHR

VS PE LHR-JFK-LHR with child!



Preamble

In late 2008, I decided that I wanted to go and visit my Grandmother in India. She is in her mid-eighties and I hadn’t been for a while. I saw a two week block in my diary in early February 2009 that I could keep free and so I began to plan.

It started as a very simple trip. My decision to go coincided with BA's sale offering award flights at 50% of their normal level. As I had just over 75,000 miles I booked a First Class return ticket to Delhi. The following day however, I realised that I could trigger my Amex 2 for 1 voucher and so I cancelled the booking and used the same 75,000 miles plus the voucher to book 2 F seats to San Francisco for Mrs BiH and I in October 2009.

I turned instead to my healthy BMI account and with some hesitation, spent 100,000 miles on an F flight with Lufthansa. The routing was LHR-FRA-DEL returning DEL-MUC-LHR. This would allow me to enjoy two different LH aircraft and both the flagship FCT at Frankfurt and the recently renovated FCL at Munich.

Those of you with BMI accounts will (any many without who read FT) will know that BMI’s Diamond Club is one of the most generous FF schemes around. With LH’s purchase of BMI, many speculate that it’s demise is imminent and that we will all ‘benefit’ from being merged in LH’s Miles and More scheme.

One of the vagaries of Diamond Club is that whilst you can’t book an F seat on LH using miles+cash (a half miles + modest cash supplement for those not familiar with Diamond Club), you can use that option to book an F seat on any other *A carrier.

This got me thinking, the same 50,000 miles that would take me home via Munich could be put to better use. Since I was flying alone, a crazy routing just to try a lounge here and a F seat there would not be met with raised eyebrows from Mrs BiH implicitly questioning my sanity.

Those 50,000 miles could be used instead for two awards, Delhi to somewhere in South-East Asia and then somewhere in South-East Asia to Heathrow. I decided to search for the latter first. My first thought was to try and get an F seat on ANA’s NRT-LHR flight. No joy. How about to one of their other European destinations – still no joy.

My thoughts turned to SIN and BKK, wondering if I could get a seat on Singapore Airlines (SQ) or Thai (TG). I could see availability on both. Whilst taking stock of the situation, I navigated over to the BMI Diamond Club forum and saw that someone had found availability on SQ’s A380 in C! I got back onto the ANA site and whilst I could see seats they were LHR-SIN and not in the other direction. Even if I could find seats in the other direction, did I want to travel C when F was available for a few more miles? No.

Deciding between TG and SQ took me back on FT. The reports were that TG F was hit and miss; I erred on the side of caution. Turning then to SQ, I flew SQ F in October from JFK to FRA and whilst I enjoyed it, in retrospect, I preferred the Swiss (LX) flight from ZRH-JFK on the same trip. How could I forget such a wonderful experience! Expertflyer revealed no availability in F (or C for that matter) from SIN or BKK – it is the same flight and popular by all accounts. My attention then switched to alternative LX destinations in the region, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. Japan is on my list of countries that I want to visit, but I want to do a proper tour and didn’t want to break the excitement by a 12 hour ‘quickie’. I hadn’t been to Hong Kong either, it was closer than Tokyo and as I would later discover, easier to get to from Delhi.

I booked the HKG-ZRH-LHR flights, noting that LX use the ‘Wing’ lounges at HKG and not United’s RCC (or SCC as I refer to it, the ‘Stained Carpet Club’ based on my experiences to date in other locations).

Getting from Delhi to Hong Kong would either be on SQ via Singapore or TG via Bangkok. SQ use their 777-300ER on some of their Delhi flights and the no redemption rules in F and C apply to that too. What I could see was TG DEL-BKK in C on a regional config 777 connecting on to a new config 744 in F. A short flight in TG’s F seat and 2.5 hours in the Royal First lounge and spa sounded good; as for the regional 777, it looked like I could get some sleep on those seats, which for a flight leaving at 00:05 was all that really mattered.

I had arranged to meet up with one a good friend who was working in India. We had decided to go to Amritsar and see the India/Pakistan border and the Golden Temple. As it was a 1 night trip, the prospect of an 8 hour train journey each way vs a 1 hour flight was simple. We booked two cheap flights, Jet Airways Delhi-Amritar and Kingfisher Amritsar-Delhi. It was the same price as booking a return with either airline, the decision to split the trip was due to the flight timings.

The final part of the trip was deciding how to get to Pune. I had some Emirates miles from our honeymoon that were soon to expire. I just had enough for a domestic ticket in C on Jet Airways and so booked myself on the direct flight from Delhi to Pune. A few weeks later, Emirates rang to say that they had been advised of a aircraft change by Jet. I was now waitlisted in Economy on the flights I had booked. Jet had temporarily changed the aircraft on both flights to an all Y config. I was given a choice of cancelling the ticket or a refund of the miles between a C and Y ticket? Neither option was particularly useful. A refund of the miles would have left me with miles that would expire before I could put them to use and cancelling would leave me having to buy an expensive ticket.

The lady from Emirates told me that her Supervisor would ring me back later that morning to discuss my options. Being used to the BMI International Call Centre I made a mental note to call back that evening as the promised call would not materialise. To my surprise I received a call back within the hour. I was presented with a choice, a confirmed Y seat or seats in C via Mumbai with a short (but not too short) connection time. I took the later. Let’s face it, by this point my trip already contained flights for flying sake, what harm could two more do?

So, in short this trip report will cover the following :

To India via the LH FCT (Part 1)
LHR-FRA – Lufthansa Business Class on an A300
The Frankfurt First Class Terminal
FRA-DEL – Lufthansa First Class on a 747

A quick trip to Amritsar (Part 2)
DEL-ATQ and ATQ-DEL – Jet Airways and Kingfisher Economy both on an ATR-72

Pune – from sleepy back water to an International hub (Part 3)
DEL-BOM-PNQ and PNQ-BOM-DEL – Jet Airways Premier Class on various 737’s
The Jet Airways lounges at Delhi, Mumbai and Pune

A day trip to Hong Kong via Bangkok (Part 4)
DEL-BKK-HKG - Thai Business Class on a regional 777 connecting to Thai First Class on a 747
The Royal First Lounge and spa at Bangkok

Flying in the right direction; homeward bound (Part 5)
HKG-ZRH-LHR – Swiss First Class on an A340 connecting to Business Class on an A321
The Wing Lounge complex at Hong Kong

Those of you who have read my previous trip reports know that I am prone to sampling as much food and drink on these sorts of trips as possible. All in the name of a good trip report of course! Small amounts of top quality food and drink – must remember the emphasis on the word small…

The Snow
During the afternoon of the 2nd of February 2009, London witnessed a rare sight; snow, but no ordinary snow, this was snow that appeared to be sticking to the ground and building into something.

That night I stayed up to watch the Super Bowl (as I always do) and noticed that the snow was getting heavier. By the end of the game, around 4am, the snow was about a foot and half deep. I began to worry and check the weather forecast. It didn’t look too good. The country was bracing itself for the worst winter in 20 years with plenty of snow and immeasurable disruption.

I spent a large part of Monday 2nd February wondering what the night would bring. My local taxi company were willing to take me to Heathrow but insisted on picking me up an hour earlier than normal and charging just over a third more than normal. I spoke to a number of friends on Monday night, all of whom had struggled to and from work. They confirmed that taxis were scarce and taking the opportunity to charge well above their usual rates.

Last edited by baggageinhall; Jun 5, 09 at 4:19 pm
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