FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - Around the world in 50 hours in F - Twice in one week
Old Apr 3, 10, 8:44 pm
  #1  
macabus
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Scottsdale
Posts: 2,940
Around the world in 50 hours in F - Twice in one week

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Not long ago I flew around the world in 50 hours - in F - twice in one week.

It was an amazing experience.

The backstory in a nutshell: It was two days before Christmas and I suddenly had to be in Santiago, Chile.

I live in Arizona.

The AAgent I called laughed at me when I asked about award availability. I mean DEEP GUT LAUGHING that lasted about 30 seconds. "Honeychild," she said when she finally caught her breath. "Those seats have been booked for a year." I could hear other agents in the background huffing impatiently. "Maybe next time." she said and the line went dead.

She hung up on me.

Damn.

I had a little over 150,000 AA miles and knew that OneWorld awards were calculated on a destination-to-destination basis, regardless of routing. This has since changed.

So, I created a flight matrix and started looking at unconventional routings. Everything on AA from N.A. to S.A. was booked. Same with LAN.

What to do?

Drafting crazy itineraries on paper in the comfort of one's home is the stuff of legend on FT. I've done many in the past. But I was now looking at flying PHX-SFO-NRT-FRA-SCL - in one shot. Which is basically around the world with no stopovers - only connections. CRAZY. But in F it should be tolerable, right?

And then four days later it was SCL-EZE-LHR-NRT-ORD-PHX with only brief connections. INSANE. But all longhauls were in in F, so I should survive, right?

So, without further adieu, here's the trip:


PHX-SFO - US in Economy

I had to buy a ticket on US from PHX-SFO because the 600 miles would have put me in a higher mileage category. Small price to pay.



SFO-NRT - JL in First


Checked in at SFO and the JL agent went berserk - in a Japanese way. She called over every supervisor she could find to make certain Macabus was really flying around the world - twice - to get to S.A. and back.

For those who might recall my recent revelations about sitting next to my "Japanese Brother" on JL to to Narita, this was the flight. Simply amazing from start to finish. Thank God for the "old" F cabin.

Lots of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, a full western meal, a full Japanese meal and two large bowls of excellent beef teppanyaki.


JL lounge in NRT (3 hour layover)

Good F lounge. Terrific chicken curry. Decent Champagne. Fantastic Shiatsu massage (free). Good people watching. Outstanding service.


NRT-FRA - JL in First.

Loved the new Skysleeper Solo suite on a 777 with 3 rows of 1-1-1.

Lots of yummy Champagne.

Unbelievable Kobe Waygu filet. Superb full Japanese meal. Service was faultless. Three FAs for a cabin of nine seats - with only four passengers. One always stood in back of the cabin watching for the slightest signal that someone might want something.

I mean these women (only female FAs on JL) had a preternatural talent of knowing the exact moment when someone is MERELY thinking they might want something. I tried it several times. No body movement, just a visualization of something, and BANG, like a shot, there she is, sweetly asking if I might want something... They always got it right.

And then there was the "tuck-job"

I've been fortunate enough to have flown in longhaul F over a hundred times on the best airlines, and always look forward to having the seat made into a luxurious bed.

Well, JL goes A LOT further than other carriers.

I came back from the bathroom in my PJs - sleepy from a food and Champagne orgy - and I get into this incredible bed. Then before I could pull the down duvet over my weary body, one of the FAs materializes in front of me and starts to tuck me in.

I mean tuck me in like a loving mother with her little boy. I was uncomfortable for the first fifteen seconds. She tucked in every square inch of that oversized comforter. A look of serenity was glowing from her eyes. I started to relax. Then she spent a full minute smoothing the duvet over my chest. I felt like a baby - no exaggeration. This was heaven, at 37,000 feet.

Just to make sure I wasn't being singled out as the only Gaijin in F, I watched the other Japanese males get their "tuck-jobs" too. It seems JL trains their people well.


FRA in a snowstorm with only 90 minutes to connect.

Three longhauls in a row with only minimal connections? Over Christmastime? With snowstorms along the way? Will the travel Gods see fit to let me pass?

I arrived in FRA at about 8pm in a huge snowstorm. Memories of my tuck-job fading quickly as I realized that an interruption of my itinerary over Xmas would be a disaster.

Plus, JL couldn't print my boarding pass for LN, so I would have to check in at FRA. Nightmare of nightmares.

I ran through FRA. I smelled like a Champagne-soaked Kobe steer. Wild-eyed fear permeated my little FT soul. I finally reached the gate but needed a shower badly - especially since I had a 15 hour flight ahead of me. But where to go? LN used the DL lounge. It was 10 minute walk from the LN gate and the flight was 30 minutes from departure.

I ran. Fastest shower of my life. Back to the gate at final call. I was already sweaty and disheveled again.

The gate agent looked at me suspiciously. Then in disbelief. "You''re in First?"

I swept past him with a huff.


FRA-SCL on LN in First

One row of 2-1-2 in First Class. I was in the "throne" or middle seat.

A glass of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Champagne and I was alright.

There were two FAs in F for 5 passengers in 5 seats. I was served the most outrageously-delicious salmon I had ever eaten - on land or in the sky.

A few hours later we made a brief stop in MAD.




MAD - Lounge


I've been to the Iberia lounge in MAD several times before, and always enjoyed the great Spanish wines. We had about an hour layover, and I filled up a wineglass and pressed my weary body into a leather armchair and watched the runway action. Although some new "runway action" was already heading my way.

She was a stunning blonde. She sat down next to me. She introduced herself. I was smitten.

Turns out she had flown in from SCL on the LN flight I was was about to board - but 24 hours earlier. She was a Russian television anchor who had just spent two weeks in Patagonia filming a segment about global warming - and there were flight cancellations along the way.

I was in love. She gave me her card and said to call. I never called.

But I did walk away with my iPod plugged into an outlet... Oh yes, running through airports part 3...

Hot and sweaty again, I boarded my flight from MAD-SCL.

More Champagne - the cure-all.

Great flight, but the seat kept breaking. LN has since removed F from all aircraft.


A Few Days in Santiago

Chile has the highest standard of living in S.A. and they impose a $100 visa sticker for U.S citizens to get even for the U.S. slapping a similar fee on them.

The trip was worth the effort. Met up with some old friends. The Ritz Carlton was incredible. Five different food presentations each day in the lounge.

But I have to say, the jet lag was monumental. Floors were shaking and there was no earthquake. Time was rippling. Reality was no longer in charge.

Okay, enough of that.


SCL-EZE on LN in C.

Great lounge. Top shelf liquor and renowned Chilean wines. Weird people though.

LN flew a 343 on the short flight from SCL-EZE and they had a F cabin, which I was firmly ensconced in.


EZE-LHR on BA in F

Crappy AA lounge, loud-mouthed family in F with rambunctious kids. Not a great flight - all 16 hours of it - with stop in GRU.

My last few F flights on BA were with Pommery Cuvee Louise champagne, but now they were serving a crappy Taittinger Brut Millesime 2000. Total Garbage

The saving grace was the amazing duck.

I've had duck dozens of times, and never memorable. But this duck was ethereal. Almost as enticing as the Russian reporter...

That duck was so good I did something I've never done before... I walked over to a woman who was seated across the aisle one row forward.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a FA watching me cautiously.

The woman I approached was Chinese. I said "You had the duck?"

She said "yes." and seemed disinclined to engage in conversation with me.

I said "I had the duck too, and it was the best duck I've ever had."

She looked me over. Then after a long pause, she said "My family owns restaurants in Hong Kong, and I've had duck a thousand ways." Then she stared at me with deep gravitas and said "but this was the best duck I've ever had 'Western style.'"

I smiled in agreement.

She continued "It's something with the sauce."

I nodded conspiratorially and swaggered back to my seat - giving the prying FA a look of vindication.


LHR - The Concorde Room (three hour layover)

I've been here before several times and the lounge is okay.

I hear it's better now in the new terminal.



LHR-NRT - BA in First


Okay, I'm getting tired now.

Everything is blurring together.

Champagne, takeoff, landing, champagne, takeoff, landing... How much can one person take?



Narita, AGAIN? I was just here like a few days ago.


Lounge, massage, Champagne, chicken curry.



NRT-ORD on JL in First

Boarding, Champagne, food. Nap. Champagne, food. Arrival.

Everything is in grayscale now. No colors. It's new year's eve day and I've got a huge party to go to tonight. Ugh.



ORD-PHX on AA in F


The planets are spinning, but I'm not.

That trip looked awfully good on paper.

Magellan would be proud.

The bottom line is the age-old saying that "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger."

Well, I'm one strong FT'er.

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Last edited by macabus; Mar 16, 12 at 8:23 pm
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