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From North Korea, to Noma and New Zealand in LH F, EY Apartments & SQ Suites

From North Korea, to Noma and New Zealand in LH F, EY Apartments & SQ Suites

Old May 12, 16, 4:38 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: YYZ
Posts: 1,655
From North Korea, to Noma and New Zealand in LH F, EY Apartments & SQ Suites

Let's give this TR writing business another try again.

It all started on a hot August afternoon in Toronto, sitting at my office desk. One of my best friends was backpacking around Asia, and posting all kinds of pictures that I was getting jealous of. I was due to depart later that month for Cappadocia, and then spend the next few months in Copenhagen on a study abroad program through my university.

Suddenly, a message pings on my phone:

"I've joined a tour to North Korea 3 weeks from now, you in?"

At first, I thought my friend was crazy. Yes, I've always toyed with the idea of going to North Korea, but with all the tension going on there now? Especially as the North had just fired into the South - I'd be crazy to go there!

But wait, this was going to truly be an opportunity of a lifetime. I don't have other friends who are crazy enough to want to go to North Korea, and the opportunity was staring me right in the face. However, wouldn't going to Asia, and then back to Europe in time to start classes be kind of crazy? And long and boring?

I fired up the Aeroplan search engine, and plenty of Lufthansa First Class availability was staring me right in the face. How could I say no to having an opportunity to fly Lufthansa First and Air Koryo? That afternoon, I decided to end my work term early, sent off the booking deposit to Koryo Tours (it was just about 900 EUR for the 5 day, 4 night tour), and the deal was done. I would be going to North Korea in 3 weeks! But first, I figured I would unwind for a few days in Lombok and Bali before heading up there (plus I could take advantage of more flying time and a more generous routing that would allow me stops in PEK and FRA.)

For 215,000 Aeroplan miles and a bit more than a thousand bucks Canadian (which at current exchange rates, is like $6 USD ), I booked the following:

YYZ-PHL - Air Canada Business Class
PHL-FRA - Lufthansa First Class (747-400)
FRA-HKG - Lufthansa First Class (747-8i)
HKG-SIN - Singapore Airlines Business Class
SIN-DPS - Singapore Airlines Business Class
DPS-SIN - Singapore Airlines Business Class
SIN-HKG - United First Class
HKG-PEK - Air China Business Class
PEK-ICN - Air China Business Class
ICN-FRA - Lufthansa Business Class (A380) - knowing there was a high chance I could swap to F at T-14
FRA-ORD United First Class
ORD-YYZ Air Canada Business Class

Sure was going to be a sweet complement to my flights later in December and January to/from New Zealand, where I was planning to go:

CPH-LHR British Airways Business Class
LHR-AUH Etihad Apartments
DXB-SYD Qantas First Class
SYD-CHC Qantas Business Class

AKL-SIN Singapore Airlines Suites
SIN-FRA-JFK Singapore Airlines Suites

So come join me as I share some of the highlights of my journey to North Korea, all around Europe, finishing with New Zealand and Myanmar in January.

Last edited by tng11; May 12, 16 at 7:47 pm
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Old May 12, 16, 6:04 pm
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Last day at work, on a lazy Friday afternoon, I pack up my stuff early, say goodbye to my colleagues (who I will be rejoining a year from now) and take the efficient, but overpriced Pearson Express up to YYZ from Toronto's downtown core.

With Global Entry and expedited security screening through NEXUS, I arrive at Air Canada's transborder lounge in under 15 minutes after stepping off the UP train.

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In search of real food, I stop by:

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I roll up to the gate, among the last to board:

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And there was only one other person in Business Class today:

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Today's meal: some kind of cold roast beef dish and potato salad. No thanks. Ordering the mango smoothie in the terminal earlier was a good idea!

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Just about an hour in, we begin our descent into PHL:

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PHL's international terminal is actually quite nice, a pleasant surprise for a US airport:

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I make a quick visit to the Admirals Club: the lounge that LH uses in PHL. Kind of disappointing that LH didn't have any better option for F passengers.

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But, it's at least spacious with plenty of seating:

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Nonetheless, the food offerings are just pretzels and carrot sticks. Can't even get a bottle of water here without a drink chit.

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Mercifully, my layover here was rather short. I head down to the gate a bit early to collect an actual LH boarding pass (with the fancy ticket jackets) over the AC-issued one.

Along the way, I made a visit to the Liberty Bell.

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Lufthansa needs to tighten up its boarding process. Almost 10 minutes before boarding there was already a crowd around - since First, Business, *G (might as well call all of Y class too) are invited to board first.

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Old May 12, 16, 6:25 pm
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Lufthansa First Class: Philadelphia to Frankfurt

Today's flight to Frankfurt was going to be a special one.

In the weeks and months before August, Lufthansa had been having a jolly good time ripping the F cabin out of the upper deck of their 747-400s, or sending them to the scrapyard. A schedule change in July however, shifted a number of 747-400s with F onto the PHL-FRA route, and I knew I had to catch one more of these flights before they truly went the way of the dodo bird.

To boot, when I booked it 2 weeks earlier, I was the only passenger in the F cabin. All the way up to 3pm (2 hours before boarding), I was still the only passenger booked in F. Would my dream of having the entire upper deck to myself come true?

D-ABVN, named "Dortmund" was delivered to Lufthansa in May 1992. Its final flight before being scrapped was in October 2015, just two months after I took this flight. She still seemed so young at the time.

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A walk up the stairs leads me into this oasis:

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"Welcome on board Mr. tng11, you are the only guest in the First cabin today, so every seat is yours!"

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Being on the upper deck, it felt like I was flying a private jet!

Nonetheless, I stuck with my assigned seat, 83C.

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Let's begin with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle, my favourite champagne over Krug or Dom.

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The Braun Buffel amenity kit and pyjamas. I was a bit disappointed they didn't have Rimowa kits this time (though they're just as useless to me), and ended up leaving it behind.

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After the obligatory greetings from the captain and purser - it is announced that our flight will be just a hair over 6 hours because of some strong tailwinds, meaning that we would arrive FRA early. Great, just when I want this flight to last longer!

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Shortly after takeoff, meal service begins, which is done efficiently since they only have to serve one person...

Some amuse bouche of watermelon and strawberry. Meh.

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Tonight's menu:

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I start off with the shrimp cocktail and asparagus appetizers. The shrimp cocktail is decent, the asparagus is flavourless.

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The caviar serving is less generous than I expected, being the only passenger on board. I don't mind in the end, because I really can only stomach 2 or 3 mouthfuls before the salt overwhelms me.

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Lobster bisque was quite good, albeit a bit on the salty side:

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The Maryland Lump Crab Cakes were excellent. One of the best tasting mains I've had on a Lufthansa First flight.

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The brownie with vanilla ice cream was amazing. Though the maraschino cherry really wasn't the proverbial "cherry on top":

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With just about 4.5 hours to go to FRA, I move over to the bed in the hopes of catching a few Z's before spending the entire day exploring Mainz:

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Overall, this was another great Lufthansa First flight with a very efficient, polite and professional crew. Being a TATL redeye, the flight time is simply too short to enjoy the full service and try to get some decent rest. And being the only passenger in First didn't really do anything for me in the end, and in fact felt rather uncomfortable as I felt like I was always being watched by the crew (and besides, I couldn't take up all 8 seats practically if I wanted to.)
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Old May 12, 16, 6:50 pm
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Having skipped breakfast onboard, I make a stop by the First Class Lounge in A for a shower and some breakfast before heading into Mainz:

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Love the furniture in the A lounge: it seems to the most "new" looking of the FCLs and FCT, but the differences are negligible:

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I sit down in the dining area and hoped to order the Eggs Benedict. Unfortunately, I was notified by a very polite and apologetic server that the A/C in the lounge was broken (which explains why it was so hot) and that the kitchen would not be delivering any hot items until the problem was fixed.

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With that, I hop onboard a train to Mainz:

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It's quite a nice little town for wandering around aimlessly, and when I went, there was a nice fresh produce market in the main square running, and an antiques market along the Rhein.

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Jetlag setting in after about 8 hours of wandering, I make the train journey back to FRA and of course, to the First Class Terminal:

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The FCT was unusually empty tonight:

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I make a run for the sensational antipasto buffet, which is my most favourite buffet spread of all lounges I've ever been to, with my favourites of Loch Fyne smoked salmon, Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Manchego, mozzarella and grilled veggies!

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First stage of the gorging process complete, I decide to take a bath to build up some appetite, and also to make a new friend (what a sad life I live, making friends with an inanimate object):

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Resuming the gorging process, I ordered the always reliable, fresh and delicious Wiener Schnitzel:

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And, as always, I can't resist the amazing dessert spread too:

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And yes, I finished it all (certainly felt like I was going to get diabetes afterwards). I also ordered a glass of Hibiki 17 with a single drop of water - one of my most favourite vintage whiskies.

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In the few hours I was there, the FCT remained mostly empty. Surprising considering there were quite a few longhauls flights leaving around the same time as the HKG flight.

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About 40 minutes before departure, my PA came to collect me and delivered me in the hands of my Porsche Cayenne driver:

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Given that this morning, the HKG flight still had 6 empty seats in F, and I was the only HKG passenger in the FCT, I had my fingers crossed that it would be another very empty flight tonight...
tng11 is offline  
Old May 12, 16, 6:53 pm
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I also loved the buffet spread at the FCT. The shrimp especially makes my stomach growl.

Last edited by chongl; May 12, 16 at 6:58 pm
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Old May 12, 16, 6:58 pm
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I'll say it before JohnRain does - I love all things LH F

Great start tng11, I am really looking forward to the rest ^^. There are no LH 744's with F left.....this may very well be the last TR to highlight that amazing and cherished configuration. Even if it isn't, your solo ride is really special.
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Old May 12, 16, 7:31 pm
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Great start to your report tng11.
What a treat to be the only pax in First and on one of the last of the upper deck 747s. Looking forward to the rest.
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Old May 12, 16, 7:37 pm
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Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Hong Kong

Tonight's flight to Hong Kong was on the reborn 747, the 747-8i. In my heart, the 747 is still the Queen of the Skies (as much as I love the Airbus A380, it is an awkward, ugly duckling), and its modern iteration is a more comfortable (less noisy) version of its predecessor.

With 8 seats in the nose, the product is still plenty spacious and comfortable (though not nearly as sexy as the private jet feel on the upper deck of the 747-400):

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Tonight's flight was going to be full - J, E and Y were way overbooked and there ended up being 6 op-ups to F tonight.

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No big deal, as I took my favourite seat on any 747 - 1A, since I love the feeling of being right in the tip of the nose, ahead of the pilots.

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I was warmly greeted with a glass of something special tonight - the 2005 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rose Brut.

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Unfortunately, being the complete idiot I am, as I am grabbing something from the ottoman in front, I "elbowed" the freshly poured glass of champagne clear right into the space between the window and console, causing a huge splatter on the pristine, beige walls of the cabin. With much embarrassment, I try to clean up as much as I can with the napkin, and two other attendants help me with the clean-up (thankfully, the stains on the walls mopped up fine), we had a good laugh together and they poured me another glass.

Menus were distributed - and I was happy I made the choice to eat in the FCT over onboard. I informed the purser that I would not be eating and to have my bed made immediately. She replied, "But why not have some caviar? I can save that for your breakfast if you like!" Caviar for breakfast? Why not?

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Our flight to HKG is just about 10 and a half hours tonight. After a quick taxi and takeoff, once the seatbelt signs are extinguished, the crew wasted no time and made my bed immediately.

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I ended up conking out like a light for the next 7 hours - one of the best sleeps I've ever had on a plane! ^ After some tossing and turning, and enjoying The Avengers: Age of Ultron, it was time to feed again:

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I do wish that Lufthansa would change their breakfast spread up a bit - it's a nice spread, but gets repetitive after a few times:

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But, I do love the freshly prepared scrambled eggs with bacon. Seeing as I enjoyed the smoked salmon, the crew made sure to give me a second helping with my scrambled eggs. ^

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Caviar, smoked salmon on fresh eggs at 34,000 feet? I truly felt like a million bucks eating this! Only thing I was missing was a fancy tophat and monocle...

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After some turbulence on approach into HKG, we landed right on time in good old German fashion, but park at one of the farthest possible gates in HKG:

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Overall, this was another amazing Lufthansa First flight. The crew was so friendly, professional, proactive and was extremely graceful when I embarrassed myself with the champagne spill. Even though I'm sad to see the 747-400 go, I still think the 747-8i is a venerable replacement that I will very much enjoy flying (albeit in the pointy end) for the years to come.
tng11 is offline  
Old May 12, 16, 8:23 pm
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What in the ever loving eff is that "beef" thing on the AC flight???
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Old May 12, 16, 8:27 pm
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How special to be the only one on the upper deck in F! Happened to us once on JFK-DXB in EK F but having the solo cabin on a 747 would be way cooler. Thanks for taking the time to write the report and looking forward to the rest!
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Old May 12, 16, 9:36 pm
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This is off to a great start! looking forward to more. Thanks for sharing tng11
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Old May 13, 16, 12:49 am
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Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
I'll say it before JohnRain does - I love all things LH F

Great start tng11, I am really looking forward to the rest ^^. There are no LH 744's with F left.....this may very well be the last TR to highlight that amazing and cherished configuration. Even if it isn't, your solo ride is really special.
Haha Madone59, you beat me to it...!
I was just going to write something along those lines, but as I'm apparently sooo predictable I'll have to be a bit more creative.
LH744 UD F will be sorely missed, I'm really glad to see it featured in a new TR. On my upcoming flight in LH F in two weeks, I sure will be looking for a bed upon entering the cabin and I'll have to drink a full bottle of Taittinger 2007 to make up for the disappointment...

Excellent start to what promises to be a great TR, tng11! ^
And kudos that you had the whole cabin to yourself.
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Old May 13, 16, 1:06 am
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Great report so far tng11!

Great fun having F you yourself on the flight over from PHL. Agree with others - that AC meal looks a bit scary. Enjoy the rest of your trip!
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Old May 13, 16, 1:08 am
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welcome back to FT TR-writing! I'd been missing your reports

I happened to run into my own one of FT's self-appointed moral police my last time around
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Old May 13, 16, 1:18 am
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Great food pics!
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