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My Struggle is real: 10 days in Germany with roundtrip Lufthansa First Class

My Struggle is real: 10 days in Germany with roundtrip Lufthansa First Class

Old Feb 4, 18, 8:13 pm
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My Struggle is real: 10 days in Germany with roundtrip Lufthansa First Class

So, I had all kinds of glorious plans of doing a double round the world trip in opposite directions. Then, nonrev life happened and the A350 flights to Seoul filled up, which made the whole thing go a bit tits up. I debated still risking it, but the chance of possibly getting stuck in Korea, needing to buy a ticket home, combined with the roundtrip Finnair ticket I planned to buy made it a bit risky.

At the same time, things at work got a bit complicated, putting any personal travel and leave in February in doubt. I decided rather than take the risk I would do the simple thing, and use up some tickets I have sitting around and actually take a vacation for once. Yes, more than a full week in one country! I'd been wanting to do a train trip through Germany, and I love winter in Europe so this seemed like the perfect time. Plus, I can never resist two longhaul flights in Lufthansa first!

I want to take a second to thank the readers who've sent me comments over the last month asking if I was ok. Yes, I was just really taking a vacation for the first time in a long time and not bothering with blogging. I had a great trip, and used the little down time I had to stay on top of work so I didn't come back to a big steaming mess instead of writing blog entries. Sorry for the delay, but lots to come soon!

On top of this, it would finally give me a chance to see some cities in the east of Germany that I hadn't visited before, along with getting in a couple of long 4+ hour train trips on the ICE. Win win! In the end, the trip ended up looking like this:



If you're more interested in my route around Germany for over a week:



Now, of course, like most of my trips what I had planned isn't exactly what happened. Fortunately, the changes were relatively minor this time, and the drama was all recovered from with minimum inconvenience. However, there was just enough drama that I need to get back to Germany soon, as one sidetrip I was looking really forward to ended up happening. I think I'll split the report into these parts:

1. DC to Frankfurt with United and Lufthansa First
2. Frankfurt to Cairo with Lufthansa and overnight in Cairo
3. Cairo to Frankfurt with EgyptAir and Lufthansa, overnight in Frankfurt
4. Frankfurt to Dresden by train, overnight Dresden
5. Dresden to Leipzig by train, overnight Leipzig
6. Leipzig to Berlin by train, first night in Berlin
7. Full day in Berlin
8. Berlin to Hamburg by train, overnight in Hamburg
9. Unexpected bonus night in Hamburg
10. Hamburg to Frankfurt by train, overnight in Frankfurt
11. Frankfurt to Boston with Lufthansa first
12. Boston to DC with United...and a pleasant unpleasant welcome home


If you want to check my previous trip reports:

I. London to Iran and Afghanistan in a mix of C, F, and LCCs
II. Above the Arctic Circle with UA/CO/LH and SK in whY, C, and F
III. Around the World in 40 Days for 40 Years
IV. 8 Places People Who Are Right in the Head Do Not Spend New Years
V. 12 Countries, 10 Airlines, 4 Islands, 27,080 miles, 11 Days
VI. 6 Countries in 6 Days - Caribbean Island Hopping and first AA Experience
VII. Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana with an unexpected sidetrip to Caracas!
VIII. To Haïti - for vacation and a milage run!
IX. Around Senegal and West Africa
X. 4th Annual New Years in Dangerous Places - Libya Edition
XI. Kosovo and FYR Macedonia - Milage Run in United Business + TK/LH
XII. Washington to Peru and Machu Picchu on COPA and TACA
XIII. To Johannesburg...for 36 hours!
XIV. Here a Stan, there a Stan, everwhere a Stan Stan....
XV. Air Burkina, Air Cote d'Ivoire and 7 countries in West Africa
XVI. Turkey for Thanksgiving....with a side of Tajikistan, Serbia, Montenegro, and Moscow
XVII. Into the Heart of Darkness... Congo, Angola, Gabon, OH MY!
XVIII. HI! Four Islands, Lots of Planes, Beaches, and Convertibles
XIX. Plenty of Salt, Not Enough Oxygen...a Trip to Boliva, Colombia, and Ecuador
XX. Learning to Relax - Long Weekend in St Christopher and Nevis
XXI. You're spending New Years WHERE? IRAQ? (2009-2010)
XXII. Pineapples, croissants, and neon OH MY! A trip to Hawaii, Paris, Andorra, and Vegas
XXIII. South Pacific, Israel, Lebanon - 6 weeks - 71,500 miles - 24 countries
XXIV. Sundae bloody Sundaes...a 2014 United Year in Review
XXV. Lakes, Lemurs, and Lithuania: Horton Hears a Houthi!
XXVI. First Americans tour to North Korea 2005 - Arirang Mass Games
XXVII. Doing the Needful - Lufthansa Business US to Chennai
XXVII. C-ing things: Canada, Curry, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Camels, Chengis Khan and China!
XXVIII. Learning my ABCs: Algeria, Bahama, Cuba and the Cubana IL-96
XXIX. Exploring ZMapp of West Africa...or how I got detained by the CDC
XXX. Transatlantic to Bangkok with United, Austrian, Air Canada, and Thai
XXXI. Being Lazy in Belize
XXXII. Quick Trip to Cape Town with United, SWISS, South African, and Lufthansa
XXXII. FUNny thing happened going to and from Tuvalu...Cathay F, Etihad Apts, Fiji Biz
XXXIII. Achievement Unlocked: AFRICA! Visiting Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal
XXXIV. FIN. (and thanks for all the fish)
XXXV. What do you do after visiting every country? RTW in First with NH, TG, SQ, QR, EK, LH
XXXVI. Rock in the Abkhazia - Progress on the Unrecognized Countries List
XXXVII. Collecting Continents: Circle of the World, but not RTW
XXXVIII. Cocoa Puffs? Nah, I'm coup coup for Zimbabwe!

Sit back, grab some champagne and caviar, I'm going to try and knock this one out in short order since my next trip is less than a week away!
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Last edited by ironmanjt; Mar 6, 18 at 8:29 pm Reason: Maps not showing properly.
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Old Feb 4, 18, 8:24 pm
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Looking forward to this report!
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Old Feb 5, 18, 1:20 am
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Has been a long time between drinks, looking forward to this!

If you're having trouble posting the TR with the new editor, this may help: Problems Posting My TR

If not, let me know.
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Old Feb 5, 18, 2:03 am
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Wow wow wow, I am in!
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Old Feb 5, 18, 2:10 am
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I love Europe in winter as well; I leave on Wednesday for a much anticipated trip to Cluj-Napoca to buy a painting and tour a paintbrush factory.

Leipzig has always intrigued me. I am looking forward to reading of your impressions of it!
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Old Feb 5, 18, 2:18 am
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I like reports about my homecountry so I looking forward to it
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Old Feb 5, 18, 8:55 am
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Originally Posted by DanielW View Post
Has been a long time between drinks, looking forward to this!

If you're having trouble posting the TR with the new editor, this may help: Problems Posting My TR.
Super! Thanks DanielW! Appreciate the help! I missed the reference to a "long time between drinks" though?

Originally Posted by Vaterland View Post
I love Europe in winter as well; I leave on Wednesday for a much anticipated trip to Cluj-Napoca to buy a painting and tour a paintbrush factory.

Leipzig has always intrigued me. I am looking forward to reading of your impressions of it!
I'm glad I'm not the only one! I guess growing up in Northern Minnesota has made me a winter person.

Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
I like reports about my homecountry so I looking forward to it
Awesome - please feel free to correct any of my observations!
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Old Feb 5, 18, 9:43 am
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Looking forward to this, looks like a great itinerary. Hit me up the next time you're in Leipzig/Eastern Germany - the beer will be on me
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Old Feb 5, 18, 7:27 pm
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As soon as I saw this in the list..my hear skipped a beat!!

Cant wait for another ironmanjot trip report!!

I've been visiting FRA almost weekly since Aug last year so particularly looking forward to that section
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Old Feb 7, 18, 1:41 am
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Old Feb 7, 18, 1:39 pm
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Old Feb 7, 18, 7:00 pm
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You had me at "Lufthansa" Looking forward to your TR
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Old Feb 8, 18, 3:27 pm
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Aaah, Brilliant!! Glad that you decided to go ahead with this - looking forward to another great report.
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Old Feb 10, 18, 2:49 pm
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1. DC to Frankfurt with United and Lufthansa First

One thing I like about flying to Europe out of DCA is that it requires a connection, which means any thoughts of going into the office are unrealistic. Got a bit of work done from home, had plenty of coffee, and despite sleeping in managed a very leisurely stroll to DCA to catch my initial flight to Chicago in order to get this thing started!

My favourite part of DCA is the old Continental President's Club, which has become the United Club. The grand ceiling of the main room, and now that there's the smaller "hidden" room in back it doesn't feel quite so crowded. Of course, had to start the trip with a little "caviar" - United style:



Decided against all that corn and beans since I'd be spending the next 12+ hours on planes, I opted instead for some cheese cubes...and some pepper strips to get some vitamins:



I had noted on the seatmap that despite first class being full, economy was only booked to about 30 people - completely empty! I considered moving back and taking a whole row to have a little more space, but decided not to risk it with snacks and drinks.

United flight 1264
Washington DC, National (DCA) to Chicago, O'Hare (ORD)
Depart 11:45, Arrive 12:56, Flight Time: 2:11
Airbus A319, Registration N892UA, Manufactured 2006, Seat 2E
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 612
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,520,674


Interesting options in the snack basket today, so I opted for the fat free, gluten free, low sodium, low taste gummi bears knowing I would get much much better ones in a few days in Germany.



Beyond that, it was a typical, boring short domestic flight so I'll skip right ahead to why I chose the flight with the 3.5 hour connection in Chicago: to give the Polaris Lounge one more try. This also had the benefit that if there were to be any winter weather surprises, I was leaving myself plenty of cushion before my international flight. No worries today, and we actually arrived Chicago a little bit early, so off from the B terminal to the C terminal to enjoy the Polaris Lounge.

First impression: the lounge was as empty as I've ever seen it, which always helps to make a more positive impression. It did fill up quite a bit by the time I left, but initially it was empty. Glass of Veuve Cliquot at the bar to start things off while I finished up a bit of work.



Headed over to the new dining area from there, which is much nicer and more "private" than the previous area. My only small complaint would be that the staff were more "midwest friendly" than refined, which maybe isn't the best thing in a premium lounge. It isn't a complaint, just a bit out of line with the experience they're trying to project. Now, serious, not complaining....when they say things like "I just figured you would have finished your champagne by now so I brought you another!"

The seared tuna tataki was good, with a nice presentation...and the perfect light starter with a big Lufthansa meal coming up:



I had heard many good things about the Blue Door Kitchen Burger, so decided to order it - fried egg and all, and promised myself I'd only have a few bites to try it. It was pretty good, and ended up finishing a bit over half before heading back to the bar to do some pre-flight work so I could hopefully relax and enjoy the vacation a bit more!



Nice chat about the "paper plane" cocktail with the lounge manager, who's actually been sitting at the bar just about every time I visit the lounge doing some paperwork.



After a nice visit, back through the psychedelic tunnel to the B gates to find my Lufthansa flight. Overall impression of the Polaris Lounge? Blows away anything else in the United States with the possible exception of the JFK American Flagship Lounge. It will be very interesting when (and if) United finishes more Polaris Lounges if they manage to replicate this very high standard.



Long line to board when I went to the gate, and the business class line was super long as well, so I just walked up to the counter, mentioned to the gate agent that I was in first, and was invited to board immediately so I didn't have to stand in line. Very nice touch by the gate crew.

Lufthansa flight 431
Chicago, O'Hare (ORD) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
Depart 16:20, Arrive 7:40 next day, Flight Time: 8:20
Boeing 747-8i, Registration D-ABYK, Manufactured 2013, Seat 2A
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 4,956
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,525,018


My seat was already set up when I boarded, and champagne and nuts made a very quick appearance. I was the only person in first today, and I had a very "old school" crew who did everything by the book and provided a first class experience that was over the top from a service perspective...without being awkward and "too much." I'm seriously curious what kind of "notes" Lufthansa keeps on their passengers. Despite never having flown with this crew before, they knew several personal touches that they never would have without someone having told them (or read this blog maybe.)



Immediately after posting the above pic to Instagram and Twitter, Lufthansa (always on top of their social media game) was quick to reply:



I sort of find it comical that Lufthansa social media knows me well enough that they dare reply with Beyoncé memes. As I was the only one in first today, the crew had already made up the seat across from me as a bed for when I was ready for it later inflight. The gate agents did upgrade someone from business at the last minute, but I heard them telling the crew "he will just sleep and doesn't need any service. We just want him to have a private bed." I don't know who he was that he got this treatment, but to the crew's credit I never would have known he was there.



I forget what the amuse bouche was, but I remember it was tasty...



Since I wanted to try and convince myself to be sleepy, I told the crew they could turn the cabin lights dark from the start of the flight so the other guy could sleep. Apologies on the slightly dark pictures because of it. Tonight was an "all the caviar you want" flight, so I just asked for a medium portion. I was more in a sampling mood, and the main course sounded excellent...



Next up were appetizers and salad: herb shrimp with fennel salad and tomato oregano dressing, buffalo style chicken, celery with gorgonzola mousseline and farro salad, and chilled ratatouille parcel with balsamic glaze. Overall, mostly a miss unfortunately. The buffalo chicken was tasty, but the rest "tried too hard" and just wasn't great.



Finished maybe half the appetizers, which were followed by an amazing bowl of lobster bisque. I think this was intended to be a main course, but with no other passengers, the crew insisted:



Next up, far and away the best airline main course I've ever had. Grilled beef filet (a perfect medium) and lobster claw served with mac and cheese. The mac and cheese was just a little spicy, the asparagus was perfectly cooked, and the whole thing was a home run!



Last but not least, a helping of cheese. I was stuffed by this point, but couldn't turn the cheese down. Good selection:



After clearing the table, the flight attendant serving first offered "can I get you a Johnny Walker Blue, one ice cube as a night cap?" Again, no idea how he would have known that unless he reads this blog or Lufthansa keeps records on their first class customers.

One quick check of email before calling it a night, and facebook suggested the following filter for a goofy selfie. I think they know what I was up to....




Slept nearly five hours, woke up just in time for some tea and freshening up before landing, and it was time to enjoy some time in the First Class Terminal before my connecting flights.
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Old Feb 10, 18, 3:25 pm
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Looking forward to the rest of this trip, as I'll be back in Frankfurt at the end of the month.
I would bet Lufthansa keeps notes on First Passengers preferences. Is this the first time you noticed? Maybe it is a recent addition to their policies.
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