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Christkindlesmarkt villages in Germany via British Airways and Lufthansa First Class

Christkindlesmarkt villages in Germany via British Airways and Lufthansa First Class

Old Feb 28, 19, 9:03 pm
  #1  
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Christkindlesmarkt villages in Germany via British Airways and Lufthansa First Class

Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market) Villages in Germany via British Airways and Lufthansa First Class.

YVR-LHR-MUC (Alaska Mileage Plan Award)
MUC Hbf – HAN Hbf (paid)
HAN Hbf – MUC Hbf (paid)
MUC-HAN-ZRH-LAZ-YVR (Aeroplan Award)




Preparation:

MrsWT73 has a yearly business meeting in Hanover, Germany every year at the end of the year. From a North American perspective, it’s a bizarre time for business travel but their company seems to get into it. She had asked me to tag along for an opportunity to visit the Christmas villages of Germany for some Glühwein wine. Since no one is traveling the weeks before Christmas for leisure purposes, and most North American business travel seems to wind down in December, there was ample award availability.

Without any real difficulty, I was able to find a British Airways First Class award from Vancouver to London Heathrow. This was booked at about 6 months out and cost me 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan points and $433 USD in taxes and fees. I locked in a placeholder return with Air Canadas’ Aeroplan departing Munich on Swiss Air via Zurich & Los Angeles to Vancouver in Business Class. I intended to change this to a Lufthansa First Class Ticket and self routed via Los Angeles to maximize the First Class opportunities with a tag flight back up to Vancouver afterwards. I figured that with 16 seats leaving Munich (Los Angeles / San Franciso) and 16 seats leaving Frankfurt (Los Angeles / San Franciso), I would hopefully be able to find something within those 32 available seats for sale. On the evening I was supposed to head out to the airport, at about T – 10 days, the Lufthansa First Class space opened up. I called and was able to switch the flight with the $150 CAD fee. With that, I headed off straight to the airport for another great and civilized trip.

In this Report:

SkyTeam International Lounge Vancouver International Airport
Cathay Pacific Lounge Vancouver International Airport
British Airways Galleries Lounge Vancouver International Airport
British Airways First Class Vancouver - London Heathrow Terminal 3
British Airways Concorde Room - London Heathrow Terminal 5
British Airways Club Europe: London Heathrow Terminal 5 - Munich
Le Meridien Munich
DB Bahn Munich Hautbahnoff - Hannover Hautbahnoff
Novotel Hannover
Hannover, Germany
Sheraton Pelican Hannover
DB Bahn Hanover Hautbahnhoff - Munich Hautbahnhoff
Aloft Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich Terminal 2 Satellite
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich Terminal 2 Main
Lufthansa First Class: Munich - Los Angeles
Westin Los Angeles Airport
Star Alliance Business Lounge: Los Angeles International Airport
Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge: Los Angeles International Airport T6
Air Canada Business Class: Los Angeles - Vancouver

Links to my previous reports:

Christkindlesmarkt Villages in Germany via British Airways and Lufthansa First Class, December 2018
Iceland, Spain & Morocco via IcelandAir Business Class & British Airways First Class. Sept 2018
East Africa: Tanzania and Seychelles via Air Canada & Turkish Airlines Business Class June 2018
Spring Break with WT73jr at Vail Colorado, USA via Alaska Airlines. March 2018
Polyensia Part II: Easter Island, Chile & Mexico City, Mexico via LATAM Business Class. Sept 2017
Summer is a state of mind; Kaanapali, Maui, via Alaska Airlines with my 13 yr old son, August 2017
Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia via Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and Air Tahiti Nui Business Class, June 2017
Mileage Running to New York via Delta Airlines First Class for Alaska MVP Status, Dec 2016
Havana and Varadero Cuba via Westjet Holidays from Canada, Nov 2016
Malta (and the island of Gozo), Venice, Italy and Oktoberfest in Munich, via Air France Business Class, Sept 2016
South Africa, Namibia, Victoria Falls, Mauritius & the UAE via Emirates First, Qatar & South African Airways Business, April 2016
Dodging Volcanic Ash: A family trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old via Asiana, KLM and JAL Business, July 2015
RTW#3 (J): Vietnam, Maldives, and Tackling India’s Golden Triangle via Air Canada, Asiana Singapore, Air India and Turkish Airlines Business, May 2015
Experiencing flying as a "Non-Rev", Australia Wine and Beaches via Air Canada and Qantas Business, November 2014
Alaska Airlines First Class to Las Vegas, and a stay in the Aria Sky Suites “Penthouse” via Alaska Airlines First Class, August 2014
Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods Ontario via Air Canada Business Class. August 2014
Cathay Pacific First Class to New York, a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum & 4 days of eating in NYC, May 2014
RTW #2: The Khors of Oman- via Japan, Poland & the UAE and ANA, Thai, Lufthansa Business Class. April 2014.
South Africa, Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya, & Mauritius via South African Airways, Swiss and Air Canada Business Class, Nov 2013
A family trip to Westin Playa Conchal, Liberia Costa Rica via United Airlines, Aug 2013
Buried Treasure: UAE Empty Quarter and Beyond to Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives via United and Etihad Airlines, Nov 2012
RTW #1(F) The Time Share Presentation: Spain / China / Thailand via Asiana, Thai and Lufthansa First Class, May 2012
A visit to Macchu Picchu and Valle Nevado, Peru and Chile via Air Canada Business Class, Sept 2011
Travel after the Revolution of January 25, 2011. Egypt via Egypt Air, May 2011
A Step Back in Time: The Twilight of Burma, a visit to Myanmar via Silk Airways, Sept 2010

Last edited by worldtraveller73; May 5, 19 at 10:43 am
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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:13 pm
  #2  
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SkyTeam International Lounge Vancouver
Vancouver International Airport


I got off work at around 3PM and made it home to pack up the house. I had a late-night the night before getting everything done at work and was relieved to have left the office early.

I drove up to YVR and met MrsWT73 whom had just finished work. We parked at her aerospace employer parking lot and walked up to the YVR International Building. Being the dead of winter, everything was dark already.



Despite having checked in on line, we quickly obtained paper boarding cards at the British Airways check in counters as souvenirs. I was travelling in First tonight whereas MrsWT73 was in Club World Business thanks to her company travel policy. At the check in counter, she was offered a buy up from Business to First for $1,000 CAD. Ahh no thank you. That’s crazy expensive for only First Class with only seats left. . .







It was deserted on the international side of the airport tonight although being before Christmas, the public side was decorated with Christmas trees.





We were through a near private security experience tonight at about 6:30 PM with absolutely no one at security screening. We rolled up to an empty check point with no one ahead of us.

We didn’t have any concrete dinner plans so as MrsWT73 shopped for some Canadian souvenirs for her German colleagues, I wandered down concourse to look at what was new. I bypassed the Plaza Premium Lounge where we visited here on our last trip to Sydney Australia.







The Vancouver International Airport has recently had a massive international hall renovation. In their quest for better and better, there is now a Bottega Venetta, a Cartier and a Hermes shop lining departure row.





Despite the luxury stores with no one in them, the International Terminal is still an interesting looking place that’s nice to spend time in. It looks more like Rodeo Drive or luxury lane in Las Vegas than an airport.







We ended up visiting the brand new SkyTeam Lounge at the Vancouver International Airport. It’s located in the international part of the airport and is open a full 24 hours. The lounge is not affiliated with British Airways. We were admitted thanks to Priority Pass membership. The lounge has the smallest lobby area on the main floor whereas the lounge itself is on the level above the concourse. The friendly lounge agent processed our cards and we went up the elevator to the top floor.







Immediately getting off the elevator on the top floor was an international newspaper rack that was well stocked.



The lounge occupies the top area of retail space on the departure concourse and is set in a double tear drop shape. Being that there were no SkyTeam flights departing, the lounge was completely empty save for one other traveler. Everything was brand new and immaculately clean. Although the lounge itself was not huge, it was a comfortable space. Upon entry, there were loungers on the immediate right hand side.









Across a small bridge was the food area. This made for a natural divide in the two spaces.







There was a wine bar which had been previously featured in marketing materials. It actually featured all British Columbia wine. Usually I am not a fan of the Canadian wine on an aircraft but they actually had better than bargain basement wines in the dispenser so I was able to sample a few.











There was ample food available for a light dinner. I ended up with Vij’s Butter Chicken and Coconut Rice. The lounge also offered a noodle bar that opened at 9:30 PM when most of the Asian flights departed.









There was neat SkyTeam logo’d art in the back of the lounge near the attached washrooms. This was up near the flight board that had an odd assortment of flights departing at this hour.





The only minus is that the lounge shared open air with the terminal meaning that it did get a bit shriek-y at times with kids frocking in the nearby playground.

I ended up enjoying Hester Creek Merlot as a beverage, along with the usual tortilla crisps. Otherwise the SkyTeam Lounge is a nice place to zen out, unwind and relax after a busy day.

Ultimately this was a solid lounge. It had everything I would look for in a lounge. Clean. Spotless and empty. The only drawback is that it would likely have limited places to sit if it was near departure time as the amount of loungers were limited.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:21 pm
  #3  
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Cathay Pacific Lounge
Vancouver International Airport.


Since we had a bit of extra time, we ended up leaving the SkyTeam Lounge and headed down concourse to the brand new Cathay Pacific Lounge. The lounge has relocated from it’s old spot on the second level above international security screening to further down concourse past retail row. The old Cathay Pacific Lounge allowed Air Canada to expand its Maple Leaf International lounge into a two level configuration, whereas Cathay Pacific got a brand new space further down the concourse that was much larger than the old version.

We walked directly across the concourse from the SkyTeam Lounge and took the elevator up one floor. The lounge only opens at 8 PM, which doesn’t make it a natural choice for the British Airways flight since boarding on British Airways typically starts at 8:30 PM.







We were granted entry into the lounge thanks to the class of service on our boarding pass as a One World First / Business Class lounge. Like our SkyTeam experience, the lounge was deserted. The lounge is now in sleek dark colors compared to the old maple wood and brown colours of the past generation. As the lounge is about a year old, everything is still in fantastic condition.















We settled into some super comfortable loungers near the windows. While MrsWT73 checked in to work, I went over to the Noodle Bar which featured a much larger and expanded presence in Cathay Pacific YVR 2.0.







I ordered some fresh dim sum of pork and shrimp, along with won ton noodle soup paired with free pour Piper Heindsick champagne. It was a great way to start the evening. The other food and beverage options were not too substantial; small nuts and crisps in the Plaza Premium container style with substantially nicer surroundings.









In addition to the noodle bar, there were also some small western snacks. Although they appeared fresh, they seemed a bit out of place in this lounge given the Asian influences of the noodles.



The lounge remained pretty quiet throughout our time here, unlike other Cathay Pacific lounges that we have been in which have usually been quite full. Notably missing is a separate first class section that was present in other Cathay Lounges and in the old YVR Cathay Lounge. First Class passengers and One World Emerald are now mixed in with all other passengers.



Passing the time, we watched a Cathay flight arrive up against the glass through the large glass windows at Gate D47.



Overall a great stay and a fun place to hang out if you have some time. A great job Cathay with another nice lounge!!

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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:26 pm
  #4  
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British Airways Galleries Lounge
Vancouver International Airport.


Since this is a British Airways trip report, it wouldn’t be complete without a swing through the British Airways Galleries Lounge in Vancouver International Airport. The lounge is located right at the very end of the International concourse, against a portioned wall that will be the end of new construction when the expansion of the international terminal is complete in 2020. We left Cathay and headed over to our last visit of the evening. Unlike the Cathay Pacific Lounge, this one opens at 5:30 PM (unlike Cathay Pacific's 8 PM)









Access to the lounge was granted again thanks to the First Class / Business Class on our Britsh Airways boarding pass. At reception, the lounge attendant indicated that the first class side was “quite busy” at the moment and that we would be welcomed and likely more comfortable on the business class side of the lounge.

We settled in and took a little exploring. The lounge is divided into about a 33% first class, 66% business class split with completely separate seating areas for both in a square rectangular space. The first class side had slightly more space between the loungers, but otherwise there was better opportunity to get a nicer view in the business class side thanks to more available seating by windows and a greater amount of seats near the glass. High density is the order of the day here, which is not always a sought after quality in an airport lounge.







Similar to almost every other British Airways lounge that I’ve visited (save the Pre-Flight dining facility in New York JFK) there was virtually nothing to snack on here other than disappointing packaged chips, cookies and other cello-wrapped goodies. At least the familiar BA lounge decor black and white cursive print made a reappearance (laughing)





There were some basic wines on offer, with slightly better ones available in the first class portion of the lounge. Overall, aside from some funky colored furniture, there wasn’t much purpose to this lounge. It was more of a comfortable hold room with dollar store snacks. Although it was quiet on our visit thanks it being last our tour, I can’t imagine how full this place would be at its peak. If you had the choice, I wouldn't bother coming early just for this experience.
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Old Feb 28, 19, 9:45 pm
  #5  
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British Airways
BA 84 – First Class (Z)
YVR-LHR (Vancouver International Airport – London Heathrow Terminal 3)
Dec 7, 2018
9:20 PM – 2:50 PM + 1
Booked: B747-400
Flown: B747-400


The flight boarding was announced in the lounge about 10 minutes after the time printed on the card. We headed down and arrived to the gate and arrived as they were boarding group 2.

Each of our printed boarding cards were stamped with Door 1 / Door 2. Once we were on the jet bridge, I bid good bye to MrsWT73 who was headed for the upper deck of the B747, whereas I was headed for the nose of the plane on the main deck.



Arriving to the door, I was asked to self guide myself to Seat 3K. My first impressions for riding First Class in the Boeing 747 (versus our A380) flight a few months ago was “Wow – is it ever tight in here!”. Indeed, the 14 seats in the nose of the B747 is probably the most compact First Class experience one can have on a wide body plane. At the risk of sounding entitled, it’s a bit of a ghetto experience that was likely state of the art in 1990 and hasn’t matured much despite decorative refreshes.









I placed my bags into the over head bin. The configuration of the seat on the Boeing 747 does not allow for a rollie to fit into a floor locker. Instead, there is a garment cupboard that doubles with netted pockets for storage. There was also a slipper cupboard at the bottom.



The load was only 9 out of 14 today in First Class. It appeared that there were not many takers for the $1,000 buy up offer from Business Class to First.

I was offered a Pre-departure beverage of Laurent Perrier Grand Sciele, along with the Elemis Spa Amenity kit. The amenity kits contained Refinery products and were presented in a nice case by Liberty of London. I was asked if I wanted a pyjama, and then dropped off if you wanted them.







The menus were dropped off while we were on the ground. The flight crew took a drink order (but not a dinner order) until we were airborne.















I don’t know what’s happened with the First Class menu but tonight’s options were downright uninspiring and it was a choice between the best of the worst items as none really appealed to me. As an example, “corn fed chicken with pomegranate jus and vegetables” isn’t super inspiring for a First Class menu. At least the wine menus were interesting and engaging. . .











Equally uninspiring was the low resolution television monitor that met with the dated age of this aircraft.



As we got underway, we had a smooth climb out on Runway 08 R, which is a long taxi away from the international wing.

Shortly after we climbed to altitude, the purser came by to introduce herself. Having my wife on board, and recognizing the usual protocol of going down a class to visit, but recognizing that the tight business class coffins on 8 across British Airways don’t have buddy seat belts and First Class does, I asked about the visit protocol for two passengers in First and Business. I fully expected the purser to head down to business. Surprisingly, likely since the cabin was of a light load and contained 2 children, she approved a visit in First as long as no one was sleeping. It was a generous offer on her part. I actually never got the opportunity to take her up on it… more on this later.

It was 10 PM by the time that we got to cruising altitude and I was asked if I wanted dinner now or later? My plan for the flight was to have the full dinner and head straight to bed afterwards.

With that, the dinner table was set and we were off, starting with a pre-appetizer of parma ham, cherry tomato and black olive tapenade and courgetti cannelloni with whipped herbed feta.





I followed this with parsnip cream soup with vanilla foam and brown butter ficelle. This was presented well, but it ended up all melting together and was surprisingly watery and quite tasteless.



As a main course, I went with the pan seared pacific halibut with minted pea coulis, goji berry butter and turmeric fingerling potatoes. I was thinking that I would go for something light and not all too heavy. I certainly got something light, but it also didn’t have too much taste or enjoyment to it. The fish, despite being well cooked and soft, wasn’t all to exciting, and the potatoes were downright boring. The presentation wasn’t all that fancy either. . . it looked like something you’d get at a homestyle restaurant.



I ended with the cheese plate of cheddar, Danish blue and triple cream brie. Although nicely presented with crackers, and jam, the cheeses were not to exotic and nowhere near the world class cheese cart Lufthansa offers. It was a pretty ho hum in the end.



A designer chocolate service was also offered to close out the meal.

I stuck with the Chablis 1er cru Fourchaume 2015, Maison Albert Bichot from Burgundy, French all through the meal. The wine was quite solid and easy to drink. This was probably the highlight of the whole meal.

After dinner, I went with a glass of Johnny Walker Blue and headed upstairs to the business class deck to check on MrsWT73. She had already gone to sleep without me. As a result, there was no first class visit to be had. I ended up back at my seat where I finished Johnny on my own.

Around Hudson’s Bay, I asked the flight crew to make up my bed. They were able to do so with a light mattress pad and sheet. We were passing Hudson’s Bay by the time dinner service was over several hours into the flight.







I slept with some difficulty for about 4.5 hours. The small width of the chair on the British Airways seat made for harder side sleeping. My knees kept banging the wall and I would try to comfort myself around the garment closet without much success. Ultimately, I think that the seat is too narrow for my tastes, which affected overall comfort.

I woke up to the sound of clattering crockery as people started to get up and have breakfast. Before long, the staff were by to take a breakfast order. Our flight was nearing the coast of Ireland before long. The table was also set promptly.



I started with plain yoghurt with orange marmalade, along with a croissant that actually flaked when you broke it apart. This was accompanied by a Union Hand Roasted Americano Coffee which was among one of the better coffee's I’ve ever had on a plane.



I then had a traditional English Breakfast of scrambled eggs, pork sausage, peameal bacon, mushroom, potato cakes and tomato. The ability to have a breakfast up front on a carrier that is not served as omelette was a completely refreshing change of pace for once. The breakfast was super tasty.



We had a quick approach into Heathrow. On the short final, we passed by the retired British Airways Concorde at London Heathrow.



After we landed, we pulled off the taxi way. The stand we were supposed to park at was occupied by another plane. This led to a negotiation by the pilots for another stand, followed by a long taxi over to the opposite side of the building. This added another 20 minutes sitting on the plane on the ground after we had landed. British Airways was apologetic but this circumstance ended up eating into a great deal of our lounge time. Instead, I was able to look at a parked Qantas A380 that was being turned around.





In summary, I was a bit nonplussed by this British Airways experience. The First Class experience on the B747 lacked the lustre of the Airbus A380. The older First Class on the Boeing 747-400 is years past its prime; maybe even by a decade. I found the configuration to be cramped and the food menu was far from aspirational for first class. On the bright side, the crews were ever so pleasant and entertaining. The breakfast and coffee were among the best basic breakfasts I’d had on a plane. The wines were of reasonable quality, which made up for the less than exciting food. I guess First Class is better than Business. The new British Airways aircraft can't come soon enough.
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Old Mar 1, 19, 1:31 am
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Good start to your latest TR

I was going to say I was surprised at their being no BA lounge in the airport but then after seeing it compared to the others, I can see why you went elsewhere! Vancouver airport looks quite nice!
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Old Mar 1, 19, 6:02 am
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Great TR, bang on re BA F and the lounge having flown this recently. CX as per normal leaves BA way behind in terms of lounges.
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Old Mar 1, 19, 7:26 am
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Great trip report and pictures. thank you very much for sharing!
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Old Mar 1, 19, 7:30 am
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Lovely report, so far... waiting for more,....
its seems by your pic's you spend more time taking them , then enjoying yourself.....
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Old Mar 1, 19, 7:33 am
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Alberta beef?
Jerusalem potato?
Provencale tomato?
LOL

Good lord BA get rid of the silly descriptors.

Great report thank you! The CX lounge looks great whereas the BA lounge looks awful and way too small to support all the chairs they stuffed in there.

That F product looks horrible and like you said circa 1990. The IFE screen!?

BA is living in the dark ages. It's time for them to dump those bucket o' bolts 744's in the desert and chop 'em up.
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Old Mar 1, 19, 9:17 am
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Lovely report so far. Awaiting the rest
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Old Mar 1, 19, 10:08 am
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Really looking forward to the rest of this; thank you so much for sharing!
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Old Mar 2, 19, 2:50 am
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Good start so far to the TR, seems like YVR International has several nicer lounge other than Priority Pass or the Air Canada MLL.
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Old Mar 2, 19, 8:49 am
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Great TR - thank you!
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Old Mar 2, 19, 12:53 pm
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Off to a great start - looking forward to following the rest
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