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Ducking Awesome: Spontaneous First Class Birthday RTW...in 86 Hours!

Ducking Awesome: Spontaneous First Class Birthday RTW...in 86 Hours!

Old Oct 19, 19, 10:00 am
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Ducking Awesome: Spontaneous First Class Birthday RTW...in 86 Hours!

So, a bit of background is necessary to understand this trip. No, I'm not talking about the fact that I have a few screws loose when it comes to traveling; that part is a given.

I'm talking more about Lufthansa's gimmick of the "first class duck." I'm not quite sure where this tradition started, but as I understand it Lufthansa many years ago started offering souvenir ducks to passengers taking a bath in their first class lounges and first class terminals.

Then, one day, someone had the novel idea to make a "special" thematic duck for spring, or summer, or some such reason. This caught on, and more and more Lufthansa started to offer other special ducks.

By this point, people had started to collect them, and they were no longer just for people taking baths. People came up with all kinds of reasons to stop by a get one. Seriously. One of the first phrases I ever learned in German was "Kann ich zwei Enten fr meine Kinder haben?"

Yeah, there was a bit of embarrassment and shame and made up children involved in getting the ducks. I know I'm not the only one. (In all fairness, I'm much less shameful now and just ask for one....unless it's a special one...and then the made-up children may come on board to justify needing two.)

Right, so over the years, I may have amassed quite a few of them. I know this is less than half of the ones that are out there, but thankfully my "problem" isn't so bad that I've taken to eBay or such, but I may have engaged in a few trades. So, yes, my problem:

Yup. We have "Euro Duck" and then there's "Dirndl Duck" and don't forget "Corporate W*nker in the First Class Lounge with his Bluetooth Headset Duck." Ok, maybe it's not called that, but you get the drift.

So, you're asking yourself, what does this have to do with anything?

See, a week or so before my birthday (yes, if you're keeping track this is about a week after being home from so much back to back travel this summer and looking forward to a solid month at home) I learned there was a special duck out there...one you could only get on your birthday...the elusive "Birthday Duck.

Of course, this led to planning out trips...maybe even going to Frankfurt just for a few hours as an excuse to get it. But see, unfortunately, my birthday was on a Thursday this year, and that makes things a bit difficult for work. It also turned out I had a big "can't miss" meeting I had wisely scheduled on my birthday at 9am in DC, (3pm in Germany - pay attention - this is important) so given flights arrive from the US in the morning it meant it just wouldn't work out this year. There would be no Lufthansa love for me.

Fast forward to Wednesday, the day before my birthday. I woke up with an inspiration: what if I could find a way to fly to fly to Frankfurt today, spend the day in the lounge, and fly out after 5pm? Surely there would be a way to chair my meeting from the lounge, right?

All I needed was a flight after 5pm. The meeting would last 90 minutes putting me done at 4:30pm German time, and Lufthansa generally drives you from the First Class Terminal to the plane around 30 minutes before departure, so I just needed to find a flight from Frankfurt that left after 5pm - there has to be something back to North America, right? (Oh, and I should probably check to make sure DC to Frankfurt isn't sold out in First tonight, right? Though I suppose I could fly business into Frankfurt if needed.

After spending my entire commute into the office searching, there was nothing. I was crushed.

But wait, why turn right back around and go home? Johannesburg leaves from Frankfurt around 10pm, that would work! Ugh, completely sold out...search, search, search. Whoah, Shanghai! Leaves Germany at 5:10pm which would be perfect. Without a second thought I pulled the trigger. Sent a note I would be taking a half day and working remotely on Thursday, and two hours after getting to the office headed back home to throw things in a bag.

Ok, great, no time to plan...gotta get to airport. Packing is both harder and easier when you don't how how long you'll be gone. I would leave DC on Wednesday (birthday eve) and arrive in Shanghai on Friday night, so I figured I should be home on Sunday hopefully? Ok, that's enough to plan to pack for roughly four days away.

Off to Dulles mid-afternoon (remember, this whole plan was only hatched about five hours prior) and all the way I was searching for ways to get home. Try as I might, I wasn't finding anything interesting. If I was going to be in China, I figured I should go all out and make it a true round-the-world and come back over the Pacific, right?

After a couple hours of searching, I found it: Tokyo Haneda to Los Angeles on ANA All Nippon Airlines in first class! Score!

Now....there was the matter of getting from Shanghai to Tokyo, but I wasn't worried about that. There are plenty of flights and not too expensive, so that was the least important piece.

A bit more searching, and I found an Air Canada 777 with proper business class from LA to Toronto (because why fly LA to DC direct when you can connect in Toronto and get a proper product?) and with a little more searching I found a perfectly-timed Shanghai to Tokyo Haneda flight with Japan Airlines.

Now, all I needed was a ticket from Toronto to DC. That would be easy...all sorted and purchased right as I was arriving at Dulles.

Amazing what I'd pulled off in under eight hours of planning, and just in time to relax and enjoy the experience a bit. The final route would be DC - Frankfurt (9 hours) - Shanghai (30 hours) - Tokyo (3.5 hours) - LA (4.5 hours) - Toronto (2 hours) - DC.

Whew. I'm tired just typing that. I couldn't imagine how tired I'd be in 86 hours when it was all over. Oh well, I can sleep when I'm dead. Time to enjoy the adventure!!!

All this, just for a duck....

So, I'll split the report into these parts:

1. DC to Frankfurt flying Lufthansa First
2. Frankfurt First Class Terminal Birthday Love
3. Frankfurt to Shanghai in Lufthansa First
4. 30 hours in Shanghai
5. Shanghai to Tokyo in Japan Airline business class and ANA First Lounge
6. Tokyo to LA in ANA First Class
7. Maxing out 4.5 hours in LA and LAX to Toronto in Air Canada business
8. Toronto to DC with Air Canada and final thoughts

If you need more of my insanity to tide you over until I get started, may I suggest:

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 Hati - 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!
XXXIX. My Struggle is real: 10 days in Germany with roundtrip Lufthansa First Class
XXXX. I hate tacos...said no juan ever! Off to Mexico City for work!
XXXXI. Sanding my Love to Uncle Bob - Back to Southern Africa
XXXXII. Pisco on Pascua? Por Favor! Looking for Aliens on Easter Island
XXXXIII. Bern, Berlin, and Bbbbrrrrr! Crossing the northernmost border in the world
XXXXIV. Je suis sehr cansado. Wo sou je? Why did I just walk into the wall?
XXXXV. Doing the needful: 'Straya, South Africa, and Switzerland...but no Kitty

Fasten your seatbelts and warn your livers: we're in for a bumpy and bubbly ride!

Last edited by ironmanjt; Nov 3, 19 at 2:02 pm
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Old Oct 19, 19, 3:52 pm
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That is insane and well done for pulling it together so quickly. Were all flights purchased?
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Old Oct 19, 19, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by wtcmor View Post
That is insane and well done for pulling it together so quickly. Were all flights purchased?
Little from column A....little from column B...
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Old Oct 19, 19, 9:37 pm
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Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
Little from column A....little from column B...
Youre a mad man! But weve come to appreciate madness.
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Old Oct 20, 19, 7:43 am
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Awesome start, I'm DC based as well, where did you search, albeit on mobile en route to IAD, for those times of flights and times?
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Old Oct 20, 19, 7:45 am
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Can not wait to read this!!!!!
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Old Oct 20, 19, 7:48 am
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Originally Posted by kcmd View Post
Awesome start, I'm DC based as well, where did you search, albeit on mobile en route to IAD, for those times of flights and times?
Combo of matrix, kayak, hipmunk, united.com, lufthansa.com....

Originally Posted by Madone59 View Post
Can not wait to read this!!!!!
Guess I'd better get writing....since I leave town in a week again!
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Old Oct 20, 19, 12:17 pm
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1. DC to Frankfurt flying Lufthansa First

I had been so busy running around all day after deciding I was going to not only make this work, but getting it booked, that I'd pretty much forgotten to eat all day.

I popped in to the Turkish Airlines lounge at Dulles which I know lots of people are a fan of (and which generally has better food than Lufthansa) but...it was its usual late-afternoon standing room only and the only option would be to share a small table with someone. I don't need that kind of hassle before a hectic but fun trip, so back to Lufthansa it was!

It always bums me out that Lufthansa doesn't have a first class lounge at Dulles, and makes me sort of giggle that they just rope off a section of the lounge for First Class and Hon Circle passengers. Looking at the lounge, which was surprisingly not crowded today.

Food was nothing overly special, but enough to hold me over until the flight. The flower was a nice touch, since I'd be away a short time (and remember how hot ANA likes to keep the cabins) I'd decided to bring my own USB fan with on the trip.

Also, apparently they "don't have anymore" champagne glasses today, so will this be ok? Hah!

Boarding was straight from the lounge which is one of the things I love about Lufthansa at Dulles, and the agents came and got the first class passengers individually before announcing boarding for business class. Nicely done - even without a dedicated lounge!

Lufthansa flight 419
Washington, DC, Dulles (IAD) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
Depart 18:15, Arrive: 08:10 next day, flight time: 7:55
Boeing 747-8, Registration D-ABYD, Manufactured 2012, Seat 2K
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 126,120
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,818,708

Friendly crew immediately upon boarding, and when I got to my seat...wow...wine list was brought over along with macadamia nuts and champagne right away. I could tell this was going to be an extra-good (and photogenic) flight!

Despite a snack in the lounge I was still hungry, so perfect time to explore what's to eat today!

It was a little warm during boarding, but fortunately I had come prepared! The crew got a good laugh out of it.

...and when I say a little warm, I'm not kidding!

Slightly late departure, but a mercifully short taxi, and soon we were lined up on runway 30 ready to take off into the sunset!

This crew was absolutely fantastic. About 15 minutes after takeoff they came around to each passenger in first, introduced the crew, and asked how we would "prefer our flight paced." I told them I probably wouldn't sleep much, if at all, so I'd prefer the meal service to be slower and drawn out. They were more than happy to accommodate, starting with a canap.

About 30 minutes into the flight we were treated to a gorgeous purple sunset above the clouds. Loved the way the purple hue came through the windows across the cabin.

What better way to start a fabulous, spontaneous trip around the world than with caviar service! Smallish portion today, but it seems everyone was enjoying it so this is just the "normal" portion...

Since it was a leisurely meal, I decided I would go with all the appetizers. From right to left, the halibut on vegetable ceviche was super light and tasty. The burrata and baby tomatoes and maitake mushrooms was also outstanding, and the beef tenderloin with baby beets and tartare sauce was also really good. Usually at least one of the three appetizers is a little weird or not great, but tonight they were all super. We were off to a fantastic start for the trip!

I've been skipping the beef on planes lately, but how could I resist "tenderloin of beef with lobster claw." It was really tasty, a nice medium, and the lobster was really good too. I worried the beef might be overcooked like usual, or the lobster rubbery, but my fears were totally unfounded tonight.

I have to admit, I do love seeing the giant cheeseboard wheeled out on Lufthansa, and watching as the cheese is cut up and served. The lovely flight attendant asked me if I would mind, however, if she plated it in the galley as by this point the lights were out as all the other passengers were asleep.

No problem at all - and a delicious selection as always tonight!

Finally, the grand finale, passion fruit panna cotta with butter crumble. Out of this world, and with a glass of Johnny Walker Blue or two it was a perfect way to end the first decadent meal of the trip.

I did end up napping about three hours before landing, which was unexpected, but I also had a hotel room booked since I would have nine hours in transit...and only planned to spend the last three in the lounge.

Managed to get four hours of sleep on top of the three I got on the plane, which was absolutely wonderful. Then...it was time for the short walk to the First Class Terminal (with a stop at Starbucks on the way of course) and enjoy a bit of food and drink...all while chairing my meeting!
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Old Oct 20, 19, 5:16 pm
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Looking forward to this report! LH looks excellent as always in F. Love their plating and glassware too with the crane logo on everything.

Thank you for sharing.
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Old Oct 21, 19, 6:07 am
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Looooving it already...
The new FT benchmark on how to spend a birthday.
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Old Oct 21, 19, 8:52 am
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Wow, this sounds like its going to be one mental hell of a trip!
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Old Oct 21, 19, 10:23 am
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Okay ironmanjt , time for you to grab the number of your shrink for such behaviour, while I will grab some chips and cola to enjoy this TR
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Old Oct 21, 19, 10:57 am
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This has been an amazing read so far, as per usual. Looking forward to the rest.
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Old Oct 21, 19, 2:33 pm
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Great start and Happy Birthday of course!! What a way to go on the 747-8 too #StayClassyDC
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Old Oct 21, 19, 2:50 pm
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Very enjoyable read so far. Im about to embark on a short RTW myself - although in business class.

LHR - DOH - NRT (QR) - LAX (JL). Got a few days seeing a friend in LA then heading home


looking forward to it but know it will be tiring!!
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