Review: American New B767 Business Class Zurich to New York-JFK

It was quite the chaotic morning.  We awoke in Lucerne and headed to the train station for our scheduled 7:05am train ride from Lucern to the Zurich Airport.  I was going to be simple and easy… in theory.

That was until our train broke down.

We had spent the previous week taking trains all over central Europe without incident.  But there we were at 7:30am — stranded on a disabled train — somewhere in between Lucerne and Zurich.

Eventually, we backtracked to the closest station and had to hop the next train to Zurich hbf where we had to catch another train out to the airport.  Long story short, we arrived at ZRH at around 8:50am for a 10:00am flight.

As we approached the American ticket counters, they were about to shut down for the day, but we were able to successfully check in, proceed through immigration / security and take the train ride out to the satellite International terminal at ZRH.  By the time we got to the gate, boarding was underway.

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Oktoberfest… and Three Days in Munich

So this past fall was the sixth year straight that I’ve attended the World’s largest festival — Oktoberfest in Munich.   I’ve been accompanied on these Oktoberfest by a varying number of friends over the years — this year was no exception, as there were six of us including my fiancé, who was making her first trip to the Wiesn.

See this post for ten tips to planning a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich.

In order to combat the ridiculous crowds that are prevalent on the weekends, we decided to arrive into Munich on a Wednesday, and focus our time at the Oktoberfest during the week — on Thursday and Friday.

We arrived from our overnight flight in Lufthansa Business Class from Washington on Wednesday around noon.  From there, we took the S-Bahn directly to the Hackerbrucke station, which is only two blocks from where we stayed — the Four Points Sheraton Munich Central.

The Four Points Sheraton - Munich Central

The Four Points Sheraton – Munich Central

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First Look: Turkish Business Class Istanbul to Washington

After a long, Valentine’s Day weekend in Rome, my fiancé and I flew Turkish Airlines in business class back to Washington-Dulles via Istanbul.  While a full-fledged review is forthcoming, I wanted to share some initial pictures and thoughts of the long haul segment of Monday’s trip — from Istanbul to Washington on the Turkish Airlines A330-300.

I’d heard great things about Turkish Airlines’ catering, and boy — they sure didn’t disappoint, as this was some of the best catering I’ve experienced.  From the shorter, European flight, to the Turkish CIP Lounge at Istanbul, to the long haul flight from Istanbul to Washington, the catering — all day long — was simply fantastic, and first-rate.  I’ll let some of the pictures provide a good teaser for my review, which should be written in the next week or two…

Turkish Business Class Seats on the A330-300

Turkish Business Class Seats on the A330-300

Cute Salt and Pepper Shakers!

Cute Salt and Pepper Shakers!

Appetizers!

A variety of appetizers — these were only three of eight selections!

Amazing entree

Amazing entree – Adana Kebab

Dessert -- what?

Dessert — capping off a fantastic meal

Flying over Northern Canada

Flying over Northern Canada

The catering was amazing.  Simply some of the best I’ve ever had in business class, and even competitive or better than some international first class products that I’ve flown.  The attention to small, cute little details was also appreciated, and made certain aspects of this long flight quite enjoyable.

The business class seat on the A330-300 was a reasonably comfortable way to spend an almost 12-hour flight, but it certainly isn’t an industry-leading product by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve heard mixed reviews about the service on Turkish, but I experienced completely friendly and accommodating service on this flight — though it wasn’t so much the most polished service I’ve had, it was certainly an enjoyable experience.  I’ll get into much, much more detail when I publish my full-fledged review of this flight from Istanbul to Washington in Turkish Business Class.

Review: American 787 Business Class Tokyo to Chicago

After  leisurely three hours in the fantastic JAL First Class lounge at Narita Airport, my delayed departure time for my return trip back home had arrived.  I made the pretty long haul from the JAL First lounge all the way to the AA departure gate for ORD.  It was the very last gate in the main terminal.  As I got to the gate, it was apparent that there would be an additional delay, so I took a seat.

Thirty minutes or so later, the crew boarded.  Another thirty minutes later, it was time to board.  The queue lined up pretty long for Business Class and Priority Access — and the gate agent didn’t really do a great job in organizing the boarding process, but what else is new?  Anyway, after this somewhat lengthy delay, it was time to enjoy the brand new American 787 Business Class.

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Review: Lufthansa Business Class Washington-Dulles to Munich

We arrived at Dulles much later than previously planned due to some absolutely terribly weather in Washington, DC. What usually is about a 75-90 minute trip to Dulles via taxi and the 5A bus, turned into a 3:15 nightmare of a trip from our home in Dupont Circle out to Dulles Airport.

Luckily, we had planned on leaving plenty of cushion to get there, because we wanted to relax in the lounge prior to our flight. As it turned out, we only had about 30 minutes in the lounge before we boarded our A330-300 bound for Munich, directly from the Lufthansa lounge at Dulles.

I’d previously only been into the Senator Lounge at IAD, but we did not have access for this trip, as we were “only” business class passengers, and I no longer have Star Alliance Gold status.  The Lufthansa Business Lounge is figuratively and literally a few steps down from the Senator Lounge, as it’s located downstairs, below the Senator.  It lacks the tarmac views and hot entrees of the Senator Lounge, but was not nearly as crowded and was perfectly fine for a couple of pre-flight drinks.

Lufthansa Business Class Lounge at Washington-Dulles

Lufthansa Business Class Lounge at Washington-Dulles

Dining area at LH Business Class Lounge IAD

Dining area at LH Business Class Lounge IAD

Food selections at IAD Lufthansa Business Lounge

Food selections at IAD Lufthansa Business Lounge

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Ten Tips for Planning an Oktoberfest Trip to Munich

My favorite trip  of the year is always my annual pilgrimage to Munich for the World’s largest festival — Oktoberfest!

This coming year will be the sixth year in a row that I’ve attended the Wiesn in Germany, so I’ve learned on the fly, but at this point,  I think I know what I’m doing pretty well.

Oktoberfest is a 16-day festival that runs every year,  from the late September to the first full weekend in October.  Plan these dates accordingly.

Planning a trip to this foreign festival can be a daunting task, but here are ten tips along with several guides and recommendations: Continue Reading →

How to Book a Flight on Ryanair and Avoid Hidden Fees

Flying on Ryanair is often one of the cheapest ways to fly point-to-point in Europe.  However, the major complaint people always have regarding Ryanair is their never-ending pursuit of ancillary revenue — they nickel and dime the passenger for seemingly everything.  After all, Ryanair is the airline that infamously once tried to charge for use of the toilet, and has floated the idea of standing room only seats on its aircraft, just to fit more passengers onboard.  Another major complaint about Ryanair is the somewhat predatory booking process on their website.    Though the website has a much friendlier user interface than it used to, the booking process can be downright cumbersome!

Ryanair B737-800 at Kerry, Ireland (KIR)

Ryanair B737-800 at Kerry, Ireland (KIR)

This post is meant to walk you through the booking procedure with Ryanair, so you can avoid accidentally paying for extra things that you don’t want!  Once you successfully do this, Ryanair can fly you for really, really cheap within Europe.  I had a decent flight with them last May from Venice-Treviso to Dublin, and again a few weeks ago from County Kerry, Ireland to London-Stansted.    Continue Reading →

Revisited: Booking a Transatlantic Flight on Aer Lingus with British Airways Avios

Updated January 29, 2015:  This particular award will no longer be available once the new British Airways award chart goes into effect for bookings made after April 28, 2015.  This award in business class will increase to 37,500 Avios, each way.


Last summer, I wrote a very popular post on how to book a Transatlantic flight on Aer Lingus with British Airways Avios.  I’m re-visiting that today since I have a bigger audience, and since it’s still relevant.  

Additionally, Aer Linugs recently announced an all-new business class product that it will be installing on its A330 fleet.  This new product will be very competitive in the Transatlantic market, and would make the below type of redemption even more valuable…

I recently reported on my experience flying Aer Lingus business class from Shannon to Boston last month to conclude my European vacation.  I did so with the use of one of the best valued awards that currently exist to get across the Atlantic — British Airways Avios for travel on Aer Lingus.  In the rest of this post, I will detail how one can easily fly from Boston to Ireland in business class for fewer miles than most airlines charge for a one-way in economy.  I’ll hit the following points in this post:

  • The Sweet Spot on British Airways’ Award Chart
  • Checking Award Availability
  • Calling British Airways to Book
  • Fly in Style for Cheap
  • How to get British Airways Avios…. if you don’t fly British Airways

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Review: Le Meridien Munich

For the first time in four years, I opted to stay at a hotel for Oktoberfest not named Four Points Sheraton Munich Central.  And the result?

A mixed bag, really.

The Le Meridien Munich is located pretty darned conveniently – especially for Oktoberfest.  The property is literally across the street from the south entrance of the Haufbahnhof Central Station, and an easy, fifteen minute walk to the center of the city, Marienplatz and the Glockenspiel.  Though it’s not nearly as close at the Four Points Munich Central, the Le Meridien is only about a ten minute walk (4-5 blocks) to the front gates of Oktoberfest at the Theresenwiese.

We attempted to check-in relatively early, due to our morning arrival from the States, but not surprisingly, we were informed that our room would not be ready until 2pm.  Okay, not a big deal.  We then were informed that a roll-away would cost us 60 euros extra PER day.  This was not what the details of our reservation said when I booked the room, and luckily I’d printed out all the confirmation details and had them with me.  The front desk staff member was extremely nice and agreed that our rate did, indeed state that there was no fee for a roll-away…. score! Continue Reading →

Oktoberfest… and Six Other Highlights of Munich

I’ve been pretty open about my love for Oktoberfest in Munich.  As the largest festival in the World, Oktoberfest attracts over 6 million visitors each year during the 17 day event.  The past five years, I’ve spent at least a couple days at the Wiesn, and I’ve always had a blast.  This year was no different.

See this post for ten tips to planning a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich.

Instead of going four consecutive days at Oktoberfest, we decided to mix things up a bit in order to conserve some of our energy later in the trip.  As a result, we decided to spend two of our five days in Munich at the Oktoberfest and use the other days explore Munich.  Continue Reading →