February 6, 2017

At Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal, at Frankfurt Airport — "When you arrive, a valet parks your car. A personal assistant checks you in and accompanies you through security."

"Inside are amenities found in the airline’s first-class lounges and more, including a bathtub with a rubber duck (coveted by toddlers and business travelers alike), a dining room with food by Michelin-starred chefs and a bar with more than 120 whiskeys. When it’s time for your flight, you don’t walk to your gate; you’re chauffeured — usually in a Porsche or Mercedes."

From "The Airport Lounge Scene: What You Get and How to Get In" (in the NYT).

Here's the top-rated comment:
The average business class or airline club lounge is far from tranquil. They are almost always packed, noisy and messy. Often you have to wait for a seat. The food is generally both sparse and unappealing. You must pay for drinks beyond the most basic swill. Over the past 10-15 years the clubs and lounges have spiraled downward, just like the airlines that provide them.

35 comments:

Curious George said...

Speaks to how much air travel blows that they have to do all that. Glad those years are behind me.

Curious George said...

Hookers would be a nice addition.

Michael said...

Many airline clubs are indeed cramped. My solution is to return to the terminal and find a nice place to sit that is not crowded. Internationally I find the clubs both spacious and very useful. I am not aware of any US airport having a "first class terminal" and I fly first class most of the time. It is sad to think anyone expects that an airline club is going to offer great food. Only a journalist would have such a stupid expectation. In the 1980s Pan Am offered carved at your seat prime rib which followed caviar. Gone are the days....

Original Mike said...

"The average business class or airline club lounge is far from tranquil. They are almost always packed, noisy and messy. Often you have to wait for a seat. The food is generally both sparse and unappealing. You must pay for drinks beyond the most basic swill."

True. But like getting old, it beats the alternative.

MadisonMan said...

I try to schedule flights that don't have long layovers: less than an hour. So why would I want to go to an out-of-the-way lounge for 15-20 minutes? For a free drink? Meh.

Original Mike said...

"I try to schedule flights that don't have long layovers: less than an hour. So why would I want to go to an out-of-the-way lounge for 15-20 minutes? For a free drink? Meh."

I do the opposite, because hanging around the lounge is infinitely better than missing your connecting flight (IMO).

Kathryn51 said...

I don't know about Frankfurt, but I had to transfer in Amsterdam once (on Lufthansa) and it took over an hour - we took a bus from the plane to the terminal. And then (since we were traveling from the UK to Germany) we had to go through Customs check. We were running to our gate - got on the last bus (once again) to get on the airplane. Fortunately, I was travelling with a business partner that knew the airport quite well and understood where to go - I would never have made the connection if I had been alone.

So, I understand the personal chauffeur to the plane for First Class.

P.S. I love the Alaska Airlines clubroom at Sea-Tac airport. Although busy, it is not nearly as packed as the departure gates.

CJinPA said...

This is a world that is foreign to me. The few times I travel, I'm grateful for whatever food they serve me.

When our kids move out, my wife and I hope to do the traveling we've had to put off. Problem is, the list of places to go keeps shrinking. Paris? London? Berlin? They won't be Paris, London and Berlin by that point.

So, this is all academic.

Michael K said...

Those lounges are often filled with upgraded frequent flyers.

I used to use them with my Platinum Card and frequent flyer status. Sometimes, I would just go out and find a seat in the terminal.

The Air France clubs were better and I used to fly Business Class to Paris. Not any more.

harryo said...

They could give me oral sex and I still wouldn't enter the gulags they call airports.

I'd rather fly private jet if you are going to spend that kind of money.

Xmas said...

The best one I've been in was the Delta Sky Club at Narita airport. It was a nice that I was able to bring in two guest with me (and another one of us could bring in one guest) as out of the 5 of us, 3 were severely hungover from our last night spent in Taipei.

Yancey Ward said...

Yogi Berra said it best- they are so crowded no one goes there anymore.

DrMaturin said...

The Air France clubs were better and I used to fly Business Class to Paris. Not any more.

The Air France lounge in Charles de Gaulle is superb.

Xmas said...

I also really appreciated the showers in the big KLM lounges at Amsterdam-Schipol. I'd usually take an overnight flight from Boston to Schipol and then have a 2 hour layover there before heading on to wherever. There's nothing quite like a shower and a change of clothes to make the next leg of the flight go better.

rehajm said...

There is a wide range of quality. US carrier domestic lounges shouldn't be compared to International lounges from carriers like Emirates of Cathay Pacific. I've been quite pleased with the Centurion lounges in LAS and LGA. Cocktails and meals are restaurant quality with a nicer atmosphere than waiting in the terminal or a Delta lounge...

It is true of most of them when you hit them at peak connection times they are too busy and not the advertised tranquil oases.

traditionalguy said...

We recently watched Clint Eastwood's, Sully. Air Travel seems sort of different now.

Good man, that Sullenberger.

Original Mike said...

Qantas international business class lounge in Sydney isn't sedate, but good free food and drink.

Eric said...

I recently connected at Frankfurt. My gate was one of those where they bus you out to your plane parked on the tarmac. When our bus arrived at planeside there was a nice Mercedes. FYI, the Mercedes occupant had to climb the stairs to the plane by himself.

Fernandinande said...

a rubber duck (coveted by toddlers and business travelers alike)

That sort of writing is coveted by toddlers.

MountainMan said...

I have had three really good experiences in airport lounges, all outside the US.. One was at Narita in Tokyo, about 10 years ago. Plenty of seating, free drinks, petty good food, good WiFi. The second, return flight on same trip at Seoul Incheon airport in Korea. Also one of the most beautiful airports i have been through. Then, about two years ago, had about a 5-hour layover in Dubai with Emirates. Business class lounge was big, spacious, great bar, great food, good WiFi, excellent service. Would definitely connect through there again and would again fly Emirates anywhere, best business class on any airline I have ever flown. Nicest planes, too.

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

BTW, If y'all see the red carpet and dude w/ white gloves, but no signage re "special" 1st class club thingy, that's not for you.


That's for folks that can't afford to fly private.

Lyin'PB_Ombudsman said...

LAX

Balfegor said...

Re: Michael:

Many airline clubs are indeed cramped. My solution is to return to the terminal and find a nice place to sit that is not crowded. Internationally I find the clubs both spacious and very useful. I am not aware of any US airport having a "first class terminal" and I fly first class most of the time. It is sad to think anyone expects that an airline club is going to offer great food.

I don't fly first class often, although I have been upgraded a couple times. I have had the opportunity to use United's First Class lounges, though, since I was United Global Services for a few years some years back. Their domestic first class lounge in LAX (the only one I have sampled in the US) is considerably nicer than their ordinary business class/Star Alliance lounges, but I would rank them slightly below ANA's business class/Star Alliance lounges in Narita or Haneda. While the food at ANA may not be top quality, I am fond of their curry rice, and their udon and ramen are decent. The riceballs are also good. I think in the Narita lounges, they serve sushi starting at 5 pm, but my usual flight departs around 4 or 5 pm, so I am always long gone before they bring out the sushi. The one I usually use is not as crowded as the United lounge at Narita and of course, it has better food.

I will say, though, I am looking forward to the continuing rollout of the Polaris Business Class service at United. The free pajamas are quite nice, and while it is a small touch, the extra pillows do help. If the lounge upgrades are equal to the service upgrades on the plane, it will be a nice bump up for United. But we will see.

Original Mike said...

"The free pajamas are quite nice, ..."

PJs are nice for keeping your clothes fresh, but switching into them in an airplane lav is a challenge.

Balfegor said...

ALSO, for people who use United and use Amtrak regularly, SelectPlus status on Amtrak (10,000 miles, or 10 round-trips between NY Penn Station and Washington Union Station in a year) gets you free access to the United lounges even on domestic tickets. A useful perk. I don't think the NYT article mentions this, although I suspect for much of their readership, it is the single easiest way to get access to an airport lounge.

Balfegor said...

Re: Original Mike:

PJs are nice for keeping your clothes fresh, but switching into them in an airplane lav is a challenge.

I thought so too, but I did it for the first time last month (when they gave me the free set), and it was actually not as odd as I had expected. I used the ordinary lavatory, but I suspect if you use the larger handicapped (?) lavatory, it would be even easier. It did make it easier to sleep since I was less concerned about coming out the other end completely disheveled.

fivewheels said...

I'm just a guy. I go to the gate and sit there until the plane leaves. This sounds like an ode to overprivilege to my ears.

"You must pay for drinks beyond the most basic swill."

Well, yeah. I'm accustomed to paying for my drinks, it's not that bad. And I'm not such an a-hole that I would haughtily turn my nose up at a free Dewar's because I'm accustomed to 21-year-old Balvenie.

heyboom said...

The only thing I expect from the airline I'm flying with is to get me from Point A to Point B. alive and in one pieced. I appreciate that above everything else.

Air travelers are such spoiled whiners anymore!

EDH said...

The stark contrast between story and comment reminds me how the NYT also parrots the "scandal free" Obama administration meme.

readering said...

Got a United affinity credit card that comes with a couple of day passes per year to United Club. Never use them.

Mike Smith said...

United (a terrible airline) now has a very limited number of Polaris Clubs which are first-class and business class lounges. I guess they figured it was easier to build some nice clubs than fix the airline.

Josephbleau said...

The Air Canada Maple Leaf club at Toronto is the best, a multiple tap of Moosehead and Guiness every 5 paces.

FleetUSA said...

I agree with the "top rated comment". Actually it is better to find an used gate and quietly read.

Craig Landon said...

Most of my overseas flying was done in a single-seat light attack bomber, with a cramped stateroom at each terminus...but I bet I had more fun. Airport concourses and departure gates were fine, by comparison...more interesting people.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

United clubs have delicious tabbouleh. I think about it when I'm not there.

I also like the cheese selections and the bottomless diet Coke at the bar ( I don't drink alcohol).