Part 1: Lufthansa and Air Canada to Wroclaw, Poland
Part 2: Red and Blue Design Hotel Prague, Pakat Suites Vienna, Holiday Inn Krakow and Monopol in Wroclaw
Part 3 coming soon: United Airlines Business Class and Lot Polish Airlines back home
It’s been a few years since my last visit to see my family in Poland and I was looking forward to seeing my new nephew so I decided to look for flights. With enough Aeroplan miles I started checking my options.
Last summer when I made this reservation an Aeroplan business class seat cost 80,000 points, now it’s 90,000. Keep in mind you get a stopover while in Europe so you are able to have 2 destinations. It’s a fairly good use of points.
There were a few options from Calgary to Wroclaw and back in Executive First on Air Canada but since Air Canada has some of the highest fuel surcharges this would cost around $625 in fees. So I looked into flights departing from Seattle to avoid this charge and found a nice routing with Lufthansa on the way there and Air Canada on the way back.
This worked out to only $165 in fees because I was flying out of the US and not Canada. Even though I had a major segment on Air Canada and was flying back into Calgary because the ticket starts in the US, rules and charges are completely different.
Departing from Seattle adds on an extra segment but I used 500 Airmiles to fly there. I also chose to fly to Vancouver first and then Seattle. If I took a direct flight from Calgary the connection time was too tight. But once again, I used Airmiles to fly there so it was no big deal. I can sometimes get 500 Airmiles at Safeway in one visit while spending around $120 on groceries.
In total, I spent $243 to fly to Europe in business class. For comparison sake I checked into what this exact same itinerary would cost me and it worked out to over $11,000.
When I arrived at the Calgary airport to check-in for my Vancouver flight, the agent checked my luggage for all 4 flights. The short hop to Vancouver was nice. I sat in the first row of economy, got a full can of soda, and the seat next to me was empty.
Vancouver has recently changed their system for US connecting passengers from domestic flights. You no longer have to exit security, retrieve your luggage and recheck it. Now you have a fairly long walk to get to an agent who shows you your luggage on a screen so you can identify it. Then you go through security and customs. This is a lot easier than the other way most airports in Canada still use.
I got on a really old Dash 8 series for the short hop to Seattle which is a route I’ve never actually flown before. I had a 5 hour layover at Seattle which I’ve visited quite a few times before and I think it may be one of the ugliest major airports in the USA. For a town that built a Boeing you would expect a bit more from SEA airport.
Check-in for Lufthansa still wasn’t open so I ended up getting really familiar with the departure terminal. Once I had my boarding pass and a priority security stamp I headed to the British Airways lounge in Seattle which Lufthansa uses.
The terminal where this lounge is located and the departure gate of our flight reminds me of the grand projects from the communist countries in the 60s. The terminal is a rectangle with low ceilings and was very crowded.
The BA lounge is on the 2nd floor and you can take an elevator or stairs to get there. As I entered, there was a BA, Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific agent with welcoming smiles. They have a dedicated area for first class so I walked by into the business class side.
This lounge has curved windows which give a nice view of the airport and taxiways. It was really sunny in Seattle so all the blinds were closed and you couldn’t see well. There was no hot food or sandwiches, just the usual cheeses, crisps (This is a BA lounge after all), nuts, crackers and most importantly booze.
Most of the seating in this lounge is setup with a table and 4 chairs surrounding it. It was fairly full so I had to team up with a gent who was avidly playing a game on his iPad. A boarding call was made in the lounge for our flight and we were all escorted to the gate by the Lufthansa agent.
Initially when I booked this flight it was scheduled on an Airbus A330 which has internet onboard. I was looking forward to using that WiFi signal on this 10 hour flight but because the Icelandic volcanoes were acting up the plane was substituted for an Airbus A340 which is the longest plane in the world and has 4 engines. With 4 engines the chances of one failing due to the volcanic ash would make our flight safer according to staff.
As we boarded I got in my bulkhead seat right behind first class. I chose the aisle middle seat. Lufthansa has a 2 – 2 – 2 layout so with the aisle seat in the middle you never have to worry about anyone crawling over you or having to do that yourself.
I had a glass of water and noticed business class was about 85% full. With 4 small engines our aircraft made a slow and steady takeoff and the seat belt sign was turned off once we reached cruising alititude. The crew quickly sprung into action and my first Warsteiner beer was in my hand quickly. I put the seat in lazy boy recline mode and started to plan my in-flight entertainment schedule.
The flight attendant serving me did everything with a smile and was very professional. When she served my Warsteiners she would always say “With pleasure” or “Enjoy” and she worked the aisle often throughout the flight offering refills. Since most of this flight is during the day considering local departure time I noticed about half my cabin was awake for the full flight. The front business class cabin on this plane only has 2 rows so it has a nice and private atmosphere.
Lufthansa business class seats currently are “angled lie flats.” What this means is they are fully flat but in bed mode they aren’t horizontal with the planes floor. I’ve heard some people say since the plane flies with the nose slightly up this is actually better but I still think the exact opposite.
After my early morning departure and this being the 3rd flight of the day I was hoping to nap for a few hours. Unfortunately, in this seat I just sag to the bottom because of the angle and then have extra pressure on my feet which just doesn’t work for me. Over the years I’ve figured out to recline the seat so my ass has support and I no longer slide down. I still might be close to 150 degrees in this position but I prefer it.
The in-flight entertainment on the screen has your usual mix of TV shows, music and movies and is adequate unless you are a very frequent traveller with Lufthansa.
The amuse bouche (Prestarter?) was shrimp and poached salmon. The salad which followed was fresh. With the main I chose the steak and once again it was overdone but the mashed potatoes were nice. I skipped dessert and breakfast prior to arrival. Thanks to all the wakeboard videos, TV shows and movies I had on my ipad, this flight passed by very fast.
When I landed in Frankfurt I was in dire need of a shower to freshen up so I went to the business class lounge. After putting my name on the list and getting handed a buzzer I went back into the lounge to pour myself another Warsteiner. Since it was 9am I had a few glances but before I could even finish it my shower buzzer was ringing.
The shower was freshly cleaned prior to my use and I enjoyed it even though the water had a tendency to get hotter at times. I put on a new pair of socks and started my trek to the intra European Lufthansa flight terminal. Once there I headed to the business class lounge which was packed, plates and glasses were overflowing on every table. As I walked to the very end I noticed the same guy I sat next to in Seattle and he had a free seat open so I joined him.
I noticed his Warsteiner was running dry so I offered to bring him another while I put my stuff down. Next thing you know we are chatting about how he sells container shipping vessels and I wish him well as he headed off for his flight to Athens.
I left the lounge for my connection to Wroclaw. This was a remote gate so we took a bus to get there. The plane was an E190 and was about 60% full with only me sitting in business class. I did get a nice cold cut snack on the flight and a few more Warsteiner refills. The FA actually refilled my beer right before landing and told me to hold on to the glass on landing!
For those who haven’t experienced European business class it’s the exact same seat as in economy but they block off the seat next to you. At the major airports for these flights you will most likely depart from a remote stand compared to a traditional gate jet way since those are reserved for the bigger planes serving international routes. This means you will not have any priority boarding or departure since you are riding on the same bus as everyone else on the flight.
Overall the Lufthansa crew were very accommodating and I enjoyed this trip. I prefer the Air Canada and the ex-Continental, now United 777, seats for sleeping but the crew on many of my Lufthansa flights have showed their pleasure to serve their customers rather than the “We are here for your safety and not much else” attitude you see often on many North American airlines.