Edit: Oops, I put 787 instead of 747. I just read an article on the 787 and I’m still jet lagged. My apologies for any confusion.
Man, was I excited to fly on Lufthansa’s
787-747-8i! I might have been more excited about sampling this planes new business class than going to Croatia. Maybe. I’ll never tell. Lufthansa just started flying the 787-747-8i this past June, AND they have unveiled their new business class with completely lie flat seats. Lufthansa’s regular business class gets a bad rep for being outdated and not having these seats. First world problems, right?
The Plane Specs
The Boeing 747-8i is the longest passenger plane to date. The plane has many new innovations, like the newly developed wing with raked wing tips which helps reduce fuel consumption. It also has a newly designed engine that reduces the amount of emissions and noise. I have to tell you that when we took off it, was as smooth as driving a BMW. The way the plane accelerated on the runway was flawless. And once we began our ascent, within seconds we were soaring thousands of feet in the air. It was the smoothest and quietest flight I’ve ever been on. Jordan and I actually forgot we were on an airplane. But that could’ve been the free champagne.
We were two kids in a candy store inside the 747-8i. It was luxurious, new, and smelled of burgundy. Ok, it didn’t smell of burgundy, but it was a pleasure to be on the plane. And with Lufthansa providing the service, it was top notch.
I chose two seats in the middle on the lower deck. I used seatguru.com to help choose the best seats. These seats weren’t located by a lavatory and provided a little additional shoulder room. We had all the room we needed and actually wished we were a little closer. Next time, I’ll pick two seats on the side, but if I was traveling alone- I would definitely go with the middle for the added space.
There was more than enough overhead storage space and stow away space by our seats. There was even a place to hang my jacket, so it wouldn’t get wrinkled (too late).
Leg room, oh the leg room. I had leg room for miles and even had a built in foot rest. This is my biggest complaint about economy seating. I just hate my knees rubbing up on the seat in front of me for hours.
The seats were a-m-a-z-i-n-g as well. They were completely lie flat seats. I was able to catch a couple hours of sleep, but I almost didn’t even want to sleep since I was enjoying myself so much. You could adjust your seats in a multitude of ways. I enjoyed this feature, so I could finally get some much needed lumbar support when I’m flying. Diva. Jordan and I entertained ourselves by playing with all the nobs and buttons.
Food and Beverages
Within the first 5 minutes of being seated, we were offered a glass of champagne and water. Score. Who doesn’t like celebrating a trip to Paris with a glass of champagne and a glass of water (so you can rehydrate because you know there is more wine coming). After the champagne, and once we were in the air, the attendants came around with the hot towels. I love this amenity. I really enjoy using a hot towel on my hands and face. That sounded strange typing out. I just never know what to do with them when I’m done, because there is usually a few minute window before the attendants come back and pick them up. Anyone else?
Within an hour, the attendants started coming around with food. I gotta say, I sometimes forget to take pics of the food. I just get too anxious. For my starter, I went with the “seared shrimp with pico de gallo with wasabi guacamole and wakame.” This is my favorite serving and it was accompanied by my favorite Lufthansa bread option- the pretzel bread roll. The grape, walnuts, and cheese were a perfect pairing and complimented my glass- ahem, glasses- of french red wine.
For my entree, I went with the “korean style spiced chicken, white bean ragout, swiss chard.” It was so-so. I actually didn’t finish it and saved some room for dessert, which was “chocolate pot de creme.” It was delicious.
Since this was an overnight flight, we received breakfast an hour before landing as well. It was your pretty standard Euro breakfast, consisting of turkey, a crossaint, fruit, cheese, and orange juice.
Amenities and Entertainment
When you’re in business and first class, you will receive an amenity bag. Perks. In the Lufthansa business class amenity bag, you will find a toothbrush, ear plugs, lip balm, head phone sanitation covers, and a pair of socks. I love the socks and always instantly put them on. There’s something about a fresh pair of socks.
Each seat had their own tv monitor and access to on demand movies, tv shows, and music. There was enough entertainment to keep us busy for our 7 hour flight. The overall entertainment options were more than sufficient and the screen was large enough and tilted in a way that made it easy to watch.
Jordan and I had a blast in Lufthansa’s new business class on the 747-8i. It was a great way to start our vacation, and honestly we weren’t ready to get off the plane when we landed (ok, maybe she was). The service was exceptional and we were very comfortable throughout the duration of our flight.
Jordan used 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points earned from her Chase Sapphire PreferredSM and Ink Bold® Charge Card to transfer to United. I used 100,000 US Airways Dividend Miles earned from the Grand Slam promotion last year. This was a great use of our miles, because there is no way we could ever afford to pay $$$ for these tickets. This was a multi-thousand dollar flight that we took using miles. This is why I obsess about earning miles and points and love helping others do the same.
I can’t wait to fly this bird and business class again!
— Noob MasterRead More
If you have miles or points, it’s imperative that you understand how to use them AND how to get the most value out of them. One of the best ways to get full value out of your hard earned miles is to fly partner airlines.
If you have miles in one program, you aren’t tied to only using your miles with that specific program. What? Yep. Cray Cray. You see, most airlines are in *alliances.* An alliance is a group of airlines that let other airlines use their miles/points for theirs. Fantastic.
Now, other airlines may limit the number of award seats, but that’s the case when booking on a specific airline anyway. In some cases, you have to call in and speak to a rep when booking partner flights, which can result in a fee.
Let me give you an example of how this works.
I earn Ultimate Rewards points with my Sapphire Preferred and Ink cards and its a beautiful thing. Ultimate Rewards points are great for international travel because United is a transfer partner. However, I don’t necessarily want to fly United. Why? It’s no secret that international carriers are superior products when flying. The planes are nicer, the staffs seem to actually care, etc. US airlines have a ways to go to catch up with the customer service provided by international airlines.
Anyway, the point is- just because you have United miles, doesn’t mean you have to fly United. Besides opening your eyes to better planes and products, you now have more opportunities to use your miles. Options are a very good thing when it comes time to book an award flight.
I was able to cash in some of my United miles for Lufthansa and Singapore Airline tickets recently. Incredible value and the whole reason I’m addicted to this miles game. Well, destinations are important too.
Searching for availability takes know-how. Not every airline site shows availability for partners, so you gotta know where to look (below). But even then, in most cases you will have to call and have a rep book your ticket. If there is a fee, trust me, it’s definitely worth it if you can get on a killer carrier. It’s definitely smart to have your flights written down so you can spoon feed the agent. TRUST me on this. Time saver.
There are 3 main airline alliances. Star Alliance, One World, and Sky Team. Below are the Star Alliance participating airlines and the sites best used to search for availability. United and US Airways are the US Star Alliance carriers.
The Star Alliance consists of these 27 airlines:
- Adria Airways JP
- Aegean Airlines A3
- Air Canada AC
- Air China CA
- Air New Zealand NZ
- ANA NH
- Asiana Airlines OZ
- Austrian OS
- Avianca AV,Taca Airlines TA
- Blue1 KF
- Brussels Airlines SN
- Copa Airlines CM
- Croatia Airlines OU
- EGYPTAIR MS
- Ethiopian Airlines ET
- LOT Polish Airlines LO
- Lufthansa LH
- Scandinavian Airlines SK
- Singapore Airlines SQ
- South African Airways SA
- SWISS LX
- TAM Airlines JJ
- TAP Portugal TP
- THAI TG
- Turkish Airlines TK
- United UA
- US Airways US
Earning miles/points for Star Alliance Flights
The easiest way for us “miles junkies” to earn points for Star Alliance travel is to have and use the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Ink Bold® Business Card, and Ink Plus® Business Card. These cards earn Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred to United. You can also have the United and US Airways airline cards.
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card earns starpoints which can be transferred to US Airways. This isn’t always a great option, but there was recently a bonus to transfer your points. Also, with the SPG card, you get a 5,000 miles bonus when you transfer 20,000 miles. Not bad.
You can also transfer Membership Rewards to Air Canada Aeroplan (beware of fuel surcharges) to have access to Star Alliance flights. In addition, you can transfer AC points to US Airways for a decent rate on points.com. The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card is the standard rewards card that earns Membership Rewards. And you can now earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points for a limited time with The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN.
No matter what card you have or miles you’re earning, there is almost always a way to find a transfer option that will get you access to the Star Alliance.
Searching for Star Alliance Flights
These are the best sites to search for Star Alliance (aka, *A) award flights:
- United’s site (beware of the phantom Lufthansa first class availability);
- Aeroplan.com, also has a good Star Alliance search engine;
- And the best option, the ANA tool (All Nippon Airways) – but you must sign up first. If you see Lufthansa first class on ANA, you’re golden.
TIP: When searching for award flights, always search segment by segment. For example, I don’t search Austin to Paris. I would search Houston or Dulles to Paris. Always start for the longest leg, usually the leg over the water. Then work your way backwards. Once you have searched and found a segment you like, write it down and go on to the next segment. Once you have your whole itinerary written down, you are ready to call in to a rep and spoon feed them.
The reason you search segment by segment is that most online sites limit the available routings if you’re searching for many segments.
Star Alliance Hubs
It’s also important to know airline hubs so you can know which cities to search. Here’s the list of Star Alliance hubs from the Star Alliance website:
- US Airways: Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Washington D.C
- Adria: Ljubljana, Pristina
- Aegean: Athens, Thessaloniki
- Air Canada: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary
- Air China: Beijing, Chengdu,Shanghai
- Air New Zealand: Auckland, Los Angeles, Hong Kong
- ANA: Tokyo (Haneda, Narita)
- Asiana: Incheon, Seoul
- Austrian: Vienna
- Blue1: Helsinki
- Brussels: Brussels
- Copa: Panama City, Panama; Bogota, Colombia; San Salvador, El Salvador;
- Croatia: Zagreb
- Egypt Air: Cairo
- LOT: Warsaw
- Lufthansa: Frankfurt, Munich
- SAS: Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm
- Singapore: Singapore Changi
- South African: Johannesburg
- Spanair: Barcelona, Madrid
- Swiss: Zurich, Geneva, Basel
- Taca: Lima, Peru; and San Jose, Costa Rica.
- TAM: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia
- TAP: Lisbon, Porto
- Thai: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai
- Turkish: Istanbul, Ankara
- United: Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C., New York/Newark, Houston, Cleveland and Guam
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to airline alliances and the Star Alliance. Points and miles are valuable and with the help of alliances they can be even more valuable. Plus, knowing and using partner airlines will give you more options when booking an award ticket. Options are great. Trust me, you want options when you’re looking for an award ticket.
— Noob MasterRead More