To Germany in Business Class, Back to Houston in Economy – For FREE
[Noob contributor, Ethan, shares his experience traveling from Houston to Frankfurt. Enjoy!]
Part 1: United BusinessFirst Review IAH-FRA
Part 2: “Working the System” on Lufthansa
This post isn’t about free travel in the miles and points way, but it did become a free trip halfway through. More on that in a bit. Over the Thanksgiving break, I surprised my girlfriend with a trip to Germany to propose! Keeping an international trip a secret is no easy task, but it worked out. She was surprised, and she said, “yes!” But that’s not what this post is about.
I booked us seats in business class from Houston to Frankfurt, because business seats are cheap over the week of Thanksgiving, due to the lack of business travel during the holiday week. Business class tickets that normally go for around $5,500 sell for under $2,000! I paid about $1,800 each for our tickets direct from Houston to Frankfurt on United on the outbound, and back on Lufthansa (because I wanted to fly on the A380).
United BusinessFirst Review IAH-FRA
I’m a relative noob to international business class travel, so I don’t have too much to compare the experience with. But I can be a snob with the best of them. United’s BusinessFirst product is very spacious, with a lot of storage area and plenty of room to move about.
For our predeparture beverage, I had a scotch and my fiancée had some wine.
Here’s the menu, with a little of the German for those nerds like me out there:
First came the serving of warmed nuts with drinks:
Then the bread – the first of many. There was bread service between every course, and the selection was excellent. I especially enjoyed the pretzel bread:
Notice the tiny salt and pepper shakers. I was a fan of these.
The salad course was…salad. Pretty straight-forward, but very fresh. The cold appetizers were good, and they had plenty to allow you to take a sampling.
I chose the fish, which was decent, but a little salty. I don’t know if I’d order it again.
My fiancée chose the chicken, which was excellent. I definitely stole some of it. The garlic polenta cake had an interesting flavor to it, but all quite good.
After some cheese and port, came the best part: the world-famous sundae cart. Such a simple thing, but it was really cool to have your choice of ice cream toppings on an airplane. It also helped that the Flight Attendant was nice enough to take a great photo for me. Our FAs were on an extended holiday (5 day layover) on this trip, so they were very excited as well.
The seats lay completely flat, even comfortable enough for me at over 6 feet tall. I had no trouble sleeping, though one tip I would have if you haven’t flown on lie-flats: reposition yourself after you lay the bed flat. If you try to lay in the same spot where you were sitting, it won’t be as comfortable.
The flight attendants had asked ahead of time if we wanted to be awakened for breakfast. I don’t understand why you would turn that down. For breakfast there was fruit, cinnamon rolls, yogurt, and a scrambled egg and sausage plate that was very good.
Shortly after finishing breakfast, we arrived in Frankfurt! A successful beginning to the trip! I really enjoy landing at FRA, because of the large numbers of huge airplanes that frequent the airport, since it’s Lufthansa’s worldwide hub.
I really enjoyed flying United’s BusinessFirst product. I’m led to understand that there are better business class products out there, but those will have to be tried later. Our flight attendants were great, and the entire experience was enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this as a great option. Remember to book over Thanksgiving, should the cheap fares return (or use your miles)!
Of course, there are ways this could turn out to be truly free… stay tuned to find out what happened!
— Noob Master