My time in Johannesburg was over far too quickly – as it always seems to be – and soon I was at the airport preparing for my trip home. Due to work finishing a bit sooner than expected I had moved my flight forward by a day, and in the process moved from SWISS to Lufthansa up to Europe.
I immediately waitlisted both flights for upgrade, but with the flight to Frankfurt at F2 it looked pretty hopeless. The flight from Frankfurt to DC, however, was F6 so looked much more promising! I tried to stick with United over the water to build more flights towards Global Services status, but the United flight only had J class availability and was more than double the price. No thanks!
At check-in, the agent offered to immediately confirm my upgrade out of Frankfurt (didn’t know they could do this!) and called a supervisor to try and clear my upgrade to Frankfurt as well. I found this odd as the flight was down to F0 in the meantime, but wasn’t going to argue. Unfortunately, she couldn’t and told me it would have to wait for the gate.
Got to the South African Airways lounge, where my favourite bartender in the world remembered me instantly and told me to “go sit down, I will bring it to you!” No order, no anything, and he showed up immediately…with two glasses of wine. I might need to break this reputation…
Boarding was absolute chaos as it always seems to be with Lufthansa in Johannesburg (I’m not sure what’s behind this, but it’s always a madhouse with a million pre-boards and salty gate agents) and I asked about the upgrade and politely told “if you get it we will tell you.”
I wasn’t counting on it, so when boarding started I joined the mass rush to the plane…and enjoyed a glass of bubbles while everyone else tried to part the sea and get on board as quickly as possible.
Lufthansa flight 573
Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
Depart 19:00, Arrive: 05:35 next day, flight time: 10:35
Boeing 747-8, Registration D-ABYS, Manufactured 2015, Seat 8D
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 102,131
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,794,719
We had a great crew tonight, and they worked on being quick with service so people could sleep while at the same time being professional. It’s a nice balance. Also, I think Lufthansa might be the only airline I know who puts macadamia nuts in the business class mixed nuts (but why are they always over-roasted in business but perfect in first?!) along with walnuts.
Salmon appetizer was relatively light, but tasty. A nice change from the ever-present prawns lately.
A salad was offered separately (wow, a multi-course meal in business!) which was really tasty with feta cheese and roasted vegetables. Small, but one of the best appetizer salads I’ve had in business class in quite some time!
Grilled beef with chimichurri sauce, asparagus, and polenta. I still don’t understand the recent fascination airlines seem to have with polenta, but maybe it’s trendy again?
Baked bread and butter pudding with vanilla sauce for desert was outstanding, but the cheese course, sadly, was well below-average.
After dinner, I still wasn’t tired, but after a few more hours did manage to fall asleep and get around four hours of sleep in flight. Woke up to breakfast being served, and figured I might as well try it. I went with the roasted vegetable frittata, but it was very meh and I only had a few bites. the deli plate and muesli were more than enough food, however.
After landing, I did my usual with a seven hour layover and headed straight to the Sheraton Hotel for a solid four more hours of sleep. Feeling nice and rested, I walked to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal since my upgrade had already been confirmed.
I do love what I call the “Wall of Whiskey” that greets you upon entering the terminal.
But first, a glass of rosé and the seasonal duck to kick things off.
I wasn’t terribly hungry, but also didn’t want to pass up the usual deliciousness in the lounge, so grabbed a seat and helped myself to some snacks from the buffet. Mmmm quail eggs!
I had to order it because, I couldn’t imagine Tom Kha Gai soup in a lounge in Germany could be good. I was right. It was outstanding…and amazingly spicy just as I requested!
After lunch, it was time for a quick shower (I had maximized sleeping time in the hotel room, and went straight to the lounge sans shower) and some whiskey tasting to round off another outstanding Lufthansa lounge experience. So much choice!
It never gets old being driven from the lounge to the plane, and taking a selfie below the plane that’s about to deliver you more than 4,000 miles away!
Lufthansa flight 418
Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) to Washington, DC, Dulles (IAD)
Depart 13:15, Arrive: 16:05, flight time: 8:50
Boeing 747-8, Registration D-ABYO, Manufactured 2014, Seat 2K
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 106,212
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,798,800
Boarded….and love seeing the reflection of the plane in the window!
Pre-departure mixed nuts…odd…usually first on Lufthansa is macadamia nuts only, but today included almonds and cashews. (…and the macadamia nuts were perfect as always in first…not over toasted!)
What’s for lunch today?
I may have enjoyed the champagne a little TOO much before departure…that or it was the whiskey tasting in the lounge…
….beautiful sight on pushback from the gate
Off we go!
Once airborne, I noticed there was a second champagne on offer as well (but only one bottle) and the purser was a total character “I call her Alex, because she is beautiful. Perhaps you’d like to take a picture with her?”
Lunch started with an amuse bouche of tuna tartar.
Followed by caviar service with a rather generous helping.
Alex also kept me company during the appetizers, which today were roast beef with asian glass noodles, tuna with mashed green peas, and “coconut mousse with curry bok choy, cliantro, and ginger mayonnaise.” The last was a bit odd, but they were all pretty tasty.
Palate cleanser of sorbet and champagne before the main event.
The butter gets me right in the feels every time.
I decided to go with the tomato and pine nut crusted tenderloin of beef which was delicious, and almost perfect at a nice pink medium.
Lufthansa first’s always-delicious cheese cart. It’s hard to pick a winner in this category between Emirates, SWISS, and Lufthansa. Now that would be an amazing trip….
Desert was outstanding – which has been the case on many of my flights lately (with the obvious exception of United and their sundaes which are basic, but good) – iced dome of white chocolate on curried pineapple carpaccio with crumbles.
Napped and worked for a few hours, and then it was time for some light bites before landing. I didn’t really need them, but it’s so hard to say no. Started with a “gourmet salad with water melon balls, olives, baked feta, and grape seed oil vinaigrette.”
Couldn’t resist trying the “club sandwich” which was incredibly soggy and disappointing. Not often I’m let down in Lufthansa First, but this one was a huge miss by a mile.
After years of not knowing that Lufthansa offers arriving passengers at Dulles a private car to immigration instead of having to take the shuttle I’m now much wiser, and sought out the agent outside the jetway, and got one more pic of my beautiful plane. YO! this was an awesome flight! (look at the wheel well…)
…and with that I was home…for a very short two nights before heading out on the road for the last instalment of this epic six weeks of travel. Next up: off to India!