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Posts: 252
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2003 10:09 pm


Thu May 12, 2005 7:02 am

It was time to go to Germany for some training again and this time I decided to make it a little more interesting. I have to fly ORD-FRA at least 8 times a year for work and so I’ve already tried most of the non-stops from Chicago (LH 433, 431, 435, 437 and UA 944 & 940). To make this trip a little more exciting I decided I would fly through SFO. I chose to travel via SFO for a couple of reasons: 1) I really like longer flights on the way over as it give me a chance to get some really sleep on the plane before arriving in Germany and going straight to work; 2) It would be a great opportunity to try out the upper deck of a 747 –something I’ve wanted to do since I was in 5th grade.

Since I would be backtracking on the first leg, my company wouldn’t pay for the ORD-SFO segment so I would have to non-rev out to San Francisco the day before and visit with a friend. Just to be safe, I got several backup tickets on AA through DFW and F9 through DEN. Ultimately, my first choice to non-rev is UA, since it’s the cheapest and I have the best boarding priority of any domestic airline. They also offered mostly wide-bodies to SFO, which is always my first consideration when flying as non-rev because of my chances of getting up front.

My original itinerary looked like this:
ORD-SFO (UA) non-rev

It ended up being…
ORD-SJC (UA A319) Economy
SFO-MUC (LH A340-600) Business
MUC-FRA (LH A300-600) Economy
FRA-IAD (UA 747-400) Business, Upper Deck
IAD-ORD (UA 767-300) Business

The day of my trip finally came and I arrived at ORD about 1:45 for the 3pm flight to SFO. The airport wasn’t crazy busy, but was definitely more hectic than I usually experience. The check-in line had about 10 people in front of me and the line was moving very slowly. I could see that there was only 1 check-in agent working over 8 of the easy check-in machines. See looked extremely stressed out and I couldn’t blame her. Finally made my way up to the front, but since I was flying stand-by I couldn’t use the Easy Check-In machines and had to wait for the frazzled agent to check me in with my paper tickets. Being a non-rev I wanted to be as accommodating and invisible as possible so when the agent looked at me I just quickly flashed my airline ID and said “I know you’re busy, take your time.” That put a smile on her face and a minute later she came back to check me in for UA149 ORD-SFO. She was very friendly and admitted how stressed out she was. Thus, I didn’t bother asking her about my chances of making the flight - besides I already knew my chances of getting on the 777 were horrible because I had called just before arriving at the airport and economy was oversold by 20, First and Business were full and there were 6 other stand-by passengers ahead of me. Also, I really didn’t care if I made this flight or not and was prepared to spend 7 hours at ORD, which has happened to me more times than I like to admit.

The security line was huge but was moving pretty quickly. I noticed the standard “SSSS” on my boarding management card, which I expected but this time it turned out for the better. I was brought to the secondary check area and was the only one waiting. I was done with security more quickly than I would have been had I not gotten the secondary search. I then made my way to gate B16, saw the LH flights leaving for Frankfurt and Duesseldorf (BBJ), and checked with the agents at the gate to see if any stand-bys had been cleared. They hadn’t, and after about five minutes of waiting, I heard the dreaded announcement asking for volunteers to take the 8pm flight to SFO. I didn’t even bother waiting at the gate any longer because I knew I had no chance in hell to make that flight. I knew there was a non-stop to SJC leaving at 2:50. So I hustled over to C26 and got the gate with 12 mins left before departure. I asked the gate agent if there was any room on the flight, he checked and told me to wait right by the door and that it did actually look good. He was so nice - I could tell that was sympathetic to the stresses of nov-reving. He told the agent working the door “This is Kevin, here’s his info. If these people don’t show up in 2 mins put him on.” The two passengers didn’t show and I was assigned seat 9A in economy plus. First class was full but I couldn’t have cared less because I was just happy to have a seat. Because I boarded so late all of the bins were full and I had to check my bag - no biggy since I would have to wait at SJC for my ride anyway.

May 1, 2005
Aircraft: A319
Seat: 9A
Load Factor: 99% (1 open seat)

Just after I took my seat the door was closed and we began our push back. We had a very quick taxi to the runway and only had maybe 1 aircraft ahead of us - something I'm really not used to at ORD. We soon started our take off roll and I was shocked by how quiet the engines were on the A319. I’ve flown them many times but for some reason on this flight they seemed to be very quiet.

This flight had the buy-on-board option which at first I scoffed at, but then realized how hungry I was. They flight attendants handed out menus which listed the four snack-box options. I chose the “QuickPick” option for $5 and was pleasantly surprised. It contained trail mix, chips and salsa, a cookie, beef jerky, and pretzels with cheese. I felt it was definitely worth the five bucks and I have no problem paying for food if it’s going to help my favorite airline with reducing its costs and get out of bankruptcy. Also, I would rather have the option to buy food on board then to go 4-hours with nothing to eat.

The service on-board was very friendly and attentive. The two flight attendants in the economy cabin served drinks twice and made an effort to chat with the passengers. The rest of the flight was uneventful and we landed about 20 minutes early in SJC.

My original intention was to take UA900 SFO-FRA, however about a week before the trip I decided to book myself on LH459 SFO-MUC as well, and would decide later what flight I would take. The day came and I decided that I would rather try the A346 from SFO because having the flat bed would allow me to sleep better during the flight. Before this trip, I had flown LH’s new business seat 3 times and absolutely loved it – so I knew what I would be in for. Also, I had booked a back up ticket through IAD on a 747 which would still give me the opportunity to try out the upper deck.

May 2, 2005
Aircraft: A340-600
Seat: 4K
Load Factor: 85%

I arrived at SFO about three hours before my flight, which I actually hate because I'm always so anxious just to get on board. Although, it is much less stressful when you actually have a confirmed ticket rather than flying standy-by. Nevertheless, I am an airline employee and even though I was flying for business (which means a confirmed seat), there's always the possibility of an oversold flight and being among the first bumped from the plane. This time I was comforted however, because I had called ahead and was informed that there were approximately 50 open seats between the two cabins.

The international check-in area was very empty and I made my way to the LH check in area. I was surprised that that were already about 20 people checking in for the flight, but only 1 in the business class line - meaning I had a very short wait before being helped by the check-in agent. Checked in for the flight, was assigned seat 4K and was off to security which also was quite empty as well. Once through, I couldn't get over how empty the international terminal was. It was really nice having all a nice and quite area to wait in - definitely not the typical airport atmosphere I was used to.

Boarding began about 45 mins before departure and I was the third person in line - first one to settle in the business class section. I made a point to look down the aircraft to get an idea of its enormous length. I couldn't believe it! I could see all the way to the back and the realized that it looked longer from the inside than it did from the exterior - if that's even possible. Boarding took place very slowly as I was one of the only passengers in business class for a good 15 mins. Slowly but surely the plane started to fill and we actually pushed back from the gate 12 mins early. Business class ended up being about 70% full. No one was seated next to me, which I was very excited about. A very wealthy Italian family sat in the four seats in front of me. Judging by their bags, the mother and three teenagers seemed to come to the States for a shopping spree. The youngest, who was sitting right in front of me, was having problems with his seat and the mother was furious. Since there was a light load it wasn’t a problem finding him a new seat.

This would be my fourth trip in LH's new business class seat. I have to say that I love how modern and open the new cabin looks. Definitely a positive change from their older business class product. This was the first time however that the video entertainment was actually on demand. It worked really well and there were actually more movie choices offered than listed in the entertainment guide. Before the flight I was really excited to try out FlyNet (on board internet access) as I’ve heard so many positive reviews of it, but unfortunately it wasn’t working on this flight. I really didn’t mind however because I was really tired and planned on sleeping most of the flight anyway. ( I managed to get 7 full hours of sleep.)

During the times that I was actually awake, the service was impeccable and performed by the HOTTEST crew I have ever seen. They all looked like models and were among the most friendly flight crews that I have ever had. We landed right on time and I saw something pretty interesting outside my window. It was a photographer who had jumped the fence along the taxiway and was taking pictures of our aircraft as we were taxing to the gate. I’ve searched on A.net for the photos but haven’t found anything yet.

Connecting in MUC

This would be my first time flying LH domestically, as I have always opted for the non-stops from the states to FRA. I was really excited to see what MUC was all like after hearing so many positive reviews about the airport.

Connecting in MUC was really easy. As soon as I got off of my flight from SFO there was a crew of LH employees waiting to direct the disembarking passengers to their connecting flights - something I’ve only experienced when a flight comes in late and the passengers are in danger of missing their connections. I thought it was a great touch.

After passing through security I was the gate for my FRA flight within 10 mins of de-boarding. I checked in at the transfer desk and was informed that there was a slight chance that I wouldn’t make the flight because it was severely overbooked. Nevertheless, I was handed a boarding card with seat 37F and went back to the gate. I knew it wasn’t an aisle or window seat, but I really didn’t care since it would be a very short… or so I thought.

May 3, 2005
Aircraft: A300-600
Seat: 37F
Load Factor: 100%

Boarding began right on time and I was one of the first on board. I took my center seat and was pretty disappointed with the seat pitch. I guess anything would look bad though after flying 11 hours in a new business class seat with no one next to you. Anyway, the plane filled up very slowly and we pushed back within 5 mins of our scheduled departure. Then the problems began.

Just after we pushed back the pilot informed us that because of thunder storms in both FRA and MUC that we would be delayed by about 20 mins. After about three more updates and an hour later we were just about to take off when a thunderstorm cell with winds up to 90 kmh was approaching MUC head on. We waited til it passed and finally took off about an hour and 20 minutes behind schedule. Then, just before we were to start our decent into FRA, the airport had closed due to weather and we ended up circling the airport for about 45 mins. I really didn’t care because the flight was pretty entertaining with all of the turbulence, despite being crushed in my seat.

It was definitely an interesting flight. Despite landing about 2 hours late, no one on the plane seemed to mind. Usually when you have delays, you hear the other passengers openly complaining about the inconvenience. On this flight, however, the pilot and flight attendants were keeping everyone entertained with their hilarious updates and announcements. Every time they spoke the cabin would erupt with laughter. Our landing was really rough – when we touched down we skipped on the runway about 5 times and the plane shuttered from the hard landing. As soon as we exited the runway, the pilot comes begins his announcement – “Well…. We’ve actually made it to Munich, believe it or not.” Okay, so it doesn’t sound that funny written here, but coming from the pilot everyone found it pretty amusing. I thought the announcements in German were much funnier, but he definitely tried to be humorous with his English as well. Nevertheless, the attitude of the all the passengers was calm and relaxed despite the delay and nasty weather.

Due to the rough weather I wasn’t able to experience the onboard service of a domestic LH flight because the flight attendants were forced to be seated for the entire flight. But judging by experience that I did have with the crew, it would have been great service.

May 7, 2005
Aircraft: 747-400
Seat: 17A (Upper Deck)
Load Factor: 97%

My training class ended early on Friday, meaning I still had a chance to catch LH432 to ORD which doesn't leave FRA until 5:00pm and would allow me to get home an entire day early. I was determined however to finally catch a ride on the upper deck of a 747, so I decided to wait the extra day and stick to my original itinerary. On Saturday, I arrived at FRA about two hours before my flight and checked in at United's counter designated for Business Class passengers. After a little confusion with my ticket, I was confirmed in seat 17A, which I had selected a month ago when making my booking, and headed through security to the gate. I noticed in my little paper ticket booklet that I was listed on the First Class upgrade list and was actually perplexed by this discovery. I have flown UA's international first suite before and love it, but I was also so eager to experience the UD. I decided that I would take myself off of the waiting list for first. The gate agent definitely thought I was crazy. She's probably right.

I was the last one to board on the upper deck, which was 100% full. My first impression was that it was a lot more spacious than I had anticipated and I was more exicted than ever for the flight. Since I boarded relatively late, the man seated in 17B had assumed the seat would be empty for the flight and had placed all of his belongings on my seat. Needless to say, he wasn't too thrilled when I arrived. After being offered the standard pre-departure drink, an announcement was made that the luggage delivery system throughout Frankfurt Airport had broken down and that we would be delayed about 15 mins. We ended up pushing back about a half hour late and made our way quickly to the runway.

The service up top wasn’t the most attentive that I’ve experienced with UA, but after the flight I would find out there was good reason for it. As I was about to leave the cabin I started talking with the FA and she explained that it was a very difficult flight to service because the elevator had broken down, making the meal services quite stressful. She explained that that’s why she had been running up and down the aisle several time throughout the flight. However, I still found the service to be very friendly and enjoyable. The food was delicious (Filet Mignon) and my glass was always full.

Despite having flown in a flat bed several times, I still find UA’s current seat very comfortable. It’s more cushy than any of the flat beds that I have experienced and I find it’s full recline position to be quite conducive for sleeping.

May 7, 2005
Aircraft: 767-300
Seat: 7F
Load Factor: 45%


I was a little nervous about connecting at IAD from the international arrivals area because I’m not very familiar with the airport, but it could not have been easier. Once I cleared customs I only have to walk about 2 mins before I was at my connecting flight to ORD. On the way to the gate I notice that there was a TED flight leaving to MDW in less than an hour, but I decided that it was worth waiting a little longer so I could sit in business class on the 767 leaving at 5:40pm.

I checked in for the flight, was assigned 7F and then waited for the flight to be called. Boarding began and I was the first one on board. The crew obviously wasn’t expecting passengers yet, because when I stepped into the aircraft most of them were resting fully reclined in the business class section. They looked shocked when they saw us boarding and got up right away to start greeting the passengers.

The flight was really nice because it was very lightly booked. I would say overall the seat load factor was bout 45%. First was completely full, business maybe 40% and the back had a ton of open seats. The seat next to me was open, which is always nice.

We pushed back about 10 mins late and were soon airborne. The service on this flight was wonderful. The entire crew had a very friendly and casual attitude. Most of them were taking to time to make conversation with each of the passengers – at least from what I could see in business and first class. One of the passengers in first was a regular flyer and 3 of the crew actually knew him by name and made a point to go so hi to him.

We were served chicken salads for dinner and this time I decided to have some red wine with my meal. Halfway through the service one of the flight attendants came up to me and asked if I was even old enough to be drinking alcohol. It was actually really funny the way she approached me and not condescending at all. I joked with her that people ask me this question all the time but that I was actually nearly 24. It’s funny because I do look really young for my age, so when people ask it doesn’t bother me one bit.

We landed at ORD about 25 mins early and our gate was actually open – a rarity for early arrivals at O’Hare. All in all, it was a lot of flying in 5 or so days and I was as excited to get home as I was exhausted. All five flights were very enjoyable it their own ways and I can’t wait until I have to go back across the pond in July.

[Edited 2005-05-12 00:33:02]
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Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:34 am


Thu May 12, 2005 7:22 am

Thanks for the report. I took UA 917 in the upper deck two months ago. However my experience was a bit different. First off we had the best crew (in particular one flight attendant) that I have ever had on UA. It was a really fun flight from the German flight attendants filled with humor and attentive service, although the food wasn't the best it could be. In general I find LH food to be better then UA in first and business. I have never really been a fan of the entrees that UA serves up, but that is more of a personal preference.

Oh and on IAD arrivals. I think it is one of the worst airports for international arrivals. It is poorly designed as they split up connecting passengers and non connecting passengers to different customs areas. It is a horrible idea because they mess up so many bags in the sorting process (including mine for an hour). The one good thing is that at least it wasn't too crowded.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
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Thu May 12, 2005 8:55 am

Great report, and another great trip by the wonderful airlines of United and Lufthansa!
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Thu May 12, 2005 4:57 pm

Fantastic report...I really enjoyed reading it.

How would you compare LH's new C-Class to other airline's business class products?
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Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 7:57 pm


Fri May 13, 2005 6:20 am

Nice report, its nice to read that you fullfilled your dream of flying on the upper deck
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Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2004 2:33 pm


Fri May 13, 2005 8:19 am

Very good TR! That was cool that you were able to fly on the upper deck! Hope you enjoyed your stay in Frankfurt even if it was for business.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of Southwest Airlines its Directors or its Employees
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Fri May 13, 2005 8:59 am

Great report! Just wondering, are you employed by UA?
Topic Author
Posts: 252
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2003 10:09 pm


Fri May 13, 2005 10:12 am

Hi Bravo7E7. No, I don't work for UA, but I do work for the other airline in the report  Wink. Growing up in Chicago UA was always my favorite airline, and I'm lucky enough to fly them at least twice a week now.
Topic Author
Posts: 252
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2003 10:09 pm


Fri May 13, 2005 10:28 am

Quoting AirxLiban (Reply 3):
How would you compare LH's new C-Class to other airline's business class products?

Although I might be a little bias, I do really like LH's new business seat. I've flown in UA's, AA's, and KL's business seat and LH's would be my favorite. I find the flat position to be a little uncomfortable for sleeping, but they have now added a feature in the seat that creates a great position for sleeping. Once you get into the full flat position you just push the button one more time and it moves just slightly into a 'cradle" position. It's really comfortable. Also, I really love the AVOD, the shoe storage, the fact that you can recline and not disturb anyone (or be disturbed, the tray table can be used as a "privacy screen" when in the flat position, and also the noise cancelling headphones. The seats are slightly narrow, but that's not really a downfall for me.
Posts: 514
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 10:59 am


Fri May 13, 2005 8:05 pm

Hey ORD that was one great report!

I am travelling with UA on a 767-300 in (C- Class) in a couple of months time LHR-IAD. I was wondering how the seat was compared to the 777 Business seat (which I found to be very comfy). I am a big guy 6ft 3inch and 100 kilos (rugby player and swimmer) with really wide shoulders. I have prebooked 5C on both trips because I have heard that those two seats have more legroom than any seat in Business. However my primary concern is that seat, being older, and narrower than the other longhaulers is less comfortable. Could you make an honest comparison and say that the seat is pretty much the same, regarding recline and leg rest?

I would appreciate the feedback!  Wink

Good job on the report buddy!



P.S I am 21 and always drink em dry on flights when in Business!
Veni, vidi, vici.
Topic Author
Posts: 252
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2003 10:09 pm


Fri May 13, 2005 11:33 pm

Hi Paul,

After coming off of the 747, I did actually notice that the 767 business seat was a little narrower. It wasn't a huge difference and to tell you the truth I wasn't sure if it was actually narrower, or if I was just imagining it. The seat recline is pretty much the same as the 777 seat from my own experiences and what I remember. Also, it did look like the seat pitch was a little tighter in 767 than the upperdeck of the 747, but it was still very generous and there was more than enough room. Of all the times I have flown in UA's buisness, in the 777, 767, and 747, I have not once found the seats to look or feel worn and they have always been extrememly comfortable. So to sum it up, I would say that the 767 seats are identicle to the 777 seats with exception of a few inches of pitch and width.
Posts: 514
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 10:59 am


Fri May 13, 2005 11:55 pm

Thanks for the feedback. I love the UA Business Product, I have always received outstanding service from the F/A's. I was a bit miffed (English for angry) when they changed the equipment of the flight because I originally was scheduled to be on the 777. And we all know how smooth and comfy that big bugger is in C- Class. Lol  Wink

Would it be prudent to suggest that if one had not just jumped off a 74 or T7 onto the 763, one would honestly not notice the minor differences in the seat?

I was just wondering if you noticed that the middle two seat in the first row of Business Class (5 c/d) are actually set some distance back from the bulkhead and offer more room than any other seat in C- Class. I have reserved one of the two seats but was wondering if you could confirm that?

Cheers boss!


Veni, vidi, vici.
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:45 pm


Sat May 14, 2005 6:05 am

Good report but I don't get why you went through the bay area, you didin't fly on the 747 and the route is only like an hour longer. Why would you go through all that stress. It's like going from ATL to LAX so you can fly to Frankfurt, it doesn't make sense.
Topic Author
Posts: 252
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2003 10:09 pm


Sat May 14, 2005 7:07 am

You're right. I didn't explain that very thoroughly in my report...

My original intent was to fly through SFO to get on the 747 and to visit a friend who lives in the bay area. Also, I like longer flight times on on eastbound transatlantic flights so I can catch some decent sleep. Then I realized that I could fly the A346 from there (my only chance to do so from the US with LH) and could catch a ride on the 747's upper deck on the way back through IAD. Basically, I took a very long way to get on some aircraft that I have wanted to fly for a very long time and I always like to find any excuse to fly as much as possible (as I'm sure many A.netters do). It was definitely worth it.

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