I had the opportunity to take a ski trip to Italy where my father was working and was fortunate enough to be able to fly Lufthansa’s newest aircraft, the latest Boeing 747, the 747-800 Intercontinental. Lufthansa was the first commercial airliner to take delivery of this plane, and service between Washington Dulles and Frankfurt launched last April, the aircraft’s first route. The bird features Lufthansa’s redesigned business-class seat (the upper deck is all business class), and I was excited to get to try it out.
Since I was flying business class and have gold status within the Star Alliance, I was able to go into the Senators Lounge in Dulles (as compared to the “regular” Business Class Lounge next door). I mostly fly United and am pretty familiar with the fare offered at their United Clubs, which mainly consist of free beer, wine, trail mix and chocolate-covered pretzels. To say I was wowed by the Senators Lounge would be an understatement. Servers were always walking around the lounge making sure everything was okay, offering you more beer or food, and picking up your empty plates and glasses. The food spread was pretty remarkable, and it allowed me to get an early dinner thus creating more time to sleep on the plane.
On the plane, the seat was extremely comfortable and it did fold out into a 180° lie-flat bed. I found the firmness of the bed to be particularly conducive to a sound sleep (and the Ambien I took after dinner). Note for next time: even though I enjoy the aisle seat, there is a large storage space at the window seat so next time I will pick a seat there.
The dinner was fine but seeing that I had somewhat of a dinner service in the lounge and not wanting to waste valuable time not sleeping, I chose the express dinner service, which was the dinner meal without the hot item (beef or fish in this instance). To make up for it, the flight attendant was pretty insistent that I have both desserts – the cheese plate and chocolate cake – and really, who am I to resist?
The one “problem” with these flights (and this is about the ultimate in first world problems, I know) is that you are served a breakfast before landing in Frankfurt, you have access to the lounge in Frankfurt with ample breakfast options, and when you board your next flight, you are given a descent breakfast, too. I didn’t eat in the lounge so I figured that two breakfasts wouldn’t kill me. The breakfast on the flight from Frankfurt to Milan was quite good, actually, and the muesli may have been one of the best I’ve ever had. Of course, then I realized that the milk they give you for the cereal is whole milk and when you are used to skim, it’s hard not to notice the difference.
Once in Milan, we made our way to the Dolomites to go skiing. The Dolomites (Dolimiti in Italian) are in the northwestern part of the country, just south of Austria. In fact, German is widely spoken in this region of the country. We chose to ski here since we hadn’t yet, the scenery is amazing, and on the recommendation of friends. And it truly was a great experience. We bought the “Dolomiti Superski” pass, which provides access to 12 different ski areas (all connected by runs and lifts) with 1,200 km (750 mi) of slopes making up 1,300 runs. Each day was €45 ($61) as compared to the measly hills available about a two hour drive from my house at Ski Whitetail, which charges $67 for a day to access its 23 runs.
Before hitting the slopes, I downloaded a program to my phone from the Google Play store called “Ski Tracks” that uses your phone’s GPS to track your day’s ski trek. You can output the data to GPX files and load the information into Google Earth to visualize your run. It was a lot of fun.
The flight home, in United and back in economy, was long and uneventful. The lunch, a chicken in white sauce, was not the worst meal I’ve had on an airplane, but it did show off the difference between economy and premium cabins pretty sharply.