The Amazing Race: Denver Departure Services

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Tahsir’s Itinerary Around the World in First Class is too long for one post. Here’s the first installment.

Lufthansa First: Denver to Frankfurt

Lufthansa First Class Terminal

Lufthansa First on an A380: Frankfurt to Tokyo

As a child, I was (and still am) fascinated with the idea of going around the world. I used to look at the TV and tell myself that one day, I too would be able to do what those contestants were doing on The Amazing Race. Today, I’m fulfilling one of my dreams and crossing something off my bucket list. I’m going around the world in First Class!

Many of you will agree that it takes a lot of work to get enough points to travel comfortably. As the son of an airline employee, I would travel in economy and wonder when I could get to the front of the plane. Although I was never ashamed or even sad to travel in economy, I always wanted to experience what it was like to travel in “style.”

A few days ago, I wrote about how to book an aspirational trip. In that post, I wrote about how I was going on 3 different First Class products; United, All Nippon Airways, and Thai. A few things changed 2-3 days out and my itinerary was switched to reflect something else: Lufthansa First & Thai First. There was some space that opened up on the routes I wanted to take and I decided to bring my sister along with me.

Today, I was going to fly the somewhat new Lufthansa 747-400 in First Class. This plane is special because the First Class product has a separate seat and bed. I’ve been talking to my friends about this for days, but it’s really something you have to experience for yourself. Lufthansa has done an excellent job with their entire premium cabin, and I was eager to try it.

I flew into Denver the night before this flight because the 747-400 currently flies from Denver, Chicago, New York, and Boston. Note: Denver runs the new 747-400 on a 50% capacity so you have to check the seat map on that particular day to see if it’s the new First Class.

In the days prior to this flight, I noticed that Boston and Denver opened the most award space. It can be tricky to get to Denver with United because they don’t have that many flights into Denver before the 2PM departure of this Lufthansa flight. In addition, the flights I wanted into Denver didn’t release any premium cabin seats. This was an issue for me because my family had a ridiculous amount of suitcases to take to our final destination (Dhaka) and we needed three bags per person.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need excess baggage with Star Alliance, you should try to book your originating flight with United. The reason behind this is that United allows you to check in 3 bags that can weigh up to 70 pounds for free if you fly in Business or First. In theory, that means you can get three free bags all the way to your destination even if you fly in business, which usually allows two bags on all other airlines. I found out the hard way that this isn’t the case.

There are two regulations with check-in baggage that airlines must follow, but they both contradict each other. One states that the original marketing carrier’s baggage rules should apply to the entire itinerary. This means that your FIRST flight’s baggage should apply to your entire reservation. The other rule states that the baggage rules of the flight that flies you over the ocean should be the one to follow. In Los Angeles, United checked three bags each for our family of four. However, they couldn’t check it all the way to our final destination because United and Lufthansa have an interline agreement that only applies for 13 hours. The next day, we got to the Denver airport and picked up our baggage from the lost and found area of United.

TIP: A United agent told us not to touch our bags and let them stay in the carousel so that United can take them and put them in lost and found. This is super helpful if you have a 23 hour layover and want to check out the city for the day. In essence, you don’t have to take out your checked bags until after you try to check in for your next flight. Many of you might wonder why this matters if you can check a bag through to your final destination. As I stated, our bags were past the 13 hour interline agreement and so they had to be separately checked in the next day. It might not be a big deal to people who check in one or two bags but we had 12 checked bags plus carry-ons.

Once we retrieved our bags, we went up to the Lufthansa counter. It’s important to note that Lufthansa shares its counters daily with AeroMexico and Icelandair. We approached the counter and were greeted by what seemed to be an AeroMexico/Lufthansa agent. Before even looking at our itinerary, she stated we wouldn’t be able to check in three bags. After calling the supervisor, this agent kept coming up to our counter and saying things to the supervisor like “I was right, right?” She even started helping a Business Class passenger and left them to come to our counter and listen in. It was really unprofessional and at one point, I saw her point us out to someone else with a disgusted look. After reading more on the Denver check-in, I’ve actually seen that this agent has come up multiple times in complaints. I’m not naming names but if someone without a Lufthansa emblem calls you to check in, respectfully decline and wait for someone else.

The supervisor and another agent were really helpful, and they actually helped us get everything sorted out. In the end, all our bag fees were waived and we finally checked them into our final destination! We even got some First Class Jackets for my parents who were traveling in Business. Don’t worry about my parents “stuck” in Business while I’m in First and vise versa, we’re taking turns. In March, I was in Cathay’s Business while they were in Cathay’s First Class.

The lounge situation in Denver is quite grim. The only lounge you can access as a Lufthansa First & Business passenger is the United Club. To make matters worse, Lufthansa departs from Concourse A and the Club is located in Concourse B. The United Club is nothing to rave about as it is a regular domestic lounge. The food offerings are cookies and crackers with the occasional bag of carrots. Other than that, there’s nothing to report. Let’s move on.

The flight was scheduled to leave at around 2:55PM but from past history on flightaware, the on-time departure was a measly 1.5/5. We got to the gate about 10 minutes before boarding. Boarding was called at about 2:30. We actually left the gate around 3PM so kudos to Lufthansa for boarding a 747 in 30 minutes!

Stick around for my next installment!


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