Getting an award first class seat on the Lufthansa A380 using United miles is not the easiest task in the world since availability doesn’t appear until about 14 days before departure – and even then it isn’t guaranteed. On top of that, when there is availability, it is often for just one seat. Obviously when I travel with my family one seat won’t do me a whole lot of good. However, this was a solo trip, and when I saw first class availability pop up the morning of departure from Frankfurt to San Francisco I spent an additional 17,500 United miles to move from business class to first class (for a total of 67,500 miles for a one-way ticket from Zurich to Frankfurt to San Francisco). I had no idea if/when this type of opportunity would fall in my lap again, so I grabbed it.
After my time in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, I was taken by Mercedes to the waiting A380 (yup, still sounds crazy to write that). The eight first class seats are located on the upper deck of the A380.
I was in seat 2D which is one of the “middle” seats in the second row of first.
I was immediately impressed with how sleek the design was of the seat, and the entire cabin. There is not only a seat (that turns into a bed), but also a cubbie that you can both use to rest your feet or to store small items. There is also a locker provided to store your larger bag as well as your clothes once you change to the (provided) pajamas.
I had several friends on this flight in business class, so I ventured back there during boarding in order to say hello and check out the seat I had passed on by paying an additional 17,500 extra miles to upgrade to F. While business class would have been totally fine, I think that the extra miles were worth it for a much different experience in the small first class cabin.
Another friend, PizzaMan (from Pizza in Motion) came up to toast to my first international first class flight before departure. He and others then later helped orchestrate a covert operation to take pictures of me totally passed out from exhaustion on this flight! Travel with friends is (usually) much more fun than travel alone.
Shortly after toasting the flight I settled into my seat to learn how to operate the in-flight entertainment system. There were tons of movies, shows, games, etc. but what was the most fun was the tail mounted camera that allows you to have a really fun view of take off, landing, and everything in-between.
I then played around with the different seat positions and got into the one I was most excited about…..the sleeping position. I have to admit that one of the main motivators behind this redemption was needing to get good sleep on this flight.
The flight attendant was a bit shocked when I told him I was going to go straight to sleep before meal service, but I was wiped out and had a priority of rest. While I went to the restroom to change into the pajamas, he transformed my seat into a relatively comfortable bed and put up the privacy walls.
I was in a middle seat, but here is what the neighboring window seat looked like when transformed into a bed.
With the help of some ear plugs and an eye mask, I went straight to sleep and slept for over half of the flight. I felt a little guilty sleeping while I could have been awake and enjoying the flight – but I really needed sleep, so deemed that more important this time. Once I woke up it was high time to eat some of the food I had requested be held for me until later in the flight.
However, I was informed that my selected entree had gone “missing” during my nap. I was a little surprised, but there was no shortage of other food to eat. I was given a salad and then presented with many other snacks to choose from. You can get snacks at virtually any time during the flight, and there is also a formal second food service other than the primary meal.
Here are some of the snacks that were available in the galley. I devoured a bunch of fruit as it was fresh and delicious!
I had no complaints about the quality of the food. After that I was sufficiently stuffed, but the flight attendant insisted that I try a pineapple mango tart for dessert. It was well worth a slightly over-stuffed belly considering how good it tasted.
Last but not least I want to highlight the lavatory. Yes, the lav. I hate going into most airplane lavs as they are small and generally kinda gross. I’m not saying this is where I want to hang out while on-board the A380 aircraft, but it is so much nicer more spacious than anything I had previously seen. You could actually change clothes without having to get into some yoga-type positions to do so.
The amenities they had available like toothbrushes/paste, make-up removing wipes, etc. were also very handy and appreciated.
After the approximately eleven hour flight, it was time to head down the stairs and deplane to return to reality.
I had been successful in getting some much needed rest before continuing on the marathon that was Star MegaDo 4, and had the privilege of experiencing a great international first class product. 67,500 United miles for a one-way flight to Europe isn’t cheap, but if you are going to do it, going to/from the West Coast helps you squeeze an even greater value for your points than going from the East Coast would, so all in all it wasn’t too bad of a redemption.