Now comes the part when I explain what Air Canada Special System-Wide Upgrades (SSWUs) are. As an AC top tier status member, Elite or Super Elite, you get a few of these “red” certificates. Unfortunately they are paper, and you confirm 4 days (Elite) or 7 days (Super Elite) before the flight. I said in the first part that booking through the LH.com website was a mistake, and now, finally, I can explain why. If you book through Lufthansa or any other source than AC, for that matter, you can only request an upgrade at check-in. In this case, that worked out fine, but sometimes it doesn’t.
So after getting off my GDN-FRA flight, I had a 4-hour layover in FRA. I started it off by going to the AC check-in counter where I asked for the upgrade. That was quickly done, and I was free to do some other things, including walking around Frankfurt airport.
My route in FRA (green), green dot – arrival gate, blue dot – AC check-in, yellow dot – AirTrain terminal, white dot – Business lounge, black dot – Senator lounge, red dot – departure gate.
Walking towards AC check-in
The old noisy FIDs! Gotta love them!
First I decided to do some browsing. I got to the entrance of the shopping “Boulevard” and was told to stay back by some FRA agent. I didn’t understand why, and his English was non-existent. In the end, I figured out it was because an incoming flight had just arrived and too many people were getting out of the B/C gates secure area. After waiting a few minutes, I was let through.
For me, shopping selections in FRA are not of interest and very limited, but at least it’s a way to kill some time.
After I got sufficiently bored, I came up with the idea of taking the AirTrain to Terminal 2, essentially just for fun.
From the AirTrain
The ride provides for some nice views, and gets you to T2 quite quickly.
Terminal 2 shopping
Terminal 2 shopping was even more limited, and so I quickly decided to head back.
Views of the Terminal 2 AirTrain terminal
Instead of shop browsing, I chose to go lounge browsing, and so I passed through C gate security, where I have a funny story.
Security itself was very easy and not crowded at all for any airport, but especially for Frankfurt, where long lines are usually to be found. But after security, while waiting for my carry-on to come through, I overheard the funniest conversation between (without being discriminatory) an East-Indian guy and the very German security screener. Imagine both of their accents when reading the conversation. It went something like this:
Screener: Sir, do you have a water bottle in this bag? You cannot take it through. You can either drink it right now or throw it out.
Guy: OK, if I drink can I keep?
Screener: (wide-eyed) I guess.
Guy: (drinks water very fast) Is it OK? Can I keep?
And remember, this was just a Dasani water bottle!
After that, I headed off to one of the two Business lounges. I was let in with absolutely no problems and walked up the stairs with my rather heavy carry-on.
Towards the Business lounge
I was very pleasantly surprised by the lounges’ decor and seating. It’s of a circular layout, and there is an abundance of seating options, although every single seat visible was taken.
Business lounge bar
Even more seating!
Disappointed at not having found any pretzels, I drank a glass of bitter lemon and went on towards the Senator lounge.
On the opposite side of the Senator lounge, LH has set up, for FIFA only I presume, a charming Sports Corner for it’s First class and Star Gold passengers.
Sports corner bar
No pretzels here either, and no game on too, so I proceeded to my original destination.
Finding any seat in this Senator lounge is a difficult matter, and it is always crowded.
My favourite – a pretzel with bitter lemon!
Construction has moved the TG gate and my TG plane!
A Thai plane for BKK usually sat right across from the lounge, but unfortunately construction has moved that gate (hopefully temporarily!).
Closer look at the bar
After a short while in the lounge, I decided to go to the gate to see if they could issue me my upgrade and assign me a seat. It was still closed, so I came back to the lounge. After another 15 minutes, I went again and found my plane along with the agents who had just arrived. I gave them a little time and then came up. They issued me a boarding pass very quickly, and I returned to the lounge. In the lounge, I noticed that I had 1K (not a very nice seat here), so I went back to the gate to ask for a different seat assignment. By this time, a large queue had formed in front of the GA’s desk, and so I approached a GA asking her to just change my seat. First, she said that the flight was full, and after having informed her of my seating in J, she said go to the back of the line. I asked why there wasn’t a line for Star Golds, and reluctantly, she obliged. After having finished changing my seat to 10A (which took no time at all), in the small rear-cabin of business class, I returned to the lounge. By this time, the lady standing in front of the Sports Corner had seen my comings and goings and was laughing together with me. I slightly misjudged my arrival time at the gate, and boarding hadn’t begun yet.
Another Star Alliance livery!
Boarding was extremely chaotic, as there was first a document check (DOK) and then nobody knew where to go. Luckily, the Gate Agents were very strict about reinforcing the priority boarding, so I was on the plane in relatively little time.
Executive First jet bridge
Better view of the herringbone seating arrangement
My seat – note position of the window and the plentiful amount of amenity kits
There were so many amenity kits on my seat it was incredible! No, the FAs just had a quick turnaround and forgot to take them away. They apologized and asked me if I wanted an extra!
Small rear cabin
Top of the seat
Not bad legroom!
Craning my neck to get out the window
That’s better – my TG plane’s tail is poking out too!
The windows are at a horrible angle from the seats, and it is very hard to look outside.
Day-flight amenity kit
Take-off without stopping!
This amenity kit is worse than what you receive on an overnight flight.
View from where your head sits when the chair is lie-flat
On night-flights, it is awesome to look out the window and see the stars!
Clamato – unfortunately no bitter lemon on AC…
Another “legroom” shot
Very large tray table
Just about to begin…
Presentation was not the best, although the FAs tried quite hard to make it look as nice as possible (food itself was very tasty).
Dessert – lava cake with vanilla ice cream
Front cabin from the front
After some very nice and needed sleep, I woke up to what should have been breakfast (but wasn’t). I would have preferred something lighter than the below…
Again craning my neck…
The non-working map
Stormy landing in YYC
Arrival into Calgary was quick enough, and my NEXUS card worked it’s wonders again. However, luggage took forever to come out – I think priority bags were actually put out last.
I love AC’s Executive First, especially when I don’t have to pay for the price difference, but I was very happy to come home.