Err line

So I’m sitting on the floor near Gate 8 in Terminal 1 at JFK, propped like a doll against a pole between a trash can and the only power outlet in the whole concourse, near as I can tell.* People wear strange looks when they walk over to dump something down the hole next to my head.

It’s par for this afternoon’s course, here at JFK, where I’ve become acquainted with how little even United’s high-privilege flyers mean to Lufthansa, the United Star Alliance “partner” I’m flying tonight to London via Munich.

First, it’s not possible to select a seat, or even express a seat preference, until you get to the airport. So I got here early. My assigned seat was a middle one, 37F, a middle seat in the middle of the back of an Airbus 330 Vers. A (333). The qualifying stuff (version A, 333) are from SeatGuru.com and SeatExpert.com, which I’m comparing now.

I asked the agent if an upgrade was possible. Only with United miles or certificates, she said. I usually use the latter, of which I have plenty; but they’re all electronic. United hasn’t issued printed certificates for years. But the agent said I’d need the physical certificates. So, how about a window seat in economy, then. There was one: 46A, in the back row. Okay, I said, and took it. Then she asked me if I had bags to check. I said “one”. Then I asked it two carry-ons were allowed. “No”, she said. “Just one”. So I spent a minute moving electronics, laptop batteries and breakables from my carry-on bag of extras into my laptop bag. (Later, somebody told me that the rule is “One carry-on and one briefcase”. I really don’t know, still.)

Then there was the lounge gauntlet. As a lifetime United Red Carpet Club member, and as a United 1K (>100,000 miles/year) flyer, and a Star Alliance Gold member (it says on both my cards), I should be able to get into the Lufthansa lounge. But when I walked in, the person behind the counter looked at my two cards as if I had handed her a couple of dirty dishes and asked if I was a “million mile member”. I’m not, as far as I know, but said “I don’t know”. After chewing on that response mentally for a short while, she said “Okay”, and let me in.

There wasn’t a power outlet in the whole place except at a few desks in one corner. Worse, the club was on the near side of Security and packed with people. So I bailed, went through security, and found my way to this spot on the floor.

I just checked with SeatGuru and SeatExpert, which showed the below (SeatGuru first), for 46A:


Looks to me like SeatGuru wins that one. But we’ll see about the seat.

See ya in the Old Countries.

* [Later, just before boarding...] I just noticed that Samsung has kindly corrected the power outlet problem by locating poles at points along the concourse, including this one in the middle of dining area. Not much better — I’m kneeling at this one, while all the nearby tables are full — but I felt I needed to issue a factual correction.

[Later again, now on board the plane, in 46A...] A few kind words for Lufthansa, now that I’m on board. First, they have clean, unblemished windows, which is HUGE for a window-sitter (and ‘shooter) like me. Their toilets are much nicer, and less beat up, than those on most United planes I’ve flown. And their seats are nicer, with much more sensible trays and pockets — and a cupholder, which makes complete sense. Okay, gotta go now…

5 comments

  1. Jackie Danicki’s avatar

    The rule flying out of the US is one carry-on and one personal item (handbag, camera bag, backpack, briefcase). The rule flying out of the UK is that you are allowed to carry one bag onto the plane, fullstop. I always carry a purse that is small enough to stuff into my backpack for this reason.

  2. Gabe Wachob’s avatar

    Doc-
    I booked a flight on Lufthansa from SFO to Delhi (thats 24+ hours in case you are wondering) on coach and had the same experience (being stuck in a middle seat) – decided just not to go… I don’t do 12 hour flights in the middle seats because my shoulders are 2-4 inches wider than most coach seats. :-/

    Also, booking through United (codeshare) was a HUGE mistake… getting a straight answer on this topic from United or Lufthansa was impossible – got different answers about open seats after changing the reservation based on an assertion from united that window seats were open, etc.

    Sympathies…

  3. sims’s avatar

    Your nomanclature for an airplane window photographer might want to be reconsidered. ;-) I did note that it is a link but being slighty paranoid might be benficial for one’s future flight experinces. :-)

    sims

  4. David Kearns’s avatar

    I just flew back from Europe on Lufthansa. In the airport in Florence, the Brunhilde at the ticket counter declared my backpack “too heavy” (it was 11 kilos, limit is evidently 8) for carryon. I was ready to “gate check” it, as I always have to do on American Eagle, but she insisted I take out some things to bring the weight down. My checked bags were already down the chute, so I guessed I’d have to burden my wife’s backpack. Wrong! The agent gives me a cardboard (flimsy, at that) box. I put 4 kilos worth of stuff in it. So now both box abd backpack are within limit and she gives me boarding passes. Same weight, but now 2 packages instead of 1.
    I scratch my head, go through security, stop at a trash can, re-pack the backpack, dump the box and get on the plane. No one objects.

    But at least they didn’t lose my luggage, as happened to not 1, not 2, not 3, but 6 (count them, 6) friends on a flight from SFO to Barcelona via Frankfort…

    -dave

  5. Todd’s avatar

    Doc, – As a fellow Star Alliance flyer – I’ve found the experience with Lufthansa to be roundly disappointing. The fact that you’re a dedicated customer to the group is roundly ignored. Any of the most minor perks for loyalty are completely disregarded by Lufthansa regardlesss of how loyal you are to the group. I would be willing to bet that you also won’t get credited for the miles flown on your account if you don’t notice and jump through the million hoops to get the miles credited with United. I fly LH only when I have to.

    Hope you’re back home and doing well. Baby S is doing great.
    T

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