Travel My 6 favorite flights from the past decade
Ultimate guide to earning and redeeming Lufthansa Miles & More miles
Lufthansa Group has grown a ton in recent years. We’ve seen the group buy up a number of European airlines, all while continuing to expand the Lufthansa route network from its hubs in Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC). One thing you may not know about Lufthansa is that its Miles & More loyalty program is …Additionally, the loyalty program has some interesting sweet spots that make it worth taking a closer look at if you’re based in Europe. Plus, U.S. based flyers that frequently fly to Europe on Lufthansa or another Lufthansa Group airline may find more use in earning Miles & More miles than United or another Star Alliance partner.
I am very lucky that I am able to travel extensively. It used to be just a hobby and passion of mine, but since, it’s also now my work.
There are some trips that will always be memorable: My first upgrade using Avios (UUA) from World Traveller Plus to Club World on British Airways in 2004 or my firstto Barbados in 2006. Following , here are some of my favorite ones that stand out.
I took 7 flights on all the largest US airlines in June. Here's what it's like to fly in America right now.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we fly in more ways than just face masks are now required on most airlines.I almost didn't recognize the aviation industry on my first trip back into the skies in early June. I flew on Delta Air Lines and was shocked to see a semi-empty plane with blocked seats with my ticket allowing for unlimited changes without the normal fee.
My first Tier Point run: ATH-LHR/LCY-JFK-MIA-LAX-SFO
Back in 2013, I did my firstwith a friend. It was a memorable trip for a number of reasons, as it included another exciting first for me: Flying on the British Airways business-class-only flight from London City (LCY) to New York (JFK), . The flight stops in Shannon, Ireland, and seats a maximum of 32 passengers in eight rows of fully-flat seats aboard a specially modified A318 — both the plane and the service is sometimes called the “baby bus.”
Aside from that special sector though, the whole trip was exciting, scary and memorable. The ticket we bought was from Athens to San Francisco — the Tier Point-maximizing way. We flew toon a Friday night to make a and then flew back to London Heathrow on the Sunday before heading to London City on Monday morning for the BA001 service to JFK.
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From there, we connected down toand onward to Los Angeles before the final sector to San Francisco. Back in those days, the LCY-JFK service earned 210 Tier Points, which is the equivalent of the Tier Points earned for flying first class, though this has been dropped to the standard 140 Tier Points for business. Similarly, back then, flying domestic first class on also earned 210 Tier Points for flights over 2,000 miles, so the return trip earned us 1,160 Tier Points (80 for ATH-LHR; 210 for LCY-JFK; 40 for JFK-MIA; 210 for MIA-LAX; 40 for LAX-SFO — and the same on the way back).
I had been apprehensive about this trip — excited but also scared. But I loved every minute of it. In fact so much so, that it’s also the first year I earned my, which requires 5,000 Tier Points in a year.
Chicken or pasta?
Here at TPG, we pay for all flights and hotels that we. Occasionally though, we do join special flights, and last year, when operated a celebration flight to mark the launch of its first and the rollout of its , I jumped at the opportunity to join this flight.
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All passengers on board were either from media, travel agents or current or past Virgin Atlantic employees. The atmosphere on board was great and relaxed. As it turns out, a friend of mine was working the flight as crew and so with his help, I managed to fulfill two childhood dreams: I did the onboard announcement as we were approaching into JFK and I also did a full meal service in the economy cabin. And to boast, I even won kudos from the head crew trainer who was on board and said that what I lacked in training and experience, I made up for with charm.
That experience, coupled with spending time under the wing,before the flight as well as in the cockpit, made it a very memorable flight.
Being the only passenger in first class with Thai Airways
In 2013, I used all my accumulatedto book a from Europe to Sydney. I chose Brussels as the departure point, as there was better availability for my dates than from London and because at the time, Thai was flying leased Boeing 777s from Jet Airways on the route, which had a first-class cabin with eight fully-enclosed seats.
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Qatar Airways is one of the world’s most premium airlines, with an excellent business-class product and great lounges at its hub in Doha (DOH). The airline has a huge route network as well, with U.S. gateways in many of the country’s major cities like Chicago (ORD), New York-JFK, Philadelphia (PHL) and others. The Oneworld member …The Oneworld member has its own loyalty program called Privilege Club. With this loyalty program, you can earn and redeem miles when flying Qatar Airways and its Oneworld partners. Plus, it has three elite status levels that give frequent flyers special privileges like lounge access and access to preferred seating.
Thai was great in the air and on the ground, and the airline drives first-class passengers on buggies to the first-class lounge in Bangkok between connecting flights. On the way back, a member of the lounge team invited me to walk with her to the nearby gate. Having done my homework online on available seats, I was expecting a half-full cabin.
Walking to the gate, I asked her if the flight was busy and she replied, “Mr. Kramer, you are the only passenger tonight.” At the gate, she channeled me past crowds of economy and business-class passengers and down the first-class jetty where the cabin manager and another crew member bowed and welcomed me on board. I had one suite for eating, one for sleeping and one for relaxing — and it was a truly amazing flight experience. The crew spoiled me rotten and made me try more food than I have ever eaten on a plane, including my first lobster on board an aircraft.
An A320 full of AvGeeks hopping around Europe
Last year, a lucky TPG competition winner and I had our AvGeek dreams come true when we joined. The event, which took place over a couple of days in Germany and Croatia, saw 100+ aviation geeks flying on a chartered Croatia Airlines A320 from Frankfurt to Hamburg to Dubrovnik and finally onto Zagreb, where the next day, we got to visit the local aircraft maintenance facility. I had the chance to get closer to parts of a jet than I had ever been before — and my first time sitting in an engine.
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A chopper above the NYC skyline
Believe it or not, I’m not great in small planes and can easily get a bit sick on anything with less than two engines. That — and lack of opportunity — meant that until last year, I had never actually flown in a helicopter.
On yet, a friend and I had the best layover in JFK, having arrived overnight from LAX before flying onto Madrid later that evening. So we decided to meet a friend in Manhattan for lunch and take our first . It was a glorious day, and though I was a tad nervous about flying on such a small flying object, I loved every minute of it — all eight minutes!
Equipment swap in my favor
In 2011, I made anothercome true — first class from London to Sydney. I had saved enough miles and managed to find availability out to Sydney with Qantas and returning with British Airways.
On the return flight, I had managed to secure, and needless to say, flying first class makes a 24-hour flight rather bearable and enjoyable.
Outbound, I really wanted to try Qantas first class on the A380 but had no luck finding any seats with miles — so settled on also flying the Boeing 747 with the Australian carrier. To get these seats, I had booked them months in advance. Between booking and flying though, one of Qantas’ A380 had a major engine failure upon departure from Singapore for Sydney in November 2010, which resulted in the entire Qantas A380 fleet being temporarily grounded.
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Once QF’s A380 took back to the skies again, their schedules and routes were reset, which resulted in my particular flight swapping from a Boeing 747 to an A380 and me getting to experienceOftentimes, an equipment swap is bad news for us flight geeks but in this case, luck was on my side.
There’s no shortage of great memories from some amazing flights from the past decade. Sometimes, it’s the airline, the product or the crew that make a flight special. Sometimes it’s a special flight. Sometimes it’s the occasion for the trip that can make a flight and trip memorable. Most often for me, it’s a combination of those and the friends that I travel with that make a trip special and memorable.
Featured photo by Christian Kramer/The Points Guy.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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