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Friday, November 09, 2007

Learning to Fly on Lufthansa

We took off from Los Angeles about 15 minutes ago and it has been an educating day for me.

For my flight to Bangalore today, I decided to get to the airport a little earlier than usual so that I could take some conference calls and answer emails from the comforts of the Star Alliance lounge. With that idea in mind, I headed for LAX at around 8:15am, expecting to arrive at the International Terminal around 9:30am – also missing the majority of the morning traffic rush by heading through Malibu on Pacific Coast Highway.

Lufthansa Flight to Bangalore on the 747-400

I did arrive at the airport close to the time that I was expecting and found a little surprise. The ticket counters at the Los Angeles airport do not open until shortly after 10:30am. So with that in mind, I jumped into the line just before 10:00am. (Later I realized that with only 3 flights or less a day out of Los Angeles, it probably makes sense for them not to be open.

As I was standing in line, I noticed on the departure board that the flight was showing a 1 hour and 20 minute delay from the expected departure time of 2:30pm. I started to think the my connection in Frankfurt might be closer than I expected, but since I had 2.5 hours to grab a beer, bratwurst, and pretzel – I figured the worst I was going to sacrifice was the food.

However, that change when I reached the check-in counter and the agent told me – you are going to miss your connecting flight to Bangalore – but we can re-route you through Mumbai, let me take you to the ticket counter. I did not quite understand, but was quickly ushered over to the ticketing agent. The ticketing agent was a little more patient that the check-in agent and said that only the Hyderabad connecting flights would be missed. The other agent had been grossly misinformed.

Whew, I was then able to change the seating arrangements, taking care to insure that if we have a fighter jet escort again over Iraq that I would have a window seat to see it and take a picture.

I learned another lesson that the Star Alliance lounge at LAX. Unlike all the other Star Alliance lounges I have been to, being Star Alliance Gold does not get you into the first class lounge. It had worked in Delhi and Frankfurt in the past, apparently not in Los Angeles.

A few hours passed by in the lounge.....

The flight ended up being a little more delayed than first expected. Once the flight arrived it turned out our boarding time started at 3:40pm. Then an additional delay occurred in which customs agents stopping three families from boarding the plane lead to an overall departure time of 4:57pm.

Now it is getting a little too close for comfort. The only good news is that today’s flight is relatively short (9 hours, 40 minutes) due to some good tail winds. Let's hope we can make up some of that time -- there is nothing like running from one gate to another on an international flight.