This is day 1 of our 35 day trip through the US. It’s 5 weeks thanks to award availability in Air Berlin Business Class, which was kind of hard to get. Luckily we got the last direct flight from Düsseldorf to Los Angeles, but the return was only available from the east coast 5 weeks later… We bought 70.000 miles from Air Berlin for 389 € in their City Tour Pass promotion and another 10.000 miles for 110 € in another promotion. Business Class flights cost 80.000 miles for the return + 778 € in taxes and fees. So in total we got the tickets for 1277 € each. Not bad considered, that they normally sell for 2000+.
The original feeder flight from Hamburg to Düsseldorf was scheduled for 10:30 AM, but Air Berlin cancelled it some weeks before departure. We had to get up at 4 AM to reach our flight from Hamburg to Düsseldorf at 6:25 AM. We checked in online and dropped off our bags at the Topbonus Elite counter. As the feeder flight books in Economy, we were first yelled at, why we don’t join the long queue next door. Air Berlin really has to work on this experience. Security Fast Lane was a breeze, but lounge access was only possible thanks to our Priority Passes.
The flight from Hamburg to Düsseldorf is a short hop of 35 minutes, which is just enough time to serve
coffeebrown water. The flight was only 1/3 full, so we got 3 seats to ourselves.
After landing we first got into the Hugo Junkers Lounge with our Priority Passes, as it was the first lounge we found and we had 5 1/2 hours to kill. Definitely not as great as our home lounge in Hamburg. It was pretty dense and we had to search for a good seat. Breakfast was also more limited. The toilets we so bad, that we left the lounge for the public restrooms. Us and a few russian guys emptied the wine bottle and it was not restocked.
We quickly decided to leave for the Air Berlin lounge in the international Terminal C only to find an even worse place. Run down chairs, a view of the terminal only and less food and drinks.
Finally boarding began and we were the first onboard. We originally booked two window seats 3A & 5A. At online checkin we still had them, but when we got new boarding passes in Hamburg, they must have mixed it up. But no problem, as there were only 2 more couples and one lady. We opted for the honeymoon “suite” in the middle. The service was top notch with 3 flight attendants serving 7 people. I also felt that it was more personal and warmer than on Asian and Arabian carriers.
We were greeted with champagne and a hot towel. Shortly after came a really strong gin tonic. And we realized that we are spoilt with premium spirits, that we can’t drink standard Gordon’s anymore. As appetizers we had Roast Beef and as main course Beef with vegetables and pasta. For desert we got the cheese “selection”. We also sampled all three white wines and settled for a Weissburgunder from Reinhessen. After dinner I switched to Markus Schneider’s TurTur red wine, which sent me to sleep shortly after.
An eleven hour flight is just exhausting, especially if your feeder is that early. We were the first off board and happy about the endless walk to border control. Fortunately we rushed a littlebit, as we found ourselves in the middle of some Asian A380 and 747 arrivals. Our fellow passengers had to wait more than our 45 minutes. We had the most friendly border control agent. We saw him laughing with other people and crossed our finger to be sent to him… Every finger was scanned and a photo was taken. We joked around a bit about the effort necessary for entering the country.
We rented an intermediate car from SIXT in LAX, given my platinum status and a good price of just 680 USD for a 3 week oneway rental to Las Vegas. The night before departure we received an email, informing us about limousine pick up directly in the terminal. A nice touch which they now introduced for their elite members. The alternative would have been waiting for the bus. We were dropped off directly at the counter with no queue and received a platinum upgrade to Mercedes E350 without asking. A German deserves a German car…