This was supposed to be a review about Swiss Air Business Class, but things turned out very different than planned. The wife and I were going to Budapest on vacation for four days by using United miles to fly DCA-EWR-ZRH (with a six hour layover)-BUD. Everything was all set until Tropical Storm Irma came rolling up the Eastern Seaboard. Having it rain all day in D.C. is pretty unusual for August, but it didn’t rain that hard.
Arriving at DCA several hours early, things were already in a mess with United. We were just supposed to take an RJ up to EWR and then get on our real flight, but that looked increasingly unlikely. The United Club agents were watching things very carefully for when flights actually took off from other airports so they could be sure they would arrive at DCA and then presumably take off for other destinations. The agent actually moved us up to an earlier flight since she knew it would arrive. However, just before boarding time they announced it was cancelled “due to ATC”. Well, the Government doesn’t cancel flights so that told me that United had decided that that plane needed to fly somewhere else and later flights to EWR could take the passengers there instead. There were several other flights that night, but that would cut it extremely close as we would theoretically be landing at 2115 for a connection departing at 2210.
The agent realized this and found an alternate flight leaving out of Dulles (IAD) on Lufthansa and going through MUC to BUD. I hated to lose the six hour layover in ZRH, but did value making sure we got there and with our luggage, both of which would have been jeopardized on the original route. She arranged for the flight and to have our bags retrieved. I had asked her about seats and she said I would have to go on Lufthansa’s website to pick them out. Lucky I did because I found out she had booked us in Economy! I went back to her and she had to get on the line with Mileage Plus to get it straightened out. Took her 30 minutes on the phone – you would think they have a more direct line than customers like me, but nope. We have plenty of time to catch this new flight, but then she tells us that UA won’t pay for our cab to get to IAD because it was due to ATC! I’m going to dispute that one, but this was not the time to do it with the clock ticking.
We got to IAD $80 later and had no problem except that I noticed they booked us in seats 1D and 1G. Looking at SeatGuru.com for an A330-300 I saw that these were bulkhead seats which I am not a fan of. After we arrived at the Lufthansa Lounge (after a side trip tot he outstanding Turkish Lounge), I asked about changing the seats. The agent there was great and explained that there had been an aircraft swap and our seats were actually First Class seats, but with Business Class service. Cool!
We even had the First Class sign! Compare this with Lufthansa Business Class seats.
If we had been back in regular business, it would have been fine, but only “fine”. Really happy to have the chance at Lufthansa’s lie-flat First.
Champagne and nuts were led off with the menu. While my wife went with the prosciutto-wrapped filet, I noticed they had crab cakes. Can’t say that I have ever had crab cakes on a plane before, so I went with that. Turned out to be a good choice.
My wife enjoyed her filet and I found my crab cakes were actually quite good. Not the best I had ever had by a long shot, but pretty good for airplane food!
After getting not enough restful sleep on the lie-flat bed, I awoke to the breakfast. It was good, but I am still not used to the German “cold cuts for breakfast” philosophy.
My wife is getting used to First Class a little too easily. I can see the argument coming next time I book her in “only Business Class”.
Landing in MUC and then on to BUD was uneventful. More to follow on Budapest in the next few days.