Betty, Bob, Brutus? What name would you give to an airplane?
In preparation for delivery of its first Boeing 777F in Frankfurt this October, Lufthansa is having a contest to name an airplane. Entries will be taken until July 15, 2013 and the winner will be flown to Frankfurt so they can be on hand when the new plane lands.
The airport was in celebration mode for the arrival of Lufthansa flight 454 from Frankfurt, which represents the first, and so far the only, daily service of an Airbus A380 to SFO.
The A380 is the world’s-largest passenger plane and Lufthansa has this plane’s 526 seats configured with room for 420 coach seats on the lower level and, on the upper level, 96 business class seats and 8 first-class seats that are 6’9″ long and 2’7″ wide.
I rode along on the inaugural flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco and before the flight had a chance to roam around inside all cabins of the airplane. Up in the First Class section, the stand-out features include the absence of overhead bins (each passenger receives a locker instead) and the two large, lounge-like lavatories that include changing areas and, hidden behind roll-back walls, urinals, which will go a long way in keeping the bathroom area more welcoming during a long flight.
As you might imagine, before and during this inaugural flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco, there were speeches, a cake and a bevy of airline officials and invited guests in the first and business class section.
But not all passengers knew that this was a special flight.
For my seatmate, Oliver Friedrich, CEO of PV Contractor, a German solar and photovoltaic company with an office in San Francisco, snagging a business class seat on the new Lufthansa jet was a fluke.
He’d missed his United flight to SFO the day before and had spent a frustrating evening trying to get re-booked on another flight that might get him to San Francisco in time for an important meeting.
Ending up at the Lufthansa counter, Friedrich considered himself lucky to be able to exchange his United ticket, 100 Euros and a wad a frequent flier miles for a business class seat on Lufthansa’s flight the next morning. “The woman at the counter mentioned something about a new plane and a new service, but nothing more than that,” Friedrich told me.
So imagine the surprise when Friedrich was settling into his seat and was interrupted by Lufthansa passenger airlines CEO Carsten Spohr, who was passing through the forward business cabin introducing himself and welcoming people aboard.
“Business class is usually quiet and reserved,” Friedrich told me later, “I was wondering why everyone around me seemed to know each other and was chatting away.”
Lufthansa pilots have scheduled a four day strike beginning on Monday, February 22, 2010. Negotiations are currently underway, but if those talks fail to avert the strike, the carrier will be forced to cancel most of its flights. And that will leave passengers stuck at the airport.
The upside? If you do end up spending more time than you planned at a German airport, you’ll be able to find plenty of things to do.
Munich Airport, for example, has an outdoor observation deck and a great indoor/outdoor beer garden with an on-site brewery.
The Hamburg Airport also has observation decks as well as the Airport Model Exhibition – a miniature version of the airport complete with buildings, taxiways, runways, landing strips, and 8,000 light-emitting diodes that light up the tiny airport’s night sky – all on a scale of 1:500.
And at the Dusseldorf, Munich, Hamburg, and Berlin airports you’ll also find Lufthansa WorldShop stores, which offer a promising spot to do some Souvenir Sunday shopping.
The airline recently opened its second WorldShop store at the Frankfurt Airport (Terminal 1, Area B) and, like the others; the store is filled with travel items, backpacks, travel accessories, electronics, model aircraft, toys, and some other fun stuff. Shoppers can earn Miles & More award miles for items purchased here and – here’s a nice twist – also buy items using accumulated miles.
I’m especially taken with this A380 Cookie Jar
The cool container sells for about $107 – or 22,000 miles, so we can’t make it our pick for Souvenir Sunday, which usually has an upper limit of $10. But poking around the WorldShop catalog I did find this cute guy, which sells for 9 Euros (about $12) or 7500 miles.
But since this is Souvenir Sunday and do we have that under $10 rule (which may need to be re-adjusted soon for inflation..), we offer these items sent along by the folks at Virginia’s Richmond International Airport(RIC), where a variety of local museums are represented in the Hudson News store in the airport’s Atrium area, next to the security screening checkpoint for Concourse B.
Have you found a great souvenir while stuck at the airport? If it’s under $10, “of” the city or region and, ideally, a bit offbeat, please snap a photo and send it along. It may show up as our pick for a future Souvenir Sunday.
[And keep in mind: Lufthsansa pilots are planning a strike from February 22-25, 2010. So if you already have a trip scheduled during those days, be sure to check with the airline on the status of your flight.]
It’s still flu season and there are still lots of airports where you can get a seasonal or H1N1 flu vaccine.
For the fourth year in a row the airport is partnering with local health organizations to offer free flu vaccines to passengers. The vaccines will be available Monday, February 22 through Friday, February 26 – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – at Sky Harbor’s Terminal 4 on level 3 before the security checkpoints on both the east and west ends
And, when you’re shopping at an airport in the next few weeks, consider dropping some bills into one of the collection boxes the Hudson Group has placed in each of its airport stores, including Hudson News, Hudson Booksellers, cafes and specialty retail shops. The company is matching customer donations and will forward all contributions to the American Red Cross for the relief efforts in Haiti.