Viva Las BAcon! – The BoardingArea Conference

Alaska Airlines 608 First Class Seattle – Las Vegas

BAcon 14 – Day 1

BAcon 14 – Day 2

BAcon 14 – Day 3

American Express The Centurion Lounge Las Vegas


I probably am one of the last bloggers to actually write about this year’s BoardingArea conference – BAcon, which took place in Las Vegas during the weekend of September 19-21. I’ve had a very busy week since getting back from the city of sin, however since I found some time I decided to write the introduction to the trip report. 

First Impressions of Alaska Airlines

I’m currently inflight from Seattle to Las Vegas for the BoardingArea conference. I decided to fly Alaska since I had quite a few miles sitting in my Mileage Plan account from the signup bonus on the Alaska credit card. That credit card is actually the first card I ever applied for, and it came with a generous signup bonus of 25k miles.

I decided to book SEA-LAS-SEA in First class for 50k miles total. I went to Seattle’s Board Room before the flight and the lounge is really nothing special… It’s really outdated and has a very old style to it. I figured the flight experience would be better… Right, well the crew for the most part is nice except for one FA who would wouldn’t let me go to the lavatory and demanded I stay seated even though we already reached out cruising altitude… Once she was gone, I got up with no problem…

LoungeBuddy App

While casually browsing the App Store on my iPhone last night, I discovered an amazing app which I’m surprised I’ve never heard of, LoungeBuddy!

The app is really cool because you can select & save your Elite Status, Lounge Memberships, Credit Cards, etc and then the app uses that information to provide you lounge information at an airport of your choice. In my settings I selected that I have Star Gold, the Amex Platinum Card (with Priority Pass Select), and a couple of other credit cards which include some sort of lounge access. When you launch the app, it remembers your settings and asks you to create a “trip” or view an airport.

When you create a trip you have to select your origin, destination and class of service, the app then displays all of the lounges which you can enter:

LoungeBuddy

Places I’d Like to Visit Next Year

Near the end of every year I usually make a list of the top five cities/countries/places I’d like to visit in the upcoming year. I know that there are still 3+ months left this year, however, I really like planning in advance. Planning in advance usually makes my whole trip much more enjoyable as everything is reserved, booked, I’ve done the research, etc. I planned my trip to Austria this summer almost five months out and it was probably the one of the best trips in my life because every place I went to was just so beautiful.

As far as my travel plans go for next year, I will be going to Europe for around two months in the summer and travelling around various countries. During those two months I wanted to see as many European countries as I can that I’ve already not visited. The number 1 country I wish to visit is Iceland. Iceland is just so beautiful with all of its nature and landscape, it has been on my list for a long time but I never got around to actually going there. Next up is London, I’ve been to London when I was around 8 years old and I don’t remember anything which is the main reason why I’d like to go there again. Number 3 is Barcelona, Spain is just such a gorgeous country and I’ve been to Mallorca twice but I would really like to visit Barcelona because the city is just stunning. Number 4 is Paris, believe it or not, I’ve never been to France. I know, I know, I don’t know how this happened and I was never able to go to France. The last country on the list is Norway. I went to Sweden last summer and I found it to be absolutely breathtaking and I really loved Stockholm, I have some family in Norway so it should be fun to visit them there.

Lufthansa 490 New Business Class Frankfurt – Seattle

Lufthansa 490
Frankfurt (FRA) – Seattle (SEA)
Airbus A330-300
27 August 2014

After two long “investigations” of my personal belongings, I realised that I didn’t even have time to go to the Senator Lounge and relax a little, so instead I headed straight to the gate, Z25. I was super excited the day before when I found out the flight would be operated by Lufthansa’s new Business Class. Generally the not so popular Lufthansa routes do not get the new product often (once or twice a week) so I was quite lucky to have been on the only new Business class flight to Seattle that week.

The boarding process was kind of a mess… it seemed like half of the people had “SSSS” on their boarding pass written above their name instead of “API OK”. Basically when you tried to board, the gate beeped and you needed to see an agent so that they could manually verify your passport information and then reprint you a new boarding pass with “API OK” written. I was among the last people to board the flight since there ended up being a huge line for the manual verification and then of course something else had to go wrong… Once past all of the paperwork, I was finally able to board.

I boarded through door 1L and turned right into the First Class cabin, it was empty, and then continued all the way to the last row of Business Class to my seat, 16K. My original seat was 4K, however I saw online that I would have a seat mate and decided to switch to another seat so that I could have two seats to myself. Once I sat down, I realised how comfortable the new seats are, you can actually adjust most things about the seat like their firmness, height, etc.

Lufthansa 1363 Business Class Katowice – Frankfurt

Lufthansa 1363
Katowice (KTW) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Boeing 737-500
27 August 2014

After leaving the lounge, I proceeded to the departure gate, 14, where it sort of looked like this:

You have got to love European boarding :-) Just like in Kraków, there are no aprons and instead you are transported to the aircraft by bus. They were also doing the old style boarding where they rip your boarding pass and give you the little piece left.

The flight was operated by one of Lufthansa’s Boeing 737-500 aircraft with just three rows in Business Class.

Katowice Airport Business Lounge

The journey began with leaving the house around midnight and arriving at the airport around 4 in the morning for the flight to Frankfurt which was scheduled to depart around ~5:30. Katowice Airport is much farther from my house in Poland than is Kraków Airport, the only reason I was flying out of KTW is because when I had booked the flights, there was no morning flight to Frankfurt. Eventually, they did open a morning flight from KRK-FRA but that was after my itinerary was finalised so I was unable to change anything without some sort of penalty.

Katowice Airport is generally a nice airport to fly out of given that it is positioned far away from a major city which means the airport can accept aircraft 24/7/365 without any major interruptions. There are two terminals, A (Non-Schengen) and B (Schengen), there is a newly opened Business Lounge in terminal B.

I was “Randomly” selected three times in one day

I put the word randomly in quotes for a reason which I will explain shortly. Yesterday I flew Lufthansa’s new Business Class from Frankfurt to Seattle and while the onboard experience was top notch (as is the case almost always with Lufthansa), my experience on the ground both in Frankfurt and Seattle left me somewhat speechless and angry at nobody else but the American government and their ridiculous ways and methods of trying to “prevent” almost anyone or anything from entering the country.

I landed in Frankfurt from Katowice on time and, as always, went to Lufthansa’s WorldShop to buy something (this time a model B747). After that, I headed for the security checkpoint to enter the “Z” concourse which is where flights to the US leave in terminal 1. I walked up to the line for First/Business Class and showed the guy my passport and my boarding pass and without even checking anything or scanning the boarding pass he tells me that I’m randomly selected for additional screening. He then scanned my boarding pass and told me to wait for someone that would take me for this additional screening. After the other guy arrived (not an officer, just an employee), he told me to follow him and I told him I fly though this airport so many times and I’ve never been selected for anything and I also told him I’m a member of Global Entry. His english wasn’t very good but he told me “Yeah.. we [Frankfurt airport] don’t live up to the standards of others… you should fly though Munich or Dusseldorf next time”. As a worker at the airport, he actually told me FRA doesn’t do a good job in passenger service… He’s absolutely right since the non-airline ground service in Frankfurt is well… horrible, the fact that he actually admitted it and told me to fly through other German airports is hilarious. He then brought me to passport control which took all of thirty seconds and then took me to a special security line which I think was for crews.

Domestic First/Business Class: Miles or Money?

It Depends. Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer to the question above, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on whether it is worth paying for (or paying for an upgrade to) Domestic First or Business Class. Since our hobby widely varies based on airline, alliance, etc, it really depends on all the factors that make up the flight. Generally speaking there are a couple of things that are important when it comes to even thinking about paying for Domestic First/Business Class (or paying for an upgrade):

  • How long is the flight?
  • What type of aircraft is being used? (what are the seats like?)
  • What airline is it and does the airline have a good hard and soft product?
  • What is the price difference?
  • Is there a good way to use miles for the flight?

Now, of course, there are probably hundreds of other different questions you could ask yourself – but it all depends on the scenario. To make things simple, I’ve decided to use United as an example.

Domestic First Class (SEA-LAS-SEA)

PFU-1

Lufthansa 1368 Business Class Frankfurt – Kraków

Lufthansa 1368
Frankfurt (FRA) - Kraków (KRK)
Airbus A319
27 July 2014

I love the Lufthansa flights from Germany to Poland given they tend to always be so empty that I get a whole row to myself. This particular flight had six people and four rows in Business class, the fourth row was completely empty and the third had only two people – me and some lady. I would’ve taken seat 2A, but some couple had it reserved before I booked the flights.

As always, we were driven from the terminal to the A319 by a bus.