American Express The Centurion Lounge Las Vegas

After an on time arrival from Seattle in concourse E, I took the underground train to concourse D, where the American Express Centurion Lounge is.

Randy and the House of Miles team sponsored the visit to the American Express lounge for all bloggers while we were at the BoardingArea conference. We were able to use the lounge flying into and out of Las Vegas, I would like to very much thank him for this generosity.

[caption id="attachment_2191" align="alignnone" width="748"]Las Vegas Airport Las Vegas Airport[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2192" align="alignnone" width="748"]Las Vegas Airport Las Vegas Airport[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2193" align="alignnone" width="748"]Las Vegas Airport Las Vegas Airport[/caption]

The lounge is located just past the ‘What happens here, stays here’ sign. American Express Platinum and Centurion card holders have free access to the lounge and other American Express card members can purchase access for $50 USD. If you are ever going to purchase lounge access, please make it this one, the lounge is amazing and quite possibly AmEx Centurion Lounges are the best lounges in the U.S.

As I arrived, they were serving lunch and I decided to have a combination of everything. The food was freshly prepared and tasted delicious. 

Alaska Airlines First Class B737 Seattle to Las Vegas

Alaska Airlines 608
Seattle (SEA) – Las Vegas (LAS)
Boeing 737-900
19 September 2014

Originally I was going to book a revenue flight to get to the BoardingArea conference in Las Vegas this year. After doing research, United had some crazy fares to Vegas that were well over $400 in Economy and $600 in First. I thought there is no way I’m paying that for a two hour flight, then I remembered I have some Alaska miles from the credit card (not just one card :-) ) and I decided to use those for the roundtrip flights since I do not value Alaska miles highly.

I spent around half an hour in Seattle’s Board Room and it left me very unimpressed, you’d think Alaska would have a nice lounge at its home airport… The lounge is in very shabby condition and the food isn’t better than your average domestic lounge, they do have a pancake machine which is awesome! I left ten minutes before boarding and took the train to the N gates and by the time I arrived, the gate area was empty and I was among the last to board.

[caption id="attachment_2161" align="alignnone" width="748"]Legroom Legroom[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2162" align="alignnone" width="748"]Seattle Airport Seattle Airport[/caption]

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

Lufthansa Business Class A330 Frankfurt to 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.

[caption id="attachment_2094" align="alignnone" width="748"]Boarding sign Boarding sign[/caption]

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.

[caption id="attachment_2095" align="alignnone" width="748"]My seats My seats[/caption]

Lufthansa Business Class B737 Katowice to 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:

[caption id="attachment_2066" align="alignnone" width="748"]Boarding in Europe Boarding in Europe[/caption]

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.

[caption id="attachment_2067" align="alignnone" width="748"]Lufthansa B737 Lufthansa B737[/caption]

Katowice Airport Business Lounge (Schengen)

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.

[caption id="attachment_2045" align="alignnone" width="748"]Katowice Airport Katowice Airport[/caption]

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 Business Class A319 Frankfurt to 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.

[caption id="attachment_2027" align="alignnone" width="748"]Frankfurt Airport Frankfurt Airport[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2028" align="alignnone" width="748"]'Business Class' sign ‘Business Class’ sign[/caption]

Lufthansa Business Class A321 Vienna to Frankfurt

Lufthansa 1237
Vienna (VIE) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Airbus A321
27 July 2014

Once I was full from eating both breakfast and lunch/dinner in the Senator Lounge, it was almost time to head to the gate for boarding. As the lounges are located away from all the gates, you have to give yourself at least five more minutes to walk from the lounges through the duty free shops to the gates.

Upon boarding we were greeted by the head flight attendant who was purely responsible for Business class. She was by far the most happiest and funniest flight attendant I’ve ever had on Lufthansa, considering she is from Barcelona and I speak Spanish, we spoke Spanish throughout the flight. It was quite funny as she spoke German, English, and Spanish to different passengers in the (100% full) Business class cabin and she remembered everyone’s names and what language to speak to them in.

It was rather a rainy day in Vienna…

[caption id="attachment_2011" align="alignnone" width="748"]Vienna Airport Vienna Airport[/caption]

Austrian Senator Lounge Vienna (Schengen)

Once I re-checked my bag all the way to Kraków (the agent in Innsbruck told me it would be best to just claim it in Vienna and re-check it), I cleared security and oddly enough they were weighing carry on bags before entering the security area. One guy told me to go and weigh the bag (as they had scales) while another agent working at the scale saw my *Gold tag and told me she doesn’t need me to weigh my Rimowa.

All of Austrian’s lounges are in one ‘lounge’ area, where there are some other non-airline lounges also.

[caption id="attachment_1989" align="alignnone" width="748"]Vienna Airport Vienna Airport[/caption]

Like Lufthansa, Austrian operates three types of lounges:

  • Business Lounge (SA Business Class, Star Gold)
  • Senator Lounge (SA First Class, Star Gold)
  • HON Circle Lounge (LH, LX First Class, HON Circle)

On account of my Gold Status, I was invited to use the Senator Lounge.

[caption id="attachment_1990" align="alignnone" width="748"]Austrian Lounges Austrian Lounges[/caption]