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August 25, 2013 / oneworld82

Lufthansa Welcome Lounge and Getting to the Rhine River in a Porsche

A few weeks back, when I was still unsure I could snag a first class seat on two Lufthansa flights, I became aware of a promo being run by LH and Avis: if you are transiting in Frankfurt and you are either a Hon member or a first class passenger, you could rent a Porsche 911 S95 for “only” 99.10EUR for 3 hours. I didn’t originally think I would take up this offer, since I was planning to fly to Abu Dhabi where my Etihad flight would leave from anyways. In fact, the flight to AUH was supposed to be flown by one of the two newly reconfigured A333s with new first class, giving me a convenient 3 hour layover in Germany. But then, schedules changed and the new first class was assigned to the DOH/BAH flight, leaving me in a limbo since 3 seats on my proposed Dubai flight – the other alternatives – were already taken. I waited to T-14 for availability: nothing. T-7… nothing. But then, on T-6 (and exactly on my birthday, go figure) a seat opened up and in a frenzy I called United and switched my award reservation to DXB in first class. The other, more unconventional alternative was to fly to Bahrain and to connect on a night Gulf Air flight to Abu Dhabi – I am really happy that didn’t happen because the whole itinerary looked awfully tiring.

So, now I had 6 hours in Frankfurt: that made renting a Porsche just perfect! But let’s go in order.

Once I landed I went through immigration and made my way to the new Lufthansa Welcome Lounge.

The A333 that brought me here from DFW

The A333 that brought me here from DFW

A cheerful old lady greeted me and showed excitement to see a first class passenger: how sweet.

Here I am

Here I am

I asked for a shower, and I proceeded downstairs to have a much-needed wash up.

Shower area lounge

Shower area lounge

Here I found the most astonishing lounge feature ever encountered: free, quick clothes pressing. Basically, you get into the shower room, undress, hang your clothes on a cabinet besides the mirror, click a few buttons… et voila, your clothes are promptly collected and ironed and returned just when you are done with your morning rituals. Shockingly amazing. From a businessman perspective, this is fantastic. Why no other airline thought about it before (none that I know of, at least) is beyond my comprehension. Many times it seems that western airlines hide themselves behind the cliche that Asian carriers provide superior service because their cost structure is lower. Well, Lufthansa doesn’t have a lower cost structure, it’s profitable, and delivers 5 star service to its premium customers. Go figure.

Shower room

Shower room

Trevel gear

Trevel gear

Sink and toilet

Sink and toilet

Shower heads

Shower heads

Like shown from the pictures above, the shower room is well-appointed and spacious.

Hangers for pressing service - right behind the mirror!

Hangers for pressing service – right behind the mirror!

Now press a (virtual) button...

Now press a (virtual) button…

...et voila! Clothes pressed! :D

…et voila! Clothes pressed! 😀

Overall, the lounge had around 10 people in it; it looked spacious, well-appointed, and it had anything you really need to start off your day – drinks, beer on tap, a rather extensive selection of breakfast items, a big hot beverages machine. I was again very impressed.

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After leaving the shower I proceeded to the Avis counter and 15 minutes after I was in the garage in front of my rental. Holy smoke, now THIS is car. Being Italian, I have a particular appreciation for sport cars and cars that look good in general – although I live in Texas I drive a FIAT 500 that is markedly different from all the SUVs and pick-up trucks populating Dallas and that definitely sets me apart since it makes me 1. look cooler than anyone else and 2. save a lot of money in gas. So, it was very easy to love this car.

My baby!

My baby!

Having grown up near Monaco, I am very used to see luxury cars everywhere; but I had never driven a Porsche before, and this was eye opening. First of all, the burst of power once you turn the engine on. This car screams! The “vroooom” that comes with turning the key in is spectacular – as is the fact that the seat automatically shifts forward at that the wheel lowers down a bit. So cool. But the power comes out once you hit the autobahn. Not far away from the airport, you encounter the first stretch of “no speed limit” highway. I was rather conservative at first, and here I hit only 195 km/h (~120 mph). I followed one of the suggested itineraries pre-stored on the navigation system, and off I went towards the Rhine river. The road took me through the town of Walluf and Eltville – which made for very interesting stopovers.

Walluf

Walluf

Perfect pose for some shots!

Perfect pose for some shots!

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GPS

GPS

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Controls

Controls

How can't you love German architecture?

How can’t you love German architecture?

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The latter town, in particular, was very pretty and worth a stroll around: the old burg is really amenable and well-kept, giving out that particular Medieval feeling that Germany’s towns are so famous for. Oh Europe… every little town can enclose so much history! The main church and the Electoral Castle were splendid examples of Germanic architecture, and river front – packed with people strolling by and bikers enjoying their Saturday morning – was spectacular. The Rhine river is pretty wide here, and the bank green with leafy trees. I think I could easily spend a few days here relaxing: I wouldn’t mind it at all, also because this region is dotted by many wineries that would surely keep me busy for a few days.

Eltville

Eltville

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Rhine River

Rhine River

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Eltville: spectacular town

Eltville: spectacular town

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Once I left Eltville, I kept driving along the Rhine banks until the GPS made me turn right into a hilly road that brought me through swats of beautiful forest and on top of hills from where I enjoyed magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. The green-ess of the land astonished me; the old villages that dotted the landscape reminded me a lot of Liguria, the part of Italy where I am from. Simply: beautiful.

Hills around the Rhine valley

Hills around the Rhine valley

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Perfect...

Perfect…

...even for roads like this one!

…even for roads like this one!

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It was now time to head back to the airport though. And that meant: more autobahn! This time around I felt less shy on the pedal – especially because I saw many people going pretty fast. And so… gas it up! I hit 220 km/h (a little less than 140 mph), and what impressed me was the powerful acceleration of the car and the ease with which that kind of speed was achieved. I felt empowered. And a little scared, I must admit.

Anyways, back to the airport. I returned the car with adrenaline still running through my veins and I hit the oh-so-fancy First Class Terminal.

4 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Wandering Aramean / Aug 26 2013 9:07 am

    Continental had similar pressing service in their lounges at IAH and EWR for years. They still do.

    • robertocusato / Aug 26 2013 9:55 am

      I am finding out this service is more common than I thought it were! Definitely great to know!

  2. Tim B / Jun 26 2014 2:01 pm

    Happy to see this worked out for you! I also took advantage of the LH First class offer for the Porsche 911 when i had a huge layover from SIN-FRA-GIG…BEWARE!! After a very speedy processing, i was left to my own devices to go and find my 911 (convertible)…I didn’t sign anything and didn’t even bother to check the car – this IS a Porsche and this is GERMANY…MY BIG MISTAKE. After doing a very nice runabout and handing the keys back to the attendant who came to meet me at the First class terminal, he noticed a scratch on the rim…I informed him, still exhilarated with my ride, that it couldn’t possibly have been me, as I had driven 170km, stopping just once…and off I went. Imagine my surprise to discover that the EUR99.10 charge had turned into a EUR1300 charge!!! I had signed NOTHING…TOTAL RIP OFF!!! Clearly I will fight them, as there is no proof that this was caused by me. LH couldn’t help and repeated attempts to speak with someone at Frankfurt airport Avis were completely fruitless…after a week of calling, with no body EVER answering and after 3 voice messages I gave up and launched a fraud investigation with my credit card. To add insult to injury, I actually own the same car here in switzerland and there is NO WAY that a scratch on a rim costs EUR1300 to fix!!! They have basically charged me for the price of an entirely new rim!! CAVEAT EMPTOR and ALWAYS ALWAYS check the car first and insist that someone is there to verify the state of the car with you. Even better? TAKE A VIDEO too. TOTAL RIPOFF!!!!!!!

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