The First Travel Day of the 2015 MotoGP Season – SFO to DOH
Because so much of this job of mine is travel, I thought that for the 2015 season I’d share some experiences from the road just to give you idea of what happens before and after the racing. It’ll likely be iPhone photos in these posts, btw.
First travel day of the 2015 season
It’s my first work-related flight for 2015, and at the moment I’m at the Frankfurt airport, waiting for the flight to Doha, Qatar.
United used to fly from the U.S. all the way to Doha, after one of those Jump Through This Hoop stops in Dubai (where you barely get off the plane before turning around so you can go through another security check, then wait to get back on the plane you just got off). But as they’ve discontinued service to Doha I’m back at the Frankfurt Airport, connecting via Lufthansa.
The first couple of times I came to Qatar via this route I grew to dislike it. At that time I had no standing at Lufthansa or the Star Alliance, so I had to spend a lot of time in the airport itself, wondering if I’d be able to get my roller into the cabin. It was touch and go several times in the old days. I found Lufthansa much more attentive to cabin luggage than I was used to with United. My roller is heavy, and more than once I had to talk my way onto the plane with the roller by my side rather than gate checked.
One of the nice things about doing over 100k miles per year with one airline is the set of benefits that goes with that much travel. At the moment, instead of sitting in one of the smokier non-smoking airports I visit, I’m enjoying the Lufthansa Business Lounge. Just finished some scrambled eggs and my second cappuccino, in fact. With a little over an hour to go before my flight to Doha, I’ll have time to get one more beer into my system. Due to local attitudes in Qatar, I’ll have to live off food and water for the next week.
I got lucky with an empty middle seat on the flight from SFO. I was by the window, and the woman in the aisle seat was nearly giddy when no one showed up to claim the middle seat. She celebrated by filling up the middle seat and middle tray with so much of her stuff that it was almost like having a person there. But her stuff didn’t take up much of the arm rest or sneeze on me, so it was still a bonus.
Just as we’d parked at the gate she asked me where I was going, and when I told her, she was suddenly full of questions about Qatar. Had I been there before, what was it like, is it safe these days etc etc. We sat there and chatted while the other passengers filed by, and I was too polite to say something like “Let’s get the hell off this airplane, lady.”
Once I managed to acquire my freedom, I enjoyed the second leg of my journey, that being from the A gates to the B gates. Jet Blue could get some customers if they started up a air shuttle service inside this airport. But that trip took less than half an hour (including the two flights of stairs and bonus security check), so it was better than Madrid.
Lounge Life Is Nice
Finally I arrived at the Lufthansa lounge here in the B area. It’s quite a different experience from the Red Carpet Club.
If you look at the image at the top of this post, you may notice mirrored ‘walls’ behind the glasses. Those slide open to allow the kind folks in the kitchen area to restock the food items, such as:
We’re in the Frankfurt airport, so yes, frankfurters. They are just changing over from the breakfast items to lunch food, and when they replaced scrambled eggs with these wieners, there was nearly a stampede of hungry travelers who couldn’t wait to help themselves. These are a popular item!
Another nice touch in this lounge are the boiled eggs, which they’ve colored thus:
They even left a few of them white, in case the bright colors aren’t your thing. Considerate.
The more I fly United (approaching half a million miles), the more I get the feeling that I’m stuck with the Microsoft Windows of air travel. I’m a Mac guy, not a Windows guy. Is there an Apple of airlines? Is it Lufthansa? Qantas? Virgin? I’d like to know.
Taking off for Doha shortly. Maybe I have time for one more beer. In additional to several choices in bottles, there are two kinds, on tap!