The pleasures of a Frankfurt connection

The Lufthansa Senator Lounge (the first class lounge, open to Star Alliance Gold members) is a fairly ordinary lounge, except that they have outstanding food and drink. The arrival breakfast on my flight from San Francisco was the usual cup of grapes, cantaloupe, and watermelon along with something revolting: a croissant with 2 slices of indifferent ham, a slice of unnaturally orange American cheese, and (wait for it) strawberry cream cheese.

WTF?

I couldn’t believe my eyes, and a tentative taste to determine what it was (Leberkäse, vielleicht?) was not enlightening, so finally I asked the flight attendant who was trying to offer me a beverage what the mystery food was. I did so with a conspiratorial grin, to make clear that I wasn’t trying to be difficult, I was just puzzled. She answered, “It’s a ham and cheese croissant.” I pointed at the pink goo and asked more specifically what that was, and she said, “Oh, that’s the stuff that shouldn’t be there. It’s strawberry cream cheese. They’ve been doing this for four weeks now, and I have no idea why. I keep calling it in.” I asked what kind of drugs they’re on and how I could help, and she encouraged me to complain to SkyNet. That I shall. I mean, really–I’m all in favor of experimental cuisine, but that’s just weird, and it’s a cruel thing to give someone whose stomach is already topsy-turvy from all the usual stresses of an overnight flight. Seasoned travelers know that the only way to handle massive time differences is to drink heavily and then try to sleep, and when you’re lucky you nap for an hour or two and awaken groggy and queasy. This is when you want something warm, comforting, simple; preferably savory, but most importantly simple. This is NOT a time to eat a misguided attempt at creative breakfast cookery.

Fortunately, I was landing not in LAX, where I was supposed to connect, nor Heathrow, where there is no edible food to be found, but Frankfurt.

My Wednesday afternoon plane to LAX had had a mechanical problem, so after a 45 minute trip to the runway and back, we were informed the repair would take at least an hour and sent back into the SFO gate area to wait in line for customer service to figure out how we’d all get whither we were going. I got on the phone with the 1K desk and was given an option to leave really late, fly to Dulles, wait a long time, and then fly to Heathrow, arriving close to midnight Thursday. There’s a slight mileage gain from that vs. a direct to London (this trip is, after all, all about racking up some elite qualifying miles), but not enough to be worth that kind of ordeal). I asked about the direct and was informed it was completely full and oversold with eight people on standby. I asked about connecting through Frankfurt and then getting a Lufthansa flight to London. She sounded puzzled but tapped away at her keyboard and told me I could take a 7pm United flight to Frankfurt, arriving 3pm, and then connect on a 4:20 Lufthansa to London arriving 5pm. This sounded a lot better than the Dulles option–faster, more miles, and a connection in Frankfurt!

Frankfurt is a huge, huge airport. I once had an hour and a half to connect from Vienna to SFO by way of Frankfurt, and to be on the safe side I decided not to pee until I got to my departure gate and had my walking behind me. I walked and walked and walked, as briskly as I could, which would be a fast trot to many people. And walked. And walked. I walked into my departure gate, onto my plane, and the door closed behind me. I peed in the plane’s lavatory. It’s that huge. But if you have a connection where you don’t have to switch terminals, and you have time to visit a Lufthansa lounge, you’re in luck. Fabulous food and drink await!

I’ve enjoyed a yummy, buttery carrot soup, a Frankfurter, a couple pretzels, and a glass of draft Beck’s. I’ve found there’s nothing quite like a good beer for settling a travel-jumpy stomach. I couldn’t resist tasting the Viennese grüner Veltliner wine, too, but it’s not sitting as well as the beer did, so I’m enjoying tiny sips with another pretzel. They have wifi here, but I’m too cheap to buy a T-Mobile Hotspot account (yet), so I’m just typing this into a file for now.

And now I see it’s time to start ambling to my gate, but first I’ll grab a few provisions for the rest of my day…

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