Browsing Tag: Elite status

Follow the signs to the Hugo Junkers Lounge in DUS.

Follow the signs to the Hugo Junkers Lounge in DUS.

Recently on a oneworld itinerary connecting through Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), I was able to visit the Hugo Junkers Lounge, which is contracted by several airlines to serve their premium passengers. As I said in my review of the Hamburg Airport Lounge, I’m always iffy when it comes to third-party lounges, so I headed up the elevator with cautious optimism.

As a oneworld Sapphire elite member (in my case, Platinum on American Airlines), flying with Oneworld partners grants me access to airport lounges, though with the caveat that lounges operated by third parties may not be available. Fortunately, that restriction wasn’t in place on this trip; previously, flying Air Berlin on my first leg from Hamburg (HAM) to DUS, I was given access to the Hamburg Airport Lounge. My next leg from DUS to London Heathrow (LHR) was on British Airways, which contracts with the Hugo Junkers Lounge operated by DUS, to which I was also granted access thanks to my status.

Wikipedia: Who is Hugo Junkers?

The Hugo Junkers Lounge also contracts with several other airlines departing out of in the Schengen zone (read: mainly any airline not named Lufthansa), as well as a few membership programs. One could also pay €21 for access (credit cards only).

An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX.

An American Boeing 787-8 (N812AN) at LAX. Southwest does not have any 787s.

A few weeks ago, my esteemed colleague JL Johnson penned a piece extolling the virtues of his favorite carrier, Southwest Airlines. He laid out nine reasons why Southwest was tops in his mind, and quite honestly I didn’t disagree with any of the facts he laid out on why the airline is so immensely popular with so many people.

However, with all the positives Southwest has under its belt, I personally can’t remember the last time I stepped foot on a Southwest 737… at least seven-to-eight years, I think. So if Southwest isn’t so bad, and I think it’s a perfectly fine airline, why have I clocked about 800,000 miles without a single Southwest flight?

First, let’s get one thing clear: This piece isn’t meant to be a hostile response to JL or his story, or even as a “Southwest is bad” take-down rant. Like I said, he has valid points, and Southwest is a fine airline, one that I even recommend others to fly. The goal of this piece is to give those who are wondering some insight into why someone might choose not to fly Southwest.

Entrance to the Airport Lounge at Hamburg Airport.

Entrance to the Airport Lounge at Hamburg Airport

I’ve been through many lounges, and a big “red flag” for me is whether I’m about to step foot into a contracted lounge instead of one run by an airline itself. Being a oneworld alliance guy at a non-hub outstation like Hamburg, it could have been like being stranded in a desert, parched and wanting of nourishment. On top of that, I was flying Air Berlin, which isn’t usually among the first three or four airlines one thinks of in terms of quality oneworld lounging. Was I going to have to kill some time [like a savage – too much snark?] or [perusing duty-free items] in the main terminal area, or would I be pleasantly surprised…

An American Airlines 777-300ER (N720AN) bound for SYD pushes back from Gate 41 at LAX.

An American Airlines 777-300ER (N720AN) bound for SYD on the inaugural flight pushes back from Gate 41 at LAX.

Less than a week after covering American Airlines’ launch of their new Los Angeles-Sydney service, I found myself onboard Flight 73 on a last-minute holiday down under. The route featured American’s flagship Boeing 777-300ER, with my personal-favorite business class seat. In spite of holding status on both American and Alaska, which would entitle me to at least a little bit more leg and elbow room in coach, I willingly (!) chose to sit in a regular economy seat for a 15-hour flight… and managed to survive.  A feat made even more impressive (or harrowing, depending on your point-of-view) by the fact that I was accompanied by my wife.

Now, I’d like to claim credit for taking one for the AirlineReporter team and be able to gloat for making the trip, but I’m not as magnanimous as my colleague JL, who flew a Spirit Airlines Bare Fare “for science.” There were very strategic, practical, and self-serving reasons for booking seats behind the curtain instead of in front of it.

I’m splitting my experience into two parts: first, about why I chose economy (this time), followed up with my actual flight review of American’s economy service to Sydney.