Author Topic: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR  (Read 10064 times)

Offline hrshl

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Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« on: February 07, 2016, 07:31:56 PM »
Time to finally write up a trip!

JFK-FRA        SQ F    A380
FRA-ADD-JNB    ET J    77L & 77L
JNB-CPT        BA J    73H (operated by MN)
CPT-DOH-IAD    QR J    787 & 77W


I planned this one awhile back, focused more on the flights then the destinations. I had no particular desire to visit Frankfurt save for the fact that I could fly there in SQ Suites. But I still had a good time and saw some interesting things, and it wasn’t too cold. Sadly, my originally scheduled ET 788 was swapped with a 77L, so I didn’t get to try that out. South Africa was amazing, I’ll definitely be returning there again.

But first things first, I had to get to JFK as I’m not based in NYC. You’d think that before taking a trip with flights retailing for $12,000 total maybe I’d try to get there in style. Maybe a cheap Avios first class redemption (pre-devaluation), or Acela first class (pre-devaluation)? But the flight schedules would have me stuck for an annoying amount of time at JFK, and do I really want to burn valuable UR points on a NEC train trip? I had a different thought. What would make me appreciate SQ suites more than preceding it with Megabus? I kept an eye on the schedule and as soon as it opened I shelled out all of $3.50 for the ticket from Washington Union Station to Manhattan. I decided to treat myself and buy a $7 seat upgrade to sit in the front row of the upper deck. Thus I got to maximally enjoy many hours of scenic New Jersey Turnpike. Afterwards I spent a few hours in town with some friends before heading out to the airport.

The subway and AirTrain were perfectly pleasant and there was minimal waiting time for each. You New Yorkers don’t know how good you have it, $2.75 for what you get is still a steal. Check-in at JFK took all of 15 seconds, though I did have to wait for almost half an hour amidst a gaggle of crabby El-Al passengers in the premium security line. The included lounge access was to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, which looked okay I guess but the service was uninspiring. Nothing self-serve and I had it took 15 minutes for an attendant to approach me so I could order some water.

I sure had a big grin on my face when I saw this out the window, however:



Up next:
  • A flight I wish went on much longer
  • Leisurely strolls along the Main
  • An off-putting experience with the German police

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2016, 08:26:52 PM »
Great start so far.

Offline Proisrael

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2016, 04:56:14 AM »
Great job!

Offline benjie1305

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2016, 07:38:38 AM »
Very nice!
Work hard, Play harder!

Offline sam28

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2016, 05:15:43 PM »
keep it coming fast .

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2016, 05:59:13 PM »
Nice, looking forward to the QR 787 J review, as I'm booked on that flight in July (CPT-DOH).

Offline Work-for-ur-muny

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2016, 09:07:38 PM »
Pics?

Offline Denverite

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2016, 09:27:08 PM »
Love it...especially the "splurge" upgrade on the bus to Ny! ;)

Offline LoLo

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2016, 04:26:54 PM »
Awesome start, if only all n00bs began like this.. the world would be a better place.


(Waiting for someone to quote dan's famous quote on buses..)
« Last Edit: February 09, 2016, 04:30:23 PM by LoLo »

Offline FlyFirst

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2016, 06:08:27 PM »
Awesome start, if only all n00bs began like this.. the world would be a better place.


(Waiting for someone to quote dan's famous quote on buses..)
http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=44320.msg1227351#msg1227351

Offline LoLo

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Offline LoLo

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Offline hrshl

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2016, 07:43:04 PM »
keep it coming fast .

Trying my best! Work unexpectedly has me pulling some 11 hours shifts this week. I promise the next installment tonight.

Pics?
Yes, there will be pics. But did you really want to start off with New Jersey? One thing I realized a few days in to the trip is I'm not cut out to be a travel blogger- taking a picture of every lounge, piece of food, and toilet on my journeys. I've got plenty of pictures to share but I may occasionally diverge from the "travel review" M.O..

Offline hrshl

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2016, 09:17:13 PM »
SQ suites were as amazing as advertised. As soon as I got on the plane I was surrounded by attendants who kept checking that I was all set. They proactively offered to take a photo:



They they stored my larger carry-on in a spare storage compartment next to the stairwell. (I travelled with carry-on only. More later on my flagrant disregard for various airlines’ strict carry-on weight limits and how a bit of confidence with a first/business class ticket will get you far.) The service was incredible throughout the flight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen FAs more excited to do their jobs, and do them well.

One thing I didn’t get from seeing reviews of suites online is how massive they are. It’s difficult to illustrate in a picture, but here’s a color distorted panorama and a shot across the middle two seats in the row:

 


It’s unlike any other plane seat I’ve ever been in and really it feels more like a private train compartment than an airplane, with the closing door and movable blinds. Unlike other “lie-flat” seats I’ve been in, the suite undergoes what looks like a total transformation when converted to a bed. The side trim/surface collapses away completely to allow the bed to be wider than most.

I’ve seen written elsewhere that JFK-FRA might be too short to properly enjoy the suites, and now I’m inclined to agree. By the time food service is completed you don’t have enough time for a full night’s sleep. Although the sleep I did get was the second most restful I had on the entire trip! When it was time to wake up I was so disappointed, I wanted to stay longer. Never had that feeling on a plane before- even with lie-flat seats and good IFE, I usually still get stir crazy.

In conclusion: Wow.

I’m scheduled to fly the Etihad First Apartment next month but I’m pretty sure it can’t measure up service wise.

I actually covered less ground on this post than I intended (pun intended). Up next is Frankfurt. TTYL

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2016, 09:41:43 PM »
Having just gotten off my own first SQ R flights I'd say LAX-NRT-SIN was perfect for enjoying Suites. The first 10 hour flight you stay up (it's a daytime flight) and sleep the whole second 7 hour flight.

Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to more.

Offline ADG

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2016, 01:23:00 PM »
Having just gotten off my own first SQ R flights I'd say LAX-NRT-SIN was perfect for enjoying Suites. The first 10 hour flight you stay up (it's a daytime flight) and sleep the whole second 7 hour flight.

Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to more.

How many miles?

Offline hrshl

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2016, 08:25:31 PM »
Frankfurt

Entering Germany was a breeze, and I was at the regional train station within 10 minutes of stepping off the plane (no checked baggage). I found both the S-Bahn (regional rail) and U-Bahn (subway/streetcar) systems easy to navigate. I wasn’t able to use either my CSP or Arrival+ at the ticket machine at the airport, only cash. At other stations I was able to purchase tickets using the Arrival+ with PIN, but not the CSP.

My hotel, the Westin Grand Frankfurt was near a transit hub and the Zeil pedestrian mall. Lively area, even in the cold of winter. My room wasn’t ready for check-in yet when I arrived in the morning so I went for a walk first along and across the Main:


The hotel was nice, standard western-style hotel. Nothing that remarkable, other than the interesting classic cars throughout the lobby, like this 1929 Duesenberg:


Frankfurt is very pedestrian friendly, something that can’t be said for the later cities on my trip. Easy to navigate without a map or directions with the river being so central.

Old town:


Nighttime on the Zeil:


As this was my first time in Germany, obviously I wanted to check out some sites of Jewish interest. Unfortunately, both the Museum Judengasse and Jewish Museum were closed for renovations. They are scheduled to reopen next month / 2018 respectively. I could only peek into the old cemetery behind the Museum Judengasse and see the adjacent memorials including one for the Borneplatz synagogue which was destroyed on Kristallnacht. The Stolpersteins throughout the city were quite moving. I had heard of them but never seen them before and I made sure to stop and read each one.

On my last day, I was hoping to stop by the Westend synagogue, which mostly survived and was later restored. I rode the U-Bahn out to the neighborhood in the morning. As I was approaching it, I was stopped by a couple of police officers.

Now, a quick digression. I think the presence of police there is a great thing, which demonstrates the commitment of the German state to protection of Jews, especially given recent events across Europe. I am very much glad they were there and appreciate their service to the community.

They said a few things that I didn’t understand as I don’t know any German. I asked them if they spoke English and one said she did. She asked me what I was doing there and I told her I wanted to visit the synagogue. She was terse, not quite hostile, not friendly, but I got the impression that she was asking me to leave, so I did. Now, that wasn’t my only option, I could have pushed and explained that I was Jewish, but in the moment I didn’t feel like that was worth arguing. And it would’ve been quite an odd thing to declare/argue to German police anyways. I left with a mix of emotions, as you might expect.

Later that day I was off to FRA for my flights on Ethiopian Airlines to Johannesburg. I didn’t find FRA too difficult to navigate, as some people have warned. I liked the big old-school flap display – those are always fun to watch:


Next up:
A couple of 77L flights on Ethiopian, and Sandton and Soweto in Johannesburg.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2016, 09:09:12 PM »
Ha-ha (to your pun). Thanks for the segment!

Offline hrshl

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2016, 09:41:34 PM »
In reality, the only reason I went to Frankfurt was because that’s where SQ goes. South Africa, however, was somewhere I was interested in going and to get there I redeemed 55,000 United miles for a partner award on Ethiopian Airlines. While I was hoping to potentially switch to a LH or SA nonstop, no availability materialized. Ethiopian had a perfectly respectable operation and I wouldn’t hesitate to travel again with them in the future.

I was looking forward to taking their 787 from FRA-ADD, but unfortunately they are notorious for equipment swaps. I thought my chances of a swap were high when seeing that five of the seven past days the 787 had been replaced with a 77L. When I saw the incoming flight to FRA was a 77L I knew for sure. At least it looked nice in the mist:



2-3-2 seating, but I had an empty middle seat on both segments:



There were two lounges in ADD, *Gold and Cloud Nine business class. Business class customers were discouraged from visiting the *Gold lounge due to crowding. The Cloud Nine lounge had the most interesting décor I’ve ever seen in an airline lounge:



At the back of that photo you can see a circle around a kettle where one of the lounge attendants made Ethiopian coffee over an open fire. I smelled the fire before I realized what was going on. Certainly not a smell you expect indoors, least of all in an airport.

Here's the second 77L from ADD-JNB: Extra long “hot and high” takeoff roll as advertised.


Offline hrshl

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Re: Frankfurt Johannesburg Cape Town via SQ ET MN QR
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2016, 09:47:12 PM »
Arrival in JNB was easy. I bought a roundtrip ticket on the modern Gautrain system that took me to the upscale suburb of Sandton where I was staying. The central shopping area / Nelson Mandela square is nice, but basic pedestrian amenities like sidewalks were lacking in the short distance between the Gautrain, the Square, and my hotel.



I wasn’t in Johannesburg for very long, but I did take a tour to visit the Apartheid Museum (excellent!) and several historical sites in Soweto including the former Orlando power plant, the Hector Pieterson memorial and museum and Nelson Mandela’s house.



Anyone want to walk the plant into the cooling tower?



I took the Gautrain back to the airport and had a perfectly pleasant BA 737-800 flight to Cape Town. Business class much better than first in the US, of course.



It cost 12,750 Avios in business as an “off-peak” award, which conveniently for South Africa travel tracks the northern hemisphere peak season.

Next up Cape Town and fund with penguins!