October 28, 2007

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Err line

So I’m sitting on the floor near Gate 8 in Terminal 1 at JFK, propped like a doll against a pole between a trash can and the only power outlet in the whole concourse, near as I can tell.* People wear strange looks when they walk over to dump something down the hole next to my head.

It’s par for this afternoon’s course, here at JFK, where I’ve become acquainted with how little even United’s high-privilege flyers mean to Lufthansa, the United Star Alliance “partner” I’m flying tonight to London via Munich.

First, it’s not possible to select a seat, or even express a seat preference, until you get to the airport. So I got here early. My assigned seat was a middle one, 37F, a middle seat in the middle of the back of an Airbus 330 Vers. A (333). The qualifying stuff (version A, 333) are from SeatGuru.com and SeatExpert.com, which I’m comparing now.

I asked the agent if an upgrade was possible. Only with United miles or certificates, she said. I usually use the latter, of which I have plenty; but they’re all electronic. United hasn’t issued printed certificates for years. But the agent said I’d need the physical certificates. So, how about a window seat in economy, then. There was one: 46A, in the back row. Okay, I said, and took it. Then she asked me if I had bags to check. I said “one”. Then I asked it two carry-ons were allowed. “No”, she said. “Just one”. So I spent a minute moving electronics, laptop batteries and breakables from my carry-on bag of extras into my laptop bag. (Later, somebody told me that the rule is “One carry-on and one briefcase”. I really don’t know, still.)

Then there was the lounge gauntlet. As a lifetime United Red Carpet Club member, and as a United 1K (>100,000 miles/year) flyer, and a Star Alliance Gold member (it says on both my cards), I should be able to get into the Lufthansa lounge. But when I walked in, the person behind the counter looked at my two cards as if I had handed her a couple of dirty dishes and asked if I was a “million mile member”. I’m not, as far as I know, but said “I don’t know”. After chewing on that response mentally for a short while, she said “Okay”, and let me in.

There wasn’t a power outlet in the whole place except at a few desks in one corner. Worse, the club was on the near side of Security and packed with people. So I bailed, went through security, and found my way to this spot on the floor.

I just checked with SeatGuru and SeatExpert, which showed the below (SeatGuru first), for 46A:

Looks to me like SeatGuru wins that one. But we’ll see about the seat.

See ya in the Old Countries.

* [Later, just before boarding…] I just noticed that Samsung has kindly corrected the power outlet problem by locating poles at points along the concourse, including this one in the middle of dining area. Not much better — I’m kneeling at this one, while all the nearby tables are full — but I felt I needed to issue a factual correction.

[Later again, now on board the plane, in 46A…] A few kind words for Lufthansa, now that I’m on board. First, they have clean, unblemished windows, which is HUGE for a window-sitter (and ‘shooter) like me. Their toilets are much nicer, and less beat up, than those on most United planes I’ve flown. And their seats are nicer, with much more sensible trays and pockets — and a cupholder, which makes complete sense. Okay, gotta go now…