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Inside the exclusive Airbus clubhouse of some of the world’s most frequent first-class flyers

Feb. 19, 2020
7 min read
Inside the exclusive Airbus clubhouse of some of the world’s most frequent first-class flyers
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Some meet-ups are held in cocktail attire at posh clubs; others choose to geek out over shared interests at convention centers, or trivia night at a dive bar. For one particular group of travelers, though, the venue of choice is far more exclusive — the “pointy end” of a wide-body Lufthansa plane.

I jumped at the chance to experience the latter, when legendary first-class flyer Gino Bertuccio extended an invitation to join him and six friends to buy out an entire eight-seat Lufthansa first-class cabin (four, for a variety of reasons, would later drop out).

While I hadn't yet flown with Gino, he's almost a household name among certain frequent flyers, seeking out inaugural high-end experiences, such as the Etihad Residence, despite the frequent high cost of such trips.

Gino was clearly the leader of this exclusive group — he seemed energized to be around fellow aviation geeks, and appeared to be at home at the very front of Lufthansa's first-class cabin, explaining "If my seat (1A or 1K) is taken, I'll fly another day."

I'll be sharing our experience, but note that this isn't meant to be a traditional TPG review. Head over here for our full impressions of Lufthansa's first-class experience. Instead, I'll be presenting our adventure in a "trip report" format.

As if a chance to meet this group wasn't enough, a special fare from Paris (CDG) to Bogota (BOG) via Frankfurt (FRA) brought the cost of Lufthansa first class down to $2,100, including nearly 12 hours onboard and plenty of time at the carrier's famed First Class Terminal, to boot. Credited to United Airlines MileagePlus, I walked away with 2,372 Premier-Qualifying Points (PQPs), along with 17,784 redeemable miles, worth more than $230, based on TPG's valuations.

The four of us met up at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, a short walk from the main terminal area. Aside from Gino, who lives in Miami, the group included Cherag Dubash, from Abu Dhabi, and Agustin Aguero, from Buenos Aires.

After a quick lunch (you have to try the schnitzel!), we walked a few feet to the bar, which boasts what has got to be the largest whisky collection in an airport lounge.

I proudly introduced Cherag to my First Class Terminal tradition, a top-shelf whisky tasting.

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We settled on a duo of 21-year Scotch, a Glenfarclas and Glenfiddich, and one 25-year Glenfarclas as well. Such a treat!

After a couple of hours, it was time for the main event... or, almost time.

First Class Terminal guests are driven directly to the plane in a Porsche, or, if several visitors are on the same flight, a far-less-exciting Mercedes van.

With the rest of us in the van, Cherag had somehow landed himself a private Porsche Cayenne, offering a clear view of the airport, including dozens of wide-body planes along the way.

Before heading upstairs, we paused for a quick photo shoot — naturally, in front of Cherag's Porsche.

After a group shot, and a farewell to Frankfurt, it was time to board our Airbus A340-600 to Bogota, Colombia!

With our smartphones in camera mode, we each went directly to our four window seats to check things out.

With our departure just a few minutes away, the group took some time to get settled, so I decided to indulge in a glass of Champagne.

I was initially impressed with the service, but as it turned out, the flight attendant working my aisle was far more attentive than the crew member assigned to the other aisle.

Gino and I enjoyed a cross-cabin toast. While my neighbor in 2G was friendly as could be, with four strangers between us, I was bummed that the plan for a cabin buyout hadn't materialized as expected.

Just before the crew closed the door, I popped into the bathroom to change into my Lufthansa-supplied PJs, which ended up being a key component of our mid-flight group photo near the top of the post!

I was still feeling stuffed from the lounge, but who can resist a feast of caviar among friends? Easily one of the highlights of flying international first class.

With nearly 12 hours onboard, there was plenty of time to hang out — Lufthansa's sliding ottoman was perfect for one-on-one chats.

While Gino and Cherag didn't have the most attentive service, in 1A and 2A, being able to enjoy Lufthansa first class among friends definitely made the experience feel special. I just wish the rest of the group hadn't dropped out — a full cabin buyout would have been the way to go, especially with Lufthansa's widely available $2,000 first-class fares from Paris to Bogota, via the exceptional Frankfurt First Class Terminal.

Stay tuned for much more to come, including Q&A chats with frequent flyers Gino Bertuccio, Cherag Dubash and Agustin Aguero!

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023