Portugal Part 17 – Getting Home from Portugal in Style

Probably my favorite picture from our trip

On our last morning in Portugal, the alarm was set for 4:15am (11:15pm Eastern Daylight Time). I woke up even earlier than that. It was going to be a very long, but hopefully, fun day getting back home.

We grabbed our bags and headed out of the very quiet Penha Longa Resort. Our car was parked in the small lot on the circular driveway as I had grabbed a spot a couple of nights earlier when I drove back to the hotel. No need to wait for a valet.

The drive to the airport took about 30 minutes. There was a surprising amount of traffic on the highway toward the airport at that hour. We dropped the rental car off in the Hertz return line. I just left the keys in the vehicle and later that day, received a receipt showing the correct charges.

We walked over to the departures area and found the Lufthansa counter. There was only one passenger in front of us for the Business/First/Star Gold check-in. The rep made sure our bags would be tagged through to Washington Dulles and told us that the TAP business lounge unfortunately didn’t open until 6am. There is also a Priority Pass lounge but it’s currently closed.

We got through security and passport control in a matter of minutes and found a café near our gate to wait with a coffee. At this point, it was only 5:15am and we weren’t boarding until 6am.

A few minutes before 6, we headed over to the gate. They announced boarding for business class and pre-board passengers, so we had our documents checked and walked to the jetway, only to be stopped as the plane wasn’t quite ready. Finally, around 6:15, we were allowed to board.

View of the crowded jetway from our seats

LH1173 LIS-FRA
Scheduled 6:45-10:45
Actual 6:42-10:35

We were in seats 5A and 5C with a blocked middle seat, as is typical for most major European carriers in intra-Europe business class. Lufthansa has terrible slimline seats with no back support and no adjustable headrests. Delta Main Cabin is much more comfortable. There’s also no in-seat power.

Lufthansa still requires masks on all flights, even though German airports and lounges do not require them anymore. We had ours on in Lisbon anyway as Portugal requires them but as soon as we exited the plane in Frankfurt we were able to remove them.

After we took off and the seatbelt sign was turned off, the flight attendant came around taking breakfast orders. There was no menu, but she told us the choices were mini pancakes, a meat and cheese platter, or muesli. I ordered the pancakes and they were pretty decent. Drinks were offered after the food was delivered and I got a coffee and some water.

Breakfast

Later on the flight, snacks and chocolate were offered.

These were really good

There were some nice views of the Spanish, French & German countryside on this beautiful morning.

We touched down at 10:24 and had about a 10 minute taxi to the gate. We ended up at A1, one of the closest gates to the exit.

We walked out past the First Class Lounge (as we had bigger ideas) and exited through baggage claim. There was no passport check as this was an intra-Schengen flight (like a US domestic flight basically).

We walked outside to the left past the taxi rank and over to the First Class Terminal. When you arrive at the lower level, you enter and take an elevator up one level.

We were greeted by one of the staff, who basically became our PA for our stay there. She guided us through security. It was by far the most stringent security check we had on our entire trip. We had to remove all electronics, take off our shoes, and my wife even had to remove her soft ankle brace.

Once the formalities ended, we were escorted into the lounge. The PA took our passports to give them to border control and said she would come back and get us when it was time to board our flight. We grabbed a couple of large chairs in the center of the lounge. It was reasonably busy but there were plenty of seats.

There was a great spread on the buffet and given that we only had a couple of hours before our First Class flight, we didn’t want to fill up too much at the sit-down restaurant.

The chicken spaetzle and salamis were particularly good. We also tried some of the salads and desserts. There was also plenty to drink.

My wife passed the time by going through the extensive whiskey list and pricing them all out to see which one was the most expensive. 😊

She told me to try the Macallan Amber, but unfortunately it was not available, so I asked for the Dalmore King Alexander III, which I had enjoyed the last time I was there. It too was not available. I ended up trying the Scapa 16 year and the Dalmore 15 year, both of which I enjoyed.

We asked for and received the signature rubber ducks, although they currently only have the black ones, which I also got last time I was there.

Around 12:50pm, we were retrieved by our PA and taken down for our ride to the plane. We shared a Mercedes van with two other passengers from our flight who had been in London for the EFL Championship playoff final.

We had a very short ride as our aircraft was in the first Z gate nearest the lounge. Last time, I got a tour of the whole airport, but my wife still thought it was very cool. We took an elevator up to the gate level and walked through the left side of the jet bridge right into the First Class cabin. I was in seat 3K and I gave my wife 1A so she could have the experience of being in the very front of the plane, ahead of the pilots upstairs and even ahead of the front landing gear.

LH418 FRA-IAD
Scheduled 13:10-16:00
Actual 13:21-16:02

We found our seats, stowed our belongings, and were immediately provided with champagne, menus amenity kits, pajamas, and slippers. I changed into my pajamas before we took off, because, why not?

Bose noise-canceling headphones are hardwired to the seat. All the controls are pretty easy to use, although the screen could use an upgrade (which is coming next year). My wife was impressed with the amenity kit as she said the lotions in there are very expensive. Here is the menu and wine list:

I noticed that even though Lufthansa still requires masks, they were not enforcing the policy in the First Class cabin. I took mine off after a few minutes and never put it back on.

I had another glass of the rose champagne as we loaded up and taxied out. After we took off, the flight attendants sprang into action.

We started with an amuse bouche of mozzarella with pureed tomato.

Next up was caviar. I switched to the Riesling at this point.

Then came the assorted appetizers.

I chose the asparagus for my main course as it’s only available for a short time and only on flights from Germany. It was really good.

I ended with the chocolate dessert.

During the meal, I watched the movie Belfast. After lunch, I went to the restroom while my seat was turned into a bed and napped on and off for a couple of hours.

I couldn’t really sleep so I ended up watching the recent James Bond movie, No Time to Die. They should have called it No Time to End, because it was almost three hours long.

About 90 minutes before landing, I ordered the Spanish meat and cheese plate along and enjoyed a warm pretzel with it. Sorry for the blurry picture.

Next was the tom kha gai soup which was phenomenal and probably the best thing I ate all day. I’ve never had a soup this good on a plane.

I ended my feast with rhubarb crumble and ice cream (not pictured) and a glass of the monthly special whiskey, which was my favorite of the ones I sampled that day.

We landed about 20 minutes early, but of course another aircraft was at our gate so we sat on a taxiway for 20 minutes anyway. Once we got off the plane, Global Entry was very fast, but our luggage took 40 minutes to come out. At least we had priority tags. I can’t imagine how long it took for economy bags to come out.

Rather than re-check our bags then, we decided to grab an Uber and go meet my brother-in-law’s family in Bethesda where our daughter would meet up with us as well. We had a great family dinner and took another Uber back to the airport around 8pm for our 10:15pm flight on United. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed due to a late arriving aircraft. We did get a row to ourselves in Economy Plus on that flight so at least we could nap.

I’ve written about our experience at Dulles on an earlier post so I won’t harp on it here. In the end, we got home around 1:45am after our older daughter graciously picked us up at 1am in Atlanta. Despite the Dulles/United ending, Lufthansa First Class was a great way to get home from a great trip.

I hope you enjoyed this trip report. Up next: DC in July, Montreal in September and Ireland in October.

If you enjoyed this post (or have questions), let me know in the comments or send me an email at emptynestermiles@gmail.com. If you are thinking about opening a new credit card, please use one of my links.

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