Lot Polish Airlines Business Class Chicago-Warsaw
Hotel du Louvre
Park Hyatt Paris
Notre Dame and add our “lock of love” to a Parisian bridge
French Open (day 1)
French Open (day 2)
Radisson Blu Champs Elysees
Arc de Triomphe and Siene river cruise
Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan
Le Eiffel Tower and Sacre Couer
Lunch at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower and other Dining options around Paris
LOT Polish Airlines Economy Class WAW-ORD
The Journey to Paris
On November 1st 2013 when United announced a huge devaluation of their miles I immediately went online to look for a business class award. My criteria was just that it be before Memorial day so that I can incorporate that day into our vacation without having to burn an additional vacation day. I saw availability on SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) for two seats and booked it!! I later researched SAS’s hard product and realized it was old and didn’t look very appealing but thought to myself its better than an economy seat so be happy with what I got.
With the outbound flight booked I turned to the inbound options. I kept checking options for two business class seats, originally I had my heart seat on Lufthansa first class and in fact wasn’t going to take this trip unless I could fly LH first class (hah!). I realized I wasn’t going to be able to build up enough Ultimate Rewards to fly LH in time. I swallowed my pride and just booked two Lot economy tickets to at least have a way home. If something in business class opened later I could pay a change fee and and additional miles. In fact Austrian opened up two business class seats for a day that would work but I was short miles at the 90 day window in which they opened award availability and by the time I had the miles the seats were gone! So lets see how we actually ended up flying to Paris!
We got to General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) about 2.5 hours early and there were no lines at all. We decided to sit and have a Bloody Mary while waiting. We had a connecting flight at O’Hare and a connecting flight in Warsaw, Poland before arriving in Paris.
Boarding pass for our next leg
As Bob Uecker would say, “I must be in the front row“!
After a short 15 minute flight we landed in Chicago and made our way over to Terminal 5 which is the international terminal. Although we had our boarding passes printed in Milwaukee I didn’t receive any sort of lounge pass so I wanted to ask at the ticketing desk if I needed one to enter the lounge to wait for our flight. The woman said I only needed my boarding pass to get in and we were on our way!
We were somewhat familiar with this terminal as we were there last summer when we went to Bali and Hong Kong however in walking the hallways there was no signage for what lounge Lot Airlines used and the lady at the checkin desk didn’t advise me either. I was pretty certain it was the same lounge we used last year for our Cathay Pacific flight. I stopped in the Etihad Lounge to ask and indeed I was correct. Right across the hall was our lounge and It was now being used for Lot and Turkish flights. As we were walking in they were putting out the signage for LOT so at least the other passengers would know where to go!
We settled in the TV section of the lounge enjoyed a glass of sparkling wine and watched some baseball until the lounge dragon interrupted to change the channel to CNN to watch the Santa Barbara University shootings and she was not too shy to give her opinion on the shooting and other aspects of life!!! After acting busy on my phone I think she got the hint to go sit outside and let the guests watch the TV.
We went to the gate to board our flight about 10 minutes before scheduled boarding. The line was long, the (gate) lice were heavy. The line must have been 50 deep for the economy section. The sun had just set and the sky was amazing. The business class line was somewhat long and wouldn’t you know it several economy customers were lined up in the business class line. Is it that serious? They were escorted over to the economy line with the others.
As it turns out we were boarding LOT’s BRAND NEW Boeing Dreamliner named Franeck! They received this puppy April 30th so it was less than 60 days on the job when we boarded. My wife and I were two of seven Business Class customers on tonights flight. The Cabin has 18 seats in Business Class. We were offered a cold towelette and beverage of our choice along with a newspaper. We were also given our amenity kits that contained the basics.
The cabin felt open and airy, the plane was quiet for the most part except when the engines fired up but not as loud as the older generation of aircraft. We played with the window controls using the button to dim the windows. The flight attendants serving us were very nice and accommodating.
We got comfy in our seats which are a nice size and ordered our meals and for the most part the meal was very good! The flight to Warsaw from Chicago was just under 9 hours and we had plenty of food to keep us full.
However there were two negative aspects of our flight! The first was when we tried to sleep. We sat in the third row which is the last row in business class and the damn flight attendants were LOUD. I don’t mean chatty loud but they were slamming every door in the galley constantly! Do they not know people are trying to sleep? There are also lockers right behind the third row but not in the galley. Perhaps this is where they were storing their personal possessions and they were going in and out of those compartments and not closing the doors quietly. The second negative was breakfast service before landing. I am a big crepe fan! Seeing crepes on the breakfast menu was great and it was a no brainer decision for me. My wife chose to have them as well BUT when they went to take our order they only offered the other two options. I asked, “do you have the crepes??!!!!” She apologized and said they only catered two and the people sitting ahead of us already ordered them. COME ON!!! You only have 7 people in the business class cabin!!! Cater seven of each menu option. The crepes were the only warm breakfast option. People are paying several thousand dollars for these seats and you only cater two dishes for the crepes!!?? So we both passed on breakfast and didn’t want no stinkin’ granola!
All in all I liked LOT. Its clearly not as good as my Cathay Pacific business class flight last year but the hard product is a lot better than my Aer Lingus business class flight last year to Ireland. The nice thing is that availability is good for business class so with that in mind I won’t mind booking it at all in the future. If I have my choice next time I go to Europe I want to try Austrian.
Lot Polish Airlines Lounge
We had a 3 hour layover in Warsaw and spent it relaxing in LOT’s Business Lounge. Since we didn’t have breakfast on our flight we had some pretty tasty soup (forgot to snap a picture). We grabbed our wifi codes at the front desk and played around on our phones until it was time for our next flight to Paris. The lounge wasn’t overly crowed and had a fair amount of power outlets for charging if you sat in certain areas. They had plenty to read if you read Polish. They had some fair food options and they did have a shower room to freshen up if you like.
When it came time to board we actually walked downstairs to a bus instead of walking through a normal jetway. This was our first remote stand boarding. The bus was PACKED. I guess people in Europe are used to being packed in on subways but I am not. They should have used two buses. I will admit it was somewhat cool to be standing on the tarmac next to the plane.
We were assigned front row bulkhead seats and in European business class they simply block off the seat next to you. So the seats are all the same you just have more room and privacy as you have your side of the seat combo to your self. The flight attendant handed out a selection of magazines for business class customers which I couldn’t read (I can’t read Polish) and shortly after takeoff served us our lunch which was decent. I liked the purple kraut! The flight was pretty uneventful and just under two hours long.
I was excited to get my first views of Paris and the Eiffel Tower from the plane. I was happy to end a long travel day and get on the ground in Paris!
I originally booked our flights for SAS on Sunday May 25th. I booked the flight on Nov 1st 2013 when I heard about the United devaluation. It costed $25.50 and 50,000 United miles. I booked our tickets separately one from my wife’s account and one from my mothers account (for my birthday gift she was nice enough to apply for the Mileage Plus card and got 50,000+ miles signup bonus). Below is a shot of our original itinerary and fare breakdown.
A few months later there was a schedule change to our quick connecting flight. I knew that if there was a change that I could potentially change my flights free of charge by claiming the new flight time wasn’t convenient. I held onto this ace in the hole so that if something better came along I could book that instead with no change fees.
After checking every day in May I found 2 seats on LOT business class. I called United and after 20 minutes holding for an agent and another 40 minutes on the phone with the agent he was able to change my itinerary completely free! Our new flight information is below:
All in all 50,000 United miles and $25.50 for LOT Polish Airlines business class per person!!! United miles are very easy to obtain. United has a card with Chase called the United Mileage Plus Explorer card and it offers personal and business versions of the card. The standard offers are for 30,000 miles after spending $1000 within 3 months of approval. Some people are/were able to get 50,000 mile offers if you had a United account with miles in it prior to applying. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are transferable to United as well and of course there are several Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards such as: Chase Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold and Ink Plus. Bear in mind that as of Feb 1 2014 this flight would now cost 70,000 United miles per person. Also know that to find Lot award availability I had to check ANA’s website to search for availability. I may do a separate blog post on using ANA’s website to find flights on Star Alliance.
Let me know if you have any questions on the flights or how I put this together! I am happy to help.