One Last Suites Hurrah — A Week in Central Europe via Singapore Suites and Lufthansa First
- Introduction and Booking
- Singapore Suites Check-in JFK and Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
- Singapore Airlines Suites Class JFK-FRA and FRA EasyPass Enrollment
- 36 Hours in Prague and Czech Airlines PRG-BUD Review
- Budapest, BUD Priority Pass Lounge, and Lufthansa Intra-Europe Business Class Review
- Lufthansa First Class Porsche Rental
- Lufthansa First Class Terminal FRA Review
- Lufthansa First Class FRA-JFK Review
This is a light post recapping my quick ~36 hours in Prague. Nothing groundbreaking, not a lot of pictures, and not much air travel-related other than a quick summary of my surprisingly good experience on my Czech Airlines flight between Prague and Budapest; so feel free to skip if you’re not interested.
From PRG, I took the Airport Express bus to the city center, where I was able to hop on the Metro (subway) to get to my Airbnb. I found the bus to be a great, cheap alternative to taking a cab that didn’t significantly increase my travel time or cause any inconvenience (~35-40 minutes from boarding to arrival). As a non-Czech speaker, I had no trouble figuring out where to go to buy tickets in the terminal, as the airport has booths with English-speaking attendants and information about both the Airport Express bus and the Metro.
On my ride into the city, I was struck by the number of KFCs and small Chinese restaurants dotting the city. The juxtaposition of remnants of Communist-era architecture and culture with the effects of globalization is of course one of the unique selling points of former Eastern Bloc countries, and it was quite fascinating to see in person.
I checked into my Airbnb in the afternoon and met my two mid/late-20s hosts who, just as I had hoped, happened to be in the mood for a drink. It may not be for everyone, but a couple shots and some beers with locals is my favorite way to quickly get the feel of a new city. I ended up having a great night out with some awesome people and learned more about the Czech Republic than I could have from going on any sort of tour. Naturally, and just as if we were in New York or Berlin or Hong Kong, we capped the evening with late night gyros.
About a week before my trip, I booked a running tour of the city for the next morning. At 45 Euros, it was perhaps a bit pricey, but for a personal tour guide/running partner and a 90 minute, customizable, no BS tour of the high points in Prague, I thought it was worth the money. Most importantly, I was able to schedule my run for early enough in the day that most tourists had not yet emerged, giving me unfettered and uncrowded access to the city’s most popular landmarks. I really enjoyed the experience and would highly recommend similar running tours to those who are so inclined.
I spent the rest of the day wandering around the city, stopping into random restaurants and bars for a quick bite or a drink when I was tired. Having been to most of the touristy “must-see” spots earlier that morning, I was able to stroll around at a leisurely pace rather than rush to squeeze everything in. Spoiled by the open-container laws where I live in the US and happy to be able to do what I do best, I found watching the sunset with a couple cold beers in Havlíčkovy Sady to be a perfect end to the day.
The next morning I caught the Airport Express bus to PRG, where I was able to take advantage of the last day of my SkyTeam Elite Plus status — thanks to Alitalia’s generous status match back in 2016 — to get a free checked bag. I spent the 90 minutes or so before my flight at the Erste Premier Lounge, a Priority Pass lounge. Priority Pass members flying out of Terminal 2 at PRG also have access to the Menzies Aviation Lounge right across the hall, but everybody I saw (at least 6-7 people) outside the two lounges headed for the Erste Lounge so I assumed it was better and didn’t bother with the Menzies lounge. I found the lounge to be quite nice. The food selection was fairly meager but service was good, the lounge was spacious and clean, and wifi was decent.
After catching up on some news and email, I headed to the gate about 20 minutes before boarding for my Czech Airlines flight to Budapest.
- Czech Airlines OK 790 PRG-BUD
- March 31, 2017
- ATR-72 turboprop
- Dep: 12:12 PM Central European Summer Time
- Arr: 1:40 PM Central European Summer Time
- Duration: 1 hour, 28 minutes
- Seat: 4A
Having had no experience with Czech Air other than their online interface (which leaves much to be desired), I was very pleasantly surprised by both the hard product and the service on the flight. The flight was operated by an ATR 72 turboprop featuring 64 seats — 56 coach seats in a 2×2 configuration and 4 “business class” seats (i.e., the same as coach seats only with the adjacent seat blocked off), all with a 30″ pitch. I assigned myself a seat towards the front of the cabin at check-in but came to regret this when I realized the door at the back of the plane is the one used for passengers. Notably, the seats were very well-padded with supple leather and were in great condition. The clean and almost new-appearing cabin was a stark contrast to the wear and tear that cabins of US carriers typically show.
The service provided by the two flight attendants, as well, was quite pleasant. The short flight was otherwise uneventful, but I walked away with a very positive view of Czech Airlines. I would not hesitate to fly them again.
Upon arriving in Budapest, I hopped on the anachronistic Soviet-era airport subway to get into town.