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
I had made my booking online before my trip, but reports from many on Flyertalk indicate that this is not necessary and that agents in the Lufthansa First Class Lounges are able make the booking the day of the rental. While some online have said that Avis does not always respond to requests submitted through the online form, I had no trouble with my reservation. I first received an automated email confirming my reservation request not long after I submitted the online form. The next day, I received a separate email confirming my actual reservation. One final point to be aware of: the online form states that two separate credit cards are needed to secure the reservation (card numbers are taken at time of car pickup), and that at least one has to be “golden”, “Platinum”, or “Black”. As US credit cards don’t have the “gold/platinum” distinction like VISA Gold/Mastercard Gold cards do in Europe, a “premium” card should suffice.
As I mentioned in the previous installment, I asked for my Porsche tarmac transfer to drop me off near the First Class Lounge. I had read reports online from several people who, despite having pre-booked their Porsche rentals, still had to wait a considerable amount of time at Avis, as sometimes the car was not ready/had to be brought from somewhere else. As First Class Lounge agents are able to call Avis on behalf of first class passengers to make bookings, I figured that they’d also be able to call Avis to ask for the car to be ready so I wouldn’t have to wait. Unfortunately the agent had trouble getting through to Avis and after about fifteen minutes I decided to just head to Avis instead of waiting.
Having spent a good amount of time beforehand researching the booking process, in retrospect I could have done myself a favor and figured out how to get to the rental car office. Indeed, the hardest part of all of this was actually finding where the office was located. I initially followed the Google Maps listing for Avis, only to find myself in the actual rental car area of the parking garage. I spent the next 20-30 minutes walking up and down the length of the terminal at least 2-3 times, and back and forth between the terminal and the garage several times as well. Every time I asked someone for directions, I was pointed in the (I was later to realize) wrong direction. Maybe it was a language issue or maybe I’m just bad at finding things/following directions, but it wasn’t until I ran into an incredibly friendly agent from another car rental company that I was able to get to the Avis desk in the terminal, and only then because he literally walked me there from the garage.
With my navigation nightmare over, I found check-in to be fairly easy. Whether it was because the agent in the lounge finally got through to Avis to let them know I was coming, or just the half an hour I burned trying to get to the rental car office, I didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes for the car. The whole process, including having to wait for the car to be brought around, took ten minutes in total. The agent confirmed my special rate of 99 Euro, handed me the keys, and wished me a pleasant journey. I provided my Chase Sapphire Reserve and my AmEx Platinum for the reservation without specifying which was the “Gold/Platinum/Black” card and they were accepted without issue; I assume my AmEx Plat counted as the premium card.
More giddy than I had expected myself to be, I walked to the car in the garage and got in. I’ll preface the remainder of this with a disclaimer: I’m not by any means a “car guy” and my knowledge of cars is about equivalent to my knowledge of petroleum engineering, which is to say not much at all. Despite my lack of knowledge, I was still blown away by everything about the car, from its undeniable aesthetic appeal to the way it sounded when I started it up. Not wanting to damage the $100,000+ machine that I was now suddenly responsible for, I spent a long ten minutes with the car in park, just familiarizing myself with it.
All of the Porsche rental cars are, according to Lufthansa, supposed to have several pre-programmed routes in the GPS, but reports on Flyertalk suggest that this is hit or miss. Indeed, my car did not have anything programmed into the GPS. Assuming that this would be the case, I had planned in advance and mapped out the route I wanted (the Wetterau Route) on Google Maps, so I simply used my phone to navigate.
With my route pulled up and my adrenaline rush having subsided, I left the rental car garage and was off. The Wetterau Route I had chosen offered a good mix of time on the Autobahn and on lazy country roads through small towns. From FRA, I followed the A3 eastward, before turning Northeast towards Gründau and Lieblos. Despite the lack of a speed limit on the Autobahn, I was unfortunately only able to get the car up to ~200 km/hr (125 mph) a few times and even then was only about to maintain that speed for roughly 10 seconds each time due to traffic on the roads. Outside of the busy stretches on the Autobahn, the roads were great to drive on. I found driving in Germany, true to the stereotype, to be quite easy.
On the right side of the steering wheel was a dial/knob with several different settings. From some light research I had done online, I learned that this dial puts the car into different driving modes: Individual, Ordinary, Sport, and Sport+. Again, I know essentially nothing about cars, but I found Sport mode to be the most fun to drive on. There was also a button in the center of the dial that functioned as a “Turbo” button might on a video game. Porsche calls it the “Porsche Sport Response Button”, but I think “God button” would be just as appropriate — hitting the button resulted in about a 15-20 second acceleration burst that 1) sounded and felt amazing and 2) had everyone else on the road thinking that I drive like a jerk. Naturally, I made generous use of the button throughout my drive.
After taking my time navigating the hills and winding roads on my way further north to Altenstadt, I hopped on the A5 to return to the airport. I won’t further belabor the details of what it felt like to drive the car, but it was, in a word, awesome. The two and half or so hours that I was in the car flew by. I’m certain that I would have appreciated the experience considerably more if I knew anything about cars, but even as someone who is clueless, I still found it to be thoroughly enjoyable.
One of the best features of the Lufthansa Porsche rental program is that the car can actually be driven straight up to the First Class Terminal, at which point a lounge attendant will return the car back to Avis. This is something that they seem to be fairly used to at the FCT, as two lounge agents walked out to greet me (one to show me inside, and one to return the car) as I was pulling into the parking lot.
With a few bewildered passengers looking on at the casually dressed 20-something Asian guy who pulled up in a Porsche, I handed the keys to the agent who would be taking the car back to Avis and walked towards the entrance with the other attendant.
This was a fantastic experience and, in my mind, worth the price. Not being a car enthusiast, I’m not sure if I would do it again, but I’m glad to have been able to try it at least once. I found it somewhat disappointing that the GPS had not been pre-programmed as Lufthansa said it should have been, but thanks to Flyertalk I was prepared for this going in. There are a number of reports on FT as well of people being overcharged by Avis for the rental. Indeed, I looked at my account a few days later and found that was charged ~150 euro instead of the 99 that it should have been. While I was able to successfully dispute the charge and have the excess charge refunded with a quick call to Amex, this seems to be a fairly common occurrence and is something to be aware of, for those looking to take advantage of the Porsche rental. Despite the minor wrinkles, this is an experience I’d definitely recommend.