Lufthansa Senator Lounge: a bit of luxury flying out of Detroit

This credit card hobby has spoiled me.  Among other perks, my collection of credit cards gives me access, one way or another, to most airport lounges.  I’ve grown accustomed to being able to duck out of the in-terminal commotion to find comfortable seats, free wifi, plentiful power outlets, clean bathrooms, and free snacks.  Both my Delta Reserve card and my Amex Platinum card (but, confusingly, not my Delta Platinum card) give me free access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta.  My Platinum card also gives me access to Airspace lounges, and Amex’s own Centurion Lounges.  And my Citi Prestige card is my key to entering AA AAdmirals Club lounges when flying American Airlines.  Both the Platinum card and the Prestige card also give me access to Priority Pass Select lounges.  The Prestige card’s Priority Pass benefit is better, though, since it lets me bring in a couple of guests for free.

The problem is that I primarily fly out of the Detroit Metro Airport.  When flying Delta, or one of its close partners such as Air France or Virgin Atlantic, there’s no problem.  Delta and it’s partners fly out of the McNamara terminal which has plenty of Delta SkyClubs.  The North Terminal which houses AA, Alaska, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United, etc., though, only has one lounge.  And this lounge is dedicated to an airline that has only one daily flight out of the Detroit Airport: Lufthansa.

The Lufthansa lounge can be accessed when flying Lufthansa in business or first class to Frankfurt.   Another way to get in is to have Star Alliance Gold status and have a same day departing flight on a Star Alliance carrier.  The only Star Alliance carriers that fly out of Detroit other than Lufthansa are United and Air Canada (but the latter only has one route: Detroit – Toronto).  So, when flying from Detroit out of the North Terminal, but not on Lufthansa, the ticket to the lounge is to fly United or Air Canada and have Star Alliance Gold status.  I’ve been told that having a United Club membership (or owning the United MileagePlus Club credit card) will also get you in, but I have neither.

Getting Gold

There was a brief period of time last year in which Copa Airlines was offering easy status matches to elites in many other programs.  I matched from my AA Executive Platinum status to Copa Platinum status.  That gave me Star Alliance Gold status.

Unfortunately, most opportunities for status matching to Star Alliance Gold status, that I’m aware of, have gone away or have been converted to challenges that require flying.  Even Turkish Airlines, which used to offer free and easy status matches, now requires at least one international Turkish Airlines flight during a 4 month trial period.

Finding Opportunity

Since getting Star Alliance Gold status from Copa in October of last year, I haven’t had a chance to benefit from it.  In 2015, I was still chasing status with American Airlines, so I flew AA as much as possible (I’ve since decided not to try to re-up status with AA).  Before that, and since then, I’ve mostly flown Delta.

This week, I visited the House of Miles (Boarding Area’s headquarters) in Colorado.  I planned the trip just about 2 weeks in advance.  By then, ticket prices on regular carriers were quite high, so I looked for award flights instead.  I found a one-way non-stop saver level award on United First Class, which I booked with Singapore Airlines miles.  For the return, I booked a Delta economy award.  Delta allows elites with Gold or higher level status free upgrades on award tickets.  Thanks to my Platinum status, I instantly upgraded to Comfort Plus and my fingers are crossed for a last minute upgrade to First.

After booking the Untied flight, I pulled up the reservation on United.com and was happy to see that it let me set my frequent flyer program info for the trip.  I entered my Copa frequent flyer number.

Enjoying the lounge

I arrived at the airport about an hour before boarding was scheduled to begin and made a beeline for the Lufthansa lounge.  I handed my boarding pass to the desk agent who scanned it and then pointed me to the right side – the Lufthansa Senator Lounge (to the left is the lesser Business Class lounge).  I had brought my Copa membership card just in case, but it wasn’t needed.

It had been about 3 years since I had been in this lounge (when I flew Lufthansa first class).  At that time, I remember being unimpressed with the lounge.  I think they’ve improved things, though, because this time I was happy with what I found…

Not just a few snacks, but real food and drinks…

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It was early still and I knew that I would get dinner on the flight, so I settled for a small snack:2016-06-06 14.54.33-1

And, maybe I tried one of these…

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As to the rest of the lounge, it was nice enough.  Wifi was adequate and seats were comfortable.  Many of the power outlets didn’t work, but I found one that did.  If given the choice, I’ll take this lounge over a Delta SkyClub any day.  Maybe I should start flying United more often…

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. I’m pretty sure flying first in UA will get you access to the LH Senator lounge, regardless of your *A FF status.

  2. What is the best way to use miles on the DTW to Frankfurt route?

    Also have you ever thought of having a reader meet up in the metro detroit area?

    • You’ll get burned by fuel surcharges unless you use United or Lifemiles.
      If you’re flying economy and can book a round trip in advance, you’ll probably be better paying cash.

  3. I have the Chase United MileagePlus Club card. It comes with a full membership that gets you into all the regular Star Alliance member airline lounges – not their first class lounges. Since I live in DC and have family in Detroit, I regularly fly United and use this lounge religiously. It’s a lifesaver, and, here’s the kicker, because DTW isn’t a United hub and because Lufthansa only has one flight per day, more often than not, I’m the only passenger in the entire lounge for hours on end. It’s a hidden gem, and while I also have access to the Delta SkyClubs, I’d take this specific lounge any day. The Club card is worth it simply for the access to the Star Alliance airline lounges, which are – almost without exception -nicer than the UA/AA/DL lounges. The earn rate is pretty great too…1.5 miles on all purchases.

    • If you fly southwest out of DTW, can you still use the LH lounge if you have a UA club card? If not a refundable UA Ticket solves this problem..

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