[an error occurred while processing this directive] Think any airline can remove all the hassle from flying? Lufthansa is trying. On Dec.1, the Frankfurt-based carrier opened the world's first exclusive terminal for first-class and high-mileage travelers. Lufthansa's élite fliers are met at the entrance of a sleek gray sandstone-and-glass terminal in Frankfurt Airport by a personal assistant who handles all of air travel's mundane tasks from bag check-in to seat assignments. These pampered passengers only about 350 daily then wait in an opulent lounge with overstuffed Italian leather chairs, a linen-tablecloth restaurant, offices and a cigar room with a selection of whiskeys.
Five to 12 minutes before departure time, fliers will proceed to the customs desk (no line here!), from which they will be whisked across the tarmac in a Mercedes or Porsche to their plane. Lufthansa is planning another exclusive terminal in Munich, and may consider similar lounges and the personal assistant service for passengers traveling from airports like New York City's John F. Kennedy or Hong Kong International. "It's the experience on the ground where we are setting ourselves apart," says Lufthansa executive Carsten Spohr. "We want to show that quality has indeed come back to air travel." Other airlines haven't yet gone quite so far, but British Airways will next month open a spa for its top-end customers at JFK, and SwissAir will copy Lufthansa's all-business-class flights with a new route from Newark to Zurich.