Get A Free Ride With Your New Car: European Delivery Programs

Like many longtime New Yorkers, I don’t own a car and know little about the finer points of purchasing or owning a vehicle. A recent Volvo ad caught my eye in an airline in-flight magazine: If you purchase your car and pick it up in Sweden, they’ll pick up the tab on your trip. A new car and free travel? This was something I could get behind! Doing some research, I discovered quite a few of the top European car makers offer an overseas delivery program.

While you’ll have to plan in advance (generally 3-4 months) to get your car and your trip, you’ll save on the vehicle cost, plus get to pick it up hot off the presses and drive it around European roads. Once you have it shipped to the U.S., you will wait another 8-10 weeks or so to be reunited stateside. Some programs include free airfare and hotel nights, most include factory tours, European road insurance and import/export fees.

Here’s a look at the most popular programs, including travel costs and savings.Audi (Germany)
Travel perks: European Delivery customers get 5-15 percent off airfares on Lufthansa, chauffeured pick up from the Munich airport and a free night at a 4- or 5-star hotel near the factory. On the day you get your keys, you’ll visit the Audi museum and factory, with free meals and snacks all day. You then have two weeks to tool around Europe, with free drop off (by advance arrangement) at any one of 16 locations in Germany and western Europe.
Extra options: Serious Audi fans might consider an additional driving or race “experience” in summer or early fall (many of the winter events require special experience like driving in Scandinavia), where you can learn to drive like a pro, take on a racing circuit, or tour Europe in a luxury vehicle. It’ll cost extra, of course, from a few hundred euro per person. Note that all vehicles ready between November 1-April 15 must have winter tires installed at the factory, but that may be included in the cost of the car.
Car pricing: Audis are priced from $33,800, before the discount up to 5 percent off MSRP, except for the highest end models such as the R8 Spyder.

BMW (Germany)
Travel perks: You can get to Bavaria with 5-15 percent off airfares on Lufthansa. At the BMW Welt facility, you’ll get free museum and factory tours, and refreshments at the cafe. They’ll cover European road insurance for up to 14 days, then you can drop off your vehicle at one of 12 locations free, except Italy which has a supplement of up to 850 euro (must be those Italian drivers!).
Extra options: In addition to airfare, you’ll pay to get to the factory from Munich airport, as well as any hotels on your trip. As befitting a luxury automobile, BMW offers a range of luxury add-on trips designed to make the most of driving the Autobahn in the ultimate driving machine. (The “optional” note indicates they aren’t included free in the deal, but they are specially designed for BMW customers.) Winter deliveries will also require seasonal tires in Germany; it is possible to rent the winter tires if you don’t have them factory-installed.
U.S. pick up: Another option entirely is the Performance Center Delivery Program in Spartanburg, South Carolina. If you travel down south for your car, BMW will pay for your hotel and meals, plus a tour of its U.S. factory and museum, and best of all, professional driving instruction. You won’t get the savings you’d get on a European delivery, but the travel costs are much lower.
Car pricing: From $29,065 with savings, up to 7 percent on MSRP. See all models here.

Mercedes-Benz (Germany)
Travel perks: While airfare discounts aren’t included, you’ll get Mercedes’ travel assistance for booking your trip, airport transfers and one night hotel accommodations. When you pick up your car, you’ll have a tour of the factory and museums, meals at the delivery center, 15 days road insurance and a tank of gas to get you on your way.
Extra options: You can add a self-guided tour of the Black Forest or Alps at additional cost. Drop offs in Italy, England or Spain are additional (Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands are covered at no cost), and you’ll have to arrange for winter tires as with the other programs.
Car pricing: Vehicles from $35,800, with a 7 percent discount on MSRP.

Volvo (Sweden)
Travel perks: The best “deal” of the European Delivery programs, Volvo will include two round-trip plane tickets from the U.S. to Scandinavia (we’d assume Stockholm, but it’s 4-5 hours from the Volvo factory), one night in a hotel in Gothenburg, as well as the usual factory tour and road insurance.
Extra options: You will have to pay if you drop off or pick up anywhere other than the factory location, several hundred dollars or more, but it makes sense given the location of Volvo in Sweden as opposed to more central Germany. You may also see some seasonal charges: $150 per passenger supplement for summer flights, and the rental costs of snow tires between December and April. Volvo offers a variety of trips for more Scandinavian travel if you’d like to extend your trip.
Car pricing: Eligible Volvo models are from $31,420 after savings up to 7 percent on MSRP. See available models.

Bottom line: If you’re buying a new luxury vehicle, you likely aren’t a budget traveler. The savings even with free airfare, road insurance and a night at a nice hotel won’t likely offset what you’ll spend on the rest of your trip, let alone a car. However, if you are in the market for a slick new ride, driving it home on the Autobahn after seeing how it’s made is likely to be an unforgettable trip.

Fake Pilot Arrested After Flying Across Europe

Police in Italy have arrested a man for impersonating a pilot and fooling the crew and ground staff into letting him into the cockpit of a European flight, the BBC reports.

A man managed to pose as a pilot using a uniform and fake ID and fly in the cockpit of an Air Dolomiti flight from Munich to Turin on April 6. Reportedly he flew as a “third pilot” and did not touch the controls.

Police, who have not revealed the man’s name, say he is jobless. They are now investigating his motives. They’re also checking to see if he managed to become a “crew member” of any other flights. He was arrested at Turin airport and was found to be in possession of uniforms similar to those worn by pilots but lacking an airline logo, a fake ID and fake flight manuals.

The man used the alias Andrea Sirlo and even created a Facebook page for himself with fake flight attendants as friends.

The website Myflightbook lists Andrew Sirlo as the pilot on a Munich-Turin flight on October 23, 2011.

Bungling airport security seems to be a regular feature here on Gadling. We’ve covered a number of stories such as a child boarding an international flight without a ticket or passport, TSA workers claiming body scanners cause cancer, and an elderly woman being put on the wrong flight.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

7 fantastic airport restaurants from around the world

When I started traveling as a young kid, I was perfectly content with one of the bad cheese sandwiches served on Air UK.

Nowadays I’m a little more spoiled, and am often on the lookout for good food on the ground, as many airlines have stopped serving anything decent (or anything at all) once you are on board.

Here are 5 airport restaurants from around the world that stand out amongst the usual McDonalds and Chilis junkfood.

Gordon Ramsay Plane Food at London Heathrow

There is more to Gordon Ramsay than yelling at kitchen staff on TV. He owns and operates a large number of restaurants around the world, including one in the recently opened Heathrow Terminal 5.

Plane Food serves food all day, including a fantastic breakfast lineup. How about a nice Croque Madame with pan fried quail’s eggs before your flight? Or if you are in a hurry, you can even pick up one of their amazing picnic meals with treats like a roast beef, truffle and watercress sandwich. It sure beats the usual Big Mac people bring on board their flight.

Location: London Heathrow Terminal 5, unit 29
Website: Gordon Ramsay Plane Food
Opening hours: 5:30am-last departing flight (casual dress code)

Berghoffs at Chicago O’Hare

Berghoffs Cafe has been a Chicago icon since 1898. German immigrant H.J.Berghoff made a name for himself when he sold his beer at the 1893 worlds fair.

The downtown location is well known for its authentic German food, but the airport location offers a more limited menu. You’ll still find delicious corned beef sandwiches, but also pizza and basic mexican food. Of course, the airport location also sells the signature Berghoff beer and root beer.

Location: Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Terminal 1, Concourse C, Gate 25
Website: Chicago O’Hare concession listing
Opening hours: 5:15 am-10:30 pm

The Caviar House at London Heathrow

The Caviar House has long been one of the more upscale airport concessions. What started with just a handful of airports, has now evolved into over 15 worldwide locations. The first one I can remember was at London Heathrow Terminal 4 (Heathrow now has one at each terminal).

The Caviar House sells Caviar (duh), Salmon, Oysters, and many other seafood products. To compliment your snack, they also have a fantastic lineup of Champagne and Vodka. It isn’t cheap, but since many people passing through the airport are on their way to a vacation, it could be the best way to start off a great trip.

Location: London Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3 and 5 (as well as 10 other international airports)
Website: The Caviar House
Opening hours (London Heathrow): T1,2,3: 7am-9:00 pm, T5: 5:30 am-last departing flight

JFK Terminal 5/JetBlue

With the launch of terminal 5, New York JFK airport suddenly went from one of the worst airports in the world, to one of the more decent options.

Unless I was flying British Airways (with lounge access), I always dreaded flying through JFK. Of course, it took a low cost airline to bring some luxury to JFK. When Jet Blue moved into Terminal 5, they brought along a great lineup of restaurants.

For once, someone decided to design an airport terminal without filling it with the usual suspects. The T5 restaurant lineup includes Aeronuova (an Italian eatery), 5ive steak and Deep Blue Sushi.

Even the food court food court has a good assortment with Cheeburger Cheeburger, Fresco Pasta and Belgian fry joint Pommes Frites.

In total, you’ll find 20 different restaurants and bars at JFK Terminal 5.

Location: John F. Kennedy International airport, Terminal 5 (Jet Blue terminal)
Website: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Opening hours: varies per restaurant

Airbräu at Munich International airport

Airbräu opened at Munich airport in 1999, and is the only restaurant in the world to bring an authentic Biergarten to an international airport. As far as I can tell, they are also the only airport facility where you can order a 10 liter beer and have yourself one heck of a party.

Of course, Airbräu also has a pretty comprehensive menu offering everything from pork sausages to roast duck and of course, Schnitzels.

The funniest thing on their menu is the “Hang Mans Lunch”; for 95 Euro cents, you get a glass of water, a bread roll and a cigarette.

Location: Munich International airport in the concourse between terminals 1 and 2.
Opening hours: 8am-1am daily

The noodle bar at The Wing – Hong Kong International Airport

This entry in my lineup is a little unfair as it is not accessible to everyone. The noodle bar at The Wing is inside the Cathay Pacific lounge at Hong Kong Airport.

To get into The Wing, you’ll have to be flying in Business Class or First Class (or be a top tier elite member of the airline). Once inside, you can grab yourself a bowl of freshly made noodles from the self service bar.

I’ve been to the Wing several times, and absolutely love it. If you are leaving on a late night flight, the place is usually quite peaceful, and having access to free noodles (and free beverages) is a fantastic way to start your trip.

Location: Hong Kong International airport – right after the security checkpoint
Opening hours: 5:30am – last departing flight

In De Bonte Koe – Amsterdam International airport

Amsterdam airport has always been a great place to spend some time. Between their massive assortment of stores and the airside Casino, you’ll always find something to do. The airport has its fair share of generic fast food places, but they also
offer a couple of more upscale choices.

One of them is “In de Bonte Koe”. This establishment is decorated like the famous 17th century Dutch ship, De Bonte Koe. The food choices are fairly basic, but since it is above the main terminal, it is a great way to escape the crowds.

Location: Amsterdam Schiphol International airport, Lounge 3, 2nd floor
Opening hours: 11am-7:30pm

Our Readers Respond:

* John says: “You know, a good Cornish pasty and a pint of real ale at Newquay Airport in Cornwall beats just about any other airport food ever.”

* Marilyn Terrell says: “If you’re hungry at Dulles airport and it’s not time for breakfast, I’d suggest local favorite burger joint Five Guys, which serves a juicy (messy) burger with free toppings. They also serve fries, and a sign will tell you what state the potatoes are from that day.

* Anne says: “I wholeheartedly endorse the Cuban restaurant in the Miami airport: La Carreta. You have to leave security, and re-enter, but let me promise you: it is worth it. Delicious rice and beans, Cuban sandwiches, tostones, the works. And the best possible mix of clientele–from baggage handlers to tourists. It’s also a great place to kill some time, as I’ve never had a flight leave from Miami on time.

* Zach Everson says: “Legal at Logan (Boston) and Reagan (DC). A chain now, but an excellent one. Chappy at DC is a great bartender.”

** Alan says: Try Vino Volo at multiple US airports, including BWI, JFK, etc. Good wines, good atmosphere, neat snacks. Its a good place to take a break. [Also,] two airports with diners…NJ Diner at EWR and Silver Diner in the Southwest Terminal (Concourses A and B) at BWI. Putting in all the chrome at BWI cost an obscene amount, but it really is a different look for the airport. [Finally,] California Tortilla at BWI and DCA…fast Mexican food, high quality. The street locations are more fun, but the value is still there at the airports.”

** Scott McMurren says: “In Seattle, the Pacific Marketplace food court is fabulous. My absolute, standout favorite is Anthony’s walk-up Fish Taco stand. They typically have Mahi Mahi and Rockfish. I go for the Rockfish. There’s also a Wolfgang Puck restaurant on the C Concourse to grab a pricey Caesar Salad to go….oh-so-much better than anything served on board, IMHO. There are TWO delicious wine bars that serve some glorious vintages by the glass. High marks!

** Coreyo says:at Kansas City International Airport you can get classic KC BBQ and KC beer at the Boulevard Brewery with Arthur Bryant’s BBQ”

** Heather says: “The best sandwich in the world is called “The Wreck” available at Potbellies at Chicago Midway. The staff is no frills and even when the line goes all the way out the door the wait is never long.”