Flight Date: 03SEP13—I had to get from Tokyo to Tunis for work and although I had many airlines to choose from: Air France, Turkish Airlines, Alitalia to name a few, I chose Lufthansa as I really wanted to check out their A380 and compare it to their B747-400 product which I tried this past June.
Check-in for Lufthansa first class passengers is handled at the ANA Suite Check-in Lounge located at the South Wing of Narita Airport’s Terminal One. This private lounge is positioned next to a special security lane as well so along with the added privacy; check-in and security formalities are a breeze.
LH 711 departs at 09:45am and I find this time slot at Narita to be the least busy. Today was no exception and the normally bustling terminal shops and gate areas were eerily empty. Fine with me! Who doesn’t like an empty airport terminal? The departure gate was 45 which is way down at the far end of Satellite 4.
The South Wing of Narita’s Terminal One is called the Star Alliance terminal and there are two lounges to choose from when traveling first class on a Star Alliance carrier: United’s Global First Class Lounge or ANA’s Suite Lounge. I’ve been to both too many times to count and while both have their charms, the ANA lounge is located just one floor up from Gate 45 so I decided to spend the hour or so there.
I reviewed the ANA Suite Lounge back in May when I flew Thai Airways so please check out that trip report for additional photos and information as well. The ANA Suite Lounge is more about efficiency than luxury; nothing wrong with it really, but a little too…well medicinal for my taste.
My thoughts were on the Lufthansa A380 anyway so after a few quick bites from the lounge buffet and some coffee I headed over early to the gate area to check out the scene. Lufthansa provides the standard two lanes at the boarding gate: First/Business and Economy. While waiting in line an airline staffer was checking passports and boarding passes. When she noticed I was traveling in first, she escorted me to proceed through the check-in turnstiles where I was met by another staffer. This was a nice touch and one of the many little things Lufthansa does to make you feel special.
Due to the layout of the terminal I wasn’t able to snap any shots of the A380 itself which was a bummer. Boarding commenced and I made my way down and then up the jetway to board the upper deck of the humungous plane.
On the Lufthansa A380 there are eight open-type suites in a 1-2-1 configuration. The cabin is finished in charcoal, white and beige. With the tall ceiling, no overhead bins and the understated color scheme; the LH A380 first class cabin feels almost cavernous. I chose seat 2K as it gave me the best vantage point to take photos.
As I got settled in I was greeted by a veteran flight attendant; super nice lady who really knew her way around a plane. She let me know that she was going to be looking after the five passengers in first today and asked if I would like anything to drink prior to take-off. It was only 09:15am but I went for a glass of the Alfred Gratien Champagne anyway.
Soon thereafter another flight attendant came through the aisles distributing amenity kits, slippers and pajamas as well as the wine lists and menus. Food and wine are always a highlight when traveling first on Lufthansa: great selection of wines and liqueurs and the various food choices are well thought-out and plentiful.
Although I found myself engrossed in my menu, I thought I had better go take a few photos of the cabin and bathroom before things got too crowded. Wow! The bathrooms are huge on the LH A380; no showers like Emirates but just as roomy. This is my second flight with the newly introduced Lufthansa first class color scheme and it’s starting to grow on me. My camera skills don’t do it justice. The cabin is crisp and fresh and the single red rose in each seat ads a nice color contrast too.
Our flight was on time and just as we pushed back from the gate it started to rain. The weather had no effect on our ascent though as we glided up smoothly and quietly to our cruising altitude.
Seat belt signs were turned off and the captain announced we were to arrive a few minutes early.
My trusty flight attendant came around just after the pilot’s announcement to take drink and lunch orders. With so many deliciously sounding choices I asked for a few more minutes to decide. I always order the Japanese meal on flights from Japan and as I read through kaiseki course listed my stomach started to growl. It was a tough choice, but in the end I went for the western course instead: caviar with the traditional garnishes, appetizer assortment and seared salmon steak with cheese and port to polish everything off. For those of you familiar with this blog know; I love Sauvignon Blanc, however Lufthansa rarely carries it on their flights. This is OK as my second favorite white wine is Riesling. Today’s choice was a 2011 Scharzhofberger Riesling and a very tasty one at that.
The meal service started out with a Japanese-style seafood amuse bouche followed by a generous serving of caviar. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to resist all the yummy Lufthansa food, I purposely skimped on breakfast and that poor caviar didn’t stand a chance…nowhere to be seen after only a few minutes.
A cart loaded with scrumptious looking dishes soon arrived and I couldn’t resist these either: lobster, sautéed vegetable and salad.
The seared salmon main dish arrived piping hot and although it wasn’t listed in the menu it was accompanied by Romanesco broccoli—which for some unknown reason always reminds me of that old TV mini-series ‘V’ from back in the day! All the dishes on today’s flight, including my alien broccoli, were delicious.
Decided against the cappuccino scented pudding for dessert, but the cheese tray along with a glass of Niepoort LBV Port proved too tempting.
After all this great food; I was stuffed—that said I’m always game to try new things so when the flight attendant offered me some Swiss-made Quince Pear brandy I didn’t refuse. Whoa! This stuff nearly knocked me out, but in a good way. First time to try it and it packs a punch. Similar to an Armagnac but a tad sweeter and more fragrant. Good stuff! I don’t know how, but I was also able to manage a cup of coffee after all this debauchery.
Surprisingly I wasn’t (yet) slurring my words or unable to control myself; unlike the Japanese gentlemen in seat 1K directly in front of me. After several glasses too many he suddenly slumped over and after a few minutes the flight attendants looked worried. Having lived in Japan for almost…forever I told them this is quite normal and not to worry. Sure enough about two hours later he awakened as if nothing had happened.
I have to say while everything so far on the A380 was superb, when it comes to sleeping the B747-400 is the best. The seat on A380 is comfortable and when you’re ready for some shut-eye the flight attendants will come and prepare your bed for you, but on the B747-400 your bed is already made and it’s always there when you want it. Furthermore, should you wake up in mid-flight and decide to read a book or watch a movie; all you need to do is move over to your seat—the best of both worlds. The A380 first class seat is no slouch though.
Since today’s flight wasn’t full; the flight attendant made my bed up in the empty adjacent seat. Lufthansa’s first class beds are comfortable regardless of aircraft type and with the added help of the aforementioned feast I went out like a light.
I woke up somewhere over southern Finland which was about two hours before our descent. I had slept almost 10 hours. Yes!
You would think that after all that food earlier in the day I would still be full. Wrong. All that sleeping had made me a little peckish so I opted for the Japanese dinner. Not as elaborate as the first meal—thankfully—the portions were just right and everything was tastefully presented and delectable too.
Final Thoughts— It’s always a treat to fly first class and especially on a Lufthansa flight. My flight today was fantastic. Lufthansa’s first class service is one of the best. Of all the flights I’ve taken this year; Lufthansa and Malaysia stand out as really superb. The Lufthansa A380 has a lot of things going for it: tall ceiling, huge bathrooms, well-appointed cabin, comfortable seating and individual storage lockers. Along with the physical features the service was impeccable and the food and wine remarkable. My award for best first class bed would have to go the Lufthansa B747-400 though as there is nothing quite like your own dedicated separate bed. Only smudge on this otherwise perfect experience was the fact they didn’t have in-flight Wi-Fi, which is strange as they provide this on the much older B747-400 aircraft—that said this is the reason I slept for 10 hours so no complaints. Highly and strongly recommend Lufthansa first class for any discerning traveler out there. LH gets it when it comes to service.
For More Information on Lufthansa First Class Service
Lufthansa A380 First Class Trip Report Narita-Frankfurt-Tunis Photo Gallery
Lufthansa Business Class Extra
Flight Date: 04SEP13—As I mentioned at the beginning of this trip report my final destination was Tunis so I thought you all might like a glimpse of Lufthansa’s regional business class product as well. There wasn’t a same day connection possible so I decided to overnight at Frankfurt Airport. I chose the Frankfurt Airport Sheraton as it’s a short five minute walk via a pedestrian bridge from the terminal.
My flight to Tunis was scheduled to depart at 09:50am the following day and I was looking forward to a leisurely morning prior to my flight. Jetlag evidently didn’t care about my plans and I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 03:45am. I tossed and turned and tried in vain to fall asleep again but to no avail. I’ve learned there is no fighting this so I got up, showered and headed over to the terminal to check out the Lufthansa business class lounge and get some breakfast.
As I guess you would expect being their home turf and all; the LH business class lounge at Frankfurt was huge and there are four of them! The lounge décor is best described as functional: Black, White, Brown and Metallic. The layout is semi-circle with the food and drink stations located in the middle with the seating areas fanning out facing the windows. The lounges at Frankfurt/Main open at 5am and I think I was the first passenger in the lounge that morning.
The lounge offered a nice selection of drinks and breakfast fare and above all a place to get some work done while enjoying a coffee. The time flew by and I noticed on the departure screen my flight was about to board. I gathered up my stuff and headed over to my departure gate.
The Frankfurt-Tunis flight time is about 2.5 hours and Lufthansa uses its workhorse aircraft A320’s on this sector. Like most, if not all, inter-European business class flights regardless of airline; Lufthansa sports the same 3-3 configuration on their A320s as well. There isn’t any difference in the actual seat compared to economy, but they do block off the middle seat in the ‘business class’ cabin so you do get a little extra elbow room.
The plane was squeaky clean and all the flight attendants were friendly and although about the only German word I know is ‘Becks’ the flight attendant looking after business class on today’s flight was determined I was bluffing and spoke to me exclusively in German the whole flight…? I still managed to order my breakfast and drinks so I guess it all worked out for both of us in the end.
Unlike Lufthansa’s long haul service the food on their short haul flights is very basic and very unappetizing. I picked at my tray a few times and decided to have lunch at the hotel in Tunis instead. Other than priority check-in and lounge access there is really no reason to pay extra for business class on these short haul inter-European flights. Save your money and spend it at your destination on something else. Case-in-point: check out these paper thin seats! All-in-all a quick and trouble free flight though.