Chasing the A380: Lufthansa A380 First Class Frankfurt to Tokyo

Introduction
Swiss First Class Lounge Chicago
Swiss First Class Chicago to Zurich
Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich
Lufthansa Business Class Zurich to Frankfurt
InterContinental Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt
Lufthansa A380 First Class Frankfurt to Tokyo
Park Hyatt Tokyo
ANA First Class Lounge Tokyo Narita, Lufthansa A380 First Class Tokyo to Frankfurt
Westin Grand Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt, Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Orlando


Lufthansa 710
Frankfurt (FRA) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Wednesday, December 28
Depart: 1:25PM
Arrive: 8:35AM (+1 day)
Duration: 11hr10min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 2D (First Class)

Once aboard we headed left into the eight-seat first class cabin, which is in the nose on the upper deck (unlike Qantas, where it’s on the lower deck). While there are definitely airlines with more glamorous first class suites on the A380, Lufthansa’s cabin is remarkably elegant and understated, at least as a relative matter. There are no massive suites, but rather just an “open” cabin with just the right amount of privacy.

Anyway, as soon as we made it to our seats we were greeted by the first class flight attendant, who was spectacular. He was actually apparently a flight attendant trainer and only works about two trips a month. If this guy is training other flight attendants, then Lufthansa’s new hires are in good hands.


First Class cabin

Before I get into the service too much, let’s discuss the seats. Like I said, they’re not all that private, though they do have privacy shields on both sides if you’re not traveling with someone. The seats have amazing padding, better than just about any other product I’ve flown. So in the upright position, the seat is as comfortable as they get.


Seats 2D & 2G

Each seat has an ottoman which doubles as a storage compartment, given that there are no overhead bins in first class.


Seats 2D & 2G


Seat 2A


Seats 1A & 2A


Ottoman/store compartment

Beyond the ottoman, the seat also has a storage compartment in the center section for glasses, headphones, etc.


Seat storage

Then towards the back of the seat is a cup holder and a deeper storage compartment.


More storage

Here’s something truly unique about Lufthansa’s first class cabin on the A380. As I said earlier, there are no overhead bins in the first class cabin so that it feels a bit more spacious, which is a trend with many new first class products nowadays. Instead, each first class passengers gets their own private compartment behind the first class cabin which they can lock. Many airlines have small lockers, but these are actually massive and fit not only a 22″ carry-on, but have room for a laptop bag, clothes, etc. Really well done, Lufthansa.


Storage compartments

Now back to the actual flight. As soon as we settled in the awesome first class flight attendant offered us drinks. We both ordered champagne, which was served with Lufthansa’s signature macadamia nuts.


Pre-departure champagne and nuts

We were then offered amenity kits, slippers, and pajamas, which I changed into immediately.


Amenity kit, slippers, and pajamas


Pajamas

We were also offered Bose noise canceling headphones. This is a massive improvement over Lufthansa’s previous cheap headphones (not that you can’t use your own, but still).


Headphones

As departure time rolled around the captain came on the PA to welcome us aboard and advise us of our flight time of 10hr20min, anticipating an on-time arrival in Tokyo.

As the door closed there were three other passengers in first class — a couple seated in 1D & 1G, and an older guy seated in 2K (he wasn’t previously on the seatmap, so I suspect he may have upgraded at the airport). For takeoff I moved over to 2A.


Jet bridge retracted

After a 10 minute taxi we made it to the runway, where we were almost immediately cleared for takeoff. Lufthansa has a tail camera on the Airbus 380, which is the coolest thing ever. The other amazing thing about the Airbus 380 is how quiet it is. Even during take off, you can’t really tell the engines are even on.


Taking off


Shortly after takeoff


Rainy day

About 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and I headed back to 2D, where I also turned on the tail camera. The weather was starting to look nicer a few miles up!


Tail camera


Beautiful day at last

The purser appeared within a few minutes of the seatbelt sign being turned off. As is usually the case on Lufthansa, she was engaging and reminded us that we could eat whenever we wanted to. She also presented us with the menu and briefly explained it, given that there’s a Western and Japanese selection. She also emphasized the wine list and encouraged me to do a wine sampling if I wanted to.


Cabin after takeoff

Our awesome flight attendant appeared within a few minutes to take our lunch orders. Seriously, this guy had first class service down to a science. He was the perfect combination of professional and personable at the same time, which many flight attendants lack. We asked to have lunch in two hours, and he advised us to let him know if we wanted anything in the meantime.

I took the opportunity to explore the cabin, starting with the two (identical) restrooms located in front of the first class cabin. Lufthansa’s first class restrooms are massive, with a bench and even a urinal.


First class bathroom


First class bathroom (urinal is what’s covered in the distance)

Between the two lavatories are the stairs leading to the lower deck, though they’re blocked off during flight (apparently to prevent drunk people from falling).


Stairs

I then headed back to business class, which was empty as I’ve ever seen before. There are 98 seats, though no more than a dozen were occupied. While the cabin was huge and featured Lufthansa’s “old” business class product, I’d still fly it in a heartbeat given how much I love the Airbus 380.

The funny thing is that the cabin was still fully staffed, so there were about six or seven flight attendants taking care of 12 or so passengers. The crew to passenger ratio was higher than in first class!


Business class


Yes, this is how empty the cabin was in-flight


Empty cabin!


Wing view from business class

When I got back to my seat I watched a couple of sitcoms on the in-flight entertainment, and before I knew it our flight attendant approached with hot towels in preparation for lunch.


Hot towel

The lunch menu read as follows:

As tempting as the “cockle” and “men” sounded on the Japanese menu, I stuck with the western cuisine (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Service started with an amuse bouche. As usual on Lufthansa, I’m fairly certain they do everything in their power to make it as disgusting as possible (don’t hate me, it’s just my taste — or lack thereof).


Amuse bouche

After my table was set the appetizer cart was brought through the aisle, and I ordered some caviar.


Starter

I also ordered the salad, which was quite delicious and served with an herb vinaigrette. Our flight attendant was sure to keep me well stocked on pretzel bread throughout the meal.


Salad

For the main course I actually ordered the tenderloin of beef off the Japanese menu. Since they have a Japanese menu on flights to Japan, they only have two western entrees, and neither interested me. So while I didn’t think the beef was especially good, it was certainly edible.


Tenderloin of beef

The main course was served with rice and miso soup.


Miso soup

My friend ordered the roast goose off the Western menu, which he enjoyed.


Roast goose

For dessert I had the “Vanilla! Vanilla!” option. My only question is who at Lufthansa is responsible for naming things on menus?


Dessert

I also had a fruit plate, which was tasty.


Fruit plate

For dessert I had a cappuccino, which was served with some pralines.


Cappuccino


Pralines

After lunch, about four hours into the flight, the flight attendant offered turndown service, which I gladly accepted given that I was getting tired and I wanted to be fairly well rested for our morning arrival in Tokyo.


Turndown service

The mattress pad and duvet were among the best I’ve experienced, a huge improvement over the product they have on their 747 and Airbus 330/340 aircraft.


Turndown service

I wasn’t quite as tried as I thought I was, so I watched “Friends With Benefits,” which was pretty funny.


Movie time!

I ended up getting a couple of hours of sleep, and woke up about 90 minutes out of Tokyo, at which point breakfast service began, starting with the menu and hot towels being distributed.


Menu and hot towel

The breakfast menu read as follows:

For breakfast I had some fresh squeezed orange juice, muesli and a croissant with Nutella to start.


Breakfast

Then as the main I had eggs with chives, which was delicious. If only more airlines freshly prepare egg dishes aboard…


Scrambled eggs

At this point the sun was slowly starting to rise, and before we knew it the captain was on the PA to advise us that we were 30 minutes out of Tokyo and that the seatbelt sign would be turned on soon. At the same time the purser walked around the cabin once again to bid all the first class passengers farewell.


Sunrise

I changed out of my pajamas and stored my carry-ons in the locker, and once again took the window seat for landing, accompanied by the tail camera.

As usual, the tail camera views were awesome. We had a smooth touch down and about five minute taxi to the gate, where we said goodbye to the crew.


Tail camera


Tail camera


Tail camera

It took the ground crew a bit of time to get the upper deck jet bridge connected, though once it was we began our 15 minute walk to immigration.


Our plane upon arrival

The wait at immigration was very short, and we found ourselves in the arrivals hall in no time. We went to the “Friendly Airport Limousine” counter, where we purchased tickets to the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Unfortunately the next bus was only in an hour, though we had no problem passing that time walking around Narita Airport.


Arrivals hall


Arrivals board

As usual Lufthansa first class was spectacular. And the fact that this flight was on the Airbus 380 made it even more spectacularerer. While Lufthansa doesn’t have the most cutting edge hard product, the cabin was as elegant as I’ve ever seen. As usual (always?), service was phenomenal. The best part was that we’d have the same fantastic crew returning two days later back to Frankfurt, so we had that to look forward to. But in the meantime it was off to the not-so-shabby Park Hyatt…

Comments

  1. says

    Can’t wait to try the A380 on LH! Another wonderful trip report.

    Agree with you on the storage cabinets. Good job by Lufthansa on that!

  2. OG says

    Flew LH 462 FRA-MIA on the A388 in biz on 1/21, unfortunately my upgrade did not go through.

    I was surprised that there are no amenity kits in biz, and the service was medicore at best, i was disappointed with the service, although i think it has to do with the number of biz class seats (pretty full). I have to say, i kind of prefer the B744 in biz to the A388. Maybe I need another flight.

  3. lucky says

    @ Ralph — I didn’t actually lock it, but I believe you can enter a four digit code to lock it with.

    @ OG — Yeah, I guess my perception might be a bit off from seeing two flights in business that were totally empty. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the A380 crews are VERY junior (I’ll explain why on the return portion of the report), so they’re still largely getting used to the service. You might be on to something, though, because I do like sitting in business class in the nose of the 747…

  4. OG says

    Lucky, Exactly my thoughts.

    By the way, I noticed that there is a “team” that serves each “mini cabin” I was seated in 12A, so pretty close to the front of the first “mini cabin” and they serve back to front – the people seated in the first row or two did not have a choice for their meal. FYI for those who will be flying in business and are considering seat choices.

  5. lucky says

    @ Jake — Totally forgot to mention that. I don’t know if I can give an “honest” answer since I had heard about it before the flight so psychologically would probably say “yes” even if it was no different than any other plane. But I will say that my skin didn’t feel dry at all after the flight (which it usually does), and I was very well rested. So I’d give a cautious “yes” and say I did notice it. Or at least my mind told me to notice it!

  6. caligal says

    another fantastic review and photos. i love to hear of exemplary service, it’s so rare. some just get it right and have a knack for thoughtful precision as though they really care. gives me goosebumps when it’s done right!

  7. Matrix says

    when in Japan I always stay at the hotel the crew stays in, we then end up being the only Western chaps in Makuhari outside Tokyo!

  8. chitownflyer says

    This is a great report on the new LH A388 F! I would thrilled to be able to book an award like this. I do wonder why LH has not upgraded their C product? IIRC, LH is supposed to get a new C product for the 747-800.

  9. FBKSan says

    @OG/Lucky

    I felt MUC-JFK in C on the 380 in December, and I was actually surprised at how good the service was (and our flight was FULL). I tend to find LH’s service in business pretty ho-hum most of the time, so it was great to get solid service on my first 380 flight. Looking forward to hearing more about the junior crews.

  10. AUSTEX says

    Great post – Except – Where is the wine list? I predict that, as the years go by, you will become more interested in wine. Not that there is anything “wrong” with Diet coke (especially with lime)…

    By the way, why don’t you find LH’s amuse bouche amusing? From the looks of the rest
    of the menu, it should have been tasty.

    Perhaps you could add the wine list in a reply. Thanks.

  11. whakojacko says

    I don’t quite get all of the “quiet” comments about the A380, all such reports seem to be mostly from people near the very front of the plane (on either deck). I flew SQ JFK-FRA-SIN last week (C award, apparently the stars aligned just right) and I was right over the wing because the forward seats were all taken, and it seemed only slightly less noisy than I remember over-wing seating being for 747s or 777s.

  12. lucky says

    @ AUSTEX — Totally slipped my mind, will get it ASAP.

    @ Whakojacko — Fair point, I’ve only flown the A380 in first class. That being said, first class is substantially quieter than first class on any 747 or A330/340 I’ve ever flown.

  13. eponymous coward says

    The LH F Japanese menu looks better than the UA F Japanese menu I tried last year (which was OK but nothing special).

    I’d have probably done that (and who knows, maybe US will allow LH F redemptions again someday ;)), but I am a sucker for trying the local cuisine where I am traveling- I usually order Thai food on TG and load it up with hot pepper powder, and ask for the pepper paste on OZ. I can get a steak anywhere at home, but soba’s a bit more difficult (though not impossible on the West Coast of the US).

    Oh, and I thought the ride I took in 23K on an EK A380 was pretty good and quiet, too…

  14. lucky says

    @ Qwerbo — When traveling alone I do prefer the Qantas A380 seat, which I find to be one of the most comfortable in the sky. When traveling with someone else, though, it’s nice to be able to actually sit next to them.

    Qantas has a damn good product. I’d also give their food a slight edge, as it’s simple yet delicious.

    But for me, service on Lufthansa is the best out there, and their ground services are top notch.

  15. Rocky says

    @ben have you chased the korean air A380 yet?? I’m going to in 2 weeks! Can’t wait! all upper deck biz class!

  16. deux centimes says

    I flew this service from Tokyo to Frankfurt back last year in business class. I’m not a fan of Lufthansa as an airline (I would rank it far behind LX, CX, SQ and EK), but even so I found the flight exceedingly uncomfortable. The business seats are not conducive to sleeping, and if you’re a particularly tall and slender person, you’ll find it difficult to find a comfortable position to rest in.

    I especially detest the lack of privacy in the LH C cabin: in this instance the man seated next to me spent a good portion of the flight peering over at my side of the cabin, and gave me a lascivious wink upon our disembarkation. The only positive I took away from it is that the A380 is a notably quiet plane, with take-off and landing being particularly smooth. The service was also pleasant. (The German pilots and male attendants on Lufthansa are drop-dead gorgeous, by the way.)

    I would always order the Japanese kaiseki menu on any flight to/from Tokyo, but particularly departing NRT. Japanese cuisine is flavourful, refined, and healthy in a way that no Western one can match.

  17. Andy Bluebear says

    @deux centimes

    “Japanese cuisine is flavourful, refined, and healthy in a way that no Western one can match.”

    On the refined and healthy, maybe. But while I do enjoy Japanese food, when it comes to French or Italian cuisine…it’s a bit lacking. YMMV.

    Lucky, can you mix and match from the Western and Japanese menus? The options on the Western menu seem a little less than usual…almost at the level of Etihad ;)

  18. lucky says

    @ Matt — Not as far as I know, at least not for arrivals at Narita (vs. Frankfurt, where they have a welcome lounge).

  19. eponymous_coward says

    deux centimes: on the A380, maybe, but LH’s A333 the 343s have a 12 person C mini-cabin somewhere on the plane. So not too awfully crowded. The A380 C cabin must feel like a business class dorm, though.

    I slept OK in 3G on a LH A333 recently on FRA-SEA (6 foot 4), but I’m a side sleeper- plus you get a bit of a cutout in the bulkhead.

  20. ORDnHKG says

    I had the exact same food on my FRA-KIX on 744 new F a month before your flight. That Japanese beef tenderloin was really tough, probably low grade beef and filled with sauce, which already hindered the best taste of beef !

    Even though 380 F is nice, but other than large bathroom, I don’t think it is comparable to new F on the 744 which have a separate real bed next to the seat. I certainly did not regret my choice FRA-KIX instead of FRA-NRT, though my flight had really lousy service in F, despite there were only 4 pax out of 8 seats.

  21. says

    Glad you had good service, Lucky. Of the 4 F-class flights I’ve had on LH, only one was great. Other were all mediocre and I’m not sure why given that loads were always less than full. Crews definitely seemed “over-it”, if you know what I mean.

    Hoping my next F with them is actually worth it.

    Love your posts!

    p

  22. Lana Butler says

    Of the 8 the 1st class seats of 747-8 which would you say for a couple traveling would have the most privacy and quite?

  23. lucky says

    @ Lana Butler — Row one is definitely most private. While center seats in row three are probably closer to one another, I love sitting in the nose, even if traveling with a companion.

  24. Patrick Lowe says

    Great Review! –A have a First Class Flight on an A380 next month, and came across your comments. I have flown many FC INTL Flights. However, this is my first on an A380, and though have flown LFT. AIRLINES twice before, it’s always been BC. Many thanks again for a most informative review. –I look forward to my own experience! –Best, -Patrick Lowe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *