Chasing the Sun: Lufthansa First Class Seattle to Frankfurt

Introduction
Lufthansa First Class Seattle to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Lounge & Senator Lounge Frankfurt
Thai Airways First Class Frankfurt to Bangkok
InterContinental Bangkok
Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge Bangkok
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to San Francisco


I left my apartment and picked up my friend at around 12:20PM for our 2PM departure. The drive took about 20 minutes, so we made it to check-in at about 12:55PM after parking at an off-site lot.

Check-in was more or less deserted since we were there just before the cutoff. The agent working check-in was friendly and efficient and printed out our boarding passes in no time. She had her colleague escort us to the premium security line, though she left us at that point and said she’d see us at the gate.


Lufthansa check-in


Lufthansa check-in

The priority security line wasn’t very long, though it seemed to take forever for the few people in front of me to clear security. Despite the brief moment where I was confused with someone from Jersey Shore, we were through within a few minutes.

After that we took the underground train to the S-concourse, where our flight would be departing from. The first thing I noticed was the stunningly beautiful Emirates 777, which distracted me for a moment, though we then walked over to the “Club International” lounge, which is used by ANA, Condor, Emirates, and Lufthansa in Seattle.


Emirates 777


Club International

The agents took our boarding passes, though by the time they had us registered, the ground agent tasked with escorting first class passengers to the plane arrived. I was planning on connecting to the wifi and walking to the gate by myself a few minutes earlier, though the agent tried to convince me to come along by saying “the lounge is nice, though the plane is nicer, so why don’t you come with me?” Fair enough. While there were some emails I was hoping to catch up on, a majority of Lufthansa’s Airbus 330s have wifi, so I was somewhat counting on having that aboard.

There was one other first class passenger, so the agent escorted the three of us to the front of the queue, and we were aboard within minutes.


Being escorted aboard

Lufthansa 491
Seattle (SEA) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Thursday, November 8
Depart: 2:00PM
Arrive: 9:10AM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr10min
Aircraft: Airbus 330
Seat: 2G (First Class)

Once aboard we turned left through the business class mini-cabin and stepped into first class.


Business class

We were assigned seats 2D & 2G, while the only other passenger was seated in 2K. These seats are the old Lufthansa first class seats, though I knew that going into the flight, since Lufthansa doesn’t have any Airbus 330s featuring the new first class based in Frankfurt. This FlyerTalk thread is the best place to track which routes/airports/aircraft are most likely to feature the new first class.

For comparison purposes, here are reports from the new first class on the Airbus 380, Boeing 747-8, and Boeing 747-400.


Seats 2D & 2G


View of the cabin


View of the cabin

Sometimes you can tell within a few seconds of settling in that it’ll be a great flight, and this was one of those cases. Within moments of settling in the lovely (relatively) young flight attendant working the aisle introduced herself and offered us drinks. I ordered a glass of champagne, which was served with mixed nuts (a change from the last time I flew Lufthansa, as they used to just serve macadamia nuts).


Pre-departure beverage and nuts

She also immediately offered us Rimowa amenity kits, slippers, and pajamas.


Amenity kit and slippers

While I loved the Rimowa kit itself, the content were pretty basic, as is usually the case on Lufthansa.


Amenity kit contents

The pajamas were a color I didn’t previously have, so I was excited to add them to my collection/wardrobe. As I’d be flying for the next 24 hours and wanted a clean set of clothes upon landing, I immediately changed into the pajamas.


Pajamas

A few minutes ahead of our scheduled departure time the captain came on the PA to make his welcome aboard announcement. I find Lufthansa pilots to be among the proudest and most authoritative when it comes to their announcements, and this guy was no exception.

“I vant to velcum you onboard my 64 meter aircraft. I am your senior captain, and my senior first officer is _____, who vill be taking command of my 64 meter aircraft as captain when I go rest. Za other first officer is also a senior first officer, so you’re very lucky to have over 60 years of experience in za flight deck today.” Aside from that fun stuff he also informed us the flight time was 9hr25min, which along with an early departure and short taxi to the takeoff runway would translate to an early arrival.

The safety video started as we pushed back, and by 2:05PM we were taking off on runway 34R.

Our climb out was smooth, and as we took off I reclined my seat and started playing around with the entertainment system. The selection is very limited and the screen tiny, though I was at least happy to see that “Ted” was in the video library, which I’ve been meaning to watch. A movie about a guy who’s best friend is a teddy bear seems right up my alley.


My movie choice

About 10 minutes after takeoff the captain turned off the seatbelt sign, and the flight attendants sprung into action. Sonja, the aisle flight attendant working first class, closed the curtains and set up the bar in the front of the cabin.


View from my seat

Meanwhile the male purser, who I didn’t find to be especially engaging, distributed menus and wished us a pleasant flight.


Menus

The dinner menu read as follows:

And the wine list read as follows:

Let me just say up front that Sonja was amazing. Some will say I’m a bit biased as a German, though I find that a good Lufthansa crew strikes such a great balance between being efficient/professional and personable. And Sonja embodied that in every way. She was completely formal and professional, yet couldn’t have been more attentive, friendly, and approachable. Her service was flawless in every way, from the way she set the tables to the way she served everything. Simply fantastic.

Anyway, back to the actual flight. Sonja started the service by offering us hot towels. Lufthansa no doubt has the most pleasantly scented ones in the sky.


Hot towel

We were then offered drinks along with the amuse bouche. The amuse bouche consisted of cucumber and salmon, and was actually quite good (by my tastes) compared to what they usually serve.


Amuse bouche and Diet Coke

Shortly thereafter Sonja rolled out the appetizer cart, and encouraged us to take as much as we wanted. I wasn’t that hungry, so just had the caviar and seared beef with peanut sauce, both of which were delicious. I was most excited to find they had pretzel bread in the bread basket, which is a favorite of mine.


Caviar and seared beef

The next course was a pretty simple salad with balsamic vinaigrette (contrary to the menu, which lists it as being “delicious Dressing,” which I can assure you it was not).


Seasonal salad with dried yellow Tomatoes and green Bell Pepper Julienne presented with delicious Dressing

By the time the main course was served I wasn’t especially hungry, so I just had the potato cake, which was simple and tasty.


Semolina Potato Cake with Tomato Cream Sauce and fresh Vegetable Ragout

My friend chose the lobster as his entree, which he didn’t especially care for.


Poached Lobster Tail and Claw in Saffron Reduction with simmered Mushrooms and Butternut Squash

For dessert I ordered the chocolate cake with ice cream, which was delicious. I ordered a glass of Baileys to accompany it.


Warm Chocolate Cake with Yogurt Ice Cream

To finish off the meal I was offered little chocolatey things (I’m referring to them as that so that we don’t all get into a blog fight over pralines vs. truffles vs. bon bons, which inevitably happens when I use the “p” word).


Little chocolatey things

The pace at which dinner was served was perfect, and I finished dinner right at the end of the movie. I was hoping to use the in-flight wifi and while the aircraft was equipped with it, they were having technical issues, so it wasn’t working.


Movie finishing

I briefly spoke to the flight attendant, Sonja, and learned that she just transferred from Munich to Frankfurt. I jokingly commented “no wonder you’re so nice,” given that Frankfurt based crews tend to have a pretty bad reputation (though I find it to be baseless). I also learned something interesting. She mentioned that she only works first class, and given that she was only in her early 30s I asked how that was possible.

She explained that first class is actually typically the least desirable place to work, not because of actually having to deal with the passengers, but because you’re isolated from the rest of the crew. Two flight attendants work first class and between meals only one is on “duty,” so you’re literally all alone, which I imagine is pretty boring. If you’re working in business or coach, on the other hand, you have other crew members to talk to. Makes perfect sense!

At that point I requested turndown service, which was promptly taken care of. I was excited to see that Lufthansa finally added mattress pads to their old first class. Previously they only had them on planes featuring the new first class, which seems like a double whammy for old first class — not only do you get the old seat, but you end up with worse bedding as well.

While Lufthansa’s first class seats on this aircraft are ancient and aren’t private, they’re extremely comfortable for lounging, and also make a pretty comfortable bed.


Turndown service


New mattress pad

In general the departure time of the Seattle flight sucks, given that it leaves at 2PM. There’s no way I’m getting any decent amount of sleep with a 2PM departure, given that it lands in Frankfurt around midnight Pacific, a time I’m usually still up. Still, I somehow managed to snooze for about three hours right after dinner, which was more than I expected.

I woke up about five hours into our flight as we were well into our Atlantic crossing, and decided to watch another movie. I decided on “2 Days in New York,” which was hilariously stupid.


My second movie

I was still getting over a cold and had a bit of a cough, so I ordered some peppermint tea during the movie.


Peppermint tea

As the movie finished up it was almost time for the breakfast service, starting with hot towels, the menus, and freshly squeezed orange juice being distributed.


Hot towel


Orange juice and menu

The breakfast menu read as follows:

Maybe I’m crazy, but I actually find that the area where premium airlines shine the most on the meal front is with breakfast. Lufthansa is one of my favorite airlines when it comes to their breakfasts, especially their freshly prepared scrambled eggs.

For breakfast I had some fruit and muesli to start.


Fruit and muesli

And then I had scrambled eggs with chives.


Scrambled eggs with chives

Both were great, though Lufthansa’s breakfasts never disappoint.

With about 30 minutes to go, the captain came on the PA to advise us that we’d be landing about 20 minutes early. We began our descent about 20 minutes out, and I changed back into my jeans and t-shirt.


Approaching Frankfurt

I moved to seat 1A for landing, since in Frankfurt I enjoy both the views on approach and on the ground.


View of the cabin from 1A

It was a stunning day outside, and I was glued to the window.


View on approach

We made a parallel approach into Frankfurt next to an Airbus 320, and must have been next to them for a good 20 miles. We were landing on runway 25R, which is way past the rest of the airport, so it’s almost like overflying it thanks to the amazing views.


View on approach

As we were on our final approach I saw the Singapore Airlines Airbus 380 taking off on the parallel runway, and also all the beautiful Lufthansa planes parked at the terminal.


Airbus 380 taking off


Terminal view


Terminal view

Our touchdown on runway 25R was extremely smooth. Now, the lovely thing about runway 25R is that it might as well be in Dusseldorf, because it’s a good 20 minute taxi from the end of it to the terminal, so we passed by more Lufthansa heavy aircraft than I could count enroute to our remote stand.


Lufthansa planes


Lufthansa planes


Lufthansa plane


Lufthansa plane

The bad news, in theory, is that we were arriving at a remote stand. No wonder everyone hates Frankfurt Airport so much. Well, unless you’re flying first class, because as you can see in the picture below, we had a special mode of transportation waiting for us.


Pulling into our remote stand

Lufthansa’s old first class might not be the most modern product in the sky, though there’s something about it I love. The service and food on this flight were spectacular, and it’s an experience I’d repeat in a heartbeat given that I can leave for the airport 90 minutes before my departure and still make a nonstop international flight.

Lufthansa, you’ll always be my airline…

Comments

  1. Diana says

    isn’t it ‘bon bon’ instead of ‘bom bom’? Or maybe things really are a lot different in first class. Or Tampa.
    All joking aside, I’ve never flown in first or business, are the lavatories bigger? I can’t imagine trying to change clothes in a lavatory in coach without knocking the door open.

  2. AdamH says

    Pretty sure I had this same FA on a recent flight. Top notch service and always a smile. She have a cute look with wavy/frizzy brown/brunette hair?

  3. lucky says

    @ Diane — But they’re right next to each other on the keyboard. :p

    Fixed, thanks.

    The lavatories are a bit bigger in first class, though not much.

  4. Ripper3785 says

    It’s less fun when you arrive at a remote stand in F and that Mercedes / Porsche is NOT there waiting for you.

  5. lucky says

    @ Ripper3785 — This was my first time arriving at a remote stand in Frankfurt from a longhaul flight in years, so I was pleasantly surprised. :D

  6. FlyingDoctorWu says

    Looks like CLub International is the old NW World CLubs… much better than the dungeon lounge they used to have in the South Satellite.

    You’ve got to go to Serafina’s in Eastlake sometime and sit at the bar and have an orange basil mojito…

  7. Jerry Hung says

    Mnn.. there are 2 cars (excluding the Benz)

    Do First/Business class get the jet bridge car with the cover?

    while Econ pax get the UNCOVERED car?

    I would hate it if it’s raining, as you still get wet before getting into the Benz :P

  8. Zz says

    “given that Frankfurt based crews tend to have a pretty bad reputation (though I find it to be baseless)”
    Really?? Frankfurt and in particular LH (at FRA) has the most customer unfriendly service business I have encountered in BRD. Sure the luxury hotels do a good job, but spend some time shopping among the common people and you will get a taste of poor service. Many of the Hessians I have talked to agree.

  9. lucky says

    @ Zz — I agree in general, though was talking specifically about Lufthansa’s Frankfurt based crews (and not service at the airport or in Frankfurt in general). I find them to be consistently friendly.

  10. beachfan says

    The lobster dish did look sort of blah; was the lobster itself good?

    Lufthansa must have the worst wine offerings of any of the “luxury” first class airlines (i.e., non US). Champagne and spirits are decent (although 99 was blah year for champagne, I love Cuvee Louise).

    The Chilean wine is pricey (but not my style), the other two red wines are $23 and $30 retail.

  11. Josh G says

    Does LH by default send a car to pick up F pax at FRA from their inbound flights? I didn’t think so, especially if you are connecting to another carrier. Did you request/arrange this in advance?

  12. beachfan says

    As for the whites, the Pechstein Riesling is about $50 I think, but the Gruner is available for $11. The the Horse Heaven is available at some places for $8. That’s not even business class level.

  13. Stephan says

    Gotta love the new 25R…you come in over the “Squaire” with amazing views of the ramps as in your photos, and then go by the huge HLTechnik hanger and cargo north area. So cool with the B748,A333,A346,MD11s parked there. You were lucky there were only three of you in F as with more pax you’d have had the van, which we had last time (but S series on the way home:-). Still cool for an aviation geek like myself driving by all those wide bodies! BTW lots of good spotting vids focusing on 25R now on you tube as the planes pass right by the hill viewing area by the fire station going to the remote stand.

  14. Stephan says

    Yes, if arriving in F you usually get a car or van (also if HON) if at a remote stand. Airbus flights from SEA and Canada almost always arrive there now. Often you’ll see the new ANA Dreamliner there as well.

    LH seems to always have some cheapo whites in their selection. Not sure why. Many of the US choices are really poor too IMO.

  15. BR says

    I want a Rimowa kit really bad. I’ve been on LH F numerous times, but always get Bogner or Porsche.

    Did you get a Rimowa kit in TG F too?

  16. SeaLight says

    Lucky,

    I have a trip coming up in a few weeks from SEA to PVG. My current routing is from SEA->NRT->PVG on UA875 and NH921. I’m looking at UA’s website and notice they still have first class availability from SEA->Frankfurt->PVG with a layover around 8 hrs. The whole trip will take approximately 30 hrs compared to the 16 hrs if routed through NRT. I’ve never been to Germany and would love to hear your opinion on this. How viable is it to check out the city in a 8-hr layover?

    Thank you very much in advance!

  17. lucky says

    @ SeaLight — Frankfurt is easily accessible from the airport with a 20 minute train ride, so I’d say it’s very viable if you don’t mind the cold weather.

    Keep in mind, though, that if you’re still a few weeks from the trip the award space you see in Lufthansa first class is probably phantom space, as they release award space at most two weeks out. See this post for full details:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2012/09/11/reminder-lufthansa-only-releases-first-class-award-space-to-partner-airlines-14-days-out/

  18. Rob says

    I recently flew FRA-SEA and it was great, both the service on the ground and in the air. My only issue was that the flight was delayed by about 45 minutes. LH met myself and the other F passenger at the gate and rushed us through customs and immigration, but by the time I made it to the N satellite for my UA flight the door had already closed.

    Unfortunately, UA sent me on a wild goose-chase to Alaska to ask for a connecting flight (which UA denied to the AS agent due to it being an award) and the United Club wanted to deny me access due to having arrived on an LH flight and not being *G. I pointed out that I was a United Club member, but she directed me to the LH counter for accommodation. The LH counter had closed by this time, but I happened to see the agent who escorted me through customs and immigration, and she walked me right into the LH office after which a ticketing supervisor joined and actually helped me.

    There were no F seats showing in availability by this point, but at least he tried.

    Moral of the story: Avoid United!

  19. Peter says

    What was my car doing in FRA? :) When I flew Thai last month MUC-BKK-MUC, the amenity kits were Tummi – I guess they have as many varieties as aircraft configurations.

  20. Matt says

    Lucky,

    Award availability on LH from LAX is fairly poor. Do you find that it is better via SEA? I assume LAX-SEA-FRA-somewhere in Europe (and maybe even Asia) is allowed?

  21. lucky says

    @ Matt — Yes, that would be a legal routing. Award availability is much better out of Seattle than Los Angeles. That being said if you’re originating in Los Angeles I’d suggest routing through an airport that’s more likely to have new first class.

  22. lucky says

    @ Rob — Ouch, sorry to hear that!

    @ Peter — Hah! I believe the Porsche kit is actually typically the business class kit, and they incorrectly provisioned it for first class on this flight.

  23. Boraxo says

    Great and insightful report, F looks pretty good but unfortunately LH won’t confirm upgrades on UA GPUs until checkin, so I usually opt for C on UA rather than roll the dice as the LH angled seats are horrid. But I will definitely get some paper SWUs for the next time I am stuck on LH. I do wish they would speed up the drink and meal service on these red eye flights, it should not take 3 hours, which cuts into my sleep time.

  24. Naif says

    for me EWR-FRA on LH business class was the worst ever experience ..from lounges to inflight service, poor food to lost baggage… alongwith poor entertainment options…this flight was a total disaster

  25. Willy says

    My eyes popped out of my head upon seeing the Solera Gran Reserva on the spirits menu. Were I on your flight there is a good chance I would have finished that bottle by myself! Wow!

    One of my favorite memories is from the FCT during my layover HKG-FRA-ORD and walking into the cigar room (best place to hang) and finding a full bottle of Conde de Osbourne Solera Gran Reserva. What an orgy!

  26. wxguy says

    “As I’d be flying for the next 24 hours and wanted a clean set of clothes upon landing, I immediately changed into the pajamas.”

    Ben – I never change into the PJs (or my sweatsuit) nor take off my shoes until after take-off. Sure, it’s rare, but if there’s an emergency on the ground before take-off, I want to evacuate in my street clothes and with shoes on. An aborted take-off with immediate evacuation won’t leave time to run to the lav to change :) For the same reason (on international flights) I always leave my passport in my pants pocket during take-off and landing. If I have to “leave all carry-on baggage behind,” I want to have it with me. And yes, I’ve done an evacuation. Twice. -wxguy

  27. Marcos says

    Great report, as always. Loved your reference to “Little Chocolatey Things”! Brilliant. LOL. That’s why you’re our Favorite Travel Blogger.

  28. Justin says

    I had that EXACT same F menu IAD-FRA on the 744 last month. I had all the appetizers and the beef was the best one, so good choice.

    Side note, if anyone can find a link to where I can purchase a case or two of that Portuguese red wine, I will be forever indebted…

  29. Patrick says

    What do you do (as in a career) that allows you to fly in first and business class so much?

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