Do I hype Lufthansa first class too much?

Over the weekend I got to talking to a couple of friends about Lufthansa first class, and I was actually surprised by what I heard — among them I was the only one that loves Lufthansa first class. I tried to justify myself but was at a bit of a loss of words, because in many ways it’s tough to explain what I love so much about them.

At the same time I texted my brother — seemingly my only “ally” for Lufthansa — and asked him how he would describe Lufthansa first class in a sentence. His answer? “Incredible!”

And that leads me to this post, because when I have no clue what the hell I’m talking about I blog about it and ask you guys what you think. After all, I know many of you have had the opportunity to fly Lufthansa first class thanks to miles and points.

Perhaps I’m a bit biased. I’m a German American so I do have a bit of national pride in “my” airline. But I don’t think it’s blinding. Or maybe it is, because I play their brand movie at least once a day (or something like that):

So why do I love Lufthansa first class? For one, I think they have the best ground experience in the world — perhaps it’s tied with Thai Airways, which offers their first class passengers hour long full body massages and a semi-private living room in their Bangkok lounge, though there’s something really special about the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. You pull up, and within a minute you’ve cleared security and are seated in the lounge being offered a drink.

Beyond that, I also think they have the best food on the ground of any airline in the world. I’ve eaten in a lot of lounges, and I still think a meal at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal is the best all around airport ground dining experience. Which is ironic, since that’s not the case aboard.

I also find that the whole Lufthansa first class travel experience is the least stressful there is. You can put away your watch because your personal assistant will pick you up when your flight is ready. And then if there’s one thing Germans are good at, it’s getting you places on time, or at the very least frequently keeping you updated when there’s a problem (and what I love most about Lufthansa’s pilots is that if a plane is blocking the taxiway or something, they’ll always be sure to say which airline, so they can shame them properly, which cracks me up).

As far as the onboard service goes, there also seem to be two two schools of thought. You have those that think Lufthansa first class feels a bit like a German country club, and you’re either a member or you’re not. If you’re an older, professional, German male, you’re a member. If you aren’t, you’re not.

Then there are people like me that are completely puzzled by those comments, because in my dozens of Lufthansa first class flights I’ve never experienced it, which isn’t to say it doesn’t happen. My experience has been that Lufthansa first class flight attendants consistently strike an almost perfect balance between being professional, attentive, and personable. They do all this while still making the interaction feel sincere. On many Asian airlines the flight attendants are trained that each flight is a “performance,” and that they’re really “actors.” There’s nothing at all wrong with that and I actually love it, but I just find on some level the Lufthansa experience to be equal but different.

Yes, I think the food onboard Lufthansa sucks. Some (few?) love it, others think it’s way too complex and that they try too hard for food that simply doesn’t translate well at altitude. For dessert I want something with chocolate or vanilla, not something with olive or chili. Lufthansa is actually the only airline nowadays where I’ll intentionally eat right before the flight and then skip the onboard meal as much as possible, because you truly get a much better meal service on the ground than in the air.

But the real highlight of Lufthansa? These babies:

Anyway, enough mindless blabbing. I’m curious what you guys think. If you’ve flown Lufthansa first class, did you love it, hate it, or is it just okay?

Comments

  1. I agree with your brother. Incredible. (And I’m not German… As a matter of fact I’m French…). And yes I love the LH F experience from A to Z.

  2. I don’t have much to compare LH first class to – just UA international. LH is better in so many ways – I agree with you that the FAs in LH first are almost without exception fantastic, whereas with UA it’s hit or miss. (Although usually hit in international first.) The food is loads better in LH F, although still not as good as it could be (I’ve had better meals in SQ C). And the ground experience is indeed phenomenal.

    The one thing I really, really don’t like about LH F goes for LH in general, and indeed many airlines: NO PERSONAL AIR VENTS!! This irritates the heck out of me, especially on LH because they like to keep the cabin a lot warmer than I’m comfortable with.

    What exactly did your skeptical friends dislike about LH F?

  3. @ snic — Totally agree with you about air vents, and that applies to most non-US carriers.

    What they didn’t like was bad food, old seats on some aircraft, and most surprisingly, rude service.

  4. No you are not. I took two long haul LH flight in F last December. Totally worth it.

  5. Not all First Class flight on Lufthansa originate in FRA. I love the lounge in Munich. Enter at the lower level and clear immigration during your stay and exit at the upper level. You do need to monitor the time — not like the FCT in FRA. The food in the lounge was very good, especially the white asparagus. The food on the buffet was well presented and enticing. The service from MUC to ORD was very good but not attentive enough once dinner was complete. The old video system and seats are horrid. I’d rather sit in United’s Business Class seats. Like others there is no way to adjust the temperature around the seat — one temperature fits all. Bathroom was marginally better than in coach and mostly because of less usage.
    All in all we enjoyed it more than a Thai Air First flight though the Thai Air Lounge massage rules! We also love the Living Room setting in BKK.

  6. Loved the beef cheek that served last week on NRT-FRA. I actually think LH has a sophisticated menu. Shame on your palette! Service wise, however, CX beats LH.

  7. “Do I hype Lufthansa first class too much?”

    1. Can most of your audience access Lufthansa’s first class using alliance partner points without requiring extreme flexibility?

    2. Is Lufthansa’s first class product worth paying actual market rates in cash out of your own personal bank account?

    If you can answer “yes” to both questions then I’d say you’re not over-hyping Lufthansa.

  8. LH is my favorite second only to LX in F. I love it, even if the food tends to be worse than UA C (which is just a personal preference, certainly not a reflection on quality). It’s all about the service and FCT!

  9. Loved LH F, especially the FCT! The only downside was the temperature onboard the plane because it was super hot, especially when I was trying to sleep. Then again, it’s usually too warm for me to sleep on a plane.

  10. “Truly excellent on the ground in Frankfurt and Munich, good but not among the world’s best in the air.”

    On the ground, outside of Germany (as a non-HON F passenger) they’re not especially good.

    On arrival in Germany (and elsewhere) they’re not especially good. It’s such a letdown to arrive in Frankfurt, actually.

    Overall I give Thai better marks for ground service because they take care of you on departure from Bangkok, on arrival in Bangkok, and even as a transfer passenger there (and also offer good arrival/transfer service in HKG as well).

    They don’t have the best seat though the new one is good. They don’t have the best amenities though they’re fine. They don’t have the best food though I don’t think it’s as bad as some say. I’ve not lucked out with especially good service, I guess my service experience is more ‘mixed’ (some good but not ultimately memorable, a ton totally forgettable, and even one flight that was truly bad).

    I used to love just how attainable the product was. It was available in advance on so many routes. Now it’s hard to get I don’t find that the juice is worth the squeeze. Go through back flips for an onboard shower? Sure, I guess.

    But given the choice, would you fly Cathay first class or Lufthansa?

    And which one is easier to book when most people are looking to book awards (not within a week of departure)?

  11. The experience was OUTSTANDING. The cabin crew on each of our F class flights (ORD-FRA, FRA-TLV x2, and FRA-SFO) were engaging, professional and genuinely cared after us flawlessly. Coupled with the hard product and First Class terminal in FRA it was the best.

  12. I don’t think you over hype it too much. The FCT alone makes it worthwhile, and the new F products are excellent.

    Even “bad” service in LH F is better than most US carriers on a good day. Food is probably the one weak spot, but there isn’t any food that is outstanding at 35,000 feet.

  13. We can only defer to your vast experience, having only flown twice in international F, both on LH (C often on UA and LH, and “Executive F” on AC).

    Yes, we love it, even in the old-fashioned seats – the mattress pads help! We loved the personal escort to the gate at SEA, we loved the lounge, and we loved the limo ride from the lounge to the plane when we transferred at FRA.

    I dared to order Wiener Schnitzel flying LHR-SEA just to see if they could pull it off – hardly complicated but challenging in its own way, but it arrived crispy on the outside and was as tasty as any I’ve had on the ground.

    Yes, we love it!

    Oh, and the hot European-style temp in LH C (and Y) has always been too much for but somehow it seemed cooler in F, even when wearing our official PJs. 🙂

  14. I loved the First Class lounge in Frankfurt when I flew LH F, worth it for the lounge. But I have to say, I feel like I get better service in LH Biz than when I rode up front. I’m a woman in my 30s and, whereas all the older gentlemen in the cabin were treated attentively and politely, I felt disdained and ignored by the crew the whole flight. The purser stopped by every seat and talked with the passenger except for me. I’d rather ride in Biz.

  15. We arrived in Frankfurt from Paris and there was no one to meet us – contrary to what we were told at CDG. We just walked to our connecting gate which was a far walk.

  16. Only done LH F once. I think it was okay. Plane seats (old config) and food was lovely. Really enjoyed the FCL at FRA. The showers and the tub, all very awesome. Would love to leave in F in FRA to experience the FCT.

  17. You’re descriping a pretty particular set of circumstances.

    I flew LH, TG, and CX F last week. I was on the old A330 out of IAD, so the flight itself wasn’t the best. But the FCL’s at FRA were great. Wish I had access to the FCT.

    The TG A380 was nice, but I missed the ground experience arriving at BKK.

    Out of the three, Cathay won. The new Wing is fabulous and the service on the flight was the best out of the three.

  18. My IAD friend says he prefers BA FC over LH but since the ticket is paid by his client the fuel surcharge is not an issue…..minus that he picks BA…….I’ve flown LH business Portland-Frankfurt and it was a very good experience……
    @Lucky If we decide we have to try the LH FC what is the best way to pull it off from the west coast-SFO…??

  19. @ R J Brown — Award space from the west coast is extremely limited. The only route where there’s a decent amount of award space from the west coast is Seattle to Frankfurt. Otherwise you’ll want to connect through airports a bit further east, like Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Newark, Dulles, etc., where Lufthansa actually regularly releases space.

  20. I am of the camp that you might be overhyping it a bit. Just a bit. I have flown 2 LH First flights (747/A380) I would describe the service as highly efficient. Friendly but not warm. I am a 40 year old man who looks a bit younger and on the A380 flight the Senior Frau said “Let me show you your seat works since I doubt you have been on Lufthansa first class before”. Not the end of the world, but definitely not “in the club”.

    My F flights on ANA and Singapore were very different. ANA literally felt like a sacred zen experience and the Singapore clan couldn’t have been more engaging and warm. Food was incredible on both carriers. Not so much on LH. Onboard, my preferences lean towards the Asian carriers.

    I would put the Thai lounge and LH FCT on equal footing. Love the Spa and private living rooms with Thai…love the food and assigned assistant with the FCT.

    I welcome the chance to fly LH again, but if its my money/miles the Asians win the day.

  21. Just did F in CX, TG, and LH. Agree with all your points, including the onboard food. I didn’t have the nerve, but thought about asking to see the business class menu! Amazing ground experience, and we got excellent service onboard despite being non-German. We love the seat+bed config on the 747, and the FA said he thought it was even better than the new F on the A380 / 747-8.

  22. My only experience with LH first was IAH – FRA on the 380’s. It was mediocre at best. There was 4 pax on the flight, I hardly saw the FA. The food was okay. Only nice part was the bed itself. But overall, it was not memorable at all. I didn’t get to use the FRA F terminal, perhaps, that was whole point of flying LH F.

    IMHO, Asian carriers F experiences (SQ, CX, OZ, NH and KE) that I had were all better than LH’s.

  23. “Lufthansa first class feels a bit like a German country club, and you’re either a member or you’re not. If you’re an older, professional, German male, you’re a member. If you aren’t, you’re not.”

    I have only flown LH F twice, but this is exactly how it felt both times. Not worth it for me any more.

  24. Was traveling with 3 people, so were in old C, and it was awful.

    However, it’s the best way to get to Europe, if it fits your schedule.

  25. LH F is nice. But since award availability is really tough, not sure it’s “practical”.

    Don’t you pretty much have to book and travel within a 1-2 week interval–no long range plans for LH F??

  26. @ CHSDOC — Yes, and they’re also stingier than ever before when it comes to releasing space.

  27. I love the LH experience. The car ride to the plane is awesome and the First Class terminal… yes terminal has food that will rival some 5 star restaurants. my favourite thing to do on arrival from the states is to clean up in the AWESOME showers.. no you are not crazy.. LH first rocks

  28. I think the new First seat/bed looks pretty amazing and it’s nice to have a seat and separate bed. However I’m a bit puzzled that you put so much into taking a brief ride to the plane in a Benz. Isn’t that ride what like a few minutes? It’s just a Mercedes anyway. Now if you told me you got to ride in a Maybach from wherever you wanted within an hour radius of the airport to take you to the airport, then I’d agree that that’s pretty nifty! So can you elaborate on why you love that? Also does the plane pull up to a gangway after the first class pax have been driven to the plane?

  29. Sorry to say you are too biased to Lufthansa and Singapore,i flew twice F from LHR with Lufthansa and once we ve been carried by bus from plane to Frankfurt terminal,absolutely no one waiting or expecting me for my connection!!!total failure for first class treatment.

  30. You are not alone. I think it’s fantastic; my best experience flying to and from Europe through Munich.
    Although not the separate first Class Terminal as in Frankfurt, they still had a first class restaurant plus lounge; met us at the gate; walked us through their own passport control inside the first class lounge and took us by cart to our departure. It was by far the best ground experience I have ever experienced.

  31. @Jeremy – I bet it’s because you can’t ride in a nice car on points otherwise. Not that there’s anything particularly special about an entry-level S-Class MB for most reasonably well-off people.

    I love LH First for one reason. The private and (unlike in the US) useful and short security screening. My main annoyance with flying these days is the stress that you get from having to deal with “security”, and it’s nice to completely take that out of the equation at the FCT.

  32. Having done a dozen personal and family trips since 2009 with the help of TIB bonuses, no you are not over hyping it. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you have been there, it is very consistent, unlike AA or UA (has been great to terrible).

    I have only been in CX F 3 times, so I am not sure that compares. CX is better for dining with companion and is certainly better in the air.

    SQ is no doubt better in the air. My wife drinks honey with her tea and was told that they would take care of the second cup when she asked for it. It was made with the same amount of honey that she normally uses. Great attention to detail.

    The overall experience is much better on LH. On my first trip through the FCL I went from shower to plane in 20 minutes! The plane was at the apron and I asked if there was time for a shower when I checked in at FCL 45 min before flight (the connection was late) There was indeed plenty of time and to be driven at 11.42 to the plane and take off at 11.45 is a great experience, made all the better by paying only 650$ for it for 4 segments (+ taxes)

    BA F is fine, but there is a bit lacking once you have been on LH.

    I have been on EY F and it is not the same. You are great from here to AUH then you are in a small plane from there on. I am still waiting for the showers on EK. QR was good but no 7 star.

  33. @ Jeremy — It’s not the type of car, it’s the fact that you’re being driven on the tarmac under a bunch of “heavy” aircraft you only otherwise see from the terminal. It’s an aviation nut’s wet dream, basically.

    When you’re driven to the plane you’re brought up the elevator to the jet bridge, which is what you board through.

  34. Food sucks big time…and seat controls and IFE are a total disaster on older aircrafts

  35. @ lucky – “When you’re driven to the plane you’re brought up the elevator to the jet bridge, which is what you board through.”

    It brought back memories of our bus tour at the first *MegaDo. In our case, we were connecting to a flight to BCL so trundled up the stairs of the A320 to be greeted by the FAs as the first ones aboard.

    I would have been just as happy to be the last ones aboard but you Germans are punctual to a fault, aren’t you? 🙂

  36. If Germans, particularly in Hessen, were more customer friendly, Lufthansa may not be a pain to deal with. By the way FRA airport closes at 10pm.

  37. I only flew two segments on Lufthansa first on their 747s and I agree with you that the whole experience is incredible.

  38. I think you hype Lufthansa F a little too much when compared to other top-tier international F products.

    I flew LH F twice on the A380, and although the hard product is nice, the service and food is just not as good as the Asian carriers like Cathay or Singapore Airlines. (In fact, I would say the food is pretty bad for a F product).

  39. I’ve tried CX LH NH TG international F, and I can honestly say LH is very competitive with the Asian flagship carriers, and light years ahead of anything from North America

    I’m going to sample JL and OZ F later this year so hopefully more points of comparison

  40. I agree with your friends; bad food, old seats, and not a big choice of good movies. Service has always been good. FCT in FRA is great except no view and the cigar bar is very limited. Like the 747-400 with your own bed but not very private. Have to say I like Emirates, Cathay, and Etihad better. Never been on Singapore and Thai airways ground experience in BKK is a close second to Lufthansa in FRA.

  41. A little overhyped, I do enjoy LH F a lot, but the experience can vary drastically depending on the crew and equipment type. I’ve flown F on LH, TG (744), NH (77W & 777), and CX.

    I’ve flown LH F 744 old & new, 388, 346 old & new, the 744 refurb is by far the best experience, however crew on the 744s is more often than on others not as polite & friendly. I thought the service on NH F was outstanding, on CX F also very good.

    The FCT is nice to experience a few times, but after that it’s only great because it’s contrasted by the zoo at FRA. I generally try to transfer through MUC, much easier – immigration in the lounge and the warm food doesn’t sit on the buffet.
    Do & Co catering is really quite good. Do you know their restaurant in Vienna?

    Disclaimer: As HON Circle I can access the FCLs without an F BP, so I would probably rate the lounges higher otherwise.

  42. Yes, you do.

    It can be a very nice ground experience. Many of the cabins in-flight are still mediocre at best and the overall in-flight (food, IFE, etc) is average for first class amongst global carriers.

  43. Fair enough explanation. I guess that sounds pretty cool. Wasn’t there an airline that picks you up from wherever and drives you to the airport? Maybe Virgin Atlantic UC?

  44. @ Jeremy — Yes, there are several airlines that do (including Etihad, which does so for both revenue and award passengers). But I’ll take a five minute ride on the tarmac in a nice car over a ride from the city to the airport. I know I’m crazy.

  45. Not an overhype at all. I agree the FCT in FRA is amazing-I even scheduled an extra long layover there rather than get to my final destination only to be told the hotel room was not yet ready–much better to do the waiting in the FRA FCT.

    I also agree that the TG massage and “Living Room” experience is something to behold in BKK.

    Compared to an American carrier I just don’t think there is any contest–LH wins hands down. When you start comparing LH with Asian carriers the gap narrows or disappears completely.

  46. We just took LH F from NRT-FRA earlier this month…Loved loved loved the product, but have to say the service and food were not outstanding…Possibly a little jaded as we had just taken Singapore in the Suites the week before [HANDS DOWN the best flight[s] I have ever experienced], but as a frequent UA [legacy UA] Intl F traveller, I was shocked at how unimpressed I was…Would I take them again, yes, but I won’t go out of my way to do it the way I did on this last trip…

  47. I just scored LH 1st going fom MUC to LAX. I look forward to the MUC experience. I’ve done 1st through FRA and it was amazing. I’ve alway found the onbard experience to be amazing, that might be because I’m a 46yo male but not German. I even really like the food.

  48. My LH F experience (FRA-LAX) has to rate the highest of all the flight I have taken in my lifetime of 2M+ BIS miles.

    The FCT, the limo transfer to the plane, and the 747 (with separate seat and bed) combined into the highlight of my flying career. So, no, I don’t think you are over hyping it.

    However, do have to qualify my opinion by stating my time on intercontinental flights on any non-US carrier is VERY small … and I have yet to fly EK F and take a shower. 🙁

  49. OK, so their ground services in Frankfurt are great. That’s one terminal in one airport in one rather large route system. And you man not use that terminal as an arriving pax. Considering that the in-flight food ‘sucks,’ yup, I think you overdue it a bit.

  50. I have flown ATL to FRA in business class once or twice a year for the past five years. The route does not offer First. I used to be a huge fan. But during my flight two weeks ago there was a visible decrease in service. On the outbound to FRA they were skimpy with the drinks prior to takeoff. Also, the amenity kits on both legs were CHEAP and missing items typically included. It just seemed as if corners were being cut. It was really odd and very noticeable. Both my colleague and I commented at the same time that things seemed “off.” And sadly the biz class seats on that plane are showing their age. I will say I loved the new Business Class lounge located near the Hermes store. So much larger and way easier to find a seat. Sadly, I will no longer fly them as my employer has switched our contract back to Delta for international service. I haven’t flown Delta business between ATL and Stuttgart in a long time, so I am excited to try the lie flat seats.

  51. BOM-FRA, LH F, 747 upper deck with new seats (i.e., a bed beside each seat).

    FA: “It looks like you three will be our only guests in First Class tonight.” “You three” consists of Mrs snic, Mini snic, and I.

    Service was warm and friendly throughout the flight.

    This was the closest I have ever come (and probably ever will come) to experiencing a private jet.

    So hype away. It was heaven.

  52. I think it probably depends on the aircraft you end up on. If you are flying those 747s with the bed and seat or the A380 with the newest product that is one thing. If you are on an old A340/330 with the 5″ screen you can barely see then that is a completely different story. My only LH F experience was on the latter IAD-MUC and frankly I was not impressed by the aircraft. The service was fine but nothing special.

    As Gary points out, CX F is pretty amazing. My one and only CX F flight was a million times better than LH based on both the seat and the service. So my sample size of 1 flight on each may not be worth much. But I would love to try the new LH product to see how that compares.

    I’ve flown UA F several times. Their F suite is way better than the old LH F seat. Service is certainly not as good though. TG service is quite good but the typical product has fallen behind a bit. Hopefully their updates will continue. The only other F I have flown was Emirates which I didn’t love on the HKG-BKK route

  53. I agree with you – I came to like the Lufthansa First Class product (especially the new one) a lot.

    I just hung out the first time in the FCT and loved it http://www.mightytravels.com/13232755/cheers_from_the_lufthansa_first_class_terminal.php.

    I actually like the LH food on most flights and especially on the ground (FCT). I haven’t found an airline that creates a similar excitement for me when flying First. They are not bad but it does not feel as special – Lufthansa makes it really special. There is no other European/ US airline I’d rather choose for transatlantic trips.

    Emirates F maybe a strong contender but it’s just not as easy to get them as part of an award ticket.

  54. I don’t see giving that much weight to the ground service. While I appreciate it when I get it (Haven’t flown Lufthansa) it’s the time in the air that counts

  55. Well first of all I do agree with Lucky’s position that LH is offering a phenomenal F product. But what I don’t understand is that some worshiping the product. I mean when you try it for the FCT for time I might understand that feeling, but after 5, 10 or 20 times? As Lucky once stated he wanted to be the first resident of the FCT and then gave it up after he had a long layover there. The same theory also applies on the F product. If you fly 300k miles or more per year all you want from an onboard product is a nice play to sleep in and that’s all.

  56. Ben, when you said LH FCT has the best food on the ground, did you forget about Qantas F Lounge for a second?? When it comes to food in the Lounge I rate Qantas F (SYD/MEL) and Singapore Private room at SIN ahead of LH FCT/FCL (FRA/MUC).
    As far as the service goes, there were times when I felt like the LH FA made me feel uncomfortable about asking them for things, something that I never felt with Asian carriers. Also I experienced the personal agents at FCT who weren’t as nice as standard (not smile once, used indifferent language) even twice. However more than half of the experiences were pleasant.

  57. Just flew ORD-MUC in the new F with my wife and loved it! Service was fantastic and bed could not have been more comfortable. Thank you Ben for being so helpful in making this possible.

  58. The First Class experience is really distinctive, and improving over the years. Agree with the food getting somewhat complicated, but I guess there’s options if you want.
    What I find unsettling is the gap of attitude of people serving you, between first class and business. That gap is not as wide in other airlines i.e. BA
    Last but not least, agree with the ground service at the first class lounge, very, very impressive.

  59. ok as far as European ailines go you have 4 choices: AF, BA, LH and LX. As far as points go, Lx is now available only via M&M, as far asmIknow
    My ranking:(European)

    F:
    LH>LX>AF>BA
    C:
    LX/BA>AF>LH

  60. I do too like the German Country Club that is LH F but it really depends on what aircraft/configuration one gets.

    Is the outstanding service on the ground on departure and the excellent food service on board worth the outdated seat? Not in my opinion, the seat is more important to me than the short 10 minute drive to the aircraft in a Porsche.

    Going to BKK for example I will always choose TG because their new seat on that route is great and the ground service in BKK not to beat on both arrival and departure, sure I only get the FRA Senator lounge and food service is not that great either but the seat and BKK make the difference, I would not use the LH seat just to have the FRA FCT.

    Going to other destinations where LH flies with a new configuration I prefer them over other airlines because I know what I get and because I am a German speaking member of the Country Club even unusual requests to the crew are granted. Here the reliability and ground service in FRA/MUC are preferred over other airlines.

    So, do you overhype? Well slightly sometimes but all travel is a personal thing and everybody has different preferences.

  61. I’ve been fortunate enough to fly International F numerous times in the last 10 years – including a trip to BKK that I just returned from this week – outbound on CX, return on TG (A380 in F) and LH (748 in F)

    SQ (Old F on the 744 – “new” F on the 777 once) countless times,

    CX (Current F) perhaps about 10 times,

    LH (both the “old” F and current F on the 744 & 748) about 6 times,

    TG (“old” F, “new” F on the 747 and “newest” F on the A380) 5 times,

    KE (“current”? F on the 744) 2 times,

    AF (old F) once,

    EK (F suites and “old” F) once each,

    UA F (one on the “old” F and one on the “new” F) twice.

    My comments would be:

    SQ – consistent but somewhat robotic service, probably the best food in the air. Actually like the seats on the 747-400 better than on the 777. Lounge service in SIN is pretty good except for the shower rooms, even in the Private Room area the toilet is not in the shower room itself. Food in the lounge is very good though.

    CX – service a little bit more personable than SQ. Seats on the current F (777) is very good (better than SQ and debatable against LH). Food isn’t as good as SQ (Chinese options better than the Western Options). Lounge service in HKG is vastly improved with the Wing renovation especially the Cabanas. Food in the lounge is ok.

    LH – sevice is more staid but feels genuine rather than forced. LH tries too hard with the food often with bizarre combinations (this last trip the 2nd meal from FRA-IAD was a Japanese bento box – nearly inedible but I’ve found that sushi doesn’t translate well on planes – SQ’s sushi choice out of NRT was not good either). I can’t decide if I like the separate bed on the 744 or the “new” 748 seat better. While the “old” F seats aren’t wonderful, they’re not that bad either. Lounge service is the absolute best though (both the FRA FCT and the MUC FCL) – great shower rooms, great food, plus the drive to the plane (my personal car is an S550).

    TG – service is really spotty – my first TG F flight they left the champagne glass by my seat all night (did they really expect me to wake up and drink flat warm champagne?) plus food was inedible on the FRA-BKK route. Last Oct MUC-BKK on the 9th they said they didn’t have menus for F yet since it was the beginning of the month. Seating wise the “new” F is ok but behind UA’s current F actually. On the latest A380, the space felt a bit cramped. Although the F lavatory on the left side is “huge”. Food is ok but not spectacular. Lounge service is probably 2nd only to LH with the distinction of the Spa service plus the golf cart pickup / dropoff at BKK.

    KE – seat was pretty good. The KE F flights were the only ones that I flew hungry on – food was ok but rather skimpy. Lounge service at ICN was decent if unremarkable.

    AF – short JFK-CDG flight (return was on the Concorde). Service was a bit rushed but understandable. Seat was ok. Food was great. Lounge service at CDG was unremarkable.

    EK – at the time the private “cabin” seating was unique – overall rather more style than substance. Food was good. Didn’t see the lounge in DXB.

    UA – it’s UA enough said – depends greatly on the crew staffing the flight.

    I would rate LH>CX>SQ>TG for carriers that I think that I have enough flights on. Overall, LH>CX>SQ>AF>EK>TG>KE>UA.

  62. It might be an interesting experiment for you to do the LH First class experience completely as an American. Check in with the US Passport, no German beyond the occaisional “danke”,order typical American meals or ask lots of questions about the German food, NO FANTA! just copious amounts of Diet Coke,just to see if this has any effect on your overall experience with Lufthansa.

  63. @lucky it depends the way you see in perspective

    In my case I’ve flown several aircrafts… biz and two times F (747-400 and A340-600) and of course FCT is the best terminal in the entire world with the best ground food ever… period

    But for the ‘normal’ passenger whom can’t afford a F ticket or simply doesn’t care about the fare of their ticket compare that to the ‘mileage passenger’ whom always looove to earn miles

    My first european flight with LH was on economy… and the crew treated me soooooo nice that I was hype to fly on biz… then I did it in A380 SFO-FRA and again I made so great friends between the crew because their attention is real and not fake at all… after that and after reading all your reports I decided to flight on first twice times BOG-FRA and then FRA-IAD and again the attention was flawless

    My closest friends always point me as a ‘the one whom spent his time in a plane’ but a definition for me of LH first product is the experience…. Oh yes I love to see the aircraft from a limo just right before the departure…. I think there is a few people whom loves aviation the way we do…. and if I could get a chance of reach Hon circle at least one year I will do it for sure

    Btw I love Germany and all relates… and for those whom say about the ‘little German Club’ as my young age of 32 I susprise sometimes when security personal ask me about my ‘european’ nationality… my passport has 27 pages full stamped and still counting

  64. Nope, I don’t think you over-hype it Ben.

    We just spent nearly a month in South Africa and Zambia, taking LH on the way down and BA for the ride home to SFO. Inevitable we compare the two, and though the food on either wasn’t especially memorable, it was the ground services provided by LH that made it outstanding. Very cool to be either personally escorted or driven to the gate and to be met upon arrival.
    Since we had a fairly long layover in FRA we experienced both the FCL and the FCT, preferring the former, actually.

  65. Hi Ben

    I am trying to book 2 F class seats either on LAX – FRA or SFO – FRA using united miles. Is the best time to look still 5pm ET 15 days prior to departure?

    thanks!

  66. @ Dan — They almost never release space on the LAX-FRA or SFO-FRA flights, especially for two people. I see a seat on that flight maybe a couple of times a month, and I don’t think I’ve seen two seats on the route in forever. And both cases where I saw it, it was within a few days of departure. Sorry.

  67. Yes you do hype it a bit too much.

    Is it the best F out there? You could argue EK, CX, SQ maybe TG have features that are better?

    Is it the best VALUE? Lets see, it is often as expensive or more then their competitors. Using points its as hard or possibly even harder then their competitors. They often have empty F cabins without releasing award seats.

    On a side note: is it getting harder to book F award seats? I am seeing less inventory lately?

  68. @ Greg — Yes, much harder than in the past, unfortunately. Even within two weeks space is extremely tight, and for the most part if it’s being released at all, it seems to be within two or three days of departure.

  69. Ben

    Do you know of any routes that I may have better luck finding 2 award seat redemptions for F class which has their new first class product? thanks

  70. @ dan — Generally you’ll have much better luck finding two first class seats into MUC (where almost all the planes have the new first class) than FRA. I’d suggest trying EWR-MUC, JFK-MUC, ORD-MUC, CLT-MUC, BOS-MUC, IAD-MUC, etc.

  71. Agreed!

    Had LH F BRU-FRA-PVG in late 2011 for first time, ride was a B744.
    Was great all the way, except for… yes, vents & temp!

    In Feb this year had a stint on LH F BRU-FRA-MCT (Oman) and there was a Merc S500 personal pickup upon arrival in FRA, the time in FCT, the ride from FCT to the A340 (old F product), great service on board and personal pickup service in MCT before immigration with personal immigration service.
    That service: wait 5 mins in the arrival lounge while they “arrange” the passage with immigration officers and then you just pick up your passport at the immgr desk and go. No line, no wait. While the normal lines was 200 people long….

    Swiss F better for F&B though!

  72. I think the point should be based on over all experience, I´m an older mexican gentleman who has been traveling by plane since 1953 (my best recollection says it was an ORD-Mex trip on a AA DC-6 plane. I have flown in quite an array of planes such as twin otter, De Havilland Comet 4, Fairchild metro, Saab 340, Beech 1900, Douglases, Boeings, Airbuses, Embraers, Canadairs etc. in airline flying and on a bunch of private planes ranging from ultralights to Gulfstream V. I consider that the main point in airline first class flying is that you should be treated as an important client, from the moment that you buy your ticket to the moment that you arrive at your destination, meaning nor the airport but your hotel or whatever.
    A seasoned traveler will understand that heated food by a flying attendant at 35K feet can´t compare to something coming out of the kitchen of a michelin rated restaurant, when long range flying I rather have a fine cold meats and cheeses platter with a decent quality red wine cup that a Duck a l’orange has been, in short haul flights flown in non eating hours plain water will do, however Fairchilds and Beech 1900’s have no loos aboard so nothing at all is the best bet.
    Long range flying is a bit stressful, your biological clock will tell you it is, if the airline gives you a fair treatment in line of what you paid for it´s okay with me.

  73. If you had to choose between the new F and no FCT or old F and FCT, which would you choose? The would be a first experience for all of the above.

  74. @ Chris — Probably new first class and no FCT. But what are the routes/aircraft? That’s a real toughie!

  75. @lucky: currently BOS-FRA A343 old F, 5 hrs in FRA, FRA-MUC A321 J, 3 hrs in MUC, MUC-GOA Q400 Y

    But if availability opens: BOS-MUC A343 new F, 5 hrs MUC, MUC-GOA Q400 Y

    I’m not too worried about the extra layover since its an award ticket but question is FCT vs. new F with my wife on our honeymoon. Neither of us have done international F or the FCT before.

  76. @ Chris — If the alternative is the Lufthansa FCL in Munich I’d definitely go with new first class through Munich. New first class is substantially nicer than old first class, while the FCT is only marginally nicer than the FCL.

  77. Aside from the seats, which I’ve seen pictures of, are there any other differences in new F vs. old F? I guess the same question goes for the MUC FCL vs. the FRA FCT.

  78. @ Chris — No, it’s just an exponentially better hard product. MUC FCL and FRA FCT are fairly similar. In both cases you’ll probably be driven to the plane. I’d say the major difference is that the catering is slightly better in the FCT, but I’d still hands down choose Lufthansa new first class.

  79. I just Flew a recently flew the new LH 747-800 in first and I can say the cabin on the 747-8 is a step above united Global First. Singapore Airlines First on the A380 has a much nicer cabin.

    The food was blah onboard, but the one thing that I was really unhappy about was the FA only had XXL PJ’s available. This was a overnight flight from IAD to FRA and find it unacceptable that they did not have enough when you are talking about a cabin of 8 seats.

    I also flew First on the LH A340-300 and would recommend against ever flying on the A340-300 if at all possible. The cabin is dated to say the least, the IFE system is a joke and the seats are not comfortable at all. Ask to have you seat made into a bed as soon as possible so at least you can get some extra padding. LH should really remove First from these planes or at least upgrade the cabin to reflect the rest of the brand

  80. I am also from Germany, and moved to the states when I was 2 and then back to Germany last year when I was 14.

    I LOVE Lufthansa. I will defend Lufthansa in any setting, any scenario. There is something about it that just makes it incredible. The branding, blue yellow and gray, the soundtrack (alarm clock and ringtone for me), it all makes Lufthansa, lufthansa.

    I agree, the food leaves a lot to be desired, but still!!!

  81. Just stumbled across your blog. Awesome
    Reading. Please keep me posted for all future
    Posts.

    Cheers

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