How opinions change when you realize Lufthansa planes have more than eight seats…

I’m flying from Seattle to Frankfurt right now on Lufthansa in business class. Yes, that wasn’t a typo — business class.

If you’re not a long time blog reader, let me explain why that’s weird. Simply put, I’m probably Lufthansa’s biggest fan ever. Their first class ground services are phenomenal — the best in the world, perhaps along with Emirates’ in Dubai and Thai’s in Bangkok — and I find their cabin crew strike the perfect balance between being professional, attentive, and personable. I wrote a post about this back in May, entitled “do I hype Lufthansa first class too much?”

Well I’m in the middle of a 90,000 mile US Airways business class award, and I decided to fly Lufthansa from Seattle to Frankfurt. Yes, I voluntarily booked the old product, and my primary motivation was actually being able to report back to you guys with my impressions (though this segment isn’t really the highlight of the trip — my main goal is to try EVA, Star Alliance’s newest member airline). The funny thing is that on longhaul Lufthansa flights I haven’t flown anything but first class for over five years now. I’ve flown dozens of segments in Lufthansa first class, so no wonder I love them so much. Their new first class hard product is phenomenal, and their ground experience is so impressive that it’s easy to forget you’re not flying in a private jet. I’ve almost spent the past five years without giving much thought to the experience on the other side of the “curtain.”Ā  And that’s not even intentional, it’s just that Lufthansa does such a damn good job isolating the first class experience.

While Lufthansa’s new business class looks quite nice, I didn’t have high expectations of their old business class. But my gosh, even with low expectations the product was disappointing, and actually made me wish I was on a US carrier instead.

Let me explain:

The seat

The seat is the most uncomfortable angled flat business class seat I’ve ever flown in. It’s much less private than American’s angled flat seat, since there’s not as much of a “shell” around the side of the seat. The seat is also at a rather steep angle, even more so than American’s seat. Fortunately the new fully flat product fixes that.

Lufthansa_Business_Class1

The food

Holy crap. Amy’s Baking Company must have the catering contract for Lufthansa business class. For those of you not familiar with Amy’s Baking Company, put down what you’re doing for the next 41 minutes and enjoy:

If it weren’t for the plating I would’ve guessed this was a coach meal. The appetizer was a small portion of prawns and a side salad with nothing but lettuce and a few small pieces of shaved carrot.

Lufthansa_Business_Class2

For the main course there was the choice between chicken, salmon, and gnocchi. I wanted the salmon, though they ran out of it before they got to my seat — and I’m seated in the middle of the cabin. I had the gnocchi instead, which was chewy.

Lufthansa_Business_Class3

For dessert the only “sweet” option was ice cream, served in a container.

Lufthansa_Business_Class4

Three course meals don’t get simpler than this, though it was more than three hours into the flight before the meal service was complete.

The service

The funny thing is that the crew was actually exceptionally friendly. Every time we saw them they were smiling and courteous.

By my gosh, never before in my life have I felt like I’m as much part of an assembly line as on this flight. The galley curtains would be closed, then all four flight attendants would come through the cabin at the same time with their carts. Back to the galley they went, and curtains were closed. All four flight attendants came around with the appetizer. Back to the galley they went, and curtains were closed. All four flight attendants came around with the main course. Back to the galley they went, and curtains were closed. All four flight attendants came around with dessert. Back to the galley they went, and curtains were closed. All four flight attendants came around the cabin to clear trays.

It’s hard to describe it exactly because the crew was friendly, but at no point did a single flight attendant come through the cabin to see if someone might want a refill or their tray cleared outside of the “assembly line” they were operating. It was bizarre, and I’ve flown business class on dozens of airlines and never experienced anything like it before. And the worst part is that the whole “assembly line” wasn’t even done with German efficiency.

On top of everything else, the power ports are broken, so I’m limited in the amount of complaining I can do online during my flight. šŸ˜‰

Bottom line

I’m really happy I took this flight, as it gave me a lot of perspective on their product. Lufthansa still absolutely rocks… if you’re in first class. In business class it’s scary the degree to which Austrian beats Lufthansa. And the thing it really made me realize is that US airlines don’t really suck that much by comparison, at least in business class. The food, seat, and degree of attentiveness with the service on most US airlines beat what I experienced on Lufthansa. I think it’s first class where foreign carriers shine.

And it really pains me to admit this, but I think Aer Lingus’ business class is better than Lufthansa’s.

If you’ve flown Lufthansa business class, what did you think? Am I off base?

(In the interest of full disclosure, some of the above ideas may be about first world problems [#FirstWorldProblems]. Please don’t take them seriously, compare them to real problems in the world, etc. Thanks.)

Comments

  1. I flew LH business a couple of years back from Portland to Frankfurt and it was “comfortable” but in no way compares to the FC experience I just had on BA SFO-LHR and return. I think it all revolves around the idea that once you have tasted the pleasured fruit of First Class that moving down a notch is really a bit painful…………It has jaded me to the point where it’s FC or I just won’t take the trip……..

  2. I completely agree. I’ve flown LF in Biz a couple of times, but the seat is horrible and the food as you mentioned isn’t all that great. I flew UAL 1st to Frankfurt a few months back and it was fantastic!!! Very comfortable. It’s tough to go back to Biz after 1st. šŸ™‚

  3. I am flying LH new C next week IAD-FRA. It’s only 8 hours so I am thinking I will just try to eat in the lounge and sleep on the plane and skip their meal service altogether.

  4. Suck it up and quit complaining Lucky! Your spoiled from all the international first flying you do.

  5. I fly LH biz class about once a month and I think it’s very comfortable. Much better than most US carriers intl biz class. The seat is decent, the food is pretty good, and service is always excellent. Sure it’s not as nice as first class, but that’s a given.

    Was this your first time flying LH biz?

  6. I actually paid for this crap (yes paid) once for four long haul segments (ord-fra,fra-blr,blr-fra,fra-den) The old bus cl seats sucked big time. Fully retracted you actually slide down the seat. Never made the mistake of actually buying Lufthansa int’l bus cl again. What a total waste of money.

  7. @ STL — Have actually done it several times before, but it was over five years ago. Remember the food being a bit better back then. Think there’s a different standard for seats now than five years ago.

  8. I flew LH business last november, and the seat was awful, food was decent, but I loved the service. Granted, in full disclosure, I was able to talk the FA into giving me a First Class pajama top

  9. This made me laugh. Partly because of the jokes, but mostly because of how spoiled you are now! Not that you’re wrong, but man I’d love to see a long-haul Economy trip report soon!

  10. Flew it 15 months ago. Worst premium cabin in the sky. BA world traveller plus beats it easily.

  11. @ Lucky ā€” I would argue that there is an all-around larger gap between Lufthansa Business and First than any other carrier out there that offers both products internationally. Would you agree?

    JRL

  12. I did SEA-FRA a couple of years ago, and hated it so much that I switched to BA LHR-SEA on the return. That’s from someone who thinks that BA is the world’s worst airline. Also, when I was checking in at SEA they were busy taking a carry on bag off a first class passenger because it was 1 kg over the ridiculously low allowance. For “safety reasons”.

  13. Flew LH455 SFO-FRA recently and the business class was dreadful. Most uncomfortable seat I have ever been in. Aer Lingus DOES best out old LH C.

  14. @ JRL — I totally agree with you. Gave it some thought and can’t think of another airline with such a stark difference. Maybe Thai is a (somewhat distant) second with their old product?

  15. Oh nooooooo…… I just found out today that the flight I have from MUN-CLT is on one of the planes with the OLD seats. I wonder if I could change the award to US Envoy at this point! This does not look like much fun at all!!! Who else can get me back from Malta…need to have a look!

  16. Enjoy FC while it lasts. That airline is bleeding cash like crazy and the FC experience does not seems sustainable but for a few markets.

  17. We need a TR where you fly 4 different economy products! And don’t even think about premium economy!!!

  18. That’s what you get for being cheap! I’m quite sure you had enough miles to pay for F even if half of the trip is booked in J.

  19. @ Gene — I actually didn’t, and again, the purpose was to review the product. Am happy I did this.

  20. I think you are being a little harsh on the food in LH’s business class – sorry you got screwed with the pasta instead of the fish, but pasta is rarely great on any airline. Obviously, with the caviar, etc. LH’s first class food is much better. For the past 6-7 years I was flying paid LH business class to Germany about every other month, with the occasional bump to first. I appreciate LH’s Star Chef program and the fact that the menu changes according to the featured chef and season (love the roast goose with red cabbage around Christmas time!). LH also makes a decent attempt at the presentation. Most US airlines have an endless rotation of maybe 10-15 entrees of which you can choose 1 of 3 on a given flight. Years can pass before you see any innovation in the menu. I absolutely cannot stand UA’s food, especially that shoe leather they try to pass off as steak. While it does seem that LH has done some cost cutting in the past year or two, comparing their biz class food to the back seats is a gross mis-statement. Maybe you need to do a mileage run in economy so we can have a comparison test? As far as the service, it’s just typical German efficiency and following zee prozess. I’ll take that any day over the typical “don’t you know I have seniority and I’m only here for your safety” attitude of many US flight attendants.

  21. Yep, you’re right on target. On my European trips I actually prefer United biz over Lufthansa biz – that says something right there!

  22. Not to mention it’s totally bizarre that they give you a spoon when there’s a spoon inside of the ice cream. WTF are they even thinking??

  23. I prefer UA C over LH C. I even preferred the *old* UA C over LH C. In my experience the food was marginally better in LH C even a year or so ago, but it seems that might be changing. A carton of ice cream? Seriously? That’s the same dessert they were handing out in UA Y a few weeks back (OK, different brand, but still).

  24. Damn you… I flew this SEA-FRA a couple months ago and searched your whole blog for a review of LH old business class before I went and wouldn’t you know it, you were too hooty tooty to ever fly LH old C šŸ˜‰ Did you ever figure out how to drive the seat? I swear, every time I pressed a button it did something different than the time before and the seats sounded so scary I was sure they would jam. … and most TV controllers game pad side had at least one dead button making the games unusable. Oh, I also locked up the VOD system a couple times. …and at least you didnt have the FA dump a whole cart of soup on the aisle in front of you like I did! At least on the way back I voluntarily separated from my wife to stay back from the bulkhead to get some sleep but we each had an empty seat next to us, so 4 seats for the two of us! Made it all pretty nice in the end… until our Swiss meat got confiscated at customs šŸ™

  25. This reminded me of a conversation I had with one of my travelers -he said “I only turn left, is there anything behind the curtain?” angled seats are horrible and do not make any flight enjoyable. I have a Star award to do -good to know to avoid this product. love your sense of humor – all I kept thinking was how funny your TR would be in coach when you realize you have to bring your own food, entertainment, etc.

  26. Never understand why people on FT/MP rave about LH C over UA C. I have just gotten to assuming the people who do are armchair flyers who don’t actually ever get on planes and just assume that a foreign carrier must be superior to a US carrier. PMUA C is one of the most comfortable seats out there (God help you if you’re in a 2-4-2 middle or need to store something, but neither of those things really concerns me) and the food/beverage is no worse than LH. Couple that with usable IFE and I don’t care how surly the FAs can be (but usually aren’t).

  27. @Kevin — hey now, let’s not insult United Biz. I had a great time flying it, food pretty good, unlimited booze and comfortable lay flat seats. How can you compare it to this crap?

    @Lucky — did they even serve decent drinks?

  28. I have flown LH bis anumber of times out of SF. aleays had a great experience. Perhaps never got the old product. even 4 segments in a few days (SFO-FRA-DEL) and wuick turn sround was a fun experience. I must admit that ive flown more than I want over past few years and even first does not feel like an ecxperience i want to do for a while.

  29. @ABC and after that the cargo hold. And then the wheel well (with a Canada Goose jacket, of course).

  30. the reason they close the curtain because the galley lights disturb the folks trying to sleep next to the galley

  31. I agree with Wendy. You are way too spoiled.
    You’re complaining about biz when alot of us hardly every get to fly in that or first class? Ohhh poor you! lol.
    As far as flying Lufthansa. They used to be my fav. airlines but their staff have become grumpy and the service is crap. I have had better service on BA which is my first choice at the moment.

  32. Thanks for telling it as it is; your integrity in blasting a product of a company you’re a self-admitted fan is refreshing. You are the most valuable blogger.

    I did redeem some Star Alliance miles for my spouse on the A380 last year, and the feedback was, surprisingly to me, pretty bad. To this date that trip ranks below AA J, which, for us oneworld flyers, is pretty much the worse J product our miles and dollars can buy. I learned that even highly regarded companies do very stupid things: I bypassed doing real research on the assumption that the flagship plane of a quality airline would be competitive, which is far from the truth. BTW the feedback on the seats was that they’re very, very bad to get any sleep.

  33. Given the options such as Austrian and Swiss to name a few nobody in their right mind would pay for a Lufthansa business class seat. Nobody.

  34. My main problem with it is it takes FOREVER to finish meal service. I fly to DME and most times the SQ flight in FIRST is cheaper than the LH flight in business. SOmetimes that does not work out and I have to take LH if SQ is full. UNfortuntaley UA is too unreliable (always late and hence I miss the connection)…can’t wait for LH to finally get flat seats. The other funny thing about LH is their “business” product from FRA to DME is just coach with the middle seat blocked off. My company requires me to fly business or higher and last time LH “business” was booked…I had to beg my company to waive the requirement and explain there is literally no difference bewteen coach and business. ANyway….

  35. Of course, a travel blogger should not spend all time in first class if wants to be relevant. Noone listens to a war correspondent thst reports from DC.

  36. Lucky, I have to admit that my first thoughts were along the lines of “wow, this looks much much better than 99% of the flights I’ve ever taken; you’re really spoiled.” But then I realized that I do hope to fly international premium products occasionally, and I want to plan well and use my miles wisely. So thank you for helping us understand what’s really top shelf and what’s not.

  37. Thank you for this report! It somehow makes me smile – as this matches my experience 100%!
    Lufthansa’s Business Class product is way below average thus it is incomprehensible why people still pay a premium price for it.
    I fly mostly between Europe and the US and have long changed to other Star Alliance carriers on transatlantic flights as their business class product is so much better, be it United, US Airways, Air Canada or Singapore Airlines.
    Lufthansa has long been very ignorant about its bad business product and seemed to have taken an approach like “if you want a decent (and FAST) service and a full flat bed, then book first”. This is where once loyal customers like myself took the hint… and changed to other airlines.
    In a few days I’ll fly the new business class for the first time, but according to several reports I’m very sceptical aswell. If it should turn out to be as cramped as described by others, this will be my last flight with Lufthansa.

  38. Honestly – these ARE first world problems.

    Yes, there are many better products out there. But LH old C beats hands down any Y. I fly them occasionally on midhaul, I know what to expect.

    You are completely right, though, about how OS longhaul C runs circles around LH (old) C in all areas – hard product, catering, staff…

  39. I was really glad to see you write this, Lucky, since I’ve flown a lot of LH C and I often find myself trying to square your views of LH with my experience. For business class, that seat really is terrible, and I often find the crews to be indifferent (although some are good, of course). Business class on the 380 has the same assembly line feel you encountered, albeit at a massive scale. I enjoyed the plane, but I didn’t care for the experience much. Between the LH C experience on board and the pit that is FRA (if you’re not going through the FCT), I try to avoid LH when I can–starkly in contrast to your understandable love for the airline.

    Last week I flew the new LH C for the first time, and it made a remarkable difference. We had a good crew, which helped, as did the smaller cabin upstairs. But just having a good seat made for a much better experience, and I won’t shy away from LH if I can get the new C seat.

  40. @ frequent churner — Decent drinks? I should note that as of a few weeks ago they apparently have Fanta in first and business class. So I’d say YES!

  41. @ Bethany J. @ Wendy — Appreciate your feedback, though I think you must have missed the disclaimer at the bottom of my post.

    If a food critic dines at two top restaurants that are priced the same and one is substantially better than the other, should the food critic just say “well both were great because there are people in the world that don’t have clean water,” or should the food critic compare the restaurants on their relative merit/value/service/food?

    One of my goals with this blog is to help readers maximize the travel experience. An award ticket in Lufthansa business class costs the same amount as an award ticket in Austrian business class, and I have to assume a majority of my readers would appreciate knowing with which their miles are better spent.

  42. Well – if you go to know the old LH 747 then it is already a big step forward. However BA is far ahead. And Swiss too.
    But we have to see that they need to earn money. And looking at the fares and the load factor in C they do pretty well…

  43. Yup, LH C is a total disgrace, also within the realm of angle flats. The seat surface is abnormally high, too open and there is next to no storage. And yes, add to that the crappy food and itĀ“s presentation.

    I recently flew the old LH C, shortly after the angle-flat TG C (in the A346) and even in that comparison LH loses out by a lot.

    And letĀ“s not even talk about the folding-chair comfort of what they try to get away with calling business class.

    Look at this interesting interview http://blog.apex.aero/cabin-interior/lufthansa-ceo-lieflat-business-class-upgrades-unfortunate-development-airlines/ which pretty much sums up the questionable approach Mr Franz has to service and comfort on board.

  44. Yup, LH C is a total disgrace, also within the realm of angle flats. The seat surface is abnormally high, too open and there is next to no storage. And yes, add to that the crappy food and itĀ“s presentation.

    I recently flew the old LH C, shortly after the angle-flat TG C (in the A346) and even in that comparison LH loses out by a lot.

    And letĀ“s not even talk about the folding-chair comfort of what they try to get away with calling European business class.

    Look at this interesting interview http://blog.apex.aero/cabin-interior/lufthansa-ceo-lieflat-business-class-upgrades-unfortunate-development-airlines/ which pretty much sums up the questionable approach Mr Franz has to service and comfort on board.

  45. If a food critic dines at two top restaurants that are priced the same and one is substantially better than the other, should the food critic just say ā€œwell both were great because there are people in the world that donā€™t have clean water,ā€ or should the food critic compare the restaurants on their relative merit/value/service/food?

    One of my goals with this blog is to help readers maximize the travel experience. An award ticket in Lufthansa business class costs the same amount as an award ticket in Austrian business class, and I have to assume a majority of my readers would appreciate knowing with which their miles are better spent.

    Hey! No one ever said we don’t appreciate your reviews however, the fact that you always have raved about Lufthansa and you are just finding out now this class is? I get this is “your blog” but Lufthansa has gone done that crapper and to continue to fly with them as their service gets worse (compared to other airlines)….I just don’t see it…sorry.
    As far as you comparing the service to 2 restaurants…heh. I understand what you are saying but seriously some of you “high flyers” really are too bloody picky. You get the flights sometimes for nothing so just be glad you aren’t in cattle class. šŸ˜›

  46. lucky,

    You need to sample some Y meals. I would kiss the FA if I saw a starter like that in Y!

  47. maybe submit this gaggle of comments for some sort of award as the most pathetic, self-indulgent bunch of carping ever. Well I’ve flown business class here, well I’ve flown business class there … screw this, what a waste of time.

  48. They are providing the bare minimum standard the market will bear for a business class product. Which sadly in this industry is often the optimal business decision.

    Hopefully UA doesn’t take further cues from them.

  49. I have found LH business to be adequate. Nothing special and the service was exactly like you described, boom curtains open, carts appear, service,then boom curtains closed. BTW I find the US Envoy seat CLT-CDG to be far superior than LH.

  50. Is the poor quality fo business class restricted to the old seats? I thought I had heard that the new seats were poor and difficult to sleep in due to the small foot cubholes.

  51. Last week I flew

    * UA C EWR-FRA
    * LH C (new business class) FRA-DEL
    * LH F (new first class) BLR-FRA
    * LH F (old first class) FRA-BOS

    The new LH first class was simply amazing, as we all know.

    But so was LH new business class. The hard product is much better than I feared based on some early reviews (worries about “playing footsie” with your neighbor were totally overblown, and the seat was very comfortable for sitting and sleeping). The catering was fine to very good (it may be better out of FRA, or for that matter to DEL, than it is out of SEA), and the service, while “efficient,” was friendly.

    What was a real disappointment was the old LH first class product on the return. Much less privacy than the new first. Given the choice, I would absolutely choose the new business class over the old first classā€”to me the personal-ish service and the more elaborate meal are not worth the much less comfortable seat, plus the additional cost in miles.

    And by the way, UA first was not bad at allā€”dinner service was handled very quickly (a good thing going east!) but very thoughtfully. I’ve also had good experiences in UA business.

    The bottom line is that I will avoid LH old business class if at all possible. Too many other good choices out there. The surprise is that I will also avoid the old first class from now on!

  52. That interview with Franz is interesting. He thinks the airline industry is being irrational because there is no appreciable “yield premium” resulting from converting to lie-flat C.

    Maybe for *his* airline there’s no benefit. Maybe his competitors run operations that are more efficient, and are therefore able to provide a quality product and still make money.

    Blaming your competitors for innovation that you then have to keep up with is the true “irrational” behavior here. Much more rational would be for him to lead the market by being innovative himself. But that’s of course difficult for an overpriced stuffed suit like Franz.

  53. I find that carriers with a strong First product often seem to deliberately hold down their Business product to keep the perceived value in First — like how Singapore still serves meals from galley carts in the cabin in Business, which many carriers have stopped doing, or how Cathay’s Business meals flat-out suck (they cook the entire entree in one dish, like a coach meal just in a dish instead of foil, rather than cooking meat and veggies separately so veggies don’t go to mush). So flying a carrier where the top class is Business often results in a much better Business experience.

    There are exceptions — Etihad’s Business is very luxurious, and arguably it’s hard to say what is better about First other than the seat — but flying Business on a three-class carrier they definitely want you to know you’re not #1.

  54. Heh. Try flying from the West Coast of the US to Frankfurt in Lufthansa COACH class… without an exit row.

    (I’ve done it. And I’d say I prefer USA carriers like Delta.)

  55. I used to fly SFO – MUC monthly on Lufthansa. In business. Those seats are the worst.

    Though my favorite, when the ticket was $8K, was asking for a second Diet Coke and being told: We did drinks. Now we’re doing food.

    Um, thanks.

  56. You are so freaking spoiled. I want you to fly FRA-SEA in Coach, like most of the world, and then get back to us.

  57. Flew JFK – FRA on old biz class a month ago before flying THAI FC on the A380 down to BKK. I couldn’t sleep in the seat and thought the food was just okay, so agree with you. I would take DL’s new lie flat any day.

  58. I’m glad you wrote this. I’ve flown both US and LH in biz trans-Atlantic many times and I always get disbelieving reactions when I say that Envoy is miles better than LH in every respect — hard product, food and service.

  59. @Steven DS Didn’t you get the memo? Priority Club has changed its name to IHG Rewards Club. And the Chase card still exists, but of course with the new name and logo. You must have tried to use an old link.

  60. “seriously some of you ā€œhigh flyersā€ really are too bloody picky. You get the flights sometimes for nothing so just be glad you arenā€™t in cattle class”

    Bethany J, maybe you can tell me how to get my flights for “nothing” too. šŸ˜€

    I get your envious anger at not being able to join Lucky in FC, but that’s not his fault. He works hard to get the miles, points, and dollars to support his FC lifestyle. Maybe it’s you, and the others sniping at this TR, that need to stop whining about your failure to earn what it takes to sit up front.

    Lucky, you don’t need to apologize to the anti-1-percent complainers who keep mentioning so called “First World problems”. First World problems are relevant to those of us who live in the First World.

    I find it quite ironic that those complainers don’t see the absurdity of carping about how bad their experience in economy class is, when literally Billions of people in non First World countries will ever get to fly even once in their lives. Complaining about their Y class “cattle car” experience is in fact a First World problem, just at a lower level of personal achievement.

    This blog is aimed towards “aspirational” travel, and those who are offended by that can go find a blog oriented towards flying in Y, and backpacking around India. In fact, MMS has an interview today with a blogger who does just that. The reason I read your blog instead of his is because I don’t aspire to flying in Y and backpacking around India.

    My wife and I have just gotten our Miles and More ccs, and despite what Bethany thinks, now need to really work to meet the required minimum spend. So I really appreciate this report. I would have expected LH J to be far better than this, and we might have made the mistake of spending our hard earned miles that way.

    Now thanks to you, we know to make the extra effort to get enough miles for LH FC, making sure we get the new product, or take Austrian in J. Or maybe LOT and avoid the surcharges.

  61. I completely agree with your post. LH business is not up to par with American airlines. I have only flown the same crummy angle flat J that you have experienced. I presume their new J is on par and probably better then some of the American and other European carriers. Its too bad the LH has such differences in their J products. I imagine those who don’t read blogs like yours would know just how important it is to know what aircraft and what version of LH J you will be flying.

  62. Thank you Lucky for your post!
    I am so glad that someone agrees with me 100%. Lufthansa Business Class is really in the bottom of my list, in terms of business class products. Austrian, Brussels Airlines, and Swiss are miles ahead of Lufthansa. The catering is average at best and the worst thing is that the portion is actually very small. The main meal is still a bit better than Y, but the pre-arrival meal is portioned almost the same as Y. Given how generous LH is in first class! You are shocked to see how things really drop massively in business class. For transatlantic business class travel, I will never even considered Lufthansa. It is quite mind boggling to see the huge difference between F and J on LH, and I will not have high hope for their “premium economy” class.

  63. Oh no–wish I had booked Aer Lingus for my next European trip instead of LH old C now that I re-read Lucky’s review of the Irish bread pudding. šŸ˜‰

  64. Just completed a 90k US Airways Business Class award.

    Even above flights on Lufthansa, Thai on the A380, and ANA, my favorite flight was the one across the pond in UA Business class, with a flat-bed seat. The food, service, and seat (minus little legroom) were all superb!

  65. To the nuts who insult Ben about being spoiled and/or keep beating the ragged #firstworldproblems drum, wake up out of your stupor. Read the about page. He’s a bloody travel consultant and he’d be completely useless if he whipped out the pom-poms for every article.

    Ben’s been at this for a long time and has earned every experience. If you, Wendy (Amy), Bethany (Sammy) or Andrew worked just as hard towards what you covet, you’d be singing a different tune. So, be inspired and try. Quit chasing your tail with irrelevant insults that say more about you than your target.

    It’s old, cliche and just not nice. Go back to baking and screaming at your customers. It’s far more entertaining.

  66. I go with LH between Beijing to FRA couple times a year for biz. Initially I thought it must be a good product as it is an A380 route. Overall speaking, it is a fiar product and consistent. I have never seen any airline more consistent than LH, every time is exactly the same, even same product from different airplane, e.g. 747-400 between HKG-FRA.

    However, lately I tried Swiss airline due to the some connection issue and it was completely surprised me how nice the biz class product is. Flat bed much more comfy then LH, food taste better, even all the tableware are much more interesting with slick design. Just the Zurich airport is bloody expensive without much to shop.

    Hence, I would agree with you that I would try to take more Swiss in the future until LH upgrade the Biz class product to their new config on my route.

  67. @JollyBrown: You’re implying that I’m biased? Of course I’m biased. I appreciate this blog and like the good majority, will defend its author when disparaged by a handful of vinegary individuals.

    That said, I’m not an employee and while I recognize that are indirectly asserting that loyalty is deplorable ā€“ I politely disagree.

  68. I concur with you – LH’s product is not a competitive product in business class.

    However, those old, beaten seats have one advantage over UA’s and LX’s version – they seem to be working (i.e. up to their limited functionality).
    Especially LX business class seats (which are still relatively new) seem to be low quality or not maintained properly. On roughly 50% of my A340 flights, I had to deal with a broken IFE/ seat and often times this was not exclusively my seat but the entire aircraft. By the way, LX’s compensation compared to UA’s skykit is a complete joke.

  69. Yup, I said the same thing as a comment on one of your posts back in April. Their old biz class product really sucks now. I have flown it for the past 6 years between ATL and FRA. In April of this year I decided it is really past it’s prime. Things looked shabby and they were really skimpy in drinks prior to takeoff, etc. This was right before the huge strike in April. My employer just switched our contract back to Delta, so I won’t fly LH again. Most people so far have liked the Delta biz class product so far. Nicer seats, better food and AIR VENTS!

  70. One other quick point – I noticed a few positive comments about UA’s biz class product. I flew it last June between Dulles and Munich on a 777. The food was just ok and the attendants were surly. When I asked to “express” my meal (very politely by the way, and it was offered as an option in the menu), I got a pretty pissy reply. I guess it was too much to ask when you’ve paid $9000 for your ticket!! The crew we had were very loud and vocal regarding the Continental merger. I found it rather odd they would speak so openly with disdain. I work for a large, well known brand myself, and would absolutely never speak loudly and negatively where so many others could hear. I also thought the concept of the 4 middle biz class seats facing backward just bizarre. I would prefer the old LH biz product to that any day!!

  71. @BaBaBinx: In all fairness to @JollyBrown:

    Do you realize how hard it is to denigrate your employer with co-workers over the roar of a couple GE90 engines and that damn service bell?

  72. @Simon – The “denigrating” was all done on the ground during a ground stop/thunderstorm prior to take off. No engines running so the entire business class cabin was their audience as they loudly commiserated with the passenger seated in front of me…. They definitely failed the etiquette and professional appearance module of their customer service training.

  73. It’s been a bad, out-of-date product since the day they introduced it and it is an absolute disgrace after ten years; AND it will take at least two more years until the NEW seat has been retrofitted to an extent warranting their ad-campaign.

    Unfortunately, the NEW seat is worse in many aspects, again an out-of-date product that Lufthansa’s competitor can only laugh about and be grateful for. The Lufthansa CEO himself publicly announced he did not want change in the first place and called competitors silly for starting the Business-Class arms-race around the Millennium.

    Even within the Lufthansa group, both SWISS and AUSTRIAN will have a better product for years to come. But all Lufthansa cares about is yields and cramming as many seats into their planes as possible. Out with the First on some routes, in with more disgraceful seats in other service classes. (And oh, they will start thinking about putting in a Premium Economy sometime 2014, so pretty much the entire fleet will be rotating between retrofits for years to come. And yes, not even the new First class has been retrofitted fleet-wide. They’ll probably leave the old seats for Elites once certain flights are not offered with First Class service anymore.)

    What is worst is that service has been going from sub-par to sour over the past two years. Attendants are getting more and more grumpy, defensive and downright rude and insulting. The service has been “enhanced” several times and the food, which never ever was a highlight, has become another national disgrace.

    I absolutely concur that most US-carriers provide a superior product and service these days; I will fly United over Lufthansa any day and reliably have a superior seat and individual, quality service. I will also gravitate towards getting the best of two worlds by flying SQ and UA p.s. through JFK.

  74. This is my favorite piece for quiet some time. Yes I agree, the LH Business Class is a disgrace. On LH it’s really ‘Go Y or F’ everything in the middle is a disappointment. Good luck on the EVA Air, hope you got an intra Asia segment on Hello Kitty too! šŸ˜€

  75. @Lucky – Anyone who thinks Lufthansa’s old C seat is uncomfortable clearly hasn’t tried Austrian’s old C. Pure torture. The coffee menu didn’t make up for my sore back.

    I’ll also add my voice to the chorus calling for a long-haul trip report in Y. YVR-HKG on AC7 seems to have good availability. 13h05m on AC’s new 458-passenger 10-across-in-Y 777-300ER should be enough to bring your expectations back to Earth, and you might even catch a glimpse of the new Premium Economy. Plus, you could experience the luxury of an AC Express Q300 from SEA-YVR!

    @Jorge – Actually, the Lufthansa group turned a profit of 800 million euros in 2011, and they’re aiming for 2.3 billion euros by 2015 with their restructuring (see http://centreforaviation.com/analysis/lufthansa-ceo-christoph-franz-the-score-so-far-as-the-carrier-refocuses-strategy-and-operations-113978).

  76. I flew Lufthansa (old) business class (FRA-ATL) earlier this year and had a similar experience. My angled-flat seat wouldn’t recline so I had to move and the new seat was not that much better either. The food was so-so and service was decent but very assembly style as you described. All-in-all very mediocre.

  77. Flew recently FRA-EZE, LH longest flight, and was somehow disappointed.

    It all started at FRA at an unattended business class distant lounge: other than a security officer at the door that merely checks whether passengers are authorized to enter the premises, no one from LH inside.

    Apparently passengers can go directly from that lounge to the gates, highly convenient for the habitues – but the first timers have no idea and go downstairs and board along with the Economy lines – no premium calling.

    Aboard the 747-400, old seats, I also had the most friendly crew… but for a 14 hour flight, disappointed that there was no offer mid flight and beverages were only available at the galley, either you got up or you would be thirsty. I am used with crews going throughout the cabin during the night flight offering water…

    All in all, I believe LH has lots of room for enhancing their C experience.

    Cheers.

  78. Flew LH business class, FRA-PVG and FRA-DEL
    both of them were pretty good. The hard product, food selection and service, beats UA on the same destinations (from EWR) hands down. Have never flow the US based business class products on LH – maybe there lies the difference.

  79. I have a senator membership on Lufthansa. This means I have flown several times on their flights. Mainly business class and sometime first with the upgrade coupons. I agree with everything you say above. Their business class seats totally suck. Except some flights to Munich which have the lie flat seats the angled seats are old. The electrical points don’t work. Spent times the tv s don’t work. I now make it a point to fly other members of the star alliance as far as is possible or go via Munich. ( I am based in Mumbai). They keep promising they will have better seats but that seems a false promise. I increasingly see empty seats on their business class and am seriously considering moving to British Airways. Value for money and flat beds in business.

  80. I agree with everything said here. I won’t book Lufthansa business unless there is absolutely no other way to get there. Any other airline is a better choice. Also, I got stuck in economy once in their new Europa cabin, the seats were so narrow they were uncomfortable, there was no leg room for even short people and when people stood to leave the flight several older people collapsed in the aisle, they were unable to stand from being crammed in for such a long flight. Don’t waste your money or your points on Lufthansa when travelling internationally. Vote with your wallet and don’t support their CEO’s new business model of cramming as many bodies as possible onto their planes.

  81. “Back to the galley they went, and curtains were closed”. ROFL – whoahahahahahahahahahaha

  82. I’m on the Lufthamsa flight from Frankfurt to Chicago right now using their satelite wifi. I’m so upset about this flight that I went online to share the experience. I’m I’m business class (old product) IT SUCKS! Uncomfortable and broken seats, my seat would take so long to go to the semi-bed angle position as it goes back and forward by itself, electric ports are broken! Or out of service, I ask 5 times before geting an answer about moving to a seat with power, after 1 hour they found one in which the power outlet was broken as well.

    It took 30 minutes in between each course of meal service, just one water refill in between.

    I fly this route 6-7 times a year, I’m a united customer, and I booked this lufthansa flight trough united. United is not all that great but at least the sears are full bed

    Flight LH432

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