Review: Lufthansa Business Class Seattle to Frankfurt

Introduction
Club International Seattle
Lufthansa Business Class Seattle to Frankfurt
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Class Frankfurt to Nice
Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee
Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez
Park Hyatt Zurich
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich
Austrian Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Business Class Vienna to Tokyo Narita
EVA Air Business Class Tokyo Narita to Taipei
Le Meridien Taipei
W Taipei
EVA Air Infinity Lounge Taipei
EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Taipei to San Francisco
Thoughts on Nice, Monte Carlo, Cannes, Zurich, and Taipei


Lufthansa 491
Seattle (SEA) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Thursday, June 27
Depart: 1:35PM
Arrive: 8:35AM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 12G (Business Class)

Okay, so upfront I should say that Lufthansa has one of my all around favorite first class products in the world. My last few dozen longhaul segments on them have been in first class (like this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one just to name a few), so I really forgot what business class on them is like. I did fly it quite a bit back in the day and remember it being pleasant though unmemorable, but that was years ago.

Anyway, we boarded through door 2L and turned right into the business class cabin. While there’s a business class mini-cabin in front of the entry door, we were in the third row of the main business class cabin, in the center section.

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Our seats, 12D & 12G

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My seat, 12G

Okay, the first thing I noticed that I had kind of forgotten about is how much these seats lack privacy and are “exposed.” While American, for example, also has angled flat seats, their “shells” are much bigger, so you don’t really see most other passengers. In this cabin, on the other hand, the seats extended about a foot above the “shell,” so you really saw everyone.

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View from 12G

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View from 12G

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Entertainment console in my seat

The seat and entertainment controls were on a single remote, which was located in a compartment to the left of the seat.

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Entertainment and seat controls

Also to the left of the seat were a pair of headphones.

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Headphones

Waiting at my seat were a pillow and blanket. Both were rather disappointing — the pillow wasn’t very big, while the blanket was more like a sheet than anything else.

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Pillow and blanket

Also waiting at my seat was an amenity kit, which was in a hard, cheap feeling case.

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Amenity kit

The kit consisted of socks, eye shades, toothpaste, a toothbrush, Nivea cream, and a new pair of covers for the headphones.

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Amenity kit contents

Within about 10 minutes of settling in were offered pre-departure beverages. I just had some water.

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Pre-departure drinks

After the pre-departure drink service the crew came around with newspapers and magazines, and then with hot towels.

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Hot towel

After that they distributed menus.

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Menu

Shortly before our scheduled departure time the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 9hr15min, which was 45 minutes under our block time, and would put us into Frankfurt a bit early. As the cabin door closed every seat was taken in business class, and coach seemed full as well.

We pushed back on schedule and the cheesy safety video began to play as we taxied to runway 16L, which took about 10 minutes. Once there we were number one for takeoff, where after a long takeoff roll we began a smooth and gradual climb to our cruise altitude.

On the climb out I browsed Lufthansa’s entertainment selection, which was pitiful as always. Not only is the selection ridiculously limited, but the quality of the programming is ridiculous as well. I’m pretty sure they get their inspiration for movies from the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart.

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Entertainment selection

The only decent movie in the selection was “A Good Year,” a movie I’ve probably seen a dozen times but love so much that I don’t ever mind seeing it again. And that movie even has one of my favorite songs:

Anyone else love that song?

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Airshow on departure

At that point the meal service began. The menu read as follows:

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And the wine list read as follows:

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As soon as the seatbelt sign turned off the flight attendants closed the curtains between the galley and cabin, and 30 minutes later all emerged in a synchronized fashion with drink carts. The service was… efficient.

The highlight of the meal had to be that Lufthansa now serves Fanta, which in theory is huge news to me, except the Fanta on this flight tasted a bit off. It wasn’t as good as the Fanta you get in Germany, but also wasn’t the orange sugary crap they serve in the US. Drinks were served with packaged cashews.

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Drinks after takeoff

The whole service was conducted as if the crew was working an assembly line. Don’t get me wrong, the crew was actually quite friendly but I feel like they were literally reading right out of the manual with how they did their service. After the initial drink service it was another 45 minutes till the starter was served, which consisted of a choice of appetizers and a salad.

For the appetizer I selected the shrimp cocktail with Thai chili jam. I wish the salad would have had a bit more than just greens, though at least it had the infamous Lufthansa “delicious Dressing,” whatever that is.

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Appetizer and salad

Then it was another 45 minutes before we saw the crew again, at which point appetizers were cleared and then main courses were served.

For the main course I wanted the salmon, though they were already out of it by the time they got to my seat, which is pretty odd since I was seated mid-cabin. Instead I had the gnocchi, which was chewy, overcooked, and not presented nicely.

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Hazelnutgnocchi accompanied by cream sauce

Meanwhile my friend had the chicken, which he didn’t think was very good either.

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Seared chicken breast with couscous

After the main course it was another 30 minutes till plates were cleared and dessert was served. For dessert the only sweet option was ice cream in a container, which I find rather disappointing.

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Dulce de leche ice cream

My friend had some cheese as well.

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Cheese course

To finish off the meal they distributed some chocolate bars.

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Chocolate

The whole meal experience really made my shake my head and be a bit ashamed of all the Lufthansa cheerleading I do. And the worst part is that I feel this way in spite of the crew actually being quite friendly.

It literally took three hours to serve what was one of the most disappointing business class meals I’ve had. On a redeye transatlantic flight that’s just ridiculous. But the worst part of the experience was just the way the service was conducted. I literally felt like I was part of an assembly line. At no point did a single flight attendant ever come into the cabin to clear plates or offer refills. Instead all four would come into the cabin at once to do whatever needed to be done, and then you wouldn’t see them for 30 minutes as they “prepped” things. Anyway…

In theory I hate the Seattle to Frankfurt flight given how early it leaves Seattle. There’s nothing I love more than a transatlantic flight where you leave late at night and are actually tired when you board. This flight lands in Frankfurt before midnight Seattle time, so there was no way I was going to get a lick of sleep, especially without a fully flat sleep. At the same time I love the flight for being able to leave home less than two hours before departure and cross the pond without connecting.

Fortunately there was wifi, which was actually pretty fast and reasonably priced at 20EUR for the entire flight (and you can log-in from multiple devices, but it has to be one at a time since they make you log in and log out). So I spent the entire flight online, which was a nice way to pass the flight. Sadly the power ports weren’t working, so when my laptop died after a few hours I had to switch to my iPad and then later to my iPhone.

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Airshow

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Airshow

Anyway, to continue with the assembly line feel, every so often the flight attendants came through the cabin with a tray consisting of water, apple juice, and orange juice. After a while I decided to time it, and realized that it was every 20 minutes to the minute, which I found hilarious. I think it kind of summed up the experience perfectly — rather than ever coming through the cabin to see if anyone might want anything, they worked their way through the cabin with what was on offer, and if you don’t like it, so be it (though you can ask for anything else if you’d like, they just weren’t at all proactive about it).

90 minutes before landing the breakfast service began. The menu read as follows:

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The entire service was on one tray, and consisted of some fruit as well as an “omelet” and deli plate.

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Breakfast

And just to be clear, I say “omelet” because, well…

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“Omelet”

I was thrilled to see that they had Nutella, though the presentation on that was less than stellar.

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Nutella

About 30 minutes prior to landing we began our descent, just before passing over Dusseldorf.

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Our descent into Frankfurt was smooth and boasted nice views of the skyline, and we touched down a bit over 15 minutes early. We had a fairly long taxi to the gate, though I was thrilled to find we would be arriving at a gate and not a remote stand.

On the whole this flight was eye opening. Don’t get me wrong, business class is always more comfortable than coach, and I’m incredibly appreciative to be able to fly business class on miles. But one of my goals with this blog is to compare products because I realize not everyone has as much “vacation time” as I do, and I want to be sure you’re making the most of your time traveling. I think the assumption is always that business class on foreign carriers is better than business class on US carriers, and I kind of assumed that as well. In this case, however, I think business class on most US carriers beats Lufthansa business class in just about every manner from seat comfort to food to entertainment.

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Comments

  1. This is the old LH business class seats? It’s got to be the worlds worst international business class seat there is. Still better than coach but that’s about all you can say. I found it to be uncomfortable and like you found, the service is terrible the way they do it.

    -David

  2. Yeap, this was the exact same experience I got few years ago when I flew from FRA to JFK. Never again, at least not on their old Biz product.

  3. Lucky — I’m hoping you can review the new LH business class on the 747-8 or A333 sometime. I’ve always avoided LH business, but I was wondering if the new business class is any better (than US carriers esp).

  4. Yes, that is Lufthansa. And the whole experience is getting worse and worse at ever higher fare prices.

    I avoid them like the plague, unless I can fly LH F (just for the seat and lounge, food and IFE sucks even in F).

    Just like their current C seat, their new generation of C seats, which is slowly being implemented, was already outdated before it was installed.

  5. Thank you very much for expressing my feelings about Lufthansa Business Class all these years. It is a poor product and the food is less than stellar. I think even US Airways offers a better transatlantic product than Lufthansa, while service and catering are not great but at least most US planes feature a nice business class lie fat seat with aisle access at each seat. Its partners, SN, LX, and OS offer a much superior product.

  6. Lucky, I think the reason the Fanta tastes a little different is it is actually Fanta Light….if memory serves me correct.

  7. Agreed – the seats are uncomfortable and way too open if you’re traveling alone. The IFE is pretty lame, but worst of all is the food presentation. It often looks a cut above regurgitated. Never again!

  8. I never flew LH but I’m happy to see a “not everything is perfect at LH F” post 🙂

    I want to see more Business class reviews, so that you can rank them just like 1st class
    I’d think in terms of J – EVA(BR), TK, NH, CX will be quite good, more like a F than a J

  9. Lucky, your timing is great. I’m flying this product tonight BOS-FRA. Maybe I’ll bring McDonalds on board. The other passengers will be jealous.

  10. did you reuse your pictures from your June 27 review?

    “how-opinions-change-when-you-realize-lufthansa-planes-have-more-than-eight-seats”

  11. If that gnocchi had been set before me, I would have thought that I was doing an eating challenge on Survivor. They certainly do resemble grubs. NASTY!

  12. Same experience as yourself from IAH-FRA, CLT-MUC, FRA-IAH. Very mechanical and assembly line like and it takes a very long time to be done with the meal service. Leaves very little time to sleep.

  13. @ Adam — Ah, that explains it. I usually actually prefer the taste of diet sodas, but I guess Fanta is an exception.

  14. @ anon — Yes, my post on June 27 was about the same flight. In that post I shared my initial thoughts of my experience day of, while this is the “official” trip report.

  15. For a few years, I flew SFO – MUC once a month. In those seats, with that service. Better than coach, but not amazing.

    The best memory I have is asking for another Diet Coke before dinner and being told “We already did beverages. Now we’re doing food.”

    Excellent, for an $6K ticket.

  16. I sometimes take IAH-FRA en route to Moscow (and FRA-DME J class is economy with the middle seat guaranteed empty). My comments –

    1. Meal service is SO FREAKING SLOW. I need to SLEEP and on an 8 hour flight I can’r waste threee of them waiting for your crappy food.
    2. Pretzel rolls. YUM.
    3. That Nivea cream in the amenity kit actually has a major cult following in the US (not sold here). My friend asks me to save it so she can sell it on Ebay 🙂
    4. Agree with the rest and don’t know why LH continues to be last in class. I do anything I can to avoid flying them, and the irony is on my route they are by FAR the most expensive, easily 35% and sometimes almost 100% more then nonstop on SQ to DME.

  17. cahbf – I’m pretty sure they started selling that Nivea Creme here about a year ago. It is great, though. I got it free with a coupon a CVS last year, so I think that was when they were introducing it. Personally, I think the best part is the little tin it comes in.

    Lucky – The Fanta is Fanta Zero, so it’s the one with sucralose, not aspartame/nutrasweet. So, if you like the taste of Diet Coke, but not Coke Zero, then Fanta Zero would taste weird too. I don’t normally drink diet soda, but sometimes I really get a hankering for a Diet Coke. I think the “zero” ones do a better job of approximating the sugar-sweetened version, but don’t satisfy that diet soda craving.
    (wait, is this a travel blog I’m commenting on or a moisturizers and carbonated beverages blog? hmm 🙂 )

  18. 1. It seems that even with the occasional bad attitude of UA flight attendants, both the hard product and most of the soft product is better on UA Business. One and a half thumbs up for UA Business.

    2. Could the Fanta be non-German? many businesses in Europe stock up on the same brand name but made in a different country in the EU because it may be cheaper. For example you can find Haribo gummy bears (one of my fav snacks) made in Germany, Spain or Turkey.

  19. Haha – welcome to how the other half live 😀 Non-F on LH is pretty dire – after two experiences with them I’d never pick them out of choice when I could choose an alternate business class carrier. I’ve been on United BusinessFirst a few times and definitely prefer it.

    Agree with others though that more C-class than F-class coverage would be great (if you can bring yourself to slum it!!) – for those of us in non USA-based mileage programmes there tends to be a much bigger mileage jump to redeem in F, so it can be difficult to justify (whereas with your AA and US redemptions I can see why one would be silly NOT to redeem in F!)

  20. Old C in LH is just awful. I have to say that I also don’t like the way they rush breakfast going east in F. Seems like they really want to get it done and it is very mechanical.

    Overall, I also find it ironic that they drag out the dinner service like that when all they really want to do is close the blinds, hit the lights and disappear while we sleep. They could get things done in half the time and let people have some peace/sleep and the passengers would probably appreciate it more.

  21. Yikes… Regardless, I’d expect better from LH. Give me AA or DL old J over that any day over that.

  22. I cannot agree more. LH Business class is just outdated; even on the A380 between Beijing and FRA. Now the new Air China Boeing 777-300ER has full flat bad; compare to the hard uncomfortable LH business seats. EVEN AIr China!!!!!
    Lufthansa should really see this seriously since their pricing is forever much higher. Even my German colleagues now prefers Swiss or Turkish Airlines nowadays.

  23. Cry me a river – you should take one for the team and try that same flight in coach sometime. I did that last year (and BTW I specifically picked Lufthansa based on all your glowing reviews…) and it nearly killed me. LH from SEA>FRA in coach = Worst. Flight. Ever.

  24. That about matches my LH experience in the old C class. The aircraft is clean, and they tend to be relatively punctual. But the seat isn’t comfortable and the food has gotten very weak. LH’s Y food is probably better than other airlines, but not the C food.

  25. I’ve flown LH 446/447 between DEN and FRA in all three classes. Y – No E+ available, IFE is bad, scary food, the only redeeming factor was lots of Warsteiner when they actually came around. J – As people have said, suspect food, slow service and terrible seat. F- In the new version, fantastic, like another completely different airline. Its easy to remember the F experience including F lounge and car service. I put the Y experience in the back of my memory hoping to never relive but 99% of LH fliers are dealing with subpar product. If United is doing better then you, Frankfurt, we have a problem.

  26. I’m curious if you think it was so bad that its worth connecting on the east coast or elsewhere. I’m a SEA based flier and find it hard to justify the extra 5 hours or so it’d take for me to connect before going trans-atlantic. Also, while this is not a concern for everyone, LH still has the bolt on baby bassinets available. UA has only floor bassinets. I’d prefer a real bassinet and an angled flat than a full flat that i can’t even open b/c of the floor bassinet.

  27. @ seafra — That’s a great question. I’d generally say it’s probably better to save five hours of travel time and have an uncomfortable seat. Going from the east coast to Europe chances are you wouldn’t sleep more than five hours (probably much less than that), so you’re better off taking a nap when you land and you’ll still end up saving time.

  28. Four trip reports since Friday? How do you expect me to get any work done? 😉 Keep ’em coming Lucky!

    You are sadly lowering my expectations for an upcoming trip in LH old C. I’ll just have to get psyched up for the Fanta and pretzel rolls.

  29. Ugh. Just redeemed for an A330 trip DFW-FRA in C. Thinking it might be worth the redeposit fee to book on another carrier… but they are redoing a LOT a planes this year so there’s an outside chance of getting a new C experience.

  30. Lucky, just to compare, what are the other options for flying to Europe out of Seattle in Business Class? And which would you recommend over LH BC overall?

  31. @ wwk5d — Great question. Going directly out of Seattle (without stopping at another gateway) I’d say British Airways has a better business class product, as well as the Delta planes equipped with the new product.

    But if you’re willing to connect, Austrian, Swiss, United, and US Airways all offer a better all around business class product, in my opinion.

  32. Hi Lucky.

    I’m doing another RTW before the merger. LAX via Europe to North Asia via Bangkok/Singapore. What is your route suggestion.

  33. @ arthur — If you’re looking at doing first class, the only airlines that really release space are Asiana, Thai, ANA, United, and Air China. Asiana, Thai, and ANA are all awesome, and Air China is great if you can get the 777-300ER.

  34. Yup, sounds like ATL to FRA in business. The crappy little plastic amenity kit is atrocious. The damn lid will never go back on!

  35. Got 3 award C class LH from SEA-FRA, number one reason is it’s non-stop. When taking an elderly parent the key is to get the flight over as quickly with minimal fuss – i.e., one flight, no airport changes. Mercifully our seats are in the mini-cabin both ways which I’ve always liked best as minimal aisle traffic, quieter, close to restrooms, and provides an overall more comfortable setting. SEA has always had very limited choice and frequency of non-stops to Europe. If I was flying alone I’d opt for OS or UA for flatbed, but as others rightfully note flying from the West Coast to the East Coast not only lengthens the flying time, but reduces in-flight sleeping time on the atlantic leg. Sometimes gotta go with what’s available. For SEA travelers the only reasonable option is to connect in SFO. I avoid Canada, YVR, as I don’t want the hassle of going through customs and immigration just for a transit flight!. My last LH C class was ORD-DUS and the food was quite good along with the same ‘efficient’ service routine. Yeah, LH is mechanical/technical in their operations but as competition heats up their behinds, they’ll need to drop their teutonic attitude of ‘it’s our way or the highway, er autobahn’.

  36. Reminds me of the poor business product on Malaysia Airlines (MA92) HKG-LAX. I got almost the same identical cabin crew. But I dont think the food looked as bad as LH. Here’s to an improved J class for everyone! Great review, Cheers!

  37. I will fly LH450 tomorrow FRA – LAX the 7th of Sept. I’m now not looking forward to it :-(. I have never flown LH J only LH F (except in 1982 in Y). I paid for this trip with my hard earned $$ and now I am not looking forward to a long 11hr subpar J experience. Lets see how it turns out.

  38. Despite the negative hype I was pleased with a recent transatlantic LH Business class flight. The seat is a little awkward but we slept fine. Also, maybe I am missing something but I don’t expect anything exciting out of in-flight business class meals.

  39. Yeah I wish I was able to view this blog earlier in the summer when I took Lufthansa from SEA-FRA. I was a bit disappointed, and your tidbits described above are right-on. I had a much better experience on Delta earlier in the year, despite their worse seats (SEA-AMS flight has yet to be upgraded as well). Delta’s service was not like an assembly line, and the food/entertainment was better.

  40. Just got back from Frankfurt with LH business class
    The sit is uncomfortable I could not find a good position to fall a sleep.
    Was long and awful flight.
    Today instead going to work I spend the day in bed. And not doing any business….
    Why I spent so much for nothing?

  41. I’ve only flown once in LH business class and that will be both time’s first and last. I thought i would try it instead of Air Canada, huge mistake. even though AC gets a bad wrap but their BC is light years ahead of what LH can currently offer or will be able to offer with their improvements. Domestic BC on LH is even worse, by simply removing the middle seat they have business class, no more leg room, no better service.

  42. My opinion, LH features in Business Class a mediocre Economy Premium experience.

    Even in Economy Premium I have had better service and empathy from crews.

    My best anecdote in C has also been experienced by Neil S. ; A fellow traveller, upon his request for some water, his glass was empty, was informed beverage service had been offered, and would be again only after the meal service, to the whole cabin.

    Too bad I never e-mailed LH a suggestion, so LH could add, to their Business Class menu, the beverage service schedule, so passengers would never interfere with LH procedures.

  43. @ Jon – Not for a while I’m afraid. I will be flying C in July from FRA to DEN. The plane will not feature the new seats. I think they first retrofit the A380 and the 747-8 before the old Jumbos. On my way back I’ll be flying to FRA through IAH (cheaper) and the plane (A380) will feature the new sets.

    Last summer I went to DEN through ORD with LX in C. The experience was way better than the old C in LH. Seat (lie flat), food (a la carte breakfast) and service (no trolley) was much better. Small bonus: Swiss Ice cream and selection of Lindt chocolate and when I asked for more chocolate they juste gave me a whole box.
    If you have time I would recommend LX over LH a 100 times.

  44. OMG, I misread the title and thought I was reading a review of LH first class and was horrified to see how low the mighty had fallen.

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