Review: Lufthansa First Class 747-400 Vancouver to Frankfurt

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I’ve spent the past week in Europe, and flew Lufthansa first class to get here. I was originating in Seattle, though in this case was meeting up with a friend that was in Vancouver. So we decided to redeem miles for Lufthansa first class from Vancouver to Frankfurt, which is operated by a 747-400. Lufthansa has several versions of their new first class product, and this is the aircraft that features both a separate seat and bed in first class.

First class award availability is generally wide open on this route. Meanwhile if I had flown out of Seattle the flight would have been operated by an A340-300, which would feature Lufthansa’s old first class (starting this summer Lufthansa is cutting first class altogether on the Seattle route). So regardless I would have gladly positioned myself in Vancouver for the superior first class experience.

Below is my review, and stay tuned, because tomorrow my friend Tiffany (who flew with me) will be sharing her thoughts on the experience (note: she feels differently about Lufthansa first class than I do).

How to redeem miles for Lufthansa first class

As of now there are a few practical ways to redeem miles for Lufthansa first class between the US and Europe:

110,000 United MileagePlus miles one-way

United used to charge just 67,500 miles one-way for first class between the US and Europe, though after their February devaluation, that price went up by over 50%. While it’s convenient to be able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to United, I wouldn’t call that an especially good value, though if you’re accruing Ultimate Rewards quickly it may still make sense.

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62,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles

As of early this year Aeroplan allows one-way awards on partner airlines, so you’d pay just 62,500 Aeroplan miles. The only downside is that they impose fuel surcharges, which total ~$400 one-way. That’s actually not a bad value, and if you value your points at all, I’d say is a better value than United’s MileagePlus award costs without the fuel surcharges (especially since Aeroplan doesn’t charge close-in ticketing fees).

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72,500 Avianca LifeMiles

The best value, however, is booking through Avianca LifeMiles (which is how I booked). They charge 72,500 miles one-way and don’t impose fuel surcharges. They frequently sell miles for 1.5 cents each, so it’s basically like paying a bit over $1,000 for a first class ticket between the US and Europe. That’s tough to beat.

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The flight: Lufthansa first class from Vancouver to Frankfurt

After spending a couple of hours in the Plaza Premium Lounge in Vancouver (which isn’t actually the lounge Lufthansa uses — they use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge) we headed to our departure gate at around 3:30PM, for the 3:40PM scheduled boarding time.

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Vancouver Airport traffic

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Air New Zealand 777-200 Vancouver Airport

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Vancouver Airport terminal

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Vancouver Airport terminal

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Vancouver Airport terminal

Our departure gate was D55, which was rather crowded by the time we got there.

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Vancouver Airport Lufthansa departure gate

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Vancouver Airport Lufthansa departure gate

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Lufthansa 747-400 taking us to Frankfurt

Ar around 3:40PM the gate agents announced we would be a few minutes late boarding — how very un-German!

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Lufthansa delayed boarding

At around 3:50PM boarding began, starting with passengers that may need a little bit of extra time boarding as well as first class.

And with that, on we went…

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Lufthansa 747-400 taking us to Frankfurt

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Lufthansa 747-400 taking us to Frankfurt

Lufthansa 493
Vancouver (YVR) ā€“ Frankfurt (FRA)
Friday, May 2
Depart: 4:10PM
Arrive: 10:50AM (+1 day)
Duration: 9hr40min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 83H (First Class)

Stupidly we boarded through door 1L — I’m not sure why, given that the stairs for the upper deck are located by door 2L. Fortunately the business class cabin was still empty, so it was a quick walk. Guess I’m getting a bit rusty with Lufthansa first class, I’ll have to fly them more. šŸ˜‰

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Lufthansa business class 747-400

At door 2L we took the stairs to the upper deck, where the first class cabin is located.

Lufthansa’s first class product on the 747-400 is different than on the rest of the fleet, given that each seat features a seat and bed combo. Throughout the rest of the fleet they just have comfortable seats which turn into fully flat beds.

While there are pros and cons to the seat/bed combo, one thing is for sure — visually it’s one of the most stunning products, in my opinion, save for the ancient overhead bins.

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Lufthansa first class 747-400

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Lufthansa first class 747-400

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Lufthansa first class 747-400

I settled down in seat 83H, which would be my seat to Frankfurt. My friend was in 83C, and there was a couple in row 81. So the cabin was just half full, with four empty seats.

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Lufthansa first class 747-400 seat

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Lufthansa first class 747-400 seat

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Lufthansa first class 747-400 seat controls

I find that on Lufthansa you can tell within 30 seconds if you have a fantastic crew or just a good crew (really, those are the only two options). šŸ˜‰

And I could quickly tell this was just a good crew.

The aisle flight attendant quickly offered me a glass of champagne along with some macadamia nuts. What’s interesting is that they had three champagnes on offer on this flight, starting with Taittinger. It quickly became apparent that this would have to be a team effort, and that if we wanted to try the second and third champagne we’d have to get to work.

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Lufthansa first class champagne and nuts

After that I was offered pajamas, slippers, and an Escada amenity kit. Not the Rimowa amenity kit I was hoping for, but I actually preferred this one to any other Lufthansa kit I’ve received.

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Lufthansa first class pajamas, slippers, and amenity kit

As far as Lufthansa’s pajamas go, I always have mixed feelings. I love the bottoms since they’re nice and light, but the tops are always a bit too thick for me and I tend to sweat, especially since Lufthansa has the tendency to keep their cabins warm.

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Lufthansa first class pajamas, slippers, and amenity kit

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Lufthansa first class amenity kit

The contents of the amenity kit were pretty standard for Lufthansa, though I did like the Escada pouch.

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Lufthansa first class amenity kit contents

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Lufthansa first class amenity kit

I quickly changed into my pajamas, and as I emerged from the lavatory the flight attendant hung up my clothes. The aisle flight attendant was attentive when it came to refilling champagne, and before we even pushed back I heard three corks “pop” between the four of us.

Shortly before pushback the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of nine hours, which was shorter than normal and would put us into Frankfurt early, even with a slightly delayed departure.

At around 4:20PM we began our pushback and taxi to runway 8R. The safety video played during this time, and we made it to the runway by 4:30PM.

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Pushback Vancouver Airport

Our takeoff roll was fairly quick, and we had a smooth climb to our cruising altitude.

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Shortly after takeoff out of Vancouver

As is the norm on flights out of the Pacific Northwest, my eyes were glued out the window for the first hour or so of the flight.

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Leveling off

About 20 minutes after takeoff hot towels were distributed. As usual, they were the best smelling towels in the sky.

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Lufthansa first class hot towel

At this point the flight attendant distributed the menu and wine list. Usually the purser distributes the menus, though she wasn’t to be seen on this flight, not after takeoff or before landing. This is my second flight in recent memory where that was the case, as it’s otherwise quite rare. I find Lufthansa pursers to usually be more hands on.

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Lufthansa first class menu and wine list

The dinner menu read as follows:

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And the wine list read as follows:

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After takeoff I had another glass of Taittinger to accompany the amuse bouche, which consisted of some sort of wrapped salmon… or something.

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Lufthansa first class amuse bouche

At this point each passenger was also offered a rose.

Shortly thereafter the caviar cart was rolled around. I was offered a generous helping with all the trimmings.

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Lufthansa first class caviar course

It’s worth noting at this point we also drank them out of the Taittinger, and moved on to the Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame, which was lovely.

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Lufthansa first class champagne

Shortly thereafter the appetizer cart was rolled around, which consisted of lobster claw, tandoori chicken, mixed pepper with cream cheese, and salad. Usually calling Lufthansa’s appetizers non-offensive would be a compliment, but in this case they were downright tasty.

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Lufthansa first class appetizer

And of course we had more champagne.

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Lufthansa first class champagne

For the main course I had the seared cod, which was really good.

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Lufthansa first class main course — seared cod

Meanwhile my friend had the tenderloin of beef.

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Lufthansa first class main course — bacon wrapped tenderloin of beef

After the main course the dessert cart was rolled around.

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Lufthansa first class dessert cart

For dessert I selected the warm bread pudding with vanilla sauce.

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Lufthansa first class dessert

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Lufthansa first class dessert

After dessert I was hoping for a cappuccino, though unfortunately the machine was broken. Instead I tried the third type of champagne, which was Champagne de Castelnau. I think the flight attendant was trying to trick us when she told us it was the “third first class champagne,” and simply didn’t want to admit that they ran out.

Compared to the other two champagnes it tasted like cat piss… at best. At least it was better than Duc de Paris.

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Lufthansa “first” class champagne

We had dinner at a really leisurely pace, and by the time we were done I decided to sleep. At that point we were about to begin our Atlantic crossing, with just over 5hr30min left to go to Frankfurt.

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt

So as far as Lufthansa’s first class seat and bed combo goes, it’s really tough to beat having a “real” bed. You simply get better sleep there than in just about any other type of first class seat. There are only two potential downsides to this configuration:

  • The seat itself doesn’t recline that far, so if you want to “lounge” you’re out of luck, since there’s not really a middle ground between being in bed and being in the nearly upright seat
  • The TV faces the seat and not the bed, so it’s pretty tough to watch TV from bed

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Lufthansa first class bed

I was awoken by the flight attendant about 90 minutes prior to landing, just north of the UK.

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt

I was offered some water, orange juice, and a hot towel.

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Lufthansa first class breakfast service

The breakfast menu read as follows:

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At that point the cart was rolled through the aisle. I selected some fresh fruit, muesli, and a deli plate with some cheese and salmon. Since the cappuccino machine was broken I had some English Breakfast tea.

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Lufthansa first class breakfast

Then I was offered some freshly scrambled eggs with chives (I passed on the bacon).

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Lufthansa first class breakfast — scrambled eggs

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Airshow enroute to Frankfurt

About 30 minutes prior to landing we began our descent into Frankfurt. At the top of our descent I changed out of my pajamas and stowed my bags. Unlike other passengers in the cabin, I made the bold decision to change in the lavatory.

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View on descent into Frankfurt

We touched down on runway 7R at 10:30AM. The past few times I’ve flown into Frankfurt we’ve landed on runway 18, which I’m pretty sure ends in Dusseldorf, and then you taxi all the way back to Frankfurt.

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View on descent into Frankfurt

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View on final descent into Frankfurt

Unfortunately we had to hold short of runway 7C for about 10 minutes, and then continued our taxi to the gate.

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Crossing runway 7L

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Taxiing to our gate

The remainder of our taxi took about five minutes, and at around 10:45AM we found ourselves at our “Z” concourse arrival gate, just a few minutes ahead of schedule.

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Taxiing to our gate

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Taxiing to our gate

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Taxiing to our gate

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Taxiing to our gate

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Taxiing to our gate

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Walking towards immigration

While the amount of walking required at Frankfurt Airport can be somewhat annoying, I sure don’t mind it given the gorgeous lineup of widebodies you get to stroll past, from the 747-400 to the 747-8 to the A380.

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Lufthansa 747-400

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Lufthansa A380

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Lufthansa 747-8

Bottom line on Lufthansa first class

Yes, I’m a Lufthansa fanboy, and I find they offer a really consistent experience. As usual the 747-400 is tough to beat for a transatlantic crossing in first class. In this case the food was also among the best I’ve had in Lufthansa first class.

The crew was good — they certainly went through the motions with a smile, but weren’t as proactive as some other crews I’ve had in the past.

Still, Lufthansa rocks!

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. While some other airlines do present their food a bit nicer than Lufthansa, I do like that teapot they present with breakfast.

  2. Another excellent account of LH F. Hope to get to experience for the first time in a couple of weeks! It’ll be nice to finally try something other than Delta BE! Thanks for your help along the way!

  3. Wow! Thanks for sharing and giving me something to aim for. If a person were going to save points for a super-amazing flight somewhere (assuming I can make the best of wherever I land), what flight would you recommend? I’m kind of stuck with Delta and it’s partner/code-sharers, btw. (All input from readers appreciated.)

  4. It’s good to see you giving back for once and helping others. Oh wait, sorry, wrong blogger. This is yet another FC report to add onto your request for people to start funding your trips.

    When will we see you give back in some fashion after having so much given to you?

  5. BTW are you in MIA Oneworld premium lounge right now? Saw a guy who looks just like you.

  6. @ mbh — Redeeming just Delta miles? I would say the best option would be something like Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Australia. That’s because you can’t redeem Delta miles for international first class, but rather only for business class. That being said, with some credit card applications or buying some LifeMiles you should be able to redeem for a top Star Alliance first class product (like ANA, Lufthansa, etc.) or top oneworld product (like Cathay Pacific).

    Good luck!

  7. @ Dominik — They’ve never done that when arriving at a gate. They only do that when arriving at a remote stand.

  8. When arriving at a gate, how do you get to the FCT? (I have a 5hr layover before connecting to LHR).

  9. @ Simon — Full details here:
    http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/01/17/lufthansa-first-class-terminal-access/

    “Lufthansa doesnā€™t have arrival services for First Class passengers unless your flight uses a remote stand (and even if youā€™re at a remote stand youā€™ll only be driven to the main terminal and not the First Class Terminal), so when you get to the main terminal youā€™ll need to walk.

    Clear immigration, and follow the signs to the street level. Turn left after exiting the terminal, and walk towards the taxi waiting area.

    Thereā€™s a small kiosk/coffee hut where the taxi drivers congregate, which is the best place to cross the street. You should be able to see the First Class Terminal at this point, and the side entrance will eventually be on your left.”

  10. Thank you for the report. Do you know if this newer F product is on the YYZ-FRA route?

  11. Thanks Ben – interesting that one would get stamped into Germany just to get to the FCT.

  12. It sounds like Lufthansa has been changing up their 1st class amenity kits every few months after many years of Rimowa. I got Rimowa when I flew with them in January, and a Bogner kit when I flew them in early April.

  13. Thanks Lucky, but I thought lh is cutting 30% from F capacity?? Which aircraft or routes, I thought FT lh mod said all 744 & 343 would lose F?

  14. @ Dan — As far as I know, most immediately they’re cutting first class from some A330 and A340 aircraft. They may eventually cut it from some 747s, tough I don’t believe concrete plans have been announced for that.

  15. If you think rwy 18 is a long slog, try landing on 25R and taxiing all the way round to T2! Incidentally on that point, since the opening of the new runway 07L/25R on the other side of the terminal, the runway immediately to the right of 07R when landing on it, is actually 07C/25C (not 07L as you say above).

  16. We’re you supposed to drink maple syrup on this trip but decided not to and just stop at FRA?

  17. Thanks, Ben. As usual a very detailed report. I bought 100 percent bonus LifeMiles just to do Lufthansa one way First. Good to see the new product on the Vancouver route!

  18. It is planned that all LH B747-400 frames will become two class beginning next summer or withdrawn as the B748 order is completed. Hopefully this will take a few years. This particular F product will not be available after that time. LH is indeed cutting back F. The A343 have already begun to be modified to two class only.

  19. Another great trip report from you, and one of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog. I always like seeing a LH F report, and the new LH F looks very attractive.

  20. Hi Lucky,
    A while back you had mentioned the possibility of video trip reports. Well here’s the link to a guy who really knows how to do video trip reports well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH4B4OocKfg (this is just a link to one of his videos but check out the rest too). I’m interested in what you think of them.
    Thanks!

  21. I’m booked on YVR-MUC-CDG in F for august. I’m thinking of switching it to YVR-FRA as soon as space opens up. I’m afraid though that I’ll end up with the old F. DO you think it’s still worth risking it and changing my flight to YVR-FRA?

    The LH tool that shows if the flight will have the new F product only appears to be reliable a couple days prior to departure since they’ll know by then which 747 will be operating the flight. When you search dates a week or more out, it shows the new product. But the last few weeks, the old product has made an appearance in YVR at least a couple times a week.

  22. Thanks for the tips, Lucky. It’s fun to have a goal to work toward, and I need a focus for my points/rewards/miles. If I ever get enough to do something wonderful, I’ll report back!

  23. Lucky, did you earn lifemiles by flying them or transferring from somewhere else. Are there any transfer options available, live Amex or something.
    Thanks

  24. Hi Ben, you don’t mention actually using Miles and More points in your options. How do they stack up? Cheers. LF

  25. “I love the bottoms since they’re nice and light, but the tops are always a bit too thick for me and I tend to sweat.”

    Oh, Benjamin.

  26. @ Chris — I generally purchase them, as they can typically be purchased for 1.5 cents each (or less). They do have a co-branded credit card, but other than that not really any great transfer partners.

  27. @ Levy Flight — Good point! Miles and More is great for booking further than two weeks out, or when you don’t have flexibility in your plans. A one-way first class ticket between the US and Europe costs 85,000 Miles & More miles, plus taxes and fuel surcharges, so not a tremendous value otherwise.

  28. If you’re connecting to a sameday intra-Europe LH flight do you need to collect your bags or will they check them all the way through?

  29. Great review Ben. No need for video which I find annoying (esp on 4g connxn). And I agree that LH (and many European & Asian airlines) tends to keep its cabins on the warm side. It’s easy to put on more layers (or a blanket) if you’re cold but there’s only so much clothing you can remove if you’re warm, and still remain within the bounds of propriety…

  30. The worst thing about Internet is faceless random folks trying to act as Moral inspectors and judging people. Please take your issues elsewhere and let the rest of us enjoy. Thank you

  31. I thought I’d paid enough attention during previous trip reports but just now learned that on this plane, TV doesn’t swivel. Seems strange – TV in Etihad’s new first (which also has a seat and a bed) does that.

  32. Lucky, keep on posting this offer, and expect a lifemiles devaluation for making it so public

  33. Ben – Would you say that any row in this configuration is better than the others? Or all created equal in your eyes?

  34. Did you publish the picture you had as your wallpaper at any time? If yes, what TR? I’d LOVE to have it as my wallpaper.

  35. Ben – can you confirm US to Germany to Japan is 105k M&M miles, if no stopover in Germany? I’m looking to do IAD-FRA-NRT this year.

  36. The reason why Champagne de Castelnau Reserve Brut tasted like “cat piss” is because it is a Blanc de Noirs, made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It is not really for everyone, as it is characterized as “heavy” in comparison to Blanc de Blancs which is described as “fresh.” It is not really “first class champagne” compared to the Blanc de Blancs served by airlines. And it is actually cheaper than Blanc de Blancs, with the exception of Krug Clos d’Ambonnay which is single-vineyard pure Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs and one of the most expensive in the world, and Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises Blanc de Noirs also made solely from Pinot Noir.

  37. How wide is the seat and how wide is the bed? Is the whole set up chair/bed combo as wide as a suit on Emirates a380 or Singapore a380?
    Thanks

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