Review: Lufthansa First Class A330 Munich To Washington Dulles

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Lufthansa First Class A330 Munich To Washington Dulles


I love Lufthansa. Have I mentioned that yet?

After being driven from my connecting Air Dolomiti flight to the terminal, I was escorted up to the First Class Lounge. Once there, the lounge attendant greeted me and informed me that my flight would be leaving from a gate, so I wouldn’t be driven to the plane.

She held onto my passport, which was given to the immigration officer inside of the First Class Lounge.

The Munich First Class Lounge is similar in design to the Frankfurt First Class Lounge and even Frankfurt First Class Terminal, except:

  • Since there’s only one First Class Lounge it tends to get more crowded than the ones in Frankfurt
  • The catering isn’t done by DO&CO, so the food isn’t quite as good

I only had an hour layover and wasn’t especially hungry, so just grabbed a seat and connected to the wifi to get some work done.

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Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich

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Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich

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Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich bar

I was quickly approached by a friendly server, who offered me a drink. I ordered a cappuccino and still water, which were served with a hot towel.

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Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich cappuccino

My flight was departing at 3:55PM, so at 3:35PM I headed to my departure gate. I had to stop by the immigration desk where I was given back my passport, and then began the walk over to gate H8. The entire end of the terminal is blocked off for US flights, so you once again have to show your passport there, and select passengers get additional screening. Fortunately I got through without much of a wait.

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Munich Airport terminal

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Munich Airport tarmac

Once at the gate I found that the flight was already mostly boarded, so I was among the last passengers onboard.

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Munich Airport departure gate

Lufthansa 414
Munich (MUC) – Washington (IAD)
Monday, May 12
Depart: 3:55PM
Arrive: 7:20PM
Duration: 9hr25min
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 2A (First Class)

“Herr Schlappig, herzlich willkommen an bord. Sie sind heute unser einziger Gast.” Ahhhh! I’ve had a half dozen flights in my life where I was the only first class passenger, but this was the first time on Lufthansa.

An Airbus A330 operates this route, and for what it’s worth all of the Munich based A330s feature the new first class product, while it’s a gamble if flying out of Frankfurt.

I quickly settled into seat 2A, and could tell immediately it would be a fabulous flight.

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Lufthansa A330 new first class seat

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Lufthansa A330 new first class cabin

Less than a minute after settling in the aisle flight attendant working first class introduced herself. She had a “purser” name badge, but as it turns out she was a shorthaul purser, so when she works longhaul flights it’s not as purser. And it was actually her first time working first class in years, she said, so she was a bit rusty about the service (though incredibly enthusiastic).

She quickly offered me something to drink. I ordered a glass of Taittinger, which was served with macadamia nuts.

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Lufthansa first class champagne

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Lufthansa first class pre-departure champagne and macadamia nuts

I was also offered an Escada amenity kit, which the flight attendant pointed out to me can double as an iPad case. She then presented me pajamas, though only the top. Lufthansa is interesting in that they put the tops and bottoms in separate “pouches.” I pointed this out to the flight attendant, and she was genuinely surprised, and quickly fetched me the bottoms as well.

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Pajamas and amenity it

Moments after settling in the purser stopped by my seat to introduce himself. This was in stark contrast to my outbound flight from Vancouver to Frankfurt, where the purser didn’t make an appearance at all. This purser was cheery, and joked that he was certain I wouldn’t have any trouble stretching out and being comfortable on this flight.

Moments later the captain came by my seat to introduce himself. I’d say on about half of my Lufthansa flights the captain comes to each first class passenger and introduces himself. And typically it’s a bit awkward, since they’re usually rather stiff and just stand there.

But this captain was more jovial and cracked a couple of jokes. He said the flight time would be 8hr50min and that it should be a smooth flight.

Right on schedule we began our pushback and taxi, at which point the safety video began playing.

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View out the window

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View on pushback

We taxied to runway 26R, where we were number four for takeoff behind an A340-600, A319, etc.

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Lufthansa A340-600

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Lufthansa A340-600 ahead of us for takeoff

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Lufthansa A319 ahead of us for takeoff

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Runway view

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Lufthansa A319 behind us for takeoff

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Cleared for takeoff

Once it was our turn for takeoff we taxied into position on runway 26R, and then the brakes were applied while the engines spooled up. There’s nothing unusual about that, and it’s standard operating procedure at some airports with short runways. But I’ve never at any airport had the brakes applied for as long as they were on this flight. We must have had the engines at near full throttle for 15 seconds before the brakes were released and we began our takeoff roll. Anyone know why that would be?

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View shortly after takeoff

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View after takeoff from Munich

Anyway, our climb out was smooth, and about 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

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Cloud porn

On our climb out I was still trying to get over my excitement of having a completely private first class cabin. Flying in a private cabin (or private jet, for that matter) is a totally different experience than flying in a full cabin — it’s just so damn awesome.

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Lufthansa A330 new first class cabin

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Lufthansa A330 new first class cabin

At that point the two first class flight attendants set up the “bar” area in the front of the cabin, which I found funny since I was the only first class passenger.

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Lufthansa first class “bar”

The aisle flight attendant came by to tell me that I could have what I want when I wanted, so there was no rush with the meal service or anything. I suggested eating maybe 90 minutes after takeoff, though my glass of champagne was kept full in the meantime. She also offered me a hot towel and a rose.

Usually I have a hard time stepping away from my computer on Mondays, though the great thing about flying Lufthansa is that they have FlyNet, so I could stay connected to wifi for the whole flight. The cost for a 24 hour T-Mobile pass is 20 Euros, which I find to be incredibly reasonable. For what it’s worth, the wifi was also the fastest I’ve ever had on Lufthansa, which was a welcome change after my flights earlier in the year where they were doing some “maintenance” (though in fairness they didn’t charge for wifi at the time).

So I was productive for about 90 minutes, at which point I decided to eat lunch.

The lunch menu read as follows:

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And the wine list read as follows:

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I started with thecaviar course. The flight attendant still set up the cart as if she were serving the entire cabin, as they had heaps of caviar. She served me a generous portion, and later asked me if I wanted more, though I passed (for those of you wondering what’s in the yellow “pouch,” it’s lime).

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Lufthansa first class caviar service

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Lufthansa first class caviar service

Then I went for the trio of appetizers and the salad. They were all quite good.

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Lufthansa first class appetizer service

I skipped the main course (as I almost always do when flying out of Germany on Lufthansa, because I find the catering to be abysmal, at least for the main courses) and proceeded with dessert.

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Lufthansa first class cheese/dessert cart

I think this particular dessert menu really sums up my frustration with Lufthansa’s catering ex-Germany. Whisky mascarpone cream… yum, that sounds good enough! But with “confit of green tomato and pineapple?” Like, really?!

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Lufthansa has the unique ability to make dessert sound unappealing.

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Lufthansa first class dessert

To finish off the meal I had a cappuccino and a couple of pralines.

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Lufthansa first class cappuccino and pralines

The service throughout the meal — and throughout the entire flight, for that matter — was just spectacular. I was addressed by name at every single interaction. I didn’t sleep but instead worked on my laptop all the way to Washington, and I was constantly checked on. Literally throughout the nine hour flight I don’t think there was a gap of more than ten minutes where I wasn’t checked on.

This crew was just amazing, one of the best I’ve ever had.

I consider myself really fortunate to be able to work from anywhere in the world, but I have to say that this is one of my cooler “offices:”

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Empty Lufthansa first class cabin

About 90 minutes before landing I elected to have the pre-arrival snack.

The menu read as follows:

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Usually Lufthansa’s pre-arrival snacks are poorly executed, but this one was probably the best I’ve ever had. It’s tough to beat a salad made “table side.”

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Lufthansa first class pre-arrival snack

About 30 minutes before landing I changed out of my pajamas and stowed by belongings. At this point the purser made an announcement on the PA informing passengers of arrival formalities at Washington Dulles and how the “people mover” will take passengers to immigration. Once he finished the announcement he came up to tell me that there would be a “special car” waiting to take me to immigration.

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Airshow on approach into Washington

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View on approach into Washington

Our descent into Washington was smooth, and we touched down at 6:55PM, and parked at our arrival gate just five minutes later.

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View on approach into Washington

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View on approach into Washington

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Touchdown in Washington Dulles

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Taxiing to gate at Washington Dulles

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Taxiing to gate at Washington Dulles

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Taxiing to gate at Washington Dulles

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Taxiing to gate at Washington Dulles

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Taxiing to gate at Washington Dulles

We parked right next to the “people movers” and a Qatar Airways 777.

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At gate Washington Dulles

Little did I know the most impressive part of the experience was yet to come. Last November Lufthansa improved their ground service at Washington Dulles for first class passengers and HON Circle members. Instead of making first class passengers take the “people movers,” they started offering a separate small bus for first class passengers and HON Circle members.

So as I deplaned I was met by an agent that had a sign with my name on it. She escorted me down the jet bridge to an elevator, which took us down to the tarmac, where I boarded a bus to immigration.

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Bus to immigration Washington Dulles

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Bus to immigration Washington Dulles

On the ride to immigration the awesome Lufthansa agent confirmed that my checked bag was on the flight and should be at baggage claim in less than five minutes.

HUH?! I stopped her mid-sentence — “wait, you’re telling me that my checked bag off an international flight will be at baggage claim in less than five minutes?” “Hopefully even faster than that,” she responded. There aren’t many things that truly catch me by surprise, but this did. So I said the first thing that popped to my mind — “I don’t believe you, that just can’t be.” She smirked, and said “we’ll see.”

She explained that at Washington Dulles the Lufthansa station manager personally grabs the first class bags and drives them across the tarmac to baggage claim. I completed Global Entry, and as soon as that was complete the Lufthansa agent escorting me radioed the station manager and told him to drop the bags off at Belt 4. Within less than a minute my checked bags had arrived.

All-in-all I was curbside after an international arrival at Dulles with checked bags seven minutes after the aircraft door opened. I was so impressed I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was speechless.

Bottom line

This was one of my best flights ever, on any airline. The crew was phenomenal. The arrival service Lufthansa offers first class passengers at Washington Dulles is one-of-a-kind. And having a private cabin wasn’t too shabby, either.

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Comments

  1. @lucky I flew Munich to Boston 3 weeks ago and had the exact same experience. I even have some of the exact same pictures (the first one of the lounge) haha. Only person in first class and same menu. The crew was also amazing.

  2. Great report.

    Couple of things: The menu on your MUC-IAD flight was identical to the menu on my FRA-IAD flight last week, which I suppose makes sense.

    The LH ground experience at IAD is unparalleled for IAD and for many airports globally for that matter. We had several in first on my flight (747-8) and we were scooped up on disembarkation, placed on a small bus, taken to the terminal and entering through a side door (LONG lines for those without Global Entry), I went to the loo, came out, and my bags were being pulled off the conveyer as I walked up. They plunked them on my cart and I was out of customs in 30 seconds. Door open to exiting the airport was < 10 minutes. Just terrific.

    Oh, and I should point out that I had a CX flight the week before last where I was the only one in first on a 744. I had nine pillows. That was the best flight ever. 🙂

  3. Did you happen to notice that QR code on the piece of chocolate that was on top of your dessert? Did you try to scan it?

  4. Ben — great trip report as always, and am really looking forward to all the new ones coming this month. I’m particularly excited by your upcoming trip on Jet — do they offer first class anymore at all? If so, why aren’t you flying that as I think you said you were flying business.

    One tiny nit — did you mean to say the pre-arrival snacks are “purely” executed or “poorly” executed? I suppose either could work but tend to think you meant the latter.

  5. @ django — Good catch, fixed, thanks! As far as first class goes, Jet Airways only offers first class on a couple of routes operated by their 777-300ER, none of which they operate to North America, unfortunately.

  6. So they apparently provide every portion of food on the menu just for the single passenger. I assume they throw the remaining food items away after the flight is completed? I’m amazed at the excess of first class at times. I am, however, excited to fly them soon.

  7. @ Romer — The first class cabin was catered for four passengers. Don’t worry, I don’t think it went to waste — the crew simply ate well. 🙂

  8. Was it within 10 degrees F of freezing at take-off? Some airlines’ procedures require spooling the engines up to eliminate the possibility that there is any ice in the engines.

  9. You missed the bit about LH Flynet being 6 Mbps, plenty fast for Skype video conferences! The purser can tell you how many are connected at one time. 20 euros is cheap for this kind of access.

    You’re right about having the F cabin to yourself, I had that FRA-BOM 747/400. A nice aspect is you can ask that all announcements are shut off from the upstairs except incase of a water landing or once we arrive. No bs announcements from the flightdeck, no meal info via pa, no duty free, no stow your footrest blah blah. I wonder how LH is doing with so much open F seats these days.

    It’s amazing when it happens though

  10. There were some truly beautiful photos. It looked like a potentially stormy day in Munich; was there much chop on takeoff? And where was Tiffany? I must say that I enjoyed her take on LH First. Finally, out of curiosity, do you usually converse with the flight attendants entirely in German or do you switch between German and English?

  11. Wonder if they have felt the departure of UA frequent fliers (like myself) in having lighter C loads and less upgrades to first. Not one 1K on a business fare into a United hub with a GPU to spare?

  12. @ Imperator — Was surprisingly smooth on the climb out, despite how the weather looked. Tiffany stayed in Sicily. On Lufthansa I usually exclusively converse with the crews in German.

  13. While at EWR they deplane at a jetbridge I also had an agent waiting for first class passengers who walked to baggage claim in January. FC bags were also out in maybe 5 min with someone else waiting to take them off the belt Since I had global entry I was told I would be even faster than first class escort.

    I don’t think its just IAD they are stepping up their game…I don’t remember their being an escort at JFK 3 years ago.

  14. Somewhat silly question, I know the FCT in Frankfurt has a great whiskey/scotch selection, does the FCL in Munich have anything similar?

  15. Nice report! I would like to have first to myself one day! I wonder if days of the week matter and as well as route to determine first class load. This route, MUC-IAD, would seem to be less full in first than say MUC-JFK, eh? or maybe even IAD-NRT vs ORD/JFK-NRT

  16. Don’t you find it a bit awkward to have a cabin all to yourself? I’ve never had the opportunity to try that, (un)fortunately, or even first class, for that matter, but even in a business class cabin that has too few passengers, I find that the flight attendants become too ‘free’ and give me too much attention for my liking. I guess the ideal for me would be ~50% occupancy.

  17. Had a similar thing happen with only one other pax aboard LH F to YVR – got more than a double dose of caviar and food that day! Awesome.
    Also agree that LH catering is so odd sometimes, but in this case you should have had the white asparagus and Black Forest ham – a classic from my childhood.

  18. I’m concerned about the empty F cabins. Doesn’t bode well for future predictions. I’d like to hear about a fuller cabin to feel more comfortable about future viability.

  19. Any idea why Gary Leff hasn’t had a great flight with Lufthansa? I’ve heard that it matters whether you are German or not.

  20. Lucky, does the ground staff at Dulles offer any special services for people in first/HON departing from IAD? Do they at least escort people to the LH lounge?

  21. I don’t suppose you could make higher-res pics of the dessert available? I, too, would like to know what the QR code says.

  22. How do you like the champagnes on offer this month? How do the Tattinger and Veuve compare?

  23. Hey Ben, Andy here (we emailed re light aircraft flight) From my airline flying days, and current flying experience…. With what looked from the photos like convective conditions in the area (storms) there is often windshear possible, reported, or forecast. This is when the wind changes direction or speed rapidly over short distance or time, with the potential on take off for a performance enhancing headwind dropping off dramatically or switching to a tailwind, very hazardous for a heavy jet on take off. In extreme conditions the departure would be delayed (if I was up the front anyway!) But probably Lufthansa would have SOP (standard operating procedure) mandating when any windshear possibility, no reduced thrust take off (less than full thrust is normal when not super heavy, in high temperatures) and perhaps max performance take off which would call for full thrust which can take up to 10 seconds on a huge engine, before releasing the brakes. Overkill but safe and a one size fits all type procedure. My geek answer and an educated guess sir. Let me know if you want to fly one day!

  24. @ Aeroman380 — There are definitely some routes that are more consistently full in first class than others. For example, generally I find Munich flights have lighter loads in first class than Frankfurt flights. That being said, getting a “private” cabin really comes down to sheer luck as opposed to anything you can plan.

  25. @ Charlie — There are some flight attendants that do make it awkward, but I find others are able to make it pleasant, and this was one of those good crews.

  26. @ Digital01 — They’re not quite as good as Krug, but still really enjoyed them. In particular the Veuve La Grande Dame.

  27. If I purchase a full price Z fare business class ticket on LH, will I have lounge access in all cities I fly? CLT-MUN-DEL

  28. The long runup at takeoff may be due to the plane’s first flight after maintenance and the log will require runup and observation of pressures, temps, etc.

  29. THanks @willy

    I was interested in that. Great post @lucky !!! TY

    You should compliment Lufthansa and send them your feedback/ a link to this post.

    -David

  30. ” We must have had the engines at near full throttle for 15 seconds before the brakes were released and we began our takeoff roll. Anyone know why that would be? ”

    This is because you had two air crafts taking off before you.

    When an airplane takes off it generates “wakes” from their wings. It is a rotating column of air that is generated due to the difference in air pressure which is responsible for lifting the airplane.

    Flying into a wake is extremely dangerous because it will flip the airplane upside down. Hence the pilots wait for it to dissipated before they can take-off. Hence the delay.

  31. woo we. ..my English is bad, but I saw your pages , it’s amazing, your expirience, you are open my eyes, y think exists and other “world”..Thanks you are incredible, I love to travel, the best for you

  32. I wonder if Lufthansa gives you appropriate spoons for caviar? I mean, one of the very fundamentals of genuine caviar eating is to not handle it with metals of any kind, because it alters the taste. But I can’t see any bone spoon, or even a plastic spoon in any pictures from the caviar service.

  33. A private F cabin is truly wonderful. Last month the other half and I had a TG 744 F cabin all to ourselves on a day flight from BKK-SYD. It was bliss!

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