Around the World on 90k Part I: Warsaw and Beijing with Nothing But a Passport and a Dream(liner)
Around the World on 90k Part II: Blowing Through the Horn of Africa
Korean Air Lounge New York JFK
LOT Polish Business Class 787 New York To Warsaw
LOT Polish Business Class Lounge Warsaw
LOT Polish Business Class ERJ-170 Warsaw To Zurich
Swiss Panorama Lounge Zurich
Swiss Business Class A330 Zurich To Beijing
Grand Hyatt Beijing
Ethiopian Airlines Business Class 787 Beijing To Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Nine Business Class Lounge Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Airlines Business Class 767 Addis Ababa To Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Class 747-8 Frankfurt to Washington
Park Hyatt Washington DC
While I’ve flown Lufthansa’s 747-8 several times before, this was my first time flying it in anything but first class, so I was curious to see how it compared. It was also my first time in Lufthansa’s new business class — the last time I flew Lufthansa longhaul business class was from Seattle to Frankfurt last summer, which left me disappointed, to put it mildly. Given my love for Lufthansa, I was hoping their new business class product would leave me more impressed.
Frankfurt (FRA) – Washington (IAD)
Saturday, July 5
Aircraft: Boeing 747-8
Seat: 85C (Business Class)
We boarded through door 1L, and walked through the main lower deck business class cabin to get to the stairs for the upper deck, which are located by door 2L.
While the staircase on the 747-400 feels rather tight, the 747-8 staircase is actually quite spacious and “grand.”
The upper deck on the 747-8 is substantially bigger than on the 747-400, and also feels much “fresher,” thanks to the modern overhead bins and new seats.
We quickly found our seats in row 85, located roughly in the center of the cabin, just behind the emergency exit row.
The seats themselves are gorgeous, in my opinion. They looked brand new, I liked the colors, and the pillows and blankets matched the seats quite nicely.
These seats don’t fit into the any of the “traditional” categorizations of business class seats — they’re not herringbone, staggered, fully forward facing, angled, recliner, etc. Instead they’re angled slightly towards one another, and there’s an area in the center of the console where you put your feet.
While you don’t have the issue whereby you only have a restrictive foot “cubby,” as is the case in some staggered seats, there is the potential to play “footsie” with your seatmate, regardless of whether you want to or not.
Anyway, in the center console was a storage compartment, the tray table, and the entertainment controller.
Immediately above that were the intuitive seat controls.
One of the awesome things about the upper deck is that there are storage lockers along the sides of the cabin. This isn’t just awesome for being able to store a laptop bag or backpack inside of the bin, but it’s also great as a “counter” to place things on. For example, if you’re in the window seat it’s a good place to rest your laptop during the meal.
As I mentioned above, the pillow and blanket complemented the tones of the seats nicely, but were also quite comfortable.
I’m thrilled that Lufthansa finally has Bose QC headphones in business class, which is long overdue. It amazes me how many airlines have low quality headphones in business class.
In the seat in front of me right under the personal television was another storage compartment which was perfect for storing magazines, books, etc.
Inside the storage compartment was a bottle of water and the amenity kit.
The amenity kit was rather basic, though had all the essentials. On top of that, Lufthansa has a few extra amenities in the lavatories.
Once settled in we were offered pre-departure beverages. I can’t say enough good things about the crew on this flight. There were three flight attendants on the upper deck — one younger female and two older guys (not old, just not the 21 year old whippersnappers that I often see in Lufthansa business class).
For what it’s worth there are a total of 32 business class seats on the upper deck, so that’s roughly a 1:10 crew to passenger ratio, which isn’t half bad.
Lufthansa 747-8 upper deck via SeatGuru
I had a glass of champagne pre-departure — Jacquart Brut Mosaique was on offer, the same one as on my last Ethiopian segment. It was quite nice for business class, in my opinion.
I was really exhausted upon boarding this flight, so immediately changed into something more comfortable so I could sleep after the meal. I headed to the rear lavatory, which was fairly nice. It had the same general design as the 787 bathroom, interestingly. The upper deck has three toilets — two in the front of the cabin, and one behind the cabin.
Around our departure time Za Captain came on the PA to velcum us aboard and vish us a pleasant flight. He vas very sorry for our slight departure delay — there was congestion in the alley, so we had a push back time of 1:30PM, about 20 minutes behind schedule. But he still assured us we would arrive “with punctuality.” Our flight time was scheduled for 8hr20min, though he said he’d try to shorten it by a bit.
By the time the door closed the cabin was fairly full — between the upper and lower business class cabins, there were maybe a dozen empty seats.
Sure enough we pushed back at exactly 1:30PM, at which point the safety video began to play.
Taxiing past the Z Concourse is more than I can handle without a blanket over my pants, given the gorgeous line up of Lufthansa 747-400s, 747-8s and A380s. Doesn’t get prettier than that!
As is often the norm for longhaul departures out of Frankfurt, we taxied to Runway 18, which is the “other” runway in Frankfurt — it’s at the far end of the field, and at least usually doesn’t have too long of a takeoff queue.
There was some interesting traffic as we taxied there.
Including a Lufthansa 747-400.
And a Condor 767-300.
By 1:40PM we were at Runway 18 and number one for takeoff.
We had a rather long takeoff roll, and then a gradual climb out of Frankfurt.
As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection. The first thing worth noting is that the glare on the screen is just horrible, no matter from which angle I viewed. And in general Lufthansa’s entertainment selection is absolute garbage, and this flight was no exception.
Usually I don’t mind, since Lufthansa has FlyNet internet and I bring my own entertainment. On this particular sector the wifi wasn’t working, so it was a slightly different story. Fortunately I was really tired, so I didn’t mind it too much since I was ready to sleep.
I did eventually decide to watch an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It assisted in my sleepiness.
About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and service quickly commenced, starting with hot towels.
At this point the menus were also distributed.
The menu read as follows:
And the wine list read as follows:
And the beverage list read as follows:
All service was done from a cart, though I didn’t mind that since the crew was extremely efficient about how they did it.
Service began with drinks and cashews. Ultimately I find packaged nuts to be a bit trashy in an international premium cabin, though it does seem to be the norm for non-US airlines.
Once that service was complete, the first course was served, which consisted of salad and appetizers.
For the starter I selected the prawn cocktail with green asparagus. It was drowned in some creamy sauce, which was surprisingly delicious (and horribly unhealthy). The salad was quite tasty as well.
Once the appetizer service was done, the flight attendants came through the cabin with trays to collect plates, and then rolled carts through the aisle once again with the main courses.
For the main course I selected the halibut with “crustacean sauce.” I’m an idiot, because on the cart it didn’t yet have the sauce on it, and the flight attendant asked me if I wanted the sauce. Not thinking I said yes, and then it was once again drowned in sauce. The halibut itself was quite good, though “crustacean sauce” was about as good as it sounds.
Meanwhile Andrew had the braised steak.
For dessert was “Charlotte Royale,” which was sponge cake with vanilla cream. It was quite tasty, and nicely presented.
Lastly, coffee and liqueurs were offered. I selected a Baileys on the rocks, and was offered a box of chocolates with it.
The service was quite efficient and done within two hours of departure, which I thought was fairly good. Like I said, the crew on this flight really was exceptional. I don’t totally love the service concept of using carts, but the crew really couldn’t have been better about it — they were friendly, attentive, constantly smiling, and very efficient.
After lunch I reclined my seat and was ready for a nap. I usually don’t sleep very well in business class seats (or on planes in general), but I slept really well on this flight. I’m not sure if it was my exhaustion or what.
As I mentioned above, the seating configuration can be a bit odd if you’re traveling with someone you don’t know, as I woke up several times with my knees against Andrew’s (on second thought, it’s odd even if you do know the person you’re traveling with).
But I thought the seat was well padded, and pillow and blanket were comfortable.
I woke up about 90 minutes out of Washington, as we were approaching the east coast.
I decided to listen to Lufthansa’s “Lounge” track on their in-flight entertainment, which is awesome. I had exhausted my tolerance for Taylor Swift music on the Ethiopian flight, I think.
The pre-arrival meal consisted of many of my favorite things in the world — pretzels, things to dip pretzels in (tomato soup), things to make you feel better about the fact that you ate pretzels (salad), and chocolate cake (which doesn’t make you feel better about anything, but is delicious).
As we began our descent I quickly walked around the cabin to snap a few pictures.
And of course on the lower deck I had to stop and take a picture of the gorgeous 747-8 wing — doesn’t get prettier than that!
It was a beautiful day in Washington, and we had quite a smooth descent.
We touched down at Dulles Airport at 4:05PM, a bit behind schedule.
Our taxi to the gate was fascinating, as we passed KLM, Air China, Saudia, South African, and Qatar Airways. Plane line-ups don’t get much more exotic than that!
Upon deplaning we headed towards the moon buggy which would be taking us towards immigration. It was a far cry from Lufthansa’s first class ground services at Washington Dulles, but I knew to expect it, so…
The only good thing about the moon buggy ride is the tarmac views it offers.
Global Entry didn’t just save us time in terms of cutting the immigration queue, but we saved even more time at the customs queue. I’ve never seen so many people queuing to get out of the terminal, and we were able to cut that line thanks to Global Entry (though did get several dirty looks from people that thought we were just trying to sneak through).
Bottom line on Lufthansa 747-8 business class
Compared to my Lufthansa business class flight last year, I was really impressed. The food was quite good and crew was exceptional. The new seats aren’t industry leading, but at the same time are pretty awesome if you’re traveling with someone.
So I do think it’s a solid business class product — not the best in the world, but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it either.
In a way, Lufthansa has done a good job having a solid business class product without cannibalizing the desire/demand for first class. First class is still considerably better, which I can’t say is the case for many airlines with cutting edge seats and service in business class. Which isn’t to say Lufthansa shouldn’t strive for that, but…
Anyway, thumbs up, and the flight exceeded my expectations after my last business class experience on them… kind of.