Review: Lufthansa Business Class 747-8 Frankfurt to Washington

Introduction
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
Westin 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.

Lufthansa 418
Frankfurt (FRA) – Washington (IAD)
Saturday, July 5
Depart: 1:10PM
Arrive: 3:50PM
Duration: 8hr40min
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.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class cabin

While the staircase on the 747-400 feels rather tight, the 747-8 staircase is actually quite spacious and “grand.”

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class stairs to upper deck

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class stairs to upper deck

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.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class upper deck

We quickly found our seats in row 85, located roughly in the center of the cabin, just behind the emergency exit row.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class, seats 85A & 85C

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.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class, seat 85C

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.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class, seats 85A & 85C

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class legroom

Anyway, in the center console was a storage compartment, the tray table, and the entertainment controller.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class center console

Immediately above that were the intuitive seat controls.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class 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.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class lockers

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class lockers

As I mentioned above, the pillow and blanket complemented the tones of the seats nicely, but were also quite comfortable.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class pillow & blanket

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.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class headphones

In the seat in front of me right under the personal television was another storage compartment which was perfect for storing magazines, books, etc.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class storage

Inside the storage compartment was a bottle of water and the amenity kit.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class bottled water

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class 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.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class amenity kit contents

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Lufthansa 747-8 upper deck

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.

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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.

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Lufthansa business class pre-departure champagne

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.

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class lavatory

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Lufthansa 747-8 business class lavatory

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.

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Frankfurt Airport gate

Sure enough we pushed back at exactly 1:30PM, at which point the safety video began to play.

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Frankfurt Airport

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!

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Frankfurt Airport

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.

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Frankfurt Airport

Including a Lufthansa 747-400.

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Frankfurt Airport

And a Condor 767-300.

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Frankfurt Airport

By 1:40PM we were at Runway 18 and number one for takeoff.

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Frankfurt Airport

We had a rather long takeoff roll, and then a gradual climb out of Frankfurt.

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After takeoff from Frankfurt

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Lufthansa business class airshow

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Lufthansa business class airshow

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.

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Lufthansa business class entertainment system

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.

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Lufthansa business class airshow

About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off and service quickly commenced, starting with hot towels.

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Lufthansa business class hot towel

At this point the menus were also distributed.

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Lufthansa business class menu

The menu read as follows:

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And the wine list read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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All service was done from a cart, though I didn’t mind that since the crew was extremely efficient about how they did it.

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Lufthansa 747-8 upper deck

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.

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Lufthansa business class drinks and nuts

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.

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Lufthansa business class appetizer and salad

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Lufthansa business class appetizer

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.

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Lufthansa business class main course

Meanwhile Andrew had the braised steak.

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Lufthansa business class main course

For dessert was “Charlotte Royale,” which was sponge cake with vanilla cream. It was quite tasty, and nicely presented.

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Lufthansa business class dessert

Lastly, coffee and liqueurs were offered. I selected a Baileys on the rocks, and was offered a box of chocolates with it.

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Lufthansa business class chocolate and Baileys

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.

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Lufthansa airshow

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).

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Lufthansa new business class legroom

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Lufthansa new business class bed position

But I thought the seat was well padded, and pillow and blanket were comfortable.

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Lufthansa new business class bed position

I woke up about 90 minutes out of Washington, as we were approaching the east coast.

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Lufthansa business class airshow

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Lufthansa business class airshow

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Lufthansa business class airshow

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.

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Lufthansa business class music selection

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).

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Lufthansa business class pre-arrival snack

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Lufthansa business class pre-arrival snack

As we began our descent I quickly walked around the cabin to snap a few pictures.

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Lufthansa 747-8 upper deck before landing

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Lufthansa 747-8 upper deck before landing

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Lufthansa 747-8 lower deck before landing

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!

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Lufthansa 747-8 wing

It was a beautiful day in Washington, and we had quite a smooth descent.

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View before landing at Washington Dulles

We touched down at Dulles Airport at 4:05PM, a bit behind schedule.

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Washington Dulles Airport

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!

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Air China 777-300ER Washington Dulles Airport

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Saudia 777 Washington Dulles Airport

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Qatar Airways 777-300ER Washington Dulles Airport

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…

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Lufthansa 747-8 upon arrival Washington Dulles

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Moon buggy to immigration

The only good thing about the moon buggy ride is the tarmac views it offers.

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Austrian 777-200 Washington Dulles

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.

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Comments

  1. The number of FAs you had upstairs was three times as many as I had in First Class (with 7 people) for meal service IAD-FRA. If not for the meal and FCT, I would have preferred United.

  2. @ Kris — In first class there’s one aisle flight attendant and one galley flight attendant setting everything up, so that’s the norm.

  3. I know you’re all going to think I’m nuts, but I think I prefer upstairs on Delta’s 747s. Only 14 seats. No knees touching anyone else. And nothing served from a cart.

    Those hours from JFK-NRT were lovely. And private. And quiet.

  4. Odd, because even on my three other LH F flights that trip, with between 2 and 4 passengers, two flight attendants were roaming the cabin throughout my time awake. I’m not joking when I say the service was worse than domestic F, I had to ask 3+ times just to get a refill multiple times.

  5. @ Kris — Service sounds horrible, sorry. For what it’s worth, reason two were roaming aisles on other flight is probably because there wasn’t as much galley prep to be done.

    Standard in Lufthansa first class is two flight attendants, and sometimes the purser helps (or at least socializes) a bit.

  6. I flew the other direction last summer. The a/c still had that “new plane smell”. But my seat was broken. Luckily upstairs was only about half full so I just used the seat next to mine. It was actually even emptier until they invited people from downstairs to relocate. I wasn’t especially impressed, but having a pair of seats to yourself is certainly a lot of room. The side storage lockers are nice though. I wouldn’t want to share a pair with a stranger though.

  7. Nice review. Good to see Lufthansa has VASTLY improved their business product. How do you think it compared to your recent airberlin experience?

  8. @ Stephen — That’s a toughie. Crew on both flights were good, entertainment on both flights mediocre. I’d say food was mildly better on this flight. Probably prefer airberlin if I can get a “true” window seat, and Lufthansa otherwise/if I’m traveling with someone.

  9. You should know that when Lufthansa designed the new business class, they did not make ONE kind of seat, but THREE slightly different business class seats used on different aircraft. For example, on the A330, the “shared” armrest between the seats are not wider than the “aisle/window armrest”. The foot cubby on A330 is MUCH smaller than the foot cubby on 747.
    The 2 middle seats in each row in first floor on the 747-800 have a even wider foot cubby and arm rest than the product you sat in, but again the armrest is slightly shorther (in length).

  10. The newest LH business class seats’ foot cubicles are so narrow that I find the seat overall to be way less comfortable for sleeping than even some “lie-flat” angled seats. On my last three LH 747-8 redeye flights in the new business class, I’ve slept poorly because of the foot cubby being so narrow that I sort of get restricted to sleeping on one side and unable to easily turn to another sign without my sleep being disturbed because of the foot restriction being so obvious.

  11. I’ve been noticing that about Global Entry as well…in the past year or so, almost all of the time savings seems to come from being able to cut the customs queue. CBP seems to be managing the passport inspection queues much better, with significantly shorter waits (at least for US citizens/residents – the new kiosks that are being rolled out help as well), but it just means that the waiting has shifted to the final customs check at the the baggage hall exit. I’ve seen quite long customs queues multiple times now at EWR, JFK, BOS, and LAX.

  12. Finally a review on a product I have flown!! Fun to read. Unfortunately when I flew IAD-FRA in March they did not have Bose headsets.

    I thought the seat was great (was in 83A/C). Our crew was also fantastic, but easier with a night flight as most everyone else slept after dinner while I boozed and walked around. Pilots let us on the flight deck in FRA and that was pretty cool.

  13. @Lucky, any updates on LH’s roll out schedule for the new J cabins? My first LH flight ever, my first trip to Germany ever, is coming up this December. Route is DEN-FRA and it’s in “old” J, which I’ve read enough about to kinda dread…….especially since I had to redeem about a zillion UA miles for 2 RT tickets!

  14. Wow. That was certainly one of the more graphic descriptions of one’s feelings about super jumbo jets that I’ve seen. It’s that kind of first-hand analysis that we’ve come to appreciate!

  15. What ?!?!?!? Not a single comment on the “blanket on your lap” comment ?!?!?!?

    Wow! This is a tough crowd…

    😛

  16. Hey Lucky!!! I was wondering if you could include in your blog some sort of ranking on the best first, business and coach (I know you don’t fly coach) per destination meaning geography. For example, if I am planing to fly from the US to Europe, what are the best award redemptions available by carrier as well as a ranking on the best product to fly. Let’s say I want to go to Europe from the US with or without connection (it doesn’t matter the departure airport) but I could see if I should fly BA, AA, Delta, etc… based on award redemption and quality of the product. In my case I used to fly a lot from the US to Asia in paid business class. After trying Delta (best route) and Cathay Pacific it was worth for me to spend more time and maybe adding one connection to fly on CX rather than DL. I guess that it will all vary from where people is flying from and to but it would be very helpful in case you need to connect somewhere. It may make sense to connect in a totally different airport from what people had in mind just to have a better flight experience.

  17. I flew this route over a year ago, overall wasn’t impressed by the cabin configuration but enjoyed the service. the food was just alright–appears they are serving the same overly salty meat before landing as they were 16 months ago! The plane overall is a beauty and I’m glad that LH and KE both ordered a few of these to keep the beautiful 747s around a bit longer. This was my first flight on LH, and overall I wasn’t as impressed as many people are by them. I think a lot of the Asian Carriers do a better job, and to be frank I think even AirBerlin offers a better in flight experience. My review of the 747-8i on this same route can be read on my blog.

  18. @Lucky – On LH’s 747-8s, when the FAs need to open the cockpit door, does it restrict access to the forward lavs? That’s one of the downsides to the 744 UD on US-based carriers that have lavs (only) there. I’ve seen the lavs blocked for upwards of a half hour at a time while the crews rotate through.

  19. I recently flew the 748 ORD-FRA and had similar likes and dislikes. My biggest complaint was the screen glare. I was in 86A and had no problem stepping over my seatmate to get to the lav when he was in the recline seat position after dinner. I didn’t think the lack of aisle access was too big of a deal. I also slept like a baby in that seat. I had no issues with footsie or knees hitting, but I’m a little over 6 feet tall and my seatmate was probably a similar height.

  20. We flew over this summer on VS A340 upper class – I can get 4 hours sleep on the LAX-LHR flight, and back on the LH 747-800 in seats 85AC (!). I agree it is a very nice business class – I wasn’t looking to sleep at all and between 3 movies and wifi for 4 hours it was very comfortable and worth the 52,500 lifemiles per person!

    Excellent review…..

  21. Lucky, do you happen to know if the Bose are also used on flights with the old hard product business class (angled-lie flats)?

  22. Great Post. Really thorough!
    I’ve been on the 747-8 several times and I snagged 82K all the time except once. I like the upper deck but the lower one feels more spacious. I prefer to squeeze in and stay calm to be in a big crowd.
    All my flights with LH were pretty great. You can expect good/better service but not really bad/worse.
    I love to hear some Biz Class news and reviews from you. Thanks again.

  23. @ wxguy — Nope, there’s a separate curtain in front of the cockpit, so doesn’t restrict lavatory access.

  24. This was a slightly amusing/disturbing phrase in your post.

    “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.”

    I guess Plucky really does have a lust for Lufthansa.

  25. I flew this product just recently from FRA to LAX, had a very high expectation and excitement and ultimately disappointed. As I look back, I think it’s more of the fact that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed LH’s F product so much that even their newest business offering now feels underwhelming. I had 82K and I must say that the seat felt absolutely cramped, and absolutely exposed and uncomfortable for single travelers. Wifi was also not available and combine this with LH’s abysmal inflight entertainment result to a product I wouldn’t go out of my way for. The food was also uninspired and overall, I had a better experience with UA on my outbound with several course offerings on their 764. Overall for me, LH’s new business class is simply nothing to write home about other than the fact they it’s now flat.

  26. It’s really nice to see you review this one. This is a product which I have always wanted to try, not only because it’s very stylish and a giant leap from the old product, but also it’s on my favorite airplane in the world. Was booked earlier this year on FRA-PEK but switched to OS due to equipment swap (748i-744).

  27. Best quote of the day hands-down: “taxiing past the Z Concourse is more than I can handle without a blanket over my pants”. 🙂

  28. Something about the personal video monitors for the window seats in the new LH business class seats on these planes also seems somewhat off in angularity for direct viewing. The angle seems to be somewhat off compared to what I prefer no matter how I position the screen.

  29. Lucky, your seat didn’t seem that wide. Did you measure? Seat Guru lists the width as between 19.7″-26.4″. Man, if I got one of those 19″ I would not be happy!!

    M

  30. @ Mark — Hmmm, didn’t seem especially narrow to me. I’d say it felt about average for business class.

  31. Lucky – how would you compare the Lufthansa 747-8 business class experience versus the 747-4…I’m taking the EWR flight to FRA in November and was curious. Thank you

  32. @ Faraz — The 747-400 features the old business class product, so it’s a big difference. I’d definitely go out of your way to fly the new business class if possible.

  33. Thank you for this wonderful review. My 74 year old father is taking his “last trip” to Europe and is flying LH. The itinerary said “No Meal”. Your review is one of the best I’ve seen. Thanks again!

  34. Can one take those bose things home? How about pillows, menus, blankets, etc? I understand you can take the amenity kits home…
    I collect economy earphones 😛 I love AC shorthaul first earphones, but nothing compared to a headset.

    Unless its a plasticy thing like united first.

  35. As an aviation enthusiast hardly unlike you (Lucky) I would promote the Lufthansa A380 NEW business class as your feet are separated from your seatmates’, the entertainment screen pivots in different ways giving you a nice angle to watch a movie, play games, etc. and it offers 5 settings of seat firmness, which inflates the seat and deflates it to your desire. I really love your reviews and reading them is a great way to pass the boredom time of being stuck at home. Im really glad you have similar views as I do, but if you ever manage to review either Etihad’s First apartment on the A380 or Etihad’s business studio (787/A380) that would be really nice, as you go into depth that nobody else goes into with your reviews! Keep reviewing!

  36. Hey Lucky
    I’m flying to Frankfurt sometime next month and have the option of flying Jet Airways A330 business class via Amsterdam or fly directly to Frankfurt from Mumbai on Lufthansa’s 747-8 business class.
    Since you’ve flown both products, which one would you recommend? Considering both, the hard and soft product. Privacy is probably the most important to me as far as the hard product is concerned.

    Cheers.

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