My Most Boring, Productive Flight Ever

Some might claim that I’m a bit biased in my love of Lufthansa.

Lufthansa-747
Lufthansa 747-400 Frankfurt Airport

I tend to think I’m pretty fair and balanced with them. 😉 I think they offer one of the world’s best first class products, while their old business class product is abysmal. Like, truly abysmal, and among the worst transatlantic business class products out there. I flew it from Seattle to Frankfurt a couple of years ago, and had the following conclusion:

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

While I’ve done everything I can to avoid it, guess which product I flew from Frankfurt to Orlando today? Yep, Lufthansa’s old business class. Why?

  • My mom and I were headed back to the US, and after her incident in Barcelona, I wanted to get her home as directly as possible
  • The original plan was that we would fly back to the US separately (since my mom lives in Florida and I have a commitment elsewhere this weekend), but I wanted to be sure I flew home with her to be with her at customs & immigration since she doesn’t have a credit card, Green Card (though she does have a transportation letter from the consulate), etc.
  • First class award space wasn’t available on the nonstop flight to Orlando

So we booked Lufthansa business class. And since the flight was operated by a Boeing 747-400, it featured Lufthansa’s old business class.

Lufthansa-Business-Class-1
Lufthansa’s 747-400 old business class

My gosh, the product really sucks:

  • The seats are so uncomfortable, whether you’re looking to lounge, sleep, or relax
  • Not only are the seats angled, but there are middle seats, which is offensive in business class in 2015, in my opinion
  • The entertainment selection on Lufthansa has always sucked
  • The after takeoff meal service took over three hours, and food wasn’t very good

Lufthansa-Salad
Lufthansa’s delicious business class “salad”

But the product had one saving grace — the plane had wifi, and it was reasonably fast. So I had what I think was easily the most productive flight of my life. I didn’t recline my seat once, only nibbled on some food, and worked for almost 10 hours straight. And thanks to the fact that the wifi wasn’t fast enough to watch cat videos on YouTube, I was actually working productively.

It’s much in the same way that I often arrive more well rested when flying business class rather than first class. In first class I typically overeat and get a little tipsy, while in business class it’s all about the sleep.

Bottom line

So, thanks, Lufthansa! Your old business class product is so bad that it’s almost… good? If the seat is so uncomfortable that I can’t sleep or relax, if the entertainment is so bad that I don’t want to watch anything, and if the service is so slow that I don’t bother partaking in it, I might as well make the most of it! Give me shoulder space, wifi, and never-ending coffee, and you have a recipe for a super productive westbound transatlantic flight.

In fairness to Lufthansa, they are in the process of installing a new business class product throughout their longhaul fleet, and it is quite a bit better.

Lufthansa-Business-Class-7478-05

Comments

  1. The first premium cabin flight I ever took was this flight from LAX to Frankfurt back in 2010. I was on my honeymoon and was upgraded from a paid coach ticket to business by the amazingly gracious check in lady at the airport. At the time, we couldn’t believe our luck and was one of the most enjoyable flights we ever took. I had to take this flight again a couple years ago after having flown some actually good premium cabin flights and I just had to shake my head at how bad it was. I guess it’s all relative to what you’re used to and what you know.

  2. I was so excited to finally take my very first LH flight last December, after reading so many great things about them. Well, the pilots’ strike cancelled my flight from IAD-FRA, then coming back FRA-DEN, I flew (the truly horrible) old business class. Needless to say I am totally unimpressed with LH and won’t be rushing back.

  3. This is the same seat as United biz class in 3 class plane IAH-HNL.
    better than coach, but not comfortable. I still managed to sleep 4 hours in it though.

  4. What’s the best way to book LH first class these days? Last minute booking the best route to get two seats?

  5. Lucky,
    Can you do us all a favor and update your list of how we would know how to pick the new first class.

    and 747-400 is the one with the seperate bed and chair ?

  6. I see the making lemonade out of lemons philosophy applied to an overpriced and underwhelming service. I don’t see the compliment on flying next to a mother and bragging about spending the bulk of the flight typing on a screen instead of building lasting memories with a supposedly important person that you barely see during the year. Ending in a high note?

  7. Ben,

    Isn’t it the hallmark of the apologist (or an extreme optimist) to see the silver lining in the most abysmal situation? 😉

  8. Maybe u should have flown economy. It wouldn’t have made much of a difference given you didn’t recline anyway and the food couldn’t have been much worse…

    When was the last time you flew long haul economy Ben? And on which airline?

  9. I feel bad for the flight attendants that have to serve that salad. I bet they are embarrassed. Its only good for ppl bringing their rabbit on board.
    And those seats… on that long route… Spending money/miles on business on that flight seems pointless.

  10. A delightful post, for sure.

    But I have to laugh when I read any post of yours that speaks about the product as though it’s the Worst. Evah. No offense meant at all, but at your age you’ve only experienced the Worst. Recently. Biz and First, especially internationally, used to be a LOT worse.

  11. There has been an uncomfortable silence on LH on this blog and a whole lot more nods to SQ and CX recently. I was getting worried about the health of your love.

  12. the downside is not just about their bad seats and in-flight service. they are awfully mean to begin with and the customer service after flight is even worse. #farthansa

  13. @ Billy Fallon — Top priority was getting home as quickly as possible, and Singapore didn’t have space.

  14. @ Victor — It has been over a decade. And no, I don’t think economy would have been the same. Every seat would have been taken, and I wouldn’t have had the shoulder space to work.

  15. Of course, redemption rates have skyrocketed after the UA F deval. Lucky can’t buy his way out of CMB either with LH F.

  16. @ JoeMart — To be clear, I work for a living. And one of the reasons I’m able to take my parents on two week trips is because I can work during them. I couldn’t have taken my parents on over a month of travel in the past three months if I didn’t work. Mom was happy to watch movies.

  17. @ Kevin — Aren’t many good options, but I’d say ANA and Aeroplan’s programs are the best. Lufthansa first is fairly readily available last minute on many of the secondary US routes.

  18. One of the good site of sitting in coach – I always get a lot of work done if the seat is to uncomfy to even think about to catch a bit of sleep (CX is the worst Economy seat)).

    You might need to consider flying one a month at least with a old LH plane?

  19. Lucky, any idea why the new business seats seem to have better food served as well? In your TR and other TRs for the new business class, the food seems much better. Not sure why the old seats seems to get served the crap food. Unless Lufthansa is just that inconsistent?

  20. I couldn’t agree more with your comments and I have been a LH fan for years. During a trip to Germany two weeks ago out of EWR I actually picked UA on the outbound over LH just for the seats in BC and so I could possibly sleep on the way over. UA was definitely not good but at least I got a few hours of shuteye.

    On the way back I was on LH and it really highlighted exactly how bad and outdated the seats were. During a daytime flight the seats are not that big of a deal but sadly the service and food which used to be miles better on LH was horrible. The appetizer was this completely dried out attempt at something that resembled a beef prosciutto along with a horrible salad similar to what you pictured. The shrimp entrée I picked was actually decent. Food before the arrival was completely inedible with a cold soup (and it was supposed to be hot) and a salad with some horrible looking fish slices on top of it. I ate none of it. I had a short discussion with the FA about the quality of the food. She said she would pass it on which we all know mean…..yeah yeah just shut up and go back to your seat and leave me alone.

    I’ve been flying LH BC for years and it really has gotten to the point of unacceptable when US based airlines offer a better seat and also better food. They really need to get their act together or their loads will suffer. (on this flight we were only about half full) My loyalty to them is definitely on the fence at this point.

  21. It’s all about perspective I guess. I wrote about this exact business class Lufthansa product last year, and came up with a quite different conclusion. (Click the link in my name if you’re curious.)

    Not saying either is right or wrong of course, just interesting.

  22. I fly Lufthansa at least 3 times a month. I have never ever have seen such a salad. Unless, you have eaten the tomatoes, cucumbers etc. And by the way stop whining. The Service and safety great. Also the staff is always attentive

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