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I am in Europe right now for a while and I came here via Lufthansa’s A330-300. This was my first time experiencing Lufthansa’s First Class product. People rave about the hard product of Lufthansa First Class cabins and I was very eager to experience it for myself.
Lufthansa First Class
Lufthansa is in the process of retrofitting their first class cabins – unfortunately, I was flying the “older” edition. Even though it wasn’t the new product, it is still a great ride! If you are flying to Europe, old or new Lufthansa first class will definitely be something to consider using your miles on. If you are interested in flying Lufthansa Business Class, I will have a review of the same plane’s business class product in a few weeks when I return here with my family. In the meantime, here we go!
Booking Lufthansa First Class
Lufthansa only releases their award seats to their partners 15 days beforehand. This applies to most routes/flights – I say this because I was able to book First Class seats on their Toronto – Frankfurt route 2 months before departure. United is notorious, however, for showing “phantom” award space on Lufthansa’s First Class. In my case, I was trying to book separate flights within 7 days of departure and the flight would error out on me after putting in the billing information. When I would call in to inquire about it, I was told that they did not show any empty seats – even though I could “see” the available seats. This made for a huge pain! Just know when you are looking for Lufthansa First Class award seats that you may need to be persistent.
There is something else to know when booking Lufthansa First Class award seats using United miles – since they can only be booked 15 days before departure, you will need to pay $75 for the close-in booking fee (unless you are are Premier Silver – $50, Premier Gold – $25, or Premier Platinum/1K – free). Another way to avoid the close-in booking fee is to hold the United Club Credit Card (I do not receive a commission for this link).
Knowing which version of Lufthansa First Class you are booking
As I said, they are retrofitting Lufthansa’s First Class and Business Class cabins on their planes. Unfortunately, they will not all be finished this year. The newer product definitely looks nicer, but the older product is nothing to sneeze at either!
First Class Review
I was able to check-in for the Lufthansa portion of the flight with their mobile app – no paper tickets needed! After I arrived in Washington, I went straight for the Lufthansa lounge. The Business lounge and the Senators lounge had their entrances within the main entrance to the lounge. After checking my ticket, I was directed to the Senators lounge. It was a very nice, comfortable lounge with plenty of seating and a nice view of the tarmac. The selection of drinks and food was quite decent with small sandwiches, salads, desserts, and snack foods. The chairs were very comfortable and a place that I could easily have sat in for longer than I was (about 2 hours).
When it came time to board, they called my name and that of another First Class passenger to go to the front desk. We were met there by a representative who printed out tickets for us and scanned them before escorting us to the plane through a special hallway behind the regular part of the airport. Boarding of the main cabin was already under way when we got on the plane but there was a separate boarding door so we did not have to wait in the regular line.
After I boarded, the flight attendant came around to introduce himself and get me a pre-departure drink and warm nuts. I was really tired so I sat back and tried to fall asleep for a while. After what felt like hours, I woke to the sound of heavy wind and rain. I thought we must have been flying through some intense weather, but when I looked out the window, I could just barely make out that we were still on the ground. The plane was shaking and the rain was coming down so hard that I could barely see out the window. I have never been in a rainstorm that bad. The pilot came on the PA and told us that there was a groundstop in effect and we were going to have to sit on the runway for a while.
After about 20 minutes, the storm passed and we went a little further. Just before take-off, we were held once again as our flight path was too congested because of the storm and other planes (Boston, NYC, and Philadelphia). We ended up having sit for another 40 minutes for a delay of 1 hour and 40 minutes! We were finally allowed to take off and given a new flight path to get around the weather. At this point, I knew that I was going to miss my flight to Vienna as I only had a 1 hour and 10 minute layover in the first place.
Meal and Service
Shortly after take-off, the attendant came through to take my order. The menu was very decent:Caviar from Service Cart Choice of Appetizers Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Thai Chili Jam Thai Beef Salad with Chili Vinaigrette Asparagus and Mozzarella with Watercress Dressing Seasonal Salad with dried yellow Tomatoes and green Bell Pepper presented with delicious dressing Choice of Main Courses Grilled Tenderloin of Beef with Date Chimichurri and Watercress Barley Salad Miso Bass with Shiitake Mushrooms and Udon Noodles Thai Green Vegetable and Pumpkin Curry with Rice Cake Braised Lamb Shank with Pappardelle Chicken Vegetable Stew Selection of Cheese and Dessert Sage Derby, Parmesan, Gruyere, Cambozola, and Humboldt Fog Cheese Hazelnut Crunch Bar Berry Short Cake
I went with the salad, grilled tenderloin and the hazelnut crunch bar. Everything was very good. The meat was very nicely done and the desert was excellent.
The Bed and Entertainment
After dinner, the attendant came by and asked if I wanted my bed made up. That worked out good for me and they converted it for me in about 2 minutes. I found it to be quite comfortable for a bed, but was not that pleased with the headrest portion. For some reason, I just couldn’t get it to the right angle, so I was thankful the pillow was supportive enough. The duvet was nice and I think it helped me sleep more relaxed. I was able to get about 4 hours of sleep and woke just 30 minutes from landing.
As for the in-flight entertainment, I was very disappointed in the monitor. Granted, I wasn’t planning on watching anything, but had I looked forward to using the screen, it would have been a disappointment. I have flown in economy on some airlines that had bigger screens than they offered each passenger in first class. It was definitely the smallest entertainment screen that I have ever had in business or first class. I understand the monitors are larger on the new products, so if in-flight entertainment is important to you, make sure you try to fly one of the planes with the newer cabins. The monitor on-board my Emirates A380 first class seat was a lot better – a 23″ display!
I was confident that I would miss my connecting flight, but just before we landed, the purser came by and told me that I would be met as I got off of the plane to help me with my flights. Sure enough, as I stepped off of the plane, I was met by a Lufthansa agent who took me down a private elevator just before entering the airport. On the way down, he told me that the next flight was leaving in a few minutes but we should be able to make it. I really doubted that as I still had to go through immigration still. After we got off of the elevator, my rep led me to his Porsche! This was under the airport on the access road. He put my carry-ons in the back and I got in my first Porsche and we headed down the road. We got to a door that was for quick immigration access. There were no passengers in there, just the immigration agent. From the moment I stepped in the door until I walked out the door was about 60 seconds. I always talk about how quick Global Entry is, but this was a lot faster than that! After I cleared, he put me back in the car and drove me to the door of my airplane. I was the last to board and it was funny watching the faces of the business class passengers staring at me as I came up the stairs and the agent helped to stow my bags! Excellent experience!
If you ever plan on running a marathon in Europe (especially the Frankfurt Marathon), consider saving the miles to enjoy the Lufthansa First Class ride on the way there – it will be a nice kick-off for you! This trip was a great experience with Lufthansa! I really enjoyed the hard product and the service. The pajamas they gave me were pretty comfortable also. The only negative I have (outside of the entertainment monitor) was the fact that I wasn’t flying the reverse route – if you fly Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt, you get access to the First Class Terminal which is reputed to be one of the best ground experiences in the airline industry. Oh well, leaves something for next time!