I flew Lufthansa frequently while living in Germany and on flights from the US back to Germany, including many transatlantic business trips in Lufthansa’s business class. Those regular flights became more infrequent and finally stopped when other airlines, including United, introduced full-flat seats while Lufthansa stuck with their angled-flat seats. Now, finally, Lufthansa has joined the modern world and rolled out fully flat seats throughout their fleet and I was eager to check it out. Read my review how it compares to other modern business class options – did the long wait result in a premium product?
Predeparture: Lufthansa allows for a generous amount of luggage when traveling in Business Class. On intercontinental trips, you can bring 2 check-in bags up to 32kg each as well as two carry-on bags. As a StarAlliance Gold member, you can bring one extra check-in bag of up to 32kg – that should be plenty for most travelers.
While Lufthansa does not offer a “book the cook” option for custom meals (like Singapore or Thai Air), they do change their menu more frequently than the US carriers and also offer you to take a look at the menu of your flight ahead of time! I like that option, because you know what to expect and can plan for alternatives if you don’t like what you see!
My most recent Lufthansa Business Class flight was from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt – it was a last-minute change of plans, allowing me to snatch the rare business class seat on United miles. LH has a separate check in line for Business Class, check in was quick and painless and I was on my way to the contract lounge they use in Buenos Aires.
The gate area was a complete mess during boarding, which is probably less Lufthansa’s fault and more of a local problem. The gate staff checked my ticket and guided me through the mess to board as soon as I arrived at the gate area.
Service Onboard: I always considered Lufthansa’s service to be professional, but not very friendly, positioned somewhere between the legendary service of Singapore Airlines and the terrible to mediocre service you find on most United flights. After not flying LH Business Class for a few years, I was pleasantly surprised by the onboard service: It was still as professional as I remembered, but a lot more friendly including lots of smiles that were pretty rare in the past! The flight attendants were able to adjust service to your needs, for example meal service soon/late/not at all, refill drinks, offer snacks.
I was in my seat, had my stuff stored, jacket hung and settled into the new, fully-flat seat with my pre-departure champagne (in a glass)! Lufthansa’s current amenity kit is nothing special – a boring bag with socks, eye mask, dental kit – just the essentials and not much more. There were nice Bose noise-cancelling headsets, which are pretty standard in business class these days!
I’d call the entertainment system slightly better than average. There was a good selection of German and International movies, TV shows and short programs, although the selection is not as exhaustive as other carriers. One nice feature is the plane camera which appears to be installed in the tail, giving you a view of the forward portion of the fuselage and the area in front of the plane – very cool during takeoff and landing as you can see the plane approaching the runway, even better than the cameras installed below the plane!
I’ve always enjoyed the food in Lufthansa’s Business Class and the food and drink was excellent on this flight as well. After the hot towel service, I started with a cold appetizer of thinly sliced pork with pineapple, a surprisingly tasty combination, and a fresh, green salad with a crunchy roll. As the main course, I selected the beef tenderloin with potatoes, pumpkin and spinach. The beef was done just right with a slightly blackened outside and a juicy, pink center. The potatoes were equally well done, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It all worked well together. I can’t really comment on the veggies – I’m not a big fan and there isn’t much they can do for me to praise them. To close out the meal, I had a fresh fruit salad and a small cheese plate – both were ok, but a little disappointing after the great main course. At least I was able to have a glass of port with it – it always baffles me when airlines have long wine lists, but can’t manage a digestive after dinner!
All of the food was served on porcelain dishes. Lufthansa is switching from cart service to individual, restaurant service. On my flight, it was somewhere in-between, with the appetizer and salad served on a small tray and the main course and dessert on individual plates. While I don’t really care about the use of the cart or not, I do appreciate a nicely set table with tablecloth and individual dishes, instead of the trays that scream “cafeteria”! Lufthansa also uses nice, heavy silverware, including real knifes instead of the plastic ones some airlines offer.
I had requested the dinner service to be done as quickly as possible and the breakfast to be served as late as possible to maximize my sleep time – and the flight attendants were happy to do so. I got my breakfast pretty late on a tray, with a selection of fresh fruit, cold cuts, eggs and potatoes. All of it tasted good and was fresh – there is little to wow me after sleeping on a plane, yet it was as good as a breakfast on a plane gets for me!
It always puzzle me when airlines praise their latest creations, designed by the latest celebrity chef of the month – and then serve a bland mess that leaves you hungry. I appreciate that Lufthansa is serving less pretentious, yet solid, tasty food that leaves you satisfied. I wish more airlines food spend more money on their kitchen than the marketing department when it comes to onboard meals!
Hard Product: Boeing 747-8 This flight was in my favorite airplane cabin, the upstairs cabin on a Boeing 747, in this case the latest version a brand-new B747-8. I like the smaller, more private feeling upstairs cabin on the B747 over the huge, dorm-style cabin on the Airbus A380. While the cabin on the B747-8 has been stretched over the old B747-400 most people are familiar with, it is still rather intimate with a 2-2 seat layout, just a little longer. The new plane has improved lighting and lots of storage, including the big bins near the window. While not all seats have direct-aisle access, it’s great for couples. I was traveling solo on this trip and was lucky to have nobody next to me, giving me lots of space.
The plane is decorated in beige/brown/yellow colors with blue floors. While I wouldn’t pick that color scheme, it was inoffensive and felt pretty mellow.
The seat itself is pretty wide for the cushion and seatback, but very narrow for the foot cubby. The two seats are angled towards each other, with lots of shoulder room and arm rest separation, but legs and feet much closer. The seat is pretty long and I had plenty of room by myself, but this design might not work as well, if you are traveling with a stranger who is moving around a lot at night. The seat cushions are thick and offer the right balance between support and comfort. They are covered in cloth which breathes a lot better than leather and is my preferred choice for long-haul flights – I sweat less and sleep better! The seat gradually reclines from the seating position through a lounging position to the fully-flat sleeping position. That’s my favorite seat design and very comfortable from dinner to watching movies to sleeping. We all got one large pillow and a large comforter. It was warm enough, but not as soft as others. The individual video screen is mounted to the side of the seat, but the screen angle can be adjusted for more comfortable viewing. At least you can watch during the whole flight, much better than the designs in many (reverse) herringbone layouts that require the screen to be folded away during take off and landing. The screen is big, clear and bright, making for excellent movie watching. The sound via the Bose headsets is loud and clear. In addition to the overhead bins, you have storage under the foot cubby and a closed bin next to it, as well as the window bins. There are also small pockets under your armrest and under the video screen, so you’ll find room for all the little things you want to have handy during your flight.
Overall, this seat is a great improvement over the old, angled-flat seat. As a friend remarked – why do airlines think that people would want to sleep standing up – so I’m glad Lufthansa finally saw the light and implemented these seats. Despite the narrow foot cubby, they are a lot more comfortable for sleep than United’s 2-4-2 layout, but not as comfortable as ANA’s or Asiana’s slightly wider seats. Combined with the nice screens and plenty of storage, all arranged in my favorite airline cabin of the new B747-8, this makes for a very pleasant business class product.
Ground-/Transfer Service: While Lufthansa is famous for their outstanding First-Class transfer service with Porsche cars in Frankfurt, there is no such thing for Business Class: You are on your own. I made my way to one of the many lounges they have in the Frankfurt Airport. After many years of temporary or outdated lounges, Lufthansa seems to have gotten through the renovation program and offers very nice lounges for Business Class customers, both for transfers and for arrivals into Frankfurt. You can read my lounge review here (coming soon).
Conclusion: After many years of avoiding Lufthansa Business Class, the new product is a vast improvement and I’d choose it over United (or any other American carrier) in a heartbeat! The hard product is competitive or slightly better and the service onboard and on the ground is significantly better! It’s a slightly different picture on flights to Asia where Singapore Airlines is still superior and Asiana, Thai and ANA have slightly better hard products, but the food and service offered by Lufthansa make it a tough competition. If you haven’t flown Lufthansa in Business Class in a while, you should give them another try – the improvements are worth it!