One of my biggest #AvGeek dreams recently came true in the form of Lufthansa First Class, an experience that's been very high on my aviation bucket list. For those looking to fly Lufthansa First Class, be forewarned, relative to other award bookings, flying Lufthansa is not easy and comes with its fair share of pre-planning stress. Now, as with all new experiences, stress levels will quickly come down after a few tries, but as a first time Lufthansa First Class flight booker, I would religiously check flight loads and award availability patterns everyday for nearly 8 months, honing in on the best options.
I'll reserve my specific learnings for a separate post but I ultimately decided to book two seats between Frankfurt and Boston, one of the more generous Lufthansa routes with award availability, via Singapore Airlines for 80,000 Krisflyer Miles each + 555.10SGD or about $410. I transferred the miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards and, unfortunately, Lufthansa adds hefty fuel surcharges and additional fees on award bookings, which is unavoidable.
Airline: Lufthansa (LH)
Flight: LH 422
Route: Frankfurt (FRA) - Boston (BOS)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-8
Duration: 8h 00m
Service: First Class
The day started off quite early, beginning with a 6:35AM departure out of Milan and landing into Frankfurt at 7:55AM. My connecting flight from Frankfurt to Boston was scheduled to depart at 1:05PM. Now, one would ask why I built in such a long layover time and the only logical reason is to have 5 glorious and uninterrupted hours to waste in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt - and, boy, did I milk every minute of it.
I could not have been more impressed by the Lufthansa First Class Terminal (FCT), which stands-alone as one of aviation's most innovative ideas. I don't recall ever feeling like I was at an airport. Instead, I imagined a hotel lounge or a penthouse apartment, to some degree. They've done a phenomenal job taking the "airport" out of the experience and replacing it with something worth spending 5 hours in.
During my time in the FCT, I managed to shower after a very early morning flight out of Milan, followed by breakfast and lunch, and also enjoyed an hour long nap. It was magical, and you can read all about my experience in a separate post titled Lufthansa First Class Review: The First Class Terminal.
The Airport + Boarding
The FCT boarding process looked something like this: follow your FCT personal assistant to retrieve your passport from a private customs desk, get into your private Mercedes-Benz S-Class, drive 10-minutes from the FCT to your aircraft, take an elevator up the jet bridge, and be the first ones to board the flight. The entire boarding process was seamless.
Not only did I not run into a single other passenger, I have no idea how the boarding process looked at the gate, how full the plane was, nor, did I have to wait for customs. Heck, I had no idea which gate we were even departing from. All I know is we were in great hands the entire time and it was glorious.
We boarded through Door L1 where our driver introduced us to the purser and two flight attendants.
The Cabin + Seats
The Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 First Class cabin consists of 8 B/E Aerospace Super First Class seats spread across 3 rows in the nose of the aircraft. The first and second row have 2 single window seats, and the third row consists of 4 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. My travel companion and I were seated in 3A, a window, and 3D, an aisle, the two left-most seats in the last row.
Once settled in, be sure to take in the cabin's super sleek and modern lines. Designed by London-based firm PriestmanGoode, the cabin itself features a high contrast interior with gorgeous heavy fabrics paired with beautiful natural wood grains. Not only did the entire cabin look stunning, it was incredibly well-designed and functional. After you take in the colors and design aesthetics, you'll notice the cabin has zero overhead bins. Instead there are lockers behind the cabin for your larger items, reserving your ottoman for your inflight belongings. To one side of your seat is another compartment for documents, small electronic devices, and reading materials. Located on the other side of your seat are your seat controls.
There are two large restrooms dedicated to First Class passengers, both of which were immaculately clean and tidy.
Once seated, we were greeted by the purser and two main flight attendants, who brought over our pajamas, amenity kits, and a pre-departure drink. I selected a glass of the 2006 Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut, which I had a sampling of in the FCT and absolutely loved. I went on to finish the bottle after take-off. 😄
The amenity kits were designed by Braun & Buffel and included your standard items.
I knew it was going to be a spectacular flight from the moment we met the crew. Both flight attendants were warm, friendly, personable, and deeply passionate about their job. It felt like we were long lost friends reuniting again, who took the extra time to make conversation with us and engage. After the team delivered our goods, we were also told that we would be the only First Class passengers on the flight and that we had the entire cabin to ourselves. The. Entire. Cabin. To. Ourselves.
What ensued next cannot be judged. We spent the next 10-15 minutes taking photos of the entire cabin from every possible angle, which you could have guessed based on my extensive photo collection.
About 10 minutes before departure, the Captain came on the PA to add his welcome and informed us our flight time of 7h 30m, which was by far the worst possible news knowing that my experience would be cut short by 30 minutes. I quickly got over this news but it sure was a terrible feeling. 😉
We pushed back promptly at 1:05PM, made our way down to the runway, and took-off in no time. The beauty of flying on a Saturday meant no queues for take-off. Despite the moody skies and drizzle, we had a smooth climb-out and the seatbelt sign was turned off shortly after we leveled off.
The two main flight attendants immediately sprung into action, while my biggest decision was to decide where to sit for the meal service. I eventually opted for seat 3G, next to my travel companion in 3D, the cabin's two center seats.
To begin, I ordered another glass of the 2006 Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut and water, which was served with a crab-salad amuse bouche. This was followed by warm towels.
Next the table was set, which included a First Class stamped piece of butter. I loved it and had no intention of touching it and every intention of just looking at it.
Once the table was set, the caviar trolley rolled through and I had a decent sized portion. Once I finished, I asked for a second serving, which they quickly brought over. The caviar paired with the traditional garnishes was absolute heaven. I learned that Lufthansa partners exclusively with a caviar farm in Northern Italy, which was a divine selection.
After my second portion of caviar, the appetizer trolley came through the cabin with three options and a salad. I selected everything, which included the mosaic of Salmon and Halibut with ponzu, Tartare of marinated Beef, Tomato Bread Salad, and a mixed leaf salad. Everything was delicious except the Beef Tartare which was over-salted. I added to my drink collection by ordering a glass of the 2015 Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc, which was refreshing.
Once finished, I was served a cold melon soup, which was fine. I think I would have enjoyed it more as a warm soup.
For my main course, I selected the Braised Veal Shank, while my travel companion ordered the Fried Corn-fed Poularde (Chicken) with Red Curry Sauce. Again, my Veal was decent while the Poularde was absolutely delicious. The Red Curry Sauce was so well seasoned, with a light kick at the end.
Then came the cheese plate, which I obliged and had a sampling of everything.
Followed by a Lemon Tart with Raspberry Sorbet.
To finish it off, I enjoyed a glass of Bailey's on the rocks with a Chocolate Truffle.
The main meal service was completed in about 1.5 hours, which was a great pace. The main flight attendant serving us was just the sweetest and went above & beyond to ensure we enjoyed ourselves.
There was no scheduled pre-arrival meal, instead you're allowed to order from their on-demand and a la carte menu. I'm guessing this was by design due to the relatively shorter International flight time. I ordered the Japanese Sushi with various maki rolls, which was tasty. I also ordered a glass of their monthly Eilles Tee, a brand of organic herbal tea, which they apparently ran out of. Instead, I was served a comparable raspberry-flavored option, which was perfect.
I then ordered the Tom Kha Soup, which I loved.
I finished the meal with all three sweet treats, including the Tahiti Vanilla Ice Cream, Fresh Mixed Wild Berries, and Seasonal Fruits.
The Entertainment + WiFi
Lufthansa offers a wide selection of movies, music, and games. Unfortunately, I was quite tired after the meal service and didn't have much time to watch anything but it certainly looked substantial to me.
After the meal service, I asked to have my bed made in 1K. While the bed was being made, I quickly went to the restroom, followed by a quick stroll through Business Class, which was quite full. I very much wanted to see the stairs and the upper deck of the Boeing 747-8 "Queen of the Skies" except the meal service was still taking place in Business Class, so I didn't want to be a bother.
I returned to find a very comfortable bed set-up, with water in the cup holder. The bed set-up included a lush mattress pad, duvet, and a sleeping pillows. While Lufthansa’s First Class seats aren't the most private, the bedding is excellent, and it offers enough privacy thanks to the raise-able partition around you. I managed to sleep for nearly 4 hours, waking up about 1 hour before arrival.
About 30 minutes prior to landing, we bid our new friends fairwell, and returned to our seats. We spent the majority of our time circling around, doing some S-turns before landing on Runway 4R.
Once on the ground, we had a slightly longer taxi time as we waited for departing traffic on Runway 4L. We made our way to the International Terminal 10 minutes after landing, deplaned, and was on our way.
I am no longer a Lufthansa First Class virgin and I'm so thankful this was my first experience. Each little detail was a moment of opportunity for Lufthansa. From the cabin design down to the stamped butter, it was evident their teams agonized over it all.
The crew was so wonderful to be around - they were friendly, warm, and it felt like I was with long lost friends. Now, after reading many reviews, my only criticism for the crew was the minor lack of polish in their execution. For example, our slippers could have been ready for us upon boarding or the blanket tucked under versus touching the floor. These are the opportunities that set apart a good crew, from a great crew. But, frankly, I would select a personable crew over a cold and unengaged crew every time.
Despite the lengthy planning process, was it all worth it in the end? Absolutely. I wasn't sure a First Class experience could ever be this stressful but I would absolutely go through it again. The adrenaline and joy of ticketing these seats was euphoric and I would recommend it for anyone.