My friend and I were looking to explore Spain this summer for a couple of weeks. We both had enough miles to book an award trip but wanted to look on United’s website just to see how much tickets would cost. To my surprise, we actually found a pretty sweet business class deal to Spain and decided to pay for the revenue flights instead of using our miles. The P class fare cost us $1,800 (roundtrip) and earned us 20,000 Premier Qualifying Miles and 23,000 award miles (Premier Silver Status bonus). Not the best deal for a mileage run but a heck of a deal for business class trip to Europe in the middle of summer.
Flight: LH 451
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Los Angeles (LAX) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Depart: 7:00 PM on Thursday, June 27, 2013
Arrive: 2:50 PM on Friday, June 28, 2013
Duration: 10hr 50mn
Seat: 12HK Business Class
Because this was the cheapest paid revenue flight, we didn’t have much option as far as schedule and/or equipment. The times worked out for us but this itinerary had us on Lufthansa’s old business class product from Los Angeles to Frankfurt. This was my third time on Lufthansa’s old business class product so I knew what I was getting myself into. If this was an award booking, I would have avoided the Boeing 744 at all cost (and I would recommend you do the same). But since I bought the cheapest fare, I couldn’t complain. The return flight was on United’s BusinessFirst product from Frankfurt to San Francisco. You can read my review of United’s BusinessFirst product here.
So the good news is Lufthansa flies out of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. The bad news is at the time of this trip, the new Star Alliance Lounge was not opened yet and we had to use the very old and outdated Star Alliance Lounge. The new lounge is spacious, beautiful and centrally located in the new Villaraigosa Pavilion. Unlike the old lounge, the new lounge is much closer to all the gates.
About 30 minutes prior to boarding time, we made our very long walk to our gate. We arrived at the gate and I was able to take some pictures of our bird before boarding began for first and business class passengers and Star Alliance Gold members.
Like all Lufthansa flights, the boarding process was done on-time and efficiently. We boarded through the forward cabin door and were directed to our seats, 12 H and K. On the Boeing 747-400, business class is located in the pointy end of the plane and first class is located upstairs. At our seats were our duvets, pillows, amenities kits, headphones and bottles of water. Shortly after getting settled in, the Flight Attendant came with a tray of pre-departure drinks (water, orange juice or champagne).
Now, let’s talk about Lufthansa’s hard product for a second. In short, Lufthansa’s old business class product is a joke. What’s an even bigger joke is that the majority of their long haul planes, including the Airbus A380’s, A340’s and Boeing 747-400, are all equipped with the old business class seats. They are in the process of retrofitting the planes with the new business class seats but at the moment, you still have a better chance of experiencing their old seat than their new one.
The old business class seats offer a decent amount of width and length but are angled lie flat. They are great for lounging and watching television because you can control the individual parts of the seat (back, seat pan and leg rest) but are not great for sleeping. These seats are super hard to sleep on and you spend a bulk of your time rolling around trying to find a decent position to be in. And once you’re in a comfortable position, you then worry about sliding down towards the footwell.
For these angled lie flat seats, I find the only way to sleep on these seats is to recline the seat into a lounge position and not into the fully flat position. That way, it’s more like sleeping on a lounge chair and less like sleeping on the side of a hill.
The IFE monitors are puny and do not offer the best image quality. However, the Lufthansa Media World does offer a pretty decent selection of movies, TV shows, music and games to keep you entertained. USB and electrical power outlets are offered at every seat so you can stay productive and keep your electronics powered. The Boeing 747’s offer plenty of storage space in the overhead bins and to the front and sides of your seat.
The Flight Attendants were all very pleasant and great, however appeared to be very mechanical. They didn’t really engage us in conversation nor did they show any personality. During meal services, they would all disappear into the galley and come out all at once to serve our meals on trollies. They would all disappear again and then come back out to clear the plates. Then would disappear again and come back out with dessert. You see the pattern? The meal services were very efficient but lacked the personal touch you would want and expect from a business class flight. On this flight, we were served a dinner and a breakfast and the food was horrible.
So needless to say, we didn’t eat much nor get much rest on this leg of our trip. Luckily, Lufthansa offers the Welcome Lounge at Frankfurt to first and business class passengers. There, we were able to freshen up with a hot shower and fill our bellies with some food and beer. The hot buffet and beer on tap really hit the spot and I actually dozed off for a bit in one of the relaxation rooms. My friend took advantage of the speedy WiFi and got some work done in the business area.
If Frankfurt is your final destination, hang out and enjoy the lounge. But if you have a connection, make sure to leave for your gate with plenty of time. The Welcome Lounge is located in the baggage claim area so you do have to go through security and passport control again before getting to your connection gate.
We left the lounge about an hour and a half before boarding time and we barely made it to our gate! Our connection flight, LH1122 to Madrid, was also in business class. The short 2hr 50mn flight to Madrid was on an Airbus A320.
If you have never flown on an intra-Europe flight before, don’t expect much in business class. Business Class seats on intra-Europe flights are the same seats as in economy class. The seats are configured 3 x 3 and the middle seats are not sold. Each business class passengers gets either a window or aisle seat with the middle seat left empty “for your comfort.” Meals are served the same style as stated above.
Overall, this was decent trip for a paid revenue flight. Though Lufthansa’s new business class product is not really new nor revolutionary by any means, it really is ten times better than their old product. I highly recommend you get on one of their newly retrofitted planes if you can.