It has been a while since I last flew on a Star Alliance long haul flight. I managed to steal a bargain on Lufthansa when in early Sep 2017, I bagged a business class return ticket for just €745, flying from Munich to San Francisco return. It was a non-stop flight on an Airbus 340-600. This was very timely, because recently on 4th December 2017, Lufthansa was awarded Skytrax 5-Star airline. This made Lufthansa the first European airline to receive the five star recognition; the other nine are all Asian carriers. It was an opportunity for me to assess Lufthansa against other five star Skytrax airlines.
Just to expand a little more, the award attracted many controversies. Many were negative because Lufthansa still lags behind its competitors on hard and soft products (to name a few – business class have no direct aisle access for every seat, smaller seat pitch, mediocre food and average in-flight entertainment). Lufthansa has plans to refurbish and update its premier cabins, but that will not happen until 2020. Having flown quite regularly with airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways – all recipients of Skytrax 5-Star, it would be nice to assess whether Lufthansa has what it takes to be in the club.
The check-in was very speedy. There were eight dedicated business class check-in counters opened, and I was through in under ten minutes. After that, it was the security and that went fast too, probably because it was a Sunday late afternoon traffic. There was no dedicated lanes for Business class passengers (although there was for First class).
I used the Lufthansa Business Class Senator Lounge. It was of decent size, modern, bright, well maintained and very clean. It did not exude the luxurious feel but definitely fell into the comfortable category. The food was nothing much to shout about, unless Bavarian meat loaf, pumpkin soup, chili con carne, salad and sandwiches are your thing. The lounge was well equipped with an eating area, sitting lounge, sleeper chairs, computer work stations, showers and washrooms.
Priority board was enforced. There were a few priority autogates, manned by Lufthansa ground staff. It was orderly and quick, but then, I always try to board first to beat the queue.
Cabin & Seating
The business class layout in this Airbus 340-600 was 2-2-2. The initial impression was that it looked packed and crowded with every inch of the cabin space utilised. If you were seated by the window, you will have no direct aisle access. If you were seated on on the aisle by the window side, you will have to get used to your neighbour jumping over you for access.
The middle column seats had direct aisle access, but they were angled towards each other in the direction of the footwell. Expect your big neighbour’s legs to cross path with you during sleeping hours. There was almost no privacy in this business class cabin. The seat transformed into 180° lie flat bed. There were preset modes, but adjustments were needed to find a comfortable position; the controls for the seat were pesky but manageable. Overall, I did not find the seating totally comfortable.
A menu was handed out early in the flight. It had a decent selection but nothing out of the ordinary. I chose the snapper with massala spicy sauce for my main. The fish was bland and tasteless. An hour or so before landing, we were served with soup and salad. Again, not appetizing at all.
The cabin crew were actually very friendly and courteous. I was addressed formally by my last name. They went around the cabin regularly to offer drinks and snacks during the snoozing hours.
On the inflight entertainment, there was a good selection of the latest movies. I managed to watch three of the latest Hollywood movies. The IFE was equipped with a good Bose headset and a smallish 8-9″ screen (by today’s standard), controlled by a wired remote control. I was unsure if it had touch-screen. If it had, mine was definitely not working. My neighbour’s IFE was totally not functioning and the cabin supervisor spent a lot of time trying to fix his IFE. In the end, my neighbour was given a form to claim for compensation. (Tough one – 11 hours without IFE!)
There was an inflight wifi by Telekom Flynet, which I did not use. The charges were 1 hour for €9, 4 hours for €14, and for the entire flight at €17.
Overall, point to point, it was an efficient and competent flight experience with friendly crew. The aircraft was well maintained despite its age. The inflight experience was average at best. The business cabin and seating were not the top shelf. If you value privacy and direct aisle access, Lufthansa is definitely not for you. In summary, Lufthansa is good and competent airline but to give it a 5-Star rating, is a little too generous. Maybe a four star would be more in line.
Airline Review: LH458 Lufthansa A340-600 Munich to San Francisco Business Class
Date Flew: 28 Jan 2018