Update 1/1/17: I’ve added a video of the ground experience to the end of this post

Recently I flew from Croatia to the United States in Lufthansa First Class for 40,000 Starpoints + $300. Here’s how I booked the award.

After a one hour flight from Munich, I arrived in Frankfurt at a remote stand. A driver held a placard for First Class and HON Circle flyers.

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He directed me to a waiting Porsche SUV for me and one other passenger.

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We enjoyed a 12 minute ride through the tarmacs, airplanes, service vehicles, and bowels of the airport. The highlight was having to yield to a Lufthansa A320.

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The driver eventually dropped me at Terminal 1A, where my flight to Dulles would be departing, which surprised me. I was expecting to be taken to the First Class Terminal. When I said that, he said I couldn’t be taken there, but he could take me to a slightly closer terminal where I could exit security, walk to the First Class Terminal, and re-enter security.

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That’s exactly what I did, which really wasn’t too difficult, since it was a short walk through the taxi parking lot, and there is no line for security at the First Class Terminal.

When I arrived at the First Class Terminal, the first thing I wanted was a meal. Unfortunately the small dining room was completely full. I was able to eat in another seating area, but since I wasn’t at a dining table, it wasn’t as comfortable.

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From the buffet, I grabbed some hot items and some of my favorite fresh fruit.

screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-16-30-pm The fruit was immaculate, and I love that the First Class Terminal has American crispy bacon, not flaccid “world bacon,” but some of the hot items were not hot.

Here’s what was on the breakfast buffet, which offered a much wider selection than the Munich First Class Lounge. The highlight, pictured below, was an entire honeycomb to get fresh honey.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-16-42-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-16-49-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-16-56-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-17-04-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-17-12-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-17-20-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-17-27-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-17-34-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-17-43-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-17-52-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-18-04-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-18-13-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-18-50-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-19-02-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-19-09-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-18-22-pm In addition to the buffet, you can order a la carte. All food and drink is free.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-18-42-pm Ordinarily I wouldn’t “waste” time in the First Class Terminal with sleep, but I had over five hours in Frankfurt, and I was exhausted, so I really wanted a quick nap.

Unfortunately the First Class Terminal really lags in nap options compared to other top First Class lounges. For instance, the Etihad First Class Lounge has several entire rooms with fully flat daybeds. The First Class Terminal has more private nap rooms, but only two of them, both of which were unsurprisingly occupied. That’s just not enough sleeping space for a major hub.

The back up plan is four chairs that recline almost flat in a back corner. Three were occupied, but I snagged the last one. Unfortunately I got the one that was broken and didn’t recline, so it was just a regular seat.

Sleeping just wasn’t in the cards.

Instead I decided to work. I had given my sister my European adapter in Munich since I was leaving Europe, and she was just arriving. I had no problem getting a European adapter at the Munich First Class lounge, but it took almost 10 minutes from my request in Frankfurt until one was delivered to me. I think a few other requests took priority over mine.

After working for a bit–there are plenty of comfortable areas to work, including private rooms and the internet is strong–I decided to eat some more. That morning I was ravenous.

The breakfast buffet was still out, but I’m more of a lunch guy. I asked if I could order lunch at 10:15, and the server was very obliging.

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I ordered the Tom Ka Gai and fillet of beef.

Holy cow! The Tom Ka Gai, a Thai chicken soup, was the best thing I ate all day.

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The fillet was delicious and wonderfully cooked.

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Look at that color. 🙂

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As I ate, the lunch buffet replaced the breakfast buffet. The stars of the lunch buffet are the freshly carved ham…
screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-19-18-pm …and the Parmesan wheel.
screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-20-28-pmI will upload a video of the whole lunch buffet (and the rest of my First Class Terminal experience) soon.

After my a la carte first lunch, I fixed a second lunch from the buffet: a plate of veggies, mashed potatoes, steak, and chicken. Everything was top notch.

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In addition to the buffet and regular menu, there was an Special Menu, artfully displayed in lederhosen at each table.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-21-00-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-20-45-pm You could pair your food with unlimited candy…

screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-19-34-pm…and alcohol either at your seat in the dining room or at the bar.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-19-39-pmAfter lunch, I decided to smoke a cigar to celebrate my good fortune at being in the First Class Terminal. The Terminal has a large Cigar Lounge, which I enjoyed on my other trip a few years back when I was offered a selection of complimentary cigars and then offered the perfect alcoholic pairing with my choice.
screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-21-17-pm The alcohol remains, but apparently the actual cigars were cut a few months ago.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-21-25-pm It’s time to re-name the space the less glamorous Smoking Room if there are no cigars.

My final stop in the Terminal was the bathroom. I had requested a bubble bath when I arrived, so that I could reserve my spot and get my rubber ducky.

At the appointed time, I went to the bathroom area and gave my name to the attendant. I was led to a large bathroom with a tub, shower, and silver rubber ducky.
screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-21-42-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-21-49-pm screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-21-57-pmSil, my name for the ducky, and I enjoyed a leisurely and relaxing bath.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-22-14-pm When I was done, it was time to head to my plane. This involves exit immigration in the First Class Terminal (no line of course), and a ride to the plan. Again, I got the Porsche SUV.screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-22-22-pm Several other passengers got Mercedes sedans.
screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-11-22-29-pm I was driven directly to my 747-8, and we parked just a few feet away. We rode an elevator up to the plane and boarded for the eight hour flight to Washington.
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The Good and Bad

Good: I was in a world-class lounge as part of a ticket I paid 40,000 points and $300 for; other people that day had paid more than $10,000 for their plane ticket that got them access. When I think about the lounge on those terms, or when I compare the lounge to “normal” Priority Pass or US-airline lounges, the experience was amazing. Also the Tom Ka Gai, bubble bath, transportation to and from planes in Porsches, and having an entire freaking Terminal for First Class passengers are legitimately outstanding.

Bad: But if I compare my experience to my experience a few years back in the same Terminal or to other world-class First Class lounges, it comes up short.

I couldn’t get a seat in the dining room. Some of the hot buffet items were cold. I couldn’t get a nap room or even a working nap chair. I couldn’t get an adapter quickly. I couldn’t get a cigar.

Bottom Line

To be truly special, a First Class Terminal needs to nail food, service, places to sleep, and places to work while also having something unique.

  • My recent visit to the First Class Terminal featured some great food, but some food on the buffet that was cold when it was supposed to be hot.
  • Service was good at times; they tried to fix my non-reclining chair, and they let me order lunch when it was still breakfast time. But I don’t think I’d be waiting 10 minutes for an adapter in the Thai or Etihad First Class lounges at their hubs.
  • There was no place to sleep because of poor planning on how much space needs to be set aside for that.
  • There were great places to work.
  • As far as that unique offering, Lufthansa has cut the Cigar Room, which was unique. The bubble baths and car rides on the tarmac to your plane remain. The ultimate unique feature, an entire freaking Terminal, also remains.

Update

Here’s a video of my experience:

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