The 50k mile bonus offer is back on the Lufthansa card mentioned in this post until 6/30/14. Get it now!

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchases or balance transfer
  • Earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Cardholders receive a companion ticket after first use of the account and annually after each account anniversary
  • No Foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance member airlines and on other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee. Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details

Application Link: The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard

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This review is a continuation of my huge US Airways redemption that I wrote about back in this post. I reviewed Swiss Business Class: Boston to ZurichThai First Class: Paris to Bangkok on an A380, the Thai Royal Orchid Spa in Bangkok, and Asiana First Class: Seoul to Frankfurt already.

What aircraft is newer than the 787 Dreamliner and A380?

The all new 747-8I, which Lufthansa has only been flying for a year and a half.

This technological marvel retains the look and beauty of a 747 while integrating modern fuel efficiency and onboard technology. I was very excited to fly one from Frankfurt to Washington DC recently in Lufthansa Business Class.

I had an overnight layover in Frankfurt after coming in from Seoul. My initial plan was to hit the ground running and explore Frankfurt to maximize my 19 hours in the city. Unfortunately, delays in Seoul and poor weather in Frankfurt scuttled my plan, and I ended up booking a quick night at the Hilton Garden Inn using 40,000 HHonors points. This property is adjacent to the Hilton Frankfurt Airport and is located close to the actual terminal and the high-speed train station via an enclosed pedestrian walkway.

The room itself was small, but the hotel had everything that suited my needs: walkable to the terminal, comfortable bed, extensive breakfast spread, fast wi-fi, and decent views of inbound aircraft.

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I woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to get on the upper deck of a 747-8 for the first time in my life!

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How was the seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment Lufthansa’s recently updated Business Class? How does the new seat stack up against its competitors?

After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, I headed to the terminal for the final leg of my whirlwind trip. I breezed through security and headed straight for the Lufthansa Business Lounge in the Z gate area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe lounge was very busy, but surprisingly quiet. Most of the seats by the windows offered great views of the parked aircraft. I sat myself at one of their many comfortable sofa chairs near the window and began answering emails. The wi-fi was lightening fast, which was a pleasant surprise.

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After a few minutes, I got up to check out the food selection. There was a large continental breakfast spread as well as a massive coffee machine that could produce most any style imaginable. I had a decent cappuccino, and abstained from the rest of the spread after eating so much at the Hilton Garden Inn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the far back corner of the lounge was a quiet room featuring some lounge chairs. Had I been tired, it would have been a great place for respite, though it was very brightly lit given its intended function.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt approximately 11:30 AM, I packed up and made the trek to the gate. When scheduled boarding time arrived, nothing was announced by the desk agents. Many people began to crowd the gate and queue, leading to confusion.

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About fifteen minutes passed (again, with no announcements) before premium cabin boarding was finally called. Strangely, no explanation was ever given for the delay.

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My Ride

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As you can see from the picture above, there are two jet bridges to the plane. I mistakenly chose to board via the left one (First Class/Business Class passengers) even though the right jet bridge (economy passengers) is much easier for accessing the upper deck Business Class seats. Instead of shooting right up the stairs, I had to make my way through the lower deck Business Class cabin and awkwardly contend with passengers boarding through the second jet bridge before climbing the stairs. Don’t make the same mistake I did!

After finally making my way upstairs, I settled into my seat, 83C. A passenger asked me to switch to 82C so he could sit with his wife. Since I would still have an aisle seat, I happily obliged.

The upper deck business class cabin on Lufthansa's 747-8. Image courtesy of Seat Guru.
The upper deck business class cabin on Lufthansa’s 747-8. Image courtesy of Seat Guru.

Lufthansa 418
Frankfurt (FRA) – Washington-Dulles (IAD)
Depart: 12:25 PM on October 30, 2013
Arrive: 4:20 PM same day
Duration: 8hr55min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental
Seat: 82C (Business Class)

I quickly settled into my seat and began scouting the layout of Lufthansa’s new lie-flat business class product.

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In this upper deck 2 x 2 configuration, the window seats do not have direct aisle access, which is usually a deal breaker for me. I hate having to crawl over someone to use the lav, especially if they are trying to sleep. The window seats do, however, have a storage compartment that aisle seats lack. A good view of a typical window seat and its storage is below.

Note: The lower deck is in a 2 x 2 x 2 business class cabin formation. Solo travelers should try to nab a seat in the middle pair if at all possible. Unfortunately, it seems like the lower deck business class seats filled up well before the upper deck on both of my 747-8 flights.

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All seats feature a small bin where a bottle of water and the amenity kit was stored. Other than this bin and a small area below the foot rest to stow shoes, there isn’t any storage space other than the overhead bins for aisle seat passengers.

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The amenity kit was fairly basic and featured all of the usual suspects, including toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, eye mask, and ear plugs.

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The TV screen was fairly large and could be angled slightly for clearer viewing.

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An in-flight entertainment remote was tucked into the armrest and featured intuitive controls.

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Also found at my seat was a packaged set of headphones. These were pretty flimsy, and by far the worst quality of all flights on my trip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I snapped photos, a flight attendant made her way through the cabin with a tray of orange juice, champagne, and water. I elected for a glass of champagne.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter finishing, the attendant circled back to collect the glasses. We pushed back from the gate at 1:00 PM. We had a quick taxi and even smoother take-off. As soon as we leveled off, hot towels were distributed. Immediately after that, drinks and packaged nuts were served.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMenus were then distributed, which read as follows:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the entree, I elected for the beetroot tortellini, which was a giant mistake. The pasta was borderline inedible, and I barely picked at it.

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For dessert I had the coconut mousse and fruit salad. Both were the highlight of the meal, though that’s damning with faint praise. The dessert was accompanied by a package German holiday cookies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe meal service concluded efficiently, and I settled in to watch a movie and grab a quick nap. The seat controls were intuitive, and the entertainment choices extensive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALufthansa’s new business class seats do go completely lie-flat though there are a few quibbles. One, the foot compartments are angled towards each other and very narrow. If traveling alone, you might get very cozy with your neighbor’s feet!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen fully reclined, there is just enough foot space for a 6’0″ person like myself. Taller folks, Scott included, would feel very crammed.

The pillow and duvet that are provided pre-flight are both very thin. The cabin was luckily kept at a perfect temperature all flight, but for cold-natured folks, this could be an issue. I failed to snag a second pillow as the entire upper deck was full.

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Another big issue with my seat was the considerable gap between the back rest and actual seat. I tossed and turned and only managed to get about 1.5 hours of restless sleep. To show you this annoying gap, I snapped a photo while the seat was in the bed position.

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It should be noted that this flight also featured wi-fi. While I attempted to rest, it seemed like most of the cabin was taking advantage. I declined, but did get a screen grab of the (in my opinion) reasonable prices. Excuse all the baseball bookmarks, it’s part of the job!

LH Inflight internet (FRA-IAD)

About an hour before our scheduled landing, the flight attendants came through the cabin offering a light snack menu. The tortellini was still twisting my stomach into knots, so I declined to look at the offerings. Sincerest apologies to MileValue readers!

We had a smooth descent and landing, and it was fun to experience the almost feathery touchdown from the upper deck.

After shuffling to the infamous Washington-Dulles moon rovers, I was at the curb in no time thanks to Global Entry. Immigration lines were quite back up, so I was very thankful for the “get out of jail free” card. Global Entry application fee reimbursement is one of my favorite benefits of the The Platinum Card® from American Express.

How I Did It

I booked this flight as part of a nine segment US Airways award to Asia, connecting in Europe both ways for only 120k miles in First Class. The award relied on US Airways’ cheap award chart and their agents allowing extremely lax routing.

Don’t miss out on collecting US Airways miles with the US Airways Premier World MasterCard with 30,000 US Airways miles after first purchase. This card will soon disappear during the American Airlines/US Airways merger.

Overall

Seat: The seat certainly isn’t the best business class product industry-wide. It was fine for lounging on an afternoon transatlantic segment, but there are some drawbacks. Window seats don’t have direct aisle access. The seats angle towards each other and have a narrow rest area for feet. You are very close to touching toes with your neighbor!

Food: A really poor effort, though my flight two months later from Washington D.C. to Frankfurt on the same aircraft was actually quite good. I will chalk this one up to bad luck.

Service: Solid. The crew working the flight was cheery and had a great sense of humor. The purser introduced himself to the entire upper deck after take-off. It’s not a big cabin, but you probably get more attentive service being closer to the galley in the upper deck. I enjoyed sitting in Row 86 on my next flight as opposed to Row 82.

Bed: Though the Lufthansa seat transforms into a fully lie-flat bed, I found the gap between the back and seat to hinder quality sleep. The pillow and blanket were thin, but certainly fine enough for airplane purposes. Nabbing an extra pillow can make a big difference if possible.

In Flight Entertainment: The television screen size was good, and could be angled towards you if needed. The selection of movies was varied with some classics, new releases, and independent films I hadn’t seen.

Recommendation: I admittedly had an off flight with Lufthansa, but their seat isn’t the best for solo travelers and I got unlucky with the day’s menu. Couples should be fine sharing the small foot rest, as the lack of direct aisle access for window passengers becomes relatively moot. The in-flight entertainment and service were both very good, so I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again. Just note that overall sleep quality could be an issue.

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