Originally I was booked in Turkish Airlines’ direct flight from San Francisco to Istanbul but the airline decided to cancel my flight two weeks before departure and re-book me into a flight a day later which would have made my onward connection impossible. So I called United and they re-booked me after some back and forth on the A380 to Frankfurt and onward to Novosibirsk with Turkish Airlines.
After some very friendly and professional banter at the Business Class check-in I opted for the American Express Centurion lounge (Review) which I usually like much more than the United Business Class lounge (which the Lufthansa Business Class ticket gives you access to). Lunch time at teh Centurion Lounge was crowded though and the food that day wasn’t my favorite (I usually like the dishes a lot there).
As boarding came around I walked all the way to the end of teh International Terminal – Lufthansa uses almost half the airport it seems at the Star Alliance end of the San Francisco International Airport. The last gate is reserved for the A380 (no other Star Alliance carrier has a A380 in service to San Francisco).
A level above the regular boarding gate has a separate boarding gate for Premium Passengers. There must have been 100+ people in line and 300 downstairs. Boarding was just about to begin so I walked down to the gate and was still able to board ahead of all Economy Class Passengers – allowing me to take pictures before the cabin would be crowded.
The new Lufthansa Business Class seats came last to the A380 – the new A380s had gotten the old Business Class seats for a few years and were then retrofitted.
The new cabin looked extra clean and spacious. The upper deck contains the Lufthansa First suites, the 2-2-2 Business Class and weirdly enough 5 rows of Economy at the end. There must have been some structural reason to do that. If you are flying Economy this might be a good place to sit.
Business Class was almost 100% full that day and First Class seems about half full.
I did take some photos of the cabin before it filled up quickly and then wanted take pictures of the seat in the lie-flat position. This worked well initially but the seat would no fold up anymore. Another flight attendants came by and eventually reset it manually. They gave me lots of scolding looks – but oh well.
The seats itself feels too firm and too soft at the same time. It’s hard to describe but somehow you can’t feel the pressure points in the seat – maybe that’s by design but I found it less than ideal. After takeoff my seat controls worked as expected and I could keep my window seat.
There were a good amount of new movies in the IFE and the screen was much bigger than in the prior Business Class seat configuration. It’s still too small compared to other top notch Business Class cabins. I switched on the flight path map and watched some videos on my laptop – however the map would always switch itself off after a few minutes.
It took a good two hours until appetizers came out. I did not like the overly salty salmon. The same feeling then extended to the main course – the sea bass had little flavor and tasted too much like airplane food. The fruits for desert were good though.
I wasn’t too hungry and set up my seat in the lie flat position right afterwards. The pillow and blanket were both of excellent quality.
While the seat does not look perfect I found it really comfortable to sleep in – I had no trouble sleeping on both sides and on my back. It was so comfortable that I slept almost all the next 7 hours though this was technically a day time flight as the flight lands at 2 AM San Francisco time.
Overall I found the service to be decent. There weren’t any smiles or useful interaction but there weren’t any service failures either. It was very robotic though.
I did not wake up for regular breakfast and when it was time to stow all electronics I just got hold of the fresh fruit platter. They were very good but also a tiny portion (like half an orange). Neither of the two breakfast main course appealed to me anyways though.
Landing in Frankfurt was before our schedule arrival time and we got thrown off in to the furthest out Z gates. My next flight (with Turkish Airlines) would be from B54 – which is a solid 30 minutes walk from this gate including a security check and use of the airport train. I had used the lounge at the Z gates and I was worried I would not make it before departure.
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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