Lufthansa Business Class A350 Review Los Angeles (LAX) to Munich (MUC)
We had initially booked the Lufthansa flight to Munich from San Francisco. Just about a week before Lufthansa cancelled the flight from San Francisco - so Los Angeles to Munich on Lufthansa it was!
Our connecting flight from San Francisco got us into LAX early and we were hoping that we could make use of one of the lounges in the International Terminal for the wait.
Check-in was deserted and we checked in while most of the other passengers went on the Frankfurt flight (which leaves a bit earlier). Unfortunately, all lounges at the International Terminal are currently closed. This includes the Qantas First Class Lounge, the excellent Star Alliance lounge, and many others. You can walk to Terminal 6 and use the Alaska Airlines Boardroom (as a member of Priority pass) but that's a long walk for a mediocre lounge!
We decided to buy some food (only Panda Express is open in the food court) and make use of Starbucks. There were way fewer flights than usual but some flights had crowds to my surprise. Security was also empty and just so different than usual maddening crowds at the International Terminal.
We walked leisurely to the gate several minutes before boarding was supposed to start, there was almost nobody there but it was listed as 'Last Call'. We thought we are in the wrong timezone initially. Alas, it turned out boarding was so quick because just 30 passengers in Economy and about the same in Business Class were boarding this Friday afternoon. We later learned that this would be a normal load for this flight (during the last 6 months!).
I'm amazed Lufthansa is still doing these flights!
Lufthansa has equipped their A350 Business Class cabin with a slightly updated version of the seats they use for the Lufthansa A380 Business Class and many other airplane models in their fleet. The seat is at least a generation or two behind current. Business Class seat. models. The cabin looked neat and I liked the color scheme but there is no privacy, the seat is rather cramped, there is minimal stowage and the lie-flat position resembles an angled lie-flat more than a true lie-flat. The good news is that there is ample vertical space (unlike the Swiss Airlines B777 Business Class seat).
The cabin attendants were extremely friendly especially for the rather robotic Lufthansa flight attendants I had endured on some prior flights. There are no pre-departure drinks or snacks anymore - so we would have to wait for takeoff. The skies over L.A. were clearing up from yet another set of wildfires in the former 'Golden State' (which is now more a barely breathable air state most fall times).
I used the chance to check out the Economy section of the A350 airplane.
The massive engines had no trouble lifting up this rather light plane and we turned sharp left over the Pacific and turned south only to turn left and left again for our direction towards the US East Coast and straight east from there. Yes, the pilots were expecting strong tailwinds for most of the journey so the polar route was dropped.
Meal service started quickly and warm nuts and champagne would be served first. I opted for the prawn appetizer and the beef main dish. I found both to be excellent - definitely Business Class material! The dessert was not as good (I ordered a mix of all the options as I was curious as usual). I had also asked the flight attendants to prepare a small wine testing which they happily obliged to (much to my surprise). There were several excellent wines (most of the Italian) that I really liked.
It got dark outside quickly and most passengers quickly reclined their seat and catch some zzz's. I wasn't as tired and watched a movie on the much improved (compared to a few years ago) entertainment system. I also loved the light and very effective noise-canceling headphones.
Lufthansa uses just a thin mattress pad but there is no real mattress cover. They would also provide a pajama top but no pants on this flight. Oddly the temperature fluctuated a lot with initially freezing, then hot and back to freezing for the next few hours.
Oddly Business Class was taken up by mostly children between the ages 1-10. There were as many children as parents! We had moved into the smaller 'mini cabin' in the back to avoid the children resisting their parents putting them to sleep at an earl 'body hour'. This proved to be a good strategy as the noise seemed quite a disturbance form upfront. Note that the Economy cabin was so empty that everyone had an empty row (i.e. 9 seats!).
Just when I fell asleep we hit some major turbulence from the string tailwinds which would continue almost all the way to Ireland. I finally convinced myself to wake up and to try the breakfast. Again the catering was delicious - I loved the chia pudding. Breakfast is often tricky but this one was exceptional and the espresso fresh too.
The A350 is a great plane for passengers, It is extremely quiet and seems to fly so easily. Lucky for me Lufthansa has not accepted the new window shades (they always break but stuck to the classic window shape design which blocks the sun perfectly.
The pilot was a chatty one and kept us informed way more than usual. He announced major turbulence before landing in Munich. However, this did not materialize, and landing was somewhat orderly (especially given the turbulence higher up).
In just a few minutes everyone got off the plane and we were led into Munich airport which sowed some signs of life - there were even some crowds initially. The non-Schengen terminal is a quiet affair though and all lounges were closed. Immigration had about half a dozen 'helpers' and many boring immigration officers. We weren't sure if immigration would let us through easily but 60 seconds later we were done and walked towards the Business Class lounge (in the Schengen Terminal).
In sum - I wasn't sure what to expect for this flight given all the recent changes. I was disappointed that no lounge was available in Los Angeles and that Lufthansa would not even provide a restaurant voucher. I love the A350 airplane and felt the catering Lufthansa used and the flight attendants were top notch. I wasn't a fan of the seat but it's just too old a generation (though the seat itself is likely just a few years old). If Lufthansa would change that - this flight could be pretty close to exceptional.