After a lovely weekend in Salzburg for a delayed Mother’s Day trip, mom and I hopped on the euro rail at Salzburg Station and made our way back to Munich. It was a glorious day, and unfortunately was the only decent-weather day during our stay. At least it made for a scenic train journey across the European countryside. We took an early train to Munich, wanting to have some padding before our flight back to the states, in case anything went awry along the way. Arriving pretty early, we checked-in, obtained our boarding passes, and headed to the Senator and Business Class lounge for some downtime before the hop across the pond. The lounges were nice by most standards, let alone US standards to which I am used to – certainly not the worst place in the world to kill off a some time before a flight.
Lufthansa German Airlines LH434
MUC – ORD
May 25, 2015
Business Class, Seat 7A
Airbus A340-600, D-AIHM
We boarded from gate H47, possibly the farthest possibly gate from the lounge. For anyone traveling through Munich, definitely be aware that walk times can exceed 15 minutes from the center of the Lufthansa concourse to gates on either end. The signs even have estimated walk times printed on them for specific gates.
I was definitely impressed by the concourse and really do envy airports abroad. The setup and layout of each aircraft parking spot is clearly laid out logically. Regional/narrow body on one side of the concourse, and narrow body/wide body on the other. Not to mention the gate area was very spacious. Our particular gate, H47, was equipped for self boarding.
I was pretty excited to finally get the chance to use one. However, being a flight across boarders, and especially one to the U.S., we did not have the privilege. The agents needed to review our documents and scan the boarding pass themselves. No worries, I was happy to be able to finally try out Lufthansa, and their premium experience none the less.
We made our way down the boarding pier, love those things, and down the jet bridge towards door 1L. Stepping onboard and turning right, we walked through the First Class cabin which had the old blue seats and configuration. I quickly realized that this was not a refurbished aircraft with the new seats and configuration, as was published at booking.
I was slightly disappointed, but wasn’t too upset as it meant that I would be able to try another premium product, and one of a previous generation (soon to be replaced). We later found out from the inflight service manager that this was one of only five remaining machines with the old configuration, all others have been updated with the new fully-flat business class seats.
Mom and I quickly found our seats, 7A & 7C, at the back of the forward business class cabin. While the seats didn’t look it, they felt ancient when we finally settled into them. Not only was there a lot of dirt and grime on, in, and around the seats, but the seats themselves were pretty stiff. They were pretty awful seats honestly, even for their generation. I don’t think these were introduced that much before United’s (not CO’s) business class seats. They might have even been introduced after since they were found on the early model A380s. For a daytime flight, these would do the job, but I would definitely be annoyed if I was heading east on one of these things.
One of the flight attendants came around offering pre-departure refreshments. Her tray consisted of water, orange juice, and champagne (all in real glasses) – I chose choose a glass of water having already had a few drinks in the lounge earlier. The flight attendants also came around to distribute menus for this daytime flight – I had a quick glance but kept it in the seat back pocket until after take off.
I was quite surprised that amenity kits and slippers were not offered on this flight. Not sure if its because of the old inflight, and an attempt to keep it consistent with the old product, but from what I have heard – on flights with the new business class seats, amenity kits are provided even for day flights.
As we waited for the final bags to be loaded, and the remaining economy passengers waaaayyyyy back in the aircraft to find their seats, the captain came on to brief us all on the flight details. His announcement was quite comprehensive, and was performed in both German and English. He also mentioned that he would be taking a backseat role on this flight, perhaps overseeing a first officer’s checkride as acting captain for a promotion to the left seat. After his announcement, the in flight service manager also came on to make his announcement, informing us of the service program for this daytime Atlantic crossing – again performed in German and English. After the announcements were made, like clockwork, the doors closed, jet bridges backed away, and we pushed into the alley. The tow disconnected and the real engines on the “340-600” came to life – the sound, pure power. We made our way to the active.
After a slow takeoff roll, we were on our way home.
Sailing off towards cruising altitude, the crew started to carry out their duties heating up meals and passing out (very) hot towels. Following close behind was the inflight service manager with an iPad offering personal greetings to every single passenger traveling in first and business class. It was a tremendously welcoming touch, something you definitely don’t get on a U.S. carrier. It was clearly part of the service procedure as he looked up each passenger on his iPad before approaching. The conversation starter was also different for each passenger (probably used a few times over). For example with the gentleman seated in 6A, the conversation started as “Mr xxx? Hope you are having a pleasant experience with us today, do you like beer?” He went on to explain that there is a craft beer festival going on in Chicago this week. I heard him use this one on a few other male passengers on the other side of the cabin. Again, it was a nice touch, but very staged – even though he was very genuine.
After making his rounds in the forward cabin and disappearing into the aft business class cabin to do give his cheesy greetings to a new audience. The working flight attendants came around to lay down some crisp white linens and start lunch with a beverage service. I chose a glass of the “Dr. L Blauschiefer Riesling from Germany” of course – which was very nice, semi-dry with a little more carbonation than normal, which was really refreshing at 36,000 ft. The wine and beverage list was quite extensive with several wines and beers to choose from. A pack of cashews was served with the initial drink service. Oh, I forgot to mention that one of the flight attendants serving my side of the cabin is definitely supermodel material. She was at least 6’1″, and she was gorgeous. Beats the heck out of some of those serving on Lufthansa’s American counterpart.
Next came the starter and salad served together on the same tray. I chose the delicious Marinated Beef Strips with Carrots and Almonds. There was some sort of sour cream based dressing along with it. The dish was a palate opening salty and tangy flavor. There was also a small house salad with thousand island dressing. The flight attendants also came around with a warm bread basket – I chose the pretzel roll of course (and it was so soft on the inside, and the right balance between soft and crispy on the outside).
After the starter, I had the Arctic Char with stewed Leek and Pearl Barley Risotto – it was the “May choice” of what I am assuming are rotating specials. This was followed by another round of drinks from the cart.
Finishing the main, the tray and empty service ware was promptly cleared from my tray table. It was a few minutes before the artfully presented dessert cart made its way down the aisle, as we waited for a few other passengers to finish up their main course.
The dessert today was a decadent Buttermilk Mousse with Rhubarb Vanilla Compote, as well as a box of assorted pralines. Following the dessert cart was an after-meal beverage cart with your assorted hot and adult beverages. I had a coffee to try and stay awake, as I was pretty tired from the travels that morning.
The middle of the flight was quite uneventful as the cabin lights went off, and many of the passengers were napping, even though it was a daytime flight. Quite a few window shades were left open, but the cabin was still quite dim. While a good number of passengers were typing away at their keyboards (this was business class after all), I managed to doze off for an hour or two.
After waking up from my snooze, I took a walk to the back of the long airplane, and actually checked out the economy lavs, which were located downstairs. This may seem strange, but its actually quite a novelty. All the lavatories for economy, as well as the crew rest, are located downstairs in what is normally the cargo hold.
Heading back to the forward cabin, I stopped by our own business class cabin and found that it had quite the view. The facilities on this plane are quite unique.
With all that excitement, I needed to calm down and headed back to my seat. Still feeling tired, I just found myself staring at the moving map. I think that when I am tired on a plane ride, theres just no motivation to watch a movie on the entertainment system, and just find myself staring at the moving map. It felt like a super long flight for some reason, and I was pretty glad to be sitting in a premium cabin with space to stretch out.
Some unknown amount of time later, the aroma of flash frozen food heating up in the flight ovens started to make its way through the cabin. The forward business class cabin came to life, and window shades started to open up, letting in the daylight. Somewhere over Canada, the pre-arrival meal commenced. It was a single tray service with a small bowl of Asparagus Stew, Caesar Salad, and Cherry Marble Cake with Cream to finish. It was light, but definitely hit the spot.
Shortly after, the captain came on to announce the commencement of our descent into the Chicago area. He explained that high winds over the Atlantic had prevented us from arriving on-time, even with the engines at close to full power – which is why the flight felt so long! It was a beautiful day in Chicago, and a we made a slow and steady descent over the north side into O’hare.
My first flight on Lufthansa was definitely a memorable experience. Reading many trip reports about Lufthansa throughout the years, I kind of expected cold and mediocre service. But, I was pleasantly surprised by this crew working my flight. Not only were they attractive, but they were genuine and warm. They certainly didn’t go out of their way to make conversation, but were certainly friendly when you initiated it. I was also impressed with the efficiency in serving a large Business Class cabin. When making their rounds ofter a course of a meal, the flight attendants would come around with small but deep service trays that were just large enough to carry several service items without having to make a second pass.
My favorite part however, was of course the meal service. The portions were on the smaller side, but the quality was great. The portions actually weren’t much of a problem for me, although I could see where some who consume more may complain. Best of all, it was all delivered with a smile. I definitely would not hesitate to take another flight in Lufthansa Business Class. Hopefully I can give First Class our of Frankfurt (and the First Class Terminal) a spin next time around.