After a day spent luxuriating in the comforts of two of the world’s best airport lounges, it was time for the showpiece event. I was flying from Frankfurt to Boston on Lufthansa First Class.
Since the day I collected my first Aeroplan mile, Lufthansa First Class had been on my radar as one of THE amazing flight experiences. Did it live up to the expectation? Without any further ado, let’s find out…
Lufthansa | LH420
Aircraft: Airbus A330-30
Cabin: First Class
Route: Frankfurt (FRA) to Boston (BOS)
Date: Sunday, October 1, 2017
Time: Departing 6:10pm and arriving 8:30pm
Duration: 8 hours 20 minutes
I guess I had dilly-dallied for too long somewhere along the line between the First Class Terminal and the private car escort to the plane, since I was among the last of the eight First Class passengers to board the plane. The pre-departure service had already begun, so I quickly snapped a few photos of the cabin and settled down into Seat 1A.
First Class on the A330 consists of eight seats, spread out across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. Since I was travelling alone, I had opted for a window seat – the long bank of windows along the side of the plane was particularly attractive to me. If I were travelling with a companion, the two seats in the centre of each row would’ve been a nice choice as well, since the seats allow you to easily chat with your companion while also retaining a high degree of privacy.
Naturally, the first thing I noticed about the seat was how remarkably spacious it was. Seriously, there is just SO. MUCH. SPACE. This was my first time flying in First, and of course it puts any business class seat to absolute shame. And compared to economy class, which I had flown on the outbound sector of this trip? Leagues apart.
I lounged in my seat for a bit before the flight attendant came by to offer a pre-departure drink. You can’t be flying Lufthansa First Class without enjoying a glass of champagne, so that’s what I asked for, despite being woozier-than-usual from discovering the world of whiskeys in the First Class Terminal.
The champagne on this flight was the Cuvée Paradis by Alfred Gratien, and was served along with a hot towel and some mixed nuts to snack on.
I explored the features of the seat a little bit. Given that the First Class seat is essentially a personal suite, all of the controls and storage compartments are arranged along the “walls” of the suite on either side of you. The one exception is of course the gigantic storage compartment under the footrest, which is large enough to store a full backpack or multiple shopping bags.
Then you’ve got two smaller compartments along the armrest, one of which came pre-loaded with a set of headphones. These nooks were great for storing a tablet, a book, or other loose items.
Further back on the armrest is a water bottle holder. While it’s hard to reach back here with your seat in the upright position, it’s very convenient to keep your bottled water up here when it’s time to transform the seat into a bed and get some sleep.
You’ve also got a reading light nestled into your headrest, which can be adjusted as needed. This is one of the more ergonomic arrangements of a reading light I’ve seen aboard an aircraft.
Further down on this side of the suite is where the traditional seat back pocket is located, containing the safety card and reading materials. On the front panel of your seat down here is where you’ll find the USB and 110V power outlets.
And finally, the controls are located on either side of you, literally “at your fingertips” if you imagine sitting upright in your dazzlingly spacious suite the way a monarch might sit atop a throne. The entertainment controls and seat controls adorn your left-side and right-side armrests, respectively.
The seat controls were some of the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen – there were so many seat features that you could configure to your exact liking.
Importantly, the seat’s finishes are gorgeous. The color palette is unmistakably Lufthansa, and the metallic accents add a touch of sleekness to an impeccably elegant design.
Now I’m not usually one to nitpick, but if I had to raise one complaint about the seat, it would be the relative lack of surface space when compared to, say, a reverse herringbone business class product like EVA Air’s. Aside from the tray table, the only flat surface where you could place a glass of champagne or a cup of tea was a small, raised “countertop” that juts out slightly from the side. But that’s a natural consequence of designing a large, rectangular First Class suite to maximize space, and it’s not something Lufthansa can really be blamed for.
The crew came by to proactively top up my champagne, as well as distribute the menus and the in-flight goodies, such as amenity kits, pajamas, and slippers. Since I wasn’t planning on sleeping until later, I put everything away in the storage cabinet under the ottoman for now.
As we began our pushback, I looked over the food and drink menus, which read as follows:
The onboard drink selection was excellent, doing its best to meet the lofty standards set by the First Class Terminal on the ground. Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, Grey Goose… it’s a real shame that I had had far too much to drink by this point, and so remained with the free-flowing champagne until I was well and truly at my limit.
I flicked through the entertainment selection as we initiated our takeoff climb. Lufthansa has an excellent selection of movies and TV shows onboard, and in First Class it’s all presented on a gorgeous 15-inch entertainment console. Even I settled in briefly for an episode of 2 Broke Girls, despite the fact that I usually prefer watching stuff on my iPad when I’m on a flight.
As usual I checked out the airshow as well. I love keeping the airshow on in the background during a flight, and Lufthansa’s version put in a strong showing, boasting a high resolution and a wide range of viewpoints.
About twenty minutes after we reached cruising altitude, the crew kicked off the meal service with an amuse-bouche course. I took a booze break and briefly swapped the Cuvée Paradis for a glass of water.
It’s also at this point that I raised the privacy partition of my seat, which all of a sudden made the seat feel a lot more intimate. Passengers are obliged to keep their partitions lowered during taxi, takeoff, and landing, but are free to have them up or down throughout the flight.
The amuse-bouche was soon cleared away, and my tray table was withdrawn from its holder for the dinner service. The tray tables in the First Class seat are designed to “pop” out of their holder near the front of the rectangular suite. You lower the table into position and then you’re able to slide the tray table back and forth.
A crew member came by to set my table. I thought the attention to detail was marvellous; in particular, those tiny salt and pepper mills were too cute! It’s indeed the finest of details that set apart first class from the rest.
She also gave me free reign to pick from her breadbasket, and when I opted for only a few slices of garlic bread, she insisted that I try the pretzel as well – an offer I was in no position to decline.
Oh and of course, more champagne, please!
I opted for the caviar course as my appetizer, and when the cart rolled around I was offered my choice of accompaniments: either lemon and chopped onions, or egg and sour cream. I opted for the former, though I was later told by another avid Lufthansa First Class flyer that he always asks for both!
With the benefit of hindsight, I should have probably done the same, since the caviar was scrumptious – delightfully salty and briny, the intensity of the flavour tempered slightly by the finely chopped onions.
I’m not too sure what happened here, but when the flight attendant came to clear my caviar plate away, she also asked if I wanted to sample the other appetizers. I said yes, of course, expecting to try one of the other options – but instead she presented me with a beautiful taster menu of sorts, consisting of the shrimp with sour cream and saffron terrine, the Bavarian cream cheese, and the salad of prime veal!
I suppose the caviar dish was more style than substance (in a good way of course), so when there’s portions of the other appetizers left over, they offer them up if anyone’s interested in sampling them. What a thoughtful touch!
For my main course I ordered the roast duck, German style, with mixed veggies and creamy polenta. It was quite the flavourful meal –the duck tasted great, and the gravy they used made the dish especially appetizing. It didn’t blow away my expectations the way everything else on this flight did, but it was still an undoubtedly high-quality meal.
Since I was pretty full by now (I had enjoyed a full meal not long ago in the First Class Terminal as well), I skipped the dessert course and just asked for a cheese selection, which was plated beautifully.
As the dinner service drew to a close, the world outside was getting a little dimmer, our plane chasing the last wisps of daylight across the Atlantic. I wanted to get a little more comfortable, so I grabbed the amenity kit and pajamas and headed to the bathroom to freshen up and change.
The amenity kit came in a unique heart-shaped bag, although I couldn’t tell if it was branded or not. It consisted of socks, eyeshades, face cream, shoe-shining cream, a comb, a dental kit, and a set of earplugs (in their own tiny little box!)
The First Class lavatories are located at the front of the cabin, and indeed the plane itself, near the cockpit door. It’s got a bit of a unique layout in that the toilet cover also functions as a bench when it’s lowered. Furthermore, there’s actually a window in the lavatory itself, which isn’t something you usually see!
For the next couple of hours, I got a fair bit of work done on my laptop, while nibbling on the remainder of the cheese plate (which has become something of a habit for me). Lufthansa charges only €17 for wifi access for the full flight, a sum I was more than happy to pony up. The wifi was mostly pretty fast and reliable, although it did have an annoying habit of disconnecting and forcing you to reconnect to the service every 15 minutes or so.
After a while I asked the friendly crew member if I could have some peppermint tea. I don’t know what it is about enjoying a cup of tea when sitting in a premium cabin – there’s something so simple about it that kind of makes you appreciate just how incredible the First Class experience is.
Champagne will forever be associated with luxury, but sipping on a warm cup of tea when you’re 35,000 feet in the air in one of the world’s most opulent First Class cabins is special in its own right.
With about three hours of the flight remaining, I decided it was time to get some sleep. Most of the other passengers had already dozed off by this point, and I realized that the windows along my suite were the only ones that were still open and allowing the last of the day’s natural light stream in.
I asked the flight attendant if she could help prepare my bedsheets, after which I pulled the windows shut and settled into my bed.
Now, I had heard amazing things about the bedding that Lufthansa offers in First Class, and I was not disappointed by the real thing. The mattress pad was neither too soft nor too hard, hitting the same sweet spot as my own bed back home. The blankets were also nice and comfortable, and of course the incredible spaciousness of the suite translated into a bed with lots of room to move around in.
Having said that, I didn’t get very much sleep at all, which was mostly down to reasons other than bed quality. First of all, it was pretty hot in the cabin, so I could never quite get comfortable under the covers. The pajamas were also slightly small on me, so I felt rather constricted trying to sleep in them.
Throw in the fact that I had enjoyed a gluttonous amount of food and drink on the day, and so I ended up tossing and turning for about an hour before giving up and putting my seat back in the lounging position.
This was despite having been awake for almost 18 hours at this point, and needing to go into work on Monday morning (after a 6am flight from Boston to Toronto). Oh, the things I do for travel.
I used the wifi for a bit longer (it’s still crazy to me how that’s a real thing), and about an hour before our descent into Boston, a very quick snack was served, consisting of your choice of pastry plus a light charcuterie selection. I asked for another pot of peppermint tea as well.
I was almost tempted to call this “breakfast”, but then I remembered we were on an evening flight landing in Boston at 8:30pm…
We made our landing at Boston Logan Airport exactly on time, and from there it was an efficient taxi to the gate. First Class passengers disembarked through the doors between the front cabin and business class, so there was a bit of a queue for shuffling out of the plane. It gave me time to grab a parting photo of my lovely home for the past eight hours. Until next time!
Make no mistake about it: this was an AMAZING flight.
I was enamoured with the First Class suite – wonderfully spacious, but also making efficient use of that space through well-thought-out design principles. The seat itself was ergonomic and transformed into a very comfortable bed – by far the most outstanding premium class bed I’ve experienced. I enjoyed the food as well (especially the caviar which hit all the right spots), and the service by the First Class crew was simply top class. They exuded professionalism, but did so enthusiastically, going above and beyond to make my First Class experience a memorable one.
Having said that, those who have flown this product before have told me that the most impressive part of the experience is actually its consistency – Lufthansa First Class delivers, each and every time. I’m eager to put that to the test on my next adventure aboard one of the world’s most coveted cabins, hopefully sooner rather than later!