Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lufthansa Business Class – NOT to be missed!

As I sat in the lounge at Sea-Tac airport (SEA) waiting to board Lufthansa Flight 491 to Frankfurt (FRA), a phrase from a ‘70s song came to mind “I’m sitting in the airport bar, trying to look like a superstar, waiting for the plane to take me far away…"

If you’re not a Baby Boomer, you probably won’t get the reference to the song “One Way Sunday” by the Mark Almond Band, but no matter. For while I don’t – and frankly never did – look like a superstar, the treatment received upon check-in and the treatment I would receive on board would make me feel like one.

Lufthansa Airbus A330 on the ramp at SEA
Airbus A330
Stepping up to the ticket counter to check my Gepäck (luggage) for my outbound flight at SEA, I introduced myself using the bits of German that have stuck around since high school, augmented by listening to tapes and CDs. The agent was very helpful and made me feel that she appreciated the effort, even though we were still in the U.S.

A Business Class ticket on Lufthansa includes access to the airline’s clubs. The lounge that Lufthansa shares with other carriers at SEA was a welcome respite from the zaniness in the South Satellite, the site for all international arrivals and most, if not all, international departures at SeaTac. A pre-flight glass of wine helped me feel as if the vacation had actually begun. Unfortunately, the club at FRA was much less tranquil, due largely to some exuberant, excited children whose parents were unwilling or unable to control them.

Boarding my outbound aircraft, one of the four flight attendants (F/As) who would be looking after the Business Class cabin greeted me, took my coat, and led me to my home for the next 10-1/2 hours: Seat 4H of the Airbus A330. The time would pass far too quickly.

Business Class seat and monitors aboard Lufthansa A330
Business Class Seat and Monitors
Settling into my seat, I immediately spotted the Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones at each seat, the controls for the entertainment center, the bottled water and the amenities kits that were provided. What wasn’t immediately obvious was that Lufthansa also provides A/C power ports between the seat fronts, near the floor, so one could plug in one’s laptop or tablet, and work all the way from SEA to FRA.

The first thing I did was to tuck into the amenities kit and unearth the footies that I’d wear in flight. The kits also contained Nivea moisturizer creme, earplugs, eyeshades, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and cloth covers for the earpieces on the headsets.

Lufthansa’s Business Class features fully reclining seats, and an entertainment center with a wide selection of audio, video, movie and game options for those who don’t have to (or want to) work in flight. The entertainment center on the outbound flight also offered something I really appreciate on an overseas trip: an in-flight map. Several different views showed our time in flight, time to destination, airspeed, position, and altitude. My return flight, which was aboard an older aircraft, displayed the map on a screen at the front of the cabin so that passengers could watch a movie or video and still keep tabs on our in-flight progress.

Preflight snacks and champagne aboard Lufthansa A330
Champagne and menu
In addition, on most flights a satellite-based service called FlyNet connects to a Deutsche Telecom Hot Spot, providing passengers complimentary Internet access once the plane has reached cruising altitude and is outside U.S. airspace. In keeping with the connectedness we are experiencing as we head into 2014, I posted this entry from 38,000 feet as we were passing over Hudson’s Bay in Canada.

All four of the F/As who looked after the 48 Business Class seats were very gracious and helpful, making me feel more like a guest than a customer, which is the essence of hospitality. One in particular paid me what I consider a very high compliment, though she may not have known it.

I was able to get a fairly long way using the little bit of German I know, but when I finally had to say, “Es tut mir leid; Ich spreche nur ein bisschen Deutsch,” (I’m sorry, I only speak a little German), her response was, “Really? I thought you were German!”, which I took as meaning my accent did not give me away. The others were also complimentary of my efforts to speak the language of their country, and even coached me a bit, which I very much appreciated.

Appetizer in Business Class aboard Lufthansa A330
Beef Tataki appetizer
By the time the in-flight meal service started, I had already looked over the Speisekarte (menu), which listed our choices in German, English and Spanish. I was intrigued and surprised by the offerings, which were not stereotypically German. They were, however, well-prepared and delicious.

For Abendessen (dinner), passengers chose from Vorspeisen (appetizers) of Tuna Carpaccio, Seared Beef Tataki, or Caprese Salad, a Salat (Salad) with seasonal yellow tomatoes. Hauptspeisen (main course) options included tenderloin of beef with plum chutney, shrimp with fennel, saffron and fingerling potatoes, or baked eggplant cannelloni. For Nachtisch (dessert), a selection of three Käse (cheeses), apple spice cake with cider, or fruit salad were offered.

Business Class meal aboard Lufthansa A330
Garnele mit Fenchel Main Course
Food items on the return flight were equally inventive and delicious. I enjoyed a duck breast appetizer, a main course of Gänsebraten (roast goose) mit Kartoffelknödeln (potato dumplings), and a selection of Käse for dessert.

Most long-haul carriers have an area they designate where passengers can help themselves to in-flight snacks as the mood strikes them. On Lufthansa, all one has to do is peek around the curtain and one of the F/As will ask if there is anything you need, then fetch it immediately.

Business Class nachtisch aboard Lufthansa A330
Three cheeses and port for dessert
In addition to the solid food, Lufthansa Business Class offers a fairly extensive selection of wines, beers, liquors and liqueurs, both with and between designated meal times.

Owing to the effects of the food and alcohol combined with the thinner air in the cabin, naps quickly followed our first meal services. Shortly before each arrival, the cabin crew woke us by turning on the overhead lights, then offering us … wait for it … still more food. As if we needed any more at that point.

But such was the hospitality and service aboard Lufthansa, providing outstanding Business Class experiences that I am keen to revisit as soon as possible.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
Click on photos to view larger images

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