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If you’re looking to fly long haul business class between the States and Europe, Lufthansa is one of the most reliable options when it comes to availability. Funny enough, until last year, I hadn’t done it. When the opportunity presented itself to nab tickets for my girlfriend and I aboard the 747-8, I seized the moment, and booked them. Let’s walk through the entire experience from how I booked the tickets to what it’s like onboard, and why you should try and sit upstairs.
- When: May 2018
- Where: Manchester to Los Angeles via Frankfurt
- Aircraft: 747-8i
- Flight time: 11h55m
- How much: 70k United + $300ish
- Currency transferred: Chase to United, instantaneously
- Flight: LH 450
- Seat: 87 A and C
Lufthansa is one of the most predicable airlines when it comes to award availability. Starting 15 days in advance they will start releasing additional load on their flights in business and first class. That’s exactly what happened with us. In fact, we didn’t book these tickets until 2 days prior to leaving.
Currencies to use:
- 70k + taxes
- 55k + taxes
- 63k + taxes
- Singapore Airlines
- 65k + taxes
- Lufthansa Miles and More
- 52.5k + taxes and fees
The Credit Cards needed to gain the points or pay the taxes and fees
I paid the taxes and fees with my American Express Platinum card because it earned me 5x points when paying directly with the airline. I alternate between my Amex and my Chase Ink Business Preferred that earns 3x points on all travel. The decision is rooted in which currency I’m trying to bolster. I was lower in Amex points at the time so…
All of the credit card programs listed below will give you transferrable points that can access the programs listed above:
While Lufthansa is developing a completely new business class experience, currently their product isn’t the best you can find. Why? They configure their seats without all aisle access in a 2-2 or 2-2-2 pattern depending on whether you’re upstairs like we were, or downstairs in the main or mini cabin. This also applies to other aircraft.
Here’s what their cabin layout looks like via SeatGuru.com and the seat specs
We chose to sit upstairs…if there is an ounce of AV geek blood streaming through your veins, you have to do this. It’s uber cool.
The Lounge Experience.
While Lufthansa operates some of the world’s best first class lounges, I don’t find their business class lounges to be anything special. Sure, they’re nice, large, and quite enjoyable to hang out in when compared to the airport, but they don’t don’t set a standard like Virgin’s NYC/London lounges or Qatar’s Doha lounge. With that being said…the lounge we visited is in the upper quartile of business class lounges I’ve visited.
Boarding the 747
We entered the plane between the main business class cabin and first class and you’ll immediately be thanking your lucky stars you’re sitting upstairs. Why? Privacy. The main cabin is massive, and the funniest thing happened. While we were waiting to board a family with a few kids were in the boarding area, and boy were those kids running a muck. Darting here and there, knocking into people, punching, screaming, and there was a man and woman standing behind just ahead of us that practically had steam blowing from their ears.
People were giving them the evil eye HARD. Hard enough that they even made comments like well they’re getting their energy out now. LOL. I was praying we weren’t near them.
Why is this funny? They were entirely in business class, and as luck would have it, sitting right next to the couple who I’m sure enjoyed a few stiff drinks on the flight.
Upstairs consists of a single row with 2 seats on either side.
If you’re traveling as a couple these are pretty great. But, if you’re traveling next to someone you don’t know…you’re very close.
One specific thing that is particularly special about flying on the upper deck is the increased storage space you’re afforded on the window. It’s nearly enough space to fit your roller bag into, but definitely any of your other small carry ons.
I think the seat photographs far better than it performs. Aesthetically speaking, looking at the photos up above, they present quite handsomely, and they are, however, they lack space, and awkwardly force each passengers feet very close together. Again, this isn’t weird if you’re traveling with someone you know, but I’m eagerly awaiting their new product which will eliminate these issues.
Storage is also an issue for those who don’t have access to the large bins along the window. There is very little space to put your phone, amenity kit, etc. When you compare these compartments to those that are offered by Air France, AA ( 772/788, 772SD/789, 77W), EVA, United Polaris, it’s no wonder why Lufthansa ranks so low when it comes to the physical product. The seat does go into a completely lie flat bed which means it’s a better product that you’d find on the likes of Air France’s A380 and some A330s
The In-Flight Experience
I would argue that Lufthansa has a reputation for offering a professional and proficient on board experience, but not one that anticipates your needs/wants. While I wouldn’t argue against that reputation based upon data points I’ve collected from friends and clients who have flown with them, our experience exceeded that expectation. We had a wonderful flight attendant who gave us great attention with a smile, and an “aim to please” attitude. That’s about as good as it gets in my book in biz.
The food was…ok. I had two meals during the flight and neither of them were much to write home about, but not bad either. I know…such insightful descriptions, but they were uneventful and on par with your typical airline food.
Wifi was available. $19 for a full flight isn’t bad folks, and it worked quite well.
Lufthansa Business Class is a very nice way to fly longhaul. It’s handsome and reliably accessible via transfer partners, but it comes with its drawbacks. First and foremost the taxes and fees are almost uniformly expensive across partner programs ( Avianca and United do provide ways to minimize these), and it lacks all aisle access. These two factors are big dings and why I steer people away from their business class when alternatives are available. With that said, it’s a very solid business class, with a lot of availability, and if you can fly it upstairs on this aircraft – it’s a real treat.
This will change in the future ( at least the all aisle access ) when Lufthansa’s new business class is introduced. Here’s a sneak peek of it.