Review: New Lufthansa Business Class in the new Boeing 747-800
(deutsche Version) Lots of time had to pass in order for Lufthansa to get a new seat. On the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) in spring, it was finally presented: the new business class seat for long distance flights.
Enough to take a closer look at the seat and the product “New Lufthansa Business Class”. Currently just a few machines (this Boeing 747-8 and a few Aribusses) are equipped with it. I had to go for two days to Washington DC business wise and on this track the new seat comes into play in the 747-8.
Check-in at TXL:
It started today as almost always in Berlin Tegel. The smallest airport that might remain for some time, makes travelling (not only) because of the short ways relatively comfortable. Since I was on the road with a client, I arrived for my 10:10 flight at around 8 at counter A09, which is used by Lufthansa. Thanks to the polite employee I was taken by LH177 (which was supposed to board in 5 minutes), which gave me more time in Frankfurt and not a stressful connection.
The check-in itself was polite; employees were helpful and after my luggage got the priority tag I was directly taken through security control. Except for me, all the other passengers went through boarding already, which made the whole procedure really fast today. A few minutes later at sat on my seat 2C, which should be my seat for the next hour on the way to Frankfurt.
Segment 1, Berlin (TXL) – Frankfurt (FRA)
On this flight they used the current Lufthansa Europe Cabin, about which I wrote in another blog article already. The Business Class was only used by 7 guests and so relatively empty.
Shortly after the start and by reaching the flying altitude we got a small but nicely served breakfast. Besides bread and buns there is butter, jam and cheese. Vitamins come in shape of grapes and a little apple cakelet. Weight is important and airlines try to spare money, but I don’t really understand why they don’t use normal cutlery instead of plastics. Furthermore, there are no cups for coffee but paper cups with HRS slogans. I don’t mind using plastic or paper cups, but there is also glass for water or juice.
The flight itself was comfortable and without any problems – we arrived on time in Frankfurt. Because our gate was in use we had to wait for some time, but rather waiting for 5-10 minutes than arriving in an outer terminal.
It’s not going to be my favorite airport. Ways are long and don’t make travelling comfortable. After arriving by train I first went to Gate C, which would be my departure gate. Security and passport control weren’t packed on Sunday Morning, so I arrived pretty quickly at the gate. Originally I wanted to go to the SEN Lounge in Area B or the Tower Lounge, but laziness won, so I visited the “Gate Lounge” at C14/15. In this waiting area on the first level you have a nice view and so I could hash a glance at the A380s “Johannesburg, Wien and Munich”, and the Dreamliner of ANA, too. The lounge itself is a rather good waiting area. It’s equipped with armchairs, tables and chairs and offers business and first class passengers, but also status clients, to wait in a comfortable way. There is free Wi-fi without password or login by the German Telekom.
You can also have hot and cold beverages from an island in the middle of the lounge. Unfortunately Coke, Fanta, water and Sprite comes from a barrel, which could be tasted. Beer, tonic and other beverages can also be enjoyed. Another island provides sandwiches and buns, and a little selection of yoghurt and desserts, too. If you want to eat something heavier, you can use the hot dog stand, where everybody can assemble his hot dog.
If you have more time, I can recommend to visit the other lounges. But I wanted to do some work and so it was no problem for me. Boarding began 20 minutes before take off. After scanning the boarding ticket a barrier opens and you can use the escalator to proceed. Business and first class passengers use the left entrance, eco passengers the one on the right.
This 747-8 contains the first class inside the nose and business class behind that. Until row 9 there is the first part of the business class, then come toilets and galley. Directly behind this row are the 4 other rows of business class (10-14). The new seats of the BC are arranged in the often-quoted “V-Shape”, for which Lufthansa was criticized. How it really feels will be talked about later. My seat should be 10D today, directly behind the galley. In front of my seat is the shelf space for magazines, right by the window and the corridor seats A and C. You can also hang up children baskets. Today, the plane isn’t packed at all (we are about 7 people for 24 seats in the second part of business class on the main deck), so I move to seat 12A, where I have more space for myself. While seats on the main deck are arranged in the shape 2-2-2, the upper deck has less width and therefore a 2-2 system with 81 rows. Rows 15 to 80 are reserved for economy passengers in a 3-4-3 system with the typical Lufthansa blue.
First one has to decide between upper or main deck, left or right row, or a middle seat. These have the V-Shape, but provide much more space between the seats and for the feet. But let’s take a closer look.
The seat comes with a 15” entertainment screen, on which you can enjoy TV shows, movies, games and music, which can also be uploaded from USB stick. My iPhone could only be recharged but no music could be played. The inflight entertainment is OK, but not exceptional. There are a couple of movies, CDs, audio books and such, but the selection of German movies is quite limited. Because I don’t use it anyway I don’t really care, but within a German airline it wouldn’t be wrong, to have more stuff in German.
Beside the screen is a coat hook for your jacket. But there is a little problem, because then the jacket is hanging in the foot well. Especially while sleeping it cannot hang there. I wasn’t asked to give my jacket, but there is a cupboard where it can be stored. The magazine shelf below it can only be used as such. It can be opened easily, but it’s relatively small and not convenient for iPad or Macbook. At the very floor is another manageable compartment. Already at my arrival I found a bottle of water and the amenity kit there.
You can store shoes below the foot shelf, which is divided by a partition from the neighbor’s feet. The partition can also be recognized on the top shelf. This should prevent people from touching each other’s feet. If you have shoe size 42 you might have other problems. If you turn during sleeping for example, you can only do that when your feet are retracted, otherwise the “compartment” is not broad enough and you might hit the partition. But then, If you don’t retract your feet you’d hit the knees of your neighbor. All together the construction is not well done. I couldn’t experience that, since I didn’t have a neighbor. Also getting up from the seat is complicated, because there is not enough space between two seats that are folded out. In the middle row the gaps are broader. That makes it a little easier, because foot contact is reduced.
In the middle armrest you have space for headphones, remote for the inflight entertainment, foldout table and USB port – in the middle seats more than in outer row seats. The advantage of the table is its rotatability, so you can also get up when the table is covered. It really pays off, I think, because folding in the table and taking everything off can really get on ones nerves, plus you have no spacing to put it.
The seat can be controlled by a remote pad with little yellow glowing keys, which steer skewness of the rest and the foot area, as well as the standard adjustments for take off, landing and lounge. In terms of color I like the seat. The decent grey and brown tone are better than the blue of the former seating generation and colored pillows loosen the cabin a little. Blankets are not really thick, but sufficient for a relaxed sleep, as long as you don’t belong to people who feel cold very fast. If that’s the case you can get another blanket without a problem.
In the head region of the seat, which can be adjusted in height, you find a little reading light, because there is no lighting above the seat. Unfortunately you cannot dim the light, which disturbs me while working on my macbook. So I simply use the light of my neighbor. If you fold the seat out, you get to another problem: reading isn’t possible because the pillow lies on it. My neighbor’s seat isn’t actually empty: I put my Macbook, recharger, iPad and other stuff on it. When the machine is packed, space becomes tight and there is not much space left to put things. In this case I prefer the Club World seat at British Airways, where you can at least put your stuff. But there is one advantage: the pillow is big and cozy, just the right thing for a relaxing sleep.
Especially the window rows or the ones on the upper deck you don’t find too much privacy. There is no partition, so you’re quite close to your neighbor. Also, when you’re working on private documents on your notebook, you actually have to turn away so your neighbor cannot see what you’re doing. The V-shape isn’t really helpful here. The foldable armrest at the bed is positive, because it offers more space. Plus and minus of the seat in short:
+ Appealing colors
+ good upholstery
+ getting up the seat while table is folded out
+ good blanket and pillow
And now, what I didn’t like:
– The screen cannot be tipped, which makes watching TV while lying impossible
– While folded out, the table slips to your direction
– Reading light cannot be dimmed and is positioned adverse
– Shoulder region is too narrow, especially in the sleeping position
The Amenity Kit:
In this business class, Lufthansa provides the passengers a little brown bag as amenity kit. You find it in the seat shelf, which is not optimal after my mind. Many other airlines hand it out after the start with a smile. On the other hand you don’t have to equip every seat when the cabin is half empty. The amenity does, held in the seat’s colors, not contain a lot.
– Shell for headphones
– Blindfold, which is too small for my taste
– Tooth brush and paste
– A little tin with lip balm by Bogner
Other products, like crème, nail file or such were apparently left out in the last restructure, which happened partly the same way at other airlines.
After take off we got the first beverage service, which repeats for at least 3 times and is sufficient like that. Besides an express service, which gives time to work or relax, you get a multi course menu. Delicious starters begin with pickled salmon on potato-cucumber salad, tandoori chicken with couscous, and almond-paprika cream, mini yoghurt and herbal salt, as well as Raz el Hanout. The starters are served in an unusual small, but high-class box, which is divided into 6 fields. Luckily enough you get real cutlery, no plastic.
As main course I decide for fish, to be exact fried zander, hazelnut amaranth, carrots and Romanesco. Monthly changing, Lufthansa offers a different Classics dish. In July it was Hungarian beef goulash, in August Zurich meat stripes with Knöpfli. The presentation here is adequate. Served in a deep plate and presented on an under plate it looks delicious and also tastes like this. I experiences that at other airlines differently and am pleasantly surprised. But it already pointed that out in my article about the Lufthansa first class: “food is a strength of Lufthansa”.
For dessert I chose a selection of cheese with bread and fig mustard. Cheese is alright but nothing special. Additionally I take a fruit salad and deny Yoghurt Panna Cotta today.
If you like wine for the dish, you can choose between two white and red wines. A 2011 German Sauvignon Blanc and an Italian 2010 Pino Bianco. On the red side we find a 2008 Chateu La Raze Beauvallet from Frange and the 2009 Don Max Reserva Blend from Chile. The selection of beer is focused on Warsteiner, with or without alcohol.
Spirits are available too, in particular 8 different ones: Bombay Gin, Johnnie Walker Black up to Fernet Branca, Bailey and port wine.
In the filed of soft drinks we have Cola (Coke), Coke Light and Sprite, but also Tonic, Bitter Lemon and Ginger Ale or water and juice. A little more extensive could be the choice of tea, because there is only one kind.
From entering the cabin to leaving all employees were friendly, but there weren’t too many smiles. In fact the service was good and as expected, but without surprises. In first class of my last Lufthansa flight I felt more heart.
The new Lufthansa Business Class product is surely a necessary step away from the old seat, which was not at all up to date. I’m really excited how long it will take to modify the whole fleet and if it might be completed in 12 months.
Lufthansa reached the goal to find the connection to the market, but the seat at Virgin is still better. Unfortunate is that, other than in first class, they didn’t try to create a product that is better than the competition. But now you can travel with Lufthansa without knowing the “slide” isn’t good for traveling. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long until the whole fleet is equipped. Big disadvantages, which have been discussed in many occasions and are being recognized by Lufthansa Sale, cannot be denied. The seat is nothing for bigger people. Sleeping on your back doesn’t work, because the seat is too narrow, even when the armrest is folded out. Also lying on the side isn’t really possible, because then there is no space for the feet and you could kick a neighbor or the partition.
Here you can see the foot area in the middle seats (right) and opposite to that in the outer rows (left) in comparison. The difference in size is clear (to enlarge, click on the image).
In almost two weeks I will be on the way to NY in the actual Business First seat by United / Continental, as well as in the new long distance business product by Brussels Airline. Both are members in the Star Alliance. I am really excited, if the seat is better in the daughter company (while the Swiss already proofed that).