Recommended listening for this post: I’m Not Alright, by Shinedown (for everyone who tells me I’m nuts for taking weekend trips to Europe)
Lufthansa currently has quite a few variants of First Class seating, “hard product” is the term. Earlier this year I flew their oldest product (it closely resembles Rimowa luggage) on an A330. It was a perfectly good experience, but it didn’t really have that punch/pizzazz/whatever that makes for really good blog posts. I had to do better, I told myself.
Airline miles and hotel points are one of the most volatile currencies in the history of the world, well, maybe second place to Bitcoin I guess. Miles can be devalued with a stroke of the pen and a PR email. I’ve known this for a while, and have seen the various devaluations over the years. I really lucked out with this one, as I used 67,500 United miles (that I transferred over from Chase Ultimate Rewards instantaneously) to book the trip, and upon my return found out that starting next February, that booking will cost almost twice as much (Gary from View from the Wing has a great article explaining the United devaluation). So I lucked out booking the trip when I did.
My day started fairly early, as I got to DFW really early to experience the fantastic new American Express Centurion Lounge. I spent most of my time there and about 45 minutes before boarding I took DFW’s Skylink train to Terminal E to catch my flight. I was in First Class from DFW-ORD with United, then onward to Frankfurt from there. I had a fairly tight connection in Chicago, which doesn’t really lend itself to tight connections, so I was worried a bit, but really there wasn’t much I could do, so I tried as best I could to sit back and relax, wondering why United flies a regional jet from DFW-ORD when American flies 737s and MD80s.
[I was going to put a picture of the United regional jet here, but let’s be honest, that’s not what you came to see]
We landed at O’Hare on-time, and I made a hasty exit off the plane and scampered toward my connecting flight. I only had to walk over one terminal, and O’Hare is kind enough to provide a horrifyingly creepy tunnel to get you from one terminal to the next, I posted a video on my instagram account (follow me!): http://instagram.com/p/f0n9YzHO1r/
I made it to my gate with about five minutes to spare and caught a good shot of the Boeing 747-400 that would be taking me to Frankfurt.
I asked for a Lufthansa boarding pass (they’re a bit nicer than my paper United one) and the gate agents very Germanly (oh no here come zie German jokes) gave me a proper boarding pass and Lufthansa First Class sleeve. They then told me to wait in the “VIP section” so I could board first. I turned and looked at where the lady was pointing and it was the place that they were corralling all of the wheelchaired and elderly folks that needed to preboard. So I walked over there and immediately felt out of place, seeing as I’m able-bodied and under 70. Uncomfortable glances aside, we soon were permitted to board for an annoyingly short flight.
I was the first down the jetway (shoving everyone else aside, ok not really I just walked fast) and onboard our flight. At long last I was finally going to ride in the upper deck of a 747! The flight attendant asked for my boarding pass and then probably got upset as I accidentally completely ignored her in my exuberance to walk up the stairs to the upper deck. I walked up the stairs (they angle toward the back of the plane), turned around, and this awesome view greeted me:
Now, in my last post I told you the reasons I wanted to fly on this particular version of Lufthansa First Class: 1) I had never ridden in the upper deck of a 747, 2) Lufthansa’s 747-400 is the only remaining airplane to have First Class in the upper deck, and (this was the cliffhanger from the last post) 3) I would have my own personal bed on the plane!
You read that correctly. Lufthansa, on their 747-400, have 8 seats on the upper deck, and each “seat” includes a completely flat bed next to it (against the window). It was awesome, everything I had hoped for. I thought to myself, “How could this get any better?” Then I met the flight attendant. She saw the various cords for all my gadgets and joked, “You know, I think zie cords could start a revolution and take over zie world, zere are so many! Until zey do, can I get you some champagne to start?”
You guys. I had a German flight attendant that was funny and told jokes. I thought about getting of zie plane to buy a lottery ticket, with that kind of luck.
The seating area was very nice, and efficiently laid out, like you’d expect from a German airline.
As I sipped on my champagne, the flight attendant came by and handed me my jammies and a brown Rimowa amenity kit (which astute readers already noticed in the picture of the bed). The load in First was pretty light, only 4/8 seats were taken. I was the only one walking around with a stupid smile on my face taking pictures, so I guess the other ones were First Class veterans, or just didn’t have a lot of excitement in their lives (hopefully the former).
Before I knew it, boarding was complete (I knew this because someone said on the PA “boarding iz completenfusgarten”). The in-flight entertainment system was live on the ground, which is always nice, but I wasn’t incredibly impressed with the selection, it had about the most random assortment of movies I’d ever seen, so I just put on some music for a bit (they had a great music selection) as we took off after a very short taxi. During dinner I watched Iron Man 3, which was a pretty good movie, so long as you like snarky comments and gratuitous explosioning (I do.).
The flight attendant came by and refilled my champagne and presented me an amuse bouche, which I liked (they love putting cucumber on their amuse bouche). The attendant then came by with the appetizer cart and I made a few selections in addition to the caviar service.
For dinner I had the seared pork with ratatouille and potato fondant, which was freakin delicious.
After dinner I had a nice petit fours and some Baileys on the rocks (my girly drink of choice post-dinner).
It was at this point that I was kind of perplexed. It was about 5pm my time and it was time to go to bed. That’s the one thing that I didn’t like about this flight, it leaves at 3pm Central time and arrives in Frankfurt really early in the morning. It was scheduled for I believe 8 hours, but today our flight time was only just over 7 hours. So I didn’t exactly get a great amount of sleep, although I will say the bed was incredibly comfortable.
I did manage to doze off for about 2.5 hours and awoke to a very quiet cabin that smelled of the rolls that were being prepared in the galley.
Within an hour, breakfast was served and we started making preparations for landing.
It was a really quick flight, but I can’t compliment the hard product enough! It’s a shame that Lufthansa isn’t using this type of seating arrangement on their newer 747-8i’s and A380’s, the novelty of having your own bed wouldn’t wear off quickly! The flight attendants were great, professional like I expected and incredibly sarcastic, which was a nice surprise. We landed just before 6am at Frankfurt and I was literally the first person to enter Germany at Frankfurt airport that morning, according to the customs agents. So, I’m adding that to my wikipedia page.
It’s going to be a while before I fly Lufthansa First Class again, but I’m glad I got to sample their older product and their newer product in the same year. Hopefully everyone can get in a flight before United’s devaluation kicks in!
Up next, a brief stop at Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal, then on to Barcelona!