Dienstag, 5. August 2014

Lufthansa New First Class 747-8 from Leipzig and Frankfurt to Mexico City

After the mediocre First Class Experience with SWISS from Bangkok, I now wanted to try Lufthansa´s First Class in the 747-8 from Frankfurt to Mexico City. Let´s see, if they can do it better than SWISS:

Senator Lounge Leipzig
The small airport in Leipzig has a combined Business and Senator Lounge. At the entrance the friendly Lounge Dragon gives admittance to the right (Business Lounge) or left (Senator Lounge). As a First Class passenger I was able to enter the Senator part. Though I would have been allowed here with my Star Allaniance Gold staus, also.
The Lounge is of small size and in the middle of the Terminal, so there is no natural light here. However, there are some comfortable seats, a bar and some snacks, so it´s definitely better than waiting in the public areas.

Rocky´s on the road again...

crowded Lounge due to many doctors coming form a workshop in Leipzig

Bar and Buffet

A 321
Seat 10 F (Business Class)

Because of so many passengers there was a change from the small Embrae to the bigger A321, so the boarding was from the gate this time. Very comfortable in Winter time...
The new Cabin of Lufthansa for European flights is in my opinion not much more comfortable than the old one. However, Business Class was so big this time, I had plenty of space.

Hopefully the 747 is more comfortable...

The breakfast served was very nice for such a short flight. We had cereals and some ham and cheese.

The flight to Frankfurt was only a short hop of 55min and then...

YES, no gate, but a remote stand...

So, why was I so happy not getting a gate and having to drive to the terminal? Here is the answer:

Lufthansa HONs and First Class Passagiereget their own private transfer to the Terminal. The driver got me directly to the internationsl Non-Schengen area and after a short Passport control I was on my way to the First Class Lounge. 

First Class Lounge
Frankfurt Terminal B

Other than the legendary First Class Terminal (which I will try on my way back) the Lounge in Terminal B does not have a private transfer to the plane, but therefore you have a view to the tarmac.

The Lounge is for such a big airport surprisingly small. But it never feels crowded, as it is one of three and admittance is for Miles&More HONs and First Class Passengers of Lufthansa and SWISS, only.

 TV Area

Beside the usual seats for relaxation and a business area there are also two day rooms, showers (with the famous Lufthansa rubber duckies) and a spa. The showers are much more elegant than the ones of British Airways in London Heathrow, but the spa treatments are not for free.

Besides a great and big buffet there also is the possibility to order from a small a-la-carte menu in the Restaurant.

The lounge offers a bar for the booze fans and also a big selection of Mineral waters from all over the world.


About one hour before Boarding I left the Lounge. Of course it was much too early to get to the gate, but I wanted to peek into the Business Lounge. Quite a disappointment. Have a look for yourself:

Therefore, I was very glad to be able to proceed to the gate soon. 

Hello Beauty...

In the gate area it was full and chaotic already. Not only the Economy Queue was quite long. There was a priority lane, but Lufthansa boards First and Business Class as well as *A Gold members together and this bird hosts 80 to 92 Business Class Passengers alone.

LH 498
Boeing 747-8I
Seat 1A (First Class)
Finally I got on board and took the left turn. Lufthansa now has a quite spacious and elegant design in their First Class. They have only 8 seats put into the nose of the bird, other than British Airways, who cramped 14 seats into this space. Lufthansa also decided against closed suites, which gives the cabin an ample and spacious feeling. However, you still can get privacy as every seat has its own screen to be raised, if necessary. On this flight 5 of 8 seats were occupied..

Seat 1A. Rocky likes it :-)

747-8 First Class cabin

Having stored my trolley into one of the lockers at the entrance of the cabin, I was ready to settle into my home for the next hours. Champagne and Rimowa amenity kit were offered and gladly accepted. How can refuse a Grand Siècle? Certainly not me.

I found the seat very comfortable for sitting as well as lying down. The padding allows relaxed travel also for longer trips.
A happy little camper...
Seat with privacy screen up

After take off the flight attendants sprung into action. First offer were an oshibori and more Champagne. The purser introduced herself to each passenger personally and gave a short review of todays menu. She also reminded us, that we could have of the menu whatever and whenever we want.

First Class Menu:
Caviar from Service Cart
Caviar with the traditional Garnishes

Choice of Appetizers
Focaccia with King Prawns, Scallops and raw marinated Fennel, smoked Mayonnaise and Saffron Lime Cream
Yogurt and Tandoori marinated Breast of Poulard with Avocado and Soy pickled Tomatoes
Coconut Mousse with Eggplant, green Curry, Bok Choy and Ginger

Leaf Salad with Cherry Tomato and Oyster Mushrooms accompanied by your Choice of Raspberry Walnut or Sweet Mustard Dressing

Creamy Chestnut Soup with glaced Apple and black Nuts

Choice of Main Courses
Flavored Saddle of Venison, Juniper Jus, Compote of Venison Shoulder, Celery and Brioche
Fried Sea Bass on Mediterranean Pearl Barley and Pulpo Stock with Aioli
Breast of Spring Chicken and Leg of Poulard braised in Madeira and Rosemary, Topinambour in Cream Sauce and Ricotta Herb Ravioli
Tomato Polenta Tart, Cremolata, grilled Vegetables and Pine Nuts, Basil Olive Oil Sauce and Artichoke Cream

Selection of Cheese and Dessert
St. Agur, L’Explorateur, Goat Cheese with Honey, Langres and Rock Salt Cheese with Apricot Mustard Chutney
Chocolate Crémeux with Creole Pineapple and Tahiti Vanilla Ice Cream
Mousse of Dulcey Chocolate with Fruit Jelly and Mango Coulis

Amuse Bouche

Trio of appetizers

Creamy chestnut soup

Breast of spring chicken

Chocolate cremeux

and finally, JW Blue Label

The wine selection you can find here: 

After lunch I had a little walk to Business Class. I can totally understand the critics, Lufthansa got for this "new" class. Trying to cramp 6 seats into the row and making them full flat resulted in quite tight seats. especially the feet area in the outer rows is extremely small. Even normal sized feet might get problems if you are lying sideways. So the only hope is to snatch one of the centre seats at check in. Especially at overnight flights I would always prefer a centre seat because of the space and direct aisle access.

Stairs to the Upper deck, now with a view...

new Business Class

Back "home" it was time for a couple of hours of relaxation and also a small nap. I am not the one to use the entertainment system during flights normally, except for the Flight map. But in my opinion the screen is not too small. It could be bigger, of course but it's totally acceptable.

Lufthansa does not offer any snackmenu during the flight, but this does not mean, you have to starve. Midflight there was a small snack from the trolley and about 2 hours before landing a small dinner was served.



Oktopus carpaccio mit marinated fennel, medium-rare saddle of veal with tuna sauce and filet of anchovy with pine nuts. And, of course, the famous German pretzel bread...

Filet of red mullet on saffron rice

Unfortunately, even in First Class, every flight has come to an end. 

I never took such a northern route to Mexico before...

But flying Lufthansa to Mexico City, this end is a little farer away than usual. As the 747-8 is too long for a direct approach to the terminal, you take a right turn and then access the terminal by crossing both runways.

At the exit a nice lady was waiting to guide First Class passengers (and HONs) through immigration. The bad thing flying to Mexico City from Europe normally is, that all European airlines arrive almost at the same time. As they all come with the bigger metal, there is quite a line at immigration (last time it took me almost two hours just to enter the country). But this time our guide brought us (after the usual looong way to the immigration hall, no gulf carts) to the crew and diplomats booths, which First Class passengers are allowed to use, too. A nice service from Lufthansa, which cuts the waiting time to 10 min. The luggage was already waiting, too and customs was a breeze thanks to the green "traffic light". And there I was again in my second home country. 

Donnerstag, 19. Dezember 2013

SWISS First Class from Bangkok to Zurich

Why Business Class might be the better choice...

LX 181 BKK - ZRH
Seat 2G (First Class)

As Bangkok Airport does not allow mobile boarding cards yet, I had to get one at the Check In counter. Four hours beforedeparture there was quite a small line at the Business Class counter and two people at the First Class/Star Gold counter.

Check In was a matter of minutes and a nice lady from Swiss excorted me to the security. Thanks to the Fast Lane voucher this was quite quickly done as was the Immigration part, though this time I had to take of my shoes. I got with theses shoues trough the security checks of various airports in the last years, however Bangkok wanted to scan them.

Behind the immigration the lady was already waiting again and escorted me to the Thai Royal First Lounge. There I was greeted by the nice Thai emplovees and my lady from Swiss told me, she would await me again here at the entrance about 30min before departure.

At 11.20 pm the same nice lady, which had accompanied me into me to the lounge, waited again at the entrance and brought me the short way to gate D2, where my bird already waited . Boarding had already started for First and Business Class. A man who turned out to be my seat neighbor on 2 K in had followed us from the lounge.

After the lady had said goodbye at the finger, where the lucky passengers of First Class turn left J , we entered the machine by the front door 1L and went to our seats. The Amenity Kit already waited there.  After I had stored my little backpack, I set myself up in the seat. We proved fast that it would today be full load for First Class, which in this respect was interesting when in the afternoon three places still had been free. The seat is the old Swiss seat and it is starting to show its age. I think the only advantage to Business Class is its width. You have more than enough space in Business Class, too and maybe even more privacy than in these First class Seats. The IFE if no advantage either, it's also very small and outdated. So the only real advantage of a ticket in the front of the plane should be the service. While Business is all about the seat. it's the service in First. Or should be ? Read on...
First Class Seat. Privacy?

The female Maître de Cabin introduced herself to all passengers and then went behind into the business class. I must say, she unfortunately wasn't serving First Class. She was phenomenal, but unfortunately the only one.

For First Class a female and a male flight attendant were responsible. While the lady was caring about the "kitchen part", the male one served the Cabin.  a glass of champagne for the welcoming was offered and accepted. This then came promptly with an Amuse Gueule, the menu card and a hot towel. I was lucky that he started with the distribution of the pajamas at me and I so still got one in L. The last passenger then had to settle for M or XL. Unfortunately, First Class impression also ended with the champagne for this flight and changed into a feeling of a rather mediocre business class.
Amenity Kit

Our Captain came on the PA briefly and announced a delayed start of approx. 20 min since otherwise we would arrive in Zurich before the end of the ban on night flights at 6.00 am. The flight attendant used the time to ask for the entrée choice. I decided in favor of the meat, the sir in 2 K for the fish. About details on the starter he responded, he would come with the Trolley and one can there choose, answered. He still asked for soup or salad which I was pleased to decline in view of the advanced time, though.

The champagne glass was cleared away shortly before the start while the towel remained and ran funnily back and fore during take off. I then have put it on the ottoman where it stayed until my bed was made.
Amuse Gueule
 At 00.10 am the "hairdryers" then sprang to life. The A340 had the usual long into the air over Bangkok. I still looked forward to a beautiful flight in First Class at this time.
Our flight attendant then came back again as soon as the Fasten Seatbelts sign were switched off. He wanted to check the menu order once again. Unfortunately, it turned out that he had taken the main course wrongly not only with me. This time he wanted to know also the starter choice but more than the statement, I would like to have the salmon, liked to be not possible since he had already turned around to disappear during the first part of the sentence. So unfortunately, I cannot show you the prawns which I also would have liked actually.

The service quality then continued just the same to my regret, too. The flight attendant came shortly later, set the table and asked for the drink wishes. When I ordered only water (I haven't found a wine on any flight I like), I was done for him apparently. My glass was refilled once again and that was it. I cannot say that he was not seen in the cabin. He associated very intensively with the passengers who had ordered wine and played the sommelier there, though. Not that somebody misunderstands me here, I do in no way want to criticize that he dealt with the passengers intensively and gave wine tips. He had the time to it namely, as I should see. However after he had set my table, I didn't see him for approx. ¾ hours so to speak again.

The passenger in 2A had ordered just the entrée, which he was served quickly. The other passengers were served, their first courses, soup and salat, too. Only the table in front of the Passenger in 2K and mine remained empty.
empty table for a looong time...

After a long while we at least got a bread basket, so we didn't have to starve. Together with the bread my neighbor was asked, whether I would like butter or olive oil. He chose the oil, so I got 

…exactly, the butter without any comment.  About ½ hour later I just wanted to call the FA and cancel the whole dinner, when my neighbor got the fish he ordered for main course and at which he looked quite surprised. Quickly after, I was served my salmon entrée, too. I still don't know, why the preparation of the cold entrée took so long, even with the FA in the galley preparing hot courses at this time, too. The salmon was ok, but nothing special. The blinis with sour cream, which I had received without being asked, were very good though I would have preferred them warmer.
Balik salmon
 During the meal the MdC came back to First Class and know I got to know, why my neighbor had been so surprised by his fish. He had ordered the salmon as a starter, too and this had been forgotten totally.
Steak, quite nice

I had the steak as main course which really came quickly after the starter and was exactly how I like it. However, I was extremely tiered at this time, so I skipped dessert and just asked for my bed, which was prepared quickly by a FA from Business Class (she also took the towel away, remember?). Water was not offered nor served during the night without request (other than in Business during my flight to Bangkok).
SWISS bed, quite comfortable

So I slept for about seven hours. The seat of course is wide and long, but I have to say, that I did not sleep better than in the new Business Class a week before.

It was about 3.00am German time when I woke up again, three more hours to go. In the galley one could hear the preparations for breakfast…

First of all I got out of my pyjamas and into the day clothes again. My bedding I had put onto the ottoman where it then was cleared away. On demand with the female FA in the Galley I got a pre-breakfast drink in form of a water-bottle.

The breakfast service started with blankets on the table shortly after getting up. I must say this thing is really gigantic. A meal of two travelers together would be without problems. Unfortunately, I had to state that my seat had followed the service quality during the night and passed away. The ottoman didn't move of the place anymore and the seat still could be taken to take off or lounge position but he otherwise also was on strike. Unfortunately, I also couldn't test the IFE since it didn't want to have itself delivered out of its holding place. However, what I could see of the neighbors, the screen is very small and outdated for First Class (I would say my tablet has a bigger one). About the quality I can't say anything.

The details about breakfast on the menu of Swiss are more than lean so that one depends on the information from the flight attendants. There was juice or Smoothie, then yoghurt with muesli or fruit salad, croissants, bread and one omelet with trimmings, today and of course coffee or tea. My seat neighbor on 2 K asked for the omelet, but without supplements. I asked for the same, but with ham/bacon and to this I also requested a cappuccino. 

When the roll basket was handed (the bread came from Switzerland, to what the flight attendant obviously proudly pointed), I snatched unasked a glass of the jam which also was in the basket. The flight attendant turned back to my neighbor, because he had forgotten to offer him jam or honey, too.
Fruit, bread and jam

When my neighbor got his omelet together with the (forgotten) salmon from dinner, the FA  asked me, if I would also like sausage with the omelet, which was gladly accepted. My Omelet then came along promptly not only with ham and sausage, but also mushrooms and spinach, i.e. with a "full program". The whole then proved to be very low-salt to express it carefully.  Salt and pepper unfortunately was not found on the table. Due to the salty the ham the whole was to some extent then delicious, however. By the way, ham and cheese, which I had seen in the galley, were never offered...
Omelet with side orders

If, till now, I haven't spoken about the cappucino, that's because I had no-one yet. The coffee arrived when the meal was already completed and the table cleared. Therefore there was obviously no more time then from the view of the flight attendants for a second one before the landing either.
lonely cappucino
We had a gently touchdown at 6.04am in Zurich. I left the plane quickly through door 1L into the terminal. I wanted at least see the Swiss First Class Lounge and boarding for the Barcelona flight was already in 40min.

Altogether, the flight was a total disappointment for intercontinental First Class. Primarily if one considers that Swiss claims to be a leading European Airline. The seat is comfortable, however, it gets old and outdated and it shows. In my opinion the new Business Class seat if, except for the width, be better choice. The meal was ok but this it is also in the business class. Concerning the service, this was neither First Class nor good Business Class.
I hope, I just got a bad crew, but compared to my experience on the flight to Bangkok, I would not spend the miles for an upgrade again, but for a second flight in Business Class.

There was, however someone outstanding on this flight: the Maitre de Cabine. On the flights to Switzerland the Business Class amenity kits are metal boxes with different Swiss airliners. I had asked the MdC during the flight, if I could snatch one for my nephew. Not anyone, but the box with the Avro "Jumbolino". She promised me to check, if there was one available. After I woke but she apologized, there had not been a single one on-board. However, as she told me, she had contacted the ground services in Zurich and there should be one waiting for me. And really, when leaving the plane, she brought me to a young man next to the exit, who gave me not just one, but two of the boxes as a gift from Swiss. So this gives a big "thumbs up" and special thanks to this lady.
gifted kits. Thank you SWISS