Lufthansa Business Class: Munich - New York - Munich

Airline: Lufthansa
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200 / A340-600
Class: Business
Route: Munich - New York JFK / New York EWR - Munich
Date: August 2010

Check-In in Munich was conducted smoothly at curbside check-in counters. We went to the Senator Lounge which was very full. The food offered was good and the staff at the welcome desk very helpful. As our seats had been changed despite confirmed reservation, the gentleman at the desk managed to get us back to our actual seats. So we could travel in the mini-cabin right behind First Class. 

There was a blanket and a pillow on every seat plus the amenity kit. This time it was the A380 metal box and contained ear plugs, socks, eyeshades, a lip-balm and body lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste. The seat itself is flat, but angled. It is very good for relaxing or watching a movie, however, during sleep you always slide down or your back hurts in some kind of awkward position. There is a shoe compartment as well, but it only works for normal shoes, sports shoes don't fit in unless you squeeze them over the limit. If you wish to use your laptop on board, no problem, there is a power outlet, but it only works with flat plugs. Space for storing things is quite limited. A book and glasses are no problem, but bigger items like your liquids bag are hard to squeeze in as there are so many magazines in the pocket in front of you.
Every seat is equipped with a personal monitor. There is a good selection of movies, documentaries, cartoons etc., but you can't shut off the monitor in between and continue watching a movie later, it will start again then. The picture quality is mediocre, sound quality is depending on the headset provided. Some have some strange noise that is a little bit bothering.
Aisle access might be quite a challenge if you are seated at the window and the person next to you is sleeping, because you need to climb over your neighbour's seat.

Lavatories are tiny, really tiny. Changing clothes is quite an effort if you don't want to bump against the wall every other second. However, the lavatories were very clean and well-maintained. Mouthwash, hand cream, razors etc. were provided.

The flight attendants were very friendly and helpful. However, as usual, meal service started right after take-off. The tables were unfolded, covered with white cloth, a drink and a small bag of nuts was offered. From then you were more or less trapped in your seat for the next hour before the actual meal service started (an express meal was not available).
During the inbound flight, a night flight, it again occurred that meal service took almost two hours so that it was hard to sleep due to the noises in the cabin. These circumstances led to the fact that there was only sleep for about 3 hours possible, definitely not enough for a 7-hour-flight!

Lunch & Dinner: We tried salad as starter, pasta and fish as main courses and some kind of cheese cake as dessert. The salad was good, the pasta somehow tasteless, the fish smelled fishy and the cake was good again. Salt, pepper and butter are offered in sachets or wrapped into foil. The cutlery looks like cutlery for small children, so no dining in style!

Breakfast: Sadly, Lufthansa doesn't offer cereals or cornflakes. There were two slices of pineapple, one slice of kiwi, one small piece of mango (each no bigger than an apple slice!). Additionally, two slices of ham. And marmelade in a small plastic container.

Luggage was handled quickly, nothing got lost, nothing got damaged.

Improvements are urgently needed. The seat is not state-of-the-art anymore (at least not for the regular prices Lufthansa charges for Business Class flights!), the presentation of food should be reconsidered (salt and pepper shouldn't be offered in sachets and it would also be nicer to serve nuts, butter and maremlade on small porcellain plates instead of plastic containers... and please, new cutlery!) and an express menu (a real one!) for night flights would be really highly appreciated!


US Airways First Class: Fort Lauderdale - Los Angeles

The mission: Go for bmi Gold!
Magnificent side-effect: Tour of several national parks in the American West (highly recommended!)

Airline: US Airways
Aircraft: Boeing 737, Airbus A320, Airbus A321
Class: First
Route: New York La Guardia - Washington Reagan - Fort Lauderdale - Philadelphia - Los Angeles / Los Angeles - Charlotte - Fort Lauderdale
Date: August 2010

We decided to take US Airways from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles in First Class (450 EUR + taxes). As we stayed in the countryside, we could add a mini-mileage run to Fort Lauderdale from New York. So we stayed at the Clarion La Guardia (bad decision! really bad!) for one night to be refreshed for next day's trip.
Early in the morning we took off to Washington Reagan. Although booked in cheapest Economy Class fare, we had already been upgraded to First Class (due to US Dividend Miles Chairman Preferred). From Reagan we flew south to Fort Lauderdale. The crew were very friendly, drinks and snacks could be already ordered before take-off and they were served immediately when in the air. The flight attendants also used our names when welcoming us (not only on this flight, but on all flights of the tour which offered First Class cabins).

Fort Lauderdale

In Fort Lauderdale we had some short stopover which was enough to have proper lunch, then the run for Gold started. First back north to Philadelphia (with beautiful views of the Bahamas, as the captain informed). On this way we were already provided with 1-l-bottles of water, pillows and blankets.

Flight Fort Lauderdale - Philadelphia

Flight Fort Lauderdale - Philadelphia

US Airways First Class: tight seat pitch

In Philadelphia we spent some time in the US Airways Club and then our transcontinental flight to Los Angeles started. The aircraft was a new A321 and equipped with inflight WiFi. A warm welcome, followed by drinks and snacks. For dinner we could choose between salad (unfortunately drowned in cheese again) or beef, so we went for the beef. There was nothing to complain about. Good, simple, but tasty American cooking. The crew didn't explicitly tell when it was possible to use WiFi, but in the middle of the flight I tried and it worked. It would have cost 18 USD, so it didn't pay off anymore for 2 hours flight, but surfing the US Airways website was free, so at least one could get a nice impression.

US Airways domestic First Class


Flight Philadelphia - Los Angeles

Some impressions about "First Class". The cabin was clean and well maintained. Same goes for the lavatories.
The seats in US Airways First Class are not real First Class, rather Premium Economy.They are really wide, thick and look like grandma's cosy chair by the fireplace, but the seat pitch is limited just like the recline of the seat. No doubt, it is definitely far more comfortable than Economy, but I wouldn't call it "First Class". Even if the passenger in front of you doesn't recline, it's hard to get out if you are seated at the window. If the seats are reclined it's impossible to access the aisle from your window seat. The upper part of the seat doesn't have any adjustable headrest, there are also no footrests. You can stretch out very well if you don't have any hand luggage under the seat in front of you, but your head always falls down as the leather is somehow slippery. So it's a good advice to bring your own inflatable pillow that can be worn around your neck.
This kind of First Class is ok for the price, but definitely not worth 1000s of dollars that are sometimes called for on some routes. The long flight time is also just on the edge for this kind of seat. It would be a good idea to replace those seats with the old Envoy recliner seats, at least on the transcontinental routes or flights to Alaska, Hawaii or the Caribbean (if no 767 or 757 is used anyway).
The food was surprisingly good, although some more variation in inflight snacks would be nice (it's always the same: nuts, chips, biscotti, cookie). What about offering an apple or a banana? Or fruit salad?
As I said, it is really acceptable (esp. for this price on this specific route) and great as you get lots of miles, but not more. The seats and snacks are great for short flights, but when it comes to flights of 5-6 hours, they are outdated, simply not state-of-the-art anymore.

We landed in Los Angeles in time. Unfortunately it took quite long until the luggage was delivered, about 40 mins before the belt started moving at all!
The following 10 days (unfortunately we didn't have more time) were full of nature. From Hertz we got a Nissan Altima Hybrid, and that car was really a positive surprise. Powerful and cheap as it needed so little fuel.
First we travelled to Yosemite National Park. From there to Mono Lake, through Death Valley and the deepest point of the US to Las Vegas, then going north to Utah where we visited Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park and Arches National Park. In Monument Valley we were trapped by a thunderstorm, so we could only do a drive-by as everything turned into mud and red torrents came down the hills. One highlight was Antelope Canyon, a hidden jewel in Page. Afterwards we paid a short visit to the Grand Canyon (North Rim) before we took two days for relaxation in Palm Springs. Then it was already time to fly back to the East Coast, unfortunately!

Yosemite NP

Mono Lake

Death Valley

Death Valley, Artist's Drive

Death Valley, Devil's Golf Course

Death Valley, Badwater Basin

Death Valley: air pressure experiment :-)

Las Vegas

Bryce Canyon NP

Bryce Canyon NP

Capitol Reef NP

Capitol Reef NP

Capitol Reef NP

Arches NP

Arches NP, Delicate Arch

Arches NP: Landscape Arch

Mexican Hat during thunderstorm

Thunderstorm in Monument Valley

Thunderstorm in Monument Valley

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

Navajo Bridge

Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon North Rim

Sunset in Arizona

The flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte was uneventful, but the view from the window spectacular. A nightflight took us from Charlotte to Fort Lauderdale. The moon was shining brightly and the sea was sparkling. In between silver clouds, so it looked like a Disney creation, but it wasn't. Unfortunately the photo camera couldn't catch that scenery.

US Airways First Class

Flight Los Angeles - Charlotte

US Airways Snack

Flight Los Angeles - Charlotte


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