Lufthansa First Class: Frankfurt - Washington D.C.

Airline: Lufthansa
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Class: First (upper deck)
Route: Frankfurt - Washington D.C.
Date: May 2011

I had to go to Washington once more and this time I really looked for tickets too late. If you search within less than 7 days before departure, prices skyrocket in Business Class. Time to burn some miles again. This time I took them from my BMI account. I had a look into KVS and - as usual - it would have been hard to find some available space in Business Class, First Class, however, was available for the dates I requested. I called BMI and within minutes I had a reservation on a flight from Frankfurt to Washington on Lufthansa First and for the return flight on United. The ticket was supposed be paid by a mix of cash and miles, which should have actually cost me 66,250 miles and about USD 1,000 for the cash portion and all the taxes and fees. Perfect!

The following day I received a phone call from BMI. "Dear Mr. Mennix, we are so sorry, but if there is a Lufthansa flight involved, we cannot book you on cash and miles. There is only a full mileage booking available." Argh. But I wanted to have another look into the First Class Terminal at Frankfurt airport and also I was also curious to see how the Lufthansa First Service is doing, so I decided not to switch to United but keep the booking as originally made. Mileage went up to 125,000, but the cash portion (taxes and fuel only) was reduced to 421 USD. I think I should use the remaining dollars to invest in some more miles.

On the day of departure I had a rental car, directly into Frankfurt airport. After a good night sleep I got up, drove those 140 miles and arrived at the Lufthansa First Class terminal at about 11:15, 2 hrs prior to departure. This gave me enough time to explore the FCT, however, my schedule was too tight to take a bath and collect one of those famous yellow rubber ducks. Next time I have to get up a bit earlier to catch one of those infamous "animals".

If you have never been at the FCT, you cannot imagine the highly personal and professional service. In the moment you enter the Terminal you are greeted and "caught" by your personal assistant. She checks you in, takes care of your luggage, takes your passport to prepare border control and picks you up when it is time to leave. This is a classic VIP treatment. I went to the Cigar Lounge, had some softdrinks, but did not visit the excellent restaurant in the lounge. It was a day flight and so I wanted to enjoy service and food onboard.

25 mins prior to departure my assistant picked me up and guided me to the car station. Together with one other passenger I was handed over to our driver who placed us in the back of a Porsche Cayenne. Nice car. He drove us to gate A 55, we took the elevator directly to the finger and entered the plane through the front door. It is silly. First Class is located on the upper deck and the Economy finger leads you directly to the staircase, but no! As a First class passenger you have to take the first finger and walk with your hand luggage through Business Class. The Business cabin was about 80 % full.

When I arrived upstairs I immediately saw the old seats (still!) but only 5 passengers (incl. myself) on board. Although there are 16 seats available, Lufthansa sells only 8 seats, so every passenger has his privacy. I was seated - as always (if possible) - on 83 C. During taxi and take off I talked to a flight attendant and it was clear that they all really look forward to the renewed First Class.

One of the things I did not like was the simple fact, that they gave out only a sweater, but not a full pyjama. But I had known this already before, so I brought my own jogging pants with me for a way more comfortable flight.
After departure the usual next round of drinks came, however, as always on board of a plane, I did not drink any alcohol, but stayed with apple juice and water.

30 mins after departure meal service started. And of course - Lufthansa would be another airline without - caviar as a starter. Usually I'm no friend of all that kind of fancy food (e.g. I hate oysters), but caviar is an absolute favourite of mine (it's a nice extra, but doesn't really influence my decision about which flight to book). The FA offered me a second round and I really enjoyed. After the starter you had the choice between soup and salad. Why the choice? Most other airlines serve both, salad and soup, automatically. But when flying Lufthansa, you have to ask for both options if you want them both (which feels a bit strange). Anyway, as main course I chose aspargus with potatoes and ham. Whow! This was one of the best I've ever had. The portion didn't look that big, but I was full after I finished it. So I decided to take only a very light coffee cream with fruit as dessert.

Time to catch some sleep to ease the time difference between Germany and the USA. When I started to bring my second seat down to flat, a FA came and put a mattress onto my seat. Whow! This was really new. I like the old LH seat for seating, but as a side sleeper I've always had a problem with the surface of the seat. The mattress fully evened this out, so this was my very first Lufthansa First Class flight during which I slept really well.

I woke up after 4 hrs of a really good sleep when they started to prepare the second service. It was a kind of a salad with a lot of additions like marinated mushrooms, dried tomatoes, but also some warm swordfish. It wasn't really a lunch or a dinner, but rather something like an Italian anitpasti plate. However, it was excellent.

 We arrived in Washington in time and I must clearly say that this was one of the best Lufthansa flights I've ever had. But to be honest, I wouldn't book this flight in the future anymore. Why? Right now the problems started. This flight arrives within a very short time frame together with a lot of other flights. SAS, Austrian, Qatar, United from Mexico, ANA ... they all arrived at about the same time, which resulted in very very long queues in front of the immigration desks. We were at the gate at 3:20 p.m. and I left through the door 4:50 p.m. When I picked up my rental it was just after 5 p.m. and then I tried to head south to I 66. 2 hours earlier this would have been a 10 mins ride, but in the middle of the rush hour it took me another hour only down to I 66. You must know that I normally have another 3 1/2 hr drive to my final destination if I fly to IAD. If I take the early morning or the early evening flight with AF or BA, I usually am through the door within 30 mins. Traffic is also not too bad. But I suggest to everybody flying to IAD to avoid the arrival time frame between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m. if any possible.

Nevertheless: It was a great flight and I am really looking forward to the new LH First cabin. Together with the new spirit of the cabin crew it could become a really First class experience in the future (in contrast to the ones in the past).


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