So this is my second review for the site and I finally get to take that Lufthansa flight that I missed out on my previous review due to my flight being cancelled.
For this flight, I’m on a journey that will take us 5700 miles westwards to Frankfurt International Airport. The trip is expected to take 12 hours and is set to be the reddest of red-eye flights I’ve ever taken.
LH 797 departing at 11:45pm with the flight taking us up into mainland China before banking right through Mongolia, into central Russia and passing through Belarus and Poland before entering Germany airspace and arriving at 5:45 in the morning at Frankfurt’s main airport
Today I start my trip in Hong Kong, one of the two special administrative region of china, which in last few years has been thrown into the spot light for all the wrong reasons. But for me, Hong Kong is a uniquely impressive city with the hustle and bustle making exceptionally vibrant, dynamic, and incredibly fast pace. At night, the orange streetlights light up the night sky – a sign that the city is always on the move.
Plane: Airbus A340-300
Route: LH797 | Hong Kong (HKG) > Frankfurt Am Main (FRA)
Configuration: 3 Class | Business, Prem. Econ, Econ | Config 1
Plane Reg: D-AIGZ
Age: 20 Year Old
N/A – EXPERIENCE SKEWED DUE TO COVID
Hong Kong International Airport is pretty well laid out, with the heart of the passenger terminal unsurprisingly called terminal one. Terminal two – which is just next door – doesn’t actually handle flights rather it handles check-ins and spits people out airside into Terminal 1. Additionally, for departures, there’s a northern satellite as well as a midfield concourse and to make people’s lives easier airport is connected by a mini transit system that runs the length of the terminal.
To that end, I am departing from what is a very empty airport, like you know it’s bad when the McDonalds has to close, however as an airline you can say everyone had a premium check-in experience. Going airside was pretty simple – I was the only one at security and clearing immigration was literally a 3-minute endeavor.
In hindsight, I don’t even know why I went through it so quickly! Landside was definitely an indicator of what the airside experience was going to be like but I thought capitalism would have prevailed and the Duty-Free would have been open. Well, I was wrong, so I did what any self-respecting travel YouTuber would have done and to find an open lounge to pass the time.
With all of star alliance lounges closed – In the end, I found 1 open lounge here (that wasn’t operated by Cathay) which was thankfully operated by the best independent lounge company in the world – in my opinion.
In fact, unless you are travelling in business all the time from an airline’s hub, very few lounges can surpass the quality of a plaza premium, you may actually have a better experience with an economy ticket and a priority pass to gain access – and emphasis on the priority pass – as Plaza Premium charge by the hour, and a two-hour stint can cost you an eye-watering $75USD. Here I thought hotel Wi-Fi charges were criminal.
So one visit less on my priority pass account, and at this point, I don’t know why I am still surprised no one was here. I guess you could say spoilt for choice on where to sit. When there though I stayed clear of the booze and had a quick bite or two but when flying long haul, the value of a lounge really isn’t in the food and drink, rather it’s the shower. The fact you can refresh yourself before a flight is quintessentially the best part of any lounge experience.
So out of 30 seats available in business there was a total of 5 people in this cabin and we all sat in the first two rows. Its like Covid didn’t exist!
Anyone who knows Lufthansa knows business class on their entire long fleet configured in a triple-2 configuration which as a solo traveller isn’t appealing at all but there is no way of avoiding it.
Now I thought that this was going to be a simple seat review – I mean I had done one already so how hard can the second one be. Well, While the seat itself on a fundamental level, the seat fabric, recline, screen panel are all the same the thing is, between the seats, there are micro differences like:
The window seat and aisle seat have slightly different seat layout with the screen and center console being the only things that are mirrored – take a look at the seat on the left which has a literature pocket while the one on the right does not – if you don’t mind not having a window view then the seat on the outside offers a little bit more storage which is lacking in these seats.
What mores, Due to the lack of a bassinet in the middle seats in the first row, the screen is in fact further from the passenger than any other seat in the cabin, the bassinet brings the screen forward a good 30 – 40 cm compared to the isle seats without it.
Then, there’s the center console which is different in size whether you are sat on the sides or in the middle which may impede your ability to get over your neighbor. Finally, Screens in the first row can rotate slightly while screens in rows 2 to 5 can only shift left or right.
When you look up close, these seats are dated, in fact, the IFE is so dated even Lufthansa won’t show it on their website – opting to use a picture of the premium economy IFE instead.
So going around the seat on the outside you have the headphones just under the center console. Towards the center you have the screen and footrest – note even though it is a bulkhead seat, you can keep stuff on the floor during take-off and landing. If you have one, The literature pocket is easily accessible, so you won’t lose anything in here and each seat has a small reading light.
Above you will find a coat hook as well as a glasses holder which you don’t really see – the only other airline I know who has it is Swiss. Looking up you have the dated light roundels.
On the seat, you have your bedding, which you will find on your seat when you board. Now, this isn’t on every long-haul flight – the bedding on the flight is what Lufthansa calls the Dream Collection, which comprises of a topper, the blanket, pillow, and sleeper top. It was part of a service upgrade launched in 2018 and can be typically found on routes lounger than 10 and a half hours.
Moving on, on the underside of the armrest – both seats have USB charging, but it is a bit hidden under the console – I nearly missed had it not been for my phone falling into this alcove.
In the center console, you have a tiny remote controller and a heavy tray table. By the floor, you will find 2 universal chargers. Getting this table out is relatively simple – it does say “push here “after all the difficulty is that it weighs a ton to get out. Although it is a very functional table – goes back and forward and rotates a full 90 degrees to let you out.
Furthermore, the arm rest is nothing special – if nothing else it is a bit stiff
Finally, on the window side, the empty void houses the location of the headphones but the headphone jack is frankly in a stupid location, the cable is locked in with screws and if you unplug the pin from the jack then it is a real mission to get it back in since you really can’t see what you’re doing.
The Lie Flat Experience
I will say that if you are of a larger build, you wont find this seat enjoyable to sleep in as you will find it tight to be in – for reference I would say the seats are slightly narrower than the Collins super diamond seat.
Back sleepers too will find it somewhat annoying – lying on your back, one arm is bent at the elbow as alcove (where the usb charger is) isn’t long enough, and on the other side, with nothing for your arm to press up against just naturally rolls off with your hand basically touching the floor
So side sleeping is probably the only way.
For the wines, Lufthansa offers a single champagne accompanied by three reds and three whites. I must admit I’m not a massive wine drinker – so I reviewed what other critics have said and aggregated their scores to get an overall sum of 88 out of 100 – which I hear is quite good. In terms of choice – Lufthansa up top, tied with British Airways – but note that they don’t offer a dessert wine.
Other drinks on offer are pretty standard – except I feel like they put a bit of advertising into the beers – like the “world’s most popular wheat beer”.
Now onto the food – for the first course you have a choice of 3 starters mains and desserts. It looks like Lufthansa leaned more towards Asian influences with a Chinese inspired starter and main. However, being a German carrier, I would liked to have seen some more overt German influences. Breakfast is pretty lacklustre with a pretty simple breakfast choice. In terms of the options, Lufthansa plays the main course pretty safe offering three choices in the three categories.
To start, a glass of champagne and Spezi its not really on the menu but its effectively a mix of coke and Fanta – if that triggers you, the drinks German and I’m on a German airline. The walnuts were the weakest part of the meal service, for me it lacked any flavour and texture and was by my seat up until the point of landing.
For starters I had the scallop – singular – everything was ok but what I didn’t get was that piece of bread was about, it just sat there and when compared to the German loaf next to it made it look like they ran out of bread.
For the mains it was the salmon, but again very forgettable. But what did stand out was the desert, I can still remember the taste of cherries when I look back at the photos.
Breakfast again nothing special – I think the main bulk of it is the same breakfast as in economy just presented better – the eggs were rubbery and potatoes really mushy.
The volume of food though, that’s a different story. Lufthansa gives you a lot of food. On this flight I had to tap out, the portion sizes were large for inflight meals and I only got through the fruit and the eggs before conceding defeat – still full from dinner.
What I did notice is that unlike many other carriers, Lufthansa will only give you the exact pieces of cutlery that you need in the napkin roll. So for dinner, I had 2 knives, 2 forks, and a spoon but for breakfast, I only had a knife and a fork.
The crew had personality, they smiled, they seemed interested and they have warmth to them.
They were exceptionally attentive going so far as asking if I was comfortable in my seat – which was a first.
And when my seat broke down at one point, they really tried getting working again because it was my seat, even though there were 25 other seats available they really made a conscious effort.
There is nothing they could have done to make my experience any better.
THE AMENITY KIT
- Has all the essentials
- Eye-mask is soft to the touch
The bag opens up with yet more branding to remind you that you are in business class.
The kit comes with 3 mini packets inside – a Ziplock for your toothbrush, this mini packet from L’Occitane, and this bunch of things which comes in a pretty bow
Going through them individually, starting with L’Occitane you get comfort cream and lip balm which is pretty standard.
In the toothbrush bag, unsurprisingly you get a toothbrush and toothpaste – there is also a small mint in the bag as well for that all-important freshness and a leaflet telling you why it’s important to have good dental care.
In the bow, you get earplugs, a mask a pair of socks, and those earpads things that go over the headphone. Now the eye masks are a bit of a let-down, they look and feel like the ones you get in the economy so nothing too special here.
The night shirt isn’t not the worst thing in the world – its 60% cotton – and while some people say that it makes you feel itchy at night – I found that everything I touched gave me a static shock. This is an upgrade from the original which was in fact made from 65% polyester
IN FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
I’m not a massive fan of the screen I must admit. In the front row at least, we know the chair is at an angle, but the screen is against the wall so you are never parallel to the screen always watching slightly off-center with your head slightly turned. But then instead of allowing you to shift the TV so it is Infront of you, they allow you to rotate the TV away from your field of view.
I’m guessing this is if you want to show your screen to your neighbour, because the viewing angles are absolute trash, I cant tell if this is a really old panel or anti-glare. But with that said the seats behind the first row don’t rotate, they just slide out which fixes the problem of the viewing angle – so why they made the first row I don’t know
Additionally – the remote was a miss for me like the nipple is a good idea on paper but never executed properly. What I mean by that is that you can only control the screen by the black square in the middle which moves a point on the screen – on paper good but in reality it’s not so user friendly. There are no arrow keys on the remote and the D-pad on the back doesn’t work either – so you’re left using this not so user-friendly input device.
Not to mention the fact it is super sensitive; the gentlest nudge will trigger the menu bar
Anyway, the menu page is split by entertainment type.
In movies there were some recent hits – notably Mulan and Joker being the most recent blockbusters. There are some good Hollywood choices which is nice to see.
Categories wise, the carrier splits them into the common groups like you would expect, action, thriller, comedies and artistic. What’s more, there is also a function to filter movies by spoken languages which is a nice touch.
TV shows have a broad range and there will be a sampling for everyone if you are into documentaries, crime or sitcoms. But the carrier falls into the trap of offering a few shows in the middle of seasons so if you want to sample a show – say the first episode to see if you like it – then unfortunately you won’t be in luck.
For the music, I didn’t know anyone but there was choice, just don’t expect to find, A list musicians but I suspect if you are into the indie scene then you may actually find it quite enjoyable.
Audio books aren’t well stocked but if you want something to read I would say have a look in Top Stories as you may find an article to read instead or head over to Lufthansa world as that holds the Inflight magazine.
The kids section is just the family sections of the TV, Movies and Music sections
Onboard wellbeing is available if you want to do a bit of stretching.
In terms of the other choices – the home button takes you to a somewhat redundant home page that advertises the Wi-Fi.
Other buttons include this personalized experience screen displaying a QR code however I couldn’t get it to work – It doesn’t tell you what app you need to make it work and I tried using the Lufthansa app which didn’t do anything. I Would be interested to know what it does so leave a comment below if you know.
Moving on, the world map counterintuitively doesn’t show you a route map instead its to change languages, the inflight map is actually accessible by clicking on the button showing you the remaining time on your flight – its quite inflexible so don’t expect too much from it.
- Bathroom is functional
- Not the biggest premium toilet
- very tired and could use a refresh
With the meal service out of the way, I went to explore the “reserved for business class” toilet. Was it special in anyway? Mmmhm no. It was standard – the only thing different from stock is the soap dispenser.
What’s Funny is that including the toilet paper you have your three choices of paper in this bathroom which is more choice than economy passengers have towards mains.
But other wise this was in pretty good condition for its age. The only thing I could find was this peel – so yeah, good job Lufthansa for keeping this 20 year old aircraft serviced well.
As to my experience on Lufthansa A340-300 in Business Class are that:
The seat isn’t the best in the world, they’re dated and in a triple two configuration which is less than desirable, the only redeeming features of the seat is the tray table which is functionally better than most other carriers and there’s a decent pair of headphones to accompany your IFE experience.
Surprisingly the food was the weakest part of the flight which is in contrast to Cathay where they excelled at it. The food wasn’t memorable and menu exciting, yeah lets call it exciting, like chicken with Chinese sauce and rice – great I can cook that at home.
The Amenity kit was good, save for the eye mask and the IFE system was broad ranging.
The bathroom was clean but tired – however for an aircraft is 20 years old, I mean it felt like it in there.
But the best – and only reason why I would consider flying Lufthansa again was because of the excellent service I had on baord. I didn’t talk about it very much – because I didn’t want to start filming cabin crew – but there is nothing they could have done better for me to have an enjoyable trip, I think on this flight they may have nudged out SQ as providing the best service ive ever had, if not they came very close.
Surprisingly for me they came out as strong as Cathay Pacific which surprised me but it was definitely the service that carried them through it. But After all of this, I would be interested in their new product, because with new seats, better food and that level of service, you have a very compelling product to be loyal to.