Review: Long-Haul Business Class with Lufthansa

Lufthansa Business Class Header Image

Expectations were set relatively high when flying Lufthansa as the only European airline with a 5-star Skytrax rating. Our editor Dennis Schรคfer took a flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg in Lufthansa’s business class. As he also flew from Frankfurt to Shanghai a week before in the same airplane (Boeing 747-8) and also in business class, parts of this review also refer to that flight. Did Lufthansa hold up to the expectations? Read on to find out.

Check-In

Check-in itself was pretty easy since I already checked in online. As this was not a direct flight from Frankfurt but a discounted fare that I booked earlier this year from Vienna via Frankfurt to Johannesburg, baggage drop had been done in Vienna. In Vienna I was a bit confused. I followed the board and the information shown but when I arrived at the check-in counters, I was told to check in my luggage myself by printing my own luggage tags and boarding passes. As it turned out a few minutes later, this was the procedure for economy class passengers. There were no signs at all for business class passengers although I followed all information that was shown on the boards.

After I found out, a lady at the check-in counter printed the boarding passes for me and made sure that my baggage had the additional priority tag which I requested.

The great part of this business class check-in area is that it directly leads to fast track security check. We were done with the security check 2 minutes after dropping our bags.

Info

Please note: Be aware of the fact that Lufthansa does not issue mobile boarding passes for flights from several international airports to Germany. The check in counter in Shanghai for example only opens 3 hours before the flight. Arriving early at the airport and passing some time in a lounge is therefore not possible.

Hand luggage rules for business class passengers are as usual: 2 items of hand luggage plus a personal item (or other items specified on Lufthansa’s website).

Checked baggage rules: You are allowed 2 items of baggage, each up to 32 kg with a maximum size of 158 cm (width X + height Y + depth Z) per item.

Lounge

Before I took my short-haul flight from Vienna to Frankfurt, I entered the Austrian Airlines business lounge. I found it pretty decent, however the only hot food option they offered were two different kind of soups, the rest were breads, buns, dips, cheese and the usual other airline lounge food options. I am sure this had to do with the fact that the lounge was connected to the A gates where mostly short-haul flights are operated.

The Lufthansa business lounge at the Z gates in Frankfurt had more food to offer and was much bigger.

The lounge felt spacious, there were lots of different seating options, whether you wanted to eat, to work, to relax or even smoke, there was an appropriate option for every scenario. There were even ‘phone talk’ rooms. I am not sure what the reason for them is but I assume they are there to limit the noise level during calls.

Boarding

While the seating area at the Z gates in Frankfurt airport felt very spacious for my premium economy flight to Shanghai, I didn’t feel the same way for my flight to Johannesburg although the layout was exactly the same. The flight was a lot fuller and that probably explains why the area felt way more busy and a bit chaotic as well.

At first families with small children were allowed to board, followed by business class passengers and status holders. After that all other passengers were allowed to board. The total time for boarding was about 25-30 minutes.

Departure after boarding was delayed by about 20-25 minutes because of traffic congestion.

One thing that I miss in Europe in general is boarding according to boarding groups. The US airlines do that much better in my humble opinion. It makes the boarding process more efficient and less exhausting for passengers. Needless to say that I missed this with Lufthansa’s boarding and wish they would implement something like this soon.

Because the route from Frankfort to Johannesburg is very busy, there were no upgrade offers available at the gate. Looking around, the business class felt like it was at 100% occupancy.

Cabin & Comfort

Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8 comes in a 2-2-2 seat configuration in the lower deck. The lower deck of the airplane holds of a total of 8 rows with 6 seats per row, so a total of 48 business class seats. There are only 2 toilets available for those seats. With almost 100% occupancy I had to wait for the lavatory to be available all three times I wanted to use it.

On the other hand the upper deck comes in a 2-2 single aisle seat configuration with 8 rows, so with a total of 32 business class seats. There are 3 toilets available on the upper deck, so basically the toilets upstairs should be way less busy, even at 100% seat occupancy.

The bathroom itself is very similar to the economy class toilet. The only difference I found were the additional amenities.

The lavatories were not very well maintained throughout the flight. There was constantly toilet paper on the floor. It felt like flight attendants did not clean the bathroom. In the morning all mouth wash and the refreshing towels were gone, the amenities had probably barely been refilled during the flight.

Lufthansa equips their business class exclusively with lie-flat seats. The seat itself is very comfortable in my opinion.
The seat has several configuration options, for example you can adjust the lumbar support. However on my flight to Johannesburg I was missing a setting to adjust the seat cushioning. On my flight from to Shanghai on the same airplane there was such a setting. These were probably different versions of the same seat. That’s a little bit inconsistent and also disappointing as I really liked this specific setting.

The tray table goes into the middle arm rest where you can also find your headphones and the remote to control the TV. The are a few compartments where you can store some items but generally speaking the storage space is pretty limited. The lower hatch is where you find an additional bottle and your amenity kit. It has to be closed during take-off and landing, therefore you can’t put too many items there. Next to the headrest you’ll also find a reading light that you can adjust.

The area where you can put your feet is a bit narrow but would still be ok if you wouldn’t have to use it to store your blanket, pillow and mattress-pad. That way it gets kind of messy and space gets more limited.

I really liked the blanket. It feels comfortable on the skin and has the right thickness and therefore is warm enough during the flight. The size is also great. I was able to cover my whole body and I am 1.90m tall. The pillow is very comfortable and fluffy. In my opinion the cushioning is a bit too much overall in combination with the seat. When the seat is in a lie-flat position, the head rest already provides some support for your neck and if you put this pillow on top of it, it’s just too much support and it feels uncomfortable for your neck. Therefore I asked for a pillow from economy class which worked way better for me.

Later on the flight attendants handed out sleep wear. Unfortunately these were only tops. The cut is a bit strange. I usually wear L but with the L/XL size the length of the sleeves was too short. Pants were not available also not if requested. I am not sure if this is how Lufthansa wants to differentiate business from first class but if that’s really the reason, I personally find that quite silly.

The amenity kit is pretty average and contains an eye mask, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, creme, headphone covers and ear plugs. There were no slippers provided on this flight, however on my flight to Shanghai we received slippers. The socks were the same as in some economy class flights and in Lufthansa premium economy class.

Food & Service

After boarding and before take-off I had the choice of an orange juice with crushed mint leafs, a sparkling wine or water. After about 40 minutes flight attendants handed out wet towels. I recently flew Singapore Airlines economy class from Manila to Singapore and I must say that the quality of the towels was better in Singapore Airlines’ economy class than in Lufthansa’s business class. Not that it makes a huge difference but it’s just something I noticed. After that an aperitif was served. I opted for champagne.

Lufthansa Business Class Aperitif

Lufthansa offers a good choice of food and beverages during their flights in business class. However I had a very similar choice of food on my Shanghai flight and I think one could get a bit tired of it if flying frequently in Lufthansa’s business class.

Food was served 65 minutes after take off. With our delay of 20 minutes, it felt a bit long to be honest. The overall food quality was great and I really enjoyed it. I chose prawns as a starter, salmon as a main and fruits as a dessert. The salmon was maybe a bit overcooked but I think it is pretty hard to cook salmon to the point as part of a in-flight menu.

In general the service was average. My flight attendant worked according to protocol but did not go out of her way to make me feel comfortable. But on my flight to Shanghai I had a different experience and I was really pleased with the service of the flight attendant. I suppose it really depends on which crew you are flying with and therefore it’s a bit of a gamble. I wish Lufthansa would be more consistent with their service quality and I definitely see this as a point where they can improve a lot.

Entertainment & WiFi

I used Lufthansa’s entertainment to watch a movie in English. I was also trying to get English sub-titles in case I couldn’t understand some parts but unfortunately the subtitles were not working.

The screen size was more than sufficient and I do not have any complaints here.

Lufthansa Business Class Screen

The selection of movies is ok but probably a bit too limited if you fly with Lufthansa frequently.

Lufthansa also offers WiFi during their flights via Flynet in collaboration with Telekom.

The options that were offered were very unattractive to me. Too expensive for what you get. I passed and just slept. However I have summarised the information for you:

โ‚ฌ7: Flynet Chat

  • Speed is limited to 64 kbps
  • The internet access is valid on this flight only

โ‚ฌ17: Flynet Mail and Surf

  • Speed is limited to 400 kbps
  • Up to 500 MB of data
  • The internet access is valid on this flight only
  • After having reached the data volume limit, speed is limited to 64 kbps

โ‚ฌ29: Flynet Mail and Surf Plus

  • No speed limit
  • Up to 1 GB of data
  • The internet access can be used for up to 24 hours on connecting long haul flights
  • After having reached the data volume limit, speed is limited to 64 kbps
Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 Business Class Review
  • Check-In & Boarding
  • Lounge
  • Cabin & Comfort
  • Food & Service
  • Entertainment & WiFi
  • Extras
3.67
Conclusion

Lufthansa’s business class is a good product overall. However over the years the competitors business classes have become better and better. Sooner or later this will force Lufthansa to improve their business class significantly in order to stay relevant.

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Comments (2)

  1. I was flying last week on lh business from Munich to Beijing on the A380. This was my first and last flight with lh until they change their seat.

    I was really disappointed by the seat.
    I have nearly every second week a long haul flight on business class.

    Therefore I tried many Airlines and Emirates and AF have the best seats, but even KLM, Korean Air, Delta or Aeromexico have a better seat.

    All other things regarding the flight, e g. lounge, boarding, service on board where good for a business class flight.

    Reply

    • Thanks for your input! Obviously opinions will differ on this but f.e. I liked the seat much more than Etihad’s reverse herringbone seat in their Boeing 787-9. It was much harder and way smaller and less comfortable to sleep on in my opinion.

      Reply

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