I was excited to fly an aircraft I’ve not flown before in Lufthansa business class but found it falling apart at the seams.
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My family changed a last-minute booking, eschewing a Brussels-New York flight for a Munich-Miami instead. Rather than flying a Brussels Airlines A330-300, we would take a Lufthansa A340-600. This is an older aircraft type, but it would be my first ever A340, and of the variants this is the one I most wanted to try. It was a happenstance occurrence, we chose the route based on what was best for our trip, not the equipment, but it was a nice bonus.
This would also be just my second Lufthansa itinerary and my wife and daughter’s first. I wasn’t terribly impressed with Lufty’s A350-900 a few months ago, solely based on the 2-2-2 layout for a brand-new plane, but expected it on this aircraft. That said, the strengths of this aircraft are in the original design, not the current state.
A Tired Product
What started with enthusiasm turned to disappointment, not just for me, but for other passengers on the flight. Within just a few closely related seats, there were a variety of problems that show this product is tired and falling apart.
At 11A, the seat backing is coming away from the shell. This was happening in each of the middle seats in row 12 too (12D, 12G.)
At my seat, 12D, the remote control seemed normal at first, but then functionality began to deteriorate before it became completely unusable and split into two pieces. This is a particularly large problem because the IFE has to be at least started with the remote and cannot be adjusted solely by touching the screen. Without a functional remote, the IFE is unusable and I had to move seats.
Across the aisle, 12C had a screen issue in which the monitor was badly damaged and that passenger had to be reseated as well. Streaks of color and blurred lines across the screen rendered it useless for the passenger. I also found it a little odd (and restrictive) that the headphones are essentially hooked (attached) to the inside of an extremely limited stowage area that’s near impossible to plug in from behind the passenger.
It seems unlikely to me that my disintegrating remote, the streaky screen, and the seat panels all coming off were attributed to the immediately prior flight and somehow overlooked by maintenance. Rather, it seems like these problems were pretty frequent based on the lack of surprise by the flight crew. In just six seats immediately near me and my family, there were so many adjustments to make. Had the cabin been sold out completely, I would have flown the 10+ hour flight with no IFE as would the passenger across from me. In total, five passengers changed seats to be made whole or as close to whole as possible.
Improve, Don’t Discard
There are some really great design features of this aircraft and I loved flying on it. I will cover some of those features in another post, but in the interim, I’ll just say that I would love to see the aircraft remain in the fleet but with appropriate updates. It’s no secret that four-engine aircraft, and particularly the A340, are inefficient and there’s a temptation to drop them from the fleet rather than update it.
I suspect that the reason these aircraft are falling apart is because Lufthansa does not want to invest a type that it may not continue to fly for much longer.
Lufthansa’s A340-600 is not the newest in the fleet, and with age comes some wear and tear. But the airline is known for excellent operations, service and attention to detail. This aircraft in its current state doesn’t reflect the best that the carrier has to offer and that may seem obvious for those flying the route. Passengers, like my family, who booked the flight don’t care whether the plane is old or new, the product should be consistent and not falling apart or requiring passengers to switch seats just to have a competent experience. Update the aircraft, don’t retire it, but do it now because this is not representative of what Lufthansa has to offer.
What do you think? Have you noticed a deteriorating business class product on Lufthansa? How would you react after flying this equipment?
Anyone who travels with LH with any frequency knows that its products are outdated and that the service usually is underwhelming (and let’s not even mention Miles & Less). Sadly they’re the only game in town for intra-Europe travel – BA/IB are even worse, and KLAF have far fewer flights, hubs etc, and they also tend to charge higher prices (the amounts in business class are plainly ridiculous, often more than double what LH charge). I’d rather take a bit of a risk and choose minor players such as TP, AM, KQ for my long haul flights than support LH with my miles and/or money.
It doesn’t surprise me that they are happy to fly with broken interiors etc, it’s all part of a culture in which passengers tend to basically be considered an inconvenience to the running of their operations.
I totally agree with what you wrote. It is very unfortunate that many companies genuinely don’t care about their customers. The leadership have very short term perspectives of their company and really only care about getting their upcoming annual bonus. If they cared at all about the customers, then situations like what so many people complain about would be the exception, not the norm.
Who is this “Travel writer”? What a provocative title: “Lufthansa Business Class is Falling Apart”. Based on what? According to this article based on ONE Flight that was maybe not up to snuff for this traveler? This is a completely unfair and incredibly broad statement and this article certainly does not deserve this aggressive and demeaning title.
Sure, these things can happen. Please give me the name of an airline that is all around and always just perfect. I have flown between the USA and Europe numerous times over the last 20+ years and I have tried virtually all the different airlines that are available for a trip across the Atlantic. And I have settled on Lufthansa as by far the most reliable and the most consistent airline out there regarding punctuality, generally good service, cleanliness and professionalism. Of course they are not always perfect. Who is??
Please do not be so flippant and unkind in your assessments and so incredibly broad. I still cannot believe this ridiculous sensationalist title.
I think Kyle observes what many of us have observed: that Lufthansa has not maintained its already uncompetitive business class product, which is quite sad.
This isn’t only Kyle’s observation. I’m flying frequently LH business on A350. These are new planes but they are the same state. As a premium class passenger I don’t want to see INOP stickers anywhere (definitely not around my seat)
…and I have just jinxed myself as Aeroméxico decided to cancel a few flights on my February transatlantic trip with them and are trying to impose random rules to get me rebooked (e.g. ‘you have to stick to the original routing, you can’t fly BCN-CDG-MEX instead of BCN-AMS-MEX’, so they want me to do a 6 hour connection and rebook my previous flight to BCN even though they have their code on the Paris flight as well). Looking forward to hours of fun arguing with them!
What rationale may be used for the purser of the arriving crew not to communicate in writing with the gate supervisor listing the limited working seats? Being proactive in disclosing issues before take off would allow the opportunity to offer customer recovery measures.
It’s like their planes are like their cars after the factory warranty expires, it starts to literally break down everywhere.
A fun thing about the LH A340-600 for economy passengers is the lavatories in the lower deck. Business Class passengers are cheated of this thrill.
I’m sad to say that I’ve never been aboard an A340-200. I have been aboard flights of the A340-300 and A340-500. The -500 flight was a Singapore Airlines non-stop flight from the US to Singapore around 2006.
Just flew Lufthansa and Swiss Air Business Class R/T Buenos Aires to Frankfurt. It is a long journey but frankly I was pleasantly surprised especially since the return leg was booked on Swiss Air with extra layovers in Zurich and São Paulo. I paid the extra fee for a Swiss Air solo seat between Frankfurt and BA and it was like a mini First Class on other airlines. Well worth the money. Slept like a baby. However the leg between Frankfurt and Zurich felt more like RyanAir. Bottom line – I would do it again. BTW the entertainment system in Swiss Air for the entire aircraft did not function either!! Definitely a problem there.
The product in its first incarnation on the brand new 346 was nothing to write Ma home about! It was outdated angled lie flat), the service was kooky, the menus eccentric (and not in a good way) and God help you if you wanted some water to drink in flight.
Under their current CEO who has all the product design skills you would expect from an Engineer it is truly an awful experience and if I never have to fly them again it would be too soon. Also will not be using Aeroplan rewards involving LH flights.
Would it kill you to read a book lol?
I don’t understand (a common occurrence) your comment “only my 2nd itinerary on Lufty?”
I thought you flew many times on Lufty in first class to pick up rubber duckies in Germany?
This is Kyle. You’re thinking Matt. Matt is the owner and work-week contributor. Kyle does the weekend entries. Matt has flown Lufthansa very regularly and has a hard time finding fault as he’s usually in F as his travel schedule can accommodate last-minute award bookings – so take Matt’s reviews with a hefty dose of skepticism.
This was Kyle’s second flight with LH and is probably a much better account of what to expect. I know it coincides with my experiences in J on LH. Though Kyle didn’t mention the cabin crew attitude which is to treat passengers as self-loading baggage. Admittedly I don’t speak German but I very much make an attempt. I’d never thought I’d say the French were more tolerant of my language skills – but here we are. I’ll stick to the other Romance languages I know, instead and avoid German. I essentially refuse to fly LH unless it’s a short intra-Europe hop where I don’t have to interact with the crew much and IFE is already dependent on me.
Oh sorry Kyle, K mixed you up with the other “middle class guy.” Apologies!
DELTAS 767 AND 757 old and outdated!
I prefer American’s new modern fleet.
When travelling to Europe from the US I now avoid Lufthansa and opt for United, TAP, or Swiss. Lufthansa business is a joke. The 747 experiences I had were also in tired cabins with poor service.
Shame there is no Singapore Airlines equivalent in this part of the world.
One of the main reasons is like you said a) the A340-600 won’t continue to be part of the fleet for much longer and b) they recently announced a new Business (Lufthansa Allegris) and First Class product which most likely will also play a role in them not upgrading the current business class product. But honestly it’s a disgrace for an airline to send a plane flying like that. I would expect this from an airline somewhere in a less developed country, but Lufthansa should definetly hold themselves to a higher standard.
I flew MUC – BOS on Lufthansa A340 business class and the seat controls stopped operating an hour in the flight.
The staff was kind however there was no other seat open and I had to sit in same position for over remaining 6 hours of the flight. Not something I would expect from any airline.
Also, the configuration of 2-2-2 is just so far behind all other airlines.
Exactly. I usually fly United Polaris SFO to Naples, Italy. The 2 2 2 configuration seemed odd from the staggered window seats with much more privacy. Polaris is far superior to Lufthansa basic biz class. In addition, Lufthansa has stranded about 30,00 pieces of luggage in Munich. I departed SFO Dec. 15th and still don’t have my luggage. Also had to get a hotel + 2 taxis into Munich because of the canceled flight. Munich Airport turned into a refugee camp. Lufthansa should be grounded until they can hire enough staff to handle baggage. A nightmare and no communication. No staff at airport. I find these issues for worse than the dated Business Class seats but I agree with the observations. Sorry to drone on… Merry Christmas.
Exactly similar things happened to me, perhaps even worse in Premium Economy. The table itself was missing. And it didn’t just happen to me, there was one more seat where there was not table. Naturally, after paying so much money, you expect some basic service. The flight crew couldn’t do anything and kept saying sorry and they were not supposed to sell these seats but they somehow did.
I have only flown with Lufthanda once, but based on that will avoid them when possible.
Flew NYC to Frankfurt to India. My seat from NYC to Frankfurt was broken with the recline. It was either fully upright or fell all the way backwards. And then it was difficult to get it back to an upright position because the mechanism would not reliably engage the seat. Also the plane was very dirty, with crumbs of food all over the floor and napkins and wrappers around. Staff said sorry but didn’t to anything more than that.
In Frankfurt I had a several hour layouver from around 9 AM- 2 PM local time. There was no Lufthansa staff to be found. There were two custimer service stations and there was no kne there for the 3-4 hours I tried to find someone. This was on the gate side beyond security/customs. There was only security and airport workers. I did see one Lunfthansa staff member and when I asked them for assistance they said they weren’t working customer support, couldn’t help, and quickly departed through an employee door. I gave up, and I could see other passengers also having the same problem.
Was a disappointment after hearing good things about Lufthansa. I would not fly them again unless I had to due to the route. May have just been I had bad luck, but have seen similar posts like these that make me think that was not the case.
Not only LH. I flew recently with British Airways from Miami to London on B777. Same problem. Nothing works on business class and the food is terrible. The service was like they are doing it ou a favor.
Traveled Lufthansa business class in September. Getting ready for landing my seat wouldn’t go back to the upright position despite attempts by the flight attendants on hands and knees to fix it. I had to go to another seat in economy class for landing. That said, the food and service were excellent. Also disappointed in having to walk up steps with carryons from the tarmac in two airports.
We’re flying ORD to FRA to Prague in May, booked on the LH 747, biz class upstairs. I kind of dread the FRA connection. Sounds like an ordeal. Also, the negative LH 747 reviews and comments here spook me a little. Should we try to switch to Austrian through Vienna, then to Prague? Or LH on different equipment through Munich?
I recommend switching if you can. The 747 business class experience from Lufthansa is an embarrassment. I experienced terrible service and a seat that’s falling apart. Reading the comments here, it seems to be a common thing.
Haven’t flown long haul on Austrian, but I can’t imagine they’d be worse than LH metal.