121pilot, a commercial airline pilot in the United States who has offered his insights and analysis on a number of topics on Live and Let’s Fly recently traveled with his brother and father on a very special trip to Scotland. He asked me if I would be interested in a trip report and I quickly said yes. Over the next week, you’ll read about his trip planning, flights, and time on the ground in Scotland. Today, he focuses on his visit to the United Polaris Lounge at LAX and his flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class aboard the 747-8.
> Read More:
Part I: A Special Trip To Scotland In Lufthansa First Class
Part II: A Pilot’s Review Of Lufthansa First Class
Part III: First Time In First Class Terminal + Lufthansa A321 Business Class To Scotland
Do I need to elaborate on the thrill of walking down the First Class check in lane?
As you might expect, check in was smooth and easy. We were offered an escort to the Star Alliance Lounge, but when we told them we wanted to go to the Polaris lounge, it turned out they do not offer an escort.They also warned us about the walk time and the fact the flight would not be called in that Lounge. They did, however, escort us to the basement security lanes which at that time were completely empty. Walking with a purpose, it took us about 15-20 minutes to reach the Polaris Lounge where we were very warmly greeted. I’m sure the wonderful ladies working the check in desk could tell how excited we were to be there. They warned that our flight would not be called, and we needed to leave plenty of time to get back.
United Polaris Lounge at LAX
You’ve all likely read Matthew’s review of the LAX Polaris lounge. I will say it’s simply stunning. It’s not as big as it looks in pictures, but during our time there the lounge wasn’t even remotely full. Our first move was to the restaurant for some lunch. I was somewhat surprised at the lack of variety on the menu with only 4 entrees to choose from including the Polaris Burger. I ordered the Bibimbap and my Dad the Lamb Chops. Service was definitely on the slow side in terms of getting the food out, and the portions were not generous. It was however, delicious and we certainly could have ordered something else or added food from the buffet if we were so inclined. For dessert I had the Lemon Meringue and my Dad the bread pudding, both of which were delightful. We each had a glass of wine which was also quite good.
Finishing lunch, we moved over and found seats overlooking the Tarmac and enjoyed a glass of Ardbeg 10-year-old single malt scotch which I thought was quite nice for a business class lounge. All too soon though, it was time to leave and head over to the gate. Looking back if I were to do this again, I would want to get to the airport even earlier so I could enjoy more time in the lounge. If we’d had more time, I also would have stopped by the Star Alliance First and Business class lounges just to have a look. That being said from everything I’ve read, there is no question the finest lounge at LAX for Star Alliance customers is the United Polaris Lounge.
We left the lounge about 30 minutes before the scheduled start of boarding wanting to take no chances on missing the flight. Arriving at the gate we hung back waiting on them to call for boarding which was a bit delayed.
Boarding turned out to be a bit interesting. The gate folks apparently jumped the gun and we arrived at the business/first jetbridge to find that they weren’t quite ready for us. Initially we were directed to stand in one line but pretty quickly someone figured out that there were three first class customers in the line and they pulled us aside into a separate group. As it turned out this was quite lucky for us. Our companion was a wonderful German gentleman with whom we had a nice chat with while we waited.
At last it was time and our 747-8 was waiting. It was a special thrill to walk down that Jet Bridge and make the left turn into the nose. Again, I’m sure you’ve all read Matthew’s trip reports, so I’m not going go into great detail but rather try and talk about what it’s like to experience Lufthansa First for the first time.
A Magnificent First Impression
In a word, it’s simply magnificent. The cabin is beautiful and the seat while not a private suite is extremely comfortable in all modes and especially when you’re reclined watching a movie enjoying a nice libation. Raise the privacy screen and you (especially in row 1) have all the privacy you need.
We got lucky, too, when we boarded because it turned out the wonderful gentleman with whom we’d been chatting was sitting in 1K. When he realized that I was in 1A and my Dad 2K, he immediately insisted my Dad take his seat so we could sit across from each other.
Our two flight attendants were friendly and always attentive without being overbearing. They seemed to have the knack of knowing when service was needed without being asked. That being said, they never addressed me by name and I felt like a certain warmth was missing. They didn’t engage us on a personal level which is fine, but those personal interactions can make all the difference. They can elevate a service from merely good to truly exceptional. I also noticed little things like the salt and pepper shakers not being correctly placed (logo turned forward). These are nitpicks to be sure, and they didn’t detract from what truly was a wonderful flight. However, I think it fair to note them when you’re talking about First Class.
Service, of course, began with champagne and macadamia nuts and once airborne was followed by the usual progression of courses. Our German friend had warned us that if the caviar was from a certain region, it wouldn’t be any good. I heard him ask and confirm that this was the case on our flight. Nevertheless, having never had caviar before in my life, I wasn’t going to pass it up. I did very much enjoy it but found it wasn’t something I’d go out of my way to have. I also found, that at least for me, pairing it with Vodka wasn’t to my taste. Appetizers were rolled out on a cart. I was a little surprised when the “Choice of Appetizers” turned out to be all of them simply presented to you at once.
For my entrée I followed Matthew’s advice to skip the Beef Filet and instead had the Turkey Roulade with Pork Stuffing. This turned out to be not at all what I was expecting, but it was quite good. I tried both Chardonnays on offer and found them good but not exceptional to my taste. For dessert I enjoyed the cheese selection which I followed up with something I’d been eagerly waiting for. A glass of Johnny Walker Blue Label.
Fellow whiskey drinkers you can cross this one off your list. Considering the price point I found it extremely disappointing. It was simply a decent but wholly average and unremarkable glass of scotch. Consequently, I hereby declare it the most overpriced and overrated whiskey on the planet.
Taken as a whole it was a thoroughly wonderful meal eaten in comfort with good service. By the time I finished my movie my dad was already asleep and the moment I got up one of the flight attendants was present asking if I wanted my bed made up and if I
wanted to be awakened for breakfast.
A Great Rest
The First class Lav on the 747 is spacious and it was kept immaculately clean. So it was easy to change into the provided Van Laak PJ’s which were quite soft and comfortable. I returned to my seat to find my bed made up but was a little surprised when I was directed to my locker to hang up my clothes having thought they would do that for me. The bed was quite comfortable, and I slept very well for several hours waking it turned out just as we were approaching the Dutch Coast. I likely would have slept longer, but I had become too warm and woke up.
As soon as I sat up, a flight attendant was there asking if I wanted breakfast and if so what I wanted. By the time I returned from changing out of my PJ’s (enjoying the view of the coast out the window in the Lav as I did so) my seat was back in chair mode and ready for breakfast. I wasn’t especially hungry given the dinner I’d enjoyed but did order some eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, and orange juice all of which arrived quickly and was wonderful. I was impressed, when I got up to stretch my legs, to find that they had a skillet out in the galley and were preparing the eggs fresh.
All too soon we were in the decent to Frankfurt and the flight was over. For 110,000 United miles, it was absolutely worth it especially when you consider that the retail cost of the ticket was $14,000 each. Every aspect of the flight made it a pleasure to be on the airplane. I had a very comfortable seat in all modes that became an equally comfortable bed, plenty of privacy when I wanted it, and the ability to chat with my dad . Good food, good service, and fine drinks. Seriously folks what more could one ask? I was truly sad when it came to an end.
Next up: Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal and “business” class flight to Edinburgh.
I as well find JW Blue disappointing as well. At 170USD a bottle, it is pretty smooth but almost bland for something at that price point. I hope you enjoy Oban though! The West Highlands and Speyside are my two favorite regions. And give the gin there a try as well!
“ I also noticed little things like the salt and pepper shakers not being correctly placed (logo turned forward)”
It is nitpicking and it is perfectly OK. I’m glad you mentioned it. You wanted to be amazed, and you were, for the most part. It’s a little like the difference between watching a ball bounce off the wall for a double instead of clearing the center field fence by 30 feet.
After all, it isn’t as if you demanded your money back because the logos were pointed in the wrong direction.
Why, yes, my comment is directly related to businesses I once owned. How did you notice?
Wasn’t meant as a reply to Aaron.
Surprised, but not surprised I guess that the crew would do the following:
“…they never addressed me by name”
Addressing someone by name is a sign of respect. Failing to do this small thing is a sign of the lack of respect by the crew, which is disappointing. The crew members must come from a less respectful background to not address you by name. For comparison, I flew SQ Business Class last month and the crew members addressed me by name the entire flight.
“surprised when I was directed to my locker to hang up my clothes having thought they would do that for me. ”
I think that some people in the western world feel that serving others is demeaning or humiliating, and therefore they have minimal insterest in “serving” others. Or the crew didn’t care to provide the highest level of service to their passengers. Every single time I have flown an Asian Carrier in First Class, there is always a crew member waiting with a hanger to take my clothes when I change into my pajamas. They see me walking to the lavatory with my pajamas and are ready for me when I step out.
Less to do with your background and more to do with the job training and fear of being fired for not living up to those standards.
No, not true. On my last JL (NH? can’t remember now) flight in FC I was directed to hang up my clothes as well. I was surprised but you could never say JL/NH aren’t service-oriented. The rest of the flight was fine.
Yeah, Blue Label is perfectly fine but there’s any number of scotches I would rather drink that cost half the price or less. Way overpriced for what you get.
TBH I feel that way about Dom Perignon too. It’s not BAD champagne but not worth a price premium commanded by name. There’s any number of champagnes that are just as nice. A lot of this is just giving you well-known luxury brands so you “know” you’re in F…
But that Dom Rose is the best.
Love the style of the writing. It feels a bit more “organic” (though Matthew’s usual reviews also feel more real than most blogs too) with the first-timer approach and at the same time noting the small details. I’d expect to be treated more like a god in F than the way it sounded, but it still sounds like a dream.
Apples to oranges with the blue label, but that LP Cuvee Alexandra is quite something and might’ve been more fun with the dessert.
A bit of constructive criticism for future posts…if you’re going to post pics of the entire menu, then you should post the entirety of the meal as well (food porn, y’all!)…and preferably before you start digging into it.
I do apologize about the lack of pics. I was thinking about drafting a trip report but it wasn’t always at the front of my mind when it should have been. So there were times when I was just enjoying the trip instead of taking the pictures I meant to. Consequently the pictures especially are not going to be up to Matthew’s usual high standard.
Great trip report 121!
Thank you sir!!
Really enjoying this from a non-blogger perspective.
Thanks! I thought people might find value in the perceptions of someone who while flying regularly doesn’t spend a lot of time in international premium cabins.
All nice, and LH is a great product. Was a bit perplexed by the Random capitalization of words that don’t need to be Capitalized. For instance, you don’t capitalize Glass of wine. Threw me off a bit. Otherwise nice review.
You can blame the editor (me) for that! 😉
okay thanks – I wasnt sure what I was missing – it seemed Odd.