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 Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and his flight from Frankfurt to Edinburgh in Lufthansa Business Class aboard the A321.
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Walking off the airplane, we saw our gate was directly across from the First Class Lounge, and I was tempted if only for a moment. But, I was a man on a mission. It didn’t take long to clear customs and get to the street so we could begin our walk to the First Class Terminal which was easy enough to find.
Walk to the curb, turn left and keep going.
Lost & Found
As we arrived in the First Class terminal we realized we had a problem. Upon boarding, as you would expect in First Class, they took our parkas from us and hung them. At the end of the flight they forgot to return them; we hadn’t thought about it when walking off the plane. I’m not sure if Lufthansa expects you to retrieve your own coats, but to my way of thinking, this was a major service lapse.
That being said, I wasn’t worried. I was pretty sure that Lufthansa would be able to retrieve them from the airplane and get them to us before our connection left especially since we had several hours. It did take a while, but in the end, we did get them back. They were in the locker on the airplane right where they had been hung in LA.
The ground staff just had to wait for the next flight crew to show up, so they could gain access to the airplane. The staff in the First Class Terminal did a nice job keeping us informed as the search progressed and ultimately getting them back to us.
Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal: A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
Like the Polaris lounge, the First Class Terminal looks bigger in pictures than it is in reality. But it’s every bit as spectacular as I had expected it would be.
We both started off by taking showers which were wonderfully refreshing. It turns out that they have available just about anything you could want to freshen up, but surprisingly most of it isn’t in the shower suites. In my case I’d taken my shower, dressed, and walked out of the suite hoping they might have a comb before I found this out. So, don’t worry about not having a toiletry kit, because its all available for you in the lounge. But do remember to ask for what you need before you go in to shower.
Feeling refreshed, the next order of business was to sample the restaurant’s board of fare. The dining area in the First Class Terminal is just as you would expect. It is beautiful, elegant, and quite a true First Class dining area. We both enjoyed a perfectly cooked filet mignon and green salad to which I also added French Fries. Not being familiar with any of the wines on offer I placed us in our server’s very capable hands, and was not at all disappointed being offered two different reds both of which were quite good.
Finished with our meal, we moved over to the lounge. The lounge area very much feels like a beautifully appointed living room. The various areas are nicely separated; it’s very easy to find your own little corner to sit and relax. They have a variety of nuts out on all of the tables and drink menus as well. I did note though that while we were sitting there no one came by to ask if we would like anything.
Now, it was time for next phase in our First Class Terminal experience: the bar. The list of single malt whiskeys on offer ran to three pages, and needless to say their offerings of other types of spirits was similarly extensive. It’s not often as a whiskey fan you get to belly up to a bar with a range of offerings like this that you can sample to your hearts content. We moved over to the bar and were able to enjoy small tastings (at our request, they would have happily poured us full glasses) of a number of fine whiskies many of which I’d never heard of.
I will note that unlike our waiter in the dining area who really seemed to know his business our barmen did not. He provided excellent service (don’t get me wrong),but he wasn’t the type who was going to notice that you particularly enjoyed a certain drink and suggest others that we may want to try next.
5. Car Ride
Finally, it was time to go. We were escorted downstairs and after having our passports examined, we were escorted to our Porsche Cayenne for our ride to our connecting flight. This is one aspect where Lufthansa really gets it right. Being driven directly to the plane across the tarmac and through the bowels of the terminal is a truly special experience. They timed our arrival such that we were the last people to board our flight which meant that we hadn’t wasted time sitting on the airplane when we could have been in the lounge.
Final Thoughts On Lufthansa First Class + First Class Terminal
Taken as a whole, the entire Lufthansa First Class experience is simply superlative. There should be no question of whether or not its worth the extra miles over business class. At the current redemption rates, it absolutely is. Without question it is. You fly in absolute comfort with sterling service and excellent food and drink in the air and on the ground.
The First Class Terminal (and I would say the lounges as well based on Matthew’s trip reports) is a destination in and of itself and to borrow from Michelin it’s “worth a special journey” to visit. There is no question in my mind that routing from LAX to FRA to EDI in First Class was completely worth it compared to flying Business Class via the East Coast.
If you’re going anywhere that is served by First Class on Lufthansa and have the time, I would judge it worth it even if it means flying the wrong way half way around the world. For example, if I needed to fly from the East Coast to Tokyo, I would choose First Class on Lufthansa with a connection over a non-stop in Business every day of the week and twice on Sunday. It was that good. Yes, there were service lapses, and yes, there are aspects that Lufthansa can and should improve. But none of those really change just how great it was to fly in First.
Lufthansa A321 Business Class – Frankfurt (FRA) to Edinburgh (EDI)
Our flight from FRA to EDI was also very nice…though the cabin configuration is the very definition of insanity, based on what I observed on this flight. More on that in a minute.
Since we boarded last, I didn’t get much of a chance to take pictures. As most of you likely know, Business Class on intra-European flights means standard economy seats with a blocked middle. On our flight some of the middles had a tray table on the armrests, our row did not, which I thought was odd.
We were served a nice salad, as you can see in the picture, and a tasty dessert along with a quite nice white wine. The service was good and the food very much appreciated. I found the seat comfortable enough, though with a 30” pitch it would have been tight had someone been in the seat in front of me and reclined. That being said, for a 1 hour and 55 minute mid-day flight, I found it perfectly acceptable.
I Don’t Understand The Logic Of Euro-Business Class
So why do I say the cabin configuration is the definition of insanity? There are curtains that divide the Business class cabin from the Economy cabin so it doesn’t look like they will sell those seats as economy with the middle unblocked. It looks like the first 7 rows on this aircraft are Business class period, which means that installing coach seats with blocked middles serves absolutely no purpose other than to provide a less comfortable seat.
Lufthansa could replace those seven rows of 3-3 with seven rows of 2-2 using US Domestic First Class style seats without touching its effective seat count one iota. I’ve read articles saying that European carriers will in fact sell business rows as economy if the demand is there, but based on how our aircraft was configured and operated that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Landing in Edinburgh, I was sad that our journey on Lufthansa was over. After our experience in Frankfurt, Edinburgh was a bit of a shock. It’s a much smaller regional airport. You walk down stairs to what feels like a temporary outdoor path that has a metal frame and vinyl walls into the international baggage claim area. This area feels like its just an empty space in a warehouse with baggage belts built into it. Our bags came out about halfway through (Can someone please explain why airlines have various Priority, Premium, First Class etc. baggage tags since they don’t ever seem to make a difference in how fast the bags come out?), and we were able to quickly clear customs and be on our way.
I had wondered if being First Class customers we might be met by someone in Edinburgh to escort us through customs, but the answer to that was no. I think ground services is the biggest aspect of the Lufthansa first class experience that could stand improvement. My father and I certainly were able to get around just fine without an escort, but to my way of thinking at this level they should be providing one any time you’re on the ground until you’re on your way out of the airport at your final destination.
Next: Our stay in Edinburgh and our journey to Islay.