My family flew from Munich to Miami on Lufthansa and for the first time, I was able to fly the A340-600 in business class. The design is great, the product needs work – here’s how it went.
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A Couple of Firsts
This flight was particularly special for a few reasons. It was the first time I had flown an A340, and what’s more, it was an A340-600 which is such a unique plane in terms of its range and capacity, the aviation geek loved it. It’s also a first type review on LiveAndLetsFly, a rarity.
My wife and daughter had never flown Lufthansa and I only took my first flight with the airline a few months ago so it was a relatively new product for everyone. As many airlines as we’ve flown, it’s always nice to encounter a new brand and compare.
Boarding was the least German experience I can recall. It was kind of a mess and led to a scrum for passengers at the gate. An announcement came through for families, those that need assistance, and group one to board. Group one includes first class, business class, and Star Alliance elites – well over 70 passengers plus those that needed extra time on this particular flight.
It was a mess, and I was shocked to see it.
Getting ready for boarding.
We passed a couple in First that had been scrambing amongst the rest of us. If I had paid (or redeemed) for first class or if I was someone who genuinely needed more time to get set up onboard, I would have been furious with the process.
One thing that blew my mind with the Airbus A350 I flew a couple of months ago, was the recency of the plane, yet a 2-2-2 configuration. I expected that on this flight, though for a modern business class cabin (and frankly, it’s not like we received a discount because we flew an older aircraft) a 1-2-1 where every passenger has direct aisle access is key. My daughter wanted a window seat for the long flight, a girl after my own heart; I took a middle.
Pillows and comforters at the seat were good, but Lufthansa generally trails business class on long haul routes simply by not offering some sort of a “mattress” or seat cover in addition to the blanket.
Lie flat seats are a must on long haul flights in premium cabins and the Lufthansa business class seat is comfortable enough, but I am only 5’7″ tall and my feet were still cramped in the footwell. My daughter, by contrast, was plenty comfortable.
The service was threefold: meal service, personal service, and entertainment.
The menu for this flight (included below) offered goose, vegetarian porcini pasta, and grilled salmon. I ordered the beef carpacio for my appetizer but was served shrimp and said nothing because it was delicious and I didn’t need to correct the flight attendant for my order. I also selected the salmon and bee sting dessert. First, I was served a dish of (cold) almonds – extra points would have been awarded if they were warmed.
A hallmark of Lufthansa business class and first class products is access to the coffee menu and a very good espresso following my meal.
I had the ravioli prior to arrival. The pretzel was excellent (as expected), but the yogurt was an odd inclusion.
Here’s the full menu:
I described in a prior article today the issues onboard the flight with not only my equipment but also that of nearby seatmates. The inflight entertainment system (IFE) offered plenty of choice when the equipment worked properly, but without a fully-enabled touch screen, I was hampered by a broken remote.
Tethering the headphones inside a hard-to-reach compartment felt cheap, though the headphones themselves were of a high quality. It does beat American Airlines approach of collecting headphones an hour prior to landing.
For this Lufthansa flight, a Porsche-designed sunglass case acted as the amenity kit and I couldn’t be happier with such a useful takeaway.
A340-600 Design Elements
There are a couple of really clever design elements to this aircraft. A technological control center occupied the space where seats 10A, and 10C would have been. On the opposite side (10H, 10J) was an oversized bathroom with a window looking over the wing and massive powerplants. I had one complaint about this extraordinary feature – with all of that room there was no changing table in a bathroom ideally sized for families (or an adult changing from pajamas to clothes.) Short of an A380 forward restroom with extensive space, this was the largest bathroom I’d seen on an aircraft, and the window was a fantastic, forward-thinking touch. Lufthansa also stocks its premium restrooms with amenity kits items like mouthwash, razors, and eye masks which is helpful as well.
That gorgeous view out the window:
While this four-engined aircraft does not have an upper deck, it still has a lower deck in economy class. From what I understand, the aircraft wasn’t fully utilizing the cargo hold so instead, a lower compartment with five restrooms was installed creating more space for passenger seating above. Halfway through the economy seating, there is a galley with stairs and a number of bathrooms for customers to use.
Crew rest areas must also be below because we were asked to move off of a particular square just outside the staircase where a crew rest “escape hatch” was set in the floor.
We were happy to get home, and I loved the quirky design elements of Lufthansa’s A340-600. Business class was serviceable but prone to equipment failures and had the flight been fully booked without space to simply move passengers (including myself) to functional seats, the product’s performance could have been a larger problem than it was. That said, it’s time for a refresh, and I hope Lufthansa does so, without it, we will probably shop for different flights and routes in the future.
What do you think? Have you flown this route or product? How was your experience?
Thanks for the part about the crew hatch.
I’ve heard that some El Al planes have secret hatches. If you hijack a plane and hold hostages, Israeli military special forces might get on the plane secretly then suddenly pop out of a hatch either from the floor or the ceiling. Within milliseconds, they will shoot and kill you. Neat.
I flew LH’s biz class on its 747-8 in May on a trip to CPT. The seats are an abomination by todays J class standards. I was in 88A on three legs. Incredible experience flying in the camel’s hump but those seats are atrocious if you don’t know the mate next to you and you have to use the restroom…and worse if they are sleeping and you have to crawl over them. Get with the program Lufthansa. It’s 2022 not 2010.
I have to fly LH every once in a while, and always have a generally underwhelming experience in business class. Maybe okay by 2002 standards, but way below par 20 years later. It’s not that it is horrible, it is that there is so much better out there, but other airlines are not options for West Coast to Germany flights, and I won’t connect on a long-haul.
A few years ago I flew the Lufthansa A34-600 from Munich to SF in economy. A long 11 hours with the flight attendants doing a great job. The downstairs bathroom area is unique and everyone seemed to realize that. While waiting in the small “lounge” area for one of the restrooms to become available, there were grab handles placed all along the walls in case the aircraft suddenly hit turbulence. At the head of the stairs leading down to the lounge there were small saloon-type swinging doors.
I mentioned the flight attendants. There was a passenger in economy who was 6’11”. The attendants took pity on this guy and for most of the flight allowed him to occupy one of their jump seats next to the galley. In talking to this passenger they discovered that after a 1 hour layover in SF, he was getting back on a different plane for a 2+ hour flight to Sea-Tac!
I know this has nothing to do with this article, but I figured one of you smarter travellers will be able to help. I’m flying FCO-SIN-CGK on Singapore Airlines. I’m not staying in Jakarta, but transiting to an ANA flight from CGK-HND-JFK. Do I need a visa? The layover is roughly 6hrs. I’m switching airlines and plan is not to check and luggage. Is it an easy transit ?
Before the pandemic I had a golden status senator on LH. Traveled a lot in business on intercontinental flights. Equipment was often old and much used. LH uses all available seat space, so even on the A380 there is no bar like I saw on Emirates or Korean. The worst part was the dirt in the usual hard-to-reach places. However, the crew was always very friendly and helpful. Yes, espresso is one of the best, by Illy.
Pro tip: get an espresso and an ice cream, pour the coffee over the ice cream a little at a time for a perfect Italian-style coffee affogato.
I’ve never seen roast goose offered as a choice on an airline menu before. I would not have passed up the opportunity to try that – you could have had yet another “first” on this flight.
Lufthansa had parked those planes in Spain for a long time due to COVID — now that some of them are back in service it seems they should have done some more prep / repairs – hopefully that will work out over time….
Used UA miles to fly Lufthansa business class ORD-FRA upstairs on the 747-8. Sat in back row left side with the upstairs galley just behind, right side. The aircraft overall: impressive, the seat: meh at best, service was atrocious. Three flight attendants upstairs, one in the galley, two in the aisle. The senior male F/A scored a perfect zero. No words, no eye contact, no nothing. The galley F/A began serving on the right side. We were offered nothing. Eventually Mr. “no eye contact” reached our row on the left with an appetizer just as the couple on the right, across the aisle finished dessert. My previous flight with them, A380 JFK-FRA, was the opposite, same meh seat, but a delightful, engaging cabin crew. Guess your in-flt. experience is mere “luck of the draw”.
Crew rest entrance in next to lower deck toilets. It has a hidden door with numeric code needed to open it. Very cool.
Why would you waste your money flying this terrible product. Boarding at LH is always a mess. Usually complete chaos. The food and seats. Horrific.