After an extremely short trip to Frankfurt (4 hours) it was finally time to head home. I originally planned on booking either a paid flight on OneWorld or an award economy flight with United. Instead I decided to fly Lufthansa First Class home on the beautiful Boeing 747-8i. I opted to fly Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt since I’d get to visit the incredible First Class Terminal prior to my departure. When I booked my return flight the only Lufthansa flights available all featured long layovers in Newark, but in the end I figured a long layover was well worth the experience. The long layover worked out in my favor since ultimately United downgraded me to economy and gave me a $200 travel voucher!
Lufthansa First Class Booking
I booked this ticket using Chase Ultimate Rewards points which I transferred to United’s MileagePlus program. In total, the flight cost just 110,000 miles and $180. The cash value of this flight totaled just over $8,000! That’s over $0.07 of value per point which is much better than the $0.015 Chase offers for booking travel directly with Ultimate Rewards Travel.
Booking is somewhat difficult however because Lufthansa typically only releases saver level first class award seats within two weeks prior to departure. Within those two weeks you can mostly find at least one flight in Lufthansa first class each day. I had no issue finding a first class routing, I just needed to make sure I’d be flying on a 747-8 or A380 instead of the A330, A340, or 747-4.
Once I found the space I wanted to book I transferred Chase UR points to Lufthansa. Points transfer nearly instantaneously to United. In total booking the flight took less than 10 minutes from the search page to the confirmation page.
Lufthansa First Class Check-In Frankfurt
For my flight I did things a bit differently than normal. My Singapore Airlines flight to Frankfurt had just landed and I was connecting to my flight home. Apparently I could have walked directly to my departure gate, but I’d miss out on the full Lufthansa First Class experience. Instead, I chose to clear customs and leave to airport to access the First Class Terminal. Prior to leaving the airport I stopped by the Lufthansa First Class ticketing counter to retrieve my boarding cards.
As I walked through the Frankfurt terminal a series of out of focus signs directed me to the Lufthansa First Class ticket counters.
As you walk through the Frankfurt Airport Terminal make sure to check out the famous flip-style departure board. I didn’t have much time to waste, but it’s oddly entertaining to watch the board update. You can watch a video of the board here.
As I continued through the terminal I eventually found the Lufthansa Business and First Class ticket counters.
Premium Cabin passengers can use any ticketing counter in the premium cabin area of the Frankfurt airport, but there is a separate area for just first class passengers.
After a fairly long walk through the terminal I finally arrived at the First Class Tickets counter. I presented my passport and within moments the Lufthansa representatives printed out both of my boarding cards. From there I was directed to the security screening area in the main terminal. I mentioned that I’d prefer to visit the First Class Terminal which seemed to surprise them, but they happily gave me walking instructions to get there.
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
If you ever find the opportunity to fly Lufthansa First Class from Europe be sure to book a flight departing from Frankfurt. I’ve already written a full review of the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, but I’ll add a few comments that are relevant.
If departing from Frankfurt there is a special first class drop off area in front of the first class terminal. When you arrive simply hand your passport to the Lufthansa concierge who is your main point of contact from then on. They’ll print your boarding cards and bring them to you. Since I did a direct turn at the Frankfurt airport I already had boarding cards when I arrived. Also, when you hand the Lufthansa concierge your passport you will not get it back until it’s time to depart for your flight.
After enjoying the lounge in the First Class Terminal the concierge personally escorts you to the car service which takes you to your gate. A private car drives all First Class Terminal passengers directly to their departing flight. The whole experience is incredible and gives you a taste of what it must be like to fly private, like Bow Wow.
Lufthansa First Class Boarding
My private car from the First Class Terminal dropped me off right in front of the nose of the Boeing 747-8i that would be taking me back to New York. The chauffeur then escorted me into an elevator which took me up to the jet bridge.
We must have arrived midway through the boarding process because there was already a line on the jet bridge. I figured he’d leave me there and I’d simply board, but instead he asked other passengers to move aside and escorted me to the boarding door. Since the First Class cabin is located at the nose of the 747-8i we boarded through the L1 boarding door.
As I boarded the purser directed me to my seat and asked if I’d like a pre-departure glass of champagne and bowl of nuts. I gladly accepted both!
From other Lufthansa First Class reviews I’ve read, the pre-departure nuts are typically only macadamia nuts, but for out flight we all received a bowl of mixed nuts which almost ruined the whole trip. There were a few macadamia nuts mixed in, but the bowl consisted mostly of salted almonds. I wonder if I can request some compensation for this inconvenience?
Lufthansa First Class Cabin
The 747 first class cabin is located on the main level in the nose of the aircraft. The 747-8 first class cabin features 8 first class seats. 6 window seats and 2 middle seats. The cabin very spacious and the light color palate makes the whole space seem very airy.
In the center of the First Class Cabin, there is a small “snack bar” which featured a variety of snack or beverages throughout the flight.
I tried to view/change my seat selection through the Lufthansa app, but never had access to do so. Luckily Lufthansa randomly assigned me to seat 1K on the 747-8i. The seat map is found here. Seat 1K is the front right window seat. Due to the curvature of the nose you can partially see out the front of the aircraft! The first class cabin is located just above the nose gear which make quite a noise when retracted.
Lufthansa First Class Seat
The seat itself is fairly large and extremely comfortable. If you’ve never been in a Lufthansa first class seat before (I had not) the seat and the seat controls are somewhat overwhelming.
In the above photo you can see the basic layout of a typical Lufthansa First Class seat. The seat itself does fold recline into a lie-flat bed. A privacy screen raises from the armrest and back of the seat for a more private experience. The windows all have individual controls to raise and lower the 2-step window shades.
Along the wall there is a large storage compartment which houses the fixed noise canceling headphones. The headphones are hard-wired into the in-flight entertainment and you can’t use your own headphones.
You can also use the ottoman for additional storage. The seat also features controls which allow you to move the ottoman closer to your seat if you’d like to put your feet up.
The second compartment (near the rose) houses the huge tray table. The tray table is operated by opening the compartment, sliding the table up, pivoting down, then sliding toward you.
In the above photo you can see the small courtesy table used to store beverages and snacks. There is ample flat window storage and the leather surface prevented personal items from sliding around.
Lufthansa First Class Seat Controls
Again, if you’ve ever flown Lufthansa First Class before this is old news, but to a rookie the seat controls were somewhat confusing. Each armrest features a unique set of controls. The left armrest controls the orientation of the seat while the right controls the in-flight entertainment. Each armrest has a small door which when closed allows you to access more simplistic features.
As I mentioned the left armrest features the seat orientation controls. With the door closed you can put the seat into fully upright and fully flat modes or adjust the leg-rest or seat-back. If you open the small door you have much more detailed seat adjustments and can operate the privacy screen.
The right armrest features the in-flight entertainment controls. With the little armrest door closed you can start/stop the program, adjust the volume, adjust the channel, or ring the flight attendant call button. Opening the door again reveals more detailed options. Additionally the remote is removable, but I never found a need to do so.
Lufthansa First Class seats also feature USB ports and traditional power plugs. You can find all of the plugs needed to charge electronic devices on the front of the seat near where my foot is above.
If you’re sitting on the left side of the aircraft I’m guessing the controls are reversed…
Lufthansa First Class Meal Service
Shortly after take-off the lead flight attendant circulated the cabin to distribute drink and food menus for our flight.
Shortly after distributing the menus the flight attendant returned to drop off an introductory course for our flight. At this point I decided to order my entire meal since I could hardly stay awake.
With my meal I decided to drink beer since I was still a little inebriated from the bottomless Dom Perignon on my Singapore Airlines flight to Frankfurt. I decided to order a König Ludwig Dunkel beer instead of champagne or wine which proved an excellent choice.
A few minutes after ordering my entire meal the flight attendant returned to set the table for dinner. She then shortly returned with my first appetizer, Lufthansa’s famous caviar dish.
The caviar dish was excellent, but I found we were given way too much cheese on the side for the amount of caviar received.
After caviar we were given the option for another appetizer. I mentioned to the flight attendant that I was having a hard time deciding between the various options and she recommended I simply try all three. I thought she was kidding, but after a few minutes and a short nap the remaining appetizers arrived.
From left to right I received a marinated veal tenderloin, vegetable salad, and a smoked rainbow trout. I also decided to order a glass of coke to try to stay awake. Unfortunately the coke didn’t help and next thing I knew the flight attendant gently woke me up to serve the main course. I asked to skip the soup. When she woke me up she politely asked if I’d prefer to sleep, but I decided to press on with the meal service.
When I awoke the main course, a sous vide braised lamb shoulder, was sitting in front of me. The dish was very good and is probably the best lamb I’ve ever had on a flight. Typically red meats are quite dry on flights, but the lamb was fresh and tender. Shortly after finishing the lamb the flight attendant cleared my table and served dessert.
For dessert I ordered the warm apple strudel which was obviously delicious. If you look closely you’ll notice the Lufthansa logo imprinted into the top of the ice cream scoop. Just one of the many small touches to remind you that you’re flying in Lufthansa First Class. Oh and did I mention the first class butter?
In addition to our in-flight meal service, a variety of “light snacks” could be ordered upon request. For my flight the snack menu consisted of a burger, seafood soup, mix greens salad, mixed fruits, a sweet treat, and a Spanish Merienda. The in-flight menu also included a cheese board.
After the fantastic meal service I reached a point where I could no longer stay awake. I requested the turn-down service and retired to the first class restroom to change into the Lufthansa First Class pajamas.
Lufthansa First Class Bed
In Lufthansa First Class on the 747-8 the seat transforms into a bed and flight attendants add a mattress pad for added comfort. When I returned to my seat the flight attendant had the bed prepared and asked how I’d like to get in. She mentioned I could fully lay down and she would cover me or I could simply sit and cover myself. I chose the latter, mostly because it was easier to get into the bed that way.
Overall the bed is very comfortable. The seat itself has ample padding to sleep on, but the added mattress pad makes it even more comfortable. In addition, the down comforter is very warm and cozy. I only slept for a few hours, but when I awoke I found myself fully refreshed.
Once I woke up I opted to keep the bedding for a few hours and put the seat into a semi-reclined position. The bedding and the seat position lead to an extremely relaxing flight. The Lufthansa First Class seat must be one of the best airline seats for comfort in the world.
Lufthansa First Class Amenity Kit
Shortly after boarding a flight attendant circled the first class cabin and delivered the first class amenity kit. The kit I received was a leather Jil Sander pouch with a few toiletries inside. Inside the dark leather pouch was a comb, earplugs, socks, La Prairie cosmetics, a shoe horn, and an eye-mask. Personally I would have preferred the old hard case Rimowa amenity kit as I can’t really find any use for the flimsy leather pouch I received.
In addition to the amenity kits, the flight attendant distributed Van Laack pajamas and a pair of slippers. I believe for my flight I was the only person who actually changed into the pajamas given it was a daytime flight. The first class bathrooms also featured several toiletry items as well. Most interestingly the first class lavatory featured mini Evian spray bottles to keep your skin hydrated.
Lufthansa First Class Service
Now that you have a fairly good idea of the Lufthansa First Class hard product, it’s time to discuss the soft product or service. From the moment you step foot on the aircraft you’re taken care of. The service itself seems quite mechanical, but well executed. There was some flexibility to the meal service and you can always order a la cart as you wish, but I opted to stick to the flight attendants timetable throughout the flight. Flight attendants also stuck to this timetable while I slept. When I woke up from my post dessert nap I found the flight attendant stowed my tray table and left me a bottle of water while I slept. Often times flight attendants will pass you by when sleeping, but I made sure to tell the flight attendant to wake me up for each course of the meal service.
All of the flight attendants on my flight were extremely friendly and accommodating, but I just didn’t find them to be quite as warm as other airline crews. I’m not sure if it’s because I was exhausted and fell asleep every five minutes or simply that was my experience or it that’s typical for Lufthansa. That being said they were far superior to most domestic airline crews I’ve encountered.
Lufthansa First Class didn’t disappoint and I thought it was a great use of United miles! I’m not sure if I’d say the same thing however if my flight originated from a different airport. The onboard experience was great, but the First Class Terminal, private car service, etc. really set this flight apart from others. If you’re going to use 110,000 United miles I’d recommend selecting a flight that originates in Frankfurt with a layover in Munich. Lufthansa ground services and lounges are simply extraordinary.
That being said, the flight itself was also excellent. I loved how small and private the nose of the 747 felt. In row 1 with the privacy screen up it felt nearly as private as the Singapore Airlines Suites class I flew to Frankfurt. I found the meal service on my flight was excellent and the drink service above average. Lufthansa offers a wide variety of above average alcohol options, but doesn’t have the super high-end offerings found on other premium airlines.
As far as the aircraft itself, I loved my flight on the 747-8i. Because the first class cabin is located above the front landing gear takeoffs and landings are quite noisy, but otherwise the cabin is very quiet. Our flight over the Atlantic was quite bumpy and at one point my water actually spilled, but the turbulence was definitely not severe.
Lastly, I must say Lufthansa is an excellent airline that offers exceptional service. If you’re looking for a great use of miles on a Star Alliance carrier, I’d definitely consider flying with Lufthansa. The only issue is that Lufthansa typically only opens first class award space two weeks prior to departure. I’ve found saver space easy to find and book within that two-week window, but many may not be comfortable with that limited amount of planning.