Burn, United (Miles), Burn: Lufthansa A380 First Class Beijing to Frankfurt

Introduction
Planning
United Global First Lounge Washington Dulles (IAD)
Lufthansa Business and Senator Lounge Washington Dulles (IAD)
ANA First Square Class Washington Dulles to Tokyo Narita
ANA Suite and Business Class Lounges Tokyo Narita (NRT)
ANA Business Class Tokyo Narita to Beijing
IBIS Beijing Capital Airport Hotel
Air China First Class Lounge Beijing (PEK)
BGS Premier Business Class Lounge Beijing (PEK)
Business Traveler’s Lounge Beijing (PEK)
Lufthansa A380 First Class Beijing to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa B747-400 First Class Frankfurt to New York JFK
United PS Business Class New York JFK to San Francisco


LH 721
Beijing (PEK) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Monday, November 4th
Depart: 11:30am
Arrive: 3:00pm
Duration: 10h 30m
Aircraft: A380
Seat: 2A
Load: 1/8

I was super, super excited for this flight. It was my first time flying Lufthansa First Class, it was on the A380, and when I was selecting my seats online after booking my flights, I noticed that all seats were marked as available for selection, which made me think that there was the possibility that I’d have the whole first class cabin to myself. This turned out to be true, so I had an entire first class cabin and two flight attendants on the A380 to myself. I’m not sure how much more aspirational you can get.

After leaving the somewhat bizarre Business Traveler’s Lounge, I headed to the gate and took some pictures of the bird that I’d be flying to Frankfurt. Lufthansa’s been flying the A380 for over 3 years now, but there were still plenty of people also taking pictures of the plane at the gate. I wonder when the novelty will wear off?

The A380 I'd be flying to Frankfurt

The A380 I’d be flying to Frankfurt

Even before boarding was supposed to commence, there were long lines for both the economy and premium cabin boarding lines. I saw a sign for first class passengers, but there was no obvious line. One of the gate agents recognized me from check-in, though, and beckoned me to cut the line and board before they announced boarding for anyone else.

Lots of gate lice even for premium cabins

Gate lice even for premium cabins

Tripe boarding action

Triple boarding action

Upon boarding, one of the flight attendants who’d be serving the first class cabin greeted me and informed me that I’d be the only passenger in first class, so I should essentially feel free to do whatever I wanted. This flight attendant turned out to be awesome and probably the best flight attendant I’ve ever had. He was detail-oriented, considerate, personable, and extremely knowledgable. He’s been flying on the A380 since Lufthansa started using the plane, and he had actually helped design aspects of the A380 and had been on some of the test flights. I had a great time throughout the flight chatting with him and picking his brain.

I soon settled in and was brought pre-departure nuts and drink and menus for the flight.

Pre-departure nuts and drink

Pre-departure nuts and drink

Food menu part 1

Food menu part 1

Food menu part 2

Food menu part 2

The seat was spacious and comfortable, and I appreciated the small touches like having extra padding on the headrest. There was plenty of storage with several small compartments next to the seat, the ottoman for slightly larger objects, and a personal locker for each seat. I found the overall design to be classic and functional while being stylish.

My seat, 2A

My seat, 2A

Side view

Side view

DSC03438

Seat controls

Seat controls

Entertainment controls

Entertainment controls

Lots of outlets

Lots of outlets

Guide to the seat

Guide to the seat

Seat storage (and Rimowa amenity kit!)

Seat storage (and Rimowa amenity kit!)

Personal storage lockers in lieu of overhead bins

Personal storage lockers in lieu of overhead bins

My other A380 experience was on Emirates, which has a completely different feel to their first class cabin. Emirates uses fully-enclosed suites, which I feel makes the cabin feel a little bit claustrophobic in exchange for lots of privacy; on the other hand, the Lufthansa first class cabin is open and airy but not as private, but I guess that doesn’t matter if you have the whole cabin to yourself.

Empty cabin all to myself

Empty cabin all to myself

I was brought Van Laack pajamas, slippers, and a Rimowa amenity kit. The pajamas were comfortable, but definitely not my style. The amenity kit was Rimowa, which is usually all that there is to say about Rimowa amenity kits.

The takeoff roll began, which I think is pretty special on the A380. For one, you can see the tail cam view on the in-flight entertainment screen, but it’s also such a large yet quiet plane that it feels like the plane is just getting started when you actually lift off the ground.

What a great view

What a great view

Soon after takeoff, I was brought a glass of champagne, 1999 Cuvée Louise, and an amuse bouche of feta and watermelon.

1999 Cuvee Louise champagne

1999 Cuvée Louise champagne

Amuse bouche of feta and watermelon

Amuse bouche of feta and watermelon

Before the meal service, I decided to check out the bathrooms. On the A380, the first class bathrooms are huge. While there’s no shower like on the Emirates A380, they do have a urinal. But it’s nice just to have a large space to change and make you feel like you’re not even on an airplane.

Spacious bathrooms

Spacious bathrooms

I think I'd take the Emirates shower over a urinal...

I think I’d take the Emirates shower over a urinal…

La mer products in the bathroom

La mer products in the bathroom

Other amenities available in the bathroom, including facial mist?

Other amenities available in the bathroom, including facial mist?

I decided to eat right after takeoff, so the flight attendants started with the appetizer and caviar cart. They told me that the flight was catered for two people (except for the cheese cart, which is always catered for 8 people for presentation purposes). I didn’t partake in any of the appetizers, but I did get a hearty portion of caviar which I quickly demolished. And so they served me another large portion of caviar, and I was a very happy camper. The caviar service is apparently the only part of the food service catered out of Frankfurt as everything else is supposed to come out of Beijing.

Table setting for the first meal service

Table setting for the first meal service

Appetizer and caviar cart

Appetizer and caviar cart

Caviar serving #1

Caviar serving #1

So delicious

So delicious

Caviar serving #2

Caviar serving #2

I decided to take an entree from the pre-arrival meal as my appetizer and then do a main course. The dumplings were okay, probably on par with the dumplings they had in the lounges at the Beijing airport. The tortellini was flavorful but very heavy.

To be honest, while I loved almost everything about this flight, the food was a little bit of a disappointment. Part of this could be the fact that it was catered out of Beijing, but in general, I feel like Lufthansa’s catering isn’t that compatible with my palate. In my everyday life, I eat vegan, so I get a little tired of eating slabs of meat, cheeses, and creamy or port sauces. Objectively, everything tasted fine/good, but it’s just not for me most of the time.

Dumplings as my appetizer

Dumplings as my appetizer

Ricotta-herb tortellini

Ricotta-herb tortellini

Fruit for dessert

Fruit for dessert

After the meal service, I decided to get some sleep. A flight attendant had already set up the adjacent seat as a bed right after takeoff, but as soon as he saw that I was ready to sleep, he sprinted around the cabin to close all of the window shades and turn off any lights, and he offered to lower the cabin temperature for me.

Separate bed

Separate bed

The bed itself was pretty comfortable, although the crease in the seat is definitely noticeable. The pillow and comforter were nice and fluffy and didn’t make me overheat. With the privacy shades up, I think there’s definitely enough privacy in the cabin for sleeping. If all the shades are up, you won’t be able to see anyone unless you’re specifically trying to, so I think Lufthansa has figured out a good compromise between privacy and the feel of the cabin. I was able to sleep soundly for about 4 hours, at which point I decided to have a mid-flight snack.

Mid-flight snacks

Mid-flight snacks

Chocolates

Chocolates

Lufthansa doesn’t offer an extensive snack menu like other carriers do in first class, and in fact, there weren’t any hot options available for snacks, although I’m sure that I could have asked for anything off the regular menu if I’d wanted. But this is another aspect of the food service that I find less than stellar on Lufthansa compared to some other carriers.

Otherwise, the rest of the flight was great. I spent a lot of the remaining time on the flight chatting with the flight attendants and reading, and I didn’t actually touch the in-flight entertainment except to look at the tail-cam view. I also had the chance to walk through the rest of the plane: business class looked fine, but slanty flat instead of full lie-flat (although they’re going to start refurbishing the A380s to have fully flat business class seats); coach was massive and cramped, taking up the entire first floor of the A380, although a flight attendant told me that people seemed to like it better even though there are so many seats because the novelty of the aircraft.

Overall, except for my small qualms with the food, this was an amazing, amazing flight. You can’t get much better than having an entire first class cabin and two flight attendants to yourself on the A380, especially when said flight attendants are wonderful as well. I am so grateful to have had this experience–this is what collecting points for aspirational travel is all about!

4 thoughts on “Burn, United (Miles), Burn: Lufthansa A380 First Class Beijing to Frankfurt

    1. EfficientAsianMan

      I think I probably will do that if I get the chance to fly Lufthansa first class again in the future. Part of it was that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I was perfectly content eating from ANA’s first class menu without ordering a special meal, so I think it partially does depend on the carrier and their normal catering.

      Reply
  1. John

    So funny, had a similar situation with my SIN-FRA-IAH routing on the A380 in F class. My wife and I were the only people in F and Uber, our flight attendant, was dedicated to us. We are forever spoiled by this experience!

    I was especially impressed with the quietness of the F class floors. Apparently, something LH is very proud of.

    Reply
    1. Edward Post author

      It’s definitely a special experience when you’re the only ones in the cabin. LH is also extremely detail oriented about the cabin and the branding, which I also appreciate.

      Reply

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