Tag Archives: vgml

Thoughts on Lufthansa Coach Class

Holy shit, a travel blogger who’s writing about Lufthansa in coach?!?? Crazy, right? From reading some blogs, it seems like Lufthansa only has a first class cabin.

I flew Lufthansa from Athens to New York JFK, with a layover in Munich (no First Class Terminal either???). And yes, I flew in coach, and it was a pretty good experience, especially when compared to the less-than-stellar Air Canada ride I had on the way over.

The biggest difference between Air Canada and Lufthansa was in the service. Well, I guess there’s also the fact that the flight attendants on Lufthansa were as a whole much younger and more attractive. But really, it seemed like the flight attendants on Lufthansa liked their jobs and wanted to serve people. Fancy that?

The short hop from Athens to Munich was perfectly enjoyable, largely because I slept through most of it. The flight wasn’t that full, which helped with comfort, but I was also surprised by how much room it felt like there was between rows. This is probably because of the slimline seats, which offer more legroom as the seats take up less space. While this was very much appreciated on a short flight, by the end, the lesser amount of padding was getting more noticeable, and I can’t imagine sitting on these seats for prolonged periods of time.

Given that the flight was a little over 2 hours, we were served a hot breakfast. As opposed to the pretty tasteless and unappetizing breakfast I had on Air Canada, this was pretty tasty.

VGML hot breakfast

Hot breakfast on Lufthansa

On the flight from Munich to JFK, the service was generally superb. It’s sometimes just in the small things, like saying, “Certainly” or “It’d be my pleasure”, when responding to a drink request, but it makes the world of difference. I will have to say that it did seem like the flight attendants spent more time talking to the German-speaking passengers than to the other passengers, but I never felt that the service was deficient in any way because I didn’t speak German.

The food was also decent, although the snack they served prior to landing was downright puzzling. Of course, I inflict this upon myself by ordering vegetarian meals, but it was some sort of sandwich with dry bread and a greenish vegetarian pate. Not recommended, but the main meal was perfectly edible.

VGML main meal

VGML main meal

Dry sandwich as a pre-landing VGML snack

Dry sandwich as a pre-landing VGML snack

Overall, I’d definitely fly Lufthansa again in coach. Of course, I aspire to fly them in first class one day, but until I get there, I’ll be happy with the great service you can also get in coach.

Aegean Airlines Economy Class Snack Boxes (Regular, VGML, Kosher)

When I booked flights for my friends and myself to fly from Istanbul to Athens on the Aegean Airlines website, I reserved a strict vegetarian/vegan/VGML, as that’s my normal dietary preference. But since it was so easy to request special meals, I decided to request a Kosher meal for one of my friends because hey, why not?

The flight itself was fine for a short hop. One of the flight attendants was quite attractive, but she also looked like she hated life every time she interacted with customers. It didn’t necessarily result in poor or lacking service (except for lacking a smile), and her face was hilarious to look at every time.

It’s always a treat when flying non-US airlines on these short hops because they always manage to do so much more in such a short period of time. In this case, for our roughly hour-long flight, they did a beverage service and served snack boxes, which I found impressive (although I guess not as impressive as the full meal service I received on the 40-minute flight from Doha to Dubai on Qatar Airways I took earlier this year).

Regular snack box

Regular snack box

Up first was the regular snack box, which had a chicken sandwich and something along the lines of a honey cake for dessert. Verdict from my friends: surprisingly delicious, especially the dessert.

Kosher snack box

Kosher snack box

Next up was the Kosher snack box, which had orange juice, tuna, crackers, and an apple compote. Verdict: confusing, but tasty. It was a little unclear why they chose the things they did  (I’m guessing for shelf life?), as it was slightly unclear what components were supposed to go together (tuna on crackers? apple compote on crackers? apple on tuna?). Individually, though, the items were tasty.

VGML snack box

VGML snack box

Contents of the vegetarian sandwich

(Meager) Contents of the vegetarian sandwich

Finally, we have the VGML aka strict vegetarian aka vegan snack box, which had a roasted vegetable sandwich and a Nature Valley granola bar. Verdict: okay, but lacking. The bites of the sandwich that actually had roasted vegetables were pretty delicious, but there weren’t many roasted vegetables to speak of. And for what it’s worth, many vegans don’t consider honey to be vegan, so the granola bar isn’t strictly vegan (although it’s at least not blatantly not vegan like some of the things I’ve received in VGML meals from United…).

Overall, surprisingly tasty snacks from Aegean Airlines on the short hop from Istanbul to Athens. I’d happily fly them again, although it’s a little sad that the tickets I booked didn’t accrue miles on United and only accrued 50% mileage on US Airways.

Some Thoughts on Air Canada Coach Class

I am currently in Istanbul, having gotten here on Air Canada via Toronto in coach (I know, the horrors of coach).

I’d never flown Air Canada before, and I was excited to try them out as they’re supposedly the highest-rated North American airline, at least according to the oh-so-reliable Skytrax. But at the very least, they provide in-seat power and on-demand entertainment, even in coach, so those were both promising.

The flight from SFO to Toronto was quite pleasant. The seats were comfortable, the in-flight entertainment had a decent selection and was started on the ground (which I always appreciate), and the in-seat power meant that I could get some work down without worrying about my laptop battery. All good points in my book.

The flight from Toronto to Istanbul was one of the most disappointing flights that I’ve taken, largely because the service and food were both terrible. I never thought that I’d say that I missed United for its food, but eating Air Canada’s meals made me feel that way. Granted, I did order a vegetarian meal (AVML, which was not Asian at all but just a VGML), but the non-vegetarian food did not look appetizing either.

Dinner of very bland quinoa, cold vegetable salad, and a gluten-free vegan cookie (always a dangerous combination)

Dinner of very bland quinoa, cold vegetable salad, and a gluten-free vegan cookie (always a dangerous combination)

Breakfast of rubbery tofu scramble, potatoes, dry bagel, and fruit cup made in China

Breakfast of rubbery tofu scramble, potatoes, dry bagel, and fruit cup made in China

The real problem throughout the flight was the service. This was the first flight I’ve taken where I felt that the flight attendants actively disliked passengers. There was never any courtesy extended, never any outreaches of helpfulness, and there were several times where I was surprised by their behavior. For example, rather than moving the service cart a couple of rows back to let people into their seats, the flight attendants would just leave passengers stranded in the back of the plane until that part of service ended, which was often up to 15 minutes later. Or when people were waiting for the bathrooms near the galley, I saw flight attendants physically push people out of the way without saying “excuse me” or asking if they could move first. And to add insult to injury, the service was extremely slow, even with these behaviors. I can understand being brusque in the interest of finishing service quickly on a red-eye, but it took about 4 hours for the lights to be completely dimmed in the main cabin.

(As an aside, I would avoid the middle seats in row 19 on the 767-300. Although it’s a bulkhead, it’s a bulkhead where it’s a solid wall in front, but the pitch is only very marginally bigger on these seats, so there’s not enough space to stretch out your legs in front of you. This means that there are only 8 seats in the exit rows with additional leg room, those being the pairs of seats on the sides of the two exit rows.)

Overall, while the hard product itself was decent for coach, I would probably have a slight preference to avoid flying Air Canada in the future. Their premium cabin product isn’t particularly aspirational, and the bad service and food I experienced are enough to outweigh the good hard product.