A review of my Lufthansa A340 business class flight from New York
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This is my review of Lufthansa business class on an A340 from New York JFK to Munich.
On Tuesday I did a SWISS Business Class flight down to the Middle East. I will try to do a brief review but I thought I should cover this first from my flight last month. Lufthansa and SWISS are sister airlines after all with equally high service standards.
Regular readers will know that I don’t like reviewing overnight flights from the USA because I like to sleep and rarely eat. This one is slightly different as the 17.30 departure time meant that I did have a meal. It is more of an overview than a full review, however.
I booked this flight using Miles & More miles, connecting in Munich to a Heathrow flight. It was literally the only premium cabin reward flight I could find on a Friday night, across all of oneworld, Virgin Atlantic / Delta and Star Alliance, when booking a month in advance. I guard my Miles & More miles with care and this was not the best use of them, but BA / American / Virgin / Delta did not open up a single Business or First Class on any of their many New York departures in the final four weeks.
I am not covering the Lufthansa lounge at New York JFK. It was horrendously busy when I arrived although upstairs was quieter than downstairs. After an hour it emptied out a bit but it certainly isn’t a destination in its own right. On the upside, the only reason I was there for so long was because I managed to clear security in around 5 minutes after I had budgeted for 30.
The Lufthansa A340 Business Class seat
If you think British Airways is behind the times with its Business Class seat, Lufthansa is arguably worse. This is the airline which ordered its A380 aircraft with sloping seats in Business Class …..
Since that blunder, Lufthansa has been making amends by rolling out a fully flat seat. Of course, they still messed it up a bit and the airline has already announced a replacement to launch in 2020 which will finally offer direct aisle access to every passenger.
It is very minimalist. I don’t think that I have ever seen a ‘cleaner’ look in a cabin. There is very little superfluous design on the seats. Click on any of the pictures to enlarge:
Unfortunately, that is a problem.
The reason the cabin looks so slick is that the seats lack privacy. They don’t have high sides. They don’t have curved head rests. Importantly, they don’t have high dividers either. You can see everyone, everyone can see you.
I voluntarily chose to be in the middle pair because it guaranteed me aisle access and it guaranteed that no-one would climb across me whilst I was sleeping. The 2 x 2 x 2 layout means that, if you in the pairs by the windows, you will either be stepping over someone else or someone else will be stepping over you.
As with the American Airlines and KLM business class seats I looked at recently, the herringbone layout in the middle means that – whilst your head is a long way from the head of your seat neighbour – your feet are very close.
With American and KLM, this isn’t a problem. There is a high divider. Lufthansa does not have this. Take a look at the foot divider in this picture:
Three times during the night, the person next to me started to stroke my ankle and foot with his foot. He wasn’t doing it on purpose (I think …) but the very short divider meant his foot popped over very easily. It was all a bit weird.
This is only a problem if you are in the middle pair. If you are by a window, your feet are totally separate from the feet of your neighbour:
I didn’t watch any TV as I was keen to sleep, so can’t comment on that. (I did say this was more of a brief overview than a review!) No pyjamas were given out and I didn’t see anyone else wearing them so I am guessing they are not available on request either – although to be honest the hassle of changing would have been too much for a short flight.
The seat itself was comfortable – remember I am 6’2′ – and I didn’t find the narrow footrest as bad as I anticipated, apart from the leg stroking I mentioned above.
Food and drink
Lufthansa has good reputation for its business class food, and whilst you won’t have a caviar trolley rolling down the aisle as you get in First Class you can generally trust that you’ll be OK.
On my flight I was offered as appetizers:
Grilled beef carpaccio with horseradish wasabi cream
Smoked salmon and avocado tarte (see below)
Ricotta with pumpernickel and young vegetables
Watercress salad, spinach, zuccini and edamame, presented with dressing
For mains we had:
Duck confit in potato crust with spring vegetables
Seared cod with pommery mustard caper butter, zucchini rolls and mashed potatoes (see below)
Buffalo mozzarella ravioli
And for dessert, which I skipped:
Stilton, crystal aged cheddar and chaumes cheese
Chilled chocolate fondant with salted caramel and hazelnut brittle
There is also an Express Meal service where you can receive a cold meal served on one plate if you want to go to work or go to sleep more quickly.
I was happy with the two courses I ate. They showed ambition in terms of trying something a little different, whilst still being filling.
I chose to skip breakfast but there was a fixed plate of fresh orange juice, buckwheat and chia seed muesli with goji berries and a serving of smoked turkey breast, beef salami, cream and cheddar cheese, smoked salmon, avocado and cottage cheese.
The drinks list is most noticeable for the fact that two of the four beers are 0% alcohol. The spirits list includes wild cherry alde gott and Jagermeister.
The champagne is Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve with a choice of two white and two red wines. I’d had a couple of drinks in the lounge and decided to skip in an attempt to get to sleep more easily.
If you are travelling as a couple then Lufthansa’s A340 business class product is solid enough, with good food and an efficient crew.
For solo travellers, all of the seats have compromises – the window seats require you to climb over your neighbour, the adjacent window seats means you have aisle access but get climbed over and the middle pair mean you get to play footsie with the person next to you. I’d be happy to fly it again if necessary but would definitely take a 1-2-1 product on another carrier, which is what Lufthansa is introducing from 2020, if given the choice.
One final point: due to a lack of mileage seats, I was facing a 3-hour layover in Munich before I could get a connection to London. When I arrived, I headed straight to a ticket desk and the agent was happy to move me to a Heathrow flight leaving just 45 minutes later. No fuss, no bother, which was appreciated at 7.30am on a Saturday morning after a night with relatively little sleep.
Redeeming for Lufthansa flights via credit card spending
Lufthansa is a member of Star Alliance. This means that you can book seats using its own Miles & More miles (here is the new UK credit card which just launched) or via a partner programme.
American Express Membership Rewards (earn with Amex Gold, Amex Platinum) partners with two Star Alliance schemes – SAS EuroBonus and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer. You would earn 20,000 miles as a sign-up bonus with Amex Gold (review here) and 30,000 miles as a sign-up bonus with Amex Platinum (review here).
Alternatively, the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card, reviewed here, lets you transfer to many Star Alliance partners at up to 1.25 miles per £1. The sign-up bonus is 30,000 points which is 10,000 miles.
This Head for Points article offers a comprehensive guide to earning Star Alliance miles via UK credit cards.
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