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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.

Lufthansa A340

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:

Lufthansa A340 business class review New York to Munich

Unfortunately, that is a problem.

Lufthansa A340 business class review New York to Munich

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.

Lufthansa A340 business class review New York to Munich

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:

Lufthansa A340 business class review New York to Munich

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:

Lufthansa A340 business class review New York to Munich

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

Followed by:

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

Fresh fruit

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.

Conclusion

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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Comments (61)

  • Concerto says:

    Service can be quite hit and miss, and when it’s good it’s really good. Food can be mostly miss, especially ex MUC which is a dreadful station. This 5-star rubbish is totally undeserved.

  • Jamie says:

    Out of interest – regarding the ticket desk moving you to an earlier flight – were you traveling with or without checked-in baggage?

  • Susan says:

    Am rather confused by “Grilled beef carpaccio”, I do hope their engineering team’s better trained than the catering side…;-)

    • Shoestring says:

      🙂

      Some recipes would have Parmesan cheese on top & I suppose just possibly in that case the plate would benefit from a tickle under the grill – not really, just a mistake by a non-chef I think – maybe meant to increase uptake? not everybody would order raw meat if they thought it was raw meat

    • Mark2 says:

      +1
      Surely not carpaccio if cooked?

      • Lumma says:

        To be fair, sometimes the outside of the meat is seared before slicing to make a carpaccio. That may be the grilling part

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Why do you guard these miles so closely over alternatives?

    • Rob says:

      Because I like LH First Class as a treat every so often and you can only book it with M&M miles, not partners, unless you are happy booking last minute.

    • Allan says:

      Can’t speak for Rob directly, but it’s very difficult to accumulate Miles & More miles in the UK from anything other than flying LH or Swiss. The redemption mileage chart is also regional, so for example the East & West coasts of America are equivalent mileage.

      • Rob says:

        Amex to Marriott to LH works but at 0.5 miles per Amex point it is not great given the LH taxes.

      • Lady London says:

        I have given up collecting Lufthansa Miles after so many expired ununused because I missed the dates or wasn’t prepared to pay Lufthansa’s huge’ taxes’ on award bookings. Even British Airways must salute Lufthansa for the amount of taxes they have the brass neck to add to their award bookings..

        However when I was paying more attention to Lufthansa it was very useful to proactively check the Miles & More website, particularly the German version, every time I purchased a hotel or car. Miles & More has many promotions which you won’t be emailed proactively. They are on the Miles&More website though. It’s worth keeping up to date with them as some of them can be very good earners and they do pay out if you follow the booking instructions.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Can’t say I’ve ever purchased a hotel, I tend only to stay in one room!!

  • Paul says:

    Cabins looks so much better than cramped world, but then almost anything is. There is some attempt at style with LH via the large pillow. BA pillows are crap and their cabins dull beyond belief.

    Nice touch tgatbthay moved you, Cost them nothing and in this day and aged of “computer says no” they get a lot of credit for doing it.

    OT but BA reservations and ticketing demonstrating how inept and useless they are. In the summer was charged over £1300 to change a flexible ticket. You First, Gold Line, all utterly useless. They refused to issue fare rules as did T5 ticket desk. Of course you can’t fly without paying and so I felt this was simply extortion. Pay or Stay!

    I paid up and composed my complaint to customer relations in the lounge ( CR won’t talk to you before departure……) and sent it whilst taxing.

    Cut and paste rejection received a few days latter by which time the flyertalk forum had produced the fare rules.

    Finally 9 weeks later a refund of over £900. No apology, no compensation.

    Last night blazing row with them. I had changed a 2 x 241 bookings resulting in a move from F to Club Europe. Because the outbound is F – RFS feed on the return not possible and I must pay full fees. This plus change fees meant I had to pay a further £140 on top of the F fees already paid. Pretty shocking.

    I did this last week and my wife’s ticket was processed but they then “lost” my credit card security number and, rather than call me, sent a rather dodger looking email saying they had to talk to me. Again no apology, nothing.

    This is an airline in terminal decline!

    • Genghis says:

      “BA pillows are crap“. I think the new WC ones are excellent.

      • Matt says:

        Agree, I think the new WC bedding is great.

      • the_real_a says:

        Its the dog blanket that makes me itch, and the old pillow is far to small.

        Is the new white company kit rolled out everywhere now?

      • Chris says:

        Is The White Company rollout across all CW routes now complete? What happens to used bedding after each flight? (washed and reused or what?)

        • Genghis says:

          All my recent flights have had WC bedding. It comes prepackaged so presumably washed. I doubt it’s a one use item.

        • :Lady London says:

          Be careful @Genghis apparently nicely prepackaged (even plastic sealed all round) is not a guarantee that the blanket has been laundered. Apparently a particular issue on US airlines? not sure how widespread the re-packing of blankets without washing them is. Perhaps an industry insider could tell us?

        • John says:

          Tried the WC bedding for the first time last week, it felt and smelled clean, but the threads were fraying so definitely been used several times

    • Alex Sm says:

      It looks like they got a master class on how to dodge any compensation requests from Mr O’Leary

  • Riku says:

    I was “upgraded” to LH business class between Frankfurt and Delhi (daytime flight) although I was booked in their premium economy cabin. On the way back I travelled in premium economy. I slept better in the premium economy than business class. The business class seat is too short (i’m 195cm tall), there is absolutely no privacy as the article says and your feet are too close to the neighbour. Since I had an empty seat next to me in premium economy it was definitely nicer there than in business class.

    • John says:

      I was in an empty PE cabin on LH (A380) and found it really uncomfortable. I ventured into the economy cabin (also empty) and found everyone sleeping on a “flat bed” of 3 or 4 seats. So if Y is better than PE and PE is better than J…

    • Lady London says:

      I’m sure I flew overnight on Lufthansa to Dubai on that seat in the photo. Never again. Kept falling off it all night.

  • Nick_C says:

    I wouldn’t pay to fly Club World (most of my flights are to the US., and American is far superior) but I have enjoyed my recent redemptions. BA WW staff have been fantastic. I enjoyed facing my partner and chatting over the meals. The food was good. The new pillows are very good indeed.

    I don’t like the aisle seats on BA as I feel very exposed, and it feels like sleeping in a dormitory, but the window seats, and the middle seat in a 2-3-2 layout are great.

    I don’t like the look of the Lufthansa cabin at all.

    I don’t like the look of VA UC either.

    BA is not the best, but it is far from the worst.

    • Doug M says:

      I agree. Recently flew VS UC to Miami and really enjoyed lounge, crew and food, the seat…… oh dear. How is BA a dorm, but the sea of heads on VS not? I really like upper deck 747 on BA, and all AA seats I’ve been in, A330, 777 and 77X.
      The LH cabin looks awful, and remind me of business seats 20 years ago. I’d have chosen PE over that.

  • Harry says:

    Not surprised that LH changed you to an earlier flight. The classy European airlines, basically those in the LH stable aside of LOT, are far more flexible that BA in these things. I often find PE a better bet when Business is full. For some reason, PE doesn’t seem to have really taken off. Not sure why as with some airlines it really is good. Not Business but much much better than Economy and often exceptional value. Alitalia is particularly good in PE over the Atlantic in either their 330 or 772s. Sometimes PE is even cheaper than Economy.

    • Doug M says:

      Why do you say not taken off? PE on VS and BA is almost always full, and WT+ is widely accepted as BA’s most profitable cabin per m2.

      • Alex Sm says:

        Of course! Because their PE fares are eye-watering in terms of price/quality ratio…

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