Lufthansa has been a marquee airline for nearly 50 years, ranking among the world’s best airlines, alongside Singapore Airlines, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific. It was, therefore, with great anticipation that Amber and I would be making our first Airbus A380 flight with them. And, we were lucky enough to have booked Lufthansa Business Class on the A380.
Sadly, reality and expectations don’t always align. It was the classic example of over promise and under deliver.
Our journey to Europe to attend the annual TBEX conference began in Da Nang, Vietnam. Not exactly the largest airport in the world, but good enough to get us to Hanoi’s Noi Boi International Airport, where we took a short three and a half hour flight to Beijing International. A quick, yet uncomfortable overnight in Beijing then our eagerly awaited ten plus hours of Lufthansa Business Class comfort.
Because when you are flying Lufthansa business class, you want to take a long flight. To make the most of the business class experience. And, yes, we were willing to connect through Hanoi and Beijing in order to take this particular flight, the A380, in business class.
Beijing Airport Lounge for Lufthansa Business Class Passengers
Beijing International is the main international gateway in China, with nearly 80 million passengers passing through each year. Lufthansa operates daily direct flights from Beijing to both Frankfurt and Munich. Flying Lufthansa Business Class, Amber and I were able to use the Air China Business Lounge, which allows access to Gold and Silver members of the Star Alliance, along with Business and First Class fliers.
We have experienced our fair share of executives lounges in the world, but the Air China Business Lounge is certainly unique. It’s an open air lounge with huge glass windows providing very nice views of the tarmac and runways. Food and beverage choices were nice with dim sum (yum) and Western choices available. Showers and nap rooms to prepare for (or recover from) long flights are also available. These lounge amenities are pretty typical.
What isn’t entirely available, is Wifi. In no other airport lounge has Wifi been more difficult to connect to. Any guesses why? The Great Chinese Firewall. After an overnight at a local airport hotel, which only had wired internet access, we were facing about 18 hours of internet blackout. We were excited to board our flight, if for no other reason than we were ready to get back to civilization.
Boarding the A380 in Beijing
Eager to check out our ride, we left the lounge and headed to our gate. Strolling through the massive terminal, we could make out the distinctive lines of the equally massive Lufthansa Airbus A380 even before arriving at the gate.
Say what you want about airlines, airplanes, or airports, but when you see the A380 up close, you have to tip your cap to the engineers and designers who created this amazing flying machine. For something that big to take off and fly thousands of miles is truly an engineering marvel.
For non #AvGeeks, the A380 is the first fully two story airplane. The Boeing 747, which has been around for decades, has an “upstairs,” but only in the first portion of the airplane. The A380, though, has an entire second story to the airplane. It’s the first flying double decker. That is incredibly cool. It also means that most A380s can hold up to almost 500 passengers. That can take a long time to board.
Airports where the A380 flies must have special jetways that allow the plane to board through multiple doors, including a separate door on the upper deck. Because the Lufthansa flight included almost entirely first and business class seats on the upper deck, we felt kind of fancy boarding upstairs.
On Flight Experience on Lufthansa Business Class A380
On board, we quickly found our seats on the upper deck of the aircraft. Although the lower level of the A380 takes a long time to board about 300 economy passengers, we settled in quickly and started to enjoy our Lufthansa Business Class experience.
The Business Class cabin was laid out in a 2x2x2 fully lie flat configuration. Unfortunately, and much to my surprise, the seats themselves were more narrow than I expected from a Western airline. Being 6’4”, my sides felt squeezed and my feet, cramped. Frankly, one of the reasons I like flying business class is to get away from the wife for a bit, and in this case, we were sitting just way too close to one another.
Having previously flown Cathay Pacific business class, their product was roomier and more comfortable compared to the Lufthansa version. Granted, 10 hours in any Business Class seat versus an Economy seat is the preferred way to travel. But, we value our airlines miles. We worked super hard to find this particular itinerary to fly the A380 business class. We even flew through China in order to take the this flight. Honestly, I expected more from a marquee airline like Lufthansa.
The inflight service from Lufthansa was fine. If you asked Amber, she would say it was good, especially the high level of service we received from one particular flight attendant, who was fabulous.
Otherwise, the service just didn’t seem very personal, perhaps because we shared the cabin with almost 60 other business class passengers. It’s true that most of the business class flights we’ve taken have been in much smaller cabins, allowing for a more personalized service.
Compared to other business class offerings, the food Lufthansa served was edible but lacked any creativity. Basics like beef and potatoes and pastas were available, but nothing uniquely German, or even, well, unique. Etihad offers Business Class passengers food from the Middle East. Cathay Pacific offers Chinese cuisine. Wanting our first A380 experience to be remarkable only set us up for disappointment. That, and having flown what I consider better products from Etihad and Cathay Pacific.
Despite me expecting the world, our first A380 flight was still memorable. The aircraft itself is remarkable. For something that enormous, it’s super quiet even on take off. I didn’t realize I was seated above 300 other passengers until I walked by the staircase. Bathrooms were roomy and came with a view.
And, isn’t that all you really need from a flight – a view from the bathroom?
Overall, the A380 is an enjoyable aircraft to fly and one I look forward to fly again and again, but I may choose another option than the Lufthansa Business Class offering.
What our video of the A380 Lufthansa Business Class service to get the full experience!