This series of flight reports chronicles my journey from tropical Indonesia to France where I would go skiing. It is part of an Aeroplan miles redemption in First Class. Like my previous reports, the journey can also be read in my blog for the original format.
One of the reasons I did not choose a direct flight to Paris was because Lufthansa has a very famous First Class Terminal in Frankfurt that has received applause from many frequent flyers. Yeah you heard that right, a whole terminal separate from the airport for First Class passengers. Not the ordinary airport lounge then, and not as directly accessed either.
Departure board at Frankfurt International Airport
With that I made sure I have a long layover in Frankfurt to enjoy the numerous amenities of this terminal which I shall refer to as FCT in this post. Once I passed through immigration in Frankfurt, I head straight for the exit as my luggage has been tagged all the way to Paris. Even early that morning before sunrise, the departure hall was already seeing a buzz of activity with many travellers checking in. First stop in the departure hall was to ascertain if I had eligibility to use the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, so I made a stop over in the First Class check-in counters located in the A/Z area of Terminal 1. The check-in staff made sure my luggage was transferred to my next flight and told me I had a choice of using the First Class lounges or the Terminal which requires a walk outside.
Lufthansa First Class check-in
Since I had a long layover, I figured I would be better served with the First Class Terminal. I took the escalators to a floor down passing by a hallway with some shops before ending out in the dark winter morning outside. I made a short 5 minute walk along a pedestrian walkway and managed to find the First Class Terminal quite easily. This is an independent building not connected in anyway to the airport and the entrance foyer consists of the signs and logo of Lufthansa with an elevator that will bring guests up to a reception area.
Arriving at the First Class Terminal
Once up there, a staff member will be assigned to each guests after their entry credentials are verified. There is a private security checkpoint with 2 lanes which should be more than adequate that it should not be any longer than 5 minutes to enter the lounge proper. Essentially the same security check but done in a much more dignified environment and private space. Past the security checkpoint lies a small duty free store where guests could purchase the usual duty free goods but they definitely have limited selection being the only one though FCT guests could certainly shop as well if they want to.
The only duty free shop in the First Class Terminal
A glass door then leads into the main lounge and the staff member assigned to me offers to give me a tour of the lounge as she takes my passport and boarding pass. Beside the entrance, there is a cabinet that houses a collection of the rubber ducks that is a favourite souvenir of any guests' visit to the FCT.
Cabinet filled with rubber ducks
There is a long shelf filled with stacks of magazines from various European countries along with newspapers. Clocks signifying the time in several major cities around the world are positioned atop this magazine shelf.
On the right of the entrance lies the bar which is manned by a staff member and here guests could have any drink they want, with nearly all kinds of liquor, wines and champagnes. This also includes non-alcoholic drinks like juices, coffee and tea.
As it was way too early, I asked if they have any day rooms, and the FCT has 2 day rooms. Fortunately one of them was unoccupied and I was led towards the room which is located past the bar, restaurant, and the cigar bar. The 2 day rooms are located beside the shower and washroom area which certainly makes it convenient. While there are storage space for luggage and coat hangers around the lounge, the day rooms make it more convenient. The staff member who took my passport mentions she will do the required customs and hand my passport over to the immigration. She also said she will personally pick me up when the time comes for boarding. After that, she just passed me to another staff in charge of the showers and day rooms.
Inside the day room
The dayroom might not be comparable to a 5-star hotel room but it was tastefully furnished and has proper noise insulation that certainly made it better than many hotel room. There was plenty of space to walk around with a single bed for guests. Across from the bed, there is a clock to tell the time and a coat hanger on the side. Once I got settled in, the day room staff will ask what time you would like to be woken up.
Coat hanger and clock
Inside the dayroom, there are also 2 bottles of water (one sparkling and one still) with a glass. I took this time to re-organize the stuff I obtained from the flight and took another short nap.
After the short nap, I went out to request for a shower room, and the staff member mentions she will give me a knock when a shower room is ready and motions for me to wait in the day room. I took this time to explore the washrooms which are really neat with individual toilet cubicles. In the vanity area, there is even a shoe cleaning machine along with a counter with 'Etro' amenities.
Washroom with shoe shiner
Later back in the day room, I got a notification that a shower room has been prepared for my use. I asked if I could leave my items in the room and the staff mentioned it is of no issue. As the rooms are not locked, guests really leave items at their own risk. But seeing this is a First Class Terminal with one of the strictest rule to enter, I expect it to be quite safe. I did bring my valuables with me to the shower room though.
The inidividual shower rooms were spacious and I had one with the standing shower cubicle which I prefer as I was not looking for a long soak. On entry, there is a long vanity counter, once again filled with 'Etro' bath amenities which does smell great!
In the corner, there is a bench with bathrobes and bath slippers. Meanwhile there are ample spaces to hang your clothes and the bench can also function as a luggage stand if you do not have access to the day room.
Bathrobe and slippers
Behind the vanity counter, the area is split up for the toilet on the right side and a shower cubicle on the left. The layout was wonderful as it affords guests ultimate privacy in case of unwarranted intrusion. It was the best shower room in any First Class I have been to, period.
Bathroom with partition
Feeling refreshed from the shower, I returned to the day room to dry my towels for a bit. Selfishly I occupied the day room to place my belongings for a little while more which is no matter really as the other room was still vacant. This meant the day rooms were not really in demand during the time between 7-9am, which is expected as most guests would just be wanting breakfast and catching up on the news. The whole lounge was quite empty anyway so I took this time to explore and take photos.
First I checked out the cigar lounge. This is a glass enclosed smoking room with their own self-serve bar counter and a cigar humidor. Guests could ask for the staff for assistance though it was empty when I explored this lounge.
Cigar bar and lounge
Across from the cigar bar is the main lounge area with plenty of comfortable leather armchairs. My favourite place to sit would be in one of the lounge chairs facing the windows with their own ottoman. A side table separates each lounge chair and they also have power outlets for charging your laptop or mobile phone.
The other armchairs revolve around a central table. That is common amongst most airport lounges but what differentiates the Lufthansa FCT is there is a large basket with cups filled to the brim with nuts and dried fruits. There is also a buffet menu and a beverage menu that is thicker than many restaurants. I bet the drinks menu would not look out of place in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Snack tray and menu
Warm wood partitions creates nooks for privacy and even when more guests started arriving, it never felt like the lounge got really busy.
Being a terminal in itself, it caters to families as well. Having visited <a href="https://quirrow.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/fascinating-india-the-private-room-by-singapore-airlines/">Singapore Airlines' The Private Room</a> before, it should be clear that wealthy families can travel with their kids. And Lufthansa did create a nice play area for kids. Though this space was large and nicely decorated, it is located behind the bar and leads to a staff entrance which can mean it can get quite busy with staff walking around all the time.
If I was a parent, I would rather they created a door for this space to make it more private. In this respect The Private Room's nursery area is slightly better.
Kids play area
However the FCT does not stop here. In fact all these lounge space are on the right side of the entrance. If guests head to the left, there is an elevated space that houses several work cubicles with their own workstations, telephone and all the power outlets a travelling CEO would possibly need. Similar to what is offered by <a href="https://quirrow.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/inspiration-of-japan-ana-suite-lounge-in-narita/">ANA First Class lounges</a>, it was definitely a nice space to work in.
Then there are more lounge space in this section and I found it to be quieter as it is more secluded from the main bar and restaurant area which sees the most activity in the FCT. Again there are racks to hang your coats and guests could leave their luggage below as well.
Coat hanger in the lounge
By the corner of this section, there is a row of napping chairs with neatly folded blankets. Guests needing a short nap could use this space which was also empty at this time. This section of the lounge actually overlooks the airport and I snapped a photo which shows the distance guests would have to walk from the airport to get to the FCT.
Day beds with blanket
Lufthansa First Class passengers or members of the highest tier of Lufthansa's Miles & More club could use the airport exit on the left of the advertisement pillar where the taxis are congregated in the photo below. They will then walk underneath the overhead road all the way until they reach they see the Lufthansa offices. The FCT is just beside it.
View of the airport from the FCT
Back from the exploration, I packed my luggage and relinquished the day rooms so that it may be refreshed for the next occupant. An incident occured here where I injured my hand and had to ask for a plaster as I was bleeding. I was actually able to get help from several staff members. There are staff members around the lounge though they tend to leave guests alone unless they looked like they needed help. After getting multiple plasters, I head to the restaurant to have a nice breakfast.
Restaurant in the lounge
Breakfast service was still ongoing and upon being seated, I was provided with a menu and asked what drinks I wanted. I went with a cup of cappuccino.
Though I figure the staff was busy preparing the lunch service so I had to flag down a waiter later on to order my breakfast. I ordered a sunny side up as I proceed to the main buffet area to pick up some other items. The variety of the buffet items is on par with many 5-star hotel breakfast buffet.
Breakfast buffet menu
Breakfast in the lounge
The quality of the food was amazing as well as I had more than one helping. I particularly liked they have crepes with nutella and fruit tarts, pies and other sweet treats in the breakfast buffet.
Crepes and tart for dessert
As my flight was slightly after noon, I also took some photos of the lunch menu. Again the spread was fantastic with a nice variety of food. Seriously I would not mind having all 3 meals in this lounge with all the variety. Because of the wide variety, I did not post photos of the food here, but readers could see an <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/quirrow/albums/72157664356786294/with/25556679714/">extensive album in my Flickr site</a>.
Lunch buffet menu
Lunch buffet menu
Food served during lunch is something you might get from a high-end bistro and presentation was once again flawless where the lounge even served premium ham and cheese.
Cheese and roast leg
After my breakfast brunch, I relaxed in one of the lounge chairs and surfed the web while making some updates to my blog and checking out the weather for my upcoming ski trip in the Alps. As expected, the internet in the FCT is fast and the ambience was calm and composed since there are no announcements to detract guests from the experience.
Private First Class terminal
I also did snack on the gummy bears that was displayed prominently on a long table across the bar. Visitors to the lounge would not miss that. At this time, the staff member in charge of the showers actually came over to where I was relaxing to hand me another limited edition rubber ducks as I had asked for one earlier as a memento after my shower.
Gummy bears across from the bar
As it got closer to my boarding time, I monitored the flight information board inside the FCT and wondered which car I would be driven in for my upcoming flight. The FCT has no walkway to the airport, so passengers are actually driven to the plane, like boarding a private jet really and the cars Lufthansa uses could be seen from the lounge.
Porsche and Mercedes fleet for the guests transfer
Very soon, the staff member I was assigned to on my arrival appeared and picked me up. I should mention I did see her and she even greeted me and checked in on me while I was exploring the lounge. Apparently I was the only passenger utilizing the FCT for this flight to Paris and she brought me a level down on the elevator and passed me my passport and boarding pass for the upcoming flight. This departure area has some more lounge chairs and a reception desk where guests await their chauffeur.
Lufthansa departure service
The staff member waited alongside and asked me about my vacation plans. She then handed me over to the chauffeur who assisted me in placing my luggage in the trunk of the grey Porsche Cayenne SUV that would be my ride today to the plane.
Porsche Cayenne transfer to the plane[/caption]
It was a short ride in the Cayenne as we approached a retro-livery Lufthansa jet which would turn out to be the one I would board for the flight to Paris. The whole novelty of being driven to the plane is something I could live with over and over again! Certainly it makes for one of the high points of using the First Class Terminal.
Chauffeur service to the plane
Lufthansa's First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is definitely the best airport lounges I have been to so far. They have some of the best lounge food with delicacies and drinks you would want to have, with all the amenities that certainly makes one feel at home. I can see why people might actually be fine with living in this terminal, and that says a lot for an airport lounge. This point alone certainly makes Lufthansa First Class a great flying experience, since I no longer need to dread the experience of connecting and transfers. In fact with this kind of lounge, I do not mind even if my flight gets delayed!
Lufthansa retro livery on the A321
For this flight, I was driven to the plane directly and head up the side entrance into the ramp. While there was no elevators, my assigned chauffeur helped me with my hand carry luggage. As such, I did not notice the gate that we departed from. Back on the rampway into the plane, there was a bit of a queue as it seems the plane is nearing the end of the boarding schedule.
Nose cone of the Airbus A321
Waiting is not that bad especially if it is a retro jet that I was boarding and thus I got a nice profile of the airplane from the rampway.
Boarding the retro-livery A321
LH1034 Frankfurt International FRA - Paris Charles de Gaulle CDG STD-STA: 1220-1335 Actual: 1241-1334 Airbus A321-200 D-AIDV Seat 2F
Once onboard, I found my seat quite easily and considering this is a flight within Europe, the seats are basic bare bones slimline seats.
Bulkhead row on Lufthansa's A321
That means these seats are alright for the short one hour hop between Frankfurt and Paris but it may be a stretch for a 3 hour flight. What is more is that there is virtually not much to differentiate it from Economy class seats.
View of my row on the A321
Legroom in Business Class is also quite pathetic really. Though at least the cabin was not full, or I count only 4 passengers in the relatively large Business class cabin. And these seats have a middle seat blocked off for Business Class travel within Europe.
Legroom for intra-Europe Business Class
There was no other service going on while we were waiting on the tarmac as passengers waited for boarding to complete. The rainy weather in Frankfurt that afternoon also meant the view from the window was tarnished with water droplets. And being Frankfurt, it was all filled with the slightly boring Lufthansa liveries. Except the plane I was on of course.
View from the window on the tarmac
On the seat back pocket, there was the Lufthansa magazine, the safety instruction manual for the A321 jet and an inflight shopping catalog. Though they were basically of little use for this short flight.
Safety instruction card
Eventually, the plane completed its boarding and there was just 6 Business class passengers including myself which meant more than 30 empty seats in the cabin. Needless to say, it was a light load as I believe the Economy class cabin is not that crowded either.
Business Class cabin on the A321
The plane took its time to taxi around the terminal, passing by the Lufthansa Technik hangar and a parked Lufthansa 747-400. These jets that use to play major airports would soon be in the history books so it was nice to spot some of these jets now while I could.
Frankfurt Airport view
Lufthansa Technik hangar in Frankfurt
There was a bit of a queue but it was a quick taxi to take-off for a major airport in Europe. I remember my last flight in London Heathrow had a long wait for take-off. Once we reached above the clouds, sunlight began streaming into the cabin which certainly made it better than the gloomy weather in Frankfurt that day.
Flying with Lufthansa
As the seat belt sign was turned off, I got off my seat to take some photos of the empty Business Class cabin. Lufthansa certainly added a lot of premium seats on the A321. Perhaps these seats might fill up for flights to major cities like London and Paris for the peak season?
Empty Business Class cabin
The A321 dimensions and the large Business class section meant there was an exit row in this cabin. I wonder how the 2 seats before the emergency exit would work in the Business class cabin considering all the other rows have the middle seat blocked off for Business class passengers to give more space. On the 2 adjoining seats though, there was no special headrest to indicate one of them would be left empty.
Exit row seats in the Business Class cabin
In this nondescript cabin, Lufthansa still tried to dignify it with a 'Lufthansa Business Class' sign. While not exactly a true Business Class, I guess I cannot be afford to be choosy since there are few routes within Europe with real Business class cabins. That is what you get with less competition.
Lufthansa Intra-Europe Business Class sign
Being a short flight, I returned back to my seat as the cabin crew started to prepare for the inflight service. Business class passengers are served a nice meal though Economy class passengers do get complimentary snacks and drinks as well. Lunch was served on a tray and there was no choice. Bread was also offered after the tray was served. The main course was some shrimps served over sliced mango with 2 slices of chicken breast. The dish was tasty and the colours sure brightened up the plate. There is also a dessert bowl which was chocolate mousse with some raspberry bits.
Inflight lunch of shrimp and chicken breast
On top of dessert, there is a small box of chocolates that had an advertisement featuring a consulting company. The crew serving the cabin also offered multiple beverages as I asked for water and apple juice.
Chocolate and drinks
Along with the meal tray, there was also a packet of refreshing towel and Lufthansa does have a nice packed towel. For that flight, the towel featured an advertisement of the Peanuts movie.
After the meal was concluded the crew offered tea and coffee to the passengers. I declined the offer since I was quite full from the brunch at the First Class Terminal and the nice lunch served onboard. With that I just relaxed silently in the cabin as I watched the scenery change on the last 15 minutes of the flight. There was little clouds during our descent and it was definitely fine weather over France that day.
Clouds over eastern France
The nice scenery continued as we made our approach into Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. There was a bit of a turn-around during our descent but otherwise we landed on-time.
River Seine meets River Oise in the outskirts of Paris
Descent into Paris Charles de Gaulle
Clouds over the airport on landing
After our safe landing into CDG, there was actually a bit of a long taxi before we eventually docked into Terminal 1. What was interesting was passengers were asked to prepare their passports for additional security check before we were let off the plane. I figured this was due to extra security measures in place due to the Paris terrorist attacks.
Lufthansa A321 at CDG
However as I disembarked from the plane, there does not seem to be anything out of the ordinary. I even captured a photo of the plane at CDG before making my way following other passengers to luggage claim. Apparently our passport were not checked as what was advised from the flight.
Travellator at Terminal 1
Given that it was my first time arriving at Terminal 1 of CDG, the experience was novel with the interesting travellator that goes down and up underneath the bowels of the airport. While it might be nice for the first time traveller, I did notice how aged and run-down the airport looks. This was definitely out of character to Paris' stature as the city of lights.
Arriving at Terminal 1 of Paris CDG Airport
I also appreciated the quirky and 'futuristic' looking travellator atrium in Terminal 1 and it does look like a scene of the future. Something different again that makes CDG distinctive as an airport.
Futuristic architecture at CDG Terminal 1
Though with all that being said and done, the luggage certainly took a while to appear on the belt and that meant I had all the time to actually walk around the terminal which is an international terminal as I noticed passengers collecting luggage from a Qatar Airways flight from Doha. Terminal 1 of CDG certainly does not make an impressive welcome for international visitors and could do with some refurbishment.
Luggage claim area at Paris CDG airport
Lufthansa - First Class
Frankfurt - FRA
Paris - CDG
My flight on this short flight between Frankfurt and Paris on Lufthansa's intra-Europe Business Class was part of an award ticket and I did not really pay extra for it as I redeemed a First Class ticket. In other words, it was included along with the First Class Terminal. If I had to pay for it out of my own pocket, I would not even consider it. Since the only differentiating factor is that meal and maybe a blocked seat next to you. That does not really justify a premium cabin in my opinion. And arriving into Paris CDG might be novel for a first time visitor like myself but I would be sick of it if I had to arrive here again as it felt outdated and chaotic on the arrival hall.
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