Greetings fellow Flight-Report #avgeek fans. They say if you fall off a horse the best remedy is to get right back on. Well after my last disaster trip I got right back on. This trip came a whisker of being cancelled, but the opportunity to fly Lufthansa and Asiana first class was too much to pass by. Then as I like to say, the stars aligned when United's 777-300 with Polaris seats became available the day I was headed home. (Although some may think I need to see a doctor, the head examiner kind, taking United business with a connection over a direct JAL flight in first class, seat 2A, while you could still get a free massage at the JAL first class lounge. And they have a point.)
The original plan: ORD-FRA United 777-200 Polaris First FRA-DUS Lufthansa A320 Business DUS-NRT ANA 787-9 Business Staggered NRT-ORD Japan Airlines 777-300 First Class
turned into this:
ORD-FRA Lufthansa 747-8i First Class - This report
FRA-ICN Asiana A380 First Class ICN-TPE China Airlines 777-300 Business Class TPE-NRT China Airlines A330-300 Business Class NRT-SFO United Airlines 777-300 Polaris Business Class SFO-ORD United Airlines 757-300 First Class
Lufthansa has long been a favorite airline of mine. My first international premium class experience was flying on a Lufthansa 747-200 to Frankfurt back in 1986. What a treat that was! I remember how delicious the meals were on those flights. Of course the seats weren't lie flat beds back then, but who wanted to sleep anyway when you could smoke! A couple years ago I flew 4 international segments on their new 747-8i which only enhanced my affection for the airline. Maybe I was due for a let down.
Some of the perks when flying international first class are the special ground services you receive, unless you live in Chicago where they don't exist. At least for Star Alliance flights. While most Star Alliance partners depart from O'Hare's international terminal, Lufthansa and ANA depart from United's main Terminal One.
The first class ground service reception at ORD.
For those who haven't been to O'Hare, Terminal One is fairly large. Here is a diagram.
1. Lufthansa check-in, all classes including first class 2. First Class TSA Pre security screening 3. United Polaris Lounge 4. B16/B17 Lufthansa departure gates (ANA departs from C10)
Once I received my boarding pass, security was on the other end of the building.
Once past security you exit airside around gate B6. Lufthansa uses gates B16 and B17, which means you double back to where you came from. Unless you are in economy where security is next to the LH/ANA check-in counter and exit to gate B11 airside. Apparently premium and TSA Pre customers need their exercise.
My point is not to complain about the long walks, every airport has them. I'm simply illustrating that little, if any thought went into first class ground services at O'Hare for Lufthansa and ANA. (United's Global First private check-in room is located right next to first class TSA Pre security at the south end of the building.)
The Lufthansa check-in agent suggested I had access to the United Club across from the B16 departure gate or I could visit the United Polaris Lounge. I played unaware and asked which one I should visit. She said the Polaris Lounge was very popular.
Of course my intentions all along were to go there. It's in concourse C by gate 18.
After touring Polaris and spending some time in the United Club it was almost time to board and experience more excellent first class ground services.
Apparently Lufthansa has taken boarding lessons from United.
What a difference it is boarding Lufthansa at O'Hare versus being driven to the plane with a personal escort in Frankfurt after enjoying a nice sit down meal at their First Class Terminal.
There can be no argument, the Lufthansa First Class entry is magnificent.
First class preparations were well underway.
My seat would be 2K tonight in a 100% occupied first class cabin. The last time I was on this late departure to Frankfurt I was the lone occupant up front.
I love the color contrasts of the Lufthansa first class cabin. These natural tones make me feel right at home. My favorite seat, 1A had been reserved. But then again any seat up front is just fine on this 747-8i. Aesthetically the LH B474-8i nose might be my favorite.
Seats 3A and 3K are slightly set back from the row 3 center seats.
The lone 2 seats for couples who wish to sit together complete the 8 seat first class cabin.
There's no need to use the overhead bins (which I'm surprised they didn't remove to add more openness to the area) because each seat has their own locker (as seen in the photo above behind the right side seat). In addition each seat has an ottoman that opens from the top and will hold a fairly large shoulder bag or duffel type bag.
My favorite view on a 747 is of the ceiling up front. This one is especially nice.
I requested pajamas and headed off to the lavatory to get comfortable. (Note: The trousers run large…or the tops run small.)
As you might expect, the lavatories on this 747-8i are good size.
I returned to find lovely glass of champagne along with Lufthansa's signature macadamia nuts.
Tonight they were serving a seasonal variety, the 2003 Cuvée Louise.
A moment of airplane joy before departure while sipping champagne.
On schedule the push from B16 followed by a short taxi to runway 28R then a 180 degree right turn on the O'Hare 2 departure which presented this gorgeous view of Chicago at night.
The next couple hours brought a light chop. Combined with the lighting of a night time flight resulted in a number of photos taking the brunt of mother nature's mild abuse.
An oshibori. Something doesn't smell right.
Followed by further confirmation something wasn't right in the form of the Amuse Bouche. A haphazard presentation of green beans and asparagus, because they didn't serve me enough asparagus on my last Lufthansa flight.
Two ladies attended the first class for tonight's flight to Frankfurt. Both were cordial and attentive. A purser did not stop by to introduce themselves, neither at the beginning or end of this flight.
Menu's were distributed. I selected the Chateau LaTour Martillac. This wine retails for about $30.
I began with caviar. The appetizer course is offered via cart service in Lufthansa first class. My flight attendant, whose name I've misplaced, made it clear how much she disliked caviar. "Like eating salt." "Poor sturgeons." Okay, but I really only partake when I fly first class on, uhh, Lufthansa. She recommended I try the scallop appetizer as well.
Maybe a snobbish first class complaint, but presentation?
The scallop suggestion was of little help.
There was no salad course. In fairness this was a late departure, 10:35 PM. A soup and/or salad might be on other menus, just not the late ones. Or maybe not.
I'm adverse to lobster and wanted protein as opposed to carbs, so my choice was beef by default.
A blurry photo actually helps from depicting how disgusting this dish was.
Showing a photo of the beef's inside temperature really isn't necessary, now is it? And the Bearnaise sauce was flavorless and had a consistency of water.
This was followed by a truly "first class" selection and presentation of cheese and crackers. Maybe United isn't so bad after-all. The cheese course difference between first class and business class on Lufthansa: In first you get 3 crackers, in business you get 2.
Yet the cheese course still would not be outdone by this "remarkable first class" dessert called Hazelnut Pot du Creme, half the size of a wafer cracker.
What a horrible and disappointing "first class" meal. Maybe the morning meal will be better. Not!
I remember my last time on this flight. After dinner (a great one), I sat back and enjoyed a nice glass of wine along with a fancy chocolate. Here is that photo.
It's just not the same.
Recently Lufthansa changed their amenity kits from the popular Rimowa hard case to a Jil Sander pouch.
Contents of the amenity kit included; socks, eye mask, comb, tiny box of skin care and a mini toothbrush. Doesn't it look like that pouch is awfully big for these few small items?
Fooled you, the prior photo is of the pouch folded in half. Below is what the pouch really looks like. It's huge! Maybe it's intended to be used for a tablet case or something. My intended use was the garbage.
Okay, I'll settle down for a bit.
Let's have a look at the seat.
A sample of lovely views from 2K.
Lufthansa is known for not having a robust selection of IFE content. Fortunately I found a TV series I wanted to watch, but no movies interested me. And like my last Lufthansa flight in business a few weeks earlier, the airshow was scatterbrained.
Lufthansa offers a quality set of Bose noise cancelling headphones. These are hard-wired to the seat so be sure to use the ear muffs provided in the amenity kit.
A water bottle is placed out of harm's way.
Seat controls are located on the left armrest.
While the right armrest houses the audio controler which must be used to control the IFE.
A handy storage compartment against the wall.
With electronics located on the face of the armrest against the wall.
And the electronically operated ottoman which can be brought forward for a foot rest by using one of the seat controls.
I didn't notice this light until I was de-planning. It appears to be a reading light when the seat's in bed mode.
A request to prepare the bed was made. The bed is fairly comfortable. I still think it lags behind other first class offerings other than maybe the duvet which was plush and generous. The pillow seemed larger than prior flights. I slept for a couple hours. Privacy was not an issue with the privacy wall extended, which I do not have a photo of. There was no mood lighting like they have upstairs in business class.
Actually it was late morning when I awoke, German time. Arrival was a little after 1 pm so it was 11 something.
Another standout memory from my prior experience was the European style muesli served before arrival. It looked like this:
Today breakfast was served by cart.
Do you have muesli?
Yes, would you like milk?
It is dry?
I can do that at home.
I opted for fresh berries along with coffee. There were no croissants, muffins or danish pastries. Only a roll as shown.
I asked for some scrambled eggs.
It doesn't take a Michelin chef to know that when you see the whites of their eyes, you've ruined the dish. And another lovely presentation don't you think?
An on-time arrival.
With the weather depicting the rating of this experience.
I actually think my United first class flight from Shanghai was better than this, which pains me to say. United's amenity kit and pajamas were better. United's dessert was better with everything else equally bad. United's bedding was far better. United's crew were slightly better. Of course Lufthansa has a much newer 747 in the dash 8 over the 20 year-old 400. Lufthansa had better champagne and served caviar. Both IFE's were terrible although United's was super terrible. Both departure ground services were nonexistent. And United cost less. Add it up. Of course all this disappointment changes once we arrive in Frankfurt and head to the Lufthansa first class lounge in concourse B.
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