Review of Lufthansa flight Frankfurt Beijing in Business

Airline Lufthansa
Flight LH720
Class Business
Seat 2C
Aircraft Boeing 747-400
Flight time 09:40
Take-off 04 Jan 19, 17:47
Arrival at 05 Jan 19, 10:27
LH   #50 out of 131 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 1033 reviews
YGeorgeW
By SILVER 1430
Published on 16th January 2019
Originally, this was meant to be the second segment of my Lufthansa first class journey to China. However, due to a mechanical issue, I found out about a few hours prior to departure that the plane had to be changed to a 747-400 without a first class configuration. It was a huge disappointment. I tried to see if they could rebook me on another route or a different carrier, but was told that was not possible. Lufthansa said only remedy was asking United for a refund of miles. I did some research on FlyerTalk as well as posted on ThePointsGuy Lounge on Facebook and One MIle at a Time's Ask Lucky page soliciting advice. After a lot of helpful (and unhelpful suggestions), I came to the conclusion that EU261 applied to my situation and I could at least ask for a partial refund of the second segment's miles cost. Originally I wanted to post this report after the resolution of this compensation claim, but decided to go ahead and post it anyways. I will update this report once I resolve that situation.

Update: After some back and forth between United and Lufthansa over the course of a few weeks (in which Lufthansa was absolutely non-responsive), United deposited 30k UA miles back into the account. This was what was offered initially on the phone with United on the first call. So despite all the issues with MileagePlus recently, I have the commend the UA agents that took care of this. They were prompt with their responses and seemed genuine. In the end, spending 90,000 UA miles to fly halfway in LH F and experience the First Class Terminal was worth it to me.

2019 January Trip



Lufthansa, ORD-FRA, 747-8I, First, United Polaris Lounge (Click Here)
Lufthansa, FRA-PEK, 747-400, Business, Lufthansa First Class Terminal (You are here!)
Air China, PEK-HFE, 737-800, Economy (Click Here)
China Eastern, HFE-TPE, A320, Economy (Click Here)
EVA Airways, TPE-ORD, 777-300ER, Business, EVA The Infinity Lounge (Click Here)

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Lufthansa First Class Terminal



My flight from Chicago arrived early in the morning. I felt like I walked for forever before reaching immigration to exit the airport. I was wearing a new pair of Sperrys and my heels were killing me by the time I got outside. I think it took me roughly 20 minutes before I was outside. I took an immediate left and kept walking. Pretty soon the fabled FCT was in sight.



I took the elevator up and was surprised to find quite a few passengers arriving at the same time. There was even an entire family of four coming in. My personal assistant walked up to greet me. I handed him my boarding pass and passport and went through the short security process. After security, my PA escorted me in and asked if this was my first time. I told him yes and he offered a quick tour.

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There is a duty free shop right outside of the doors to the lounge itself. I stopped by later, wanting to buy a model 747-8, to learn that they are separate from Lufthansa and do not offer those at the shop. In any case, I decided against buying a model on the plane because of space in my carry-on (and I wanted souvenirs from Taipei later). There is a case of the famous rubber ducks right next to the door as well.

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The FCT is very large given how few passengers are in it at any given time. When I wrote earlier I was surprised at how many passengers were arriving, I meant that there were maybe 15 total passengers in the FCT. My PA gave me a quick tour of the different areas (these pictures come from different times during the day).

Immediately to the right is the bar and dining area. There is also a nice counter in the middle where the guestbook is. Of course, I signed it later.

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There are many sitting areas, all arranged the same with the same assortment of snacks on them. There is only a single TV in the lounge, but I cannot imagine why you would want to watch TV instead of making the most of your time in here.



Across from the dining area is the cigar lounge.

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To the far left there is a set of long lounge chairs with blankets that overlooks the Frankfurt airport. If the nap rooms are taken, this is where you want to go to rest.

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In between the lounge chairs and the entrance, on a slightly elevated area, are individual offices for you to work in.

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The bathrooms are located right next to the concierge for the bath and shower rooms. They were always kept very clean and even had a shoe-shining machine in the corner. There are no paper towels, rather it is a real towel that you deposit into the bin after washing your hands. It's a nice little touch.



I was feeling fairly tired at this point and told my PA I would like to eat breakfast before sleeping in one of the nap rooms. He immediately went to reserve one of the nap rooms for me as I took a seat in the dining area.

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He came back a short while later telling me one of the rooms had been reserved and presenting me with a rubber duck. He must have taken note when I was taking a picture of the rubber duck display - gotta love proactive service.

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A server came by shortly to ask for my order. It's a sign of how tired I was when I couldn't read the menu and fumbled around for a bit before she suggested the eggs benedict. It wasn't until she left that I realized I had been trying to read the German side of the menu. Here's the English menu.

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The eggs benedict was delicious and hit the spot. Eating it was a little messy, however. I also requested a glass of orange juice along with the meal.

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I ate fairly quickly because I wanted to nap and was shown to my nap room immediately. The decor of the room was nice, but I am not sure whether the light display along the side is practical in any way. There are two bottles of water in the room as well as an eyemask and earplugs. In a corner there are some racks for hanging your clothes. The bed itself was a little too firm for my taste. I'm also not sure why the bed isn't bigger - all that wooden surface that surrounds the bed seems to be a waste of space. As I napped, I could definitely hear footsteps from the outside, so sound travels. If I had one criticism of the First Class Terminal, it would be the nap rooms could use a bit of work.



I passed out for a little more than 3 hours and woke up a bit before Noon. I went to reserve the bath and was told it would be quite a wait, I said that was fine since my flight did not depart until 5:20pm. Afterwards I went to the dining area again and took some pictures of the buffet before sitting down to order.



Here is the a la carte menu (I'll apologize now for capturing them in portrait rather than landscape - they were very long and narrow menus).



Here is the drinks menu.



For the appetizer I ordered the tom ka gai - it was delicious and filled with generous portions of chicken and mushrooms. Since I chose a soup, I did not immediately start with a drink.

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For the entree I went with the steak and salad. I know some people will fault me for not ordering the Wiener schnitzel, but I had it several times before in both Germany and Austria and I simply was not impressed. The steak was excellent and a perfect medium rare. The salad was very good (and this is coming from a guy who dislikes salads). I had a glass of the 2016 St. Anthony Pinot Noir to go with it, it was decent, but not great.

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For dessert, I had the vanilla ice cream doused with warm chocolate sauce - a simple delight with a beautiful presentation.

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It was during the entree that my personal assistant came by with a somber expression. He apologized and said that due to a mechanical issue, the plane has been changed to a 747-400, which does not have a first class cabin. I was floored. I asked if there was anything that could be done such as rebooking me on another route or rebooking me on another carrier's flight. He regretfully said there was nothing that can be done and explained I should contact United MileagePlus for a partial refund of my miles. I know that it is an incredibly privileged problem to have: downgrading from first class to business class, but in the case of Lufthansa's cabins - the two classes are night and day. I've flown Lufthansa Business Class several times before and have found the hard product to be quite uncompetitive. I couldn't help but be rather irritated for a while, but figured that just means I need to soak it in (literally) while I can at the FCT. It also made me regret skipping breakfast on the ORD-FRA leg as it means I will not be able to review it on this trip.

I went to the bar after lunch - this is a part I had been eagerly anticipating. This is by far the largest collection of whisky I've seen. I am a scotch fan, but without too much experience. I told the bartender I would like to do a tasting and explained that I am rather fond of Macallan. He took it from there.

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We started off with four:

The Balvenie 12 Years (~$47, TotalWine)
Glenfarcas 25 Years (~$160, TotalWine)
Glenmorangie Signet (~$210, TotalWine)
Dalmore King Alexander III (~$250, TotalWine)

I enjoyed the Dalmore the best by far (and this is before knowing the prices). It was very smooth. You can tell by looking at the bottle that it is a very popular choice amongst FCT passengers.

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The bartender shift switched after I was finished with the first four. I could overhear the new bartender asking the old one about my whisky preferences - so she could continue recommending different ones for tasting. Now that's good service! She was surprised to hear that I had never tried Japanese whisky before, so she recommended I taste these:

Glenfiddich Gran Reserva (~$190, TotalWine)
Hibiki Japanese Harmony Master's Select ($250, JapaneseDrams)

The Hibiki was very good (the Master's Select is an interesting special release of the Harmony), but I still preferred the Dalmore over it.

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While I was tasting the last two scotches, the bath/shower attendant came up to let me know the bath was ready. I ordered a glass of the Bollinger Special Cuvee ($60, Wine.com) to take with me. She led me to the bath room and told me to let her know if I required any additional amenities. The room also contained a shower (perfect for rinsing off afterwards) and its own toilet. I luxuriated for about an hour, grinning from ear-to-ear at the thought that I was sitting in a bath with a glass of champagne as part of a layover. I rinsed off in the shower and left to get a little work done.



I went over by the lounge chairs to work (no, not the most productive seat to work from) and to check to see if my posts regarding the downgrade had been allowed by the moderators - they had not, so I spent a little time looking up EU261 as well. Almost as soon as I sat down, a staff member came by to ask if I needed anything. I asked for a glass of the Louis Roederer Rose 2011 ($80, Wine.com). Out of the different champagnes in the lounge, this was probably my favorite.

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After a while and chatting with a passenger who was returning to Canada, I went for another bite. It was ~45 minutes to the scheduled boarding and since I was downgraded I figured I might as well eat a little more in the FCT. I just had the Chilean sea bass, which was both on the a la carte menu and available from the buffet. It was very nicely done and delicious. I had a glass of the Ruinart R. (~$48, Vivino) with it.

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I should probably add that I tried about 4-5 types of different still waters while I was at the FCT. I honestly could not tell the difference between them, but the FCT does have a large and varied offering of different still and sparkling water.

Soon it was getting close to departure time. The PA holds onto your passport and will come get you when its time (usually after boarding has begun). However, there is a departure board that shows only the flights on which passengers in the FCT are departing from. It's a short list.

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Soon enough, a different personal assistant came to get me for boarding. She put me in the elevator before going down the staircase herself - I'm not sure why we go down separately.

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Passport control took all of two seconds and I was introduced to my driver and the Porsche Panamera waiting to take me to my flight.

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The driver offered to take pictures now or at the gate - I opted for the latter. He apologized that it was going to be a very short ride as the plane was parked very close to the FCT - another issue arising from the plane change: no plane spotting while driving through the tarmac.

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As he said, we were at the plane shortly. A 747, but not the 747-8I unfortunately.

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LH720, FRA-PEK



The Lufthansa agent took me up the elevator to the area right next to the jet bridge. Something seemed a little off though, because I could see the gate area from the windows and there was a huge line, without anyone moving.

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As we approached the door, the agent noted that there was no one waiting there and asked me to wait outside as he went onboard to see what was going on. He brought me in a short while afterwards and the cabin crew welcomed me to the cabin. I was the only passenger on the plane and will be for quite a bit of time. Apparently, there was a miscommunication between the FCT and the gate agents. I heard the purser make a call - I didn't understand it as it was in German, but I did distinctly hear "First Class Terminal" during the conversation. One of the flight attendants, Johanna, introduced herself to me and apologized for the plane change and subsequent downgrade. She told me she was sad as well because she was supposed to serve the first class cabin. Johanna was very good throughout the flight and always addressed me by name - though none of the other flight attendants did. She took my coat and offered a pre-departure beverage of some sparkling wine and almonds (for whatever reason I did not take a picture of the drink with the almonds, sorry!).

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The nose of Lufthansa's 747-400 offered 17 business class seats in mostly a 2-2 configuration. It was a decently spacious business class cabin due to the shape of the nose. There is a single middle seat in row 4 that makes it a 2-1-2 configuration for that row. 4D is the only one where you have direct aisle access without anyone having to step over you. It is quite exposed however and is right next to aisle traffic on both sides. Personally I would prefer the bulkhead seats because their footwells are significantly larger than the footwells of other seats.

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I was seated in 2C, the portside aisle seat in row 2. The seats looked like the standard Lufthansa business class seat, but the footwells were smaller in comparison to the last time I flew a Lufthansa business class flight. Those seats were angled in towards each other though, with larger footwells that are awkwardly right next to each other. Either way, it is hardly a cutting-edge product. Even United's B/E Aerospace Diamond seats are better. There was a small, thin pad rolled up in a bag waiting on the footwell. A small storage compartment at the foot of the seat has an amenity kit already placed there. The armrest between the seats also had a small area for placing drinks, but the space is rather narrow. The space underneath the footwell is meant for placing your shoes, but was just large enough to accommodate my backpack.



Seeing the plane was empty for now, I decided to go take a picture of the staircase and the upper-deck cabin. I love staircases on flights. I forgot to take a picture of the second business class cabin on the main deck - I would try to avoid it. It is arranged in a 2-3-2 format.

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The IFE screen seemed at most a little smaller than the first class IFEs (I did not actually measure them so I do not know). However, because the seat is much closer, it actually presents a better viewing. The headphones for the aisle seat were in a small opening on the side of the armrest. One thing to note: the headphones for the window seat is placed in an out-of-the-way opening along the fuselage. My neighbor did not manage to find them and had to ask me to help find his pair. The headphones were Bose headphones, but much smaller and nowhere near as comfortable as those in first class. One thing to note, however, the business class controllers, despite overall being simpler, has a little scroll function that allows for better control of whatever you're viewing. This allows you to save time by selecting where within the movie you want to jump to or just expedites the movie selection process since you do not have to click through each option. So overall I would actually rate the entertainment system as better than the one in first class. I chose to begin the flight by finishing Lincoln. It was a splendid film. I moved onto Dunkirk after that - a very powerful movie and very well done. I especially enjoyed the fact that they opted to not include any of the major historical figures in the film - it was just a film about different people trying to survive or help on that fateful day.



The flight was originally scheduled to depart at 5:20pm, but actual boarding did not actually begin until after 5:00pm. A voice came over the intercom to say, "Flight attendants prepare for boarding. Passengers in one." It's rather rare to be onboard when that happens :) I received my menu much earlier than the other passengers as a result of my boarding so early, so here it is (my apologies for forgetting to take the pictures in landscape):



The flight was very full, with only one open seat in the nose cabin. My seatmate later told me that LH720 was the most popular flight for German expats living in Beijing. We finally pushed back at 5:47pm and took off at 6:07pm, more than 45 minutes after the originally scheduled time. Meal service began with a hot towel nearly an hour after takeoff, not sure why it took so long. Pajama tops were offered around this time. I thought the navy was a good color, but the tops were not fashionable in comparison to the first class tops. No bottoms (or scarves for that matter) were offered. Most people declined the tops, but I took one and changed into it for research purposes. The top was comfortable, but ever so slightly too short for my 5'8 frame. However, a large would likely have been overly voluminous given my build. I also opened the amenity kit to grab a nightmask and earplugs. The rest of the kit contained the usual - though I'm not exactly sure what the "precious cream" is for.



The business class bathrooms on the 747-400 are small, comparable to bathrooms on United's 777-200s. There was just enough space to change and turn around in. It also offered some standard amenities such as combs and mouthwash.

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As I mentioned previously, meal service began with a hot towel:

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Instead of wine, I went with Erdinger Weissbier - a decent wheat beer, but nothing compared to my favorite: Schneider Weisse.

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For the appetizer I chose the prawn confit. It was actually better than the spicy grilled shrimp appetizer from the first class flight.

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For my entree I went with the fish option again: a fried Artic char. The other choices were a roast beef (avoid on planes!) and a pork belly (the Chinese option). If this were an Asian airline I would have opted for the pork belly, but I've learned my lesson regarding ordering the Asian option on Lufthansa before. The fish was a little dry, but otherwise a decent meal for business class.

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For dessert I chose the flummery of polenta - it was very good.

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Meal service finished with a chocolate. I did not try it. Overall, service was attentive throughout, with Johanna offering refills or a new drink several times, but I declined and simply nursed my single beer. My issue is with the pace - it was roughly 3 hours after takeoff that the service ended. On a business class redeye you should be trying to maximize the amount of time for sleep, so this seemed excessive.

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I am not sure if turndown service is offered, but the mattress "pad" was very simple, so I just did it myself. You simply lay the pad on the seat - there is no hook or anything. It doesn't even stretch the length of the seat. While I found the duvet comfortable, the pillow was rather thin. Moreover, due to how narrow the seat is and the tiny footwell, I felt both very constrained and also very exposed to the aisle at the same time - not a good combination. I slept on and off for about 3 hours - there was a crying baby in the first row. I put on noise-cancelling headphones and earplugs, but it wasn't quite enough to drown out the sound completely. I eventually gave up and picked another movie: Baywatch. It was silly, but funny enough.

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Breakfast service did not all occur at once - flight attendants approached those who were sitting up offered them breakfast. I like this approach as it does not wake everyone up. I opted for breakfast a little more than one hour before landing. I went with the scrambled eggs option. The eggs were mediocre (as to be expected for airplane eggs), but filling enough - overall a passable breakfast. I was excited to see that they had laugenbroetchen once again and it almost as good as the two I had in first class - just a bit on the lukewarm side. I had a cup of tea and a glass of orange juice to go along with the meal. The tea was not good, but I don't expect tea to be great on a non-Asian airline.

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We landed at 10:08am - nearly 40 minutes after the original 9:30am arrival time. The landing itself was smooth, but for whatever reason there was a really sudden braking action after landing that was quite a bit more jarring than usual. The plane slowed down far more abruptly than normal. We taxied for 19 minutes afterwards - I've noticed that at PEK, the taxi time is always long or at least feels like it takes forever. After exiting the jetbridge, there was a young representative waiting for me with my name. He took my roller carry-on and escorted me through immigration. China has these new fingerprinting kiosks that you have to use before going through immigration. I'm not sure what the purpose of them are as you have to do another set of fingerprints when you come to the immigration agent. I was thankful for the escort because the first three kiosks I tried didn't work. We eventually got a machine to accept my passport and fingerprints though. The escort is a nice touch, but hardly necessary. It was just nice company as I walked through. Note that they are not Lufthansa employees but rather a service Lufthansa contracts in Beijing.

A family acquaintance met me at the airport, then we were off to Beijing.

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Verdict

Lufthansa

6.4/10
Cabin5.0
Cabin crew7.0
Entertainment/wifi7.5
Meal/catering6.0

Lufthansa - First Class

9.0/10
Comfort9.0
Meal/catering9.5
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services9.5

Frankfurt - FRA

8.8/10
Efficiency7.0
Access9.0
Services9.5
Cleanliness9.5

Beijing - PEK

6.3/10
Efficiency4.0
Access5.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

Overall, the experience was very much marred by the downgrade, but I'm still thankful to have gotten to enjoy the FCT.

Lounge: The First Class Terminal was everything I expected to be. Service was consistent, attentive, and personalized. Everyone was more than happy to explain things to me as it was my first time there. The a la carte dining was phenomenal. The whiskey tasting was a great experience as well. As short as the Porsche transfer was, it's a thrilling way to board a plane. The only thing I would nitpick about is improving the nap rooms. I cannot wait to find an excuse to fly LH F out of Frankfurt so I can experience this again (and hopefully board an actual first class cabin).

Cabin & Seat: Lufthansa's current business class product leaves a lot to be desired. The soft product actually isn't bad. They rolled out quite a few improvements in early 2018 and it's noticeably better. You just expect a lot more out of the hard product from a Skytrax 5-star airline. Since the seat is everything in business class, Lufthansa's ratings take a hit here. I'm looking forward to 2020 when they get new seats in a 1-2-1 layout. It'll be a good trans-Atlantic product by then, I hope. Until then, for trans-Atlantic trips I would probably prefer United's product so long as it isn't the old 2-4-2 layout in business.

Service: In the past I've always found Lufthansa's business class service to be friendly and efficient. I would describe it as a bit assembly-line-like, but gets the job done, which is important for a 8 to 9-hour redeye flight where you're trying to maximize sleep. However, this particular flight the meal service took a really long time. The flight attendants were warm and friendly, but I'd prefer a faster meal service.

Meal & Catering: Surprisingly it wasn't so bad. It's far from the best business class meal I've ever had (that award goes to a Turkish Airlines flight I took almost 6 years ago), but everything was decent.

Bottom Line: The FCT is definitely an experience everyone should try to enjoy once. Lufthansa's First Class experience simply isn't complete without it. As for its business class product, it's definitely not my preferred business class on Star Alliance. The soft product has seen some improvements since I flew them last in 2016 though. I will definitely try them out again when they have the new 1-2-1 business class layout in 2020.

Information on the route Frankfurt (FRA) Beijing (PEK)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 7 reviews of 2 airlines on the route Frankfurt (FRA) → Beijing (PEK).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Lufthansa with 7.4/10.

The average flight time is 9 hours and 27 minutes.

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11 Comments

  • Comment 484213 by
    atco SILVER 99 Comments

    Hi YGeorgeW,

    Great and extensive report. I always love to see an in-depth review of the legendary Lufthansa FCT. Its on my bucket list for sure and I'm hoping to be there in June if LH releases some partner seats 15 days before. I really hope to experience LH first soon it just looks so stylish.

    That's an absolutely brutal downgrade, I feel so sorry for you. As you say the difference between LH F and J is very significant and I'm very surprised that they wouldn't look into some other options for re-booking you. I'm sorry that happened to you, that's a really crappy thing to experience.
    Not surprised you were so annoyed, I think I would have been absolutely livid.

    Please keep us updated with any resolution you get, you should definitely be compensated for your cabin downgrade.

    The whole LH 5 star Skytrax sham was a real black eye for Skytrax credibility I think. Basing the rating on a J product that isn't even close to being in use, come on!
    I believe too that LH has no plans to retro-fit any of its currently in service aircraft with these new J cabins, it will only be for the 777X and new aircraft beyond then which is so poor. If BA manage to get their Club World refit right and introduce a competitive product I wonder would LH then qualify as the worst European airline J Class?

    Thanks for this very interesting series!

    • Comment 484580 by
      YGeorgeW SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment Atco!

      “Its on my bucket list for sure and I'm hoping to be there in June if LH releases some partner seats 15 days before.”
      -Yes! Just make sure you are departing from Frankfurt or have a connection that allows you entry into the FCT. I think LH is fairly consistent about releasing availability so long as you are a little flexible with the dates.

      “As you say the difference between LH F and J is very significant and I'm very surprised that they wouldn't look into some other options for re-booking you. I'm sorry that happened to you, that's a really crappy thing to experience.”
      -That’s what surprised me. I don’t understand why I couldn’t have been re-routed say FRA-MUC-PEK or FRA-ZRH-PEK (since Lufthansa also owns Swiss).

      “Please keep us updated with any resolution you get, you should definitely be compensated for your cabin downgrade.”
      -I definitely will do!

      “The whole LH 5 star Skytrax sham was a real black eye for Skytrax credibility I think. Basing the rating on a J product that isn't even close to being in use, come on!”
      -I feel like most of us don’t put too much faith in Skytrax ratings. For example, I’ve had quite a few friends fly Hainan before and rave about the service, but their J is 2-2-2…and since they don’t have a first class, how can that be 5 stars?

      “If BA manage to get their Club World refit right and introduce a competitive product I wonder would LH then qualify as the worst European airline J Class?”
      -Urgh, I’m not sure what LH’s plans are for its current fleet, but I sure hope not. I actually like Lufthansa a lot (based on my interactions with their crew) and hope they improve. In any case, for flying J to and from Europe. Once United gets their Polaris cabins refitted, I’d prefer that (plus it’ll be cheaper).

      Thanks again for reading!

  • Comment 484237 by
    socalnow GOLD 854 Comments

    YGeorgeW and thank you for sharing the FCT and LH experience with us.

    Well, you alluded to the downgrade in the first installment although I held out hope that it was something else, but no. The other option on FRA-PEK in F is Air China....so... Would you have considered a routing with a stop? Did you reach out to UA who ticketed your award? I find it hard to believe there was "nothing" that LH could do. NH, OZ have F via TYO and SEL. What about LH to PVG, HKG, ICN or SIN and a connection on OZ, CA or SQ. EVA J is even a better option. Heck they could have put you in LX F via ZRH.

    You handled the change in stride with great maturity and grace. I hope I could do the same but I'm not 100% certain. I might have been with Atco and been more toward the livid side of the scale. Not livid at the aircraft swap, those are inevitable, but I would wonder if the attempt at recovery/re-accommodation was half assed. Telling you take it up with UA? That's bull$hit.

    I've been TG'd before but never LH'd. I often wonder if the load on this flight (perhaps light up front and oversold in J and Y?) could cause an airline to fabricate a "mechanical" to make the flight more revenue positive with a better suited aircraft. It's a complete conspiracy theory with no basis in fact. It's just something that has crossed my mind when I was in the same situation... It also ignores the fact that the same airplane must fly back to FRA without F.

    Now the great part of the story, that lounge. Oh, my goodness you made wonderful use of your time there and all of the amenities that make it such a special place in our circles. Heck it's as much a destination as a stopover point to me! Having virtually a day there is like being at an all-inclusive resort...but a very high end one. Whisky tastings (the King Alexander was my fav. too) and Champagne flights and water sampling. You crossed every T and dotted every i. Bath Champagne is a must.

    The flight seemed like quality a quality J experience but not industry, or even Star Alliance, leading. The footsie seats without direct aisle access and the three-hour meal time are examples of shortcomings. Also, why couldn’t they have the F amenities for you on board? Yes, it would be extra work, but it would demonstrate an effort to make good.

    Thank you for the bonus food pictures from Beijing. It looks spectacular!

    Do update us on the status of your claim and any resolution and compensation.

    Thank you again for sharing and happy flying.

    • Comment 484582 by
      YGeorgeW SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment Socalnow!

      “Well, you alluded to the downgrade in the first installment although I held out hope that it was something else, but no. The other option on FRA-PEK in F is Air China....so... Would you have considered a routing with a stop? Did you reach out to UA who ticketed your award?”
      -I sent a message to UA, maybe I should have tried calling (I don’t have an international plan unfortunately). I don’t understand why they couldn’t re-route or book on another Star Alliance carrier. FRA-MUC-PEK or FRA-ZRH-PEK would have been what I thought. I also asked about other airlines—they said I would have to buy that ticket.

      “You handled the change in stride with great maturity and grace. I hope I could do the same but I'm not 100% certain. I might have been with Atco and been more toward the livid side of the scale. Not livid at the aircraft swap, those are inevitable, but I would wonder if the attempt at recovery/re-accommodation was half assed. Telling you take it up with UA? That's bull$hit.”
      -Yes, unfortunately, I was not at all equipped to deal with the situation and didn’t quite know what my rights were—hence frantically searching later. I was shocked that they kept saying there was nothing they could do.

      “I've been TG'd before but never LH'd. I often wonder if the load on this flight (perhaps light up front and oversold in J and Y?) could cause an airline to fabricate a "mechanical" to make the flight more revenue positive with a better suited aircraft.”
      -Not at a clue, this was the only flight in the surrounding two weeks that had a plane swap.

      “Heck it's as much a destination as a stopover point to me! Having virtually a day there is like being at an all-inclusive resort...but a very high end one. Whisky tastings (the King Alexander was my fav. too) and Champagne flights and water sampling. You crossed every T and dotted every i. Bath Champagne is a must.”
      -It’s why I planned such a long connection time there!

      “The flight seemed like quality a quality J experience but not industry, or even Star Alliance, leading. The footsie seats without direct aisle access and the three-hour meal time are examples of shortcomings.
      -Not at all, it’s rather unfortunate. In terms of flying J, there are so many I would take over LH (UA Polaris, NH, BR, OZ, OS, SQ, etc…).

      “Also, why couldn’t they have the F amenities for you on board? Yes, it would be extra work, but it would demonstrate an effort to make good.”
      -That would have been quite a good effort—I never even considered that. Seems like LH could use a few tips from you.

      Thank you for the bonus food pictures from Beijing. It looks spectacular!
      -My pleasure, I mostly just take pictures of food.

      Thanks again for reading!

  • Comment 484305 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4836 Comments

    Hi YGeorgeW! Sorry to hear about this disappointing downgrade experience and the totally unhelpful staff. Total BS to throw this on UA...the ticket was issued on LH and it was LH's operational problem! They should have absolutely rerouted you in your ticketed cabin F. It's unfortunate that whoever you were dealing with was either inexperienced, overwhelmed (very possible during IRROPS), or just plain lazy (hopefully not, but it happens!). I'm wondering if the staff in the FCT wouldn't have been able to help you, or at least press your case with someone higher up.

    I've been able to get compensation under EU261/2004 for delays on revenue tickets, but have no idea how it would work for a downgrade on an award ticket. Theoretically, as this is a long-haul flight, you would be entitled to a refund of 75% of the cost of that segment--so I guess 75% of the prorated amount of miles? Please do keep us updated as to the outcome, I would be very interested to see how this plays out, and of course the community can benefit from the data point.

    "I felt like I walked for forever before reaching immigration to exit the airport."
    - Hah! Yep, typical FRA! Between point A and point B is always an interminably looooong walk.

    The FCT is lovely as always. I like your taste in Whiskey!

    It's nice that the cabin crew made a special effort to recognise you were a First class passenger. Cabins in the nose of 747s always look nice and feel special, but if I had a choice, I'd prefer to be on the upper deck. And yeah, that Captain Kirk seat in the middle in row 4 is super awkward. Talk about being exposed! No thanks

    "I forgot to take a picture of the second business class cabin on the main deck - I would try to avoid it. It is arranged in a 2-3-2 format."
    - Lame...I was under the impression that LH had changed those to 2-2-2. Maybe they're still in the process of retrofitting...or maybe I heard wrong.

    LH's newish J seat is clearly not competitive, but at least they make an effort with the service of meals without a tray. Of course that doesn't make up for the lack of aisle-access and this product is definitely not worthy of 5⭐

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 484584 by
      YGeorgeW SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment KevinDC!

      “Total BS to throw this on UA...the ticket was issued on LH and it was LH's operational problem! They should have absolutely rerouted you in your ticketed cabin F. It's unfortunate that whoever you were dealing with was either inexperienced, overwhelmed (very possible during IRROPS), or just plain lazy (hopefully not, but it happens!). I'm wondering if the staff in the FCT wouldn't have been able to help you, or at least press your case with someone higher up.”
      -That’s what I don’t understand either given that they could have easily re-routed me via MUC or ZRH. It was FCT staff that I was communicating with the entire time—very disappointed on how they handled it.

      “Please do keep us updated as to the outcome, I would be very interested to see how this plays out, and of course the community can benefit from the data point.”
      -Will do, this isn’t a common situation since most downgrades are for a single segment (and the single segment was the whole or main part of the award ticket).

      “Hah! Yep, typical FRA! Between point A and point B is always an interminably looooong walk.”
      -Years ago because of a very delayed flight and misdirection from staff, I had to sprint across what felt like the entire airport. That day made me realize how huge Frankfurt is.

      “Cabins in the nose of 747s always look nice and feel special, but if I had a choice, I'd prefer to be on the upper deck. And yeah, that Captain Kirk seat in the middle in row 4 is super awkward. Talk about being exposed! No thanks.”
      -Yea, it’s a little too much exposure even for someone like me who doesn’t care that much about privacy. You do get to avoid someone stepping over you/vice versa though.

      “LH's newish J seat is clearly not competitive, but at least they make an effort with the service of meals without a tray. Of course that doesn't make up for the lack of aisle-access and this product is definitely not worthy of 5⭐”
      -The Skytrax rating is definitely suspect. I believe they overhauled the service in the last two years—it was better than the last time I flew them in J.

      Thanks again for reading!

  • Comment 484493 by
    hometoyyz SILVER 498 Comments

    Hello YGeorgeW!

    Even if your feet were hurting, I’m sure the walk to the FCT was joy. What a great experience that lounge is, from top to bottom.

    Oooooh, black and gold rubber duck. Very nice! I’ve only got the standard, and the “spa” female duck with a hair towel and a green “mask” on her face.

    That Bennedict looks fantastic. One of my favourite breakfast dishes. I shan’t critique your meal choice — the steak looks great too.

    And then the epic disappointment of the downgrade to the F-free 744. That is a crushing downgrade, but I suppose what can you do? Actually, I think you made the correct decision for what to do in that situation — hit the scotch. It’s especially frustrating because of the vasta delta between LH F and LH J as you point out. If that happened on, say, NH, it wouldn’t be nearly as bad, unless you somehow ended up put into the old “cradle” seats in J. But not many of them on longahaul.

    Three meals, lots of scotch, nap, bath… I’d say that is FCT time well used, despite the crushing disappointment of the downgrade.

    I didn’t know LH was offering PJs in J. That’s a decent value-add, I suppose.

    Meal service looks decent for J, although obviously a letdown after expecting F.

    Again, I’m sorry you didn’t end up getting the LH F experience booked. Was the flight originally 388, or 74H?

    As Socal said — please let us know what happens with the compensation resolution. I suppose UA could be jerks and say you got one first class segment, so it’s a first class ticket.

    I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    Thanks for sharing, and happy flying!

    • Comment 484585 by
      YGeorgeW SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment Hometoyyz!

      “Even if your feet were hurting, I’m sure the walk to the FCT was joy. What a great experience that lounge is, from top to bottom.”
      -I was grinning from ear to ear as I approached.

      “Oooooh, black and gold rubber duck. Very nice! I’ve only got the standard, and the “spa” female duck with a hair towel and a green “mask” on her face.”
      -Just more reasons to fly F out of Frankfurt! I was very happy with a non-standard duck for my first visit.

      “And then the epic disappointment of the downgrade to the F-free 744. That is a crushing downgrade, but I suppose what can you do? Actually, I think you made the correct decision for what to do in that situation — hit the scotch. It’s especially frustrating because of the vasta delta between LH F and LH J as you point out. If that happened on, say, NH, it wouldn’t be nearly as bad, unless you somehow ended up put into the old “cradle” seats in J. But not many of them on longahaul.”
      -I didn’t quite know what my rights were and I definitely did not want to cause a scene. I figured I should make the best of it. If I ended up spending the next few hours arguing with a LH agent instead of enjoying the FCT it would have been much worse.

      “I didn’t know LH was offering PJs in J. That’s a decent value-add, I suppose.”
      -It’s just the top, which is odd to me. Personally I think it’s far more important to be able to change your bottoms than your top. If you had to pick one or the other I would have preferred everyone be offered PJ bottoms.

      “Again, I’m sorry you didn’t end up getting the LH F experience booked. Was the flight originally 388, or 74H?”
      -74H

      “As Socal said — please let us know what happens with the compensation resolution. I suppose UA could be jerks and say you got one first class segment, so it’s a first class ticket.”
      -I will definitely keep everyone updated. So far, UA has been very nice and they’re working with LH as well.

      “I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.”
      -Thank you, please do!

      Thanks again for reading!

  • Comment 484621 by
    Rewardflying SILVER 447 Comments

    YGeorgeW
    Wow, sorry for this incident. There isn't much more I can add that hasn't been said above. If something like this happens again, go to my website rewardflying.com and contact me. Happy to help if I can. They could have put you on to MUC and then MUC-PEK on the A380.

    No duck at FCT?

    • Comment 484886 by
      YGeorgeW SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment Rewardflying!

      "If something like this happens again, go to my website rewardflying.com and contact me. Happy to help if I can."
      -Thank you so much! Of course, I'll be hoping that something like this won't happen again, but your expertise would have been very helpful. I'm a newbie in the miles and points world and was just caught completely off guard.

      "They could have put you on to MUC and then MUC-PEK on the A380."
      -Very sad they did not, I've never flown on the A380 before so it would have been a great experience.

      "No duck at FCT?"
      -I got one, the black and gold one.

      Thanks again!

  • Comment 490029 by
    YGeorgeW SILVER AUTHOR 79 Comments

    I just wanted to give everyone an update on the compensation situation. I also modified the report to show the exact same text, which I reproduced below. Hopefully this might be helpful to someone in the future (actually, hopefully not because I don't want anyone involuntarily downgraded).

    Update: After some back and forth between United and Lufthansa over the course of a few weeks (in which Lufthansa was absolutely non-responsive), United deposited 30k UA miles back into the account. This was what was offered initially on the phone with United on the first call. So despite all the issues with MileagePlus recently, I have the commend the UA agents that took care of this. They were prompt with their responses and seemed genuine. In the end, spending 90,000 UA miles to fly halfway in LH F and experience the First Class Terminal is worth it to me.

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