Review of Lufthansa flight Seattle Frankfurt in Economy

Airline Lufthansa
Flight LH491
Class Economy
Seat 37A
Aircraft Boeing 747-400
Flight time 09:45
Take-off 08 May 19, 13:50
Arrival at 09 May 19, 08:35
LH   #50 out of 132 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 1014 reviews
jetcitytraveller
Published on 24th August 2019

Introduction


Greetings all, and welcome to my new trip report. This flight was the first leg in a trip to Berlin, my first time visiting Germany or Europe in general. I took this trip with my father, who was visiting Berlin for a business trip, and let me take time off from class (I'm in high school) to visit the city. We decided to take Lufthansa since it had a convenient schedule for our needs, and it had the added bonus of being able to fly on the increasingly rare Boeing 747.

My itinerary for this trip is as follows:
May 8: LH 491, dep. SEA 1:50 pm, arr. FRA 8:35 am (+1)
May 9: LH 180, dep. FRA 10:45 am, arr. TXL 11:55 am
May 13: LH 175, dep. TXL 7:45 am, arr. FRA 8:55 am
May 13: LH 490, dep. FRA 10:45 am, arr. SEA 11:55 am

Sea-Tac Airport


Unfortunately, the travel experience started out a bit rough for this trip. My dad and I had planned to take an 8:30 ferry to Seattle then take the light rail to the airport, arriving there around 10:45, but the 8:30 sailing ended up being cancelled due to maintenance issues, so we took the next ferry an hour later. We weren't in any danger of missing our flight, but we ended up taking an Uber to the airport, getting dropped off at the Lufthansa check-in counter at about 11:30.
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There was a bit of a line, but it moved fairly quickly. I had already checked in online the day before, so the only thing that needed to be done was getting boarding passes and dropping bags. After that was done, I went through security. I don't have TSA Precheck, so I went through the regular security line.
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I was airside by about 12:20. I wanted something to tide me over before my flight, so I had a bagel from a cafe in the main terminal. It was good, but nothing to write home about. Our flight started boarding at 1:10, so at 12:50, we headed over to Concourse B to take the train to the S gates, where our flight was leaving out of.
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I didn't have much time for plane spotting, but it was international prime-time in Seattle, so I was able to snap pictures of JAL, ANA, and Virgin Atlantic 787s parked near my gate.
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Annoyingly, my plane was parked at the corner of the terminal, where getting a shot of the aircraft was impossible, Lufthansa's boarding process in Seattle had us lining up by rows, and since I was in the forward section of the economy section, I got on towards the end.
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Lufthansa Flight 491: Seattle to Frankfurt


Around 1:30, I finally boarded.
A closer view of the 747 that would soon take me across the Atlantic Ocean. I was flying on D-ABVP, a 22.2 year old 1997-built Boeing 747-400 that had spent its entire life with Lufthansa.
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The elusive staircase. Oh, what I would give to fly on the upper deck of a 747 someday.
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Cabin view during boarding.
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I had paid for a seat assignment when I booked my flights, so I sat in the forward coach cabin, at seat 37A. Lufthansa 747-400 economy has 31 inches of pitch, and has a fairly comfortable seat, though the legroom wasn't great for me (I'm 6'4" or 1.93 m). Blankets and pillows were distributed at every seat, and although they weren't of great quality, it was better than nothing, so they were appreciated nonetheless. As for power, there was a USB port at every seat, and 2 underseat power outlets for every row of 3 seats. The overhead bins were small and dated, but that wasn't an issue for me since I put my backpack under my seat.
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Despite being an older 747, it had a fairly new IFE system.
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It didn't have individual air vents though, which was annoying, since it got kind of warm mid-flight.
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Headphones were distributed to passengers who wanted them before pushback.
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Being peak hour for international departures, there was some ground congestion, so we pushed back at about 2:15, 25 minutes behind schedule. I noticed that there was an empty middle seat between me and my seat mate, and the extra space to store items was appreciated. The safety video was played in German, then English, as we taxied out.
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At 2:34 we lined up for takeoff, on runway 34R/16L.
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A link to a takeoff video is attached below, in case you want to check that out.

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Flying over downtown Seattle.
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Passing over Paine Field, a.k.a., the 747's birthplace, and the San Juan Islands.
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Around this time, I decided to fire up the IFE system, to see what it offered. It had a good selection of TV shows, movies, games, and some videos about Lufthansa and Germany, but I mostly kept it on the moving map, which was rather high-quality.
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Around Kelowna, cabin service started, with pretzels and a drink service. Hot towelettes were distributed shortly thereafter. Like I said, this was my first international flight so I didn't know what to expect and if this is normally done on other airlines, but this was a nice touch that I liked.
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Flying over what I believe is Banff, Alberta.
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Somewhere between Alberta and Saskatchewan, dinner service started. The choices for coach were teriyaki chicken with rice, or pasta puttanesca. I decided to have the chicken, which seemed to be a popular choice. It came with a side salad, crackers with cheese, a roll with butter, and a brownie.
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The brownie was a bit dry, but everything else was good, and the portion size was decent. So far, I was feeling impressed with Lufthansa, and thought their catering was good (though my latter opinion would change once breakfast was served). After the dinner service finished up, we had about 6 hours left in the flight. It was about 5 pm in Seattle, still fairly early, so I chose to listen to some music, do some work, and read a bit of my Rick Steves guidebook about Berlin. I periodically looked outside at the Canadian landscape. I want to say this was around Hudson Bay, but I'm not entirely sure.
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Around this time, I decided to walk around the aircraft a bit to stretch my legs, and change into some more comfortable clothes, in the hope that I could get some sleep. The cabin lights had been dimmed by now.
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I visited one of the lavatories in the rear of the aircraft, and found it spacious, but a bit dirty and somewhat less modern than newer aircraft (not that the latter point is a bad thing, per se)
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Heading back to my seat, I chatted with the FAs a bit, thanking them for the great service so far, mentioning that this was my first trip to Germany. They were nice but a bit standoffish, but I chalk that down to just them perhaps being busy, or the fact that some Europeans are less chatty than Americans. They had pretzels and a variety of pre-poured drinks available, which is a nice touch on such a long flight.
Making progress, slowly but surely.
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Then, I decided to call it a night (at about 7:30 pm Seattle time, 4:30 am in Frankfurt), took a melatonin pill that I brought with me, and tried to get comfortable. The blanket Lufthansa supplied me with was adequate, but the pillow was a bit lacking; I was glad I had brought one of my own. I slept fitfully for about 2 hours between eastern Canada and Iceland, mainly because I wasn't able to get comfortable and it was still early in Seattle. Due to the northern routing of the flight, it didn't get very dark, but I awoke briefly over western Greenland, to see this. I'm not sure if it was the sun setting or rising, but it looked cool, especially with the tundra in view below.
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After I was done with trying to sleep, I changed back into my regular clothes, and just tried to relax until breakfast. I also tried out their WiFi, which wasn't free, but had a little bit of complimentary content available. I was starting to get a bit dehydrated around this time, due to the 747 being an older aircraft, and water services not being terribly frequent.
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Around the British Isles, hot towels were distributed again, and breakfast was served. Only one choice this time (other than special meals, I presume), just eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms as the main dish, and then a fruit bowl and roll on the side.
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If the photo didn't give it away…oh my gosh, that was awful. The eggs were dry and had a weird texture, the mushrooms were bad (though I've never been a big mushroom guy myself), and the fruit plate was sad. I ate it since I had no choice, but it was easily the worst meal I've had on a plane. IMO, even something cheap like a muffin or breakfast sandwich would be better than this. However, I was still impressed overall with Lufthansa, and the catering on the flight home was good, so I'll just consider this an anomaly in the service.
The pilots announced that we had begun descent over the English Channel. They mentioned that we'd be a little bit late into Frankfurt, getting in just past 9 am, due to some drone sightings there that closed the airport briefly. My flight to TXL wasn't supposed to depart until 10:45, so I wasn't worried, but still found it a bit weird.
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Breaking through the clouds over Benelux.
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On final approach to Frankfurt.
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Landed!
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While taxiing to the gate, I turned off Airplane Mode. It took a couple of minutes for my phone's international plan to kick in, but once it did, I got this message.
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I was a bit surprised to see this, since I didn't know how many flights were disrupted from FRA being closed. Looking at Flightradar24, apparently all the U.S. flights got in without too much trouble, but lots of inter-European flights were affected. My plane to Berlin was doing a Hamburg-Frankfurt flight earlier that morning, but it had been cancelled, stranding the aircraft there. I wasn't the only passenger with this issue either, since my seatmate heading to Athens had her flight cancelled, and ditto with my dad's seatmate heading to Prague (I think?). I tried to not worry about it too much though, and just focused on getting rebooked once I got parked at the gate.
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I kind of like that Lufthansa has their crane logo at every gate at Frankfurt. Appropriate, given that it's their flagship hub.
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Disembarking.
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One last look at D-ABVP parked at gate Z50. It would fly to Philadelphia next in a few hours.
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Brief overview of FRA-TXL and my visit of Berlin


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Verdict

Lufthansa

7.9/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering6.5

Seattle - SEA

8.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Frankfurt - FRA

8.4/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness9.5

Conclusion

Overall, I was fairly satisfied with Lufthansa on this trip. The crew was friendly, the seat was decent, and the IFE was good. Getting a ride on the increasingly rare 747-400 was nice too. My only gripes were with the subpar breakfast service, dry cabin, and the flight not being well-timed for sleeping, but they weren't too important, in the whole scheme of things. Thank you for reading my Flight-Report, and feel free to like it, or leave a comment if you have feedback or any questions.

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6 Comments

  • Comment 518753 by
    Ohsamuel 23 Comments

    Thank you for this FR. I’m surprised KH have great IFE on their old planes.

  • Comment 518763 by
    757Fan 531 Comments

    Nice report. I used to fly through Seattle a lot, and saw LH's daily service to FRA boarding from the S gates at several times. I also like to take melatonin on flights; usually helps with sleep when the seats are not very comfortable!

    • Comment 518963 by
      jetcitytraveller AUTHOR 13 Comments

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed my report! I agree that melatonin is useful to sleep, but this flight just left too early to be able to sleep for a long time, given that breakfast starts about an hour and a half before landing when it was 10 pm in Seattle. However, the Frankfurt-Seattle flight is perfectly timed for minimal jetlag, so from a financial standpoint I can understand the early departure to Frankfurt, since Lufthansa likely doesn't want a 747 sitting on the ground in Seattle all day.

  • Comment 519303 by
    CanadianWings 18 Comments

    Nice flight report on Lufthansa. It's nice to see some airlines still using B747-400s on long-haul routes unlike other carriers who are replacing them with other aircraft.

  • Comment 519453 by
    KL651 TEAM 4433 Comments

    Thanks for a nicely written review.
    Berlin is definitely a unique city in Europe with all that history and that mix of a gone era of west and east blocks.
    LH usual service here, I find their offering so standardized, it's boring.
    No bad surprise, but no personal touch, no effort beyond what's supposed to be offered.
    As a European who speaks German and often goes to German speaking countries, I actually avoid LH because of their robotic crew.

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