The airline with the best average rating is Lufthansa with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 7 hours and 50 minutes.More information
Report No: 2021-302
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I was backlogged in posting Flight-Report's, I have skipped some of my flights in late-December 2020 and early 2021 and jumped directly to March 2021. During these days, if I have time, I'll go back and post some other flights that I've skipped. However, I've found that it's worth skipping some US Domestic flight reports and reports on QR which I have covered numerous times in the past for post-COVID era travel.
Having secured both of my QRPC Platinum status and upgraded to BAEC Gold during the pandemic with mileage runs and the help of lower thresholds, now I reverted myself to Star Alliance as I still need some miles to protect my Miles&Smiles Elite Plus status. Although my status is currently valid until early 2023, I decided to take advantage and fly those required miles during the spring as I wouldn't be dealing with oneworld status at this time.
This short series would contain a transatlantic journey starting from Washington DC onboard Lufthansa's Premium Economy product to Frankfurt which would be followed by a connecting flight to Istanbul.
This flight would be onboard the Lufthansa A330-300 and would also cover the Lufthansa Senator Lounge in Washington Dulles Airport.
In this report, I would also give you the opportunity to compare the same exact flight with the pre-COVID service. You could access my report on the same exact flight 2 years before this one ( in 2019 ) in Premium Economy by clicking here.
For those wondering the pre-COVID United service on this route in Economy, you could access my Flight-Report on the same exact route, which I've taken just before borders have been closed last year, by clicking here.
Here is the routing;
Loads for this flight:
Business Class: %30-35
Premium Economy: %25-30
This flight was originally booked on an L fare class ticket which is one of the lowest Economy booking classes. However, as Lufthansa offers bid-upgrades through their website, I've decided to try my luck and bid $100 for this specific flight to upgrade myself to Premium Economy. The bid window closes 72 hours before departure and about 70-72 hours before departure, I received the upgrade confirmation from Lufthansa and it was confirmed that I was going to travel on Premium Economy on this flight. A bid-upgrade to Business Class is also possible and if I recall correctly, the lowest bid for that was somewhere between $400-500.
For those interested, the lowest bid that I could offer was $75 for this flight.
I have also completed online check-in about 20-21 hours before departure. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to print a boarding pass or issue a mobile boarding pass for this flight because my negative COVID test which is required for my final destination must be checked by an agent at the airport. Although, I was able to select seats. I didn't have pre-assigned seats for this flight as Lufthansa charges for seat selection in Y and W except for their SEN & HON members.
On the day of the flight, I have taken the 5A bus from Washington, DC to the airport and during the whole ride, I was the only passenger so I would consider this as a private ride for $7.50
After a 55 minute bus ride, I have arrived at Washington's Dulles Airport which was a bit crowded but not at pre-COVID levels.
Here is the terminal directory.
FIDS for today
There was a priority lane though only two agents was accepting passengers from this lane so it took about 5-10 minutes until my turn came. There were two passengers in front of me that day. Plus, with most travelers in the regular lane not prepared for document verification and most of them having excess baggage, the flow at the Economy lane was really slow as well.
When my turn came, all my documents were verified including my negative COVID-19 test, my bags were checked to my final destination.
Another thing that I noticed during check-in was that Lufthansa no longer works with Swissport at IAD and the agents were LH agents rather than outsourced ones. The non-passenger related services are now managed by Dnata.
Boarding passes for today
Due to COVID, only the East Security Checkpoint is open at IAD and the Priority Lane is closed. Although there were a couple of lanes open for non TSA Pre passengers, there was a wait about 5 minutes to be inspected.
After gathering my belongings after security, it was time to head to the A/B concourse. I took the walk-way rather than the AirTrain for the sake of a small exercise.
The concourse was deserted which means that most of the passengers I saw at security were traveling with United. Now, it was the hard decision, should I visit the Turkish Airlines Lounge or the Lufthansa Senator Lounge?
During COVID, I've visited the Turkish Airlines Lounge in IAD multiple times, so I decided to visit the Lufthansa Lounge this time. At the gate I was welcomed by a friendly German agent and was told that lounge boarding would be available and an announcement would be made when the aircraft is ready.
The Business section was closed due to low demand and only the Senator section was open. The dedicated HON section was open but it didn't offer anything special to HON passengers other than dedicated seating.
During my stay, the lounge was mostly a quiet seating area with private toilets and small refreshments. Also another reminder that, the lounge is only open during Lufthansa and Austrian flight hours.
If we head to the buffet, the offerings are not satisfactory. The only food options were a chicken caesar salad, Lay's chips and muesli bars.
No alcoholic beverages and tea/coffee were offered that day. The only beverages were water and some canned fizzy drinks.
The fountain drink machine and the coffee machine was closed.
While waiting for boarding, this American Eagle CRJ had arrived from Charlotte and was heading to its gate.
About 35 minutes before scheduled departure time, an announcement was made in German & English that our aircraft was ready for boarding. After the lounge agent verified that the aircraft was ready, we were let into the aircraft from this door.
On the way to the jetbridge, here is a photo of D-AIKH.
It would be my first flight on this specific airframe.
After being welcomed by the crew, I have headed to my seat which was located in the second row of the Premium Economy cabin. A blanket and a pillow was present on the seat.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lufthansa does not provide any written literature onboard their flights. However, the safety card was present as expected.
Bottled waters were present at each seat
As well as an amenity kit by Replay Blue Jeans
Here is the amenity kit content
The overhead panel
In these older A330 series aircraft, the overhead bins are smaller than newer ones, so my belongings took a lot of space up there. However, as the loads were quite light, it wasn't an issue.
Every seat has an IFE screen. On today's aircraft the entertainment options were limited to this screen as Wi-Fi was not working on today's flight. As well as this aircraft, didn't have live TV installed to it. Although, the GSM service on air for text messages was working.
Here is the remote which you could control the screen with
A view from the wing
After boarding was completed, the crew came with hand sanitizing wipes and earphones. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lufthansa does not provide headphones in Economy Class and Premium Economy Class. The quality of the earphones they provided were mediocre but it did the job done while enjoying content from the IFE screen on this flight.
Shortly later a menu was distributed
The meal service is almost identical compared to pre-COVID.
However, there is a significant decrease on the choices of alcoholic beverages.
A couple of minutes before our scheduled departure time, we were ready and we started our push-back
At that time the safety video was played
Which was followed by the FlyNet information video, however, as I previously mentioned; the FlyNet Wi-Fi service was not working on today's flight.
After a short taxi, it was our turn to take off and we were in the air
After takeoff we did a sharp right turn to head towards the North.
IAD from the west
Shortly after takeoff, we passed over the Potomac river and we were over Maryland
The city of Washington, DC was also visible during our take-off.
After a few minutes, I've taken the first route map photos for this flight
Each seat in the Premium Economy cabin is equipped with a power outlet located under the mid seat console, as well as an USB port which is located next to the screen
And, power outlets became active after the seatbelt signs have been switched off after takeoff.
After takeoff, I have decided to watch this movie "Due Date" which was an interesting movie.
As you might have noticed, due to COVID, no pre-departure beverage was offered as well as no aperitif service which were both offered pre-COVID.
The first service from the crew was the dinner service. The tray had the main course, a salad, a dessert, bread, ranch dressing for the salad, wheat biscuits, cheese, butter and cutlery.
Also, because of COVID, the crew doesn't come a second time for tea&coffee and it must be requested while meals are distributed. That's why my tomato juice and my decaf coffee were both served at the same time.
For today's flight, I have chosen the pasta option which was delicious.
Cavetappi Pasta cooked with Olive Oil
Vegetable Cream Mushroom Sauce
And here is the dessert
After the meal service, I have headed to the lavatory which was clean at that time
Also I did learn that the plural of towel was "towles"
Obviously this is a joke.
About 3h45mins before departure I have woken up for an unknown reason and I've decided to watch this movie below. It was adopted from real life and was an interesting one.
While enjoying the movie I decided to check what is being offered at the galley and unfortunately, there were no snacks due to the pandemic. However, the crew offered me some Haribo's which were actually loaded for kids.
While, I enjoyed my movie, I have also noticed that the air was getting brighter
About 1h15mins before landing, just after I finished my movie. The breakfast service had started. The offering for this service was a fruit plate, a small appetizer plate ( with smoked salmon, rye bread and cream cheese ), a croissant, butter, and a strawberry jam.
Although, the meal was almost identical with slight modifications compared to the same exact flight I've taken two years ago, the presentation was much better this time.
About 15-20 minutes after the meal being distributed, the trays were collected and a form regarding arrivals into Germany were distributed to passengers who were terminating their journey in Frankfurt or had a domestic transfer.
Route map for the last time
During the remainder of the flight, I've listened to some music and played some games to spend time.
When it was time for our descend, it was not possible to see much because of the cloudy weather in Frankfurt but I was able to spot the Deutsche-Bank Park football stadium.
And here is FRA
We have landed ahead of schedule
When we left the runway, QR and KE cargo aircraft was visible near the cargo terminal
An Ethiopian A350 near the Terminal 3 construction site
Some foreign carriers at FRA
And, Lufthansa aircraft at Terminal 1B.
Let's don't forget the Singapore Airlines aircraft behind them
That day we were going to park at gate Z23 at Terminal 1Z.
After the seatbelt signs have been turned off, we were asked to remain seated until a second announcement as deplaning would be done row-by-row. A couple of minutes later, Business Class, Premium Economy Class, and passengers seated in the front rows of Economy Class were asked to gather their belongings and leave the aircraft. ( This was a single announcement ). I really don't understand the logic of this row-by-row deboarding process but as many people waiting the announcements in the aisle, I don't think that it's necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.
After arriving at the terminal, I checked the transfer board to verify the gate of my connecting flight. For those wondering about the flight on the next episode of this series, it is one of the 16 flights posted on these monitors.
While at the terminal I took 2 photos of D-AIKH from different angles.
Later on, it was time to wait for my onward flight.
This report has come to an end. The journey would continue in the next report.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
To start the conclusion of the report, I could mention that this flight was enjoyable, though noticing some cost-cutting measures was also sad. The ground experience at IAD was not perfect, neither horrible; it was an average airport experience that could be improved. For the Lufthansa Senator Lounge, the only thing I could tell is that Lufthansa has decided to cost-cut. While there are no legal restrictions prohibiting Lufthansa to offer proper food and variety of beverages; they have decided to not to offer them with the excuse of the virus. However, lounge boarding is a positive fact. The flight itself was enjoyable. For the hard product, the only thing that I would complain would be the lack of entertainment options. With Wi-Fi and Live TV not being available, in addition to written literature; this means that the only IFE options remains the limited content at the IFE screen; however, I was able to find some enjoyable movies and watch them. Also, the earphones that LH provides are really bad in quality so if you are able to do so, I would suggest bringing wired earphones/headphones for this flight. The seat itself was comfortable with decent legroom and without any neighbor, I had plenty of space. Talking about the soft product, the service looks similar to pre-COVID but there were small changes; such as no pre-departure beverage, no aperitif, no mid-flight snack is now being served. In addition, the crew doesn't come for refills and coffee&tea during the meal service. However, the meals remain tasty compared to pre-COVID and from what I noticed, the presentation was improved compared to the past. For this flight lavatories were kept clean and the crew were friendly towards passengers.
So, to finish the conclusion part, I would mention that the $100 bid upgrade was worth the upgrade to Premium Economy; however, it would have been perfect if LH did improve the service a little bit including the lounge at IAD. I'll probably fly and prefer Lufthansa for future travel during the current era and it's obvious that the competitors of LH are also not offering anything better than them but at least it would give a perfect feeling for passengers.
(+-) Decent security wait time, though the priority lane was closed
(-) Check-in wait times could be improved
LH Senator Lounge
(+) Friendly lounge staff
(+) Comfortable seating
(+) Lounge boarding available
(-) No proper food & beverage offering ( Nothing to do with local restrictions )
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom
(+) Amenity kit
(+) Tastiness of the meals
(+) Lavatories were clean during my visits
(+) Friendly crew
(-) FlyNet Wi-Fi and Live TV not working
(-) No pre-departure, no aperitif, no mid-flight service
Nothing special to mention