The airline with the best average rating is Lufthansa with 7.3/10.
The average flight time is 10 hours and 34 minutes.More information
This series (well, just one flight that will be reported) was a short trip to Veneto for work. LH was the cheapest *A option, but still $3600 for a round trip ticket in W so not really too much bang for your buck in terms of mileage earnings or value. I flew into VRN and then left out of VCE routing through FRA both directions. There is 2x daily non-stop service LAX-FRA, so I took the late departure from LAX to catch the B748 outbound and the earlier departure from FRA to catch the A346 inbound. The A346 flight was not reported since I was sick during the return and didn't take sufficient photos.
After getting dropped off at TBIT by Mrs. NGO85 about 1h before boarding, I went over to the LH counters which were very crowded due to the impending departure of 3 heavies to FRA/MUC. With TSA pre-check, security was quickly cleared and I went to the *A Lounge for ~30 minutes to quickly grab a bite from the buffet to make sure I was going to go hungry expecting a smallish meal on the flight. The *A Lounge has been extensively reviewed so no photos in this report, in the late afternoon it is always a zoo with the large number of TATLs departing.
About 15 minutes before boarding, I left the lounge to head out to see my plane which was parked at Gate 154, which unfortunately did not allow for any good shots of my steed so the best I could manage was an obstructed shot from the neighboring gate.
After making a loop through TBIT to stretch my legs before being cramped into my seat, I wandered back to the gate around 18:30 as boarding was initiated with F passengers to join the J/*G queue. While I reach the back of the line, I was paged by the gate agent along with a couple of other passengers to go to the counter. I left the line and headed over to see my fate. The agent asked to see my boarding pass. She looked at it with some scrutiny before handing me a new one with a smile and told me I was invited to try Lufthansa's business class product. My newly acquired seat would be 88A^^
Lufthansa, LH 451
Equipment: Boeing 747-8 [D-ABYC “Sachsen”, delivered July 2012]
Departure: 19:05 (ATD: 19:30)
Arrival: 14:50 (ATA: 14:40)
Flight Time: 10:10
I quickly circled back to the boarding queue as W was completing boarding. After scanning my new boarding pass at the automated checkpoint, I was released into the jet bridge which offered a nice view of the nose of our Queen.
I boarded through 2L and was greeted by a couple of FAs who directed me upstairs. Reaching the top of the stairs, another FA welcomed me aboard and checking my BP directed to me to my seat. Newspapers were available on the landing of the stairs, so I grabbed a LA Times as I walked by. The cabin was already full since I was late boarding so my seatmate was already settled in with a pre-departure drink. So I squeezed by to access my window seat in the last row. In hindsight, 88A is probably the best seat in the upper deck since it is fairly private (other than the stranger next to you battling for foot space during sleep) with no one behind you, access to the storage bins, and on the opposite side of the plane of the rear galley and lavatory.
The seats are the standard LH seats across their entire wide-body fleet. Pre-placed on the seat were pillow and blanket. On the ottoman was the newly added mattress pads. Summer of 2018 was when LH updated their service and these started to roll out (no pun intended), unfortunately the sleeping shirts still had spotty availability and did not make an appearance on this route. I'm looking forward to seeing the 77X product since the proximity of these footwells is not a big selling point when traveling alone.
After settling in, the FA came back with the pre-departure drink try comprising champagne, water, and orange juice. I opted for the champagne.
Menus and amenity kits were distributed. The amenity kit is very basic, but includes most essential items.
The view from my window as the marine layer was quickly creeping in.
After taking off through the marine layer, we looped to the south around Palos Verdes and across the Port of Long Beach.
Apertif service was started with an Erdinger and nuts.
The linens were laid followed by place settings, the appetizer, and a refill.
The grilled artichoke appetizer had good presentation and tasted quite nice for a vegetarian option.
After the appetizer was removed, I was handed a salad (did not take separate picture, but top left corner) and the pan seared sea bass main. Again Lufthansa executed nicely on presentation and the sea bass was well cooked, but the skin was not crispy having been reheated on the plane.
Quite full after eating in the lounge and on the plane, I declined the cheese plate and dessert and just took the fruit plate and a cup of chamomile tea to settle in for some sleep.
Water bottles were distributed at the close of service. Some acrobatics were necessary to make my bed for sleep due to the extreme proximity of the seats in this cabin, but eventually I was able to get the mattress pad down and settle in for several hours of sleep. Waking up around Iceland, I perused the IFE a bit, which has a decent selection. The FAs came through the cabin regularly and checked on passengers that were up. As we approached the UK, the cabin lights were raised and the meal service initiated. The breakfast service is done by tray with everything served at once. The fruit plate was so small that it was essentially consumed in the seconds it took me to zoom out to take the photo of the entire tray. It consisted of 3 blackberries, 3 watermelon cubes, and a half of a kiwi.
The tiny baked egg dish with spinach, which is the exact same dish served in W (served on LAX-FRA a took a couple of months later).
The advantage of the upper deck window seats is that you have extra space to place drinks so that your seatmate doesn't elbow them into your lap in this cramped configuration.
Overall, the breakfast is very average and was not at the same level as the dinner service. After the trays were cleared, my coffee was refilled and I turned to open my window now that my seatmate was no longer sleeping to see us reaching the continent.
Reaching the Rhein.
Chocolates were handed out in honor of Oktoberfest as the cabin was prepared for landing.
Aerial of FRA.
Aerial of downtown Frankfurt.
Looping around the Grosskrotzenburg Power Station.
We had a smooth landing at FRA and then had a long taxi back to the gate.
LH A340 in *A livery.
LH B748 in retro livery.
The FAs didn't effectively block off 2L so it was congested getting down the stairs to merge with W passengers that were deplaning at the same time. Immigration was quick and I was off to go explore the LH Lounge, which promptly denied me access as a Y passenger despite my *G status since the flight was operated by EN. With that I'll leave off this series.
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Lufthansa is a pretty predictable product with standardized cabins (albeit not very good) and crews. The catering on this flight was better than others I've had on LH/LX, but still not close to OS within the Lufthansa Group. The crew was efficient, polite, and attentive without being warm and chatty. The seat was decent for sleep, but the lack of aisle access for the windows makes it very difficult to get out when your seatmate is asleep and there is almost no safe place to put your drinks (without the risk of getting it elbowed accidentally or knocked over when your seatmate takes out his tray table). Despite its consistent hard/soft product, I still don't consider it to be a first choice airline for TATLs due to the poor cabin configurations, direct aisle access should be standard these days. I was happy to take the OpUp, but it's not a product I will go out of my way to fly.