Once I arrived in FRA I made my way to the LH connection desk and had a new boarding pass reissued by a friendly agent. I then asked for the location of the AC Maple Leaf lounge and was advised that I had to clear security in order to get to the other side. I placed myself in line and there was only one person ahead of me so cleared quickly.
I then followed the signs to the lounge which was located within steps from where I was standing. Its exact location is T1 Dept. area B.
I have read about this new lounge before I embarked on this trip and was looking forward to visiting it during my connection in FRA. It was supposed to be a showcase of the artistic talent, contemporary design and natural beauty of Canada according to its description on AC's website. First impression upon entering was good. The wooden fixtures and the light gave the impression of vastness and open space. In addition the earthly tones provided a soothing ambiance that imparted warmth and made the reception area inviting.
AC Maple Leaf lounge entrance.
I approached the desk and the agent was in the middle of a call, so I waited patiently. Once she finished, she greeted me with a cheerful smile welcoming me to the lounge. I presented my boarding pass and inquired about using the shower. She invited me to proceed behind the desk and said that there was no one waiting, so I was welcome to use it right away.
There are two shower rooms labeled YYZ and YUL, in honor of AC's hubs. I chose YUL and settled into the spacious bathroom.
The shower was invigorating and felt extremely nice. I really enjoyed using this bathroom and thought it was spacious and well appointed. Now I was ready to explore the rest of the lounge.
The dining area.
Long table with electrical sockets to charge your electronics.
There was a central square area with booth seating surrounding a design that was suggestive of a fireplace.
Quiet zone featuring six resting pods equipped with noise cancelling headphones, USB ports and TV screens.
I was glad that I stopped by this lounge and had the opportunity to experience it. All the staff that I encountered, from the receptionist to the attendants that were in charge of replenishing the buffet, were friendly and smiling. The lounge was not busy and had plenty of room. One could find a private corner and just stay there relaxing. The lounge also offered some good plane spotting and I stayed closed to the buffet area taking some shots.
Views from the lounge.
I still wanted to check out the LH Business lounge and quickly returned to the gate area. This time I did not have to clear security and just passed through a set of automatic doors. I remember a long walk and then taking a train to the Z gates. My flight left from Z50 and I wanted to use the lounge that was closest to it. I went through a second screening and then security at the Z area. Finally I entered the lounge and presented my boarding pass. I unknowingly went to the right side where the Senator lounge was located and the lobby agent called my attention telling me that the Business lounge was up the escalators on the left side.
View of tarmac while walking.
Riding the train to the Z gates.
At the Z gates.
The LH Business lounge was a stark contrast to the serene AC one. The first thing I noticed was its huge size. There were some areas that were very crowded, especially in the front. The back had more empty seats. Another thing that annoyed me was the congestion of people around the buffet area. They looked like vultures circling around a carcass waiting in anticipation for the next load of hot food. Of course, at this rate, the attendants had to make multiple trips. I guess the beast comes out when people are hungry.
Area in the back.
I then left for the gate which was very close by. Once there I found a cabinet with newspapers.
My plane at the gate.
There were about 4 agents working at the gate. I wanted to see how full the flight was and checked with one of the ladies who told me that it was full. She was pleasant and smiling, which is rare for gate agents, at least in the U.S. where they are usually understaffed and have to deal with a million requests at the last minute. So kudos to LH ground crew @ FRA for maintaining a professional composure while under stress.
At about 1635 boarding started and a few minutes before that an agent gathered the people in wheelchairs and families with children in one corner and allowed them to go first. Walking down the jetbridge, there was a separate entrance for F/J and Y passengers. This is one of the things that LH does well and they seem to be consistent with their boarding priorities, at least on long haul flights.
I was greeted at the door by a smiling FA and was one of the first ones to enter the forward section of the plane. I specially chose this section of the plane because it truly made me feel that I was on a 747. The forward cabin by the nose and upper decks are trademarks of this plane.
This nice FA saw me board and put my bags in the overhead bin. She quickly came asking me if I needed assistance.
Seat controls and amenity kits with bottles of water placed next to the seats.
Pre-departure drinks were offered consisting of water, orange juice or champagne.
There was a welcome message on the screen and the seat pockets were quite useless because of their hard shell. It was really difficult to store any bulky or oddly shaped items. Good thing that these seats are being phased out.
LH announced on their website that on long haul flights out of Germany in J, they would feature a special World Cup theme amenity kit. As you can see, this was not the case on today's flight.
FA's were helping passengers settle by storing coats in the front closet and offering drinks. The captain introduced himself and gave us some information about our destination. The doors were finally closed and we taxied to the runway for take off. There was some great airplane spotting with a LH A380 ahead of us. However, I did not have a window seat and couldn't take any pictures.
This was the best that I managed to do under the restrictive circumstances.
After take off the service started with the distribution of hot towels that were flimsy and reminded me of the ones that U.S. carriers offer.
Followed by the menus featuring chef Stromberg from the German national football team. Here is what's for dinner and snack.
The beverage carts made their way into the cabin signaling the start of the meal service. I had a mango passonfruit with sparkling water.
Appetizer - honey gratinated Picandou (mild goat cheese) with vegetables and papaya.
Salad with Balsamic dressing. Why even bother with this tiny portion of wilted greens.
I had a glass of Riesling and water with this course. Breads were offered twice which was nice.
At least the salt and pepper shakers were more fitting for this cabin.
For the main dish I chose the tenderloin of veal with white asparagus and parsley potatoes. White asparagus were in season and you saw them everywhere. The portion was small and the FA asked me if I wanted melted butter and freshly ground pepper to which I replied yes.
It was nice that a beverage cart immediately followed the meal cart, refreshing beverages choices along the way. Afterwards the dessert cart was rolled out and I asked for the rice pudding accompanied by fresh fruit salad.
Dessert cart being simultaneously offered on the other side.
Meanwhile on my side…
I can't help but compare this rice pudding with the TK version, which was more appealing.
I requested a cup of fruit tea and the FA added a box of chocolates.
Cabin after the meal service with a tray of water and juices. Later during the flight a FA passed several times offering drinks and chocolates. It seems that chocolates are quite popular as a snack on LH.
Eventually lights were turned off and window shades closed. My neighbor decided to get some sleep and he was trying to get comfortable by turning and tossing.
My neighbor at the beginning (this was the only pic that took out of consideration). Throughout his rest I saw him sleeping on the side, then facing down, and finally back to his original position. How on earth can someone sleep on this seat? I tried but couldn't really get a restful sleep. At one point I thought I was dreaming and in the middle of Vertigo the movie.
There was a magazine rack by my seat but most of the publications were in German, so I just grabbed a few for their pictures.
WC's. There are two located right behind my seat in the galley area. Since they are in the middle of the cabin, they were compact and of course lacking a view.
Got to love the sink with sensors.
As we approached ORD, the snack service started about 1.5 hrs. before arrival with distribution of hot thick towels this time. There was no choice and it consisted of a soup and salad combination. A healthy snack, right? Not.
The small salad with soggy croutons. Instead of buttermilk dressing we were given a lime-yogurt one. Yuck!
BOUM! No, this is not the song by Charles Trenet, but the visual presentation of the currywurst with an exploding sauce effect on the small dish (à la AF). I had a few bites and left the rest. The sauce was more hot than spicy.
The best part of the snack, although it was also small and somewhat dry.
The landing into ORD was nice with great views of the city. Unfortunately I did not have a window seat so this is all that I managed to take.
Immigration was quick and for the first time all U.S. citizens were directed to use self serving kiosks that were quickly verified by an agent. Once I exited I went to the ORD Hyatt Regency and called for a shuttle to pick me up. I was looking forward to a nice shower and a proper rest.
Lufthansa Business Lounge Z50 - Z
Frankfurt - FRA
Chicago - ORD
The AC Maple Leaf lounge was wonderful and I am glad that I took the time to visit. It was roomy, had attentive staff, adequate food and most importantly it did not feel crowded. Instead you had the feeling that you were in an exclusive place that was conducive to relaxation, which is what every lounge should be.
The LH lounge on the other hand was busy with lots of traffic. This is expected as FRA is their major hub and when you are in a hub of this size something has to give. I did not stay here for long and preferred to wait at the gate area. Staff can be a bit rigid.
I suppose this was an average flight on LH, with crew that were polite and efficient, if lacking the charm and friendliness of my previous YVR-MUC one. The old J seats are not the most comfortable and the biggest issue I had was with the storage space and the slanted bed. It's a good thing that these seats are being replaced but not soon enough.
Catering was disappointing, ranging from small portions to items that were off tasting. I like the fact that LH tries to offer at least three choices for appetizers, but the execution of some of them does not always comes out as expected. The snack was just atrocious, in both presentation and taste. I find the soup and salad combination very frugal and not something that is worthy of a premium cabin. It screams cost cutting to me. It is better to offer something a bit more substantial like a hearty sandwich and some fresh fruits and most importantly, provide a choice. The ability to choose is one of the most important perks of flying F or J.
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