Boarding for the flight was called inside the Thai Airways Royal Orchid lounge and I made my way over to the gate. While walking to the gate, I actually passed by the final call being made for the Air France flight to Paris.
Upon reaching the gate, the boarding process has not yet started and there was already a long queue for both the Premium (Business and Star Alliance Gold) and Economy line. However upon presenting my First Class boarding pass, I was ushered to the front of the line. Since boarding has yet to commence, I asked about my luggage and wondered if it has been tagged all the way to Paris. I also made my way to the windows to take a few photos of the huge A380 while waiting.
Eventually boarding was called and I had to squeeze through the crowds to the front where there was a very efficient service provided at the gate. First class passengers get escorted down the ramp way by a staff who even assisted with my hand carried luggage. Along the ramp way, he assured me that my luggage has been tagged all the way through and included the new luggage tags for me.
LH797 Hong Kong HKG – Frankfurt FRA
Airbus A380-800 D-AIMH ‘New York’
Gate 62 Seat 1A
The service continued onboard the plane as the staff escorted me all the way to the seat, passing me on to the First Class purser who was a very pleasant middle aged lady. She welcomed me on board and mentioned that I could place the luggage in the lockers.
Lockers for seat 1A and 1K was on the front end while the rest has lockers in the galley between First and Business class. This layout makes the cabin feel very airy and spacious.
After I placed my luggage, I was asked for my choice of welcome beverage and the purser suggested champagne. Other amenities including pyjama and slippers was placed on my seat. There was also a very shiny Rimowa kit on the side.
Macadamia nuts were then offered in a ceramic ramekin. The purser taking care of the first class cabin was very professional and tried to make every one as comfortable as they could. As I was taking the photos of the cabin, she motioned for me to be more discreet about it as the cabin filled up. Another incident was she tried to converse with me to find out my preferences as I seem to be the only Asian passenger onboard.
Apparently she also studies the passenger manifest beforehand as she thought seat 1A was empty prior. I had actually been assigned an aisle seat on the second row but asked for a window seat during check-in. The way she handled the situation was very diplomatic and made passengers feel at ease. I think this is the kind of training that many First Class cabin staff fails to get and I can tell it would be a great flight from here on.
Since this is First Class, the seat has lots of legroom, and for my average height, the ottoman is a bit far on the default setting. Fortunately it is possible to move the seat forward and back.
There are 2 rows of seats in a 1-2-1 abreast configuration and while it may not be very private, Lufthansa has one of the most beautiful First Class cabin out there. The whole design looks very elegant and ambient lighting makes the cabin stand out. The choice of materials gave a premium feel, for example, the window linings are upholstered in suede. These little details add a touch of luxury not seen on even premium Asian carriers like ANA, Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines.
Moving onto the seats themselves, they are very comfortable in the seat mode and does not feel extra wide like the ones on Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. These 2 First Class have some of the widest seats in the First Class cabin. But Lufthansa differs by making it just right and gives a more snug fit. The premium materials continued throughout with soft-touch leather cabinets that hides the headphones compartment. Those Bose noise-cancelling headphones have the wording ‘Lufthansa First Class’ on them too.
Underneath both armrests which are also covered in leather, there are 2 sets of controls. The one on the right adjusts the seat position while the one on the left is for the inflight entertainment. Both remotes also feel very premium and the buttons would not be out of place in a Mercedes-Benz. Thus far, the German teutonic approach does make this cabin feel premium.
To make it faster, there are some shortcut buttons by the armrest that allows passengers to adjust the seats and make channel and volume selections or call the crew for service to make the whole concept of the remote under the armrest that much more logical.
While on the ground, the purser also gave out the meal and drinks menu for tonight’s flight. If there was any improvements, I would just have to say the drinks and nuts were removed far too quickly since it was a long taxi to the runway. I figures with a small cabin, the crew could make adjustments on removing the drinks slightly later.
The cabin light was dimmed and I liked that they still have one light lit over the stalk of rose during the taxi. It makes for a perfect ambience. It’s all in the details, I tell you! I took this time to peruse the Lufthansa inflight magazines which is always worth taking with you, along with the duty free shopping catalog and safety instruction manual.
I did take a look at the menu and wine list as well. The meal choices was described in 3 languages, being German, English and Chinese. For the other languages and the complete menu, do head over to my Flickr photo album for this flight.
The extensive beverage list onboard Lufthansa was also fitting for a First Class cabin and I loved that they serve Nespresso onboard. The convenience of preparing a good cup of coffee without being a trained barista should enhance the experience of flying with Lufthansa!
Take off was smooth as usual on the A380 and this was definitely the highlight of every flight on this jumbo jet. But we did encounter a bit of turbulence before reaching cruising altitude. As we stabilized, the purser came back onto the cabin and I managed to obtain an extra pillow as the cabin was slightly more than half full. with 3 seats empty.
During this time, the inflight service manager came by to introduce herself and I was asked to let her know if I need any assistance or meet any problems during the flight. At this point, I figured I could ask her if I could switch my Rimowa kit to a female version as I wanted to pass the contents to my mum. To my surprise, the purser actually came back with another set of the kit for me. In addition, the purser also asked if I would another set of pyjama, of which I declined since I did have a few pyjamas from airlines already.
Inflight service began earnestly afterwards with amuse bouche being presented and I had a glass of water with it. I ordered a cup of decaffeinated Nespresso for the service as well. Great coffee, cabin and crew makes for a wonderful start to this flight so far.
Wifi was available for this flight as there was the hotspot sign on the wall in front of my seat. The charges for wifi onboard the flight was quite acceptable as well and it was the first time I connected to the internet on a flight. The novelty of being connected online made it fun but do not expect to use the internet for streaming of HD videos. It was perfectly fine for surfing news websites and instant messaging though!
There was some time lag before meal service and I browsed the entertainment options. Not a bad selection with plenty of Asian and European selections while the remote was great to work with. The shortcut buttons on the armrest also makes sense to avoid clutter. If there was one thing lacking, it was the whole interface and layout that could certainly do with some improvement.
With the Lunar New Year just over and the year of Monkey being ushered in, it was fitting to watch ‘The Monkey King’, a Chinese fantasy movie based on the ‘Journey to the West’ literature. There was some stuff that caught my eye from duty free shopping catalog and the purser mentions she will let the crew in charge of duty free know.
As we waited for the meal service, the passenger in 1D apparently lost his glasses during the flight and the purser helped to find it. She brought out a torchlight and helped him find the glasses eventually/ All the duties the crew do and the way they do it is what makes them stand out in this regard. But I sure made a note to never leave my glasses on the armrest while the plane is departing or landing! I placed my order for the duty free as well during this time with the staff that came over.
After the short incident, the purser came out to set the tray table that was retracted from the cabinet beside the TV. Very slick mechanism allowed it to be adjusted comfortably. The table was laid out perfectly with saucers for olive oil and butter, cutleries wrapped in linen napkin and very nice salt and pepper shakers. Bread was served from the basket and I had a slice of garlic bread as I was not too hungry. I figured they serve dinner to match the time in Germany, and it was a logical way to set the service pace. Next up came the caviar starter served with all the traditional garnishes
Along with the caviar, there was a choice of entrées from the tray. The purser encouraged me to get all the entrées, though I did leave out the mixed salad as it seems a tad ordinary. Her suggestions of getting all the appetizer choice was perfect since they were amazing. I liked how I was flying a German airline and yet they have an amazing Chinese starter. That sweet and svaoury honey sesame beef was my favourite entrée but the prawn was juicy and paired well with the crunchy asparagus. I highly recommend to pick all the entrée when flying Lufthansa First Class since they are that good! In between my meals, my order for the duty free arrived but as I was still having my meals and my wallet with my credit card was in the locker, the cabin crew mentioned she will return later for the payment.
For the main course, I picked the salmon. It looked a bit ordinary but the fish was cooked just right and it was not dry at all. The sour raisin jus added a nice tinge to the whole flavour though I could easily have the salmon alone as it was fresh and cooked nicely such that it retained the flavour well. Though I was a bit full at this point, I still managed to finish the salmon but left out the potatoes since I still wanted some dessert.
Dessert tray came at last and again so many choices out of the tray. I figured most of the passengers were already done with dinner at this time. I had a short introduction to the cheese on offer and picked the Swiss and German cheese as I figured they would be better.
For the dessert, I had the pecan tart which was a bit tough but flavour wise it was amazing. The tart with so much caramel did not feel overly sweet so it was enjoyable to the last bit. I also had the sweet dessert wine to go along with the end of the meal. It was some German wine which I didn’t take a photo of sadly, and it was not listed in the menu either.
At the end I have to say the purser serving the First Class cabin was amazing. She handled the meals for all 5 passengers though 2 of them are sleeping and skipped meals. I was given another towel to freshen up after the table was cleared and asked if I would like the seat to be made up for bed. While she went on to make the arrangements, I took the amenity kit and pyjama to one of the 2 spacious lavatory up front to change and brush my teeth.
Both lavatories are similar in size and features a foyer with a couch so that certainly makes it easy to change and have space to place your clothes. It was great to use the vanity counter as well which was decorated with a stalk of rose and featured touch-less faucets.
La Prairie amenities were featured in the washrooms. This is one of the most premium facial care brands that I happen to know since my Mum was looking to purchase it in Switzerland as she uses them. Even the purser highly recommended its use.
In the drawer, there was a lot of amenities including an Evian facial mist, shavers, combs and refreshing towels. I did note that most of these amenities were provided in the amenity kit as well.
An oddity in the lavatory was the separate urinal and toilet. I figured the urinal does make it more convenient for the guys but why bother since the urinal has a partition that needs to be rotated for it to be used anyway.
Back into the cabin, there is a partition with the graceful crane logo of Lufthansa facing the staircase that leads to the lower deck. The flight was somewhere over southwestern China in Sichuan province by this time. Earlier on, before my meals, I had requested to purchase some duty free and then I had yet to pay for the items that was delivered to my seat as I was still in between meals. Fortunately the crew arrived back to take my payment just in time before my sleep.
On my seat, the bed has been nicely made with the pillows neatly stacked. It was time to sleep as the time in Hong Kong is past 2 am. It did not take me long to fall asleep and I had one of the best sleep in an airplane. Maybe it was the time of departure but I figured the whole cabin was kept in a very comfortable temperature and the quiet cabin sure helped too!
I woke up while the flight was somewhere over western Russia. I figured I had a very nice 6+ hour of sleep and I certainly felt refreshed. The purser came by with offers of beverages upon seeing I was awake and I had a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Another cold refreshing towel service was presented.
The breakfast menu was listed as follow:
A continental service was presented with an array of cutleries and I had croissant and yogurt for starters. There was a choice of jam, nutella or honey for the pastry and toast. I actually asked for a serving of honey to add to my yogurt too.
For the main course, I was asked what would I like to be served with the eggs, and I just requested for everything. The dish was wonderful and the bacon was certainly cooked to perfection! I had a cup of cappuccino to go while having breakfast and of course it is another Nespresso!
After the breakfast was cleared, I asked for another cup of cappuccino since it was just that good! As I do not usually use sugar on my coffee, there is really no harm in one more cup of coffee?
At this time there was less than an hour left remaining into the flight. I took the opportunity to go to the lavatories to change back to my clothes and freshen up before arrival.
The locker system sure works out well since nice quality wooden hangers are provided and a personal code can be set to ensure safety of any belongings. Once I changed out of the pyjama, I placed the duty free items I purchased into my hand along with all the goodies from this flight.
For the rest of the journey, I just relaxed on the seat to listen to some music and enjoy the relaxing ambience of this First Class cabin. A smooth and direct landing into Frankfurt was possible as we were probably one of the earliest flights of the day to land meaning no long holds in the air or any long taxi either before we docked into the gate.
As I tried to exit the cabin, I wanted to take a shot of the First Class sign beside the galley but the purser was very sensitive to photos taken in the plane and suggested I take a shot of the now-empty First Class cabin instead. I did inform her of the blog and how these photos try to omit other passengers wherever possible and if she is reading I hope she enjoys the photos as well! Lufthansa has such a nice cabin that it is so sad to not take photos of this beautiful cabin and share it with others.
We landed earlier than scheduled and I made my way toward the immigration where initially there was only 2 lanes. Though the photo-taking did slow me down somewhat. Fortunately, there was a lot of passengers that stopped to see their connections. Though there seems to be another jumbo key arriving on the other side of the terminal so the queue became quite long pretty fast. Still my rapid pace of walking meant I moved past the passport control after a 10 minute wait. Then it was off to the cold morning outside to get to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal!
From the materials used in furnishing the cabin to the professional service by the purser to the Rimowa kit and amenities for First Class passengers, I can see why Lufthansa First Class is so special. Honestly after taking several First Class flights even with top Asian carriers like Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, ANA, Asiana and Thai, I have to say Lufthansa is the amongst the top if not the best amongst these carriers. There are certainly things which Lufthansa excels in and personally for me, I just cannot wait to fly upfront with them again. Consider me convinced!