Monday, March 03, 2008

Lufthansa Flight Report

Berlin, Germany


The word that immediately came to mind upon boarding Lufthansa flight 453 from Los Angeles to Munich was “clean.”

The overhead bins were not chipped. The cloth upholstery on the seats was not frayed. There were no stains on the carpet.

Admittedly, the aircraft was relatively new, an Airbus A340-600 (tail number D-AIHN) which had been delivered to Lufthansa by the manufacturer in September 2006. But a year and a half of trans-Atlantic flying is enough time for cracks to show, if cracks there are to be.

I checked in for the flight at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal. Three other people were in line. Perhaps Southern Californians aren’t tempted by northern Europe in February.

The check-in agents spoke with German accents. Awesome! It’s a gimmick, but it works. Later that day, the final boarding call for an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin was made by a man with a Mexican accent, which isn’t quite the Ireland experience passengers may have been hoping for.

Lesson learned: Bulkhead row seats “reserved” online are not actually reserved. Since the flight was not full, the agent put me into an interior aisle seat.

On the jetway, we had a choice of German- and English-language newspapers. I choose a Wall Street Journal Europe to read the editorials and a Frankfurter Allgemeine to discover how much German I’d forgotten since high school.

A pillow and a blanket were waiting on the seats, which also had extendable headrests with flaps on both sides. There was no individual seatback entertainment; instead, various screens dropped from the ceiling, with news programming, movies and a map of the flight path. The seat pitch was a tolerable 31 inches.

After liftoff, the flight attendants were solicitous. One spent several minutes preparing a baby bassinet with a pillow and blanket, tucking the kid in so the tot would sleep quietly.

Free booze! I don’t drink much, but I can celebrate an escape from the United States’ attitude toward alcohol, which is Puritanism wrapped in nickel-and-dime charges.

The flight attendants handed out hot towels. They weren’t cloth, but they weren’t paper, either; they were something in between.

Dinner was served over Boise. Mine was chicken with rice and corn, with a corn salad, a roll, a slice of cheddar cheese and a brownie. The knife, fork and spoon were actual metal.

Seven hours later, it was breakfast time: eggs with potato pancakes and spinach, fruit salad, and a roll with strawberry jam. Before arrival, a video was broadcast which discussed the facilities and procedures in Terminal 2 of the Munich Airport.

A half hour before landing, the bathroom in the back of economy was still immaculate. On a U.S. carrier, it would have been trashed. I found the same level of cleanliness on the short flights to Berlin and on the long flight back to the United States a week later.

Economy class Lufthansa: Clean. Comfortable. And really clean.

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Anonymous kalleboo said...

I just got off a Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Boston a few hours ago. Our 747-400 was old, and the in-flight entertainment consisted of CRTs bolted to the ceiling. The seat was the same as any other intercontinental economy seat I've been in. I was *far* more impressed with the Swissair flights I took to get to Frankfurt (swiss chocolate served twice on a 1 hour flight :p). Heck, even the AA I took LHR-BOS last year was nicer (better service, better tech).

The plan was to fly Swissair CPH-ZRH-BOS, but the horrible winds in Europe got in the way and they gave me a hotel room in Zurich, a detour through Frankfurt the next day, and a Lufthansa flight. My return will still be on Swissair and it will be interesting to contrast the flights.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Brandon Mendoza - BU MBA 2007 said...

Thanks for the update on your Lufthanasa flight. I'm taking the same flight next week and hope to live the same experience on this 11 HOUR flight - agh. I'll wait to take the Tylenol PM until after dinner then :)

9:37 PM  

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