Flying is one of my greatest passions. And who could know that my latest intercontinental journey from Beijing to Munich took place in the Champions League of travel classes: First Class.
It all began with a change in my schedule when dispatch had to take away my Miami rotation due to an unexpected aircraft change. Left stranded with a Cairo layover instead, I felt unfairly treated and called in with the help desk in order to see if there was anything more equivalent available. A few days later, I was awarded with a Beijing turnaround (that is what we call a rotation with just one local night). What looked like a though job at first came with a so-called Dead Head flight (passenger travel) back to Munich.
As the route was to be transferred to the brand new A350-fleet at the end of October 2017, the flight I was booked on was already sold as a three class-cabin (Business/Premium Economy/Economy) even though it was operated by an Airbus A340-600 with a four class-layout.
So I was positively surprised to see the First Class cabin available in the seat chart when checking in online. Of course, I gambled for a seat upfront and selected myself 2A as my personal refuge for the 10 hours flight.
Upon arrival at the airport, I did not really expect to actually sit on my desired seat. But astonishingly, everything went as it was planned. The only difference to normal operations: The First cabin served as additional Business Class seating. This procedure is called FaB (First as Business). I had encountered this process a few years ago with Emirates on a flight from Singapore to Melbourne and I truly see this as a great way to let customers experience the premium product without paying the full fare.
Onboard the A340-600, there are altogether eight super comfortable semi-private “suites” available. Each of the seats is fixed in a surrounding shell with automatically extendable privacy screens. The elegant color scheme consists of warm earth tones and is quite reminiscent of an upper class vehicle.
Two storages are integrated into the leather upholstered side which also features an illuminated cocktail table, the retractable dinner table and a vase for the signature Lufthansa rose. Accent lighting in the seating area create a cosy and homely atmosphere.
A moveable ottoman can be used as an extended foot rest and offers additional stowage for personal items. The extensive entertainment system can be viewed on the large flat screen mounted on a white stand which is finished in piano lacquer.
Single travelers prefer the window seats while the two center compartments are more interesting for couples or business partners. Retractable screens can add extra privacy at the touch of a button. The cabin is amongst the quietest First Class compartments in the industry. The floor is covered with shock absorbing carpet, the wall panels reduce sound and the “curtains” towards the front galley and the Business Class cabin behind can be rather described as sound proof sliding doors.
The cabin was introduced with the inauguration of the A380 which features additional amenities such as two gigantic bathrooms with changing area, personal lockers, a dedicated cabin humidification system as well as additional sound proofing in the plane´s structure to reduce outside noise.
While the most important control buttons for the entertainment system are at easy reach, a remote control for games and more detailed selections is found underneath the leather armrest.
The same applies to the seat controls. Whatever your favorite position is, you will find it.
The service aboard was equivalent to the regular Business Class restaurant style offerings with excellent wines and menu selections. Amenities included a pair of slippers and a stylish kit containing toiletries, socks, an eye mask as well as other small helpful things. The famous bed, which is a highly popular First Class feature with guests, was not available on the flight. This normally consists of a comfortable mattress and a luxurious climate control duvet. But even without these extras, the seat itself (upholstered in high quality climate control and breathable virgin wool) is a heavenly place to snooze in. Promise!
Even though the A340-600´s do not feature the state-of-the-art cabin lighting system of the A350 which helps the body and mind to cope better with Jet Lag, the First cabin has a dedicated lighting mode with a warmer tones which is particularly helpful on night flights.
The view from the front of the plane can only be described as majestically. It is also such a difference in terms of noticeable engine noise.
First Class features an elegant glass collection and luxurious fine bone china tableware. Luckily, the flight attendant treated us to the excellent 2007 Champagne Taittinger Millésimé which really was an extra treat.
Lufthansa was actually the first airline back in the 1950´s to introduce a designated First Class air travel experience. While other airlines, such as Pan American, had already began operation of jet airliners across the Atlantic, the German carrier remained with Super Star Constellation prop liners which needed double the time. Reason enough to reconfigure these planes with a luxurious travel class that would offer an exclusive environment for affluent business and leisure travelers. The Senator Service was born and offered unrivaled exclusivity. Its symbol, the red Senator rose, is still a very important detail to the Lufthansa First Class experience today.
Aboard the A340-600, two elegant bathrooms offer amazing views while refreshing from good night´s sleep.
Of course, they do not offer the same amount of space as the ones aboard the A380, but the contemporary and sleek design remains the same. Very helpful is the retractable sitting area which serves at the same time as a cover to the toilet. A seat disinfection comes very handy, facial mist and La Prairie toiletries complement the offering.
This flight could have gone on forever, seriously. And even though I was not able to enjoy the full First Class experience, it was a most memorable trip back home which I will always remember. It is rumored that by 2020, Lufthansa will introduce the next level product with the introduction of the Boeing B777-9. I cannot wait!
For further information about the complete First Class experience and the Lufthansa Private Jet offering, check the website at www.lh.com!