I always look forward to travelling. It had been a few weeks since my last trip and friends were starting to bug me about still being in the country. However it wasn’t long before the magic day rolled around and it was time to head to London Heathrow.
This time, my final destination was Seattle (again), however had stitched a few different tickets together on my journey. At its core was a €750 business class fare from Munich to San Francisco flying with Lufthansa. Back in September, a number of Star Alliance airlines offered this fare from a variety of German departure points – I was lucky enough to jump on it.
In order to fly it, I of course had to get to Munich. Normally I would have booked British Airways without hesitation, being a top tier frequent flier with them (Gold Guest List) would have meant first class lounge access and fast track security. However, given my dissatisfaction with their product, and also the fact I was flying Lufthansa, meant that I decided to book with them.
Booking directly on the Lufthansa website, I managed to snag a return fare for £95 – that’s pretty good value in my book. That’s what they call their “Economy Light” product, which is hand baggage only, and doesn’t include seat selection – both are extra. I stumped up an extra £8 to book seat 6A – the first row of economy, which I thought was fairly good value. My outbound flight was LH2473, the 11.10 departure, scheduled to arrive at 13.55.
My journey to Heathrow was pretty simple living in West London, so jumped on the Heathrow Connect, arriving at Terminal 2 around 09.00 in the morning. Not having Star Alliance Gold status, nor travelling business class, I was relegated to the normal security line. It was empty taking less than five minutes to clear.
I headed for the Lufthansa lounge, as I had a same-day connecting, long-haul business class flight. There was some discussion with the lounge agents if I was eligible based on that criteria, however they let me in.
Lufthansa has a slightly strange lounge concept, in that they have three main types of lounge:
- Business Class Lounge
- Senator Lounge
- First Class and HON Circle
At Heathrow, they have two types, the business class lounge and the Senator lounge. If you’re travelling business class, that’s the lounge that you have access to. If you’re a Lufthansa Senator, or hold Star Alliance Gold status, then you have access to the slightly better Senator lounge. Where they have first class lounges, they’re only open to ticketed first class passengers, or HON Circle members.
I was relegated to the main business class lounge, which actually wasn’t a bad place to wait.
It was large, and not too busy. There was also a decent selection of food and drink for breakfast, including a number of hot options.
However the view from the lounge wasn’t great due to the screens obscuring the views. Given it was a pretty miserable day anyway, I wasn’t missing much.
Having almost an hour and a half to kill, I jumped on the free wifi and caught up on some Netflix. It was speedy enough to watch at HD given everyone else in the lounge.
Before long, it was time to head down to the gate and board the A319 to take me to Munich. Unlike British Airways, Lufthansa only allows one carry on bag, at a maximum of 8kg to be taken on board, if you’re travelling in economy. I had a small duffel bag, as well as my backpack, so was chancing my luck somewhat.
Arriving at the gate and the baggage police were out in force, but they were offering to check bags for free as the flight was full.
After a few minutes of waiting, the gate staff called out a variety of names, including mine. Moseying up to the gate, they said that my seat had been changed and they handed me a boarding pass for 9E. Having paid for 6A, I explained that I wasn’t too happy about being moved to a middle seat, so asked what had happened. Apparently they’d moved the curtain for business class back a row, so 6A was now business. However the staff showed me the seat map and I was able to switch to 7C instead, the first row of economy, but I would have preferred a window.
I’ve separately sent an email to customer relations, asking for a refund of my £8 seating fee, so be interesting to see what response I get back.
However as I had to move seats, they allowed me to stand at the front of the economy class maze. The staff also enquired about my second bag, but saying I was connecting to long-haul business seemed to satisfy them, and I was allowed it onboard.
After a few minutes, they boarded business class and Star Gold passengers and then it was my turn. Whilst the flight was pretty busy, 7B and the middle seat behind me were the only two free seats on the aircraft, which was very lucky. The leg room also appeared to be a few centimetres more than I would have got on BA. I’m about 5’9″ or 177cm tall, and there was a decent amount of space.
Before long, we pushed back and got stuck in the normal Heathrow traffic jam to take off, eventually leaving about 30 minutes late.
Lufthansa being a full service carrier still provides free food ad drink to all passengers. I was treated to a choice of sandwiches and a drink, including alcohol. However opted for a Coke Zero.
It was actually pretty decent for a sandwich although nothing more than a snack.
The aircraft also had inflight internet, provided by T-Mobile.
I decided to purchase the €7 “surf” package. It did exactly what it said on the tin. I was able to use Messenger, WhatsApp, and browse websites from my phone perfectly well. Sending and receiving images was no issue too – it worked pretty much like if I only had a 3G cellular connection on the ground (as opposed to 4G/LTE coverage).
My only criticism was that the seats don’t have power built in, so if you don’t have an external battery pack with you, then you’re likely to run out of charge or at least take a big hit depending on your phone.
About fifteen minutes before landing, the connection went off and a few short minutes later we were on the ground in the bright sunlight at a chilly Munich airport. However we were 22 minutes late, which the Captain profusely apologised for.
I’ll continue the report tomorrow with my connection experience and the business class lounges at Munich.
Overall, for a short European flight it was nice to be back on a full service carrier. Security with no status in terminal 2 was almost as good as the First Wing at Terminal 5. The lounge was perfectly fine and had everything I needed save for decent champagne. Boarding was well policed and not a melée and the flight had free refreshments and internet access. The leg room was good too. We didn’t land on-time, but 22 minutes late isn’t too bad and the staff were terribly apologetic.
Overall, definitely a better experience than British Airways.