Having left the rather excellent United Polaris Lounge, I headed over to the boarding gate where I arrived just at the time when boarding was meant to commence. Given it was a full A380, the whole gate area seemed pretty chaotic with people all over the place and no announcements.
There was a First Class and HON Circle queue, with a few people in, so joined the back of that. After a few minutes there was an announcement over the tannoy explaining that as the aircraft was late arriving, boarding would be delayed by about another fifteen minutes. So we all sighed a little and stood there for another twenty minutes or so, before boarding finally started.
Lufthansa have eight seats in First Class on the A380, which is located upstairs at the front of the aircraft. That day’s flight was completely full. I was sat in 1A and by the time I got on, the cabin was filling up quickly.
I started to make myself comfortable and was offered a drink by one of the cabin crew.
I started noticing things about my seat. It didn’t seem terribly clean. There were pen marks all over the side walls. There was litter left over in the seat storage. There was some kind of sticky residue in another part of it. The seat arm seemed scuffed and worn.
The crew then came around with their amenity kit, pyjamas and a pair of very high quality looking slippers.
The Captain came on the tannoy to apologise for the delayed boarding and said that our flight time was going to be nine hours and five minutes back to Frankfurt that afternoon. We eventually pushed about around half an hour late with a short taxi, before the wonderfully quiet A380 lumbered into the air.
After about half an hour, the service started with a small amuse bouche.
That was cleared away an around and my table made up, with around half an hour later the caviar course arrived. I noticed that there wasn’t any vodka on the trolley, so asked the crew if they had any given it was the traditional accompaniment.
The caviar was cleared away and then I waited a bit more. The starter trolley eventually arrived and I tucked in.
Starters were cleared away and again after a further wait, the main course finally arrived.
It was pretty meh. I ate about half of it and then waited for it to be cleared away. By this point it was over 2 1/2 hours after take-off and really wanted to get some sleep.
Heading to the loo, I returned and my main had finally been cleared away. I reclined my seat into a bed, raised the privacy screen and changed into my pyjamas, hoping the crew might take the hint that I wanted to go to sleep. They didn’t.
I walked back to the galley and asked them if they could grab the bedding so I could get some sleep. Another fifteen minutes went by and they eventually did. I explained that I there was no need to wake me for breakfast and I was finally able to crash.
The bedding is fantastic – you can get an amazing night’s sleep with the mattress pad and duvet.
I woke up to the Captain announcing it was around 40 minutes to land in Frankfurt. I wandered up to the loos at the front to get changed back out of my pyjamas. I noticed that they had a pretty unique feature that I’d not seen in any other aircraft on any other airline – an urinal!
Whilst quite a novelty, it does seem an almost sexist addition to the product. Given there are only eight seats in first class, it does seem something strange for Lufthansa to specify.
After getting changed, I returned to my seat and less than 25 minutes later we were on the ground in Frankfurt.
I suppose I better summarise the whole experience:
- Delayed and chaotic boarding
- Dirty seat environment
- Poor food
- Slow meal service
- Waiting fifteen minutes for my bed to be made up
For what’s meant to be one of the best first class products out there, that’s quite a list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all very #firstworldproblems but given the outstanding nature of both my flight with Swiss outwards, and all my previous experiences with Lufthansa, I was quite surprised.
Don’t get me wrong, I ate and slept very well, but the entire experience seemed completely out of kilter with what I’d experienced from them before. It was as if everyone I came into contact with was having an off day. The hard product was as great as ever, but every human touch seemed to fall short of the expected Germanic precision.
Perhaps it was my expectations being too high, but from previous flights, almost the entire raîson d’être of the Lufthansa first class experience is consistency. I guess not today.