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Very disappointed by Lufthansa long-haul business class Aug 01

The Asiana lounge at IncheonOver the years I have flown quite a lot with Lufthansa in economy class – they have provided great offers to many parts of the world and their onboard service has been quite good (apart from their really bad in flight entertainment system). So when I was going to fly Lufthansa business class long haul from Seoul (ICN) to Frankfurt (FRA) it was something that I looked forward to! In July 2012 my wife and I checked in at Incheon airport in Seoul to fly LH713 to Europe. Check in was fast even if though the The Lufthansa A340-600ground staff looked and behaved as if she had gotten out on the wrong side of the bed that day. Our request to sit together was met with a frown and statement that business class was full and this was not possible. There was no priority security check and no priority immigration and that was a bit disappointing for an airport that is labeled as the best in the world. I guess this is Asiana’s home base so I was also looking forward to checking out their lounge – but let me assure you, there is not much to look forward to. It is a rather dark airport lounge with no view of the runway. Maybe they have tried to make it look like home with all the books in the book shelves.

The amenity packOur flight was scheduled for 14:05 and we boarded at about 13:30. Contrary to grumpy check in lady’s statement, our seats were changed so that we could sit together – in seats 10 G and K. These seats are located in the smallest business class cabin at above the wings of the plane (you can see the setup of the plane on the Lufthansa site ). The Airbus A340-600 has been the longest plane in the world until recently when the new Boeing 747-8 took that title. Anyway, the Lufthansa flight LH713 had a three class configuration with 8 first class, 48 business class in a 2-2-2 configuration and the rest being economy class.

Business class seatWhen we sat down we noticed that a bottle of water had already been handed out together with a blanket, headset were already attached and we had also gotten a small toiletry bag with a toothbrush, socks, eye shades, ear plugs and some lip balm – the toiletry bag and water was “hidden” in a small compartment on the side and behind the seat so I wonder if everyone actually noticed it. After a looong while we were offered a glass of champagne (they had different bottles during the service so I’m not sure it was champagne) but the plane was still parked at the gate. After a while the captain announced that they had to take out some luggage, that there were flight restrictions over China etc. (it was not easy to understand as we could hardly hear what he was saying) and it would cause a delay. Some champagneI pushed down the call button immediately to get some more champagne but I would have died of thirst if I had to wait for that response. I think I had the call button on for 30-40 minutes and no one came to check on me once – at all. You might say that they were busy with flight preparations but as I said we were supposed to take off at 14:05 and we finally left the ground at 17:40! Finally take-offSo in the end I had to just grab a flight attendant that was just walking past or actually go to the galley to ask for service. I walked in once and two flight attendants were casually chatting away. When I asked for some champagne and maybe some peanuts they all of a sudden seemed to think that it was a good idea so they started offering peanuts to all the business class passengers. After a while they did walk around to serve us a small snack while we were waiting but the standard response when asking for a drink was “Just wait a second and my colleague will come past to serve it”.

The menu for the flightAfter takeoff they could finally start with the regular service and a menu was handed out. It was rather grand but my wife was like “I’m not sure I understand the menu” and I had to agree. It was not very clear what we would get, what decisions we had to make etc. But when they started serving the food we got some explanation.My salad starter There were three starters to choose from and I went for the fresh garden greens with Gruyere cheese. The salad was quite good but there was actually not that much salad but more cheese – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But this was served on a tray with salt/pepper, tooth picks etc and before the main course they actually removed this tray and hence they removed the stuff that you might want to use for dinner (or after) e.g. the salt/pepper and toothpicks.

My fish dinner with "risotto"The dinner option was braised chicken, sea bass on asparagus risotto or bibimpap (a traditional Korean rice dish). I went for the chicken and my wife went for the sea bass but when it was served it was easy to see that my lactose intolerant wife could not eat the sea bass dish. I like the Italian cuisine and I love my risotto and to call this dish sea bass on asparagus risotto is an insult to Italian cuisine…no, actually an insult to Italy and everyone that loves Italian food! The sea bass itself was OK but what was supposed to be risotto were just a few rice grains swimming around in a creamy soup.

DessertMy wife was not that that impressed by the chicken on linguine either. It was presented as “Tomato basil olive sauce” but she said the chicken was dry and the sauce was merely a few splatters of tomato puree. So could the dessert make up for this rather bad start? On the menu we had the option of chocolate terrine or cheese or fruit salad – when the FA came to me I asked for the chocolate and she was like “Oh, you got the last one” like I had won a prize. But I can assure you…I did not feel like I had hit the jackpot. I don’t know who came up with the idea of combining chocolate cake with terrine as this was not very good – a chocolate “cake” that seemed to have been overdosed on gelatin and with not a lot of taste.

Seat controlLet us talk about the configuration and seat for a bit. Lufthansa is a big company and they have lots of different planes and they also have different options for seats. I think there is at least three different first class seats at the moment and they have finally came to realize that they have to introduce a proper lie flat business class seat to be able to compete with other major airlines. This plane had a pretty standard Lufthansa business class seat for long-haul flights if I’m not mistaken which means that you have a more or less flat seat but in a 160-170 degrees configuration. TV screenFor me this means that you can get a better sleep than in an economy seat but I keep on sliding down so in my case it is better to turn the seat into a deep reclining seat but this depends on your preference of course. I think what bothers me the most about the seat is that there is nowhere to put “stuff”. There was a narrow compartment behind the seat where the water bottle and toiletry bag was placed but apart from that there is nowhere to place stuff like camera, the holder for my glasses, iPad etc. At least there was a small place for a glass of champagne ;-) There is also a power outlet if you need to top up your iPad or laptop! In addition to this there was a 15”(?) screen that popped up from the seat (we were on the first row before the next section) and the in flight entertainment is not bad but a problem with the StarAlliance deal is that it seems like all the airlines show more or less the same movies.

Drink menuWe were seated in the business class section in the back and there are only 12 seats there and the next section is economy. I’m not sure how this is supposed to work but it seemed like most of the economy passengers were using the toilets in the business class sections – and as the flight attendants didn’t seem to give instructions, the economy passengers were walking around in the business class section. In fact, I had to go back to the economy section to go to the toilet as this was available while people from economy were lining up for the business class toilet! This is not a very impressive setup! Maybe Lufthansa should consider informing people where toilets are located. The toilets in economy on the A340-600 are kinda cool as they are located on the lower floor of the plane. It is not like I mind sharing my toilet with economy passengers but the whole idea of flying business is to get better service, have a better seat, get a quieter environment etc. Having people from economy led to a lot of traffic through our business class section. Even SAS (Scandinavian) are able to handle this issue!

Korean fish dishBefore landing it was time for a new meal and as the previous serving had not been a great success, we were looking forward to tasting the Cajun chicken breast with some caprese salad. But when the flight attendant came she asked me if I would care for some Korean braised sea bream with rice. I asked what the alternatives were and then she said that they didn’t have more of the Cajun chicken. Wouldn’t it be better to just say this to start with? Well, she served the fish with a smile and assured me that it was delicious. The fish was not bad but it was not the meal that I wanted!

As we took off several hours after planned schedule, we arrived late in Frankfurt. We were lucky to get out of the plane early and got to a Lufthansa service center to get information about what would happen next as we just missed our connecting flight. For some reason we had been rebooked to go to Copenhagen the next morning – which is great if you live in Copenhagen but our final destination was Stavanger in Norway. But they fixed this by booking us into a hotel (where we got up at 4 am due to a fire alarm) and sending us to Norway via Aberdeen the next day.

My wife had the chicken for dinnerI know I sound like a spoiled brat when I describe the service on board. I mean…I should be thankful for flying business instead of economy right? But I have had the privilege and pleasure of flying first class on a number of airlines and business class on e.g. Scandinavian (SAS), Turkish, AirCanada, Emirates, Thai Airways so I feel like have something to compare it to.  When flying for work I have looked into flying with Lufthansa several times but the prices has normally be substantially higher compared to  e.g. Scandinavian (and sometimes more or less on par with Singapore Airlines). If I can save 30% by flying Scandinavian compared to Lufthansa I would do so as the seat on Lufthansa is not any better, the service is certainly not any better,Snack we got when waiting for 4 hours in the plane the facilities is not any better etc. And if I had the option of flying Singapore Airlines with their new business class or flying this Lufthansa business class…let there be no doubt about it: I would pick Singapore Airlines any day! While Singapore can offer an amazing seat, perfect service, option of selection food before you flight etc. Lufthansa could only provide a tired business class seat with a crew that didn’t seem too interested in it’s passengers. Maybe the business class is too big for the crew to handle as service was slow, they ran out of food, when I tried to call for service no one checked on me etc. I know that this seems like a harsh conclusion – but I have to admit that I am disappointed by the Lufthansa business class.

If you are flying long haul on business class you are far better off by choosing Singapore airlines, Scandinavian, AirCanada etc. I do look forward to testing out the new Lufthansa business class (currently being installed on the new Boeing 747-8) – so Lufthansa: feel free to invite me back for a test of the new business class and I will make new flight review and hopefully it will be substantially better.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

My trip report from Lisbon Jan 01

Hi everyone and happy new year!

Nikki and I went to Lisbon in May 2011 and I have finally posted my trip report on  my homepage. As you will see it includes photos, links, videos etc. I have also made this interactive google map: . It shows were some of the attractions are located and also the restaurants that we went to – you can click on the markers to get more info. I hope that this trip report can be of use to others traveling to Lisbon – get in touch if you have any questions or comments :-)

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Experience on Lufthansa A380 Nov 28

I just had the pleasure of going on a short vacation to Singapore. The trip came about when Lufthansa had a great offer from Norway to Singapore in connection with starting the use of the Airbus A380 on this route. Here are some of my observations after flying a 12 hour flight in economy class.

IMG_6603As I have a SAS Eurobonus Gold card we had access to the Lufthansa lounges in Frankfurt. There is actually a lounge by the gate (E5?) for this flight but the lounge was quite small and was not very cozy. Anyway, boarding was fast and we had seats in the front cabin both ways (rows 55 and 56). Upon entering the plane the blankets and headset was already placed on the seats which I think works out pretty good.

IMG_6610I have had to joy of flying A380’s before (both with Singapore airlines and Emirates) but never on economy class so I was kinda excited to see how it would be. The seat itself was OK and as usual you just have enough space – the cabin is in a 3-4-3 configuration. On long flights on economy class I think the entertainment system is one of the key factors and the Lufthansa A380 has of course a screen for each passenger. The size is not bad but I was kinds disappointed by the selection of movies – on Emirates it seemed like they had an endless list of movies but I found it rather limited on the Lufthansa flight. And the screen itself is touch screen but I had a bit of problems of maneuvering around. Maybe I was not aiming correctly but I felt like I had to press several times to choose the things I wanted.  The headsets are collected before touch down but they keep on running the movies all the way until the wheels hit the ground so bring your own headset if you want to catch the last part of the movie.

IMG_6614There are also games to be played but there is not game control that comes with the seat – you have to ask for this from the crew. I asked for it and got a small cube that folded out to be a game controller. This had to be plugged into the USB connection under the arm rest (kinda awkward position) and after that it was game time. But the game controller feels a bit flimsy and it was not very easy to play with it. The control for light, calling the crew, volume etc is placed on top of the armrest. The placement doesn’t seem to be ideal as it looked like people where leaning on top of it and with their elbow they would press the buttons and hence you could see the lighting go on and off in some seats.
Sleeping comfort. Well, as a friend said “economy class is economy class…it doesn’t really matter if it is in a new plane“. Sleeping on economy class will never be easy as it is hard to find a good sleeping position when sitting upright. One nice feature on the seat is the head rest where you can fold in support on the sides so that you have something to lean your head on.
Service on board was pretty good – we got a drink to start with together with some nuts and after that a meal was served along with more to drink. They also came around later on with more wine and even cognac and Baileys. 

So all in all: I would have enjoyed seeing a better movie selection and I would like to have a better game controller. But it is a huge step forward compared to long haul with Lufthansa 747 where they used to only have a screen hanging from the ceiling ;-)

IMG_6608 IMG_6612

IMG_6611 IMG_6616


Internet is back on SAS and Lufthansa flights Dec 11

It finally looks like it will be possible once again to get online while flying. I had the pleasure of trying this back in 2006 when I flew Scandinavian airlines to Asia. In advance I had read that it was possible to surf on the plane so I pre-registered and it worked like a charm. But obviously there were issues with this as it was discontinued in 2007. But now it seems like both SAS and Lufthansa will introduce this service once again. On the Lufthansa pages it says: “FlyNet is back on board – faster, stronger, smarter. Lufthansa is now offering boundless broadband communications. With WLAN-enabled devices, you can surf the Internet and utilise mobile data services on many of our long-haul flights. FlyNet brings the entire spectrum of mobile data communications at fingertip to passengers above the clouds” . You can read more about the Lufthansa FlyNet solution is this article.

Gard – trip reports and pictures

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Lufthansa A380 is coming to town Sep 08

The Airbus A380 is not that uncommon anymore as a few airlines have now got it in service. But it seems like there is still quite an attraction connected to this giant plane and there is still interest for the plane in Norway (well, at least amongst the plane-geeks ;-) and in the press. Anyway, Lufthansa has announced that their Airbus A380 is coming on a visit to Norway (Oslo) on September 15th at 5 PM. I’m not sure that average Joe will be able to get a glimpse inside but at least you can see it land :-) I had the pleasure of flying Emirates A380 last year and this year and here is a summary of the trip last year. This year I used it when flying from Dubai to Sydney so I got to spend many, many hours on the plane. But I wouldn’t mind trying out the Lufthansa A380 to see how that compares ;-)

Lufthansa presents their Airbus A380 May 20

The official handover of the Airbus A380  to Lufthansa took place on May 19th and at the same time the interior was presented online on the web site. Most of us will be flying economy class of course and as we all know, flying long haul in economy can be a pretty miserable affair. I have used Lufthansa a few times on long haul and one of the issues that I have been very unhappy with is of course the lack of a personal TV screen. On the Lufthansa A380 each seat does have a personal TV screen of course and that will at least make the flight pass faster for me – and at least I don’t have to sit and watch the German bundesliga updates like I had to last year when I went to Dubai (see my trip report on my homepage)

If you are extremely lucky you will get to experience the business class. As you can expect the business class seats are wider, you have a bigger screen, probably better food and drink selection and so on. Most of the upper deck on the Lufthansa A380 is filled with the business class seats but I have to say that both the seat and the configuration is a bit of a disappointment at first glance at least. Both Singapore Airlines and Emirates have been able to make the business class into something special with huge seats – on the Lufthansa A380 you have a pretty standard business class seat that doesn’t recline to 180 degrees. There are seats that are comfortable for sleeping even if they don’t recline all the way but normally it is better to sleep if you have a flat bed. I’m also surprised over the configuration – many of the other airlines have tried to come up with solutions were all have direct access to the aisle but on the Lufthansa A380 you have a pretty standard configuration.

The very lucky and very few have the money to fly First class. On the Lufthansa A380 there are only 8 of these seats. The other airlines that have bought the A380 have used the opportunity to really show off in the First class setup with Singapore Airlines having small compartments and Emirates having showers available for the first class passengers. I did have a chance of flying Lufthansa First class last year in a 747 from Frankfurt to Hong Kong (see the trip report on ) and that was a wonderful experience. But actually the configuration and plane was quite old so the most amazing part of the experience was the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and the service there (see ). But back to the new Lufthansa A380 First Class. From what I can see Lufthansa has taken a more moderate approach to the first class: the seat looks like a flat bed seat, the screen seems to be large and so on. But there is no WOW factor as you see on Singapore Airlines and Emirates. And it is also strange to see that there are only 8 seats compared to something like 14 on the 747. But I guess in these days with economic difficulties there is not a large market for first class seats. But all in all the Lufthansa A380 first class looks very comfortable but maybe a bit on the boring side. The bathroom seems large and that it is of course great as it can be tricky to slip into pajamas in a small toilet ;-)

Congratulations to Lufthansa with the new plane – I hope that it will provide a comfortable and safe ride for lots and lots of passengers and I hope to fly it myself one day soon :-) The images above are taken for the Lufthansa web site. Check out the Lufthansa A380 site to get a virtual presentation of the various classes of the Lufthansa A380.

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Lufthansa A380 soon ready for service May 09

So far Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Air France have received their A380′s. Now it is time for Lufthansa to receive their first plane and they plan to use this on the route from Frankfurt to Tokyo in Japan. Later on this fall they will receive more planes and these will be used on the routes Frankfurt – Beijing and Frankfurt – Johannesburg in South Africa. Here is the seat map of the Lufthansa A380 and it looks like the lower floor will be all economy while the upper floor is mainly business class with a few first class seats. You can read more about the Lufthansa A380 on their website.

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Still possible to get bargain tickets Oct 11

It is still possible to get your hands on plane tickets at a nice price. I would like to recommend all of you to sign up to the newsletters that airlines offer. If you sign up to airlines like KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, SAS you are pretty much covered if you are liviing in Norway. KLM has a sale these days – what do you say to Mexico City for 3800 kroner (670 USD)…pretty cheap in my opinion (well, the dollar is pretty low to the Norwegian krone these days so that brings up the price in dollars). You can see the KLM sale here. Lufthansa is also having a sale and they can offer Buenos Aires for 4800 NOK. See the Lufthansa sale on this page. Norwegian is also having a sale but you have to hurry as it ends soon :-) To get the good prices you have to be flexible and you have to travel outside peak times – but it shows that you can still make a bargain on plane tickets :-)

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Flight to Hong Kong – Lufthansa First Class Sep 28

At about 5.30 PM one of the staff came over to me in the lounge and said ”Mr. Karlsen. The flight to Hong Kong is ready for boarding”. So I packed my stuff together and went with him downstairs where I got my passport back from the First Class lounge tiny little passport control and then I was handed over to a driver that took me to her Mercedes S400 Hybrid…she told me that they had only had the car for about 2 weeks so it was brand new. The Lufthansa First class lounge experience was great – the service was impeccable and both food and drink selection impressive – going to a SAS lounge after this will never be the same.

My driver took me to the Lufthansa 747-400 plane and she walked me to the door of the plane before she said goodbye and I was handed over to the staff on board. It has been a long time since I had the pleasure of walking up the stairs to the top floor of a 747. The Lufthansa first class is located on the upper deck of the 747 and there are about 16 seats there. They seem to be a bit old and I understand that an upgrade is being planned in the end of this year. I had seat 83 K which is by the emergency exit so there was lots of space. But note that there is a permanent “trolley” here where they store drinks. Some have mentioned this as a problem but I didn’t think this was an issue.

My FA asked me right away if I wanted something to drink…so I went for the Champagne, The champagne of the day was Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Rare. I have to say that after being through Bollinger, Taittinger, Taittinger Rose and several types of red wines in the lounge, I was not really capable to tasting the fine qualities of the Piper-Heidsieck – but it seemed pretty good. When I asked my FA what kind of champagne I was drinking he informed me and then he asked “Why? You didn’t like it?” – not sure why he assumed that. After about 40 minutes we were pushed back and rolled across their airport to get ready for takeoff. Takeoff feels different when seated on the upper floor that’s for sure. Before takeoff we got slippers, a toiletry bag and pajamas. The FA asked about my size and I was like “I don’t know…what do you think?” He seemed a bit bothered by this – I guess he have heard it before. But I ended up with Large to extra large that was a bit too big for me.   The toiletry bag was pretty big but didn’t really contain that much. Ear plugs in a holder, a tooth brush and tooth paste, a comb, a face mask, a moisturizer and a shoe horn.

After takeoff we got a warm cloth soaked in water. I’m not sure what fragrance that was used but the scent was great :-) After about 30 minutes in the air the first class started their service  by putting a cloth on the table and handing out an appetizer…tuna fish with orange or something like that, I even got a real rose stuck in a hole next to my table. It was a nice touch I guess but it is not something I will miss if they remove it from the service. The tuna fish was great but it would have been great if they staff had informed me about what was being served. I also got menus by the way explaining what kind of drinks and food that I could expect

For starter I had the option of Caviar, crawfish, watermelon with goat cheese and tartar of goose breast. Next course was the option between a salad or spicy lemongrass soup and main course options were prawn, mushroom and pancetta stew, swordfish with beans, pumpkin ravioli and sugar or spice duck breast.
My FA took my order and while I was waiting I watched a bit of Angels & Demons on the TV screen. And this is one area where Lufthansa scores pretty low. The screen for each seat is TINY and can’t be compared to the Emirates option at all. When I flew Emirates A380 on business class I had a 17” screen or something  like that and on Lufthansa it is like 10”. But it is video on demand so you can pause it and stuff but the screen is jus t too tiny. About 1 hour into the flight the start was served and I got a nice portion of caviar. I think caviar is a bit like fois gras….it is great but only in small quantities :-)

I guess the FA had seen that I was taking a lot of photos so she kindly offered to take a photo of me ;.) The female FA did a good job by the way but I’m not sure I understand why she kept on addressing me in German to start with every time she spoke to me. Yes, I know that you would all like people to talk German but it is not really going to happen just because you start your conversation in German ;-)
The caviar was served with lemon, onion and some kind of sour cream on the side. From there we moved on to the salad which was a bit on the boring side but still pretty good.  For main course I chose the duck breast with polenta and spinach. Not bad at all and the duck has a lot more character than e.g. chicken.  But the combination of a chunk of meat, a scoop of polenta and a heap of spinach doesn’t really scream fine dining.

When dessert came around my female FA just skipped me for some reason…I guess she looked at me and thought “You’ve had enough” or maybe it was just a slip of the mind ;-) But I grabbed my male FA and asked him if I could get the pear tart with brown butter ice cream which tasted great with some decaf coffee and some Baileys. So after a loooong day it was time to call it the night. I went to bathroom and brushed my teeth and slipped into the pajamas and went to sleep. The chair was actually very comfortable as a bed and it felt like it was possible to recline it all the way back to a proper bed. I did sleep until I was woken up for breakfast ;-)

When I was woken I had a slight hang over from the drinks last night but that’s how the cookie crumbles right? ;-) Once again we were handed the cloth that smelled excellent and I also used the opportunity to slip into normal clothing again. The breakfast was a bit strange…the female FA asked if I wanted muesli but what I got was some sort of sour cream mix…and then I got honni corn on the side. I was not sure that that was it…but all of a sudden I was also asked if I wanted some scrambled eggs and bacon. All in all not a bad breakfast but it would have been great to get some information about the options…or maybe I didn’t read the breakfast menu well enough.

All good things come to an end right? And after about a 10 hour and 30 minute flight it was time to land in Hong Kong. After a steep descend we landed at Chek Lap Kok airport in Hong Kong. If I were to give a conclusion of this flight I would say that Lufthansa delivers a very good product from the lounge to the flight experience. The service on board was good and even with their old layout, the seat was very comfortable and gave me a good night sleep. The food amd drink selection was also very nice. One area where there is room for a lot of improvement is of course when it comes to personal entertainment. The screen today is just too small compared to the competitors and even if “Size doesn’t matter” it was still just too tiny. When I checked the price of a round class ticket on first to HK, I think it was like 75000 Kroner (about 13.000 USD). I wouldn’t mind flying first class every time I travel but I’m not willing to spend that much on the ticket ;-) So I guess I have to save up some SAS points again so I can try out first class on a different airline.

Get in touch if you have any questions or comments :-)

A walk through the lounge Sep 27

Here is a short video showing a walk through of the Lufthansa First Class terminal lounge when it was pretty much empty.