Flight Review: Lufthansa 747-400 Premium Economy from Frankfurt to Osaka KIX

LH 747-400 in PY with a Go Around (FRA-KIX)

(Flown on May 10, 2016)

On my way back to Japan from a family-visit in Europe, I took a combination of Austrian Airlines 777-200 and Lufthansa 747-400 from Vienna to Osaka via Frankfurt. Looking to experience something new, I upgraded myself from Economy to Premium Economy class at my gate in Frankfurt.

Quick Spotting and Transfer in Frankfurt

After spending about a week in Slovakia visiting my family and friends, it was time to head back to Japan.

I didn’t book the ticket until two days before departure, and I ended up booking Vienna-Frankfurt-Osaka/Tokyo-Dusseldorf-Vienna with next visit planned for Christmas.

On the day of departure, I was dropped of at the airport by my family, and after checking-in and spending some time with them, I took Austrian Airlines flight 121 to Frankfurt.

While in Japan, hour-long widebody flights are a norm, in Europe they are quite rare, and so I was happy to have been able to experience Austrian’s Triple Seven on the short hop to Frankfurt.

OE-LPA waiting at the gate to take me to Frankfurt. Given that Austrian is terminating their Vienna-Tokyo flight in September, this flight might have been my last Austrian 777 flight in a while.
Simple service on the short hop to Frankfurt – a drink (apple juice) and a poppy seed pastry.
Approaching FRA
Approaching Frankfurt airport.
Welcome to FRA!
Welcome to Frankfurt! It’s very clear who is the “king” at the airport. Lufthansa logos everywhere.

As I had over four hours of transfer time, I was picked up by a friend (and another Japanese spotter that happened to be visiting Frankfurt), and we headed to the Holiday Parking where one can take photos of planes approaching runway 07R.

“TUI BLUE” colored TUIfly 737 approaching RWY07R.
One of Lufthansa’s new generation Jumbos approaching RWY07R.

A couple of hours later, my friend dropped me off at the terminal where I passed through the empty passport control and security check. Since I still had some time to kill and I was starving, I had a pizza at one of the airport restaurants.

It took longer than expected to be made, but it was good!

Welcome Onboard Lufthansa’s Premium Economy

Once I finished my meal, I headed to gate Z52 where the flight was already boarding.

D-ABTL – my ride resting at the gate before the long trip to Osaka.

When I last flown long haul with Lufthansa from Tokyo to Frankfurt, I was offered a paid upgrade into Premium Economy at the gate (which I refused), but since this time I was tired and I was going straight to work I decided to ask if a paid upgrade would be possible at the gate.

Indeed, an upgrade was possible, and so a 349EUR charge on my card later, I was heading down the jetway with a Premium Economy boarding pass in my hand.

Once I was settled in my seat 26A, it was time to explore my surroundings.

The seat layout of the PY class is 2-4-2 instead of the regular economy’s 3-4-3, giving everyone extra couple of inches in seat width. The seat pitch, at 38 inches is 7 inches more than in regular economy, allowing people to stretch their legs without having to put them under the seat in front of them.

While the larger seat is the main benefit of the upgrade allowing for much better rest than in the economy class, other parts of the service are slightly better compared to economy class as well.

Besides the obligatory blanket, pillow and headset, an amenity kit and a pair of slippers awaits each passenger at the time of boarding. Furthermore, in a compartment in front of each passenger, a bottle of water is ready.

An amenity kit and a pair of slippers.
Water bottle is ready for each passenger in a compartment in front of the seat.

Before the door closed, fresh orange juice was served to the PY passengers.

Pre-Departure Drink
Pre-departure drink – fresh orange juice.

Shortly after my drink was served, another flight attendant approached me:

“Mr. Nukina, can I see your boarding pass?”

“Sure, here you go.”

“When did you get this seat?”

“I upgraded at the gate.”

“Oh, great. Enjoy the flight!”

Once that was solved, menus were distributed.

The Premium Economy menu.

Finally, onboard upgrades to PY were offered for the same price of 349EUR since only 6 seats out of 32 were occupied.

With no one upgrading onboard, we were ready to go, and so at 1:30PM the aircraft doors were closed and a minute later we were pushed back.

About 20 minutes later, we reached the end of runway 25C, and we lifted off into the cloudy German skies.

Another 747
While taxiing for departure, we passed by another LH 747 taxiing to depart.
Seconds after take-off from RWY25C.

Comfortable and Sleepy Ride to Osaka

After the cabin crew was released from their seats, the in-flight service started. A warm towel was shortly followed by a drink (apple juice for me) and pretzels. Throughout the beginning of the flight, I was enjoying the TV show Silicon Valley, but shortly after I was done with the pretzels, I fell asleep…

Still climbing. You can see the very poor PY load in this photo.
…and a view outside.
After take-off service – a drink and a pack of pretzels.
Long way to go.

…just to wake up a couple of minutes later as the lunch was served.

It’s always sunny above the clouds.

There were two choices of main – Japanese-style beef yakiniku or chicken with Arrabiata sauce. I decided to go with the latter.

The welcome page of the menu.
…and the actual things on offer.

The meal was served on a single tray, and was very much like a regular economy meal. However, it was nicely presented and it came in glassware instead of plastic. As for the meal itself, the chicken and the rest of the meal were very tasty, although the mashed potatoes were a bit too soft.

The rather tasty lunch.

Once I was done with lunch, I settled in the comfortable chair once again, and fell asleep.

Nice sunrise during a brief moment of “awakeness” before falling asleep again.

Two hours before landing, I woke up. I handed my log book to the crew, and shortly after, the breakfast service started. The service was interrupted for a bit due to turbulence, but soon I received my tray with scrambled eggs – the sole option.

Breakfast served on a small tray.

Lan… Landing in Osaka

Shortly after the breakfast, the seatbelt signs were turned off and we started our approach to Kansai International airport.

Descending towards Kansai International airport.

We overflew Awaji Island and made a right turn copying the shape of Osaka Bay before lining up with runway 24L.

Awaji Island
Awaji Island on the left.

Just seconds before landing, the four engines started roaring and we started ascending again.

Final Approach
Seconds from landing on runway 24L…
What’s going on? We are climbing! You can see the bridge connecting Kansai airport to the mainland in the middle of the photo.

Once we leveled off, there was an announcement from the cockpit that we had to cancel our approach due to a wind shear warning. As such, we overflew Awaji Island and copied the shape of Osaka Bay once again before attempting to land for the second time.

Awaji Island
Awaji Island on the left again.
Almost there.

The second time, however, we lined up with runway 24R instead of 24L and at 8:31AM we touched down. It took us another 9 minutes to get to our gate – gate 11, and at 8:40AM we set the parking break, bringing the trip to an end an hour and twenty minutes behind the scheduled arrival time of 7:20AM.

Lined Up
The in-flight map showing us lined up, this time with runway 24R.
Final Approach
Seconds from touching down, once again the bridge connecting the airport to the mainland is visible.
This time,it worked out and we actually touched down at Kansai International airport.
…and we taxied to our arrival gate in a rainy weather.
To finish off, a Flightradar24 view of our “double” approach to Kansai airport.

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