When choosing my flight from Europe to Japan earlier this year, one of the available options was Lufthansa. While I knew from reading other reviews that the airline’s business class was, to put it mildly, nothing to write home about, I decided to book it as I hadn’t flown the product before.
Now that I have flown it, I can confirm that the airline should indeed be fairly low on your list of options when choosing a long-haul business class flight. Continue reading this review to see why.
Lounge & Boarding at Frankfurt Airport
After arriving at Frankfurt airport from Vienna on a Lufthansa E190, I headed straight through immigration and spent quite a few hours in the Lufthansa Business and Senator Lounges. I left the latter around 4:35PM and headed to gate Z69 where boarding for my flight was scheduled to start at 5PM.
When I got to the gate, the Airbus A340-300 wearing Lufthansa’s (relatively) new livery that would take me to Tokyo was in the final stages of being prepared for the flight.
The gate agents started checking passengers’ documents and boarding at about 5:05PM. With my PCR test having been taken about 71 hours and 30 minutes before my departure from Vienna (i.e. within the 72-hour window prior to the departure of the first flight but more than 72 hours before the Frankfurt – Tokyo flight), the gate agent took some time making sure I was good to go.
Nonetheless, in just a couple of minutes, I was among the first passengers to head down the jetway and into the aircraft. Once on board, I settled in my seat, 1A.
Lufthansa A340-300 Business Class Cabin & Seat
Even though Lufthansa’s A340-300s come in a number of different configurations, the seats themselves are the same in all of them and each of them vary only in the number of seats. The aircraft that was operating my flight had a total of 279 seats in three classes.
Business class was located between the first and second pairs of doors and consisted of 30 lie-flat seats in 2-2-2 configuration. Then, there was a premium economy class cabin with 28 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. Lastly, there was the economy class which fit 221 passengers in a 2-4-2 configuration (2-3-3 in some rows).
On the business class cabin bulkhead, there was a nice sign indicating that it indeed was “Lufthansa Business Class.”
As for the seats themselves, they were nothing to write home about. In fact, when it comes to lie-flat business class seats, the type that Lufthansa and a few other airlines use is likely the least comfortable one. It lacks the privacy and direct aisle access offered by reverse herringbone and staggered seats but it also lacks the large amount of space offered by the type that LOT uses, for example.
Window seats, while offering privacy, also require you to “jump” over your neighbor. Window-side aisle seats, on the other hand, are quite exposed to the aisle. Center section aisle seat face the same issue combined with the fact that the footwell is only separated from your neighbor’s by a thin board and the two seats are angled toward each other.
With that, the choice can get a bit difficult if you are traveling alone on a full flight.
My seat, 1A, was the left-hand side window seat in the first row. While it offered good legroom, I found the seat to be a bit narrow. Similarly, the footwell was quite small. On a slightly different note, with the seat being close to one of the galleys, at times, crew chatting fairly loudly could be heard.
On the right side of the seat, there was a console separating the window and aisle seats which, in addition to serving as an armrest, also included:
- Small drink table
- Seat controls
- Tray table
- In-flight entertainment controller
- Two USB charging ports
- Power outlet
The armrest on the left side of the seat was considerably smaller. That said, its height could be adjusted.
Next to the armrest, there was a small storage compartment where headphones were stored and the audio output could be found.
The seat’s headrest was well-padded and included a reading light.
Lastly, in front of the seat, there were a fairly low resolution (non-touch) screen, a seat pocket with a safety card, and a small enclosed storage compartment. Luggage could also be stored under the footwell.
Lufthansa Flight 716 Pre-Flight Service & Departure
When I got to my seat, a mattress pad and slippers were waiting in the footwell. On the seat, there were a relatively large pillow and a blanket. Lastly, in the small enclosed storage compartment pictured earlier, there was a bottle of water and an amenity kit packaged in a nice reusable shopping bag.
Not too long after settling into my seat, one of the Japanese flight attendants came to offer me a welcome drink. The choices included champagne, water, and orange juice (my choice).
Soon, boarding was completed, and at 5:35PM, the cabin crew closed the aircraft’s doors. Immediately after, menus were distributed. Seeing me take photos, the friendly German flight attendant that brought me the menu asked if I wanted her to take a photo of me in the seat which I gladly accepted.
One of the Japanese flight attendants brought me a disinfectant wipe shortly after.
At 5:40PM, one of the cabin crew members made an announcement saying we would be departing soon and that we were expecting a flight time of 11 hours and 10 minutes. Sure enough, three minutes later (and three minutes behind schedule), we were pushed back.
While taxiing to our departure runway, the safety video was played.
We took off from Frankfurt airport’s runway 07C at 6:11PM and shortly after take-off, we were offered some nice views of Frankfurt city center and the Main river.
Lufthansa Long-Haul Business Class Dinner
About fifteen minutes after departure, the captain welcomed us onboard. While it was hard to hear what he was saying due to cabin noise, he mentioned that we were flying over Berlin at that time and that we would be flying over Siberia and China prior to arriving in Tokyo 10 hours and 40 minutes later.
Soon after, the seatbelt signs were switched off at which point the crew started preparing for the meal service.
First, the flight attendant that took a photo of me earlier came to take my drink order. I ordered Coke Zero which was brought just a couple minutes later (about 30 minutes after take-off) together with a small bowl of cold almonds.
Then, the same flight attendant returned to take my meal order.
From the menu below, I went with the prawns starter and salmon main.
The drink menu included a fairly standard selection of cold and hot soft drinks as well as of alcohol including wine, beer and liquor.
At 7PM, the flight attendant came to set up the table which consisted of simply taking it out and placing table cloth over it. She also asked whether I wanted some more Coke – I asked for a glass of orange juice instead. Immediately afterward, the meal was served. It all came on one small tray which included the appetizer, the main, and a piece of bread and some butter.
The meal was very poorly presented. The main was covered with aluminum cover (understandable given the current situation) and the appetizer plate didn’t fully fit on the small tray. While the food itself looked OK, it was nothing spectacular either.
On a separate note, it felt a bit strange eating slightly angled toward the window but not as much as in a reverse herringbone seat.
As for the quality of the meal, the curry-flavored pumpkin salad which was part of the appetizer wasn’t bad. On the other hand, both the seaweed and prawn with sauce were a bit too salty. The potatoes that came with the main were not bad. While the salmon and brocolli themselves were of good quality, the salmon (and the sauce it came with) was too bland and the broccoli was too salty.
The bread was good and the orange juice with pulp was good too.
I was done with the meal in about 20 minutes at which point the flight attendant came back to clear the table and then came to show me the desserts that were available. I got two out of the three options (I am not a big cheese plate fan) together with a cup of fruit tea since peppermint tea (my favorite) was not available.
The fruit cuts were fine and the yogurt mousse with lime jelly tasted good as well.
While I enjoyed the dessert, overall, the meal was the most disappointing long-haul (and short- and medium-haul for that matter too) one that I had so far. There was enough to fill a person before sleep but it just didn’t taste good, not to mention the poor presentation.
I definitely need to mention here, though, that the crew was extremely nice and attentive throughout the meal service.
Lufthansa A340-300 In-Flight Entertainment System
At some point after the meal, I browsed through the in-flight entertainment system content.
Combining the fact that the seat was not equipped with a touchscreen and there were no arrows on the controller, the IFE system was a bit difficult to control. Things had to be selected with a cursor that could be moved by sliding one’s finger over a small touchpad-like section of the controller.
That said, the content selection itself was decent.
There were over 200 movies, both old and new. There were also quite a few different TV shows. That said, for most of them, only a few episodes were available.
Some music, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment were available too.
Lastly, the system was, of course, also equipped with an in-flight map. Interestingly, the aircraft shown on the screen was a 747-400 instead of an A340-300.
Lufthansa A340-300 In-Flight Wi-Fi
The aircraft was equipped with in-flight wi-fi too. While I didn’t have a chance to try it, the packages that were offered came with data caps and weren’t particularly attractive:
- Chat: 8 USD, speed limited to 64 kbps
- Mail and Surf: 20 USD, speed limited to 400 kbps, 500 MB data cap
- Mail and Surf Plus: 34 USD, 1 GB data cap
Sleeping Onboard Lufthansa A340-300 Business Class
Around 7:30PM, after I was done with dinner, one of the flight attendants brought me a “sleeping shirt.” While I didn’t end up wearing it and there was no choice of size (I simply got an X/XL), I still found it to be a nice touch. It certainly wasn’t something that I expected in Lufthansa’s business class.
Shortly after, another flight attendant distributed immigration and customs forms.
Visiting the lavatory next, I wasn’t surprised to find that it was pretty barebones. Other than the obligatory soap and L’Occitane hand cream, there were no other amenities.
When I got back to my seat, I found a Longs chocolate bar placed on the seat console. While I didn’t eat it during the flight, I took it home with me and enjoyed it at a later date.
After playing around with the in-flight entertainment system a bit as mentioned earlier, I then turned down my seat into a bed.
While it offered plenty of privacy since it was a window seat and there was no one in the aisle seat (there were very few passengers on the flight), the bed was also very narrow. It reminded me of the Swiss 777-300ER business class seat with the exception that at the cost of slightly limited width, the Swiss seat offers direct aisle access and considerably more privacy.
I went to sleep around 7:45PM Germany time, or 2:46AM Japan time. Surprisingly, in spite of its width, the seat itself was fairly comfortable for sleeping and I slept for good eight hours.
When I woke up just before around 10:45AM Japan time, the cabin was still dark. We were just entering the airspace above the Sea of Japan and had about 1 hour and 35 minutes of flight time left before arriving in Tokyo.
Lufthansa Long-Haul Business Class Breakfast
The breakfast service started around 11:20AM when the flight attendant in charge of my aisle came to set up my table. At the same time, she also asked me whether I wanted muesli or eggs of which I chose the former. I was also asked whether I wanted some tea and orange juice. While I opted for the same fruits tea I had earlier in the flight, I decided to get mango juice instead of orange juice this time.
Shortly after the order was taken, the meal was served. The muesli and two drinks that I ordered were served together with a bread roll, a croissant, and a small cheese plate. This time, the presentation was better than the dinner’s presentation since, if nothing else, everything fit nicely on the small tray.
While the breakfast was nothing like what Qatar Airways would offer in business class, for example, it was still filling enough and it tasted good too.
Once I was done with the breakfast and the tray was cleared, I visited the galley briefly to see whether any drinks and food were readily available. Sure enough, there were some chocolate bars and packs of nuts as well as bottles of water.
Arrival at Tokyo Haneda Airport
While visiting the galley, I also stopped by one of the windows towards the back of the cabin to get a clearer photo of the aircraft’s wing and engines.
Once back at my seat, since there was not much flight time left, I took some time to fill out the stack of forms that I got from one of the flight attendants earlier.
At 11:49AM, a fairly long announcement about the entry requirements and procedures was made. The seatbelt signs were switched on at that time too. About twenty minutes later, as we were descending, it got quite bumpy.
We landed on Haneda airport’s runway 34L at 12:17PM.
Thirteen minutes behind schedule, at 12:28PM, we came to a full stop at gate 111. Soon after, ANA ground staff came on board and distributed a newer form of the form that I received onboard and already filled out (happened on my previous flight too).
Disembarking started about 10 minutes after parking at our arrival gate. Considering that gate 111 is about as far as it gets from gate 140 where the COVID-19-related entry procedures start, it took quite some time to get there.
From there on, I had to go through a number of document checks (with arguably unnecessary multiple checks of the same things) and a PCR test before being allowed back into the country, picking up my bags, and meeting my driver (international passengers arriving in Japan cannot take public transport) to take me home.
Lufthansa A340-300 Business Class Summary
All in all, unfortunately, Lufthansa’s long-haul business class is at the bottom of my list of products to fly again. My expectations weren’t very high going into the flight (I only chose it over ANA so that I could review a product I hadn’t flown before), and there were almost no positive surprises to beat those expectations.
While the seat was OK considering the flight was very empty, overall, they have to be some of the worst full-flat seats out there. Lufthansa’s business class seat takes away all the advantages of the staggered and reverse herringbone seats (direct aisle access, plenty of storage space, etc.). At the same time, it takes away the advantage that older full-flat seats that are in 2-2-2 configuration provide – unrestricted foot space.
As for the meal, while I enjoyed the dessert served after dinner and the breakfast muesli, the dinner main and appetizer didn’t taste good. The one thing that definitely deserves credit, though, is the crew that served the flight – the flight attendant that worked in my aisle for most of the flight was very nice and friendly, unlike the reception staff at Lufthansa’s lounge in Frankfurt.