On its intra-European flights, in addition to A320 series aircraft, Lufthansa uses a variety of smaller Bombardier and Embraer aircraft operated by its subsidiary Lufthansa CityLine. When making my way back from Europe to Japan in October 2021, I had a chance to try one of those, an Embraer E190, on a flight from Vienna to Frankfurt.
Continue reading this review to see what the short hop was like in business class.
Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Vienna
I got to the airport around 7AM after a quick bus ride from Bratislava where my parents dropped me off. After getting to the airport, I headed straight to Austrian’s check-in area dedicated to business class passengers and Star Alliance status holders. With there being no people, it was my turn to check in right away.
The friendly check-in agent issued my boarding passes as soon as I showed her my negative PCR test result and installed an app that the Japanese government requires on my phone. With the boarding passes in my hand, I headed straight through security. Considering that there are two dedicated fast track gates accessible directly from the premium check-in area, I found myself passing through security in no time.
Airside, I headed upstairs into Austrian’s business class lounge. After having breakfast and relaxing a bit, I left the lounge around 8:25AM, fifteen minutes before my flight was scheduled to start boarding at gate F16.
Boarding started five minutes behind schedule, at 8:45AM, and I was the second passenger to get on the Embraer E190 registered D-AECF.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Cabin & Seat
As is the case with most if not all aircraft serving intra-European flights these days, Lufthansa’s Embraer E190s are not equipped with proper business class seats. Instead, they are equipped with 27 rows of economy class seats in a 2-2 layout for a total of 108 seats.
Of those 27 rows, the first few are separated off from the rest of the cabin with a movable curtain to form business class. The exact number of business class rows depends on each flight’s load. In my case, it was five rows.
I was seated in 1A, a left side window seat in the first row. As mentioned above, the seat was a standard economy class seat. While I wouldn’t want to spend a long time in the seat when flying in business class, for the short one-hour hop, it was alright. Due to the first row being a bulkhead row, I was able to enjoy a bit more legroom than passengers in rows 2 and further.
To provide business class passengers with extra space, only two seats per row were used. The empty seat next to each passenger seat was fitted with a table. That was the only thing that made the business class cabin visually different from economy class.
Lufthansa Short-Haul Business Class Pre-Flight Service
At the aircraft door, I was welcomed by one of the flight attendants and received a disinfection wipe. Passengers that were wearing non-FFP2 masks were told they would need to wear an FFP2 mask. Those that didn’t have one were given one.
Not long after settling in my seat, the flight attendant went around the cabin handing out small bottles of water. Shortly after that, chocolates were handed out as well.
While handing out water, the flight attendant also asked each passenger “when did you book the flight?” After going through the entire cabin, he still seemed confused at which point one of the passengers stood up and said “I booked two months ago but got upgraded. You asked the wrong question.”
That resolved the issue for the flight attendant which seemed to be not having enough meals onboard.
The aircraft doors were closed at 9:06AM around which time the captain made his welcome announcement as well.
At 9:08AM, two minutes ahead of schedule, we were pushed back. A few minutes of taxiing later, we reached our departure runway 29. At 9:17AM, we took off.
Shortly after take-off, some amazing views of mountains with foggy valleys could be had.
Lufthansa Short-Haul Business Class Breakfast
Seatbelt signs were switched about five minutes after take-off at which point the crew sprung into action. Just a minute or two later, a cold meal with warm bread was served. As part of COVID-19 precautions, the dessert had a plastic cover on it and the main was wrapped in plastic too. As mentioned earlier, the upgraded passenger in 1D ended up not receiving a meal.
A few minutes later, I was offered a drink so I asked for a glass of orange juice.
The meal which consisted of a bread roll, a croissant, a cold plate with some salmon, potato salad, and radish and cucumber salad, and a dessert was decent but nothing to write home about. That said, I enjoyed the salmon and the dessert which I believe was a coconut pudding.
One thing I should note here is that the seat pocket included a buy-on-board dining menu. While I’m not sure whether it was actually possible to buy anything on the flight, I would have expected them to remove the menu from the business class cabin where a complimentary meal is served.
Arrival at Frankfurt Airport
The meal tray was cleared as soon as I finished. At that point I went to the restroom. While usually I wouldn’t write about a restroom on a regional jet, I found it interesting that it was equipped with an air vent.
For the remainder of the short flight, I read a book and enjoyed the views.
At 10:05AM, the seatbelt signs were switched back on as we started our descent. Fifteen minutes later, the pilots lowered the landing gear and at 10:22AM, we landed on runway 07L. At 10:28AM or 12 mintues before our scheduled arrival time, we came to a full stop at a remote parking spot.
After disembarking, it took another ten-minute bus ride until I arrived at the terminal. There, I spent a few hours in Lufthansa lounges before catching a flight to Tokyo. That is for the next instalments of this series, though.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Summary
On this short flight, Lufthansa did not amaze me or disappoint me – it provided perfectly adequate service. The meal was alright and the seat, while just a normal economy class one, was comfortable enough for the one-hour ride. In fact with the layout being 2-2 instead of the 3-3 on an A320, the Embraer’s are in a way more comfortable than their larger counterparts.
The only two things that caught my attention were the lack of meals (while understandable given the same-day upgrade, it also looked a bit unprofessional) and the presence of the buy-on-board menu in the seat pocket.