Lufthansa First Class: Washington-Dulles to Frankfurt

This is the second post of my trip report, since the posts start from the beginning of the trip you’ll need to scroll down and read posts in reverse order.  Or just take the post-modern approach and just dive into the middle!

Monday, March 17, 2008Washington, DC (IAD) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
7:00pm Lufthansa 0419, Boeing 747, First Class, Seats 81A, 81C
Scheduled flight time: 7h 40mI took the metro to work today with my bags loaded into my wife’s Acura. She came by the office to pick me up around 4pm. We were at Dulles just after 4:30pm, waited about 5 minutes behind just a single customer at First Class check-in, and were told we’d have to pick up onward boarding passes at Frankfurt… except our boarding passes all the way to Denpasar spit right out. Bags checked there as well. Through the premium security line while the regular line was starting to back up (it was, after all, 5pm at Dulles– the peak time for transatlantic departures).

At check-in we had been given an invitation to the Virgin Clubhouse across from gate B-32. We were welcomed right in and I immediately decided that this small lounge (so small that the attendants really try to persuade you to leave your carryones in the closet area so as not to crowd the seating space) was the very best at Dulles. I chided myself for not finding an excuse to have visited it in the past. It’s not opulent, really. There’s a shower but not a fancy one, and there are admonitions about low water pressure for the toilets. Still, there’s a proper menu to order off of and the staff bring you your drinks, your food, and are genuinely pleasant as they assist you. What a world away from my usual UA Red Carpet Club experiences here!

It’s a very stylish lounge, at least for DC. It lacks the architectural grandeur of the London-Heathrow Clubhouse, but then DC has at times been known as “Hollywood for Ugly People.”

Internet is available, they’ll hand you an instruction sheet which includes the password.

Virgin Clubhouse Menu: Dinner


Lighter Bites
Warm baby spinach, feta cheese, avocado & grape salad with basil & balsamic dressingTomato bisque with grilled cheese croutonsChicken saltimbocca skewers with sun-dried tomato dressingBigger bites
Flying Club sandwich – a frequent flyer on the menu. Roti turkey breast, Swiss cheese, crispy bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato and gorgonzola mayonnaise in sourdough roll

Tuscan flank steak served with orzo pasta

Penne pasta with baby Roma tomato, bocconcini mozzarella & roasted garlic oil

Naughty but nice
Calvados tart with whipped cream

White chocolate cheesecake served with raspberries

International selection of cheese with accompaniments

While they said they’d announce boarding for our flight, after some quick snacks we really did feel like walking around so we left the lounge early and walked over to the gate.

We found only one other couple in F, and they hadn’t been in the lounge with us. The flight had only 4 of 16 seats filled. A nice sign indeed

Now, it must be said that the Lufthansa First Class product is outdated, especially on the 747s with 2×2 seating. No suites, just old style lay flat seats. But traveling with my wife I really don’t mind it at all, in fact we both rather prefer it. We’ve only been married for nearly 3 years, after all!

We settled into seats 81A and 81C. I know this isn’t a popular viewpoint. Row 83 is the most spacious, but you’ve got the carts in front of you. And for me, I prefer not having a view of the entire cabin. Row 81 just feels a bit more private when you don’t see the other passengers, or the FAs serving everyone else. As far as you can tell for the flight, they’re there serving only you. So my little controversial stance to be sure, but I’m sticking by it.

The seats themselves are comfortable enough for daytime, perhaps not quite enough padding on the back or else they’re a bit worn (though they look fresh). And I will always enjoy the climb up the staircase of a 747, something I really haven’t done in quite awhile since there’s no longer a UA 747 running DC-Los Angeles or DC-San Francisco, and my international flights recently have been on 777s.

There are some things Lufthansa does nicely on board, and some things really missing. The dinner rose, left in a special holder in the seat throughout the flight, is a nice touch. They give you a blanket but don’t make your bed. The pillows aren’t that thick, but with a light load there were plenty of extra pillows on other seats. The amenity kits are nice enough (and the ladies kit is a small handbag!) but don’t contain what for me is a must: a proper roll-on chapstick.

And, of course, there isn’t enough storage space! The overhead bins are tiny, they won’t fit a standard roll-aboard. You can leave them at your feet, at least the FAs were comfortable with this, but that would detract from unobstructed foot space. You could put them behind your seat, but then your seat won’t fully recline. So that leaves either (1) the closet, leaving them a bit harder to get to during flight or (2) in the case of a flight with a pretty empty cabin, beside an empty seat (or row).

Dinner service was nice but the first notable piece missing – caviar but no caviar spoons! Am I expected to spread caviar with a metal knife? What am I, one of GEICO’s cavemen?

Sean Hardy of Belvedere at the Peninsula Beverly Hills was the featured chef.


DinnerChoice of Hors d’oeuvres
Caviar with the traditional garnishes
Cardamom roasted Duck Breast with Haricot vert, Butternut Squash and Walnuts
Cilantro marinated Shrimp with Jicama, Corn and roasted Peppers
Baby stuffed Eggplant and Tomato FondueSalad
Seasonal Salad
With your Choice of Balsamico or Potato DressingChoice of Main Courses
Beef Tenderloin with charred Chayote Squash and Oyster Mushrooms, Sweetcorn Truffle Vinaigrette
Pan seared Thai Snapper served with Tamarind Banana Curry
Breast of Chicken with herb Spatzle and Cider foie Gras sauce
Butternut Squash Risotto with toasted Pecan Mascarpone

Selection of Cheese and Dessert
Brie, herbed Goat Cheese, Morbier, Gruyere, and Roquefort garnished with Grapes
Yogurt Panna Cotta with Kumquat Sauce
Chocolate Custard Cake with Raspberry Coulis
Specialty Dessert Wines

The “dreamer’s delight” menu featured seared guinea hen and New Mexico Chili. I won’t reproduce the wine lists here, unless anyone requests to know…

I enjoyed dinner and went to sleep for about 4 hours and woke just in time for breakfast.


BreakfastFitness Breakfast
Coffee or Tea
Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
Fresh Fruit
GranolaContinental Breakfast
Coffee or Tea
Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
Yogurt with dried Fruit
Pork Hame Cure, Salami, Herb Boursin, Cheddar and Cream CheeseAmerican Breakfast
Coffee or Tea
Freshly squeezed Orange Juice
Sliced fresh Fruit
Herb Omelette with Potato Brie Souggle, Veal Chipolata Sausage and grilled Roma Tomato

Landing was on time, and we had a gate, no apron arrival which was nice. Thought about stopping by a First Class Lounge on arrival, but decided against it – maybe on the return – we had booked a day room given the extremely long layover.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The assistant service in FRA is it comp’d? Do you leave a gratuity? Can the car service pick you up from the plane and bring you to the lounge? Also can you arrange ahead for a shower room?

  2. The LG First Class Lounge is the offsite building with dedicated customs / immigration / security and it is a perfect lounge. There are showers, 1 bath tub, 3 resting / sleeping rooms, cigar lounge etc… it is over the top. Why rent a room when you can have it all including a first class restaurant at your fingertips. I hear that LH pays the contractor more than Euro 100 per passenger that comes in – it is costly for them and it shows!! All in all it is a highly unusual experience from door to door. I doubt that any of the staff would accept money — no way…

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