Thanksgiving in Mumbai: Washington Dulles – Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class

Upon boarding, a flight attendant distributed amenity kit, pajamas, and slippers and immediately brought a choice of beverage and nuts to munch on while the rest of the aircraft got settled.

I was struck by how modest the amenity kit has become, really just a single liquid item. The contents of the mens and womens bags were similar though the bags themselves were more pedestrian and understated for men and more designed for women. Still, my wife tells me that the quality of the contents is high.

I had come to the airport in fairly relaxed uniform, prepared for an overnight flight, so I stuck the PJs in my bag and settled in. This flight had just one other person in first class. Sadly not an entire upper deck to ourselves, but close.

As we taxied our way out of Dulles, the safety video played and it’s always struck me that Lufthansa has the longest safety video of any airline I’ve flown, playing the entire video more than once to accomplish multiple languages and not just subtitling or making key points in a second language.

Shortly after takeoff menus were distributed and drink orders taken. I started with a cappuccino, as it was early evening and I wanted to stay up just a bit longer, I was beginning the process of adjusting myself to the time in India rather than to Europe.

That was followed by a very typical Lufthansa amuse bouche.

The table was set, the centerpiece of which is the Lufthansa staple — a red rose

The rose was quickly removed and placed in the seat. The Lufthansa seat is the only one with a built-in place to keep your dinner rose throughout the flight.

Then it was time to eat. I opted for the 2006 Artesa Winery Carneros Chardonnay.

In general I’ve never been impressed by Lufthansa’s wine selections. Their liquor choices are perfectly reasonable, though that’s not usually what I’m interested in. Still, what amounts to a $20 bottle was perfectly nice, fruit bouquet and can taste the pineapple and butter. It’s creamy, only a bit acidic. If they’re not going to invest in prestige choices (and admittedly this was not their highlighted selection), then they’ve at least made relatively thoughtful choices at the price point.

The menu for the evening was as follows:

Choice of Hors d’oeuvres

    Caviar with traditional garnishes

    Dungeness Crab and California Citrus Salad with Blood Orange Vanilla Vinaigrette

    Seared Beef Carpaccio with Baby Arugula and Watercress, pickled Onions and Lemon Oil

    Roasted red Pepper stuffed with Goat Cheese, grilled Artichoke Hearts, roasted Fennel and Red Wine Vinaigrette


    Seasonal Salad with dried yellow Tomatoes and green Bell Pepper presented with Dressing

Choice of Main Courses

    Pancetta wrapped Prawns on Butternut Squash Puree, Mushrooms and Sage Butter

    Grilled Tenderloin of Beef with Porcini Butter, roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Broccolini, Cherry Tomato Confit and cracked Pepper Merlot Jus

    Grilled Chicken Breast with Balsamico Grape Juson Chive mashed Potatoes, Baby Carrots, Balsamic infused Pan Juice

    Vegetable Tart with stuffed Portobello Mushroom and red Pepper Sauce

Selection of Cheese and Dessert

    Sage Derby, Parmesan, Gruyere, Humboldt Fog and Cambozola Cheese

    Almond Apple Puff Pastry Tart and Sour Cream Sorbet

    Caramelized Pear, spiced Chocolate Cream, Shortbread Cookies

Lufthansa serves a more generous portion of caviar than I’ve seen on most carriers:

(And of course have never been declined a second portion, but the one above was more than sufficient.)

I’ve had my appetizers served both individually plate-by-plate on Lufthansa, but more often than not as a complete tower:

The salad was attractively presented, though admittedly a bit more than I’d have wanted in light of the rest of the meal (though perhaps I should have eaten more salad and less of other things!)

The pancetta-wrapped shrimp was good but didn’t stay well-wrapped when presented:

It was capped off by my picking at cheese and dessert (I’m not a fan of shortbread cookies).

After the meal I decided to get some rest. The flight attendant opened a blanket package taken from a storage area in the base of my seat. Instead of covering myself with it, I used it as a mattress pad. And I asked for a second pillow, the one just isn’t enough for me to lay my head down on. I could have taken a second blanket for sure, the cabin wasn’t close to full, but they kept the cabin so darned warm (even when I asked if the temperature might be adjusted) that the last thing I wanted was a blanket on top of me.

I woke up about an hour and a half out from Frankfurt, and was immediately offered some breakfast. I was still full from dinner and declined entirely, knowing also that I had probably better choices to come in the First Class Terminal. I did have some orange juice, some water, and some coffee as we prepared to land at Frankfurt’s A gates.

I didn’t take any pictures of the cabin on this flight, but will share some in an upcoming installment taken on later flights. The seat was perfectly fine for sleeping on a short transatlantic flight but it’s really wearing and the padding wasn’t as comfortable as it once was. I do enjoy the Lufthansa seat when traveling with a companion, precisely because there’s no privacy in the 2×2 configuration, but wouldn’t want it flying solo. The video on demand is via a tiny screen, and the options are fairly limited. They provide headphones but not of the noise cancelling variety. The food aside, and that it’s a spacious rather than a crowded cabin, the product really does feel like a nice business class rather than modern first class. But eventually it’ll be phased out, it’s certainly time. Still, I much enjoy it on a short East Coast to Europe hop.

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. Artesa is a $20 wine that’s somewhat past it’s drinking age. On Cellartracker (a wine site somewhat like Zagat), it’s rated 88 points, whick is ‘drinkable’.

  2. Very thorough review and the photos do the menu description justice. While the presentation is very intriguing, I wonder how they handle the stacked appetizers when the aircraft hits turbulence. Then again, there may not be turbulence in Lufthansa First Class… just in business and coach.

  3. Dan, it was really quite fine, a perfectly drinkable wine for a $20 California chard. They could have done a lot worse at the same price point.

  4. Nice review, Gary, and great pictures. I love the macadamia nuts on LH. I think they reduced the amount of items in the actual amenity kit because they offer the additional items in the lavs. Agreed on the privacy issue when traveling solo on the 747.

  5. Hi Gary,

    Flying Lufthansa, I always, video screen size is bigger in business class than in First Class.

    On the privacy front I completely agree. It is pathetic.

    Also, just wondering as to why did you opt for Lufthansa and not the upgraded United aircraft flying IAD->FRA ?

    -Sunny M.

  6. @Sunny because I don’t really care about AVOD (though I do love the CX system), United’s food and service are pathetic (just wait for THAT review…), and it’s not like United offers a mattress pad… I was traveling with my wife so privacy wasn’t an inssue, the Lufthansa product was for me a superior option.

  7. I think LH does a pretty good job in First. I’ve flown them several times up front, once with M&M vouchers and the rest as bumps from biz. I believe it’s a classical first class designed to appeal to the ‘old money’ types – certainly Europe has a lot of those people. I would agree that the seat is a little outdated compared to some of the offerings from the competition (especially the laughably small AVOD), but I’ve always felt they make up for it in the food, presentation, and a professional service. True, they are not pouring Dom Perignon like Singapore Air, but I didn’t get caviar when I flew first in SQ. Incidentally, when I commented on the small AVOD to the LH FA, she mentioned that LH would be rolling out a new product soon that was more ‘exclusive’, implying it would be similar to the A380 setup. Can’t wait if it’s true!

    And don’t get me started on United…their new biz class is great, but until they upgrade the food and attitude of their FAs, I will avoid flying them if I have a choice.

  8. I like LH caviar so much that I order a second portion along with champagne. Sunny, I highly recommend you try Star carriers international F & C, and you will no longer want to fly UA for award travel. In particular, Lufthansa-Swiss, Asiana, Singapore, and Thai are all highly raved about by Gary and Lucky for their in flight and on the ground amenities.

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