In The Nose of A 747: Lufthansa First Class To Johannesburg
Lufthansa First Class is repeatedly acclaimed to be one of the top First Class experiences in commercial aviation today. I initially booked to fly this back in November 2019 for a July 2020 trip to Singapore.
The pandemic happened and that was on hold for a while. Early 2021, I was planning a trip back to South Africa and Lufthansa First Class was a viable option, so I booked! I was still in doubt it would happen because the situation in SA was rather precarious at the time.
As the month approached, I was still not sure if the trip with go ahead, as SA was still on UK’s Red List. Meaning painful and expensive government quarantine on return. 10 days before there was still no sign of SA being removed from the Red list. However, on the ground the numbers were much better than UK or Europe and I was in regular contact with friends down there so decided I will go ahead with the trip anyway!
Will Lufthansa live up to the lofty expectations?
Route: Frankfurt – Johannesburg
Flight No: LH572
Departure Time: 22:00
Aircraft: Boeing 747-800
Seats/Suite: 1A First Class ( nose section)
My journey started in Tallinn where I checked in for both flights. First leg being on a standard European configured Business Class, however there was still a dedicated First Class check in area.
It was all fairly routine and quick.
The First Class Terminal In Frankfurt
After landing in Frankfurt, I had just over 3 hours for my long flight into South Africa so I quickly made my way into the First Class Terminal, from there I could board my flight with the Lufthansa chauffeur transfers.
This was by far the most exciting boarding experience I have had for many many years. For one, you get driven by your own personal Porsche to the aircraft. And second, that aircraft being non other than the Queen of the skies!
The Boeing 747-800. 747s are fast becoming extinct, with Lufthansa being just one of a very small number of operators now. I wish this was a daytime flight so I could take some proper pictures with it, this was all I got from my driver..
Sadly both pictures he took was rather blurry.
The Porsche stops right below the aircraft and then you just can a lift straight up into the aircraft..
Onboard Lufthansa First Class
As you board through door 1, you are greeted by this..
Unfortunately it was abit tricky to take pictures of the cabin as 3 of the other First Class passengers boarded just before me and the crew seemed a bit all over the place at that point!
The First Class cabin on the 747 consists of 8 open suites with partial dividers. Only the two seats in the centre are true couple seats, all others are window seats with considerable space between other seats.
As you can see, Lufthansa First Class is not the most modern of First Class, the seats themselves look rather dates and tired! But boy were they big and comfortable though. The best thing about the aircraft is the central bar area and this being right in the nose of the aircraft!
The crew introduced themselves to me and I was escorted to my seat, 1A. And within the minute I was handed out the PJs, Slippers and the amenity kit in a Porsche leather washbag!
Each seat has a large ottoman storage box that doubles up as a buddy seat if you choose to dine together with someone. The two armrest conceal the entertainment and seat control options.
There 2 further storage compartments are on the site panel that are fairly deep to fit in a Macbook, any camera & accessories etc
There is also a literature pocket immediately below your knee level.
Each First Class seat is so big, it works out at 4 windows for each seat!
While I settled in the crew quickly came by with welcome Champagne and some warm nuts to get going..
Here are the amenity kit contents unpacked:
This is without a doubt the best Amenity contents of any First Class (yes Swiss also have similar contents). Besides the leather Porsche washbag itself, the star of the show is certain the mini La Prairie consisting of Skin Caviar Moisturizer, lip balm and hand cream. You also have a mini Porsche fragrance, and hair brush, flight socks and shoe horn and dental kit.
The flight was piloted by a female captain, who introduced herself to all First Class passengers.
Our flight path would take us almost straight down south over Central Europe, Italy, North and Central Africa. The aircrafts doors were shut a few minutes ahead of schedule as we taxied into the runway and departed at 10pm on the dot.
A Lufthansa First Class Dinner
Very soon after take off the crew offered top up champagne and then starting taking meal orders.
The First Class food and beverage menu was extensive:
First off was the amuse bouche, which I can only describe as some kind of cheese & spinach duo. It was nice but I didn’t catch the name of it.
This was followed by the Caviar & Champagne course..
The caviar was superb!
Note since I already had an early dinner in FCT, I chose not to order any further starters or salads, which you can do before you main!
I was rather torn between the Turbot Bouillabaisse & the Corn-fed Poulard. I was thinking a fish soup/stew could be messy given we expected to have some turbulence so just opted for the chicken in the end!
And this did not disappoint. It was by far the best chicken I’ve had on a plane. Very soft and tender and full of incredible refreshing flavours from the veg and seasoning.
After the main, I was rather full. I chose to skip any of the cheese selections but still wanted to try some desserts to finish off..
Nothing to note here, they were pretty standard.
Excuse the rather low quality of the food images here. The crew decided to dim the cabin lights a bit too far for my liking, combined with some turbulence it was difficult to get good photos in those conditions.
Lufthansa First Class Bed
I booked this trip with one of my best friends, who was meant to be sitting beside me on 1k. I decided to ask the crew to prepare my bed in 1k, while I finished the movie and enjoyed some tea on my seat still.
First Class passengers have full bedding sets with full size pillows that the crew unpack to set the bed with. The seats convert into rather generous sized beds measuring over 33inch in width and over 6ft long at full width all the way.
While these are open Suites, the partial partition that goes up provides significant privacy in that you will not be able to see other passengers, nor will any of them be able to see you in bed mode themselves.
As you can see, even a 6ft5 person would have plenty of leg space here.
It’s in bed mode, when you really realize how inadequate the entertainment screen is now. Both the size and the quality is very subpar. I honestly felt like I would strain my eyes if I tried watching anything substantial in bed mode.
Unfortunately once again, it was so dark you cant really appreciate how good it all looks in bed mode. While I understand they want to dim the overhead lights, but each First passengers should be able to control their Suite mood lights however they please. I looked for the controls for the mood lighting just above the rose but could not find it. Which is a shame as lit up it certainly adds a certain warmth and character to what would otherwise be quite a bland deco!
I went to bed with 7 hours and 20 minutes to Johannesburg. So was hoping to sleep for a solid 6 hours.
Lufthansa First Class Restrooms
First Class passengers have exclusive access to two large restrooms immediately behind the galley on both sides of the aisles. They are both identical as far as I could tell.
Each come with a large vanity mirror, with a reasonable sizes sink and several draws stocked with toiletries from deodorants, mouth wash, shaving kits and tampons etc
There was plenty of room to change into the pyjamas provided. The PJs themselves were of excellent quality, and fitted well. I did not like the colour however. It just looked rather dull and boring! Wish they were just all black, rather than having this white collar, which you know is only gonna discolour after a few washes and you will want to throw it out!
Lufthansa First Class Sleep
With more than 7 hours to go when I went to bed, I was hoping to sleep a solid 6 hours of sleep. The bed itself felt comfortable enough and the quality of the bedding were superb. However as time went on I did find the bed abit lumpy in places. And the flight got quite bumpy along the way.
That combined with the breakfast service starting more than 3 hours out for some passengers, it got very noisy in the cabin very quick. In all I probably only managed about 3 hours of sleep in total. Not the best.
With about 2 hours to go, I stopped even trying to sleep anymore. The crew noticed I was up, and offered me some fresh orange juice. They asked if I wanted to have breakfast in bed, or switch back to my seat at 1A.
Meanwhile I woke up and changed back out of my PJs.
Lufthansa First Class Breakfast
As I came back to 1A by breakfast was already out!
I decided to start of breakfast with some muesli and fresh fruits..
I then suddenly realised the mains consist of bacon, and there was no other alternative to that. So I requested to be served just the eggs scrambled..
The eggs were very fresh and tasty, but I couldn’t help feel it was missing some ingredients to really jazz it up abit more.
I latter noticed there was smoked salmon on the menu, which would have gone perfectly with that egg. But the crew did not think to suggest that to me.
While I was having the Muesli, my coffee went cold very quickly so I requested a new one.
Unfortunately, the new coffee was very lukewarm!
And just like that like, we were descending into JNB..
I had been looking forward to flying Lufthansa First for a very long time, and I am glad I have finally been able to do so. Especially more so in the 747, which I feared may be retired due to the pandemic! It’s felt very special flying in the nose of the queen, that I can’t wait to fly it again.
For the most part, Lufthansa First class ground service is great, the Porsche transfers directly to the aircraft is ace. The ground experience can certainly be improved. For instance, Lufthansa provides ground assistants for HonCircle members on connecting flights, but not for all First Class passengers?
The hard product is fantastic, even though they are not fully enclosed Suites. I’m not sure they need to be. Having said that, the seats do look rather tired and dull, and the IFE really needs a serious update. Its possible to update this product with new seat fabric and the IFE which will bring it up to 2021 standards with the shell of the product remaining as they are. Whether Lufthansa has any plans to do that, is anyone’s guess right now.
On the service side, I found this experience to be anything but special. It’s felt rather robotic and monotonous. The crew were friendly and efficient but were almost devoid of any personality. A little more effort and a smile can go a long way to establishing a warmer atmosphere. Rather it was just cold.
During service times, they did absolutely the bare minimum and with very little enthusiasm on display to the point where I was almost reluctant to ask for or about anything. I honestly don’t remember them asking if I wanted champagne tops up etc like at all!
I will report back on my return flight shortly to see if there is any notable improvement with a different crew.