During our visit to the Lufthansa Business Lounge, I took the opportunity to confirm our seating on the Boeing 747-400 aircraft for the trip home. Shortly after making our reservation, a few months earlier, I had confirmed our seats as 83 A, C and K on the upper deck. I wasn’t sure when we would have a chance to ride in the Queen of the Skies again, and I sure as heck wanted it to be on the upper deck. In speaking with the Lufthansa associate we had been moved to the lower deck in a middle 3 row configuration. I was truly disappointed.
I asked the associate if we could be moved, and fortunately good seats on the upper deck were still available. Feeling relieved, we accepted our updated seating assignments and boarding cards, and proceeded to gate Z52.
Introduction: Study Abroad in Copenhagen
Review: American Express Centurion Studio Seattle
Review: Delta One International Business Class Seattle to London
Review: United Club London Heathrow
Review: Austrian Airlines European Coach London to Vienna to Copenhagen
Review: Park Hyatt Vienna
Review: Copenhagen Admiral Hotel
Review: SAS Business Lounge Copenhagen
Review: SAS Intra-European Business Copenhagen to Frankfurt
Review: Lufthansa Business Lounge – Frankfurt
Review: Lufthansa International Business Frankfurt to Seattle
Review: Alaska Airlines Lounge North Satellite Seattle
The walk to our gate was directly through the Z terminal, and included a number of people movers. Once we were at gate 52, lines had already started to form for boarding. The three of us took our place in one of the lines and 10 minutes later we started to board. The jetway includes a very steep descent after you pass the entry and associate checking boarding passes. There is also an escalator for those so inclined. Once down the stairs it’s an immediate left and through a small jetway corridor, and then through door one and onto the Boeing 747-400. The downstairs corridors had glass walls, with views outside which was similar to the airport at Copenhagen. It’s very bright and open for a boarding environment.
After walking onto the plane, persons that are seated on the upper deck walk through the lower deck and then up the interior stairs. The upper deck is a smaller space, and it would be easy to find our seats, although the Lufthansa flight attendant warmly escorted us in.
Lufthansa LH 490
Frankfurt (FRA) – Seattle (SEA)
Tuesday June 14th, 2016
Departure Time: 11:00am
Arrival Time: 12:05pm/noon
Flight Time: 10hrs05min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat 82A, Long Haul European Business
The upper deck is cozy and intimate. There are only a total of 22 seats in five and ½ rows. Lufthansa’s cabins are a little cold and colored stark gray, but the brown accents and striped pillows warm things up. The down stairs configuration is 2-3-2 with the upper deck being 2-2. On the lower deck there is one seat by itself, 4D, in the center of the cabin – a good one for solo travelers.
Walking into the upper deck
A few minutes after we were seated, another Lufthansa associate walked up to us and asked if we were in the correct seats. I was surprised by the question and wanted to say that our original seats had been already given away, but I politely stated “yes” and offered her our boarding passes for her review. She asked if we had scanned these on the way into the aircraft. “Yes”, I replied, I saw the associate scan all three. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Yes, I really did see her scan them with no issues” I answered. She said “thank you” and left with our boarding passes.
About 5 minutes later she came back and more pressingly asked, “Sir are you sure these are your seats?” I said “Well, I would show you my tickets again, but you took them.” She asked very forcibly this time “Do you have your passports on you?” Completely dumbfounded, I said “sure, let me get them” and then retrieved our documents from the overhead baggage. I made the comment as I handed her the passports that we had had issues with our seating before we even got onto the plane.
What I didn’t realize until later, is that the associate did not believe what I was saying, and thought I had somehow cheated my way into our current seats. I handed her our passports, this time I wasn’t going to let her leave with them. She looked at all three passports and studied Susan and I. While she was doing this I explained that I had difficulty with changed seating already, and that the associate in the lounge had assigned us these three seats. I was very calm through the questioning, even though it was German styled questioning (I can say that being part German). After a couple minutes she looked and me and said “Thank you, it’s the strangest thing but I think we double assigned these seats.” I made the statement, “I hope we get to stay here because I wanted to ride the upper deck on the way home.”
At this point her tone completely changed, and she became very gracious. “Sir, you are already in your seats, I’m sorry about this and please enjoy your flight”. I sat back down and Susan turned to me: “what did you do?!” I responded, “I have no idea, but we’re staying in these seats and on the upper deck.” With that, the seating incident ended.
After having a seat, we were offered a welcome drink, a menu and an amenity kit.
Door close came at 11:05am and we pulled away from the gate seven minutes later. Before takeoff I had a chance to use the on board facilities and was surprised to see a window in the bathroom. Pretty slick for a dated design. All in all it took another 30 minutes to taxi onto the runway and clear for takeoff.
From the photographs you can tell it was an overcast day, but the rain mostly stayed away. Being my first flight out of a German airport I enjoyed looking at all the Lufthansa crafts, as well as a few others. Being on the upper deck you have a commanding view of the tarmac and operations on the way to takeoff. The Boeing 747-400 was smooth as it lifted above Frankfurt and started our journey to Seattle.
15 minutes after takeoff, the crew got up and started to work the cabin. We were offered drinks, a hot towel, warm nuts, and then menus for lunch, in that order. I had some club soda with the nuts and reviewed the menu.
Our lunch meal started with an appetizer, followed by a main dish. Salad and dessert finished out the meal. We were offered three different choices for the appetizer and the mains, which was good for a transatlantic business class lunch. The Lufthansa menu did a nice job marketing the meal as it included a message and graphics about the types and quality of food offered. Generally speaking the quality of the food was good, and matched the message.
After the preliminary drink service the flight attendants took our orders for lunch. I had the shrimp starter and the veal for the main. The food tasted good. I’m not a high end food critic, but the lunch was constructed with quality ingredients, came out promptly, and at the correct serving temperature. The veal wasn’t over cooked (which is usually a problem with beef inflight) and the shrimp and asparagus were great. To finish the service, we enjoyed a light salad, dessert and some fruit. I only thought the Italians had salad at the end of a meal, but I guess the Germans do as well. This wasn’t the most amazing inflight meal I’ve enjoyed, but it was good, and perfectly fine for a daytime lunch service.
The flight attendant that served us was good natured and smiled when interacting with Susan and myself. It wasn’t a forced smile, and she appeared to enjoy being with us and doing her job. This would be true for the entire flight. After dessert, we were served a small plate of refreshing fruit. The entire meal was finished off with a small box of chocolates, which Susan loved. Also offered was another bottle of water to keep hydrated. A touch I appreciate on any flight.
After lunch, Susan and I both were able to relaxe and enjoyed rest of our daytime flight back to Seattle. I checked the price on the inflight WiFi and at $19.00 US for the entire flight, decided to purchase the service. Speeds were good (I didn’t measure them) but they seemed as fast as a good domestic GOGO connection. I was able to do what I mostly wanted to do, which included working, texting, email, and some picture sending.
The IFE system was robust and full of content. The screen wasn’t very large or high quality, but it worked well enough for movies and TV shows. Compared with other international business products it is a little dated. Content and choices included live TV, movies and TV show library, music, games, moving map and informational items. During this flight, I enjoyed a couple foreign movies and television shows.
Flying over Greenland is always amazing for the views and natural wonder, and this flight especially so. I was also able to test the lie-flat bed position of the seat with a short daytime nap. The bed position worked fine for my nap, but isn’t the most comfortable for a full nights sleep.
A couple hours before arrival we had our second in flight meal. Service started with another warm towel, and drinks. The lighter meal included soup and salad with a warm roll and dessert. The entire service was prepared on a single tray and served at once when brought to our seats. The food was good and felt like the right amount before arrival. I enjoyed one more glass of Champaign before changing to water for the remainder of the flight.
Coming into the Seattle area the weather was clear and views enjoyable. We made our descent to the Seattle Airport, and our landing was issue free. Before long we were deplaning into the US customs section of the airport. Fortunately, the process was also quick and painless.
In Summery: Lufthansa LH 490
Our early summer trip to Vienna and Copenhagen was planned three months before we left. This is usually the worst time to try and find premium flight redemptions, especially during the summer from Europe. Fortunately, Lufthansa had a good amount of business class seats available, and for myself I’ve been wanting to get back onto the upper deck of a Boeing 747.
Lufthansa’s business product is not very competitive for an international long-haul flight. The seats are 2×2 on the upper deck and 2x3x2 on the lower deck. The bedding is 2nd string, and the way they handled our seating on this flight is borderline unacceptable. Yet, despite these shortcomings, I really enjoyed our return flight home.
Once the hiccup with seating was sorted out the staff gave an earnest apology and the onboard service was warm and professional. The seats while not very private work well when traveling with a companion, and for a daytime flight are very comfortable. The food and beverage choices were tasteful. For ten hours from Europe to the US, Susan and I (as well as our teenage daughter) had an enjoyable flight. We received all of this for a one way United redemption of 70,000 miles per person. Considering the short notice of three months, the flight was a good deal.