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Lufthansa First Class has been on my radar for the past few years. I’d almost pulled the trigger on it in 2018 but the routing did not have me departing Frankfurt and I really wanted that full First Class Terminal treatment. So when I had the chance to book Lufthansa first class on the A380 as part of a recent round the world trip, I didn’t hesitate. Below is my full review of the Lufthansa First Class experience on the A380.
This particular segment to Houston was part of a mini round the world trip which included the following routes: IAH->TPE->BKK (layover)->FRA->IAH.
- Houston (IAH)-> Taipei (TPE): EVA 777-300 Business Class
- Taipei (TPE)-> Bangkok (BKK): Thai 777-200 Business Class
- Bangkok (BKK)-> Frankfurt (FRA): Thai A350-900 Business Class
- Frankfurt (FRA)-> Houston (IAH): Lufthansa A380-800 First Class
I love saving the best for last and Lufthansa First Class was definitely the crown jewel on this trip.
- W Taipei (4 nights on cash)
- Hilton Frankfurt City Centre (3 nights: one on points and 2 with free night certificates)
- Hilton Garden Inn Frankfurt Airport (1 night on points + cash)
I used a combination of cash, points, and free night certificates for my hotel stays.
Here are the details for the flight:
- Route: Frankfurt (FRA) -> Houston (IAH)
- Flight No.: LH 440
- Aircraft: A380
- Class: First Class (O)
- Seat: 1D
- Date: June 18, 2019
- Scheduled Departure Time: 10:00 am | Actual Departure Time: 10:08 am (+8 minutes)
- Scheduled Arrival Time: 1:50 pm | Actual Arrival Time: 1:49 pm (-1 minute)
- Flight Time: 10 hours, 41 minutes
Booking Lufthansa First Class (LH F) with United miles
I booked the Lufthansa First Class ticket with 110,000 United miles and the fees for the flight were $112.13 (plus the $50 United close-in fee). This flight would have cost $8,945 so with all fees factored in, I got 8 cents in value per mile on this redemption, which is great (albeit aspirational).
Remember, United is a transfer partner of Chase so this could be one of the most valuable first class redemptions for your Chase Ultimate Rewards.
I’d known for some time that Lufthansa First class awards generally open up a couple of weeks before departure. so when I went to book this trip a couple of days ahead of my first departure, I expected to find open awards. I initially booked a Lufthansa first class 747 flight from FRA to BOS with an economy connection to IAH on United.
The thought of going from Lufthansa First Class to United economy was nothing short of dreadful, but I went into the booking with the mindset that I’d be okay with paying to change it if something opened up and that’s what happened (twice).
About three days into the round the world trip, an itinerary with a United first class connection at ORD opened up and I decided to book that so I’d get a little bit more time in LH F and of course avoid economy. I paid the $100 change fee (reduced due to United Silver status) and then proceeded to rejoice that I wouldn’t have to embrace my inner-peasant to get home.
And then about 24 hours prior to departure I saw four first class tickets open up for LH F with a nonstop flight from FRA to IAH on the A380. I didn’t immediately book it though because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fly on the 747 or the A380.
747 vs A380
I went back and forth trying to quickly decide between the LH 747 and A380. I had a back row seat on the 747 so the increased privacy in the front row of the 747 didn’t factor in but it’s been a while since I have flown on the 747 and I really like flying in its nose. But the A380 from FRA was a nonstop to Houston which also meant more time in LH F and no time on United.
Ultimately, I preferred a nonstop flight and also liked the idea of starting and finishing the long-haul segments on this round the world trip from my home at IAH, since every other round the world trip I’ve done has been with connections at both LAX and JFK.
I don’t want to get too in-depth here but there were many issues trying to make changes to my fight. First, a United agent erroneously changed my ticket from first class to economy (and then had the nerve to blame me). Then, other agents had issues trying to make the change because their system was asking them for more miles to change the flight.
One (very uninformed) agent even insisted I would need an additional 80,000 miles to make the change because “I was changing to a nonstop flight.” WTF.
Eventually, after many hours on the phone and dropped calls, a skilled United agent based in Germany made the changes with a manual override and said he would be reporting the issue to avoid it for others in the future. So hopefully you won’t have to go through that!
He also waived the change fee due to the wait, which was nice even though I had unknowingly been racking up some serious phone charges at the Hilton Frankfurt City Centre while speaking with United.
Getting to FRA
After spending three nights at the Hilton Frankfurt City Centre, I spent my last night at the Hilton Garden Inn at Frankfurt Airport. It’s a decent airport hotel and they put me up on the 10th floor so I had a pretty cool view of the Frankfurt skyline at sunrise (from a distance).
I loved that this hotel was located inside the airport, so I didn’t have to take a shuttle or anything to get from the hotel to the airport.
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
At Frankfurt, Lufthansa doesn’t just have a first class lounge — they have an entire first class terminal (read more in-depth about the my Lufthansa First Class Terminal experience here).
The experience started with me waking up ridiculously early and then walking over from the Hilton Garden Inn to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. It took me a little while to locate the terminal but after getting some guidance from an agent, I was able to find my way.
The Lufthansa First Class Terminal has its own little private security area so you don’t have to deal with the long lines at the main airport terminal. I had to experience a pat down and remove my shoes because I was flying to the US but the process was otherwise very quick and harmless.
Once you make it through the security check-point there’s a duty free shop and a nice collection of Lufthansa first class terminal ducks on display you can check out before you enter the lounge. Don’t forget to collect your own rubber duck in the back of the lounge, near the showers.
The Lufthansa First Class Terminal is home to one of the most impressive bars I’ve seen in a first class lounge. They serve up something like 100+ whiskies and it’s loaded with different types of liquor. Plus, there are jars of endless gummy bears and a nice chess board to keep you occupied.
The lounge also has a small dining room which feels pretty intimate.
I was only there for breakfast and I thought the breakfast options were solid. You can find plenty of hot food items from the buffet or you can put in an order à la carte off the menu. I’m sure lunch and dinner would be great, too.
There are a lot of places to relax in the lounge and the lounge never got crowded during my stay. I liked the easy-chairs lining the windows which are great for solo travelers and there are plenty of seating areas for groups. However, I was just a tad disappointed there weren’t any areas to get real privacy besides the two day suites and there weren’t international power outlets or adapters to be found.
The lounge offers some special amenities like massage chairs, a cigar room, shower rooms (one comes with a tub), and the day suites I already mentioned.
Overall, the First Class Terminal was pretty impressive. This is definitely a lounge that deserves an earlier than usual arrival to the airport so that you can experience it. Again, if you want to find out more about the lounge then check out my full review.
Lufthansa First Class limousine service
When it came time for boarding, an agent (my personal assistant) greeted me and then told me it was time for the limousine service to the A380.
The Lufthansa first class experience is unique because they provide you with limousine service directly to the aircraft on the tarmac. You’ll be taken from the First Class Terminal down to a lobby area where you’ll wait on your ride as you get your passport back from passport control.
Once you get your passport back, you’ll be escorted to one of the vehicles and then make your way to the plane. In my case, the ride was just under two minutes so it wasn’t a very long journey at all.
If you want to board the plane first, I believe you can make that request when you enter the lounge but that could also be dependent on elite status.
After arriving at the A380, we made our way up an elevator and across the jet bridge to the upper deck.
I got some great views of the A380 along the way.
It’s ridiculous how huge the wings are on this aircraft.
Lufthansa First Class cabin
Lufthansa First Class cabin has a total of eight seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and two very large lavatories. The cabin is on the upper deck of the A380, in front of business class which is in a 2-2-2 layout.
The cabin feels intimate with only eight seats which I guess fall under the “open suite” category.
It’s a pretty sleek cabin and I loved the “First Class” signage in the front and the elegant touch of the roses at each seat.
But I didn’t love everything about the cabin. One of the first things that I noticed was that there was limited privacy. The cabin reminded me a lot of the Qatar A380 first class cabin with eight open suites but Qatar had the partitions set up when we boarded so the cabin felt much more private. On Lufthansa, every seat is completely exposed at take-off and landing (I’ll say more about privacy below).
At the front of the cabin, there’s a small snack and beverage area.
This is where they kept the water and the premium bubbly.
On our flight they were serving Alexandra Grand Cuvee Rose 2004 Champagne Laurent-Perrier, which I’ve seen listed for around $200+ per bottle.
After meal service, they brought out a box of chocolates that they kept up at the front (which were amazing).
At the front of the cabin there’s a little area where you can find some reading literature. This area is sometimes used as a bar or snack area on some A380s but that’s not the case with Lufthansa.
Lufthansa First Class seat
I initially picked a window seat but due to seat malfunctions was moved to an interior seat. In fact, two out of the eight seats were not functioning on this A380 which meant I was the only one in the cabin without a window seat.
This put a pretty big blemish on the experience since I really value window seats. For me, it’s not just about the added privacy and getting content (photos) but window seats just offer a different headspace due to the views. Still, I decided to remain open minded about the interior seat and look past the hiccup.
Design, comfort, and privacy
I loved the design of the wide seat that comes in at 31 inches. That’s not quite as wide as the ultra-wide Cathay Pacific first class seat but it’s much wider than the 23″ seat on Qatar First Class, so it felt very roomy (seat dimensions according to SeatGuru). I also just thought that the seat was very comfortable.
Privacy is my only issue with this cabin. The privacy partitions are pretty big though and once those go up, the experience feels much more like a true first class experience, in my opinion. I know some like the open-cabin concept, but I much prefer (and expect) a private suite-like experience when in a top first class product.
Even though there is limited privacy in the cabin, I still liked the look of the seats, especially the window seats.
Seat features (controls, storage)
The Lufthansa A380 first class product has some of the best storage out of any first class product. First, when you board you can load up your belongings in your own private locker (designated with your seat number). I’m not sure if the 747 has the same set-up but these lockers on the A380 are very spacious and are located just behind the first class cabin.
You can see how much extra room I had after I put my backpack and carry-on bag in the locker.
There’s also a lot of storage space in the ottoman along with a net for storing items. This was a perfect place to put my DSLR and it was nice that’s it’s covered and not exposed like many other storage areas are.
The seat controls are very practical and easy to use. You can find the quick controls on the arm rest and advanced controls underneath the panel cover on the armrest.
I loved that there were buttons to control things like the length of the headrest and that you could scoot the ottoman up — those type of features made getting comfortable much easier than other products.
The other arm rest has quick access buttons for media and for calling for service, which is very convenient.
There were also three storage compartments on the side of the seat, though one of them was designed to store your headphones.
Something that’s really cool about the Lufthansa first class seat is that it comes equipped with two USB ports and two international power outlets, right under the armrest. This makes it very easy and practical to keep your electronics powered.
Overall, I was a huge fan of the seat and I think it might be my #1 first class seat in terms of functionality and comfort. I also really enjoyed the convenient controls and being able to adjust the seat and ottoman to exactly where I wanted it and the seat controls just felt powerful.
Lufthansa First Class amenity kit
The first class amenity kit bags were made by Escada, a German luxury designer clothing company headquartered in Munich, so props for Lufthansa for sticking with home-grown luxury since so many airlines go with Italian or French designers.
I liked the first class branding on the inside of the bag.
The amenity kit came with La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe face lotion, eye-lift cream, and lip balm along with a dental kit, comb, eye mask, ear plugs, headphone covers, shoe horn, and socks. I loved the lotion products (quality scents) and even though the containers were very small, I still brought them home with me. By the way, La Prairie Skin Caviar is ridiculously expensive ($422 for a 1.7oz bottle) on Amazon!
I was in love with the pajamas as soon as I saw them. They gave me a size large which actually felt like a real large versus the XXLs many other airlines issue. The pajamas are made by Van Laack — a German fashion company with its headquarters in Mönchengladbac — and they were stylish and comfortable (I took them home and still wear them on occasion though they shrink pretty good).
The slippers also come in specific sizes which is a nice departure since so many airlines issue one size slippers that are often much too small for any man with fully developed feet.
Overall, the Lufthansa amenity kit + pajama package was one of my favorites I’ve ever received in first class (I just wish the actual amenity kit bag was a little more iconic/memorable).
Lufthansa First Class headphones & IFE
Lufthansa supplied Bose headphones which came already plugged in and ready to go (within the side storage compartment).
The TV monitors are high quality with a 17-inch display. The screens do feel a little far away for their size compared to some other airlines and the screens are much smaller than those on top products like Singapore Airlines that have 32″ screens or now ANA with their monster 42″ 4K screens in first class.
You can choose from movies, TV shows, Live TV (sports), audio books, podcasts, meditation, games, and other things so the selection is extensive.
I found the movie selection to be very good. I was on a bit of a documentary kick and watched two of them: one on Drake and the other on Elon Musk (both were okay). So overall, I would rate the in-flight experience as very solid for Lufthansa First Class.
Lufthansa First Class wifi
The FlyNet wifi was complimentary on the flight which was a nice surprise. All you have to do is follow the steps on the voucher to activate your internet and you should be able to get it working in a couple of minutes.
I got a decent wifi connection and was able to keep tabs on some emails and social media but that’s all that I could do. I tried testing out the speed but it didn’t register.
Lufthansa First Class take-off experience
The take-off experience was smooth and as soon as I got into my seat I was offered a hot towel (with rose petal of course).
I also opted for my standard glass of sparkling water.
Lufthansa First Class dining
The dining on Lufthansa first class was solid overall. It wasn’t the best I’ve had in the sky but I didn’t really have any complaints. The dining started out with some type of cheese dish for a starter. It had nice texture but I wasn’t fully into it and so I left it alone after a couple of curiosity bites.
Then the tray table was taken out and made. It’s a large tray table that slides all the way down to the end of the seat which means you can easily get up out of your seat when dining. This is one of my favorite features of the seat and it makes life so much easier when you need to get to the lavatory.
After getting served some garlic bread, the flight attendant raised the middle partition (there’s a button to do this on the side of the ottoman). I was delighted to finally have some real privacy as meal service began.
At that time the caviar service also began.
The caviar was excellent. I’d never eaten caviar with simple toast before but it was actually very good that way. I was slightly let down though. I’d seen many posts on Instagram recently of passengers getting very generous servings of caviar on Lufthansa and so I was really looking forward to the caviar extravaganza.
Instead, I received a single standard portion. It’s the ultimate first world problem (I know) but I’m wondering what routes get that special caviar treatment or if it’s a 747 vs A380 thing. Who knows?
I was also offered all of the appetizers but I decided to just stick with one: the smoked salmon and cucumber relish.
Next came the salad which was also enjoyable.
The asparagus cream soup with herb oil came next. I liked the asparagus flavor but it was a bit too oily for my liking.
And finally it was time for the main dish: beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce, beluga lentils, and smoked potato mash. I enjoyed this dish, as the beef was cooked to my perfection (thorough) and the mash potatoes were very smooth (but in need of a good amount of salt and pepper). I wasn’t really feeling the lentils.
After the main course, I decided to try out a cheese platter. I nibbled on a few pieces before I realized I wouldn’t have any room for dessert and aborted the cheeses (but they tasted high quality).
For dessert I went with the chocolate variation with praline ice cream quenelle. The praline and chocolate flavors blended together nicely and this really hit the spot and was just a great way to finish up everything.
After getting some sleep (more on that below), I was ready for round two. I decided to start things off with a soft pretzel and butter which was a great decision. I’d never buttered up a pretzel before but it went well together. I also went with the tagliatelle arrabbiata with parmesan, olives, and oregano, which I was mostly satisfied with but not overly impressed.
Finally, it was time to bring it home with “Grandma’s strawberry cake” which was just on a ridiculous level of tasty.
Overall, the dining experience was enjoyable but not quite as strong as I was anticipating. For the main dish, I would’ve preferred the lobster I had on EVA business class or the Deep-fried snapper fish I had on the Thai A350. But when you consider the entire dining package (premium champagne, caviar, amazing dessert, etc.), it was still a very memorable dining experience.
Lufthansa First Class service
Service on this flight was top-notch. The crew was warm, polished, and very attentive — pretty much all you could ask for. They definitely added a lot of value to the experience and helped to capture that aura of luxury you want in first class. I can’t say enough nice things about them.
Lufthansa First Class lavatory
The Lufthansa First Class lavatory on the A380 is very spacious, much like other lavatories on A380s like Qatar, Singapore, etc.
I really loved the touch of the rose on the mirror.
By the sink area they had some La Prairie hand cream (worth $100+) and Evian facial mist spray. One of my new obsessions is freshening up on planes with facial mist sprays. I know these are mostly used for applying make-up but they’re also a great way to feel freshened up and I’ve now incorporated these into my life. The Evian bottles are high quality and around $20 for a full-sized bottle.
The drawers in the lavatory also came stocked with other items like combs, razors, and shaving cream.
The A380 lavatory even has a urinal, which I thought was pretty cool (not to mention useful).
Lufthansa First Class bedding
Lufthansa First Class has one of the best beds in the sky in my opinion. It’s 81 inches long so even for someone tall, there’s plenty of room to extend your legs.
The mattress pad is nice and thick as are the pillows. In my case, I was given two pillows to get comftorable and I was pretty much in Heaven.
The duvet is also thick. Too often airlines only provide you with at best one thick item to sleep with, so you get a thick pad with a thin duvet or vice versa. But in this case, both were very soft and comfortable, which made the sleeping experience very comfortable.
The cabin was cool for a while which made it super cozy and comfortable in the bed but later on it started to get a little warm so it wasn’t too comfortable to bundle up.
Once the bed was made, it felt very private and much more suite-like, which was nice.
It also just felt good to look up from time to time and see that Lufthansa First Class sign at the front of the cabin.
As comfortable as this bed was, my big complaint would be that there was a pretty big gap between the seat cushions. I didn’t feel it when I was lying on my back but when I tried to get on my stomach, I could feel that sunken gap.
Landing at IAH
Because I was in an aisle seat I didn’t get photos of the approach. I was going to try with my zoom lens but the A380 windows are small and my neighbor was giving me weird looks when I’d look out “his” windows so I was not able to get any.
But here are a couple of A380 shots I got after we landed back at IAH.
Overall, this was a truly fantastic flight. If it hadn’t been for the mishap with me not getting a window seat, I think I would have been in love with Lufthansa but that sort of dampened the experience for me. Still, I enjoyed every second and felt like Lufthansa has an excellent product especially when it comes to the seat, bedding, and service.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.