Monday, December 15, 2014

The Iggy Itinerary: Lufthansa First Class - Seoul-Incheon > Frankfurt (747-8i)

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The Boeing 747, which began commercial travel in 1970, is my favorite airplane aesthetically. The latest model in Boeing's series is the 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8i), which is slightly larger than the iconic 747-400. Lufthansa and Air China are the only commercial airlines to operate the plane.

And what a beauty it is.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i

Lufthansa First Class has a reputation for being one of the most enjoyable first-class experiences in the sky, but the physical product varies on different aircraft. For example, Lufthansa First Class on the 747-400 is eight seats in a 2-2 configuration on the upper deck (four rows); on the Airbus A380 superjumbo, it's eight seats in a 1-2-1 configuration in the nose of the plane on the main deck (two rows).

On the 747-8i, it's eight seats in a 1-1 configuration for the first two rows, then 1-2-1 for the third row. The cabin is very spacious and classy without being bling-y.

Lufthansa 713, Seoul-Incheon > Frankfurt
First Class, Seat 1A

Lufthansa First Class cabin

The seat

There's a storage ottoman at each seat - not large enough to fit a carry-on suitcase, but perfect for shoes or a messenger bag.

Storage ottoman

The roses add some vibrancy to the generally muted color palate.



The cabin has overhead bins, but the flight attendant encouraged us to use storage lockers at the back of the first-class cabin instead. The storage lockers were huge - it probably could have fit two of my standard carry-on-sized suitcase.

Overhead bins and futuristic ceiling

Storage lockers

There were just two passengers seated in First Class (although someone else joined us at the close of boarding - more on that). I was assigned Seat 1A and the other dude (a German-speaking businessman) was in Seat 1K, so I moved back to 3A to give us both more privacy.

The flight attendant offered macadamia nuts and a choice of pre-departure beverage. (Sorry for the blurry picture and the boring sparkling water).

Where are my Doritos?

We also received pajamas, slippers, and an amenity kit.

The amenity kit is Rimowa-branded. Rimowa is a German luggage manufacturer, and the iconic hard-case amenity kits are very popular among the frequent-flyer crowd.

Rimowa amenity kit

These things go for way more than I think they should on eBay.

Source: eBay

Right before boarding ended, a Korean guy in his early 30s took seat 2A, befuddling the flight attendants; they had been told that there would only be two passengers in First. The purser asked each of us for our boarding passes to verify that we were in the correct cabin.

As it turns out, 2A was a last-minute upgrade to First. The purser explained to 2A (in English) that the flight was catered for two passengers, and that he would receive last priority in ordering food / drinks / etc. 2A was a bit bewildered by all this, and the purser eventually summoned the Korean-speaking gate agent to translate.

After the gate agent left, the purser asked: "Do you agree to these terms? If you do not, then you cannot sit here." 2A nodded. "No, I need you to verbally say yes," insisted the purser. 2A assented. Not exactly a typical Lufthansa First Class welcome, but I appreciate Lufthansa "protecting" their confirmed passengers' food choices. (It ended up being a total non-issue; there was plenty of food for everyone).

Meal Service #1
Once we got airborne, the flight attendant brought us warm scented towels and an amuse bouche.

Towel with fancy rose petal

The amuse bouche was a Parma-wrapped asparagus with an egg and mushroom frittata.

Amuse bouche

I had a glass of Champagne to start as I explored the menu.

Cuvée Grand Siècle Champagne

Wine list (English and German) and menu (English, German, and Korean)

The lunch service had Western and Korean options. I'm enjoying the fact that every noun on the English menu was capitalized (as German nouns always are), but the adjectives were not.


Caviar from Service Cart
Caviar with the traditional Garnishes

Choice of Appetizers
Smoked Duck Breast Carpaccio
with Mascarpone Fig Mousse

Smoked Tuna Niçoise
in Extra Virgin Oil and Quail Egg

Trio of Korean Pancakes
with Soy Dressing

Mixed Field Greens
with Parmesan Shavings and Croutons

Choice of Main Courses
Tournedo of Beef Tenderloin
with sautéed Goose Liver
in Port Sauce and roasted Sweet Potatoes

Salmon Confit
with Tomato Coriander Salsa
and Potato Puree, green Asparagus

Sea Food Canneloni
in Tomato Basil Ragout
and roasted Pumpkin Wedges

Chuncheon Dak Galbi (춘천닭갈비)
Spicy grilled Chicken with steamed Rice

Kimchi Bokkeumbab (김치볶음밥)
Fried Rice with Kimchi and Beef,
mixed Bell Pepper

Hot Pepper Paste
Pickled yellow Turnip, Seawood Soup
Korean Cucumber Pickles

Selection of Cheese and Dessert
Saint André, Camembert, Gruyère
and Cheddar Cheese

Apple Tart with Vanilla Sauce

Fresh Fruit

The caviar serving was very generous. Like Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa doesn't provide a special caviar spoon.

Caviar with Beluga Vodka

The flight attendants wheeled out an appetizer cart - I went with the salad and the duck carpaccio.

I think they expect you to take three choices

And look at that... I finally got good pictures of the food.

Mixed field greens with parmesan shavings and croutons

This guy was short on the duck carpaccio and long on the mascarpone fig mousse. Really, really rich - almost obscenely so.

Duck carpaccio and mascarpone fig mousse

I asked the flight attendant for a red wine recommendation to go with the beef main course. I know almost nothing about wine, and I was totally lost without words I recognized (merlot? cabernet sauvignon? malbec?)

Red Wines
2007 Château Belgrave, Haut-Mèdoc
5ème Grand Cru Classé, France

2009 LFE 900 Single Vineyard Cuvé
Louis Felipe Edwards, Chile

2008 Stellenbosch Anwilka, Bruno
Prats and Hubert de Bouard, South Africa

2008 Tignanello, Toscana IGT,
Marchese Antinori, Italy

Whatever the first red wine on the list is

Beef tournedo with sweet potatoes and vegetables

If this included sauté goose liver (as claimed by the menu), I never found it. But the dish was superb. Most airplane beef is well-done (but not done well! [guffaw]) - this was a wonderful medium rare.

Perfectly cooked

For dessert, I had the apple tart and some fresh fruit.

Apple tart (delicious!)

The fruits were generally tasty, but the honeydew in the front was sort of weird and translucent.

Fresh fruits

I was completely stuffed at this point, but the flight attendant insisted that I try something from the cheese cart...

Off-menu blue cheese

... which I only really accepted because I wanted a glass of port.

Niepoort Portwein LBV

And to complete a superlatively good meal (by ground standards, to say nothing of airplane food), a digestif and some chocolates.

Schwarzer Bio-Mandarinen Edelbrand (mandarin brandy) and chocolates

Non-food stuff
The clouds outside the window were beautiful.

But everyone else was trying to sleep, so I drew the shades.

Shades drawn

The 747-8i has mechanical shades, which is great if you want to block the glare but not all light. You can touch the button once to get sheer shades; touch again for blackout shades.

The entertainment system on the 747-8i is superb - it's got an extensive selection of movies. I watched Pulp Fiction for the first time (yeah, I know, that's crazy) and rewatched Back to the Future.

I intended to do the full trilogy, but decided to take a nap and watch the other two legs of the trilogy on my Lufthansa flight the next day. That was a big mistake - the entertainment selection on the 747-400 is much worse than on the 747-8i.

The flight attendant prepared the bed in seat 3D (across the aisle from me). It's not an enclosed suite, but the walls are high enough so that the bed feels very private.

I found it a little bothersome to sleep with the seat belt on - then I took a quick walk around the cabin and realized that the other two passengers weren't sleeping with the seat belt. Ahh. That's better. But the seats in the center are quite warm, and the duvet is very thick. I'd recommend having the bed made at a window seat (where it's much cooler).

Because we were arriving in Frankfurt in the evening, I didn't want to sleep too much on the plane, so I bought four hours of wi-fi.

Make sure you have a no-foreign-transaction-fees card

The rates are a little higher than in the US, but not unreasonable. It's probably not fast enough to stream video, but it was perfectly fine for emails / normal browsing.

I did a lap around the plane to stretch my legs. Business class was about 85-90% full; economy and premium economy were completely full.

Before landing, the flight attendants served a dinner service (although the "dinner" was significantly lighter than the lunch service).

Meal Service #2


Hors d'oeuvres
Lobster and Scallops
in Remoulade Dressing

Prosciutto with Romain [sic] Lettuce
and shaved Parmesan

Seasoned young Ginseng
with Korean Buckwheat Crêpes Rolls

Seasoned Cucumber Pickles
Caesar Dressing

Penne tossed in mild Garlic
with Shrimp and light Herb Butter

Dak Galbi Gui (닭갈비구이)
Braised Chicken Breast
with Citron Teriyaki Sauce
and steamed Rice

Baked Cheese Cake

Fresh Fruit

As with the first meal service, the flight attendants came around with an appetizer cart from which we could choose what we wanted. I got a bit of everything except the ginseng and pickles.

Lobster and scallop remoulade; prosciutto and romaine with "Caesar"; hummus

That's a weird-looking Caesar dressing. Maybe that's what they use in Germany instead of our American anchovy-and-cheese-and-mayonnaise version.

For the main dish, I ordered the pasta.

Penne pasta

Boring! The sauce was pretty watery and didn't really cling onto the pasta. If not for the nice plating, I would have believed that this was an economy-class meal. I should have ordered the Korean dish. I ended up eating about half of this.

For dessert, I had the fruit plate.

Fresh fruit

We landed at Frankfurt just after sunset. Although the flight attendants made sure that the passengers in First got to disembark first, we had the bad fortune of landing just after a completely full A380-800 from Shanghai, so the lines through immigration were relatively long.

The 747-8i's First Class cabin is beautiful, and Lufthansa delivered a flawless-but-not-especially-warm service. The purser who interrogated 2A ended up being a pretty nice guy who spent about 5 minutes with each passenger engaging in small talk; he gave me some recommendations for things to see near my hotel in Mainz.

Other than the pasta, everything I ate was delicious. The lunch was the best meal I've had in the sky.

This is my third trip with Lufthansa, and I get the feeling that the flight attendants are more comfortable serving German-speaking passengers. That's totally understandable, but ich sprache kein Deutsch, and I wish I could experience the "real" thing. Still, Lufthansa First Class is an amazing way to travel.

The Iggy Itinerary
1. Introduction
2. Booking

Outbound (LAX-NRT-SIN-PVG)
3. Lounge Report - Star Alliance First Class / Business Class Lounge, LAX
4. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Los Angeles > Tokyo-Narita (A380-800)
5. Lounge Report - ANA Suite Lounge, Tokyo-Narita
6. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Tokyo-Narita > Singapore (A380-800)
7. Lounge Report - The Private Room, Singapore
8. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Singapore > Shanghai-Pudong (A380-800)

9. Lounge Report - Air China Business Class Lounge, Shanghai-Pudong
10. Asiana Business Class, Shanghai-Pudong > Seoul-Incheon (767-300)
11. Lounge Report - Asiana First Class Lounge, Seoul-Incheon
12. Lufthansa First Class, Seoul-Incheon > Frankfurt (747-8i)
13. Review: Hyatt Regency Mainz
14. Lounge Report - Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt
15. Lufthansa First Class, Frankfurt > Vancouver (747-400)
16. Lounge Report - Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Vancouver
17. Air Canada rouge - Premium rouge Class, Vancouver > San Francisco (A319)

1 comment:

  1. I think the treatment of the 2A last minute upgrade was inappropriate. I think you can handle this much better, like by opening with an apology and explanation. Why auto-upgrade someone if you make them feel like a pretender in first? Just leave them in business. Better than embarrassing someone before the two other passengers.