In August, the A380 celebrated its third Birthday of flying, Last week, I flew my fourth A38o airline: Lufthansa, the German flag carrier. My earlier A380 flights have been with Qantas, Singapore and Emirates.
I was determined to fly on the Lufthansa A380 so I searched for the flight at Lufthansa.com to find it was much more expensive than I planned. I then found United was selling seats on the exact same Lufthansa flight for substantially cheaper than the Lufthansa price!
After confirmation of my booking, my next task was seat selection. Lufthansa’s website works very well and allows you to easily retrieve your booking and search for seats. I wandered around the cabin, however, trying to find a seat that would accommodate my long legs. Alas, there were none. I checked the website every day.
Then one magic day, I found Seat 76K was open. I immediately grabbed it. This in my opinion is the best seat on Lufthansa’s A380. Row 75 is officially exit row with more leg room. As you can see from the seatguru.com diagram, there Seat 76K and 76A do not have a seat in front of them! This gives you massive leg room but you don’t get people standing on your toes as they congregate for the lavatory.
Check in: 7 out of 10
Check in was as efficient as you would expect with a German airline. I was surprised though when the check in clerk offered to move me to a “better seat”. The better seat turned out to be an aisle seat slightly closer to the front door. I explained I wanted seat 76K because of the leg room and she assured me that t had no extra leg room. Having established that she wasn’t giving me an upgrade, I made sure she left me in my chosen seat! That lack of knowledge was a surprise and could make all he difference on a very long flight.
I gave Emirates (EK) 10/10, Qantas (QF) 9/10 and Singapore (SQ) 8/10 for my A380 journeys with them
Boarding: 7 out of 10
The line through security was long and a little chaotic.
Boarding, while pretty straightforward felt a little chaotic. When I reached my row, I found a small war was on between the passengers in rows 75 and 76 over bin space. There were many harsh words being exchanged. I quickly deposited my bags in Row 73 and sat down (I later moved them to Row 76). The passengers next to me seemed very unhappy when I arrived (I think they hoped to nab my seat!). I said hello and attempted to be friendly but got very quickly rebuffed. Later 75H moved to the bulklhead and 75J moved into 75H, giving us a spare seat between us. We didn’t talk for the rest of the flight and she ignored my farewell.
Cabin crew seemed very friendly but very passive. None appeared to be offering passengers help in finding seats or putting luggage away.
EK: 10/10, QF: 9/10, SQ 7/10
On Board: 7 out of 10
Lufthansa have some of the meanest seats in Economy. They give passengers a seat which is a mere 17″ wide and has 31″ pitch between the seats. Compare this to Singapore who offer 19″ wide by 32″ pitch on their A380. I heard a lot of mumblings and grumblings about the seats, as passengers boarded. I have decided that 18″ by 32″ is a minimum I can tolerate in Economy when not sitting in an exit row. My Lufthansa A380 had been recently named “Wien” in a ceremony in Vienna on August 22, 2011. Interior colour scheme was fresh and very pleasant. The plane was almost totally full
EK: 10/10, QF: 9/10, SQ 8/10
Takeoff: 10 out of 10
We were delayed leaving the gate because, as the captain advised us, tail winds across the Atlantic would get us to Frankfurt before the 6am curfew. We waited at the gate and then at the tarmac before moving to the runway for a perfect takeoff.
The sensations involved in an A380 take off are amazing. Takeoff feels all too smooth, all too quiet, all too slow, all too gentle to allow this monster double decker plane filled with 400 people is going to escape earth’s gravity. Then you glance across at airport fence and realise that the plane is in fact rocketing along. With a small twitch of the wings, the truly magnificent machine leaves the ground. A sharp right hand turn had the plane heading for Long Island. We climbed smoothly and steadily. One of the best aspects of Lufthansa, is that like Emirates, you can watch your take off from a tail mounted camera. An A380 takeoff always reminds me why I love this plane-it was made to fly.
Take off was followed by the distribution of hot towels by the crew. Small gesture but so appreciated. Thanks Lufthansa. They repeated the hot towels the next morning before breakfast. Why don’t other airlines still do this?
Meals: 8.5 out of 10
I chose a Teriyaki chicken with rice for my dinner and to my amazement it was perfect. The chicken’s flavour was great. The accompanying salad and bread roll were both fresh. Breakfast the next morning while simple was delicious. Where Lufthansa disappointed meal-wise, was a lack of snacks or fruit available through the night in the galley. Other airlines do better. Lufthansa had plenty of drinks on hand in the galley through the night though.
EK: 10/10, QF: 7/10, SQ 9/10
Entertainment: 7 out of 10
The entertainment system consistes of a personal VOD unit with a 10″ screen. At most seats, the unit is seat back. In my set and at the exit row seats, the screen is folded out of the way for takeoff and landing (I watched the tail camera on my neighbouring screen). The system itself works logically and smoothly but I found that the TV options were limited. There are 35 TV shows built in plus 18 movies. I find it hard to watch movies on a plane so usually focus on TV shows. I ran out of ones I found interesting very quickly eg there was one solitary episode of Modern Family, that I had seen twice before. If I was flying Lufthansa multiple times in a month, I would be bored very quickly. Also I could not get the games to work on the system as it kept asking for a games controller. I didn’t pursue that any further but it seemed odd that games are offerred that cannot be played. Headset provided by the airline was so comfortable, I actually used it! EK: 8/10 , QF 9/10 and SQ 10/10
Landing: 10 out of 10
We landed early into a Frankfurt dawn with a perfect touchdown.
80% (4 out of 5) – My average rating for all my Lufthansa flights is 4.8 over seven years-so its a little lower than their usual standard. Out of all of my A380 flights, Lufthansa scored the lowest- just. EK: 92%, QF: 87%, SQ: 83%
Positives: Great meals, the good website, ease of check in
Negatives: Lack of sufficient on-board entertainment, lack of snacks overnight, cabin crew not so customer focussed and that tiny, teeny economy seat.
Would I fly them again? Yes, especially on an A380 but only if I can get seat 76A or 76K