This will be largely a photo report, as Lufthansa has been pretty extensively reviewed around the internet. Main things I want to share on this trip report is the challenges of traveling shortly after surgery, while confined in a shoulder/arm sling, and perhaps impart a bit of advice about Lufthansa’s service to India as well as Starwood hotels in Chennai. Unlike my normal reports, there won’t be a lot of destination information here, as it was a work trip and that occupied the vast majority of my time. That said, hope there’s some helpful tips in her!
Got to Dulles about 2.5 hours before my flight after a short Uber ride with a driver who actually happened to be from Chennai. What are the odds! He informed me his sister still lived there, and she was single, and “perhaps I would like a tour guide since you seem a successful man.” Uhhhh, yeeeahhhhh….about that 😉
Check-in was quick, no TSA Pre-Check since I was on Lufthansa, but I have to say TSA was pretty good about the sling. Fortunately, I got directed to a line that was a regular metal detector, so no need to “opt-out” on the nude-o-scope since raising my arm above my head is an impossibility. I was given two choices: wear the sling through the metal detector and have it swabbed for explosives, or take it off and send it through the metal detector. Since removing it was pretty time consuming and challenging at this stage (about three weeks post surgery) I opted to leave it on and get swabbed. No drama, and soon I was in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge.
The lounge was the most packed I’ve ever seen it. At this hour, flights from SAS, Lufthansa, Austrian, COPA, Air China, as well as Avianca were using it. It was standing room only, but fortunately I looked disabled enough that someone cleared a seat for me at the counter. Also, it was the first time I’ve seen the bar area in this lounge staffed. Usually you have to flag someone down and ask them to go get a drink for you. (Un)fortunately, that meant refills on the bubbly were quite easy:
After a short stay in the lounge it was time to board our plane through the jetway which was directly connected to the lounge.
Lufthansa flight 419
Washington DC, Dulles (IAD) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
Depart 18:05, Arrive 8:00, Flight Time: 7:55
Boeing 747-8i, Registration D-ABYF, Manufactured 2012, Seat 8D
This flight was completely full in business class, and I chose 8D for a couple reasons. Mainly, we only booked a week before the flight, so seat choices were pretty limited. My main concern was to get in the middle section, since the plane has a 2-2-2 configuration in business class, and I hate having to step over someone or get stepped over. Plus, with the sling, I didn’t want anyone bumping it, so I wanted a D seat so it would be on the inside. Overall, it was a great choice. The cabin view from my seat:
When I asked for red wine, the flight attendant insisted I try both offerings. I think that’s a first in business class. I went with the Italian red, which was pretty decent, while snacking on sad packaged cashews (which were at least whole) and watching some bad movie I’ve already forgotten:
The charcuterie appetizer, it was actually surprisingly tasty!
The seared beef filet main, which was absolutely awful. The meat was shoe leather, and I think I ate one bite, the carrots and asparagus, and sent the rest back in exchange for more wine.
Cheese AND ice cream for dessert along with vintage Lufthansa chocolates. I can forgive the beef for this.
Then, I absolutely passed out, for nearly six hours, waking up just 15 minutes off the ground. I actually took the sling off to sleep, and it was the first time since surgery I’d done that. The crew was great, lifting my rather heavy rollerboard into the overhead for me, getting me extra pillows to put under my elbow to rest the shoulder in a good position, and of course providing plenty of liquid painkillers to aid with the flight.
As a side note, I was also given Lovenox injections to take before the flight. They’re a pretty hard-core blood thinner, and the idea was just in case there were any post-surgical clots hanging around we wanted to thin the blood since it would be very long flights. Unfortunately, this also makes bruising super easy, and I ended up post flight with some pretty epic bruises on my legs. I must have been a bit restless with them in flight!
We arrived in the B gates in Frankfurt a little early, and I decided to enter Germany so I could do my usual between flight routine. Quad iced espresso at Starbucks, walk around a bit in the terminal, and then make the long flight over to the C Terminal for our departing flight. Very few Lufthansa flights leave from C, and I can never determine the logic. It seems to be Johannesburg, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and India, along with a random few others. Maybe it’s longhaul eastbound flights, but I don’t know the logic behind it. Anyone want to chime in?
The lounge had nice showers, however, which despite the 15 minute or so wait felt amazing:
More water to fight off the post-flight dehydration, another double iced espresso, and my morning lounge usual – a brown roll with tomato, cucumber, salami, and cheese. I couldn’t resist trying their new offering this time of some sort of curried pineapple spread…which was just as awful as you’d expect.
Our flight was right next to the lounge, and boarded right on time.
Lufthansa flight 758
Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) to Chennai, India (MAA)
Depart 10:50, Arrive 23:50, Flight Time: 9:30
Airbus A340-300, Registration D-AIGV, Manufactured 2000, Seat 3D
Despite having the “new” business class seats installed which went completely flat, this plane felt really ratty. Plus, as this pre-departure bubbles picture shows the centre armrest is tiny, and my seatmate was a bit of a footsy player:
The menu looked to be one of the least appetizing I’ve ever seen on Lufthansa, and generally I love Indian food!
The same Italian red wine was offered with lunch, and the same sad bagged cashews. I know it’s not a big deal that they’re in a bag, but it takes absolutely zero cost or effort to offer them in a bowl. I’m just curious why Lufthansa which generally tries to be rather classy just doesn’t even make this little effort.
The murgh salad / spicy poulard salad appetizer. It looked like cat vomit, and didn’t taste a whole lot better. I left it mostly untouched.
The lamb main course, aka flag of India entree. It was ok, but again, meals that are pretty much 100% shades of brown just aren’t very appetizing to me. It just didn’t have much flavour or spice to it, and for Indian food was seriously underwhelming as a business class main.
Even the cheese was pretty sad, but the dessert was a bit better.
I spent the next several hours doing work and watching a little bit of tv, and soon we were about 90 minutes out and it was time for the “dinner” course. I decided to do something I never do, and enjoy it with a bit of German white wine. The riesling was pretty nice actually. I decided to go with the potato gratin main, and it was ok, but again, for business class it was a SERIOUSLY underwhelming meal.
Now, a few more thoughts on this flight. The crew was good, the seats were well below what I expect in business class, being seriously narrow and feeing really packed in. I know this part is beyond Lufthansa’s control, but of the 30 seats in business class 12 were occupied with children aged approximately 8-15, traveling with their families. As kids do, they get antsy, and they were running up and down the aisles during the flight, talking loudly, and in generally not making it a very “business” class experience. I don’t usually work in flight, but this time I needed to, and it was the one time fellow passengers made it very difficult. I tried asking the crew to intervene, but was told “this is just how flights to India are, you need to adapt.”
Oh, and one of the kids decided to sleep on the floor in the aisle, and I accidentally stepped on it and got yelled at by the parent, hahahah…it wasn’t exactly the best of flights! But hey, there are a LOT worse ways to make a 20 hour trip than this! Despite all the little complaints here, it was still an excellent experience.