Trip Report: Lufthansa economy class Newark – Frankfurt – Bangalore

Vinay’s Trip to India Review Index

Part I – Lufthansa in Economy on Newark – Frankfurt – Bangalore
Part II – Lufthansa in Business on Mumbai – Munich
Part III – Air India in Economy on Bangalore – Mumbai
Part IV – United in Business on Munich – Newark
Part V – Lufthansa Business Lounge in Newark
Part VI – Lufthansa Business Lounge in Frankfurt
Part VII – Lufthansa Business Lounge in Mumbai
Earlier this month, I spent 6 very enjoyable days in India. Devesh and I did an exclusive interview with Mr. Georgio de Roni, CEO of GoAir, so stay tuned for that. I also took some great planespotting shots in both Mumbai and Bangalore, as well as some great shots of the new Lufthansa business class on their Airbus A330-300s, and some not-so-great shots of the hideous Air India interiors on their A319s. On my outbound flight, I took Lufthansa Newark-Bangalore-Frankfurt. Both legs of this flight were on the 747-400 but the interiors were configured differently so I got pretty disparate flight experiences. In between, I flew Air India between Bangalore and Mumbai with surprisingly mixed results. On my return to the US, I flew Lufthansa in business class on their A330-300s Mumbai-Munich, and then flew United’s 777-200ER business class Munich-Newark.

I arrived at Newark Airport running a bit late for my flight at 1755 (around 1610), so I immediately went to the Lufthansa business class check in. Since I was traveling with another passenger flying in business, my baggage allowance on the outbound from the US was 2 bags of 32 kg each and 1 bag of 23 kg. Of course the 23 kg bag turned out to weigh 23.4 kg, and the man at the Lufthansa counter very rudely made me take back my documents, re-pack my bag to eliminate the 0.4 kg excess weight, and then forced me to go to the back of a line about 8 groups long (8 more check ins before I could check in again).

This occurred less than 1 hours 40 minutes before the flight and was a major inconvenience and hassle, especially because the Lufthansa or Newark ground employee refused to be courteous about what he was doing. I finally managed to check in and breezed through the business class security line, though I got yet another pat-down search and had only my second experience going through the full on body scanners. But I got through mostly unscathed with about 40 minutes before boarding and then headed over to check out the Lufthansa Business Lounge in Newark’s Terminal B (Review to come later). I boarded around 15 and headed to my seat after picking up a few newspapers from the jetway.

Flight # 1 LH403 EWR-FRA 1755-0720 
Seat: 31B (economy, middle seat) – “shell” seat with in seat AVOD 
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 (3-4-3 configuration), 95% full 

My first flight was a roughly 7 hour ride spent almost entirely in severe discomfort. I was in a middle seat right in front of an exit row, and it was one of these “shell” style seats where the seat back doesn’t go backwards but rather slides down to give recline, thereby cutting off legroom. This style of seating would be bad enough if the seat in front of me didn’t have a broken recline as well (i.e it reclined back further than the other two seats next to it).

So I went through the flight with the other passenger reclined all the way back into me despite my repeated attempts to explain the situation to her. This passenger also stuck her bag beneath her seat, even though this was my storage space, so I couldn’t even use that space to stretch my legs. I spent the first hour and a half or so reading the newspaper until the meal service showed up.

The meal was definitely the highlight of the first leg; I had an excellent (by economy class standards) Palak Paneer (Cottage Cheese in Spinach) and Chole (Chickpeas). Afterwards, I watched a pair of awful romantic comedies on Lufthansa’s sparse economy class AVOD system (there were less than 20 movies available and a very limited number of TV shows), since I could never get to sleep with a seat jammed into my space and no room to slide my legs underneath. Still, I’ve always been decent at running on little to no sleep, so I reached Frankfurt in good shape.

Once in Frankfurt Airport, I went out into Terminal 2 on my way to the H concourse, though my Bangalore flight wasn’t till 1215 and we arrived at the gate around 0740. Even though I had lounge access, my traveling partner and I (meaning me) decided to first spend some time in the airport exploring the terminal. I had a decent sandwich and cappuccino and trialled the internet stations, which were very fast, though the computer terminal itself had a difficult-to-use keyboard and the price was steep at more than Rs. 160 for 15 minutes (at current exchange rates). I also went to one of Frankfurt airport’s “airfield view” restaurants which really do have a gorgeous view, though not as nice as the one from Lufthansa’s Senator Lounge at the end of the G pier.

Following this, I went into the Lufthansa business lounge, which was predictably very nice. We went directly from there to our gate around 1130, where we boarded the flight to Bangalore

Flight #2 LH 754 FRA-BLR 1215-0030(+1)
Seat: 53A (old Lufthansa seats, economy, no in seat entertainment, row empty)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400 (3-4-3 configuration), 45-50% full 

My second flight was much more relaxed. I had the entire row to myself, which was a refreshing change from my previous flight. As an aside, I wonder why Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch concept never caught on; based on my experience on this flight, and the one I took on US Airways from Philadelphia to Zurich back in December where I got a middle row to myself, I would definitely pay extra for such a service though the economics of it likely do not work.

Once again, the meal was excellent (with a vegetable korma), as was the dinner puff a few hours later. Between these two meals, I got some well deserved sleep (around 4.5 hours). Deplaning was very easy and I was off into Bangalore on the 29th morning.

As a whole, I liked the experience on Lufthansa; the team at Frankfurt Airport is certainly very good, and Lufthansa’s flight attendants display superb professionalism, balanced by a warm and courteous nature. I also love the fact that Lufthansa gives away airplane postcards on their flights but that might just be the aviation enthusiast in me talking. There are some things that could be cleaned up, such as the employees at Newark, but the experience remains solid overall. I would rate Lufthansa’s economy class experience this round as a 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 10 (this is meaningless now, but as I write more trip reports the number will actually mean something with a frame of reference).

Stay tuned for the Business Class review tomorrow. This is the same new Business Class as on the Boeing 747-8i service which commences on Wednesday on the Frankfurt Bangalore route.
Disclosure. The trip was self paid. The airline did not review the article prior to publication nor has it sought any revisions. The independent views are of the author.

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