x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Lufthansa upgrades experience in the sky

At a ceremony on Sunday night, Lufthansa was awarded the gong for “Best European Airline serving the Middle East”. The prize, from Business Traveller Middle East magazine, is based on surveys of its readers.

Lufthansa has already upgraded the business class services in about 30 per cent of its routes. Courtesy Lufthansa
Lufthansa has already upgraded the business class services in about 30 per cent of its routes. Courtesy Lufthansa

Lufthansa is upgrading its business class.

The changes have already been made on about 30 per cent of the carrier’s routes, and will be increasingly available on its UAE flights over the next year or so. By next summer, the new business class will be available on all flights.

The biggest difference is that the seats in business now recline all the way back. With most of Lufthansa’s flights departing the UAE between 1.30am and 2am, sleep is a priority for many passengers.

There is also more storage space, including a foot locker that comfortably fits shoes and a newspaper.

Wi-Fi is available at €10.95 (Dh55) for two hours and €19.95 for 24 hours.

Lufthansa says food service in the new business class is also being improved, to a level that, in the airline’s words, “reminds passengers of being in a top restaurant”.

While that is a lofty goal, on my recent flight the attendants’ service was attentive and warm, and I did appreciate being able to order an espresso whenever I felt like it.

The food came served on linen and china. Especially tasty was the ricotta with plum and apricot purée, an appetiser.

One thing I liked was that the attendants spanned a range of ages. It makes the flight feel more homey than on an airline where all the attendants are half your age (I am a hoary 49).

Another thing that stood out for me was the quality of the audio gear. People for whom long flights are a chance to catch up on their movie-watching will be pleased by the Sennheiser headphones, which provide startlingly clear sound. And when you’re not watching a show, you can wear them to block out ambient noise.

I also liked the reading light built into the top of the seat – it provides more focused illumination than an overhead light. No more disturbing your neighbours, nor them disturbing you.

On my Frankfurt-Chicago trip aboard a Boeing 747-800, my seat was on the upper cabin for the first leg and on the lower cabin for the return leg.

While the middle seats in the lower cabin offered slightly more room, I preferred the upper cabin as it was smaller and cosier. Indeed “back row, upper cabin” was ideal: without even trying, I was the first one off the plane and through passport control.

q&a luxury and a local touch

What’s the price?

Lufthansa has round-trip business fares from Abu Dhabi or Dubai to Frankfurt starting at Dh12,385.

Anything a little cheaper?

Lufthansa will be rolling out premium economy in October, with 50 per cent more legroom than economy. The average round-trip fare should be about Dh3,000 more than economy.

How was the in-flight entertainment?

I barely watched any, because the seat was so comfortable to doze in. But beyond the western offerings, a decent range of Arabic, Hindi Japanese and Chinese shows was available.

Any local adjustments?

There is no pork in meals on Middle East routes; what is called sausage is chicken sausage. On routes farther afield, customers can order halal ahead of time. Also, medical tourism from the UAE is a significant business for Lufthansa and the airline has a medical tourism department to cater to such customers.

Anything else?

A mornings-only arrivals lounge in Frankfurt offers a shower and a quick bite, which is quite handy if you arrive early and your hotel check-in is not until noon or later.

The upshot?

At a ceremony on Sunday night, Lufthansa was awarded the gong for “Best European Airline serving the Middle East”. The prize, from Business Traveller Middle East magazine, is based on surveys of its readers.

rmckenzie@thenational.a

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