Bali and Berchtesgaden: Lufthansa 747-8 First Class Frankfurt to Washington Dulles

Filed Under: Awards, Lufthansa

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Lufthansa 747-8 First Class Frankfurt to Washington Dulles
Westin Washington Dulles Airport

Lufthansa 418
Frankfurt (FRA) – Washington Dulles (IAD)
Sunday, August 5
Depart: 1:00PM
Arrive: 3:45PM
Duration: 8hr45min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-8
Seat: 1A (First Class)

I can’t even put into words how excited I was to fly the Lufthansa 747-8. Not only was it a new aircraft for me, but it’s also the first time I’ve flown Lufthansa first class in the nose of a 747. The funny thing is that on a 747 I almost always associate first class with being in the nose of the aircraft, except for Lufthansa, as they have it on the upper deck on the 747-400.

Once aboard the friendly purser escorted us to our seats right in the nose. The first class cabin on this plane is stunning, possibly the most elegant of any airline. I’m sure part of it is that the plane is still brand new so it has the new plane smell and not many scratches, but there’s just something so elegant yet simplistic about the design of Lufthansa’s first class cabins.

There are eight first class seats in the nose of the 747 — three on each side by the windows, and two center seats. This is an extremely spacious layout, given that other airlines cram up to 14 first class seats in the nose.

First class on the 747-8 is very similar to first class on Lufthansa’s Airbus 380s, and quite different from first class on Lufthansa’s 747-400s, which feature both a seat and a separate bed.

First class cabin

First class cabin

First class cabin

First class cabin

I was seated in 1A, which was surprisingly far from seat 1K, so was plenty private even if I were traveling alone.

My seat

Seat console

The entertainment controls were in the left armrest and seat controls were in the right armrest.

Entertainment controls

Seat controls

Much like on the Airbus 380 the window shades are automated, so you push the control button once to lower the blinds and twice to make them go completely dark.

Window shades

It’s worth noting that much like on the Airbus 380, Lufthansa has lockers for first class passengers on the 747-8, which is pretty awesome. They were plenty large to fit a standard 22″ carry-on. I was surprised there was even a need for the lockers, since there are overhead bins in first class, and they’re actually quite spacious.


Within five minutes of settling in one of the very friendly first class flight attendants offered me a pre-departure beverage. I ordered champagne, which was served with macadamia nuts.

Pre-departure beverage

I was also offered pajamas, slippers, and an amenity kit. Along with Swiss, Lufthansa has my favorite pajamas of any airline, so kudos to them for that.

Pajamas and slippers


Amenity kit

While the Lufthansa kits themselves tend to be pretty high quality (sometimes they’re Rimowa or Porsche branded, for example), I find the contents to be among the most basic out there.

Amenity kit

After that we were also offered Bose headphones.

Bose headphones

Within about 15 minutes of boarding the cabin door was closed, and there was only one other passenger in the first class cabin. The captain made the welcome aboard announcement, and funny enough he referred to the aircraft as the 747-800 (while it’s in fact the 747-8). Minor detail, but then again I kind of expect the captain of a million pound aircraft to know those kinds of things. 😀

As we pushed back the safety video played, and we began our taxi to runway 25C. You can’t beat the excitement of taxiing around Frankfurt thanks to the huge variety of planes.

Lufthansa Airbus 380

Pushing back from our gate

Sri Lankan and Vietnam Airlines planes

China Eastern in the back (anyone know what airline is in the front?)

Royal Jordanian

After about a 10 minute taxi we made it to the runway, held position for about a minute, and rocketed off.

Taxiing into position

Shortly after takeoff

Shortly after takeoff

About 15 minutes after takeoff the purser made the rounds for a formal introduction, expressing great pride in their new 747-8. She explained she was supposed to work the inaugural flight though had union obligations, so couldn’t make it. She presented me with the wine list and lunch menu, and encouraged me to try as much as I’d like.

Menu and wine list

In the meantime the first class flight attendant offered me a hot towel. I know it’s a minor detail, but Lufthansa has the best scented hot towels anywhere. Period.

Hot towel

The lunch menu read as follows:

And the wine list read as follows:

Service began with drinks. I ordered a Diet Coke with lemon, and was also talked into a glass of Riesling.

Drinks to start

At that point the amuse bouche was served. As usual on Lufthansa, it was something overly complicated that I couldn’t quite figure out.

Amuse bouche

About 30 minutes into the flight the appetizer cart was rolled around. I just had the caviar and tomato salad, both of which were quite good.

Caviar and tomato salad

Meanwhile my friend had the whole tower of goodies (I do love the tray presentation).

Tower of appetizers

The salad was also good, and I had it with sundried tomato dressing.


For the main course I opted for the pasta, which was actually amazing. I know people consider pasta to be the safe/crappy option on airplanes, but on my past several flights the pasta dishes have been excellent. and easily rivaled the Olive Garden (I kid, I kid).

Main course

After the main course the dessert cart was rolled around.

Dessert cart

For dessert I selected the soft centered chocolate bar with olive ice cream. I love chocolate, but did they really have to have olive ice cream? I know, I’m unsophisticated, I have an unrefined palate, blah blah blah. But I like sweet ice cream with dessert, thank you very much.

Soft centered chocolate bar

Meanwhile my friend had the sorbet.


To round out the meal I had a glass of Baileys and some pralines. I was also offered a bottle of water.




The meal finished a little over two hours into the flight. While I thought the food could have been a bit simpler, the service was spectacular. It was attentive without being intrusive, and both flight attendants seemed genuinely interested in doing their job.

After the lunch service they set up a nice “display” in the cabin.

Nice presentation!

While Lufthansa’s first class seats aren’t suites like other airlines, I still quite like them. There’s a nice partition that goes up between seats, so it feels private without feeling claustrophobic.


After lunch I requested turndown service and decided to quickly tour the plane, starting with the first class lavatory. While the first class lavatory isn’t as spacious as the one on the Airbus 380, it’s nice nonetheless.

First class lavatory

First class lavatory

I then headed back to business class, given that the 747-8 features Lufthansa’s new business class product. Lufthansa has nearly 100 business class seats on the 747-8, split between two cabins on the main deck and a cabin on the upper deck.

Lufthansa’s new business class

Lufthansa’s new business class

Behind the first business class cabin are the stairs to the upper deck, where I also had a quick view at the wing.

Wing view

The stairs to the upper deck are pretty cool in that it’s in a pretty open area, so there are several windows allowing natural light into the cabin.

Stairs to the upper deck

When I returned to my seat my bed was made. Lufthansa has awesome duvets and comforters in first class, so I was excited to lay down, even though I didn’t have any plans on sleeping just yet.

Turndown service

At this point we had just under five hours to go to Washington.


I decided to watch a movie, and eventually settled on “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Nicely put, it was pretty bad. While Lufthansa has extensive entertainment options, they by no means rival those of Cathay Pacific or Singapore, for example.

Entertainment system

After the movie I napped for about an hour, at which point we were less than two hours from Washington.


With about 75 minutes to go to Washington, the pre-arrival meal service began, starting with hot towels and the menu being distributed.

The menu had an “Ocean Delights” theme.


The menu read as follows:

The service is all done by cart and you can select what you want at your seat. I chose a few things that looked good to me.

Pre-arrival meal

My friend chose some of the other stuff that I didn’t, including the eyed prawns (long time readers know how I feel about prawns with eyes on them). 😉

Friend’s meal

For dessert I had the panna cotta.

Panna cotta

About 30 minutes before landing the purser came back through the cabin to bid us farewell and ask us of our impressions of the 747-8. She was obviously quite proud of it, and appreciated the positive feedback.

After a long descent and smooth touchdown in Washington we taxied to our gate, timed perfectly with the Lufthansa Airbus 330 that was parked there pushing back. I was kind of sad to bid farewell to the 747-8, though knew it wouldn’t be my last time.

Lufthansa Airbus 330 pushing back

Lufthansa 747-8

Deplaning a comfortable first class flight always sucks, though it especially sucks when you’re landing at Tijuana Washington Dulles International Airport, and have to board a 1960s style moon buggy to get to customs and immigration.

Moon buggy

Fortunately customs was pretty quick, and within about 15 minutes we were curbside and heading for the Westin Dulles.

If you want to fly the Lufthansa 747-8…

Lufthansa presently flies the 747-8 from Frankfurt to Washington Dulles, Delhi, and Bangalore. Lufthansa releases first class award space to partner airlines at most 14 days out, so if you’re eying a first class award you’ll have to wait till closer to departure to book.

  1. Great report, thanks Lucky.

    My wife and I will be flying the 748 in December IAD-FRA as part of a larger United award trip to Thailand. Currently in economy, though, and hoping to maybe see some premium cabin space open up closer to departure.

    If it doesn’t, did you get to check out the economy cabin and/or have any idea where to be “least miserable” back there?

  2. Does LH use different amenity kits on this plane vs the old 747? I flew FRA-BOS the same day as you but had different pajamas and amenity kit. We were in the old style seats 747.

  3. @ Zach — Sadly I didn’t because I feel a bit guilty going to coach in pajamas. Hope some premium cabin space opens up for you!

    @ Ryan — That’s it, thanks!

  4. Tomato Salad 2012? Seriously, who names this stuff?

    It seems like as usual, the food can be the weak point on Lufthansa’s FC product, very hit or miss, based on yours and other reports.

    It’s funny how their FAs get very snippy about how the airline is a German one, the FAs should primarily be German, etc…but yet the food sometimes has nothing to do with Germany at all. I think, if I ever fly FC out of Frankfurt, I’ll load up food in the lounge, just in case.

  5. Great report. I flew the exact same seat on that plane FRA-IAD last week and enjoyed it immensely. And I am a fan of LH’s food service. That said, prior to my FRA-IAD FC flight on the 748, I flew LH HKG-FRA on the 744 with the ‘New FC’ seat/bed combo upstairs. The seat is very similar to the 748’s but does not have as many mechanisms so it is IMO much more comfortable. The flat permanent bed next to the seat is the best sleeping arrangement in the sky IMO. It’s a full mattress and a real bed so it’s hard to beat. On the same trip I flew CX FC from JFK to HKG and of the three flights, liked the hard product on the LH 744 the best and the food service on CX the best (but only by a tick).

  6. @ HoKo — I’ve actually noticed an increase in business class award space on the 747-8 thanks to how big the business cabin is, so that’s the good news.

  7. @AUSTEX – Definitely familiar with seat guru. Also familiar with the fact that seatguru’s information isn’t always accurate, hence the question here. Thanks though!

  8. I agree. I love LH First Class, but hate the food. Like you, I find it too complicated. I don’t eat caviar so unlike others I can’t gorge on it 🙂

  9. Lucky, one thing I forgot to ask…is it possible for a companion to join you when dining? It’s hard to tell if the ottoman looks comfortable from the pics…

  10. I personally love IAD. The “mobile lounges” aren’t exactly luxurious (on most domestic flights you take trains to/from the gates), but they are unique and strange…so I enjoy them. The airport itself is very attractive, and beats the heck out of other common points of entry (like JFK, EWR, ORD, etc.).

  11. I can’t imagine you’d be too pleased if folks from J or Y came up to you F cabin and started walking around and snapping picture. Not sure why you feel it’s no biggie to do the same to them?

    Other the that, nice report. Good pics of F cabin, and no creepy letters from FA’s. Haha.

  12. Great report! Food looks great – I like complex if it adds to the flavor profile.

    Very inferior wine list. What I would expect from AA. Not even close to BA, let alone CX or SQ.

  13. @ Ake — To clarify, you have a problem with me snapping two pictures of the business class cabin?

    And to answer your question, that’s the generally accepted protocol on international carriers. You can walk to lower cabins but not higher cabins. There are at most eight first class passengers, while there are 300+ coach passengers. I’ll let you guess which would cause more of a disturbance.

  14. Tomato SALAD 2012! Sounds like SPRING BREAK 2012.

    Let me know if your travel companion ever can’t join. I’m so good at letting people take photos of my food before I eat it.

  15. I agree that the menu is overly complex and “trendy” although I would like to have seen Rudolph’s Saddle (probably a little leathery and tough).

  16. I do love Lufthansa’s business class, but the food has indeed been fairly atrocious on the flights I’ve done the past year and a half. “Too complicated” is indeed a great way to describe it. Also, their food tends to be extremely salty – which sucks when you are already dried out from being in flight!!

    But yes, their hot towels are simply the best.

  17. Washington, Delhi, and Bangalore?

    Washington I can see, but why would you send your fancy new plane to Bangalore? It’s not like there’s a lot of competition on FRA-BLR. Surely PVG or HKG would be more fitting!

  18. @ Arcanum — I assume it’s more for capacity than prestige. Keep in mind that Lufthansa serves PVG and HKG out of both FRA and MUC.

  19. Sure, but the 748’s capacity isn’t much different from the 744 running out of Frankfurt (and can be less depending on the config). Plus, 92 J seats is a lot to fill.

  20. @ Arcanum — True, though I suspect there’s a good bit of paid premium traffic to India as well. Keep in mind that Lufthansa wanted to make India one of their first A380 destinations, though it was blocked by the Indian government for competitive reasons. So this is their way to “stick it” to the Indian government.

  21. I had the good fortune to fly this same route in F about a week and a half after you on August 16. I can safely say the experience in 1K is equally awesome. Menu was identical.

    As someone who doesn’t currently have Global Entry, let me just say that the arrival experience into Dulles was absolutely horrible. Far and away the worst I’ve ever had at any U.S. airport. It took me an hour and 45 minutes from the time we arrived at the gate until I was through the security re-check, and I was obviously one of the first off. People were missing connections right and left. And from conversations I had with UA staff I gather this wasn’t an isolated incident but par for the course there. It was even worse for foreign nationals, as their line at immigration was twice as long as the US citizen line.

  22. Mate, I love your stuff but I totally have to disagree about Lufthansa’s food. I find it fascinatingly well-crafted, and there’s always an option to please people with less-adventurous palates.

    I was talking to one of LH’s head crewmembers about this a couple of months ago, and she said that they’re used to getting the “too complicated” complaint in first class, but that it’s mainly Americans saying so. (I guess that’s why we can’t have nice things.)

    I’d love to hear what you think about the all-jelly meal I had in LH euroJ a couple of months ago, mind…

  23. I have yet to fly LH F, but I believe you still haven’t flown EK F either, and their scented towels are to die for.

  24. Apologies for IAD – international gateway to our nation’s capital. It’s such a sh*thole. Great trip report, though!

  25. IAD always makes me feel like I’m walking into the adult version of Tomorrowland at Disney World. Futuristic fonts, spacey looking trains, moon buggies, “modern” architecture.

    I kinda like it.

  26. Should have tried the reindeer. It was actually quite good. On the other hand, the Ocean Delights meal one of the more dissapinting LH meals.

  27. Perhaps if you intend to lecture the pilot on the name of the aircraft, you ought to identify the “Airbus 380” properly as the Airbus A380.

  28. As always, great report. Small correction: what you consistently call Pralines, aren’t pralines at all. They are Petit Fours. Pralines are a specific Southern sweet/candy. Petit Fours are a catch-all term for a variety of small chocolate treats that are served after dessert.

  29. @ Marcos — Yet oddly every airline menu seems to refer to them as pralines as well. I’ll try to refer to them correctly in the future, thanks!

  30. Pumpkin with Scallops? I had that once, in Japan twelve years ago, and it was brilliant. Glad to see it’s a dish elsewhere as well.

    Also, olive ice cream. Though I haven’t had it before, sure, why not? Probably beats that Chinese olive juice I’ve encountered.

  31. American pralines are as described. However, Belgian Pralines (arguably the best in the world) are a chocolate shell with a softer, sometimes liquid filling. This is the variety I have enjoyed onboard LH F.

    I have an upcoming flight in F on the 748-i. Both seats in Row 1 are taken. Any thoughts on Row 2 versus 3 window seats for a solo traveler?

  32. @ JamesC — I believe they just had a three prong connector, though I could be mistaken. You can’t take them with you, though.

  33. Great review Lucky.

    I’m on the LAX-FRA flight tomorrow and googled up what to expect.

    Looking forward to that duvet and pillow, I need a good night’s sleep.

  34. @ Sean — I’d say 1A & 1K is the way to go, assuming you don’t need to talk the entire flight.

  35. Great report!….I have also reserved 1A FRA-IAD.
    It’s been a while since I last travelled LH. What’s bothering me the most is arriving as a non U.S citizen at IAD. With only a 2 hr connection to SFO (also in F class)…it appears that not even travelling premium class will help me make my flight.

  36. @Marcos – In British-English and in German, we say praline is a small chocolate. In America, ‘praline’ is more commonly used as you do.

    @Lucky – I think it has to do with your German upbringing that you refer to it as a praline, as I do.

  37. @George – I personally agree that Airbus A380 looks (and sounds) better that Airbus 380. It is improper to say Airbus A380, you would say Airbus 380 or, simply, A380. The ‘A’ only goes in front of 380 if you do not say/write “Airbus.”

    After all, you wouldn’t say Boeing B747.

  38. Just so you know, the 747-800 means 747-8… There’s no difference. They also sometimes call it the 748….

  39. @ Unknown — Right, though the 747-800 isn’t a thing. That’s not what Boeing refers to it as, and not the name of the plane.

  40. Is the LH food generally this complicated or was this is a one off? For the FRA-USA route would you still choose LH over SQ?

  41. @ Dan — It is generally quite complicated, but there are typically still some pretty good options. They do still generally try too hard, in my opinion. Ex-Germany I would probably still choose Lufthansa for the improved ground experience.

  42. Not sure if this was answered but I think the mystery airline in the photo with the China Eastern Jet might be Cathay Pacific.

  43. Cathay Pacific has a horrible entertainment system! I could only find a few movies that I liked on the plane, on a 9 hr flight, HKG-DXB. (Might be different for other planes, I had the A330)

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