First Time In Lufthansa First (With Two Celebrities): Review Of LH450 from Frankfurt to Los Angeles

Filed Under: Lufthansa

In my last post, I reviewed the Lufthansa First Class Terminal.  I won’t repeat myself here, but I can sum it up by saying that it was easily the most impressive ground experience I have ever had.  The level of service and the attention to detail rivaled that of a truly excellent hotel such as the Park Hyatt Tokyo.  Boarding the plane, I questioned whether the on-board experience could be as remarkable.

The 747-8 that took me home (to LAX)

Boarding and Initial Impressions 

As I noted when discussing the FCT, Lufthansa does an especially good job of employing a set of uniform, soft, almost muted tones throughout their first class lounges and cabins.  I really appreciate this, as you just sort of feel like you’re moving from one room to another.

I had several other initial impressions.  Although the hard product is not the most private, and the television screens are not the largest, the “open” suites are very well appointed.  The seat itself is a durable cloth material, and the surrounding surfaces are covered in supple and clearly high quality leather, while the walls are covered in suede.  There’s something effortless and understated about the cabin that exudes class.  Emirates may have doors, better champagne (at least consistently better), and a shower, but Lufthansa schools them on style.

View of Lufthansa 747-8 First Class from Aircraft’s Nose

The simple elegance of the cabin is perhaps best captured by the single red rose at each of the eight seats.

My seat — 3A

Because I booked this ticket five hours before departure and took the last seat, my only choice was seat 3A.  This way my first time in the nose of a 747.  While it was a fun experience, I can’t say I prefer it to the upper deck of an A380.  It was noticeably louder than the A380, but certainly nothing worth complaining about.

Another view of Lufthansa 747-8 First Class 

I also liked the fact that Lufthansa has lockers on the 747-8, so that you don’t have to deal with putting suitcases in the overhead bins.  I placed my personal item in the overhead bin nearest my seat, and when the person sitting beside me had her partition up, it was not easy to get the bag out.  So the lockers are much appreciated, if not necessary.

Lufthansa 747-8 First Class Lockers 

As I boarded, the flight attendant that worked my aisle for the flight (although both ultimately did an excellent job and were attentive without regard to aisles) showed me to my seat and asked me if I wanted anything to drink.  She proactively suggested… champagne.  How could I say no?  Things were off to a good start.

Lufthansa was pouring 2007 vintage Taittinger.  It was not the Comtes de Champagne that you can find on Qantas, but rather the mid-tier vintage.  It’s a perfectly nice, relatively easy drinking champagne.  I will note that British Airways was offering 2006 Taittinger brut and non-vintage Taittinger rose in the Galleries First Lounge at London Heathrow.  It’s not exactly groundbreaking when BA has equally good and arguably better options in what is essentially their OneWorld Emerald lounge.

Nevertheless, I do find it odd that one month I might get Krug, 1995 Charles Heidseick Blanc des Millenaries, or Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle, and in another month I might get Taittinger Prelude or 2007 vintage.  In some instances we’re talking a price premium of roughly 200%.  But like I said it is perfectly nice and easy drinking, so I don’t fault Lufthansa for offering it.  I availed myself of several refills throughout the flight.

Champagne and nuts (a/k/a perfection)

The champagne was served along with macadamia nuts, as is always the case on Lufthansa.  (Excuse some of the blurry pictures taken with my iPhone 6.  Maybe the iPhone 6s will have an anti-blur function?)

After a relatively short taxi, we had a smooth take off and I was on my way home after an extended stay in Europe.


So I’ve left a little bit out of my boarding experience.  I want this to be primarily about the flight and less about the gals I was with on the flight.  But since I set the stage for the big reveal, it’s time.  Many of you guessed one of them; none of you guessed the other.  I was the first to board, along with the man seated ahead of me. Shortly afterwards, a male and female boarded.  From their accents I could tell they were American.  The man was carrying several large Dolce & Gabbana bags.  (Perhaps another reason to guess they were American?)

Just after that, another man and woman entered the cabin.  They appeared to be a couple.  The woman was seated next to me in 3D, and I recognized her from the immigration stand at the FCT.  She quite genuinely said hello and asked me how I was doing.  I had macadamia nuts in my mouth, so I was like, “oh hey!” with my hand and a sort of squirrel-with-nut-in-mouth smile.  Moments after that, I heard the woman in 1K yell, “Oh my god!  Sia?!”  Well sh*t, I squirrel-with-nut-in-mouth smiled at Sia.  Oh well.  It could be worse.  And for the most part I have thick skin and an elastic heart.

It then became clear to me that the other woman was Courtney Love.

Courtney Love and Sia in Lufthansa 747-8 First Class

They chatted for a few minutes.  It is obvious to me that Courtney Love doesn’t care about — and perhaps enjoys — social media, so I don’t mind posting this picture of her.  Sia, on the other hand, is well know for disliking it.  I’d say she might have given me one of the most genuinely kind seeming greetings ever when she boarded, too.  So this picture of her back is the most I’ll post.

Anyway, both were relatively uneventful cabinmates.  Sia and her husband slept 90% of the flight, and as far as I could tell only drank water and hot tea.  Courtney mostly slept.  Her manager / handler was quite nice, and apparently an airline nerd as well.  We chatted for some time in the galley about how he liked Etihad, hated British Airways, and thought Air France’s new business class product was top notch.  Can’t say I disagree with any of that, really!

Amenties and In-Flight Entertainment

As anyone flying true international first class would expect, Lufthansa provides amenity kits and pajamas to its first class customers.  The pajamas are perhaps my favorite of any I’ve tried — if only because they actually fit me.  I found Emirates PJs were much too big, while Cathay’s were fit for dolls, not humans.  I also thought they were kind of cute and European-ish.  They’re also perfectly comfortable, and I look forward to using them at home!  This is another way, aside from scents, to remember and relive fun travel experiences.


The amenity kit is also nice.  It is made by Braun Buffel, which describes itself as a “German designer and maker of premium leather handbags and accessories with more than 100 years of tradition.”  The kit itself is very German.  Simple, but well done, with clean lines.  I prefer my Emirates first class kit, but mostly just because it is larger.  This is unquestionably a durable amenity kit that that will endure a lot of travel.


The kit came with all the regulars: eye shades, shocks, ear plugs, a tooth brush and toothpaste, a hair brush, etc.  The best part about the kit, in my opinion, is the fact that Lufthansa provides La Prairie hand and face cream, as well as lip balm.  These same amenities are offered in Swiss first too.  It’s little things like this that make Lufthansa’s first class special.


Ok, I’ve said all the nice stuff now.  Lufthansa.  WTF?  Your IFE selection is TERRIBLE.  I mean, if I were in economy, i.e., not being force fed food and wine or able to have a bed made, I have no idea what I would do besides feel like I should have been flying an airline that offered even halfway decent films.  Lufthansa’s movie selection made ANA look good; that’s really, really hard to do.

The upshot is that Lufthansa offers unlimited, fast Wi-Fi through FlyNet (apparently provided by T-Mobile/Deutsche Telekom) for a reasonable flat rate of $19.  The only issue I had was that it wouldn’t connect on my phone.  That’s annoying, because I like to iMessage and because all my pictures of Courtney Love and Sia were on my iPhone.  Apparently this is an issue for anyone with a U.S. network carrier.  Lufty, have them fix it!!

Catering and Soft Product

A wise woman once said, “I’m just here for the caviar.”  And she was referring to flying Lufthansa first class.  She was also referencing the fact that Lufthansa is the world’s largest consumer of caviar, purchasing approximately 5% of all caviar that is produced in a given year.  That’s actually kind of phenomenal, and gives you a sense of just how expansive their first class network is.


Naturally, I started with caviar.  Even more naturally, it was accompanied by a glass of champagne.  If I were going to be especially critical, I would say that I think Lufthansa should provide blini in addition to toast.  Why?  Because I prefer blini.  It’s not a game changer, but they’re the only airline that serves caviar in first that I’ve flown that doesn’t offer blini.  It’s also not difficult from a catering standpoint to provide them.  Petrossian offers them for sale online and in their Los Angeles and New York locations.  I’ve purchased them, and they taste fresh out of the oven if you zap them in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

The lack of blinis was mostly unnoticed, however.  Not because I was watching a great movie (I wasn’t).  It was unnoticed because even while one of the flight attendants was serving caviar, the other was tending to my champagne glass and my water glass.  I was drinking still water, and just after take off I asked for still water with lemon; the flight attendants always remembered that, and each time I asked for a glass of water they brought another lemon slice along with the refill.  Little things like that are what take things from business class level service to first class service, and the crew on this flight was certainly aware of that.

I had eaten a bison filet on the ground, so I was particularly full.  I did have a beetroot salad of some sort, but apparently did not take a photo of it.  I’m just not quite top of my game yet!  I’ll get there though… maybe.  At this point, I was ready for a nap.  I was out late the evening before in Paris, and had only gotten a few hours of sleep.  I asked the flight attendant to make my bed, and dozed off.  I woke up over Baffin Island, which is the largest Canadian island, and part of Canada’s largest territory, Nunavut.


Watching the airshow was fun. Like Ben’s dad, I enjoy the various renderings Lufthansa provides.  His dad was onto something by saying he just wanted to enjoy the airshow and ambience — it was surely the most entertaining thing to watch on the plane.


Sleeping made me hungry.  Aside from skimming the IFE selection, it was one of the most difficult things I had done all day.  I had mentioned that I wanted the lemon chicken early in the flight, and flight attendant informed me that they had kept it “warmed” for me.  She explained that this is fine for an hour or two, but that it had been warm for many hours and that they wanted to make me a new one, which would take 15 minutes.  I can usually wait fifteen minutes for almost anything.


The chicken was very tender and flavorful.  The meat was boneless and skinless, which was a real plus.  I don’t mind a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast if it’s well prepared, but cooking, chilling, and reheating makes chicken skin completely unpalatable.  So I can’t quite understand why so many airlines serve skin-on chicken breasts.  The lemon sauce that the chicken was served with was also very tasty, and light.  It was basically just a good quality chicken stock with some herbs and lemon.  When it’s well executed, simplicity is all you need.   There was also a polenta cake and some veggies, which were also good.

I should have had a cheese plate, because the cheeses looked excellent, but instead I just had a couple pralines.


I then started to try and watch the movie A.I. Artificial Intelligence, but then I just went back to sleep.  Oops.  I woke again, and decided I needed to get a picture of something else, so I ordered some finger sandwiches.  They were cute, and actually really tasty.


After nibbling on the finger sandwiches, I chatted with the crew a bit.  The two ladies working first — who did not appear to be over 30 — were great company.  They met working the 747-8 that was chartered to bring the German soccer team home after they won the World Cup.  I was so excited to say my friend (as in, Ben) had just flown that aircraft to Newark a few days earlier!  We somehow got to talking about United, and one of the flight attendants said she wished she could work for United because it was so young and hip.  I was a little confused, and then I realized she was joking.  She followed up with: “They’re ancient!”  It’s more or less objectively true that longhaul United and American premium cabin crews are generally quite old, so I couldn’t disagree!

And then it was time for everything to come to an end.  Unfortunately.  We were crossing the Nevada border, which meant we would be landing in Los Angeles very shortly.  I got what I’d consider some (low quality) nice shots of the coastline and the westside of Los Angeles on the way in.



We landed at the new(ish) Tom Bradley International Terminal, which is the only thing world class about LAX.  Ok… to appease Nick I’ll be honest and say that Delta’s remodeled Terminal 5 is also respectable.  But there’s definitely nothing else — unless you like it old and ugly.  Because I have Global Entry, it took me all of 30 seconds to clear immigration.

I highly recommend Global Entry to anyone who doesn’t have it.  Although it costs $100 to apply, there are several cards that offer a Global Entry application fee rebate.

Bottom Line

Lufthansa does not have the best catering, nor does it have the best hard product.  And they definitely don’t have the best IFE.  Nevertheless, I still feel compelled to say that it’s a truly wonderful product.  Lufthansa’s ground experience and attention to the finer details really make its first class product shine.  The cabin exudes elegance, and my on-board experience was every bit as tailored and personal as my ground experience at the First Class Terminal.  Thus, while the component parts — aside from service — are, standing alone, not especially praiseworthy, the overall experience merges into something fantastic.  The experience is the epitome of a gestalt.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Lufthansa to anyone who reads this blog.

As far as this sporadic trip report goes, this flight brought me home.  Home at last!  Another wise woman once said that there’s no place like home.  Meh.  Home is whatever.  So I went to New York the following afternoon.  Stay tuned for a review of American Airlines’ A321 flagship service from LAX to JFK!

  1. I have never had that problem since tmobile I think lucky has an att or verizon phone because they lock them down… it must be the reason why.

  2. Oh wow. I love Sia. I’m assuming that she didn’t have any champagne, being clean and sober for several years now. On her interview with Howard Stern, she talked about how one of her earliest stipulations for travel was to have a lie flat bed on flights over 8 hours. Boy, she’s got that now!

  3. I adore Sia and being born in 82 can appreciate Courtney Love both for her music and her late husband’s music which I grew up listening to (indeed still listen to on xm radio’s lithium channel).

    You are one lucky duck.

  4. “We somehow got to talking about United, and one of the flight attendants said she wished she could work for United because it was so young and hip. I was a little confused, and then I realized she was joking. She followed up with: “They’re ancient!” It’s more or less objectively true that longhaul United and American premium cabin crews are generally quite old, so I couldn’t disagree!”

    So it’s OK to have a problem with crews age but not if they are gay? Would it be OK if a straight person said they don’t want to work with gay people. Sorry the Kentucky clerk doesn’t sound so unreasonable suddenly when “open minded” people reveal their hidden biases.

  5. why the helł do you feel entitled to report on the drinking habits of another passenger? I guess I can’t refer to a blog post as “unprofessional”, so I’ll go with tacky and lacking integrity.

  6. Probably no one guessed Sia because they have never heard of her, I certainly have no idea who that is. But I don’t really keep up with celebrities.

    I think those old flight crews prefer the term “senior”. 🙂

  7. I love the contrast in writing styles between you and Ben, especially in your flight/hotel reports. Great review…

  8. @Credit — I can’t really understand how my mentioning another person’s comical remark on someone’s age can be compared to denying someone a marriage license that they are legally entitled to. One involves a person’s view on something in an individual capacity; the other involves state level deprivation of a right conferred by the federal constitution. Maybe I’m just confused.

    @Chris — I said she and her husband were “uneventful” cabinmates inasmuch as they only drank water and tea and slept. Sorry you find that tacky and lacking integrity.

    @Michael — Thanks!

  9. Hi-good report and I am older than dirt and not offended by the “age” comment. I find that you get better service with the OF crews :). As to whose drinking what if you are in public you are fair game Dude unless you’re peeking in their windows.I’ve flown LH a couple times in various classes and it’s ok. I enjoy your trip reports Matt and with practice you will get better

  10. @credit
    It sounds like you’re trying to justify anti-gay bigotry with your absolutely bizarre comment. There was nothing wrong or offensive about that flight attendant’s observations. United’s FAs do tend to be older…and miserable and cranky.

    Dirt calls me grandpa.

    Wonderful trip report. I spent the past few days looking forward to each highly enjoyable installment.

  11. Hey this is my friend matt…

    He has this great credit card, which I also happen to have. You should get it too, it’s great. Oh did you see my note saying I get money for you applying? Sweet as bro. Get on the bus, Gus…make a new plan, Stan…

    Ps. The citi prestige isn’t as generous for us down under.

  12. Great review, but I agree that repeating the LH FA’s snide comment about the average age of UA cabin crew seemed petty.

  13. @andrew So we should just tap our way down the creditcard hallway with our white cane. Ben discloses “all the time” his benefit from credit card signup. Who cares if he benefits? It helps those of us who are’nt as smart as you. Get over it Dude

  14. Okay I don’t want to appear mean but can we have some of the basics please? I’m more interested in whether or not this was a paid flight or some sort of redemption. Which was it? I don’t care very much about some called Sia. I had to Google to be frank.

  15. Courtney Love is a sub-celebrity but Sia is so cute, she is very talented, has an amazing voice and as you said, she was very kind. that makes the perfect celebrity. 😀

  16. man, you always get a lot of haters when you post.
    i specifically was waiting for this post when you told us who the celebs were, so i’m glad for the post!

  17. @Bill that is funny and I agree but I didn’t care enuf to post it. Courtney is a little passe and I had to google Sia too

  18. Sia -who I had to Wikipedia- and Courtney Love?!? I feel like I was misled when you said “celebrities.” How about “people involved in musical entertainment.”

  19. Matt you are a lawyer. Do you refer to people’s age, sex, race in your briefs when making arguments about things they did. You referred that they were young. Why not tell us their race? To say someone said something comically doesn’t excuse it’s presence in the blog. If i have a friend who is screwing things up all the time and I say comically “you are so gay” does it make it ok. Discrimination hides behind humor when it’s not accepted by society to “test out” the grounds about pushing limits.

    Anyway I like playing devils advocate. So don’t mind me.

  20. I would be a little afraid of Courtney because I’m afraid I might blurt out, OMG, I love Live Through This! and she might want to shoot me or something since it was probably painful to make…but I love Live Through This. It’s brilliant. OK, I’ll go away now. I’m always afraid to take pix of celebs, in fact, I never do, but I think you handled it fine.

  21. P.S. All those people who think Courtney and Sia are not big enough for them…I would ask how famous YOU are?

  22. @Andrew the website doesn’t pay for itself, and the ad disclosure on the front page seems pretty clear to me. Certain other travel blogs are a lot more obnoxious with the cc links imho.

    Matt – been enjoying the trip reports! And I’ve learned a lot more about champagne. It is funny how long haul crews on US carriers tend to be much more senior than foreign airlines. Of course, I’ve had absolutely fabulous flights with crews old enough to be my grandparents, so more an observation than a complaint.

  23. Thanks for the detailed review, Matt. You mentioned in another post that you might be visiting the Air France lounge at SFO (now that it is accessible with Priority Pass). Any chance we could get a review?

  24. @Sean — it’s hard to want to leave the Centurion Lounge in SFO but I’m happy to review the Air France lounge next time I’m there.

  25. I’m another one in the: “Who the heck is Sia?” camp. I thought that was Singapore airlines.
    The definition of “celebrity” seems so stretched these days…

  26. This basically mirrors my impression of LH First exactly. The mains weren’t amazing, the IFE is horrendous (embarrassing that United really outdoes them on this point), but the caviar is divine, the cabin is gorgeous, the ground service in Frankfurt is top notch, and it’s quite the comfortable seat/bed. Luckily I had Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle on my flight which was a fantastic option. Jealous of the cabin mates you had on your flight 🙂

    On a totally random note, in lieu of the horrible entertainment I found I was able to intermittently stream a few shows on Netflix by using a US-based VPN network to mask my web traffic. Obviously against the T&C of the internet and it doesn’t always seem to work but can be handy for one or two shows before sleeping.

  27. Matt, did you try making any outbound calls using the air phone in the first class galley? I tried calling my Dad during the flight but the FA and I could not get it to work.

    Btw I had the same problem with the internet. I paid for it but it never worked lol. I have T-Mobile

    I left Rome at 6am on an LH A321, arrived at Frankfurt but the plane parked away from the terminal so a staircase was brought over and some buses for passengers. Then I see a Porsche pull up next to the plane. As I was about to exit, the FA in the forward galley told me my VIP transport was waiting. I walked down the stairs and the driver was standing there with a sign saying Lufthansa VIP. Meanwhile all the other passengers were crowding the bus just staring. Right before I entered the car, I looked up at the cockpit and I saw the captain give me a thumbs up haha. The driver kindof got lost and we went around in a circle to try to find the lounge, which I didn’t mind because I got to video document what looked like a good portion of the LH fleet lol. He said he was an “intern”.

    When I was waiting in the lounge I met this hilarious older German guy. When ended up being driven together in the S-class to the plane, then went up an elevator to the jet bridge. There was a long line of business class passengers crowding the bridge in our way (guess we were a little late) and the driver was escorting us through. I remember him saying over and over again “pardon us first class coming through”. There’s me some little 25 yr old wearing a top hat and carrying all this Louis Vuitton luggage heading to LA, they probably thought who the hell is that lol.

    When I entered the aircraft I passed through the galley and I saw the FA (who was very senior, maybe late 50s) standing next to my seat (2k) and greeted me by last name and pointed to the champagne already poured and macadamias. I was like WOW.

    During the flight the funny German guy (keep in mind he was like 300 pounds, big guy) sat on my ottoman and we had all the food services face to face. He made me laugh so much that I almost spit out my wine a few times. I literally didn’t need to get out of my seat to get more wine. I just reached over and grabbed it from the center bar unit lol. He got up with a bottle of cognac and his glass and started walking around the first class cabin trying to offer it to other passengers omg (all 8 seats were occupied).

    This was an awesome moment for me, as the flight was concluding, we were passing over Las Vegas on a clear day and I let the senior FA know, she sat down on the ottoman across from me for about 10min and just stared out the window and we talked about Vegas. She had never been. Once we were at the gate at LAX, I was taking my time getting all my stuff together and all the other passengers were gone, just me and the senior FA. We were talking about her career with Lufthansa, she flew on the DC-10 and 707s. She said in her 30+ years with LH she had never seen such a young person fly solo in international first class. She eventually left the plane or to the back but I had the whole first class and lower business section to myself. I hung out for a few minutes and took pictures of everything…

  28. Never heard of Sia, except when referring to Singapore Airlines 😀 (have heard of but wouldn’t recognise Courtney Love either)

    Good review though, agree looks like a decent overall experience, as long as one remembers to load up the tablet/laptop with plenty of entertainment in advance!

    PS you’re welcome to my caviar, not my cup of tea at all!

  29. LOL to the folks who remark that they don’t know who Sia is. She’s one of the hottest artists now and was the musical guest on SNL a few months back. Not a celebrity? Please. Google is your friend, people. I just don’t understand why someone would ask, “Who is Sia?” when the answer is, quite literally, right there at your fingertips.

  30. OMG Sia! As soon as you mentioned her I wondered if we’d get a frontal shot or one from the back. And those people who really need to comment to let us know they don’t know how to use google… really?

  31. Great series of trip reports Matt. Don’t let the complainers get you down.

    As an aside on the whole “old people” on United kerfuffle, here’s a little bit of insight.

    On US mainline carriers, FAs are unionized. No surprise there. Since US carriers are unwilling to pay their FAs a reasonable wage, the unions have given up asking for actual money, instead demanding that their most senior members get to work the “best” routes. That means that the FAs on US carriers’ international flagship routes are the employees with the most seniority and not, necessarily, the best employees the airline has. Of course, the very most senior employees get to work international First and Biz cabins…even if they’re not totally focused on customer service.

    On European mainline carriers, the FAs are also unionized. Again, no surprise. But these European FAs aren’t afraid to strike and shut down the airlines they work for. As a result, they’re in a position to negotiate for important things, like money and non-rev travel. Since they’re making money and getting to travel when they like, there’s less incentive to maximize “benefits” like international route assignments. The net result is that the unions give the companies more flexibility in who they assign to various routes, enabling airlines like Lufthansa to put their “best” FAs in international First.

    As you’ll probably note, I’ve not talked about Gulf and Asian airlines, whose staff are not typically protected by unions and who are generally let go when they’re not perky and pretty enough. That’s a whole other Oprah.

  32. @Matt

    I don’t understand why the IFE seems so bad? I just looked online at the selection and while its no Emirates or Etihad in terms of selection it seems very adequate for a trans-atlantic 8 hour flight. Can you give some reasons on why you didn’t like it?

  33. I came here a lil’ late.. Having a laught at the “Who is Sia?” Crowd.. Well, she is a singer that has a youtube video with 1 BILLION views 🙂

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