What went wrong on my Lufthansa flight…

No, I didn’t overdose on Fanta. No, we didn’t divert to North Korea. Yes, Abduction was playing (and yes, I watched it again due to lack of other alternatives).

Sorry for the teaser post earlier. I needed at least a couple of hours of sleep before I could function again, given that I only got about 90 minutes of sleep in the past 48 hours.

My Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Singapore started like any other. I was driven to the plane, and when I got to my seat, 1K, the cabin was already full, including a lady across from me in 1G. One of the unique features about Lufthansa’s first class cabin on the Airbus 380 is that each passenger has an individual locker, so I placed my bag in my locker. As I closed the door the lady seated across from me said “wait, I want to put my stuff in there too.” I explained to her that she had her own locker that she could even lock if she wanted, and showed her where it is.

We started talking, and she said “boy, you must fly this plane a lot.” She told me she lives in Washington DC and flies Lufthansa all the time to Germany, and that at check-in the agent told her she had an upgrade voucher that was expiring, so asked if she wanted to upgrade, which she did. She then asked what I did, and I asked what she did. She responded with “what do you think?” I said “well, you live in Washington but don’t fly a US carrier between the US and Europe, so you don’t work for the government.” She said “good thinking, I do what everyone else in Washington does.” I said “so you’re a lobbyist?” She said “no, I’m a foreign corruption lawyer.” Okay, I didn’t realize everyone else in Washington did that, but I wasn’t about to argue.

She then asked me what the best strategy was for sleeping between Frankfurt and Singapore. I explained that like most redeyes to Asia departing from Europe, I stay up for two hours and enjoy the meal, sleep for eight hours, and then wake up 90 minutes before landing. She said “I don’t usually sleep well on planes,” and said she might just stay up. I said the bedding is so comfortable that I’m sure she’d sleep really well.

Fast forward two hours. Dinner finishes up, and I’m listening to some music on the Lufthansa in-flight entertainment system with Lufthansa’s Bose noise canceling headphones. All I hear, though, is someone snoring. And I don’t mean the occasional snore or the quiet snore, but I’m talking about the loudest snoring I’ve heard in my life. If there were an international snoring championship this person would definitely be a grand prize contender.

I walk around the cabin because it’s not apparent to me who’s snoring. As it turns out it was actually the lady right across from me in 1G (despite no outside appearance of the snoring).

I figured it was no big deal, so I went to the galley and asked the flight attendant for some ear plugs. She responded with (in German), “I’m so sorry, we hear the snoring from the galley as well.” Mind you, the galley is separated from the cabin by two sets of thick curtains.

Okay, I figure this wouldn’t go on forever, so decide to get some work done, despite being dead tired. But nope, it doesn’t stop.

So after a couple of hours I decide to sleep with noise canceling headphones on while listening to music. It didn’t work.

In the end I just stayed up. I don’t think I can properly articulate just how loud her snoring was, because it was unlike anything I’ve ever heard before, and oh-so-consistent. She didn’t miss a beat for about eight hours straight.

90 minutes before landing she woke up and said “you were right, I did sleep really well. I’ve never gotten this much sleep on an airplane before. How did you sleep?” Oh no she didn’t…

I’m actually kind of surprised the snoring situation doesn’t happen more often, but I’m curious, is there anything that can be done? Would you tell the passenger? Would you hope the crew does something? Or is it something that sucks but nothing can be done about?

So while every other aspect of the flight was amazing, that lady sure ruined it for me. Has anyone been in a similar situation?

Filed Under: Lufthansa, Travel
  1. Ouch! Sorry about that!
    I believe even a private suite wouldn’t change the situation one bit.
    Is this another kind of first-world problem?

  2. As someone who snores on occasion, please wake me up or give me a gentle nudge. In my case, it will be appreciated, not frowned upon, as I do not want to disturb my fellow passengers.

  3. I’m sorry to hear that lucky, but I’m curious–how do you know you’ve never done the same to someone else? Everyone snores sometimes 🙂 even in LH first class. Cest la vie!

  4. The elbow nudge works on domestic coach redeyes. Don’t know how you would have nudged her across the aisle, but I would have found a way.

  5. Interesting that she considered herself a “Foreign Corruption” lawyer. That’s my field and I don’t think I’ve ever met any lawyer that considered themselves that.

  6. earplugs didn’t help? If it was so regular I would think it might help you fall asleep…sort of like white noise.

  7. Just another example of Lucky’s “Do you know who I am” attitude. If it was that bad, next time charter a jet.

  8. @ Thomas “Is this another kind of first-world problem?”

    I think it’s a text book case lol

    Lucky, you really should have tried to record it on your camera or phone…

  9. It’s funny, but I know how annoying that is. It’s just funny cause she said she never sleeps well, meets you, you give her advice, and she sleeps so well half the plane can hear her.

    I’m shocked even the Bose and music didn’t drown it out. I hope she’s not married cause I’m thinking about her poor husband! 🙂

  10. @ Allen — I very well may have, in which case I would hope someone else wakes me up. Which I guess kind of answers my question as to what I should have done…

    @ dhammer — Hah, I was trying to figure out a way to do the elbow nudge, but between the seat being five feet away and the privacy barrier, it didn’t prove to be all that practical!

    @ Andy — Ah, but of course I did! Whether or not I’ll post it is a different story (I don’t like to screw with lawyers too much).

    @ Benny — I was listening to Lana Del Ray at full volume, and even that didn’t help!

  11. In 2001 my brother and I were heading to Africa with our father. Our routing was JFK-AMS-JRO on KLM, and we were in coach while our Dad was in business. However, a sympathetic gate agent (or perhaps an overbooked Y cabin?) led us to seats 1A and 1B on the 744 while Dad sat behind us in 2B.

    To make a long story short, Dad kept telling us how happy he was that we were up front with him–though to my way of thinking, if it made him that happy he could have paid for it all along, but never mind–and used it as an excuse to get tremendously drunk. He fell asleep and started snoring like a lawnmower. It got so bad the FA came over to us to complain. We sympathized with her and explained that Dad’s snoring, rather than a drying up of marital passions, was what led to my mother having a separate bedroom at home…

  12. Did she keep others awake to? She needs Breathe Rite Strips and sleep on an angle Never snoored on a plane but that’s something I fear. I would hope someone would gently wake me up to tell me.

  13. @ ffI — She said corruption.

    @ Tim — Yes, kept up guy behind me as well. Couldn’t tell if she was keeping the other passengers up since the privacy barriers were up.

  14. Yikes. That’s the worst thing that could happen on a plane. I am a light sleeper. Loud snoring would keep me up and make me grumpy later on.

  15. That must have been bad if Bose+music couldn’t drown it out.
    Maybe the FA should have suggested she sleep in the rear lockers?

  16. Odd it was that loud. I would think even earplugs should help with that. I use them regularly since almost any amount of noise keeps me up, but with them I can still sleep through all sorts of commotion.

  17. The airline should carry the Breathe Right nasal strips and hand them out. If someone is snoring, they should be woken up and be told to put them on. You should carry them too, and politely offer them. That would make me so mad. I can’t stand loud snoring. Who cares if the person is offended. They are irritating the whole cabin.

  18. Ugh. I had something similar just happen on a recent flight. Given, it was only LAX-DEN, but still. Noticed I don’t have that problem on CO planes with their rock-hard seats…oh the trade-offs…

  19. The most brilliant way I have ever seen this dealt with was in BA First — and mind you, I’m not extremely fond of BA cabin crew, but this was fantastic!

    About a half hour into the snoring, which was as you described it here, Lucky, a flight attendant came over and pretended to be “fixing” the guy’s comforter (mind you, he was perfectly well covered). The guy woke up for an instant and she said, “Sorry, Sir, your cover was falling off.” He turned over, went back to sleep, and it was enough for him to stop snoring for a couple of hours. He started again after those couple of hours, but by then we were about 45 minutes from landing (this was a 4.5 hour flight), so nobody was terribly inconvenienced — most were up already.

  20. I always carry in-the-ear plugs for this. Bose headsets actually don’t cancel a lot of noises. And as a lawyer with a long career, I have never heard someone call themselves a foreign corruption lawyer. That implies she only has corrupt foreigners as clients. In reality, she must have some sort of enforcement job, probably governmental.

  21. I agree with @JetAway here – this is why I use in-ear phones (Klipsch X10) rather than the Bose. They are much better at canceling noise, and with music on at even moderate volume there’s no way you hear anything outside.

    Took a while to find a perfect pair of in-ears and I went through multiple models of Shure, Ultimate Ears and others and was convinced I’d have to buy the $800 custom molded type when I found the Klipsch set – they are amazing. Small, light, incredibly comfortable even for long wear and sound fantastic.

  22. When you first posed the question, “What went wrong…” I was going to guess that you were so tired and slept so much, you missed a wonderful experience – meals, drinks, movies, and the thrill of F on the A380. So I was wrong — and you got to enjoy them all — and then some 🙂

  23. Hi there. Sorry for snoring, had no idea I did that. In fact, i think this is the first time I’ve been on the bad side of a ‘oh no she didnt’. Guess I popped multiple cherries on the flight!


  24. The snoring is usually due to additional fat in and around the larynx. Telling her to stop snoring is akin to telling her she’s fat.

    Also, ear plugs. They didn’t come in the amenity kit?

  25. I def think the FA should wake the person up. It’s ridiculous for one person to ruin everyone’s FC ride. It wouldn’t bother me at all if they woke me up. Anyway.

  26. Lucky, I feel your pain. I had a couple of Business class flights with seatmates that snored. In the worst case, the bloke snored so loud I could not even drown out the sound by leaving the AV system with sound turned up loud.

  27. My dad snores is a loud snorer. I stopped going on trips with him for the sole reason being I cannot sleep in the same room as someone snoring so loudly.

    That being said, I am pretty sure I’m a light snorer on those recliner seats in domestic F/C. Anytime you sleep on your back you have the potential to snore.

    Recently on my CX flight in F, I could not sleep because the cabin was so warm. The FA, noticing I was not really sleeping, asked if I needed something and needless to say, the cabin immediately started to cool off. That is service!!

  28. I am a loud snorer 🙂 My partner sometimes goes to another room during the night because I wake him up. I really dont mind if the FA wakes me during a flight if I snore too loud. Sometimes, changing a position could help a lot. And usually, loud snorers go to sleep very easily.

  29. This happened to me on a TPA-BOS flight last year on Jet Blue. I knew I would be up late the night prior as I was attending a wedding so I secured a window seat so I could get some rest prior to the baseball game I was dog-legging for on my way to MSP. The person next to me evidently needed the rest more than me and snored the entire time and I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. Obviously I wasn’t paying a high dollar ticket though and I just bit my tongue in my case. If it were a long haul in first class Im pretty sure I wouldn’t have. I still enjoyed the game however despite my fatigue:)

  30. First world problem? Not quite.

    I was on a overnight train in India recently. One of the guys in my compartment snored in the most baroque way — not your regular hawwwwk-sheeeep, but a whole cascade of layered sounds. And it was *loud*.

    There was nothing I could do but put on some music. All I had access to was my daughter’s ipod, full of tunes an 8 year old girl likes. I discovered that even the Jonas Brothers and Mylie Cyrus on infinite replay are better than the interminable snoring of a happy, overweight babu.

  31. I am sorry, that is almost as bad as it can get. I would just poked her. Even though it is impolite, my sleep is holy for me.

    PS: I think she meant with “foreign corruption” that she is a Foreign Currupt Practices Act Lawyer, advising clients who are investigated by the SEC for bribing foreign government employees or officials.

  32. My wife and I had a problem one time with one guy who was making noise from another end. The whole first class cabin reeked. We asked the flight attendant and she was very apologetic saying “isn’t it just awful!”. She kept curling the cabin every 15-20 minutes with air freshener. THAT was the worst experience

  33. It didn’t happen to be in the flight but at the gate. A colleague and I were sitting at the gate to be boarded and he just fell asleep while sitting up and started snoring. It wasn’t too loud but still felt little weird.

  34. @Colpuck – you obviously don’t know Lucky. He’s nothing like a DYKWIA…at all.

    Maybe you’re not collecting as many of those bump vouchers anymore, so you bitch here instead?

  35. As snug said above, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a first world problem. Once while on a backpacking trip, I ran into a similar situation in an 8-person room at a Prague hostel. Like myself, the offender was on a top bunk. I’m not sure a jackhammer outside would have been louder than this guy. Trying to avoid conflict, I managed to quiet him down for a few seconds by throwing a few small objects at him from across the room across the room. Eventually the person below him woke up rather aggressively and explained how unbearable it was. Surprisingly, the guy politely took his stuff and slept on a couch in the common area. I guess none of this is really an option on a plane though.

  36. First off, @Colpuck: Agree with others. You don’t know and clearly don’t get Lucky if you think he’s an elitist.

    @Lucky: I have ZERO problem speaking to people who are disrupting the peace or quality of a cabin – F, C, or Y. Once on the upper deck of a 747 LAX-SYD, I had to tell a mid-teens boy in front of me, seated with his mother, that he needed to put his shoes back on, or change his socks and wash his feet. this was at the gate, before the doors were even closed. The smell was so bad, it would have made people sick. Moreover, that upper deck is my refuge – the first part of my vacation. I’ll be damned if someone with bad hygiene is ruining it. Of course I was polite, first approaching his mother and speaking about him the 3rd person. And the discussion was very quiet. It would have appeared to anyone else that we were friends having a chat. And to their credit, he and his mother were both very apologetic and thanked me for bringing it to their attention. Same thing goes for snorers. I have no problem telling people that they’re snoring, and I hope people would do the same for me. I’d hate to think that I was disrupting someone’s peace and quiet. People clipping finger or toenails on the plane? WATCH OUT! In the C and F cabins of a long flight, where people have paid dearly for their environment – either with cash or miles – people deserve peace. I’m not ignoring Y – disruption is disruption I can see why FAs might be reticent to say something, but passengers certainly can.

  37. I think some people are missing the point of “first world problems.” The fact that someone is snoring bothers you, regardless of where you are traveling, makes it a first world problem. If snoring is what troubles you, clearly you don’t have other things to worry about….like food and shelter and living another day. Snoring occurs all over the world 🙂

  38. I was awoken once by a very sharp kick on my seat and there was a flight attendant standing behind me purporting to do something or other. I assumed she had kicked my seat accidentally. Later in the flight another passenger woke me and said I had been snoring. Worried it might happen again, I just stayed up. Only later did it occur to me that the fa had likely kicked my chair earlier in the flight. Though it hasn’t happened to me since, I thought that was kind of unprofessional — a shoulder tap is fine.

  39. “Accidental” swift kick or a pin-stick. Rude and crude, but better than eight hours of machine noise.

  40. On the new regional business class on SQ from Beijing to Singapore, there was this guy that kept me awake for such a stupid amount of time. Firstly, he dozed off while resting his head on his left arm (which was placed on the devider between our two seats.) When he dozed off, his head suddenly came down onto the devider. That narrowly missed my drink! Thats not the worst bit. Two hours into the flight, after meal service he started fiddling with the locks for the storage spaces. The noise he made was just unbearable. I was just trying to get some rest. After that, I think he was watching a comedy or something. He kept on laughing and even worse, slaming his hand on the devider out of sheer enjoyment. I got so angry that I got up and switched seats.

  41. I am “that guy”. Severe sleep apnea. I snore like a banshee. And “breathe right” strips are useless. I use a CPAP at home which completely stops the snoring, but the airlines make it so difficult to use on the planes that I don’t even try anymore. I put blankets and pillows over my head to try to block out the noise as best as I can, but it doesn’t always work too well. I feel bad for my nearby passengers, but there’s not much I can do and I have to get to my destination.

    I once fell asleep in domestic coach aisle, and when I woke up the little girl sitting in the window seat was staring at me with her mouth wide open-it was either a look of astonishment, or terror….

  42. Hence why I always have half an Ambien or a whole pill at the ready on long-haul overnight flights. Usually I have trouble falling asleep (rather than staying asleep), and half an Ambien makes that happen without giving me a morning hangover.

    Oh, and champagne. Preferably 2002 Dom.

  43. I am an occasional snorer and I usually do not snore if I sleep on my side at home but it is impossible to sleep on the side on the semi-recline or lie flat seat in some business class and first class so I avoid long oversea trips. I had laser surgery, and used many other devices in the market but they didn’t work, I couldn’t used a CAPP so snroing is incurable.

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