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Review: Lufthansa business class, Hamburg to Frankfurt

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This is my review of Lufthansa’s short haul business class on a flight from Hamburg to Frankurt, and my review of the Lufthansa lounge in Hamburg.

After checking out of the Radisson, I took the 45 second walk back over to the main terminal in Hamburg for my Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, and then on to New York.

Despite having family in Germany, we always fly with BA if possible, using Reward Flight Saver redemptions. 18,000 Avios plus £40 tax for Club Europe is a modest improvement on Lufthansa’s 45,000 miles (yes, that is not a typo) plus £130 taxes for business class London to Hamburg!

Come June, Lufthansa won’t even fly London to Hamburg as all European LH flights which do not go via Frankfurt or Munich are being transferred to low-cost carrier Germanwings.

It is therefore a couple of years since I last did Lufthansa short haul business class.

This flight (Hamburg to New York, via Frankfurt, one way) was 85,000 Miles & More miles plus £210 or so of taxes. This is not, by a long way, the world’s greatest deal in terms of miles required. However, in terms of the quality of the LH First Class product and the fact that I would have a few hours to spend in the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, it was worth the splurge.

The first thing to note is that LH lounges, except First Class ones, are dire. Hamburg, to be fair, is not a LH hub, so you should really compare it to BA’s Manchester lounge, for example. However, the grey decor and rows of black chairs do not raise the spirits at 7am on a Sunday. The breakfast selection was very poor, and I was hugely grateful that the Radisson had upgraded me and thrown in a free breakfast.

On board the Airbus 319 for the short hop to Frankfurt, things did not improve. Lufthansa uses ‘space saver’ seating, with narrower and harder seats than you normally find. BA also has a few short haul planes like this, but you can normally avoid them. Pitch is not great, and I forced to move from my usual Row 2 position into Row 1 to get some legroom.

The seats in business class are also no wider than those in economy, unlike BA. Again, the grey colour scheme does not improve your mood.

And then breakfast arrived. This is a business class breakfast, remember. I shall say nothing, except that I was again eternally grateful to the Radisson for that upgrade!

I arrived promptly into Frankfurt after a very uneventful 45 minutes. Now, if I had flown from London, the plane would have parked on a remote stand and passengers would have been bussed to the terminal to undergo passport checks. Except for me, who would have had a private car sent out onto the tarmac to whisk me to the sanctuary of the First Class Lounge!

However, as this was a domestic flight, we parked at a gate and I left the plane with no fanfare at all! I should have headed for the First Class Lounge, but as I had a few hours I decide to exit Terminal A and walk over to the dedicated First Class Terminal ….

Comments (16)

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  • Alan says:

    Look forward to reading more of this trip report 🙂 I was meant to check out the FRA FCT in December 2010 on a bmi redemption, but the snowstorms put paid to that – although on the upside they rebooked me onto BA paid F LHR-JFK instead, so it wasn’t all bad 😉

    LH lounges are certainly a bit soulless, but I wouldn’t go as far as dire – surely that has to be reserved for almost all domestic lounges in the USA? 😛

    RFS is a major benefit to BAEC, although I must admit I tend to go for the economy option at half the Avios and £30 – although I almost always go in C on long haul I just don’t see the benefit on sub-3h flights based on the premium required (when you’ll get into the lounge and get exit row seats anyway with BA Gold)

  • Gabbai says:

    I travel frequently within Europe and have learned that it is never worth paying the exorbitant premium for Business Class and hardly ever worth wasting miles on this product. The seats are usually the same and the free seat next to you doesn’t justifies the price in miles or money for short flights. My status with a couple of European carriers often gets me upgraded or at worst a decent seat. As the catering on short flights is never anything to write home about, there is never going to be anything great in that department anyway.Unless you have a long lay over it is hardly ever even worth trudging to a lounge as most of them are pretty awful.

    • Raffles says:

      If you have a sub 2 year old, as we do, the economics moves a bit.

      With Club Europe, you effectively get a ‘free’ seat for an infant because you can put them in the empty middle seat.

      Since you don’t really want the worlds tallest 20 month old on your lap for 2 hours, we need to do this or otherwise get a 4th economy seat.

      Trade off is therefore 4x9k or 3x18k, so effectively just a 50 per cent premium when we all travel. Heathrow to Hamburg was also horrendous in Y on Saturday with, I think, under 5 free seats in the whole cabin.

      Up front, it was a third full.

      • Alan says:

        Agree that definitely makes the economics work a bit better – for 1-2 adults themselves though I still don’t think it’s really worth paying double the Avios.

        • Raffles says:

          If you have no BA status, I do think that booking the outbound in Club Europe is worth the extra, as long as you arrive early enough to spend some time in the lounge. Some of the outstation lounges aren’t worth it but the Heathrow ones are.

          • Gabbai says:

            I would say if you “have to arrive early”. In my opinion it is never worth upgrading with money or points just to get into a lounge. If you are stuck in Heathrow Terminal 5 then having BA [or an affiliate] status or upgrading is the only way to get into a lounge. At other airports if you are that desperate and have no other way of getting in, pay the fee; it will be a fraction of the extra for the privilege of sitting in Business Class on the same type of seat as those behind the curtain! It really is not worth blowing points on this. The calculation if you have an under 2 year old with you is quite different. Please let me know in advance when he or she is travelling though so that I can take an earlier or later flight!

          • Raffles says:

            In general, my kids are a huge amount of fun on planes! Obviously it depends on whether you find a 2 year old coming up to you with a big smile, saying Hello and seeing what you are doing on your ipad to be ‘fun’, but they are generally harmless …

            Not sure I agree with you, though. For 4,500 Avios (worth about 30-40 quid) you can have priority bag drop, fast track security (and if you’d seen Heathrow on Saturday, it being half term, you would have begged for that), lounge access with plenty of food and booze, over 10 quid of newspapers and magazines taken away, a guaranteed free middle seat on board (again, my flight on Saturday was 95% full in economy and 33% full in business), priority boarding, all the champagne you can drink onboard plus whatever BA is trying to pass off as food that day. Seems 4,500 well spent to me.

            Obviously it depends on how many you have and what else you want them for, but with no status I think the ‘bang per buck’ is pretty high.

          • Gabbai says:

            Depends on your traveler profile. I’m sure your kids are great but an under 2 year old can throw an unexpected tantrum and I don’t enjoy that in the confines of a plane.

            I almost never travel with checked baggage on intra Europe flights so the priority bag drop isn’t relevant. I don’t find that stuffing myself with food and drink is conducive to a good flying experience, although I do it now and again when I have time to kill. Sounds like Fast track security was well worth it when you flew but I have never been really stuck at T5. My BA status lets me on the plane early anyway.

            BTW I have hundreds of thousands of BA miles so spending an extra 4,500, or indeed saving them, is not part of the calculation. For me, there is just no real value in the extra layout.

          • Alan says:

            Agree with Gabbai – I’ve got plenty of Avios but in the presence of BA G status I don’t find it worth the extra for CE. Remember for further afield in Europe the double Avios cost also starts to mount.

            I’ve also found that the extra reward availability in Economy with BA G oftens enables you to travel on a flight that you wouldn’t otherwise manage to get a seat in (even in CE).

            For non-status pax there are more benefits, although when not departing from London you always have the fun on the return journey of whether you’ll be let into the lounge or not. The rules are clear – you’re on a CE ticket therefore you’re entitled to access on the domestic leg, however due to the way it’s booked into the BA system for RFS tickets this doesn’t always seem clear to the lounge staff. My parents were hit with this when they’d use extra Avios for a CE ticket – thankfully BA kindly gave them a large chunk of Avios by way of compensation!

          • Ryan says:

            Just out of curiosity Alan, how many Avios did they get back as means of compensation for this error?

          • Alan says:

            @Ryan around 7.5k each IIRC.

  • onlysuites says:

    I got to say I agree with both the posts above. CE and European Business is nothing that special at all. I prefer to fly In economy for all short hauls.

    Going to LCA and really considering if the dire CE is worthy of an upgrade.

  • Ryan says:

    I personally think the CE price is pretty good at 9,000, for all the extras included. Also the main thing for me is much better availability. I often book last minute, and pretty much everytime economy has no availability where as business always does.

    Last time at Heathrow T5 I managed to take a shower whilst waiting for my connection, I felt much better and more relaxed.

    Yes the business class lounge there is pretty busy, but in comparison to the main concourse it’s worlds apart.

    • Gabbai says:

      Interesting. I also often book last minute and have never found availability in Business when there has not been a seat in Economy. [Mainly ZRH; VIE; PRG] If I needed it I wouldn’t hesitate to redeem the extra miles and pay the higher co-pay. I take the lay over time into account when deciding what to redeem for but absent that or any of the other great reasons given for taking a Business award, I still don’t think it is worth it!

      • Ryan says:

        I think it might be that I usually connect though LHR en route to EDI or vice versa. Certainly on these flight I can usually only find availability in CE albeit last minute.

  • Zoe B says:

    I have teenage daughters and recently used my first Club World redemption for my honeymoon to Barbados. For the overnight return sector we carefully picked a middle pair of seats as far away as possible from the bassinets. Unfortunately the couple behind us had a baby of about one who was fine for the meal service but cried from when the lights went down until about half an hour before they came back on for breakfast. Clearly my children were once babies but hours of crying was very frustrating especially as I’d expected to finally fall asleep on a plane. I wish when choosing our seats we had known who had reserved the other seats then we would have had our expectations managed.

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