Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Keri Stooksbury
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Airline: Lufthansa (LH)
Aircraft: Airbus A340-600
Flight #: LH430
Route: Frankfurt Airport (FRA) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Date: January 20, 2024
Duration: 8 hours, 45 minutes
Cabin and Layout: First class, 8 seats, 1-2-1 configuration
Cost: 79,300 Avianca LifeMiles or from $8,543 cash
Lufthansa is one of the world’s biggest and most reputable airlines. Known among frequent flyer circles for its extensive route network and first class product, Lufthansa has a lot to offer travelers.
Having recently flown some of the world’s best first class cabins on airlines such as Etihad Airways, All Nippon Airways, and Japan Airlines, I also wanted to give Lufthansa a shot.
Let’s look at how I booked this first class award ticket and the ground experience, including the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and the Porsche transfer to and from the plane. I will also cover the flight experience, including check-in, the inflight service, the numerous amenities, the cabin, and the seat itself — continue reading to follow along!
With Lufthansa being part of Star Alliance, there are several different programs you can utilize for Lufthansa first class awards. Of course, you can use Lufthansa’s Miles & More program, however, you can also use other options such as Air Canada Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles, and United MileagePlus.
I decided to go with Avianca as the LifeMiles program has some of the best rates for partner award redemptions across Star Alliance.
Unlike most programs that release award space to partner airlines up to a year in advance, Lufthansa only does so 15 days before departure. This means you must have lots of flexibility in your schedule. Fortunately, I had plenty of flexibility as I did not book a return ticket to the U.S. in hopes of finally experiencing Lufthansa first class.
One of the best parts of the Avianca LifeMiles program is the numerous sweet spots on the program’s award chart. According to its convoluted award chart, a one-way first class award between Europe and the continental U.S. can be booked for just 87,000 LifeMiles plus taxes and fees.
Avianca does not pass on fuel surcharges on award tickets, so you can expect to pay around $120 in taxes and fees.Hot Tip:
Avianca LifeMiles can be extremely useful, especially on partner airlines. Check out our guide on the best ways to redeem Avianca LifeMiles for maximum value.
However, the LifeMiles program has an incredible pricing quirk in the form of mixed-cabin awards. Mixed-cabin awards often arise when traveling in long-haul international business or first class. This often happens when airlines don’t offer first class on shorter routes, which, in turn, requires passengers to connect in business or economy class.
Regarding most other programs, pricing is generally based on the highest class of service you’re flying. If you were flying first class, your business class or economy connection would also be priced in first class.
Fortunately, Avianca does it a bit differently. Avianca prices each leg of a journey separately based on the class of service booked.
For example, I started this journey in Barcelona. To take full advantage of Avianca’s pricing, I booked the Barcelona to Frankfurt leg in economy. If I were to fly nonstop from Frankfurt to Chicago in Lufthansa first class, I would have paid 87,000 LifeMiles. However, since I added the short-haul Barcelona to Frankfurt leg in economy, I saved 7,700 LifeMiles.
Although the LifeMiles search engine may not be the best, I found award availability easily. Since I didn’t have the miles needed for this redemption, I had to transfer points to LifeMiles.
Avianca LifeMiles is a transfer partner of several transferable points programs, including American Express Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. All programs, except Marriott Bonvoy, transfer to LifeMiles at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to LifeMiles at a 3:1 ratio.
After transferring some miles over from Capital One, which transferred instantly, I booked the award ticket. The redemption came to 79,300 LifeMiles and $123.20 in taxes and fees. This also included the LifeMiles partner award booking fee.
If I’d paid cash, the one-way first class fare from Frankfurt to Chicago would have set me back €7,846 (~$8,543).
Since I used 79,300 Avianca LifeMiles for this one-way award, I got an astounding 10.7 cents per mile in value! This is significantly higher than our valuation of Avianca LifeMiles at 1.4 cents each.
I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve® to pay the taxes and fees for this award ticket, which totaled just under $124. Thanks to its extensive travel insurance and protections, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is my go-to card for travel.
After spending a wonderful few days in Barcelona, it was time to return to Chicago. Getting to the Barcelona-El Prat Airport is easy as the airport is well-connected to the city of Barcelona. From the Barcelona-Sants train station, I caught the Rodalies de Catalunya train that terminates at Terminal 2 at the Barcelona-El Prat Airport.
Once I arrived at the airport, I needed to take the free Barcelona Airport Shuttle Bus, which offers service between Terminals 1 and 2. Lufthansa operates out of Terminal 1 at Barcelona-El Prat Airport.
Since I couldn’t check in online, I had to stop by at the check-in counter. Fortunately, Lufthansa had a separate check-in counter for first class passengers. Although the flight from Barcelona to Frankfurt was in economy, the check-in agent allowed me to use the first class counter since she was not assisting anyone else at the time.
Check-in took about 5 minutes as the Lufthansa agent needed to verify some details with my passport. After clearing up the minor issue, I was given my boarding passes for both flights.
I was also given lounge access as part of my ticket. Since Lufthansa does not have a first class lounge in Barcelona, I was directed to the Sala VIP Pau Casals lounge, which is part of the Priority Pass network. However, since there were only about 20 minutes before boarding, I decided to head straight to the gate.
Once I arrived at the gate, I could spot the Airbus A321 that would take me to Frankfurt.
Boarding started shortly after the scheduled time. There was a separate priority boarding line for those traveling in first or business class and those with Star Alliance Gold status.
Since the first flight was a relatively short leg in economy, I won’t go too much into detail. The flight was smooth, and we arrived in Frankfurt slightly behind schedule. But this was where the where the real fun began.
After taxiing for a few minutes, the plane was parked on the tarmac, which is common for many flights within Europe. A bus was ready to take passengers to the terminal.
However, an incredible surprise awaited me: the Lufthansa first class limousine service in the form of a Porsche Cayenne.
The driver scanned my boarding pass and gave me a few minutes to take some pictures of this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Best of all, I was the only person on the flight from Barcelona with an onward first class ticket.
According to Lufthansa, passengers on a European flight arriving at a non-gate position are given this transfer service provided they are continuing their journey in Lufthansa first class on the same day.
As far as ground transfers go, having a Porsche pick you up and drive you around felt like the epitome of luxury. Although the ride was less than 5 minutes long, it was an incredible experience. Perks like the limousine transfer service make these experiences feel that much more premium. I was thoroughly impressed and couldn’t wait to do that all over again.
Although I could not be driven directly to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal (as it is not connected to the main airport terminal), I was dropped off near baggage claim. It was a short 5-minute walk over to the First Class Terminal.
The Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is an experience in and of itself. The First Class Terminal building is separated from the rest of the airport terminal and has its own security checkpoint and immigration procedures. This exclusive benefit allows you to completely skip the formalities of everyday air travel.
Getting to the terminal on foot is fairly easy as well. When leaving the airport, turn left and walk for about 3 minutes past the taxi queue. You’ll see a sign outside the terminal building, and you can enter from the ground level.
Once I entered the First Class Terminal building, I took the elevator up 1 floor. I was greeted by a welcoming Lufthansa staff member who proceeded to check my passport and boarding pass. I cleared security (which took less than a minute) and was allowed to enter the First Class Terminal.
However, I was quickly given some bad news. There was an aircraft swap for my flight to Chicago: the Airbus A340-600 was being swapped out for an Airbus A340-300, which does not feature a first class cabin. Bummer.
The staff member was apologetic and gave me 2 options: either continue on the flight and be downgraded to business class (with some mileage and cash compensation) or fly to Chicago in first class the next morning, as that was the last nonstop flight to Chicago for the day.
Since I wanted to experience Lufthansa first class, I decided to take the flight the following morning. The friendly Lufthansa staff member gave me a quick tour of the lounge and directed me to the First Class Terminal restaurant.
Within a few minutes, the staff member returned with my passport, my newly printed boarding pass, and a hotel voucher for the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel.
She also mentioned that I could stay at the First Class Terminal until closing time at 9 p.m. Since I now had a few hours to kill, I decided to have lunch and possibly even dinner at the First Class Terminal restaurant.
In addition to all my documents, the staff member brought me one of the famous Lufthansa first class rubber ducks.
Before sitting down and deciding what to eat, I walked around the lounge to see the layout. The lounge featured open-layout seating options broken down into several seating areas.
Each seating area featured a variety of options, including leather recliners, full sofas, couches, and armchairs. There were several divided areas where not a single seat was being used.
Although it was a Friday evening, the lounge was relatively quiet. There were no more than 15 passengers at any given time in the entire First Class Terminal.
After walking around for a bit, I headed to the restaurant seating area. The restaurant featured seating for about 20 people.
The First Class Terminal restaurant offered an extensive food selection featuring a buffet and an à la carte menu. The buffet featured meats, salads, and a variety of cheese and bread.
The lounge also offered several salads, ranging from prawn and quinoa to beetroot.
The à la carte menu had a limited selection, offering just 1 salad, a few main courses, and a few desserts. However, I decided to give a few menu items a try.
From the à la carte menu, I ordered the beef fillet burger with truffle cream, tomato arugula, and a brioche bun. The burger was cooked well and was delicious, and the truffle cream was the cherry on top.
I also ordered the salmon filet, accompanied by creamy Champagne cabbage and buttered potatoes. The salmon was prepared to perfection and had the right amount of lemon bitterness.
There was also a wide selection of fine wines available. As someone who knows nothing about wines, I did not partake. Still, having such a huge selection is excellent — especially for someone who loves wine!
After my late lunch, I headed over to the bar to see the different offerings. I was the only person at the bar for over 30 minutes. This made the entire experience feel much more exclusive.
The lounge bar was fully stocked and featured nearly every bottle of liquor you could think of.
The First Class Terminal also featured a cigar lounge, providing an area to smoke indoors, though I didn’t see anyone use it.
There was a nook containing several different newspapers and magazines in both English and German. There was also a world clock that displayed the current times of some of the biggest cities in the world, such as Hong Kong, New York City, Sydney, and Tokyo.
The Lufthansa First Class Terminal is truly a one-of-a-kind lounge experience. The fact that you’re completely separated from the main terminal is hard to believe. I can’t wait to come back and experience it again.
There was plenty of space to relax, and it wasn’t too crowded for the few hours I was there. And the food tasted like it came from a high-end restaurant.
However, the First Class Terminal has 1 notable drawback: no views of the airport. This is a major drawback in my book, as planespotting is one of my favorite activities at any airport lounge with a view. Unfortunately, the First Class Terminal faces the roads driving up to the airport terminal, so there are no views of any planes.
After an uneventful night at the Sheraton, I decided to head to the first class lounge within the airport terminal instead of returning to the First Class Terminal.
The first class lounge I visited was in Concourse B, near gate B22. The lounge can only be reached after clearing security and passport control (non-Schengen). This differs from the First Class Terminal where all formalities, including security and immigration, are handled in a private area.
Although the First Class Terminal is more private due to being separate from the airport terminal, the Concourse B first class lounge was also great thanks to the views it offered. The lounge was also relatively empty — I counted no more than 10 people at a time throughout the 3 hours I spent there.
Unlike the First Class Terminal, the Concourse B first class lounge offered incredible views.
I could spot this Lufthansa 747-400 pulling into a nearby gate.
I was also able to see this A321neo push back from the gate.
After planespotting for a good 30 minutes, I decided to have a quick breakfast before the flight. This lounge featured a breakfast buffet and an á la carte menu.
I ordered an omelet with grilled salmon, mushrooms, tomatoes, and avocado from the menu. I also ordered an iced tea.
There were plenty of offerings, but I was trying to keep myself from overindulging as I wanted to try everything on my flight.
The staff at the lounge were also excellent. They were attentive and continuously checked up on me to see if I needed anything. I was approached every 20 minutes by a staff member to see if I wanted another drink or a refill. Overall, the staff went above and beyond with its service.
A staff member in the lounge notified me that boarding for my flight had begun around 10 a.m. and that the driver was ready to chauffeur me to the plane. After a few minutes of getting my belongings together, we were ready to head down.
The Porsche was waiting just below the lounge in a loading area. Like the pick-up the day before, I’d be chauffeured by a Porsche Cayenne to the A340-600 that would take me to Chicago. However, unlike the day before, I was not alone this time — there was another first class passenger on this flight to Chicago.
Driving across the apron is one of the best parts of the entire Lufthansa first class experience.
After just a few minutes in the Porsche, we arrived at the majestic A340-600.
The premium first class ground experience should not be missed when flying Lufthansa first class. Although I’d read about the transfer service many times, finally getting to experience it was truly special. As an avid aviation enthusiast, I thoroughly enjoyed the unique opportunity to be driven between the parked aircraft.
Being able to bypass the chaos of a boarding gate and pulling up right next to the plane was the ultimate convenience. After taking a few pics and collecting my belongings, we headed inside, took an elevator up to the jet bridge, and walked directly onto the plane.
Now comes the best part of the entire journey: the flight itself.
After being driven to the gate, I walked on the jetbridge through door 1, which was only for first class passengers. I was greeted by the purser, who promptly welcomed me and asked if I needed any assistance with my baggage.
I quickly put my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment and began to examine the seat and cabin. The Lufthansa A340-600 first class cabin contained 8 seats in total, spread across 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration, which ensures that each passenger has direct aisle access.
This is a major step up from the majority of Lufthansa’s business class cabins — many of them sport an outdated 2-2-2 configuration, meaning that passengers with window seats would need to step over another passenger to get to the aisle.
There was plenty of space, with just 8 seats in the entire cabin. The fact that there were no overhead bins in the center made the cabin feel even more spacious. Best of all, a large “Lufthansa First Class” sign on the bulkhead reminded me exactly where I was.
In this spacious configuration, seats A and K are the window seats on each side, while D and G are the middle seats.
Since I was moved to this flight just a day before, I was assigned to 1G, the last available seat. Although the seat was relatively close to the first class galley and the right-side lavatory, disruptions and noise were minimal.
As soon as I sat down, I started looking at everything the seat had to offer. Although the the Lufthansa first class seats and cabin look outdated, they are spacious and rather comfortable.
The IFE screen was a “normal” size, but the distance from the seat made it feel much smaller. It felt like a screen more suited for business class where it would be positioned 1 or 2 feet away from the seat.
With the privacy dividers up, I could not see the passenger sitting directly across the aisle from me, which helped a ton with privacy.
There is an even larger privacy divider for those in the middle seats, which may be appreciated by those traveling alone in a middle seat.
The seat featured an ottoman to stretch your feet. It could also be opened and used as a storage compartment.
On the right armrest, you can find several controls for seat adjustment. You could adjust the headrest, move the ottoman away from or towards you, extend the legrest, extend the seat forward, and adjust the seat height.
Meanwhile, on the left armrest were buttons to play or pause the IFE, call the flight attendant, and turn on the overhead light. The remote control for the IFE was also in this armrest.
The remote control felt a bit basic, but it was simple to use. However, the user interface was slow to respond. Fortunately, I didn’t use the inflight entertainment much.
Below the left armrest were 2 USB-A ports and 2 power outlets. I found these placed in a terrible position and incredibly difficult to reach.
Due to my MacBook’s heavy power brick, I could not get it to stay in place, so I could not charge my laptop for the duration of the flight. Fortunately, it was fully charged before I boarded and lasted the entire flight.
The seat also featured a large, heavy sliding tray table that could be pulled out from the center armrest. It was able to slide almost the entire length of the seat.
This is what my seat looked like after flight attendants prepared it for a meal service.
Of course, my seat reclined into a fully flat bed. Lufthansa provided a mattress pad that fit perfectly across the seat. The flight attendant set up the bed in less than 2 minutes.
Thanks to the seat’s generous width, there was plenty of space to move around in the bed. The bedding was also surprisingly comfortable, though the pillow was on the softer side, and I had to fold it in half to get more comfortable.
Overall, the Lufthansa first class seat was incredibly spacious and comfortable. Thanks to the privacy dividers on each side of the seat, I spent almost the entire flight without seeing my neighbors. However, it still lacked the level of privacy that more modern first class seats offer.
There was a good amount of storage space, and the seat controls were functional and responsive. The only real complaint I had with the seat was the location of the seat’s USB-A and AC power outlets.
Although the seat looked a bit outdated, it is an excellent product. Lufthansa plans to introduce its new game-changing Allegris first class suites later this year.
For me, the most important part of the flight experience is the food. Having flown Lufthansa business class a few years prior, I was disappointed with the food selection and presentation. I was hoping this experience would be significantly better.
Shortly after boarding, the flight attendant handed me a menu card.
Fortunately, there was a good selection of appetizers and main courses. The menu also included a “during the flight” section, which offered items that could be served whenever requested.
A separate wine and Champagne menu was also provided.
Meal service began shortly after we reached cruising altitude. To start, I chose to have a non-alcoholic beer, which was surprisingly nice.
Shortly after, the flight attendants began the caviar service, which featured all the traditional garnishes. Although the caviar was delicious, I felt the presentation could have been slightly better.
The service also included a piece of toasted bread, which was accompanied by some warm butter, olive oil, and balsamic vinaigrette.
After the caviar service, the flight attendants brought out the appetizers. I decided to try out all of the options, including quail breast with red cabbage, shrimp confit with shellfish broth, pickled kohlrabi with cashews, and lamb’s lettuce with nuts, accompanied by several salad dressings.
Aside from the shrimp confit, I did not find the appetizers to be all that tasty. The salad was particularly bland, even with the different salad dressings.
They also served an incredible spinach cream soup with lobster. There was also a piece of potato and egg yolk in the soup. The lobster was tender and enjoyable.
After the soup was served, it was time for the main course. Although there were several options, I decided to go with the fish.
The meal consisted of pan-fried turbot with crayfish, Fregola Sarda, broccoli, and caviar. The fish was delicious, but I could not eat the Fregola Sarda or broccoli. Both felt soggy and did not taste good at all.
After the mediocre main course, it was time for dessert. At this point, I was full, but I simply couldn’t miss dessert — and I am so thankful I didn’t.
I went with the chocolate mousse with cherry and vanilla for dessert, possibly the best I’ve ever had on a plane.
The dessert was just incredible and the highlight of the entire meal service.
After the meal service, the flight attendants cleared my tray and brought out a box of chocolates.
I chose the marzipan-carré pistachio and almond brittle praline chocolates. Both were incredible, and I was left wanting to try the others. Fortunately, there were a few pieces left over, and the flight attendants allowed me to try a couple more, both of which were delicious!
A few hours after the lunch service, I requested mini teriyaki burgers with beetroot chips from the “during the flight” menu. Honestly, the burger and chips were awful, and I didn’t finish either portion.
I decided to try the fresh seasonal fruit and mixed berries to get my mind off the terrible burgers. The mixed berries were fresh and a great finishing touch on a rather unpleasant dining experience.
Overall, the food was subpar. I have often found Lufthansa’s food underwhelming, and this meal service was no different. Aside from the caviar, the fish, and the dessert, the meal was a major letdown.
Fortunately, the desserts were fantastic. The chocolate mousse and individual pieces of chocolate were the highlights of the meal service. In reality, that is quite a sad thing to say. Lufthansa needs to step up its meal service as I have had better food in economy on airlines such as ANA and Turkish Airlines.
I feel confident saying this was hands down the worst first class meal I’ve ever had. Of course, some of the other long-haul first class products I have flown are known for offering some of the best food in the sky, but I was expecting a lot more for the price.
Fortunately, Lufthansa offers a plethora of amenities for its first class passengers. These include solid inflight entertainment options, an amenity kit, and incredibly comfortable noise-canceling headphones.
Although I did not utilize the IFE much during the flight, following our plane’s flight path was still nice. The screen was a bit small and had a low resolution. However, it did what I asked it to do: keep me occupied from time to time.
Lufthansa also provided some excellent Bose noise-canceling headphones. Although I did not use them much during the flight, I can confidently say that Bose audio quality is fantastic, as I have a pair of my own at home.
Lufthansa also provided an excellent amenity kit. The pouch was a high-quality, see-through material with sturdy zippers. However, I still expected it to be of higher quality as many airlines offer more luxurious amenity kits for passengers in business class.
The amenity kit was well-stocked and featured many travel necessities. These included socks, an eye mask, a dental kit featuring a toothbrush and toothpaste, a hairbrush, ear plugs, and a shoehorn. It also included some high-quality Augustinus Bader products (body cream and face cleanser).
Lufthansa also provided some super comfortable pajamas for first class passengers.
I enjoyed these incredibly comfortable slippers.
Although I only wore the slippers once to go to the lavatory, I found them to be well-padded.
Inflight Wi-Fi was free for first class passengers. It could be accessed via a code provided on a voucher.
Connecting to the Wi-Fi service was easy. All I needed to do was connect to the “Telekom_FlyNet” network and enter the access code on the back of the Wi-Fi voucher.
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi was very slow. I could only use it for some light browsing and social media. I performed multiple speed tests and could never achieve higher than 1.5 Mbps.
You could also purchase a pass for Wi-Fi service. However, with how slow the speeds were, I can’t recommend doing so.
The flight attendants also provided passengers with an inflight shopping magazine. Although nearly everything I wanted was overpriced, some items did catch my eye.
I decided to make some purchases. I started by purchasing a Herpa Lufthansa A380 Model for €49 (~$53).
I also purchased an (overpriced) Steiff Lufthansa Teddy Bear for €34 (~$37).
Lufthansa’s service has been hit or miss for me in the past. Fortunately, the first class service was fantastic. The flight attendants were quick to follow up on any requests, including beverage refills and extra services like making the bed. They also engaged in delightful conversations about a whole range of topics.
The cabin crew was extremely professional and went out of their way to make sure I enjoyed my first class experience. Although Lufthansa may not be known for its service, I found these flight attendants to be wonderful.
We arrived in Chicago about an hour and a half after our originally scheduled arrival time. On top of that, we had a relatively long taxi time of about 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, a passenger had smoked in one of the economy class bathrooms at some point during the flight. U.S. authorities and half a dozen police officers were at the gate to greet us.
The Lufthansa flight attendants made multiple announcements over the intercom that passengers were to remain seated until instructed to do otherwise. We lost an additional 10 minutes after pulling into the gate as they dealt with the unruly passenger.
Shortly after, the flight attendants announced that first class passengers could deplane. I thanked all the flight attendants for their incredible service and attitude and went on my way.
Chicago O’Hare is notorious for having incredibly long immigration lines. Fortunately, having Global Entry allowed me to clear immigration in under 2 minutes. From there, I went straight to the baggage claim area.
Despite the food being overall lousy, I thought my experience with Lufthansa first class was incredible. The flight itself was pretty great; however, the ground experience in Frankfurt — one of the biggest selling points of this product — was especially fun and exceeded all my expectations.
The flight was just under 9 hours long but didn’t feel long enough. We could have been in the air for another few hours, and I would have been even happier.
Receiving multiple rides in a Porsche to be driven to and from planes was unforgettable. The First Class Terminal was an adventure in itself and featured fantastic food and a comfortable place to spend a few hours. Fortunately, I could also check out the Concourse B first class lounge and its views. And to think that all of this was before the flight even happened!
I cannot wait to experience Lufthansa’s first class again, though I’m hoping that the airline will have improved its catering program by then. And even more exciting, Lufthansa has announced that its new first class cabins will be flying soon — hopefully, I’ll find myself trying that product out sooner rather than later and will have the opportunity to compare the new with the old.
Lufthansa offers a first class cabin on its Boeing 747-8s, Airbus A380s, and Airbus A340-600s.
With Lufthansa being part of Star Alliance, you have several partner loyalty programs to choose from. Avianca LifeMiles offers some of the most competitive rates for first class awards. The program does not pass on fuel surcharges.
Some other popular options include Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, Air Canada Aeroplan, and ANA Mileage Club.
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Ehsan is an avid traveler who has traveled to 100 countries, diligently using points and miles to fund his journeys. Currently, he holds 32 active credit cards and earns over a million points and miles annually, primarily using them for luxury hotels and long-haul premium cabins.
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