Last month I had the chance to fly round-trip from Los Angeles to Frankfurt in Lufthansa’s Premium Economy product. I previewed the flights already, but here is the full review of the outbound flight. My inbound flight review is here.
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Lufthansa Premium Economy is Much Better on a Daytime Flight
Lufthansa does not have a special check-in line at LAX for premium economy passengers, but as a Star Alliance Gold flyer (United Premier Gold status), I was able to check-in using the first class line.
As a Star Alliance Gold flyer, I also had access to the Star Alliance Lounge in the Tom Bradly International Terminal prior to the flight. I spent a few minutes on the patio, which always seems to be empty.
Boarding began on time, 45 minutes prior to the flight.
Los Angeles (LAX) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Depart: 03:20 PM
Arrive: 11:20 AM+1
Duration: 11hr, 00min
Seat: 56G (Premium Economy Class)
Premium Economy is in the front of the lower deck of the A380. Seats are configured 2-4-2. I was one of the first aboard and found my seat in the last row of the cabin. The reason for my seat choice was very strategic: I figured that choosing an aisle seat in the last row of the cabin would maximize my chances of an open middle seat. Indeed, my gamble paid off and the two middle seats in my row stayed empty.
Lufthansa Premium Economy Class Seat
The seat is certainly roomier than a standard economy class seat. The center console between seats provides nice drink storage and both the seat width and recline are better than standard economy class.
Still, this is not like a retro or domestic business class product. Nope, this is still very much an economy class seat. I was unable to sleep on the overnight journey one wink, though part of that may have been the 3:20p departure time.
In between seat backs is a built-in water bottle holder that was pre-stocked with bottles of water. Annoying movable metal footrests are present that do not provide much comfort but do constrain legroom even in the up position.
Power is available in each seat and the setback IFE screen has a USB port for mobile phone charging.
Lufthansa Premium Economy Amenity Kit
An amenity kit with basic contents was already sitting on every seat. The bag does not have any Lufthansa branding on it, so I did not even take it with me. Contents included socks, an eyeshade, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a moist towelette.
Lufthansa Premium Economy Pillow and Blanket
The pillow and blanket were definitely a step above what is common in economy class. I never used the pillow during the flight, but the blanket kept me warm during the night as I was working.
Lufthansa Premium Economy Service
Service was very much like business class on Lufthansa. That is to say, courteous, friendly, but not overly engaging. One FA ended up yelling at a passenger from his jumpseat for getting up just moments after takeoff, but I’m not sure what else a FA can do under the circumstances.
I already wrote about my very positive interaction with the purser and really hope to fly with Hedwig again. If you did not catch the story, a couple passengers in business class complained that wi-fi was not working, but the purser noticed I had no trouble using it. She gently asked me to come upstairs to help the two ladies and I was able to successfully get both of them connected to the internet. She treated me like a first class passenger for the rest of the flight.
Lufthansa Premium Economy Dining
Dining in premium economy is a hybrid between business and economy class: economy class meals on business class dishes.
Prior to takeoff, a pre-departure beverage of fresh-squeezed orange was offered in a plastic cup.
Service began with crackers and choice of beverage after takeoff. A moist towelette was also offered.
Here’s the menu for my flight:
Feeling protein-deprived, I ordered the beef stew. It came with a green salad, bread, and brownie. No complaints about the meal. I know it doesn’t look wonderful, but it was nicely flavored and satisfying…
…satisfying for an hour at least. I don’t quite know why, but I was soon very hungry. FAs set up a mid-flight snack area in the galley behind the cabin that included crackers, chocolate cookies, and beverages:
I ended up eating a lot of crackers…
About 90 minutes prior to landing breakfast was served, and it could not have come sooner. The omelet was quite nice, though again a fairly small meal.
No fresh orange juice for breakfast. Prior to landing, mints and chocolate were offered:
Lufthansa Premium Economy Wi-Fi and IFE
I like Lufthansa’s IFE system. While not as aesthetically pleasing as the systems on some airlines, it is fast and easy to navigate. Plus, there was a very good selection of films, audio, and TV from around the world. Even live TV was available: I was able to watch highlights of the final French presidential debate between Marie Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron.
I recommend you bring your own headphones, as the headphones provided are terribly uncomfortable and of poor quality.
Wi-Fi on Lufthansa is reasonably priced (17EUR for a flight pass) and worked well throughout the outbound journey.
We landed on time to a beautifully cool but sunny day in Frankfurt. Unfortunately, the tail and underbelly cameras do not have great resolution like on the A350.
Lufthansa Premium Economy Lavatory
Two lavatories are available in the rear of the cabin (shared with economy class) and two in the front, so there were more than enough bathrooms for everyone. Drinking a lot of water, I used the lavatory several times during the flight and it was always very clean.
Lufthansa Premium Economy is not for sleeping: at least that was my experience. It’s a good thing I do not require much sleep, because I walked into a meeting just 90 minutes after landing. I don’t think premium economy is an adequate substitute to business class. It is indeed cheaper, but for good reason: it’s just economy class with more legroom and recline. That said, I enjoyed the consistently dependable Lufthansa service and appreciated the extra room to stretch out. It’s not that I don’t recommend it, I just didn’t find it all that helpful considering I need a flat bed to sleep.