This was the outbound leg of a long journey to Cape Town, South Africa, to see reviews of other flights I enjoyed on this trip with South African Airways and EVA Airways, click here.
Seattle (SEA) - Frankfurt (FRA)
Monday, November 6th
Arrive 8:35am (+1 day)
Duration 9hr 42 min & 5092 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 747-8 intercontinental
Seat: 3A First Class
Points redeemed for this direction of travel (Continental US to Africa via Frankfurt): 80,000 United miles, with a majority of them being transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards
Points accrued primarily from spending and signup bonuses on the following credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Freedom
- Chase MileagePlus Explorer Card
I checked in at the business class check-in and was given boarding passes for the first two of my three legs. I headed to the Amex centurion lounge at SEA as Lufthansa sends their premium passengers to "The Club at SEA," which reminds me of the lounge in a college dorm building. Cramped, worn out furniture and a food selection consisting mostly of top ramen. Here are a few photos of the business lounge at Frankfurt.
First, let me explain what seasoned Lufthansa fans may be wondering, how did you fly first for 80k united miles? Well the truth is I didn't. This was an extremely well timed business class booking. Up until November 6th, Lufthansa had been sending a 747-400 to Seattle a plane without a first class cabin, but starting on my departure date, they began using the 747-8, which has a first class cabin. When I noticed this during my searches for award availability, I made a dummy booking on the LH site in business class with money and it allowed me to select a first class seat, I figured the same would be true with points and that turned out to be correct.
So ultimately this was a business class service, but with the comfort of a first class seat.
I left the lounge and headed to the gate around 1:15 and boarded within a few minutes of arrival. I was the first into the cabin and it was gorgeous, they've really done an amazing job designing the space and the seats are incredible. I stowed a few of my things in my personal closet (pretty cool), and didn't need to use the overhead bin as there is a tremendous amount of storage built into the first class suite.
Storage: As I mentioned, there's a ton of storage in this seat. Two cubbies on the left can fit laptops, head phones, chargers, tablets, and cords. The ottoman is the perfect place to stow bedding, shoes, and misc. larger items, and there's a nice pocket for magazines, etc., next to your legs. The closet is really awesome if you're seated in row 3, because you can actually reach it while seated (those in other seats would need to get up or have a flight attendant bring them their things).
Seat: As expected of a first class seat, it's even wider than the seats you'd find in most business classes. In the lie flat position, I find the head rest of many premium cabin seats to be uncomfortable as it ends up laying above the normal plane of the flat seat, but on this seat, that was not the case and the pillow they provided was very soft and comfortable. There were two sets of 110V plugs and a USB port so power is no concern. The controls on the right arm rest change the seating position and the controls on the left arm rest are for the entertainment, on top of that, there's a remote in the left arm rest that offers a few more options for the entertainment as well as light and call buttons. Finally, a partition could be raised and lowered on the aisle side of the seat that provided some added privacy while sleeping or as wanted.
As you'd expect during a business class service, the amenity kit was pretty standard, consisting of your typical lotion, chapstick, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, eye mask and ear plugs.
Comfort: Given this was a first class seat and I paid for business class, it was pretty hard to not be exceedingly thrilled with this seat. The ottoman slides forward and back, there is a massage function, the arm rests are covered in soft leather and well padded, it was a plush space, to be sure. With that being said, when it came time to sleep, I wasn't quite as comfortable as I had expected. The seat was plenty long, but during first class service, they place a mattress on the seat and they didn't do that on this flight, which I assume would make a significant difference. With that being said, it was still the best 6 hours of sleep I've ever had on a plane, but it did seem like the mattress would make a world of difference.
The Meal Service: The flight attendants were excellent and service on this flight was some of the best that I can remember. I really enjoyed all of the food and thought the presentation was great.
Final Thoughts: Lufthansa's current use of the 748 out of Seattle is an opportunity to take advantage of a great deal, paying business class, but sitting in first. This entire flight, despite the missing first class rose, upgraded alcohol, bedding, and service, I couldn't help but feel like this was an absolute steal. If you're a west coast based flyer looking to redeem points for a trip to Europe or beyond and can connect through Seattle, it's hard to imagine a more comfortable way to do it for the price.
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