How I booked
I initially booked award travel on Turkish Airlines back in January for 77k United Mileage Plus points per person. I would have been happy with that itinerary, but Jason was keeping tabs on Lufthansa opening up First Class award availability to partners, and sure enough, they released 2 seats about 24 hours before departure. We canceled/changed the Turkish reservation, which automatically put the points back in our United accounts. We planned for this situation and bought United miles (on sale!) to make sure we had enough points for Lufthansa First, 121k United miles per person.
Our check-in was pretty standard and not exactly a Lufthansa First Class experience per say. Overall, it actually felt very much like a United experience. In addition to our passports, the agent asked for our vaccination cards and the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) that Greece requires for entry. I had filled out this form at the beginning of August, so it still had our Turkish flight information in the arrivals sections, which confused the desk agent but wasn’t a blocker.
The desk agent didn’t have a fragile sticker when I asked him about one and made no effort to find one. He didn’t put our boarding passes in the covered First Class ticket sleeves, but he did once I asked for them. Normally they provide an escort service through security, but (I assume) because of COVID that wasn’t available.
The TSA pre-check line was short, but we used the CLEAR line, which was completely empty. My CLEAR membership is free thanks to one of the new perks of the American Express Platinum. It’s typically $179 per year (or $109 if you are simply enrolled in Delta or United’s frequent flier program). The agent was very friendly, and since it was international dog day, they gave me a dog leash for Granite. I thought that was a cute touch.
Normally, our First Class ticket on Lufthansa would give us access to the United Polaris lounge before a flight like this, but like all other international lounges it was closed. It’s been disappointing how slow United has been on reopening their lounges. Of note, American Airlines has reopened their international lounges, while United has not even set a timetable for doing so. We walked to the United terminal to use the American Express Centurion lounge instead. The lounge was full when we arrived, and there was a waitlist for platinum card members to enter, but not for centurion card holders.
Boarding started around 2:20 with pre-boarding for families and at about 2:25pm for First Class passengers.
One of the neat things about flying First Class on a 747 is that the first class cabin is in the nose of the plane, so it’s directly below (and actually in front of) where the cockpit is on the 2nd floor. Pretty cool, if you ask me!
Once seated, we were offered a pre-departure beverage and were disappointed that the crew didn’t have the special “Alexandra” rosé champagne from Laurent Perier (approx $299 USD) even though it was listed on the menu. Instead they were serving Laurent Perier Grand Siecle (approx $150 USD). It’s obviously not a huge deal, but differences like a special champagne really help differentiate a First Class experience from a business class experience.
Shortly after boarding, we were given amenity kits, pajamas, and menus. A few minutes later one of the attendants came by to ask for our main entrée selection and if we wanted to be woken up for breakfast. She also assumed I’d want an additional salad at dinner, which I didn’t protest.
Our cabin had 6 of 8 seats booked, which left the two center seats open. Jason and I requested to use those for dining, which they obliged.
Dinner service began with an amuse bouche of asparagus and peppers. Jason said it best, “it was lame.” Next was the caviar course, which was phenomenal. Jason and I have started a tradition of recreating it at home during COVID because we like it so much. They serve it with egg white, egg yolk, creme fraiche and a lime, as well as a glass of vodka if you’d like. But if you ask me, I prefer champagne with it!
I had the osso buco and Jason had the salmon, which we both thought were mediocre. Dessert was good but the menu mislabeled a dulce de leche mousse bar, which turned out to be a passion fruit flan. Nonetheless, it was tasty!
After dinner service, the attendant made our bed upon request. The bed was very comfortable with a mattress pad, duvet and pillow. I asked for a 2nd pillow, which was brought over promptly.
The cabin was dimmed and very dark, but sleeping in a mask and eye mask felt a bit constricting. The cabin got pretty warm, and there weren’t individual air nozzles to help passengers cool down, so I woke up a few times just from being warm. I was able to get about 6 hours of rest on the flight.
About 2.5 hours before landing, the cabin lights were turned on, and breakfast service began with coffee and “fresh” orange juice. Unfortunately, even though the menu said the juice was freshly squeezed, it definitely wasn’t.
Overall, the service on our flight was ok. Our main attendant was friendly and helpful but not necessarily quick. Her helper was not very friendly.
It’s hard to complain about flying Lufthansa First Class. They offer a consistently good product for getting to and from Europe. If you can be flexible and are okay booking last minute, this is a great option for redeeming points to fly international first class. I can’t wait to fly them again!