First Impressions My original intention was to fly Lufthansa's new Indian route from Frankfurt to Kolkata, with an originating flight from London Heathrow Terminal 2. Lufthansa started flying to Kolkata in December last year, making it the carrier's sixth Indian destination (the others being Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad), with three flights a week. I arrived at Heathrow at 0500 for the 0625 flight to Frankfurt to connect with the 1145 flight to Kolkata. There was a short queue at the business class check-in desk and similarly at security, and by the time I was airside the flight showed boarding at Gate 36.
The lounge It was a short walk to the gate and as it passed the Lufthansa lounge on the way I stopped for some coffee. The lounge is spacious with comfortable chairs as well as café-style tables, and looks over the runway. I stayed as long as possible and went to the gate at 0615 only to find a number of people standing around.
We were informed that there was a slight delay and overheard someone saying we would not be taking off until 0730 because of the adverse weather conditions from the day before. (It was the morning after the gales in January when most flights out of Heathrow were being cancelled.) I was not overly concerned as there was plenty of time in Frankfurt to connect. Back in the lounge the staff said they would make an announcement when we were due to take off.
Boarding Eventually we boarded at around 0800, but then the captain announced that one of the bags would have to be unloaded because the passenger was not on board. This delayed us by a further 45 minutes and we missed our slot. We eventually took off nearly two hours late at 0915.
The seat The plane was an airbus A300-600 and had a seat configuration of 2-2-2 with 19 rows of business class. The seats were the old-style long-haul business class seats (the new business class seating has nearly completed its rollout). My seat was 18C, on the aisle, and the four adjustable seat controls were on the side of the armrest. The headrest was adjustable and the bed was an angled lie-flat.
The flight Once we were airborne, drinks were offered and we were served breakfast, which was a selection of meats and cheese with bread rolls and fruit salad. Although the flight time was only 50 minutes we had to circle for 30 minutes around Frankfurt waiting for a landing slot, and as a result did not land until just before 1135. We were further delayed as we could not find a gate and by the time I stepped off the plane it was 1145 (the time of the connecting flight).
The connection I missed the connection (and so did my bag). The next direct flight was on Monday, so I took a Lufthansa flight to Delhi, which left at 1335 to connect with a Jet Airways flight on to Kolkata. I was already at the gate so boarded immediately as the flight was being called.
The seat As with the Kolkata flight, this B747-400 Frankfurt to Delhi routing has the new business class "PrivateBed" seating, with 24 rows of business class in a 2-3-2 configuration. The cabin was full. I was in seat 14E, which was the middle seat of three. The seats recline to an angled lie-flat (nine degrees from horizontal), with a 10.4-inch IFE seatback monitor and slots for magazines on either side of the seat in front. There is a slot for shoes too, as well as a PC power point and angled reading light in the headrest. Wireless internet connection is unfortunately no longer available, due to the phasing out of Connexion by Boeing.
The AVOD control is in the armrest on the right and this also controls the seat, with advanced functions allowing you to fine-tune the angle and position for each part of the seat including the footrest. There are also quick options, so at the touch of a button you can convert the seat into take-off and landing positions, a "relax" and eating position, and a sleep position (two metres long). A massage function is also available. If you find a position you are comfortable with you can save it by pressing the memory button on the remote. I found my amenity kit behind the armrest on the right where there were also headphones. The kit had moisturiser, lip balm, headphone covers, socks, ear plugs and an eye mask.
The flight Once seated we were offered champagne, orange juice or water, and a menu was handed out shortly afterwards. Lufthansa was running its "Star Chef" programme, with specialist chefs creating the menus. On this flight we had the option of meals created by Cornelia Poletto, who specialises in traditional Mediterranean dishes with a contemporary twist, while on return flights from India to Germany the Indian menus are created by Hemant Oberoi of the Taj hotel in Mumbai. We were offered more drinks and bags of nuts, and then our meal choices were taken.
There were two choices for starter: marinated prawns on Connellini beans (very good) or slices of stuffed poulard with mango salsa and grilled tomato. A salad and bread rolls were also served. For the main course there were three options: braised lamb in ginger saffron sauce with yellow lentils and basmati rice, pan-fried halibut with peperonata and salsa verde (my choice), or the Indian option with a large selection of dishes including Masoor daal, aloo capsicum and red lentil ragout. I had cheese for dessert.
I was watching The Devil Wears Prada during the meal and the controls were a little annoying as I had to press very hard to pause and then choose whether or not to exit the selection. The lights were dimmed but I couldn't sleep so flicked through the rest of the IFE. There was a good choice and a small selection of Indian films too. About an hour and a half before landing, dinner was served. I was still full from my lunch but the food was so good I opted for a chicken curry. Arrival cards were handed out and we landed in Delhi around 1am on Saturday.
The arrival I was pleased to be one of the first off the plane as the queue for passport control snaked a long way behind me. Once through I found the Lufthansa baggage desk in Delhi to give a member of staff details of my missing bag and its contents. I then had to walk to the other side of the baggage hall where someone stamped the piece of paper which I took back to the baggage man. The bags turned up at my hotel on Sunday.
To get the connecting flight with Jet Airways I had to transfer to the domestic terminal but the guard on the transfer bus lounge door would not let me through without a ticket and did not recognise my e-ticket. I had to get a taxi instead (250 rupees for four people – around £3 – for a 20-minute hair-raising drive).
Verdict The on-board product and service is impressive and I found the seat very comfortable and liked the fine-tuning aspect. The food was excellent. The outbound flight was a trial due to circumstances beyond Lufthansa's control, but the return leg to Frankfurt was on time and the connection to Heathrow was smooth.
Price From £1,486 business class for a mid-week return in March.