BACKGROUND Lufthansa deployed its eighth A380 on its daily Frankfurt-Singapore route in October, adding to a portfolio of hubs – New York, Miami, San Francisco, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Beijing – that are already served by the superjumbo.
The carrier expects two more of this very large aircraft to arrive in 2012, with seven more to come from a firm order of 17. It has five on option as well. Next year, it hopes to receive the first commercial Boeing 747-8 as the product’s launch customer.
CHECK-IN Our group was due to depart for Singapore at 2205, and since we were to spend a few hours in Cologne and return in the mid-afternoon, we checked in our luggage at the Lufthansa AIRail counter at Frankfurt Airport (Fraport). As I was proceeding to Hong Kong from Singapore on a Singapore Airlines flight, they checked my suitcase through to my final destination.
THE LOUNGE The dedicated business class lounge for A380 passengers is located in Fraport’s C concourse. (First class travellers have their own terminal and are chauffeured right up to the aircraft). Lufthansa’s Senator members and Star Alliance Gold Card holders can use the nearby Senator Lounge that’s accessed by escalator. This exclusive holding area is brightly lit and seats 100, with easy chairs placed alongside the floor-to-ceiling windows, some chairs and tables near the F&B counter (mostly sandwiches and fruit) and some rows of chairs in the middle of the room.
A work area accommodates three persons, but there are no computers available, although there is complimentary wifi for personal devices.
BOARDING This being the inaugural Frankfurt-Singapore flight, Lufthansa was eager to show the group of journalists I was travelling with the features of its latest acquisition, and thus we were permitted to board, taking an escalator down to an aerobridge, about 10 minutes before the rest of the passengers.
THE SEAT Frequent users of Lufthansa’s business section will find the same seat product they have been using for some time. Lufthansa intends to introduce a new business class product to be gradually rolled out across its fleet.
The airline’s current offering is sloping lie-flat. I had a bit of a problem with this particular Recaro design and it took me a couple of tries to find the right position as there seemed to be something lumpy behind my back when flat.
Blame it on fatigue, but I missed finding the storage compartment for small personal items, which was pointed out to me later on, located under the shared armrest. There was a crevice on my left side, which held bottled mineral water and a small amenities bag.
The IFE, branded “Lufthansa Media Program”, seemed a bit limited compared with the vast offerings of Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. My seatmate, who did some work, needed to ask the stewardess for a European-style adaptor to power her laptop.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I was in 22G, first row of the second cabin, with more than enough legroom with an upright seat. However, being directly behind the galley, my companion in 22D and I were exposed to constant curtain flapping from all the cabin crew movement. A window seat would afford more privacy.
My condolences went to the gentleman in 28G in the last row, which is almost directly beside the washroom. Avoid this seat at all costs. For tall individuals, rows 22 and 26 by the emergency exit will provide the best stretch.
THE FLIGHT I was extremely drowsy by the time the meal trolley rolled around, so I requested to just partake of the appetiser, a delicious pâté Baden-style with Waldorf salad and lingonberries, and dessert – a mango tart and a trio of cheeses. For wine lovers, an interesting selection of Old World wines was available.
There was some turbulence along the way but not enough to rattle any cups (or make me anxious, for that matter).
ARRIVAL Tremendous traffic congestion at Changi Airport kept the aircraft in a holding pattern for some minutes and prevented our pilots from making the 1655 scheduled arrival. But eventually, we were cleared.
Margie T Logarta
Verdict: The A380 performed to expectations – it was so quiet in-flight that many times I didn’t feel I was thousands of feet in the air. The in-flight service was impeccable.
PLANE TYPE Airbus 380-800
SEAT CONFIGURATION 2-2-2
SEAT PITCH 57in-60in/145-152cm
SEAT WIDTH 20in/51cm
SEAT RECLINE N/A
PRICE A mid-February internet return fare on business class starts from US$5,649