Lufthansa Airbus A380 Flight 400 Frankfurt to New York Review

By Jonathan Spira on 10 April 2011
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Frankfurt Airport is by far Germany’s busiest airport and reportedly serves more international destinations than any other airport in the world.  It is also a major hub for Lufthansa Airlines, which is one of just a few select airlines that fly the double-decker Airbus A380, the world’s largest airliner.

One month ago, Lufthansa started its scheduled A380 flights to the U.S., flying the aircraft from Frankfurt to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK),,  Lufthansa’s fourth destination for the super jumbo after Beijing, Tokyo, and Johannesburg.  Miami and San Francisco will be added shortly to the list.  My flight was on Lufthansa’s “Frankfurt am Main” A380, which was one of the first placed in service.

Arriving at the airport shortly before 9 a.m., since I had to check a bag, I was directed to the business class check-in counter even though I already had my mobile boarding pass.  I only waited a few minutes and my bag was quickly checked and given a priority sticker for faster off-loading.  The agent suggested I go directly to the gate as it was a 30-minute walk, although she didn’t explain that there was a lounge at the gate (more on this later).


Main cabin passengers board the aircraft through gates on the main departure level while business and first class passengers board via the Business Gates that lead directly to the aircraft’s upper level.  The priority boarding area was bright and airy and was additionally a complete lounge in its own right, with a tremendous variety of food and drink available to passengers.

Boarding itself, despite the fact that the flight was oversold, was accomplished fairly quickly. It’s almost as if the airline were boarding two separate aircraft which just happen to be flying on top of one another.

On the upper deck, there are 98 business class seats and 8 first class seats. The main cabin, on the level below, has 420 seats, for a total of 526.  Despite the fact that my flight was completely full, boarding was accomplished in under 25 minutes.

I was one of the first passengers to board and was immediately offered a beverage.  Another flight attendant came by shortly thereafter to hang up my coat.  An amenity kit and a bottle of water were in the center compartment of each seat.


First introduced in 2003, Lufthansa’s time-tested PrivateBed business class seat is quite comfortable for sitting, doing work, and dining.  It’s 2 meters (6 ½’) long and includes a massage option, which I found to be relaxing.  The tray table is large enough for one’s iPad, laptop, and even a small snack.

The seat has an integrated reading light, and the electrical outlet does not require a special adaptor. Although I was seated in the bulkhead row there was more than sufficient room to store my things, including in a generously-sized cutout in the wall.

Press the appropriate icon on the remote control, and the seat goes into bed mode.  When flat, the PrivateBed is not horizontal to the floor but at a 9° angle, and some passengers may find themselves sliding downwards while asleep.  My experience in the PrivateBed over the years has been mixed (sometimes I slide, sometimes I don’t) and I have been able to sleep quite comfortably on some flights while on others I couldn’t find a comfortable position.

In the main cabin below, Lufthansa has installed a more ergonomic seat that effectively adds extra legroom because the seat bottom slides out when reclining.  There are two staircases, one in the very front, leading to the first class cabin, and a curved staircase in the rear of the aircraft.  A locked gate ensured that no one wandered from one deck to the other.  AC outlets are also provided in economy class, a nice touch.

Overhead bins in both business and coach seemed far more capacious than on other aircraft.  There were two bins (one full-sized and a smaller one) above my seat for my exclusive use.

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