Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Flight Log : January 2009 : LH454

Frankfurt (FRA) - San Francisco (SFO)

So just three weeks after my first-ever experience of Lufthansa First Class, here I was boarding another of their 747s and immediately heading for the stairs. This time, I'd been delivered directly to the aircraft by staff from the excellent First Class Terminal at Frankfurt, surely one of the most hassle-free air terminals in the world (the FCT, not FRA in general!) I was met at the top of the stairs, escorted to 82A and relieved of my jacket, while I got settled into my home for the next 11 hours. The cabin crew brought me a glass of Piper-Heidsieck, some water and some macadamia nuts. With boarding of the other cabins nearly finished, it wasn't long at all until the doors were closed and the good news became apparent : 82C was empty.

A quick look around confirmed that there was a total of ten F passengers, consisting of one couple and eight solo travellers - a fairly typical situation in a premium cabin. Row 81 had the couple and two of the singles, while everybody else - including me - had a double seat each. So this time it was somebody else's turn to have the bad luck. Hopefully Lufty's new First Class, due to start making an appearance in 2009, will better reflect the typical composition of a First Class passenger load. But I digress - let's just say I was looking forward more immediately to seeing what effect the lack of a seatmate would have on my overall enjoyment of the experience!

We pushed back from stand at 1009 and taxied towards 07L, one of the two easterly runways. We became airborne just before 1030 and, as we made a big left turn to head towards Cologne, I had excellent views first of Niederrad (including the building where I once worked on a regular basis) and then of Frankfurt city centre.

The Captain explained that our routing would be via via Cologne, Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, across Scotland, Iceland and southern Greenland, then down through Hudson Bay to Saskatchewan and Alberta, finally crossing the Rocky Mountains and into California. The expected temperature on arrival was 20C - pretty good for winter, I thought!

At this stage, it seems a re-boot of the IFE system was called for. As I found my headset, it became clear that the previous passenger's earphone covers were still fitted. Yuck - an unfortunate minor lapse from an otherwise excellent cabin presentation. I scanned through the TV options and was intrigued to find a double episode of a documentary featuring the Shamwari private game reserve in South Africa, which of course I had visited in 2007. It immediately became compulsory viewing.

Cabin service began with very nicely scented hot towels and the distribution of the lunch menu and wine list, which turned out to be very similar indeed to the dinner menu and wine list on my recent LH738 flight, but minus the Chinese alternatives. That didn't matter - I was quite happy to sample this tribute to modern British cuisine for a second time. First, I had another glass of the Piper-Heidsieck and the same amuse-bouche as last time. When the starters trolley appeared, complete with cake stands, I decided to be a complete pig. I had the caviar, the salmon and some rabbit terrine, which replaced the oriental starter from the Hong Kong flight. As I enjoyed my starters, we crossed the coast of Scotland, somewhere near Arbroath. Next, I had the excellent Oxtail Soup again, then the lamb main course, some cheese and a coffee. All were delicious. The coffee was also remarkable. From the list of options offered, I'd asked for a Latte Macchiato. The cabin crew member saw my eyes widening when it was delivered and explained : "It's a masterpiece from my colleague"!

The main meal finished, I settled back, switched to the audio channels and listened to all five of the Beethoven piano concertos, featuring Evgeny Kissin and the LSO under Sir Colin Davis. Fifteen glorious movements, back to back. Wow!

A mid-flight snack was offered, from a range of sweet and savoury options. I had a little sandwich, a mini-quiche, a fresh fruit platter and a glass of apple juice. As the IFE seemed to be going well, I decided that it was now movie time and fired up Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

About 1.5 hours out from our destination, the second meal service began, the menu for which was as follows :-



Cold Specialties
Smoked Eel, Fillet of Trout and marinated Halibut with Lime Wedges
Beef in Aspic with Vegetable Juliennes and Herb Sauce
Sweet and sour marinated Pumpkin
Cucumber and Potato Salad
Hot Specialties
Haddock in Mustard Sauce accompanied by Parsley Potatoes
Hearty Beef Goulash Soup served in a Bread Bowl
Punch Cake
Fresh Fruit

I had the fish and potato salad starters, the goulash soup and more fresh fruit - all lovely!   After the meal, there wasn't much time left at all, but the final minutes were very worthwhile! The approach into SFO gave those of us on the left some fantastic views of the Bay Area, the Golden Gate Bridge and the city itself.

We touched down just after noon local time and arrived on-stand comfortably ahead of schedule.

Overall, the experience had indeed been transformed by the extra space and privacy afforded by having an empty seat next to me. A truly excellent and memorable flight!

Date: Thu 29 Jan 2009
Aircraft : Boeing 747-400
Scheduled dep : 1005
Actual departure : 1009
Scheduled arrival : 1230
Actual arrival : 1211
Cabin : First
Seat : 82A

Linked reports from same trip :-

Flight Log UA930

Las Vegas

San Francisco