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Vancouver (YVR) - Munich (MUC)
Scheduled Departure: 6:25PM
Scheduled Arrival: 1:30PM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr 5min
Aircraft: Airbus A340-600
Seat: 1A (First Class)
Those that know me know that I love Lufthansa First Class and it is one of my favourite ways to fly. I first flew with the airline last summer from Delhi to Chicago, via their main hub in Frankfurt, Germany. I was very impressed with the ground services in Frankfurt, where they have the world-famous First Class Terminal. What surprised me, however, was the excellent service in Delhi, which I briefly described in the “Favourite Flight” portion of our introduction posts. I have since flown Lufthansa First Class from Rio de Janeiro to Hong Kong via Frankfurt, and when I found out they would be temporarily operating the Vancouver (YVR) to Munich (MUC) flight on the Airbus A340-600 with a First Class cabin, I immediately knew I had to give it a try from my home airport.
Lufthansa First Class is easily accessible though Star Alliance partners, with one caveat; First Class seats are only made available within 15 days of departure. For those that are flexible with travel dates, or tend to book last-minute trips, there’s no better way to cross the Atlantic (apart from maybe SQ Suites). I booked using Aeroplan miles, where the regular price is 70,000 points to “Europe 1” or 80,000 to “Europe 2” plus several hundred dollars in taxes and fees. My routing was YVR-MUC-ZAG-IST, arriving the following day and would cost 80,000 Aeroplan points, plus a hefty $700 in fees. Lufthansa, unfortunately, passes fuel surcharge (YQ) along to the passenger, though there are several ways of avoiding this - we will cover more on that in another article coming soon. Alternatively, Avianca LifeMiles is a great program to book with, since you can purchase miles for reasonable rates, as well as Asiana since they only charge 50,000 miles for a one way from North America to Europe in First Class.
You can earn Aeroplan miles through transferring Membership Rewards from credit cards like the American Express Platinum Card, Business Platinum, Gold, and Business Gold cards; as well as through the CIBC and TD Canada Trust Aeroplan Visa cards. Applying for just the The Business Platinum from American Express will earn a 75,000 point signup bonus, which gets you to or from Europe in First Class.
Check In & Lounge
I arrived at the airport about 2.5 hours before departure, and the check-in process was smooth. My bag was tagged “HON Priority” which is the airline's top tier elite and is used for First Class baggage handling. My boarding pass was placed in the First Class jacket and I was given a green sticker for Fast Track security. Lufthansa usually offers an escort service to the lounge, and then to the aircraft for their First Class passengers, though that wasn’t offered. I requested an escort to the aircraft and was sent on my way.
Lufthansa uses the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Vancouver, located immediately past the international security checkpoint for D gates. The lounge is fairly new and is quite large. The food and beverage was mediocre, although, during peak times, they have a pasta station set up. The chef made a delicious Hawksworth inspired shrimp spaghetti dish, which seemed to be a popular choice.
Boarding & Pre-Departure
When I requested the escort to the gate, the agent misunderstood me, as they sent a golf cart with an agent assuming I was a wheelchair passenger. She was pleasant, but it wasn’t the Lufthansa First Class service I’m used to in other airports, and wildly different from their hubs in Frankfurt and Munich. YVR has a long way to go when it comes to premium services, and this would not be tolerated in other North American hubs for a $15,000+ First Class fare.
Boarding was a bit chaotic. They called for First Class, HON Circle, Business Class, and Star Alliance Gold passengers all at once, and needless to say, things got a bit messy. When I got to the front and scanned my boarding pass, the screen said “Unable to Board” and I was directed to another agent at the desk. It turns out that they never took the request for an escort off the file, because once removed, I was able to board. By the time they figured all of this out, I was boarding alongside economy class passengers. Not so premium, though the ground handling company (Swissport) is to blame, and not the airline themselves.
Once on board, I was greeted right away as Mr. Premji and guided to my seat - 1A. I was offered a glass of champagne, along with the signature warm macadamia nuts, and a hot towel. The purser then came around the First Class cabin and greeted all the passengers. She was very sweet as was the rest of the crew. She was very apologetic about the experience on the ground so far but assured me that her team would make it up to me. Even with a full cabin, the crew was wonderful and nothing was too much to ask.
Once in the air, I ordered another glass of champagne, and my meal order was taken. My favourite part of any First Class flight is the caviar service, and Lufthansa has one of the best of any airline. The airline purchases approximately 5% of the world's caviar production each year. They come around the cabin and serve it off a cart, and you can have as much as you want as long as there's enough for everyone.
For the main course, I couldn’t decide between the steak and the lobster dish, so they offered to bring both! Both were very good, and the steak was perfectly cooked to medium-rare. The meal service ended with a cheese plate and port, along with a delicious chocolate lava cake. The dining onboard definitely lives up to the Skytrax 5-star rating that the airline recently earned.
Seat and Bed
I forgot to take a photo of the seat when boarding, so I borrowed a photo from a previous flight on the A340 - in seat 1K.
I was pretty tired after all the food and drinks, so the crew converted my seat to a fully lay-flat bed. There’s a soft mattress pad and a luxurious duvet that makes the experience almost like a hotel bed.
By the time I woke up, we were about 90 minutes away from Munich. The pre-arrival meal was breakfast, so I ordered the scrambled eggs. They have a small pan in the galley, and prepare the eggs fresh on board - you don’t see that on too many airlines!
After breakfast, the purser came around the cabin once more to than each passenger for choosing Lufthansa First Class for their travels - a nice touch. Before I knew it, we were descending into Munich International Airport.
After an uneventful landing, we taxied to our gate and I made my way over to the First Class Lounge near the L gates. This is one of the newer lounges at the Munich Airport, and I will be sharing a full review of it soon. For now, here’s a few photos:
I had just enough time in the lounge for a quick shower and snack before it was time to board my next flight. In Frankfurt, Lufthansa drives all HON Circle and First Class passengers to their aircraft, however, in Munich, they only do so if the flight is departing from a remote stand. Thankfully, my connecting flight to Zagreb, Croatia was at a remote stand, so I was driven in a beautiful black Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
Despite the hefty fuel surcharges, small booking window, and not so private seats, Lufthansa First Class is still one of my favourite ways to fly. The airline is one of just a few who still operate a true First Class cabin trans-Atlantic, and they don’t seem to be backing down anytime soon. As soon as I found out they would be bringing First Class back to YVR, although temporarily, I knew I had to book it. There were some issues with the ground experience in Vancouver, but I can excuse that since it was only the 5th day operating the First Class route. The overall First Class experience with Lufthansa is excellent, especially for passengers beginning their journey in, or transiting through one of the airlines German hubs. For those of you who have the opportunity to book Lufthansa First Class, but are on the fence about it, I say go for it!
Have you flown Lufthansa First Class before? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below!
Ijaaz has been fascinated by air travel since he was a child, and his goal is to become an airline pilot. Ijaaz’s family enjoys travel and takes a trip at least every couple years. His first trip to Asia was for a family wedding in 2015, when they visited Thailand and Hong Kong. Ijaaz was hooked at this point, and has since returned to Hong Kong at least a dozen times. He applied for his first credit card right after his 19th birthday, and has been in the points game ever since. His travels have taken him to over 30 countries all over the globe, and he is known to book flights last minute to new and interesting destinations.