Maybe the inoperable jetway when LH993 from Amsterdam arrived at the gate was a blessing in disguise. (Or maybe this is just standard de-planning procedure.) Anyway a staircase was wheeled up to the A321 at its second door behind row 9 with another one to the aircraft's rear exit. Two buses waited on the tarmac. Fresh air!
There was no coordination. Every man, woman or child for themselves. Everyone crammed themselves inside the bus. We were squished. So much for fresh air. Just about everyone was talking about missing their connection. We had parked at one of the farthest C terminal gates, so I faced a pretty good hike to the Z gates where the widebodies typically depart from. Now the bus was doing the walking.
The blessing is we unloaded at a basement door where there was an escalator up to the Z gates. It was now 15 minutes after scheduled departure. Expecting another wait for security, all I was required to do was go through passport control and fortunately I encountered no one in line. A glance at the departure board offered some more good news, ORD @ Z52, the 2nd gate in. A gate agent stood in the corridor and as I hustled towards her she asked "Amsterdam"? Yes! My boarding pass was scanned and I was on board. The door closed behind me. Whew.
Up the staircase a flight attendant greeted me and I headed to my seat in row 81, the front row upper deck.
Bins on the upper deck of the 747-8i are small. Knowing my rolling carry-on wasn't going to fit, a flight attendant was there in an instant offering to store my case in the crew locker by the staircase. She mentioned that next time I might want to store it downstairs, but to make sure I take valuables like my passport out first. So if seated on the 747-8i upper deck, be forwarded.
The private upper deck cabin view is worth another look. Nice.
Seating is 2x2. The two seats angle towards each other in this Lufthansa V configuration. The other configuration is the H business class layout found on Airbus aircraft window side seats. In the H setting, seats angle parallel to each other.
The V configuration is affectionately referred to as "footsie class". The footwell partition only rises halfway up, allowing the opportunity for some toe kissing.
Unless you find a bulkhead seat where toe kissing simply isn't possible. Fortunate for those traveling solo.
The seat is made by B/E Aerospace and is their Diamond version. With a fairly standard 20 inches of width it is comfortable to sit in but otherwise by no means is it cutting edge in any respect.
Window seats upstairs on the 747-8i (and I presume the A380 upper deck) have the benefit of extra storage with this deep compartment that's big enough to share with your neighbor. In fact there are 2, so be sure to share.
There is also this odd little compartment you'll find floor level on the bulkhead that hid the amenity kit.
Non-bulkhead seats have slightly larger compartments.
The soft-sided pouch amenity kit by Bree is an easy fit.
The upper deck lavatory is located behind the cockpit. A locker style storage compartment appeared to be for the crew use. The lavatory was standard size.
Mouthwash and razors were made available in the lavatory.
Seat controls are placed on the armrest where you can easily adjust your seat, purposely or inadvertently.
Lufthansa provides Bose headphones for business class.
They are hard-wired and stuffed into this little compartment. The amenity kit has sanitation ear covers. A USB jack is inside this compartment as well.
The bed is fairly comfortable with the benefit of a large pillow and duvet. I slept well, but then again I was exhausted.
I didn't have anyone in the seat next to me plus this was a daytime flight. With a neighbor and an overnight flight, my guess is I'd feel differently about the sleeping arrangements.
Mood lighting made for a nice starry night.
The flight attendants were very good on this trip. Attentive and nicely paced, champagne was accepted once airborne. The champagne was a Charles Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top blend that retails for about $30 a bottle.
Almost immediately dinner requests were taken. I suggested I hadn't seen a menu. One was quickly provided.
A partial view of today's beverage selections.
The dinner menu.
I asked my flight attendant (whose name escapes me) for an appetizer recommendation. She raved about the Prawns.
It was an odd combinations of onions, vegetables, shrimp with a garlic/cayenne sauce that was unattractive and decidedly unremarkable.
A salad, or should I say a few leafy greens followed.
The watery so called Thousand Island dressing tasted like vinegar and I fail to see one island let alone thousands.
When viewing an ingredient list on any package, each item is listed according to volume rank. The first ingredient listed has the largest percentage of all and so on down the line. Today's menu listed the ingredients of the Fresh Asparagus and Tenderloin of Veal dish appropriately don't you think?
Truth be told, the veal was decent, or I was just hungry.
Cheese and dessert rounded out this less than memorable Lufthansa business class meal.
Wait, dessert was never brought out. I guess you have to choose between dessert and cheese.
Lufthansa is not known for a robust IFE system featuring great monitors and lots of great content. Today was no exception. They claim these are 15 inch monitors. I may have to bring a measuring tape next time, assuming there is a next time.
Fortunately the air show was not running the plane's autopilot.
Has anyone ever noticed these airshow designers love to point out towns you've never heard of? Baraboo Wisconsin or Manistee Michigan? Population 12,000 and 6,000 respectively. Oh yeah, been there many times.
I knew we were on course because I could see Lake Michigan.
By the time we had passed Manitowoc the pre-arrival meal of Soup and Salad had been served and partially consumed.
Soup, not so good.
Any Chicago sports fans? Arlington Park racetrack.
Wrigley Field home of the 2016 World Champion Cubs.
And the best sight of them all, O'Hare airport, ending this disaster of a trip.
Date: May 2017
Route: Frankfurt - Chicago
Flight #: 432
Aircraft: Boeing 747-8i #D-ABYF
Configuration: F8 / J80 / W32 / Y244
On Time: Yes
Reward Flying Rating: 5.8 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Upper deck 747-8i is private and a treat to fly in.
✔︎Average comfort, no privacy
✔︎Decent sleep, especially if exhausted
Cabin/Seats Rating: 5 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Better than coach
✔︎The best I can say is, edible.
Amenity/Food rating: 4 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Monitor has a low quality picture and content is fair at best.
IFE rating: 4 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Did their job. Friendly and courteous. Only slip up was no dessert with the main course.
Flight Attendant rating: 7 out of 10 ✈
✔︎747-8i maybe my favorite aircraft
Aircraft rating: 9 out of 10 ✈
Final thoughts: The best thing about this ride home was ending the trip early. Other than JAL first class, the rest of the international flights rate towards the lower half of my rankings. And I won't get into all the other reasons an original fun week in Cape Town turned into this. But it's over. Having United points sure made this impromptu flight home possible. Trying to get a last minute award ticket on American or Delta is difficult at best. Heck, getting a saver ticket on American is next to impossible lately.
Yes I wanted to try Lufthansa in business, especially on the 747-8i sitting in the upper deck. At least I can scratch it off the bucket list. Sure it was better than the other non-stop alternative from Frankfurt to Chicago on United. But to/from Europe, Austrian and SAS are far better choices for the same points as Lufthansa in my opinion. Both have better seats, food and drink in business class.
But the next trip starts with Lufthansa again, however this time I'll be sitting in the nose. See you then.