D-ABVS, my ride to FRA behind double-glazing. Photo- Bernie Leighton|AirlineReporter.com

D-ABVS, my ride to Frankfurt, behind double-glazing – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

As we all know, I am insane – I do stupid things, usually inspired by a picture I saw of something from years ago on the internet, fanning an intense jealous desire to have the same experience for myself. Why this is of any interest to the readership is because I consider getting there to be, at least, half the fun.

This time, I was off to UACC (IATA Code TSE, or as most people call it, Astana, Kazakhstan) to attend the third KADEX (also known as Kazakhstan’s defense expo). Originally, I was booked in Lufthansa business class for the Vancouver-Frankfurt portion of my itinerary, but after being informed by our Associate Editor that the aircraft I would be flying was not only rife with available first class seating, but that it was D-ABVS (an aircraft equipped with the new first), I felt it was my duty to exchange currencies of various forms and reasonable amounts for a soon-to-be vanishing experience.

Lufthansa, you see, is configuring these aircraft from three class (First, Business, Economy) into a different three class (Business, Premium Economy, and Economy). First class on a Lufthansa 747-400- will be gone for good soon- and I will sorely miss it.

The Lufthansa First Class Suite in all its glory. It may look minimalist, but it is nearly perfect. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

The Lufthansa First Class Suite in all its glory. It may look minimalist, but it is nearly perfect.                                                              Photo – Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Unfortunately, the lounge selection in Vancouver (unless you are a passenger on British Airways or Cathay Pacific) is rather weak. It is Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge; a place I have, by my math, spent over a month of my life in. It still lacks power ports, feels crowded, it does not properly suit the degree of exclusivity associated with traveling international first class.

Having been there hundreds of times (in years past, I was a perpetual Super Elite with Air Canada) and knowing the catering on board would be mind blowing, I decided to spend my time in the lounge using their “free” (also known as “slow”) internet. Huffy from the lounge, I decided it was time go to to gate D-55. That’s when it really sunk in. I wasn’t just flying Lufthansa to go to Kazakhstan, I was flying Lufthansa First Class.

The Lufthansa 747-430 First Class cabin contains a seat and a full bed. Photo- Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

The Lufthansa 747-430 First Class cabin offers each passenger both a seat and a bed – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Who cares where I was going past Frankfurt? Boarding was effortless. Check the ID, down the jet bridge, up the stairs. Hide my camera bag in the storage area in the galley, take my seat. “Mr. Leighton! Wait!” I was very confused. “We didn’t see you coming, we wanted to introduce ourselves to you before you sat down – you just seemed very intent on getting settled.” True, I was intent, but I also felt guilty now.

No crew has ever been so genuinely nice (until a later LH flight on the same itinerary). After apologizing and explaining that I am too much of an AvGeek to think like I am not cabin crew, it was time for my first service. A nice, seemingly bottomless, glass of 2004 Veuve Clique. Fruity, caramel-noted, just a hint of apple, and wonderfully dry. Even better, they elevated the subtle sweetness of the macadamia nuts they were served with.

A glass of champagne with some macadamia nuts. Also, a glimpse of the wonderful bed. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

A glass of champagne with some macadamia nuts. Also, a glimpse of the wonderful bed.            Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Not wanting to get totally inebriated prior to take off, I also had a glass of water. The glass was of extremely high quality – but not worthy of any stereotypical first class photo.

The seat itself is more than just the chair and bed combination that makes it amazing. There was a lot of thought put into it. Things like the little drawer for putting your shoes and street clothes into after changing into pajamas and slippers.

Lufthansa is very creative and efficient with First Class storage. Here you can see a draw for shoes. Photo - Bernie Leighton|AirlineReporter.com

Lufthansa is very creative and efficient with First Class storage. Here you can see a drawer for shoes.                                                        Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

There are other lovely ergonomic enhancements. The seat controls are right below the drink coaster.

As a design nerd, I love ergonomic improvements. Being able to grab my champagne and adjust my seat at the same time is perfection. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

As a design nerd, I love ergonomic improvements. Being able to grab my champagne and adjust my seat at the same time is perfection. Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Being in seat 81H, I barely noticed pushback and engine start. It was silent up there. So, too, was takeoff. The flight was so smooth I barely noticed we were flying.

Immediately after takeoff I requested some tea. To my surprise, it also came with a lovely, smoked salmon canapé.

A smoked salmon canapé with some tea paraphernalia in the background. Photo- Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

Smoked salmon canapé with some tea paraphernalia in the background – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Whilst waiting for lunch, I decided to turn on the in-flight entertainment (IFE). The screen is lovely, but the only flaw is that the content lags behind some other airlines I have flown.

A view of the IFE screen and vase. Photo- Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

A view of the IFE screen and rose vase – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

I watched Anchorman 2 , and hoped I wasn’t laughing so hard as to annoy the other passengers. Lunch began.

The beginning of a First Class Lunch. Photo- Bernie Leighton |AirlineReporter.com

The beginning of a First Class lunch – Photo: Bernie Leighton |AirlineReporter

Having read Ben’s article about Lufthansa Catering, I was quite excited. His story, it turns out, does not do the food justice. But how could he – he was still on the ground.

The starter, was of course, caviar with onion, sour cream, etc.

Caviar with red onion, cream, and well, caviar. Photo- Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

Caviar with red onion, sour cream, and well, caviar – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Caviar is caviar. Not much you can say about it that has not already been said.

Tandoori Chicken with Cucumber Raita. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

Tandoori chicken with cucumber raita – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The Tandoori chicken, however… that was insane. I thought the catering had peaked, it was so succulent, and so smokey. Outstanding. Then there was the bacon-wrapped Filet with tomato confit, potatoes, and mushrooms.

Delicious beef tenderloin on LH493. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

Delicious beef tenderloin on LH493 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Best thing I have ever eaten on an aircraft. No question asked. Not that desert was bad. It was a white chocolate bread pudding. It was nice, but just couldn’t really compare with the amazing main courses.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding at 34,000 feet. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

White chocolate bread pudding at 34,000 feet – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

After dinner, it was time for bed. What a bed – seriously! Softest, most comfortable, most bed-like aircraft bed I have ever seen. My only complaint is that because the 747 cruises about two-degrees nose-up, I felt as if I was angled two-degrees nose-down due to pillow positioning.

The view from a real bed on a 747-430. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

The view from a real bed on a 747-430 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Six hours later, I awoke to play with TelekomFly’s in-flight internet. It was awesome. I was also ahead of the curve for getting changed and using the lav, leaving me wonderfully refreshed and excited for breakfast.

A great breakfast always starts with a croissant. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

A great breakfast always starts with a croissant- Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

An even better breakfast has a selection of cold meats.

A selection of pickles, meats, and cheese. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

A selection of pickles, meats, and cheese – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The best aircraft breakfasts finish with freshly cooked eggs. Yes, real eggs, not powdered or re-heated.

Freshly cooked scrambled eggs and bacon. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

Freshly cooked scrambled eggs and bacon – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

30 minutes later, we were on the ground. I was sad to end what was probably my best first class flight. I would later be proven wrong! However, at least I could visit the First Class Terminal.

A First Class Terminal bath, replete with duck. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

A First Class Terminal bath, replete with duck – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

If you can fly Lufthansa First….do it. Don’t ask questions, and don’t let mileage loyalty get in your way. Go go go!

CONTRIBUTOR - SEATTLE, WA. Bernie has traveled around the world to learn about, experience, and photograph different types of planes. He will go anywhere to fly on anything. He spent four years in Australia learning about how to run an airline, while putting his learning into practice by mileage running around the world. You can usually find Bernie in his natural habitat: an airport. Email: [email protected].

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4 Comments

http://about.me/mhharvey

Nice article. I need to volunteer fort a job like this.

BTW the times I have flown LH was in 1984 from DHA-FRA in economy with our 2 young kids – exceptional. Then in about 1996 YYZ-FRA J class on a 767 which was okay. I’d traveled a lot in the early 1990’s J calls on QF, SQ, CX, and MH which were clearly much better. Favourite then – CX and QF.

James Burke

What a terrific looking flight. The food looked spectacular – especially the chicken.
How wide is the bed? I can’t imagine it is as big as a twin bed, but can one still move/thrash around? While I would not say no to flying Business on AC, the herringbone design seems like it would be rather claustrophobic when the seat is in ‘lie-flat’ mode.
…And a proper bathtub in the 1st class terminal?!? That sounds like an alright way to chill between flights…

I’d say the bed is about the same size as a single. You can move, you can trash. It’s a bit surreal to be seat-belted into a proper bed. Entirely worth it, though.

Speedbird

Is there anyway some like minded people will be able to get this amazing cabin back in the air?

PLEASE!!!!

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