After spending five months in the US, and seeing more and international flights resuming, I decided to fly back to Dubai (my home). There were several options I could choose from for the trip from LA to Dubai; Emirates have resumed non-stop flights, whilst Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and British Airways are all offering connections via Europe.
I chose to fly with Lufthansa with 3 reasons.
- I could easily use miles to find award seats. The First Class redemption seats open up 7-14 days before departure and there are plenty of Business Class award seats available
- From my research, Lufthansa have maintained most of their pre-COVID level of in-flight services
- I can fly on a Boeing 747 again! (never take it for granted!)
The one way journey from LA to Dubai cost me 96,000 miles with Avianca Life Miles. This included First Class from LA to Frankfurt and Business Class from Frankfurt to Dubai.
Video of Lufthansa First Class
LAX Tom Bradley Int'l Terminal was eerily quiet on my day of departure.
All of the airline lounge services are currently closed, along with duty free shops and most food outlets. Overall the options available airside are very limited.
My ride to Frankfurt was operated by D-ABYD, an 8 year old B747-8i delivered in Aug 2012.
There were around 220 passengers on the flight; the Lufthansa B747-8 has a capacity of 364, so the load was reasonable and most passengers had space enough for social distancing. My seat was 2A, located right up in the nose.
Welcome drinks, macadamia nuts, pyjamas, slippers, menus and disinfection wipes were all presented before take-off.
I also had the opportunity to go to the cockpit, whilst we were on the ground, to meet up with the pilots. There were 2 Captains and 1 First Officer.
The upper deck of the Lufthansa B747-8 looks like a B737 on its own.
We took off on-time from runway 24L. Flight time to Frankfurt was 10 hours and 20 minutes and the flight cruised at 37,000 ft.
The feeling of getting airborne and listening to the front gear retraction was fantastic, I felt alive again!
We flew Over Palos Verdes, just above where my PPL pilot training practice airspace was!
Once we had reached our initial cruising altitude cabin service began, this was started off with champagne and prawn amuse bouché.
The flight attendant told me that they no longer "rolled" the trolley to serve in front of the passenger in First Class, instead they set it up in the galley and brought out dishes to the passengers individually.
The first course was caviar with a garnish and served together with a trio of starters (these could also be served separately if requested).
The sauces were covered with plastic container tops.
All passengers were required to wear a mask, except while eating and drinking.
We flew over Nevada, Las Vegas, Colorado and in a general Northeasterly direction towards Canada and the North Atlantic. There were some great views from my window at 37,000 ft.
I was also able to take a quick look at the food served in the other cabins. The Business Class starter and main course were served in the same tray as First. In fact, the main courses were identical to those in First Class apart from the presentation.
The below pictures are the meals from Premium Economy and Economy Class.
After food was finished the cabin turn down service began. Lufthansa have maintained pillows, duvets and mattress in First Class.
I did have to wear a mask to sleep which was difficult after some time.
My advice is not to wear a cloth one, but something a little easier to breathe in.
About 1.5 hours before landing, I woke up for breakfast. To my pleasant surprise, the Lufthansa crew were preparing freshly scrambled eggs in the galley.
Usually I am not an egg person but I finished the whole plate. Freshly prepared eggs are so much tastier, when compared to the frozen ones!
Shortly after we started a gradual descent towards Frankfurt, the airspace wasn't busy and we landed 15 minutes ahead of schedule on runway 25L of Frankfurt.
To me, there was just so much pleasure watching the engines and the forward edge of the B747 wing. I felt alive again!
Is Air Travel Safe at The Moment?
I don't have a specific answer to this question. The virus is invisible and any activity will have an associated risk. I'd say right now international travel should be maintained for essential travel and not for pleasure journeys. The mood onboard was defiantly more sombre. I am glad to see that Lufthansa have maintained most of their pre-pandemic standards, my B747 experience was outstanding as usual. The crew were fantastic, I really enjoyed the sense of humanity they projected throughout this difficult time. I would like to thank all of the wonderful crew that were on my flight.
Lufthansa currently has 19 B747-8s, 11 of them are in storage with 8 actively flying to LA, Chicago, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Bangkok.