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Flying Upper Deck Economy on a Lufthansa Airbus A380

Discussion in 'Trip Experiences' started by vegli, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. vegli

    vegli Hangar Gold Member I

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    [​IMG]
    A Lufthansa Airbus A380 at SFO

    Traveling from the Bay Area to Europe? Chances are you may find yourself on the Star Alliance trunk route from SFO to Frankfurt. I did recently as I kicked off a trip to Germany, India, and Southeast Asia, celebrating my final few months of freedom between a journalism job and medical school. In my experience, flying to Lufthansa’s “Fraport” mega-hub from San Francisco generally meant a trip on United’s venerable – and noticeably aging – 747-400s. While they are beautiful birds from the outside, they don’t make for the best long-haul economy class flights: no seatback screens, no power outlets (although that has since been corrected), and cramped seats, unless you can bump up to Economy Plus or better. Interested in something new, I leapt at the chance to try out Lufthansa’s A380 flight on the same route.

    I was glad to be able to book the flight on United ticket stock (ticket number beginning with “016”), which meant I earned both premier qualifying miles (PQMs) and dollars (PQDs) for the flight. With the current UA premier qualifying system, you earn PQMs when you book non-UA ticket stock with Star Alliance partners, but not the PQDs – which are needed for elite qualification.

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    Heading to the back of the plane, to then go upstairs

    Curiously, the confirmation code United provided me allowed me to manage my reservation on Lufthansa’s website, but did not work for online check-in. I found a Lufthansa-specific code buried in a separate email. A bit confusing, but not a huge deal. One downside of booking a Lufthansa-operated flight through United is that you are not always able to pick a seat in advance. That ended up being the case for this flight, and I was dreading the possibility of a back-of-the-bus middle seat. Luckily, seat availability was still good when I checked in online, even though the flight ended up being full.

    I had only flown the A380 once before (on Emirates) and assumed that the upper deck was first and business class only. To my surprise, there was an “upper deck” tab on the seat selection window during online check-in. It turns out that on Lufthansa’s newest layout for some of its A380s, there is a premium economy section in the front of the lower deck and a small section – five rows, to be exact – of standard economy at the back of the upper deck. I snagged a window seat at the front of the latter section, thrilled that I would finally get upper-deck bragging rights (though without the usual business class accouterments that usually go with it).


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    Singapore Airlines’ lounge at SFO – Photo: Manu Venkat

    LUFTHANSA A380 ECONOMY FLIGHT: Pre-flight & lounges
    LH455 departs from the Star Alliance’s half of the shiny and spacious international terminal at SFO. There was no TSA PreCheck lane at the security checkpoint for the G gates, but Star Alliance Gold status got me into a separate “Gold Track” that only took five or ten minutes.

    As a coach class flyer on a student budget, I’ll take any perks I can get. I especially love the free lounge entry privileges that Star Alliance Golds get on international itineraries. Lufthansa doesn’t have a dedicated lounge at SFO, so travelers are directed to the gargantuan United Club. However, Star Alliance Golds can get into any Star Alliance member airline lounge in the terminal. At SFO G gates, my choices included Sinagpore and EVA’s offerings. I recalled having an amazing experience on the first and only Singapore Airlines flight I’d ever taken (SFO-ICN-SIN-BKK) and so I headed for their lounge at the base of the terminal.

    SQ has only two daily flights out of SFO, so its modestly proportioned lounge is only open in the early afternoon and later at night. I was able to catch the last half hour of the afternoon period. Two seating areas with space for around thirty passengers each were divided by a set of counters with a good selection of food and a self-serve bar. Singapore’s flight was boarding so the lounge was emptying out, but I could see how it might have been a bit crowded earlier.

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    Self-serve laksa station in the Singapore Airlines lounge – Photo: Manu Venkat

    I had a great time with the DIY laksa station, pouring a spicy coconut-based broth over pre-prepared bowls of noodles, seafood, and boiled eggs. The broth’s flavor reminded me of a Thai red curry, but the noodles and seafood were very different. I loved it, but beware: it’s definitely spicy!

    The drinks counter had a mini-fridge with sodas and water, a Nespresso station, and a well stocked self-serve bar with options like Belvedere and Gran Marnier. As I took a seat, I took in the solid view out over the tarmac, including the SQ 777-300ER that was about to depart.

    More...
    http://www.airlinereporter.com/2015...-a-lufthansa-a380-san-francisco-to-frankfurt/
     
    Flytdeck, David and Lord Leighton like this.
  2. Exuma Guy

    Exuma Guy Hangar Silver Member V

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    To add- United's newest B-777's do not have power outlets in economy. The older ones did, but the new ones don't. 15 hour trip without my computer sucks! United hasn't started improving. Maybe they are waiting for Mr. Munoz to return?
     
  3. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    To "De-Content" packages on newer vehicles (planes and cars) from earlier versions, is not only counter productive but just plain CHEAP. Power outlets are a drop in the ocean of expense in building a $260-$320 million A/C. Pure stupidity. Small, out of touch minds, can make Huge mistakes. What good is free or fee-optional Wi-Fi with no power outlets? It would probably cost 10 times as much to retrofit outlets after goin "Duh", than to have em built in at production o_O
     
  4. Exuma Guy

    Exuma Guy Hangar Silver Member V

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    Exactly! United's marketing hopes that pax will pay an additional $200 for 'economy plus' which has the outlets. As you stated, who will spend the $17 for in-flight internet if the PED can't be powered? This passenger will choose economy again, but on Delta and American and their partners.
     
  5. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    What would United do if ALL economy pax upgraded to economy plus at the same time? Fly two half empty planes instead? Idiots. If the need arises, I will avoid United in the future, besides, I've always had nothing but pleasurable flights with Delta anyhow in my past experiences, and would have a better chance at flyin on a 757 anyways! ;)
     
  6. R. M. ANDERSON

    R. M. ANDERSON Hangar Bronze Member III

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    Was disappointed in this article:

    Flying Upper Deck Economy on a Lufthansa Airbus A380

    One picture of going to the upper deck and then - ? - ? - ? absent more pixs.
    Very little commentary and then it jumps to Singapore Airlines and United's Lounge

    Seemed like someone forgot about what the article title was all about:

    Flying Upper Deck Economy on a Lufthansa Airbus A380

    Darn Media can live with-em and can't live without them !
     
  7. Irish MD-11

    Irish MD-11 Hangar Bronze Member V

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    Hi Vegli!
    Guess what? I might just become jealous of what you "managed";)!
    The only time that I flew upper deck was on (BA 082 SEA-LHR, G-AWNA, 15.07.1995), following a suggestion from my cousin's hubby(a VERY frequent flyer)

    Gosh, I was amazed by the quieteness of the taxi & takeoff roll:)! Far lesser shaking & noise compared to "lower deck"!.
    Can't even imagine what it must be to do same on a LH A388!

    Irish MD-11
     
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