Hello everyone and welcome to the third Flight review of my trip to Asia.
Today, after a bit more than two weeks in Bangkok, it is time to go back to Europe. I will meet you at Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi Airport for a flight onboard a Lufthansa Airbus A350 in Business Class to Munich.
Aeronautically speaking, I am really satisfied because, in the space of three weeks, I flew again with my three favorite planes: the Boeing 747, the Airbus A320neo, and now the Airbus A350!
Lufthansa has a long history in Bangkok. For many years, it operated the daily route between Frankfurt and Bangkok (flight LH772 / LH773), at the time with Boeing 747-400, then with Airbus A340-300, and sometimes even with Airbus A350 or A380.
Just before the pandemic, Lufthansa set up a second route to Bangkok (LH792 / LH793), this time from Munich, Lufthansa's second hub. If the flight number suggested that the flight was operated by Lufthansa, it was in fact its low-cost subsidiary Eurowings that operated the route with an Airbus A330, at the time when Eurowings was still operating long-haul flights. A link that has very quickly ceased...
However, since last April, Lufthansa has canceled its service from Frankfurt and replaced it with a flight between Munich and Bangkok, operated by an A350 this time, but with the flight number used from Frankfurt (LH772 / LH773). This follows Lufthansa's ambition to make Munich its main hub for its connections: as terminal 2 at Munich airport is partly owned by Lufthansa, the latter has far fewer restrictions there than in Frankfurt.
So, this is the "new" flight I'm about to take today.
So, I meet you at 20:15 at the airport of Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi. I arrived from the city by cab.
I enter the terminal through gate 4, which is right in front of the Lufthansa check-in desk.
A quick look at the tables.
Then I go to the check-in.
Lufthansa's check-in is organized in four lanes: passengers traveling in First Class, those traveling in Business Class, a lane reserved for families traveling with small children, and finally a lane dedicated to Economy Class passengers. No distinction with Premium Economy from what I saw.
We are welcomed personally and with a smile by three ground crew members working at the counter, always pleasant. Almost nobody at the check-in. It's efficient and it goes fast. They even brought out the blue carpets!
Once the luggage has been checked in, we head for the controls.
Local decoration (masked :/).
I am really a big fan of this airport and its architecture. Really modern, very nice, and bright.
A big plus in Bangkok: priority passengers (traveling in First and Business Class) have the possibility to access the "Priority Lane". This is not a simple priority lane as in most airports, but a different passenger path, reserved exclusively for priority passengers. Thus, the flow is optimal: more agents than passengers. Security and customs are cleared in less than 5 minutes. A real pleasure!
So here I am in the international transit area of Bangkok Airport. It's clean, there is plenty of restaurants and some stores.
We walk through the terminal until we arrive at the E concourse.
Then we finish the walk to gate E05 where our plane is waiting for us. I never get tired of the style of this terminal!
Verification of boarding passes.
Then we can go down to the boarding hall.
A quick look at our plane, despite the atrocious reflections. This is D-AIXJ, a four-year-old Airbus A350-941 named "Erfurt". This is the second A350 received by Lufthansa in the new livery.
Boarding begins thereafter, starting with persons with reduced mobility, and families traveling with small children. Then comes the Business Class boarding.
Cabin and seat
Welcome aboard this A350. No First Class on board. The aircraft has 48 Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration divided into two different cabins: the first with six rows and the second with two rows.
This cabin (Business in 2-2-2 configuration) is very similar to the one I tested three weeks ago on a Boeing 747-8 between Frankfurt and Delhi. I won't dwell on each piece of equipment that I have detailed in my previous review. I refer you to this one for more information.
I walk to my seat, the 06D, which is in the last row of the first cabin. No window for me tonight :/
At the seat, you will find a pillow, a blanket, slippers, and a mattress (we will talk about this one later).
Legroom is very good, although a little less than in the front row.
The footrest is nice.
In front of you, there is a personal screen, surely the element that differs the most from the 747-8 cabin (we will come back to it in detail after the takeoff).
This one can be oriented towards you; the seats are slightly inclined.
Under the screen, a kind of pocket contains the safety card and the sickness bag, as on the 747.
Underneath, a compartment with an amenity kit and a bottle of water. Again, this is no different from the Jumbo-Jet.
USB A port and electrical outlets are also present.
A flight attendant brings us a welcome drink. I take a glass of sparkling water.
On the screen, we find three types of wing views. The camera of the front gear...
...the below camera ...
...and my favorite, the tail camera. A view that is sorely missing on Boeing aircraft.
They bring us the menu of the day.
As well as pajamas. Two sizes exist: S/M and L/XL. Very kind attention!
The boarding is now finished.
Just behind me, a beautiful sign with the crane, the emblem of the airline.
Above, an overhead panel so characteristic of the A350 with this seatbelt sign displayed on a real screen.
The safety video starts...
...followed by the informative video on the onboard Wi-Fi.
We push back facing south and start the taxi.
The cabin lighting is adapted for the departure.
If I don't have a window, I share it with you thanks to the plane's cameras.
We taxi to runway 19L where we line up.
At 23:30, with 30 minutes of delay, we take off. See you soon Bangkok!
By the time the plane reaches its flight level and the lights come back on, I will tell you about the IFE. This is one of the elements I criticized the most in my Flight review on the 747-8. It featured the first generation of screens/remote controls for this Business Class cabin, first installed on the 747-8 in 2010. Lufthansa has thankfully updated its A350s, first delivered in late 2016.
First, the screen can still be controlled either tactically or via a remote control located in the seat armrest, in the same place as on board the 747. However, the remote control is different. Goodbye to the antique 747 remote and hello to the classic A350 remote control, more modern. However, it is not necessarily more practical to use.
Silly example: no Play/Pause button. You have to press "OK" once to display the play controls on the screen, then move around the screen to the Pause button, then press "OK" again. Three actions instead of one...
This remote control comes with an AKG headphone. Without being a sound expert, I find it quite correct. It has a very good passive noise reduction.
Let's get to the screen itself. Onboard the airline's A350, an improved version of the screen has been installed. It's a bit bigger, brighter, more colorful/saturated, and has a better resolution than the screens in the 747/A330/A340/A380.
As for the software, it is very similar to that of the other aircraft in the fleet. It is visually appealing, follows the Lufthansa colors, and is quite ergonomic. It still offers a nice selection of movies, series, music, games, audiobooks and podcasts, and wellness programs... The same selection as on the outbound flight, so nearly 300 movies, of quite a few different genres. A really nice selection.
If you have read my review of the 747, you know that one point that particularly disappointed me was the map presenting the flight information. As a reminder, it was not interactive and there was no way to customize the views. The views scrolled one by one, in the same way for all passengers.
Well, fortunately, this is not the case anymore in this A350. The Map system has been completely revised. Still happy I must say, we are still on a last-generation aircraft! So, a little presentation of this "new" system...
An interactive map, this time in the users' language, in good resolution and with a lot of nice information.
By opening a menu on the right, you can choose your view. You can choose between different types of views.
You can also completely customize your experience, including the units you want to display, the time format... In addition, you can customize the map by choosing what you want to display (cities, capitals, country names, watering places, ...).
An overview of the entire route.
Nice "cockpit" view by the way, with a lot of info in REAL units ;)
And always pages with information, in my native language (French) this time.
In short, a nice mapping system that has the advantage of being quite fluid, complete, in the passenger's language, and intuitive.
LH Entertainment app
Another feature available on this A350 that we don't often hear about: how about a way to control your screen from your smartphone or tablet. You'll see, it's nice. The only negative point, it's not available in the passenger's language; only German and English...
All you need to do is download the free "LH Entertainment" app (on iOS or Android).
From the application on the smartphone, through a code displayed on the IFE, it is possible to connect to the seat.
This gives access to an interface with different menus.
You will find information on the flight, the list of films offered, music, series... and a lot of other information on the trip, the airline, and so on.
It is possible to remotely start a movie, pause it, change its language…
Also, you can add movies to your personal playlist...
...his personal playlist, which is also displayed on the screen.
And the strength of this system is that you can access the application before your flight and browse the film catalog and create your playlist beforehand. Once on board, the films are automatically synchronized on the screen.
And even better: you start a movie on your flight, and you don't have time to finish it? The application memorizes your progress in the movie and allows you to resume your movie on your next flight, where you left off.
In short, I really find this IFE superb. It is very complete, intuitive, and quite advanced. A big contrast with the old IFE of the 747. It's nice to see that they are improving.
This big IFE parenthesis is over, it's time to start the service. As soon as we arrived at our cruising altitude, the lights came on and the service started. As you can see, the light has been kept very low and soft in order to prepare for sleep, a solution made possible by the superb "Airspace Cabin". However, this is just awful for the pictures. I apologize in advance...
The service starts with a small warm towel.
An aperitif is served. I stay on the traditional apple juice with water. The whole is accompanied by almonds.
The flight attendant then comes to me to take my order. I take the opportunity to share the menu with you.
The meal is then served.
For the first course, I'll start with Grilled Tiger Prawns with marinated Scallop, Chickpea Puree. For the main course, I'll stick with a Thai specialty: Panaeng Beef Curry with Jasmine Rice, Bok Choy and Baby Corn. Some bread was also offered several times, with several choices of Brötchen and Bretzel.
As for the presentation, you can see that the starter and the main course are brought simultaneously on a tray. I don't really like this; it reminds me a bit of the canteen with everything in one go. Apparently, this was to allow a quick service in order to be able to sleep as soon as possible, considering the late hour.
Anyway, the meal is very good. The prawns as starters are succulent, as well as the beef and the red curry.
The meal concludes with a cheese plate with a piece of Camembert and a piece of Grana Padano, accompanied by fresh fruits. The cheese is far from incredible but edible. I will not have dessert.
And as usual, small chocolates are served after the meal.
Contrary to my FRA-DEL where each cabin crew was in charge of no less than 14 pax (which led to a lot of waiting), this time, it was much better organized. More staff, better organization. The flight attendant who had the very heavy task of taking care of me (^^) was very professional, nice, and very present. I didn't have to ask once for a drink, it was automatic.
During the flight
A quick trip to the toilet. Nothing special except for a basket containing various small things such as razors, earplugs, eye masks, and refreshing towels. There are also cups with the crane on them. I love the wood look under the sink!
Bed and sleep
Night flight: it's time to go to bed. Quick presentation of the equipment.
First of all, since 2018, the sleep experience on board Lufthansa flights has been improved thanks to the "Lufthansa Dream Collection". Available on flights of more than 10 hours, this one introduces new pillows and blankets (shown earlier), pajamas (distributed at the beginning of the flight), and above all a mattress to put on your seat to improve your comfort.
The mattress in its packaging:
The full flat seat with the mattress overlay:
This mattress is an attempt to overcome a major problem frequently encountered with this aging cabin: a very hard seat. The cotton-padded mattress, developed in cooperation with a major German mattress manufacturer, really increases comfort. In addition to this, there is a feature (only found on the newest aircraft in the fleet, including the A350) that allows the seat firmness to be adjusted to suit the passenger's needs.
The cabin adapts to prepare for sleep, followed by total darkness.
Five hours of sleep later, I woke up. Just above Turkey.
The opportunity to make a small assessment on this seat.
If this one is quite comfortable in a sitting or intermediate position (to watch a movie, to relax, to discuss, to work...), it is not at all comfortable to sleep.
First, the space to "store" your legs is way too small. Me and my 1m83 have a hard time laying down completely. Moreover, the seat is not very wide. Unless you like to sleep upright and, on your back, it's very difficult to find a comfortable position. The cover and the pillow are very good and thick, the mattress allows you to have a comfortable seat and forget the initial hardness. But the width and length leave a lot to be desired.
More generally concerning the cabin, it is still a 2-2-2. While this didn't bother me in the 747 (given the age of the aircraft), I find it annoying on the A350, a modern aircraft first delivered to the airline in 2016. Few airlines use this configuration in the A350; the trend is 1-2-1 with Full Aisle Access at each seat. But what bothers me most about this 2-2-2 in the A350, even more than the lack of Full Aisle Access, is mostly the narrowness that six seats wide produce. A 747, for example, is a fairly wide aircraft (6.1 m wide on the lower deck) in which a 2-2-2 still provides a good level of comfort with a spacious cabin. In the A350 on the other hand (5.6 m wide), it is tighter for the same cabin. It really gives an impression of very high density. Everything is narrow. It's not pleasant at all.
Lufthansa has "learned from its mistakes" (finally!) and recently received four new A350s (from the former Philippine Airlines) with a 1-2-1 configuration. In addition, the airline should receive new A350s in 2023 with a brand-new Business product developed especially by the airline: Lufthansa Allegris.
Regarding the other accessories to the seat, we always find the slippers.
But also, the amenity kit. As on my outbound flight, it is in fact a kind of bag in which we find the various accessories wrapped in a ribbon. It's a pity not to have a real bag as in the past but it's in fact an ecological initiative; people will reuse a bag rather than a toilet bag. The same kind of eco-friendly initiative as not putting plastic anywhere (no more bags for kit components, or even for the blanket or pillows).
In fact, there is a whole series of bags to collect, featuring different designs on several destinations. I came across the Frauenkirche (reminds me of my time in Munich in 2018!).
Inside the bag, it's not different from last time: a pair of socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mint, L'Occitane creams, and helmet liners. No eye mask, razor, or earplugs in the kit: these can be found optionally in the toilet (as shown earlier), another ecological initiative.
Another entertainment that is obviously present is the Wi-Fi on board. The rates and offers are similar to those of all the airline's long-haul flights, i.e. three offers. The "Messaging" offer, available for 5 €, allows you to enjoy a speed of up to 100 kbps for the duration of the flight, mainly for chatting on instant messengers (WhatsApp, Messenger ...). The "Premium" offer, available in a 2-hour version for 15 € or for the entire flight for 25 €, allows you to surf the Internet at a speed of up to 4 Mbps. Still no free offer.
The cabin is turned back at 1h30 before the arrival. Breakfast is then brought to us.
I chose the hot meal: an omelet with chicken sausage, hash browns, ratatouille, and creamed spinach. All this with muesli with fruit and bread/croissant with butter and jam.
There was a choice of jams, and the same for the bread: seeded bread, Brötchen, croissants...
I'll have squeezed orange juice and Earl Grey tea on the side.
The meal was really good. Breakfast on airplanes is always my dread (as for many people I think ^^) but the eggs were very fresh, the orange juice very good, and the bread very soft. Nothing to complain about.
Once the service is over, I try to immortalize the sunrise through one of the mini windows of the galley (the windows in the galleys on Boeing aircraft are much bigger!!).
Descent and arrival
Then the descent begins.
We arrive from the east and line up on runway 08L of Munich airport.
Good crosswind on final approach, with a beautiful sky in the background.
And we finally landed at Munich Franz-Josef Strauß Airport, at 05:05 (local time) after a 10:35 flight, and 15 minutes early.
We vacate the runway and taxi to our gate: stand 255 or gate M25.
One leaves quickly by the second jetway (the closest to my seat).
Some pictures of this beautiful Raccoon at the exit (for lack of having been able to take some nice ones in Bangkok).
Now, I go to immigration. I am a big fan of this airport, so beautiful and clean!
There's not a soul out there. Almost everyone has a connecting flight (so immigration to another place).
As in Frankfurt, a passage through the automated fast-track border control allows me to enter the Schengen Area in less than 30 seconds. A treat!
Then the train to the main building of Terminal 2.
And we arrive at the luggage claim.
A strange problem with our plane made us wait for our luggage for almost 20 minutes. I say our plane in particular because we were the first flight to arrive but all the other flights that landed after us, had their luggage arrive before us. What is the nature of the delay? Understaffed? Flight too early? Baggage inspection? We will never know.
For the pain, my suitcase arrives first!
With the luggage, we headed to the exit.
And we go up to the departure floor to check in for the next flight.
To conclude, as far as Lufthansa is concerned, the flight was good. The crew was nice, professional, and attentive. The meals were very good. The entertainment was great. The IFE was perfect. The Wi-Fi is present, too bad there is not a free offer. The cabin is quite nice and clean. The A350 is really a quiet and comfortable aircraft. Big regret about the seat. Indeed, there is a lot of space for the legs and good functionalities, but it is difficult to sleep properly on it: the seat is too narrow to find a good position. However, the mattress overlay is a good point that really improves comfort. Disappointed with the 2-2-2 configuration in A350: I can't wait for a new cabin!
Concerning Bangkok, not much to say. It is fluid, especially when one has access to the "Priority Lane"! Quite a lot of offers of restoration and quite a lot of stores. It is very clean. I really like the architecture of the terminal. By the way, I can't wait for the opening of the new building at the end of 2022!
Finally, as far as Munich is concerned, it is very clean, modern, and pleasant. Very good fluidity, surely one of the best airports for connections. Immigration passed in a snap of the fingers. A little too much waiting at the baggage claim, however, unusual for MUC...
I hope you enjoyed this Flight review. I decided to focus less on what I had already detailed on my FRA-DEL. I wanted to focus more on what was different between these two experiences and therefore between these two Business Class products (the older one on the 747-8 and the newer one on the A350), so feel free to read my other Flight review if you haven't already. I'll see you soon for the fourth and last review of this trip (yes, already), a short flight this time but quite atypical. I won't tell you more for now.
Thanks for reading and see you soon ;)