Hello everyone and welcome to this new Flight review! This marks the second episode of my trip to Asia. In this review, I'm taking you with me on a flight from Munich to Delhi aboard a Lufthansa Airbus A350-900 in Business Class. However, unlike other reviews I've done of Lufthansa's Business Class, this time I'm here to present a flight experience in a rather unique cabin.
To give you a bit of background, when the lockdown ended in 2021, Lufthansa was facing a shortage of large aircraft. At that time, most of the Airbus A340s, as well as the 747-400s and A380s, were still in storage. However, due to the time required for their reactivation and the uncertainty of the pandemic's impact on high-capacity planes, Lufthansa had more faith in its fleet of Airbus A350s. Unable to expedite the delivery of their upcoming A350s ordered from Airbus – planes scheduled for delivery in early 2024 – Lufthansa had to find a solution to expand its fleet. Coincidentally, Philippine Airlines, severely affected by the pandemic, wanted to get rid of four of its Airbus A350-900 aircraft. This presented a perfect opportunity for Lufthansa, which quickly acquired these four aircraft to supplement its fleet of 17 "original" A350s.
However, these four aircraft – registered as D-AIVA, VB, VC, and VD – retained Philippine Airlines' old cabin. Lufthansa only changed the seat fabrics, modified cabin walls, and made a few adjustments. Thus, this is a rather distinctive product at Lufthansa, and I'm delighted to present it to you today. If you also want to fly on one of these planes, please note that as of the current moment (summer 2023), they mainly operate flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Montreal, and Vancouver from Munich.
Let's pick up the journey at Munich Franz-Josef-Strauß Airport. I've just flown in from Paris in Business Class aboard a Lufthansa Airbus A320. If you're interested in more details, you can refer to my previous Flight review.
During my layover in Munich, I took the opportunity to explore the terminal and stroll through its various concourses. If you'd like to skip the airport part, I'll let you get straight to the Boarding section.
Through the photos, you can appreciate the beauty, cleanliness, modernity, efficiency, and pleasant atmosphere of this terminal. These aspects truly deserve recognition, as few European airports can match Munich's standards (in my opinion).
Initially, I arrived at the K gates with my flight from Paris. To provide some context, let me describe the layout of Munich Airport's Terminal 2 – dedicated to Lufthansa and its partners. There's a main two-story building: Concourse G (Schengen) and Concourse H (non-Schengen) on the upper level. On the other side, there's a two-story extension: Concourse K (Schengen) and Concourse L (non-Schengen) above. The main building and extension are connected by an underground shuttle.
I start with a brief exploration of Concourse K.
It's nice to see D-AIMM, one of the few reactivated Airbus A380s of the German airline. I've actually flown on this plane in 2015! Today, it will operate the LH410 flight to New York (JFK), a service that resumed with the A380 at the beginning of the month.
There are several shops, including a large duty-free store.
There's a central area with various restaurants/cafés/bars.
Then, I decided to explore the main building, towards Concourse G. I take the shuttle for this journey, and a train arrives every 2 to 3 minutes.
The cleanliness and modernity are consistent even here.
The ride lasts only a minute.
Now I'm on the other side.
Here too, there are plenty of shops and dining options.
Next, I head to the non-Schengen area (Gates H, L). This involves going up one level.
A quick pass through automated border control gets me through immigration in literally 30 seconds. Quite a change from the never-ending waits at some other European airports...
Now I'm in Concourse H. Again, there's no shortage of shopping and dining choices.
I take the shuttle once again to move to the other side, to Concourse L, where my flight to Delhi will depart.
I'd like to clarify that it's possible to pass through immigration directly to the other side, going straight from Gates K to L without detouring through Gates G and H. It was just my personal choice to take this detour.
Finally, I'm in Concourse L.
Stepping off the shuttle, I notice a beautiful A350. This will, in fact, be my aircraft!
I quickly spot my gate: L15.
The flight is well displayed – LH762 bound for Delhi!
Right next to it is flight LH766 to Mumbai with D-AIVD "Duisburg," another Airbus A350-900 that was originally from Philippine Airlines (formerly RP-C3507).
I took another tour around the terminal while waiting for boarding. And, once again, there's a variety of shopping and dining options.
Munich Airport's decision to provide water fountains is a commendable initiative.
I spot D-AIMM again, this time from a higher level.
And next to it is D-AIMK, another recently reactivated A380. This one will operate LH424 flight later in the afternoon, bound for Boston. Another A380 I've taken twice in 2016!
This terminal... still as beautiful and welcoming as ever.
One thing is certain: the terminal isn't crowded; there's plenty of seating available!
Back at the gate.
A good 45 minutes before boarding, passengers are asked to have their visas and entry documents for India checked. No tests or vaccination certificates are required anymore – it's much quicker than my trip to India in 2022!
Right on time, the boarding begins with Business Class passengers.
Finally, here's my aircraft in all its splendor: D-AIVA, an Airbus A350-941 that was initially delivered to Philippine Airlines in 2018 (under the registration RP-C3503) before joining Lufthansa's fleet in April 2022. Interestingly, this is the only A350 in the German airline's fleet without a baptismal name (at the time of this review).
Beautiful view of the nose of this magnificent Raccoon.
Welcome aboard D-AIVA! This aircraft, inheriting the cabin from Philippine Airlines, is configured to accommodate 30 passengers in Business Class with a 1-2-1 configuration.
Yes, you read that right: 1-2-1 configuration! That's Full Aisle Access in Business Class with Lufthansa! Now you understand why Lufthansa chose to keep the cabin from Philippine Airlines rather than installing its traditional, somewhat outdated Business Class cabin (especially in an A350) with a 2-2-2 configuration.
This is a kind of transitional product, much like Hainan Airlines' Business Class on their early Boeing 787-9 aircraft (I refer you to my Flight review aboard D-ABPA, Lufthansa's first Boeing 787, in Business Class). It's a product that allows Lufthansa to be on par with the competition while awaiting the arrival of the new Lufthansa Allegris cabins, scheduled to debut in early 2024.
One thing is certain: even with the former seats from Philippine Airlines, this cabin is truly sublime!
Moving towards the back, you'll find 26 seats in Premium Economy and 262 seats in Economy Class.
I arrive at my seat, 08A, a window solo seat in the last row of the Business Class cabin.
The seat used in this cabin is the Thomson Vantage XL. It's a well-regarded seat found on SAS and Philippine Airlines' A350s, with a modified version on Delta Air Lines and Qantas, among others.
The seat comes with a pillow and a blanket.
The seat's comfort level is quite high (much better than the Super Diamond seats on the ex-Hainan 787s, in my opinion), and it's sufficiently wide. This is a significant improvement over Lufthansa's classic 2-2-2 Business Class layout, where the seat width was quite narrow.
The seat's fabric is navy blue (Lufthansa's color) with the classic Lufthansa headrest. The colors complement the gray-blue seat shell (from Philippine Airlines) quite well.
Due to the seat shell, a three-point seatbelt is provided.
Next to the window, there's a spacious armrest with various features. There's plenty of storage space. However, not as much as with the Super Diamond seats found aboard Lufthansa 787-9s.
A movable personal reading lamp.
The remote control for the screen is embedded in the shell, which can be taken out.
A USB-A port, a universal socket, and a dual-port headphone jack.
Above, the headphones. It's a good-quality BOSE headset that covers the ears well and offers decent passive noise reduction.
Underneath the reading light, there's the seat control panel. The seat can be adjusted, turned into a flatbed, and its firmness can be altered. A massage function can also be activated. There's a button for turning the ambient lighting on or off. This lighting is present within the shell above the armrest and at the footrest – a nice touch.
A second, more concise seat control panel is located lower down, for when the seat is in a horizontal position.
The aisle-side armrest can be lowered.
The seat can be fully converted into a flatbed, which also provides a decent-sized leg space.
In front of the seat is a reasonably sized touchscreen... I'll elaborate on the in-flight entertainment later in the review.
To the left of the screen is a magazine holder containing slippers and a coat hanger.
Beneath that, another magazine holder contains the Safety card, a sickness bag, and a WorldShop onboard sales magazine. This area also reveals a decent-sized table that, however, doesn't slide forward or backward.
The legroom in the seated position is truly generous.
My seat offers access to two windows. Currently, the view is obstructed by the jet bridge.
One downside of this seat: the width of the console makes it difficult to enjoy the window fully due to the distance between the seat and the window, as well as the seat shell partly blocking the left window. Additionally, the seat opens directly onto the aisle, resulting in limited privacy.
On the other hand, the odd-numbered rows (3A, 5A, 7A, and 3K, 5K, 7K) offer a different configuration: the console is situated near the row, providing better privacy and greater proximity to the window. Unfortunately, these six seats were already occupied when I booked my flight.
A note on Full Aisle Access: while it's trendy to offer each passenger direct aisle access, it's a bit of a pity when traveling with a companion. It means having to choose between your travel partner and the window seat. For this flight, I opted for the view, making it a solo journey, unfortunately...
As boarding continues, a flight attendant comes by with a welcome drink. I chose a glass of orange juice. The other options were standard: sparkling water or "Sekt" (sparkling wine).
At the seat, there's also an amenity kit – actually a Porsche Design bag.
It contains a toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, L'Occitane creams, a headphone cover, and a mint pastille.
In an effort to reduce waste, Lufthansa now provides eye masks, earplugs, and refreshing towels in the lavatories.
Another downside of this cabin: it seems that the cleaning was not thorough. From crumbs on the main console to a greasy and sticky window shade and a dirty remote control... there's a certain neglect on the part of the cleaning crew. It's quite regrettable, especially for a business-class seat like this.
A nice feature of this Business Class cabin inherited from Philippine Airlines: there are no overhead compartments in the center, significantly enlarging the space due to a much higher ceiling height. The removal of these compartments is made possible by the sparsely configured 1-2-1 layout, not require as many compartments as in a 2-2-2 layout.
Boarding is completed.
The Safety video starts. One will notice this small addition compared to the classic Safety video, with the three-point seatbelt.
The jetway disconnects, and finally, a beautiful wing view becomes available, with D-AIVD in the background, pushing back for Mumbai.
Then it's our turn to push back, facing North.
We begin taxiing towards runway 26L, passing various aircraft.
D-AIVD again and again.
An A340-600 that will depart soon for Charlotte.
Another A350, D-AIXK, departing for Los Angeles. Also, the A380 from earlier, D-AIMM, pushing back towards New York. That's a lot of flights to the US!
A Thai Airways A350 that seems to have wandered off a bit.
We line up on runway 26L. At 12:45, with a 20-minute delay, we take off towards Delhi!
A somewhat cloudy departure that clears up more and more as we climb.
Passing 10,000 feet, the (electronic) Seat belt sign is turned off.
Now, let me introduce you to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) available on this A350.
Lufthansa has a rather unique tendency to offer different software on each of its long-haul aircraft. Between the 747s still equipped with an outdated software lacking features, the "original" A350s with their advanced software, and the slightly different software on adopted planes (ex-Hainan and ex-Philippines aircraft), there are noticeable differences everywhere. The IFE I'm about to present is specific to these four ex-PR aircraft. If you're curious, I invite you to check out my reviews of the Boeing 747-8, the classic Airbus A350, and the Boeing 787-9.
The IFE is available in several languages.
Its interface is quite different from what you might be accustomed to if you frequently travel long-haul on Lufthansa.
This entertainment system is quite comprehensive and offers various types of content.
There's a substantial selection of films, covering various genres and languages.
You'll also find TV series and documentaries.
The IFE also offers music, games, audiobooks, wellness programs...
A dedicated children's section is also present.
This system, like any good entertainment system, features a comprehensive mapping system. The same system is found on the airline's Boeing 787s.
Classic views are available, such as the plane's tracking, 360-degree view, cockpit view, window view, and more.
General flight information is also accessible.
As well as a travel guide about the destination.
One particularly great feature for those who like to stay connected! This system allows you to link your smartphone to the seat to control both your seat and the IFE. Let me show you...
You simply connect (for free) to the Wi-Fi network "Telekom_FlyNet" from your mobile phone, then access the provided link. This gives you access to a user-friendly mobile interface with a list of available entertainment content and an interactive map with various views.
By connecting your phone to the screen using the personal code displayed, you can access a page that allows you to control the screen from your smartphone, including lighting, volume, and calling a cabin crew member.
You can also start a movie on the screen directly from your phone and select the language.
It's possible to add your favorite content to a personal playlist. Very useful!
Overall, it's a good entertainment system – smooth, intuitive, modern, connected, and aesthetically pleasing.
One rather surprising note, though: this A350 doesn't have external cameras (Tail view, Nose gear view...). This is likely due to the fact that this A350 belonged to Philippine Airlines, and they might not have chosen that option.
Magazines and newspapers
Lufthansa also offers a good selection of magazines and newspapers to download before the flight. I covered this service in my previous Flight review, in case you're interested.
Regarding Wi-Fi, Lufthansa naturally offers its FlyNet service on this flight, as on the entire long-haul fleet. Several packages are available: a messaging package for the entire flight duration at 5 €, a high-speed package for 2 hours at 15 €, and finally, a high-speed package for the entire flight duration at 25 €.
Having purchased a Messaging access prior to the flight on the Telekom portal, I only need to enter my access code to connect to the network.
5 € is reasonable for a flight of almost 7 hours, but it's a pity to charge for a chat package when other airlines offer it for free, especially to their Business Class passengers.
It's time for the first service. We're first offered a hot towel.
Here's the menu for this first meal. The flight attendant comes to take our order.
The table is set, and an aperitif is offered: I'll go for water and a glass of Sprite, accompanied by roasted almonds and a great view!
The starter and salad are then served, along with a choice of several bread options.
For the starter, I chose the Smoked Salmon with Green Peas, Herb Mushrooms, and Asparagus. For the bread, I combined the typical German "Brötchen" and Indian bread. The Brötchen is good, crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. However, the paratha is cold and hard. A shame...
The dishes are neatly arranged on porcelain plates. The cutlery is made of metal. Nonetheless, I'm not a fan of this cafeteria-style presentation with the tray. A few years ago, Lufthansa still offered a fully set table in Business Class. This is just one point highlighting the decline in the airline's quality.
Otherwise, the starter was decent. The salad was fresh. The salmon is quite good.
Next comes the main course. It's Chicken Teriyaki with Sweet Soy Sauce, Jasmine Rice, and Asian Vegetables.
This time, the tray has disappeared (as well as the bread?). Perhaps it's my French side, but I tend to appreciate having bread with a saucy dish ^^
Apart from that, the meal is good. The meat is very tasty and tender. The sauce is also good. The price is okay. The vegetables are a bit average, though.
Cheese and dessert
Then comes the cheese and dessert, served simultaneously. And here's where things go awry... or almost.
Firstly, I had to almost argue with the hostess to get some bread. Yes, I eat cheese with bread (I thought that was common??!). And the bread is just placed on the napkin...
The cheese is quite mediocre. Whether it's the Lenggenwil, the Cambozola, or the Sheep Cheese, they are all quite bland. They lack flavor.
The dessert, a Lemon Pie with Wild Berry Compote, is rather average.
In summary, the meal is generally okay. At least the starter and main course. The cheese and dessert are rather disappointing.
As for the crew, I'm mainly attended to by a specific flight attendant. It's rare for me to say this about Lufthansa crews, who are usually good and friendly, but the service provided by this flight attendant was particularly average. There's a lack of friendliness, personalization, attention to the passenger, no desire to do well, and a certain laziness. This constant feeling of bothering her by asking for bread, more drinks... Proactivity level: 0.
A typical example: I ask her again for water to go with the end of my meal. She comes back with a bottle, and pours water into my glass, spilling half of it on the side and on me. No apology.
The other crews seemed more smiley, friendly, efficient, and helpful. Let's say I just didn't have much luck.
During the flight
Once the meal is done, I head to the toilets, which gives me the opportunity to provide you with a loo review.
A basket is offered with various items: earplugs, eye masks, disinfectant wipes, and mouthwash.
Branded cups are provided, along with hand cream.
However, the restroom facilities remain consistent with those of the A350.
Upon returning to my seat, the crew brought me a small bottle of water and chocolates.
I attempted to stay awake by working on my upcoming Flight reviews and watching movies while continuing to enjoy the view outside.
Approximately two and a half hours before arrival, above Iran, the sun begins to disappear, creating a stunning sunset.
Half an hour later, after a five-hour flight, the cabin lights are turned back on.
A warm towel is provided.
This time, there are three choices for the second meal.
I opt for the traditional Indian option, the Eggplant Pakora with Dal, Tomato, Mung Bean Puree, Cumin Rice, and Yogurt Dip. I pair this with a Brötchen and Indian bread once again.
The meal is truly delicious, although I'm not as fond of the saffron pudding dessert. The Indian bread remains cold and hard, however.
Descent and arrival
Once the meal is finished, it's collected, and preparations for descent begin.
It's a few minutes past 22:00 in Delhi and the outside is pitch-black. Nevertheless, I'll attempt to provide you with photos of the arrival, though some might have lower quality.
After a rather lengthy approach that requires us to wait in the sky for a few moments, we touch down on runway 10 at 23:10, 20 minutes ahead of schedule and after a flight time of 6 hours and 55 minutes. Namaste India!
Terminal 1 is visible in the background, primarily used by Indigo and SpiceJet for their domestic flights.
We vacate the runway to the right and embark on a quite extended taxi, almost covering the entire runway.
We pass by the cargo area.
Some aircraft wrecks, including recognizable ATRs from the former Indian airline, Kingfisher Airlines.
We pass by Terminal 2, mainly used by Indigo and Akasa Air for domestic flights. A lineup of GoFirst/GoAir planes is also noticeable – an Indian carrier that temporarily ceased operations in May 2023.
Following a significant wait due to the pushback and the departure of an Air Canada Boeing 777, we spent some time waiting. With Terminal 3 in the background, used for all international flights at the airport as well as domestic flights of several Indian airlines, including Air India and Vistara, we resume taxiing.
We finally parked at gate A10 in Terminal 3 after a taxi of no less than 25 long minutes.
After a few minutes, the deboarding process begins.
Then it's off to immigration and the exit.
Delhi Airport is truly a welcoming and pleasant facility, quite modern and impeccably clean. The arrival corridors (especially at night) may seem a tad somber, but the departure level presents a much more inviting atmosphere.
Stepping into the renowned immigration hall.
A dedicated line for First and Business Class passengers speeds up immigration procedures in just a few minutes!
Next stop: Baggage claim...
...with a quick pass through Duty-Free.
Baggage delivery is already underway at Belt 14.
However, in Delhi, the "Priority" tags appear to be more decorative than functional. They seem to place little importance on prioritizing baggage, resulting in us waiting several lengthy minutes for ours, even as numerous other bags have already made their way to the baggage belt.
Once the luggage is retrieved, we proceed towards the exit.
And now, we're off to reunite with our taxi, bound for Delhi.
Thus concludes my second Flight review of this trip to Asia.
An overall positive flight experience aboard a rather distinctive cabin layout: finally, a 1-2-1 configuration with Lufthansa! The cabin and seat truly met expectations. Spacious, comfortable, and well-equipped. However, cleanliness was a minor setback, leaving room for improvement. The catering experience was largely commendable. The stewardess attending to my row, however, fell short: somewhat lackadaisical, not particularly efficient, sparing with smiles, and quite passive. This falls quite short of the usual Lufthansa standards. In terms of entertainment, an excellent and comprehensive IFE system was provided, including a commendable mapping feature. Regrettably, no cameras were available. On the connectivity front, several Wi-Fi packages were on offer; a missed opportunity for complimentary messaging, though. A solid collection of magazines and newspapers is available digitally.
Regarding Munich Airport, undoubtedly one of the finest layover experiences, in my opinion. Pristine, modern, aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly, and seamless. Neither too cramped nor overly expansive. There is plenty to engage with, thanks to an extensive range of shops, restaurants, and bars. Ample seating is available. Certainly enough to make the layover breeze by.
As for Delhi Airport, my arrival experience was fairly positive. Setting aside the somewhat extended taxi time, the process was swift and streamlined, especially with the priority line at immigration. Baggage retrieval was reasonably prompt, though the disregard for "Priority" tags was evident. The terminal is relatively pleasant and I look forward to delving deeper into it in my forthcoming Flight review.
I hope you've enjoyed this second Flight review. Join me soon for the third one, which will take me to Thailand.
Thanks for reading and see you soon ;)