My wife and I were able to book a flight to Italy by way of Frankfurt, Germany on Lufthansa and their huge A388. As I promised a few of the Aviation Geeks I would provide a report of what it was like to be on such a large craft so here goes.
We were flying on LH441 with service from Houston to Frankfurt, seated in Business Class Row 14. The airplane is simply big as you see it on the ground, but even more so when boarding and realizing you are on the second floor! First Class and Business Class boards from the gate level while Economy Class takes and escalator down one level and boards through the front door.
We were met at the boarding door by a very nice friendly polite and proper Flight Attendant who welcomed us on board and asked for our seat assignment, then directed us across the galley to the right side of the aircraft where we found out seats for our 9+53 flight.
First Class has eights seats while Business Class has 98 in the old LH configuration. There are three different Business Class sections in the large cabin. We were not even allowed to sneak a look at First Class as they closed the door from the galley. Guess we didn't have the right papers!!
Our seats were the old not quite lie flat as this airplane had not been remodeled with the new lie flat Business Class seats. The seats themselves were narrower than what I thought we'd find however; they had plenty of storage with two large size bins beneath the windows as well as a small storage space between the seats where we found bottled water already waiting for us to consume and our amenity kit. The kit contained nothing fancy just the usual items one would find on a long haul flight in this class of service.
The overhead bins were much smaller than I would have thought, and they the older type where the door opens up rather than the bin slowly falling down from the ceiling, strange since this airplane was less than five years old. Oh well, everything fit just fine in the bin and we ordered our Champagne which came in actual glasses not the plastic cups you find on most if not all U.S. airlines and it was very very good.
There was plenty of legroom with a good sized display monitor that adjusted for easy viewing......and no way for the passenger in front to recline their seat back to affect our space!
Yes, that is speed tape (duct tape) as airlines like to call it holding up the magazine rack. And I thought only UA did that.
I decided to look out the window at the wing, WOW that thing is incredible and with four motors. The interior of the window is large and then it gets smaller in size to a normal window found on most airline aircraft, except for the very large nice window you have on a B788. Look what I found sitting on the Terminal D ramp, a UA B788 that I'd much rather have been on than an Airbus, but we are here and another flight on the Dreamliner will have to wait....she sure is beautiful though.
With boarding complete it's time to push from D12, quite a few international carriers in town at this time of day. BA boarding at the gate while Air France and Emirates B773's are leaving in front of us today.
Motors running and it's taxi time to Runway 15L.
The big bird is sure quiet and smooth on the ground and without any delay we are rolling down the runway and into the air in much less time on departure roll than I thought this great big plane would be able to do, impressive. In the left turn northbound headed toward FRA (nice wing flex compared to sitting at the gate). What a nimble craft she is both on the ground and in the air.....very quiet as well.
Out of the turn and climbing, getting ready to clean up the wing and away we go.
It's getting to be dinner time as we left a about 35 minutes late at 4:25 P.M. due to the inbound flight arriving a few minutes late, but the Captain has informed us of good tailwinds and we will land just about on schedule. The menu was passed out as our drink orders were taken, a very nice meal awaits us and plenty of "meds" (jerrycoin you'd be most happy) starting out with more Champagne.
Appetizers my wife ordered the Chipolte Shrimp with Jimaca and grilled Corn while I opted for the Ginger marinated seared Beef (had to, going to have pasta from there on), red Quinoa and Date Salad red Pepper Sauce, marinated Black Beans and red Pepper Vinaigrette. Both were awesome and almost filled us up.
The staggering of serving was quite European as we certainly were not rushed from course to course, perfect for an almost 10 hour plane ride. Mrs. IAHFLYR selected Pecan and Molasses crusted Beef Filet with Broccolini, Sunburst Squash and Horseradish and Chived Mash Potatoes. It was pretty tasty as well however; I picked the Seared Red Snapper wtih Black Bean Refrito, Sugar Snap Peas and creamed Corn Sauce....Grand Slam!!! Sorry no pictures of that as we totally forgot until half way through the course. I know, kharada46 the MI Foodie will not be happy with me, but oh well!
After dinner they came around with Cheese and Fruit followed by Ice Cream, we took the first offering and were very happy campers with our selection. Next stop, nap time.
After a short nap we wanted to see what the lower deck was like so off we went to the rear of the A388 where the stairs were located from Business Class to Economy (First Class has their own stairs). WOW, what a cattle car looking environment with 420 people crammed into their seats with 10 across a row in a 3-4-3 arrangement. Sure glad we were in Business after seeing how that looked.
The A388 has three cameras mounted outside the aircraft, two in the nose area and one over the vertical stabilizer that gave us a very interesting picture as we were passing over Southern England around 7 AM.
Soon we were on our initial descent into FRA. We hardly knew we had started down without looking at the Flight Map that gives altitude, speed, winds, temperature and location, very smooth and even in the clouds we would soon be flying through as FRA was shrouded in a low ceiling and almost fog while on approach.
After taxiing for what seemed like another day we approached our parking ramp to find a fleet of LH aircraft, what a large HUB FRA is yet the airport lacks many of the passenger comforts of Munich.....we will save that for another blog soon.
We headed over the the Senator Lounge to spend our three hour layover and found the club to be sporting some incredible food offerings, drink offerings so of course in honor of my pal erc I had to indulge in an early morning beverage!
All in all the A388 was a very nice ride even though the current LH Business Class seats in this airplane left something to be desired in the way of comfort. The angled lie flat seat needs to be lie flat and increase the width as they are pretty tight even for an average sized dude as myself. An annoying issue was when ever someone around you changed the position of their seat their was a clicking noise as if the seat was on a railroad track, not sure why but annoying.
The smallish size of the windows for an airplane this large was a bit disappointing when you consider what other manufactures have down with window sizing. The The lavatories were good sized and even had a window to look out over the front of the wing, that was interesting.....sure hope another plane didn't pass us during an time someone was using the lav!
The A388 was a nice and quiet from the wind and engine noises normally heard. It felt very stable when in turbulence (it better for as mammoth as it is) yet did not feel as if we were riding around in a tank.
We have had the pleasure of riding on both the A388 and B788, I will still favor the Dreamliner due to the much lower cabin pressures and humidifying systems that allow to to arrive after a long flight feeling much more refreshed. The large windows and interior lighting is much more soothing and the ventilation system provides a flow of cabin air that was missing on the A388. While neither airplane has air vents in the overhead service unit the Boeing flow on the all the B767 and B777 series airplanes gives a feel of at least some circulation.
Next wide body flight we take will be on a B772/3 or B788/9 over the A388, just my preference. I am very happy I was able to book and fly on an A388 as it is a beast and we never felt anything but completely safe on it the entire time.
Look for more stuff soon from the rest of our journey to Europe.
Thanks for reading.