Good morning everyone, and welcome to a new flight review! This flight was part of a trip to both Africa and Europe. The details of the trip can be found here.
Today I’ll be reviewing Lufthansa, a new airline on the blog. Although I have flown and reviewed a Lufthansa Group airline before, this would be my first time flying Lufthansa itself. I also found it interesting that this flight was one of the few long-haul flights operated by Cityline, and wondered if the service would be any different than on a regular Lufthansa flight. This would also be my first flight on an Airbus A340.
Anyways, let’s get into the actual review!
About a week before flying, it was announced that our flight would take off about 3.5 hours later than originally scheduled. This meant that rather than arriving in Nairobi around 8PM, we would be landing around midnight, and instead of a 1.5-2 hour layover, we had a five-hour layover. My guess was that the change was because we flew on the day the aircraft type changed from an A330 to A340 and the operator changed from Lufthansa to Cityline, but I cannot be sure.
This layover meant that as soon as we arrived on our United flight, we had time to hop on a cab and eat lunch in the city of Frankfurt.
After taking the S8 train from central Frankfurt back to the airport, first we printed out our boarding pass using a kiosk. By the way, I love the flip departure boards at Frankfurt!
went straight to the gate area, which was small and crowded. The previous day’s flight had problems, which meant that our flight was jam-packed with 16 people on the waitlist. We had to gate check our bags, possibly because of how many people there were onboard.
This gate, B32, was a bus gate, and the bus ride was long, and – you guessed it – crowded.
At least we had great views of the plane at the stand, rocking the Star Alliance livery!
Frankfurt (FRA) – Nairobi (NBO)
Plane Registration: D-AIGW
Plane Type: Airbus A340-300
Flown: July 2018
Flight Time: 7 Hours 21 Minutes
Flight Distance: 3,912 Miles (6,295 Kilometers)
Seat: 37E (Economy)
All of the Cityline-configured aircraft are Lufthansa’s densest A340-300s, which makes sense considering these planes fly to leisure destinations such as Cancun, Panama, Chennai, and more. This plane is only put on the Nairobi route during the tourist-heavy summer season.
The dense configuration means that the only premium seats on the plane are three rows of business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and three rows of premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. All of the other 261 seats are in economy class.
We boarded through the back door and sat in our seats in Row 37. Unfortunately, Cityline flights do not allow advance seat assignments, and because the seating configuration was 2-4-2, our family of four was kept in the four middle seats, meaning no window shots today.
My first impressions of the seat were positive. The recline was deep, especially compared to my previous United 777 flight.
Each seat had a coat hanger and cup holder.
In between the middle seats, there was a double armrest, which I guess made the people sitting in the middle seats just a little bit more comfortable.
Waiting at my seat was a comfortable blanket (for Economy Class) and a pillow.
Unfortunately, the seat did not have air nozzles.
Soon afterward, the safety video was screened, and we started our taxi. No pushback was needed as we departed from the remote stand.
Unfortunately, given my seat, there are no taxi or takeoff photos. We took off about three and a half hours later than expected to start our 7-hour 26-minute flight down South.
Let’s take a look at the in-flight entertainment. While the Zodiac RAVE system was the same as on Austrian Airlines, the content was different. Despite what some have said, the selection was actually quite extensive. There were 167 movies and 271 TV shows, as well as three live TV channels (CNNi, Euronews, and Sport 24) which allowed me to watch a World Cup match.
There were a few different map features as well. This one was my favorite.
Actual headphones (not earbuds) were also handed out.
Soon after takeoff, we were served a snack and a beverage.
Right after that, we were actually given moist towels. How nice in Economy Class!
I know I already mentioned it, but seriously, just look at that recline!
Sometime after the snack, lunch was served. The choices were chicken and beef. I do not eat beef and therefore chose the chicken.
The meal consisted of chicken with potatoes and spinach, salad with dressing, a bread roll and butter, cake, cheese, and chocolate. There was even metal cutlery! This is also very rare in Economy! The meal both looked and tasted delicious.
At this time, the world cup match was at a penalty shootout stage, and a lot of people on the plane were cheering and getting excited. Right near the end of the shootout though, at the climax of the match, the Live TV turned off! Many passengers were very disappointed, so the pilot made an announcement announcing the winner of the match. Ha!
Now, I decided to watch Eddie the Eagle, which was a fun movie. Afterward, I took a nice long nap.
Shortly before landing, we were offered a hot snack: either chicken calzones or vegetarian pizza. I chose the pizza, which was very tasty.
Shortly before starting our descent, visa and declaration cards for Kenya were distributed.
Soon after, we started our descent into Nairobi. We had a bumpy landing around midnight. Once again, there are no window photos, but here is are pictures from the inflight map:
After landing, we taxied to a remote stand, where we were bussed to the temporary terminal. The main arrivals terminal that Lufthansa normally flies to was destroyed by a fire in 2015 and is currently in the process of being rebuilt.
So first off, before getting to my conclusion, I realize that I have not really talked about what the differences were between this Cityline-operated flight and a mainline Lufthansa flight. I was originally afraid this would be a low-cost experience, but in reality, there really were no differences, and honestly, I forgot I was actually technically on a Cityline flight. The seats/IFE were the same (the configuration was different though), the service was the same, and the flight attendants were mainline-Lufthansa. The only differences were the safety card branding, the exterior paint (Star Alliance livery), and apparently (according to Flyertalk) the pilots are regional Cityline pilots trained and certified to fly the A340 (which makes absolutely zero difference as a passenger).
Overall, this was a really pleasant flight and an example of what flying in Economy Class should be like. Was there super large entertainment screens, menus, or a brand new plane? No. But at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter. What mattered was that Lufthansa managed to create an Economy Class experience that was genuinely comfortable and enjoyable with good food and entertainment with great service and therefore a product that I would be happy to fly again.
Well done, Lufthansa. At least in Economy, you deserve your Skytrax five-star rating.