Business Class, Beijing Capital - Frankfurt
CHECK-IN There is no doubt that the competition among the world’s premiere airports both commercially and aesthetically is fierce. By all accounts, Beijing Capital is likely soon to steal the Busiest Airport in the World crown long held by Atlanta. The massive Terminal 3 building we entered looked like it could handle 90-plus million passengers without a problem, but Beijing is already planning to start construction on a new, larger airport perhaps as early as July. Nonetheless, my check-in procedure at PEK was smooth, effortless and surprisingly free of crowds.
THE LOUNGE After clearing security, the full expanse of the Dragon Terminal (as T3 is known) opened up before us. Up the escalator on the mezzanine level we came to the Business Lounge of Lufthansa’s Star Alliance partner Air China. The spacious feel of this large enclave was enhanced by its open design – not a separate room, but a space set apart and above the terminal. The selection of food and refreshment was varied, but there was but one single-cup coffee maker for the entire lounge – and it wasn’t functioning at full capacity.
BOARDING The Dragon Terminal is actually two Y-shaped structures linked at their base by a passenger rail system. The southY forms Terminal 3C (with all the C gates), and the northY is designated Terminal 3E. The E gates are where international carriers depart. The 4-minute train ride from T3C deposited us a short walk from our gate. Lufthansa boarding was predictably courteous and methodical, and thanks to the use of three jetways, virtually hassle-free.
THE SEAT Lufthansa has dedicated the entire upper level of the newly-configured A380 to its premium customers. The 92 Business Class seats are the same fullyflat design as on the popular 747-800, meaning they angle slightly in toward each other, tapering into a little cubby where you can stow your feet when you’re in the lie-flat position.
I’d thought the angled-in design might have encouraged a constant chatter with my seat mate. However, once the excellent Sennheiser noise-
canceling headphones were connected to the inflight entertainment, any concerns about that were soon canceled as well. Lufthansa has certainly upped its game on IFE recently, offering 100 movies, 200 TV shows (including‘box sets’ –entire seasons of several popular series), plus a wide selection of music in various genres.
THE FLIGHT As soon as I was seated, a smiling flight attendant swooped in with Champagne, water or orange juice. Shortly after take-off, the cabin crew came through again with the drink service and menus. I settled in with Handel in my headphones and a delightful 2012 Pfalz Riesling in my glass. An appetizer of sliced roast chicken breast and cucumber salad was followed by a tasty pan-fried sea bass, accompanied by mashed potatoes and veggies.
After a brief stint on the laptop catching up on work, I abandoned all pretense of productivity and turned my attention to one of the IFE box sets on offer which consumed much of the 10-plus hour flight. However catching up on sleep when you’re crossing all those time zones is a must, so several hours were also spent in what turned out to be a comfortable and fairly capacious fully flat bed, complete with fluffy pillow.
ARRIVAL The gigantic A380 descended onto the runway at Frankfurt right on time, as you might expect. Since I was connecting onward, I didn’t need to experience immigration and customs here, and instead headed straight for the Lufthansa lounge to await my next flight.
VERDICT The A380 is so smooth in the air, it’s hard sometimes to imagine you’re actually in flight. Add to that the attentive cabin service and delicious food, and I’d say you have an airline experience the way it’s supposed to be. BT