TRIED & TESTED

Lufthansa A350-900; Grand Mer­cure; Lotte New York Palace; Roger Smith Ho­tel

Business Traveller (India) - - CONTENTS -

CHECK-IN Lufthansa’s new A350-900 be­gan op­er­a­tions on the Mum­bai-Mu­nich leg on April 16. Check-in at Mu­nich In­ter­na­tional Air­port was a breeze. I ar­rived at Lufthansa’s des­ig­nated busi­ness class coun­ters at 0945 for a 1140 de­par­ture. Mu­nich Air­port is a case in point of Ger­man ef­fi­ciency, hav­ing won nu­mer­ous “Best Euro­pean Air­port” awards. Se­cu­rity and pass­port con­trol lines moved smoothly, with a pri­or­ity line for busi­ness class pas­sen­gers. I was in the du­tyfree area ex­actly 15 min­utes after check-in. After a quick cof­fee at the well-ap­pointed Lufthansa Busi­ness Class lounge, I checked out Mu­nich’s im­pres­sive du­tyfree and re­tail ar­eas — there’s even a beer gar­den of sorts for a quick pre-flight drink.

BOARD­ING Board­ing com­menced ex­actly 40 min­utes be­fore de­par­ture, with a sep­a­rate queue for busi­ness class pas­sen­gers. The board­ing process was car­ried out zone wise. I en­tered the new Air­bus 350 from the “1 Left” door, which led me straight into the busi­ness class cabin, where I was wel­comed by the head purser. Board­ing was com­plete 15 min­utes be­fore de­par­ture. I set­tled down in my seat with a pre-flight or­ange juice and pro­ceeded to check out the features of my seat.

THE SEAT The busi­ness class cabin is pos­si­bly one of the most visu­ally ap­peal­ing in the skies, with its sig­na­ture grey up­hol­stery and colour­ful striped pil­lows. The chic white cabin features 48 seats in a com­fort­able 2-22 for­mat, but this also means no aisle ac­cess for those on the win­dow seats.

The seats are com­fort­able with a width of 21.5 inches and a pitch of 61 inches; in flatbed mode it ex­tends to 78.5 inches. The seat has a lot of stor­age space for es­sen­tials like head­phones, a tablet, mo­bile phone, water bot­tle, shoes and a lap­top. Other features in­clude USB charg­ing ports, read­ing light, and en­ter­tain­ment con­trol panel. Once the table is un­folded, the seat turns into a spa­cious work­sta­tion. The touch screen for the in-flight en­ter­tain­ment has an ac­cu­rately re­spon­sive in­ter­face, with no slug­gish lag like those on older air­craft. WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?

If you’re not fussy about di­rect aisle ac­cess, I rec­om­mend one of the win­dow seats in the mid­dle of the cabin, so you’re away from gal­leys and wash­rooms. Win­dow seats on rows 2, 3 and 4 are ideal. Cen­tre seats of the rows an­gle in to­wards each other, with your feet sep­a­rated from your neigh­bour’s by a flimsy panel. Fre­quent fly­ers hu­mor­ously re­fer to them as the “foot­sie” seats.

THE FLIGHT We took off from Mu­nich on sched­ule. Soon after take-off, pre-meal drinks were served — I chose the Jac­quart Brut cham­pagne. The wine and cock­tail menu is ex­ten­sive. Lunch in­cluded three main op­tions; I chose the Proven­cal chicken with herb po­lenta. This was fol­lowed by a course of cheese, dessert and fruit. Prior to land­ing, a light din­ner was served — three op­tions, of which I chose the Thai chicken curry with rice.

The ser­vice was dis­creet but at­ten­tive and ef­fi­cient. The Ger­man and In­dian crew re­ferred to ev­ery pas­sen­ger by last name and are con­stantly on pa­trol be­tween meal ser­vices to check on pas­sen­gers. Don’t for­get to check out the self-ser­vice bar in the gal­ley area, stocked with sweet and savoury snacks as well as bev­er­ages.

I made the most of my flight time of seven hours 40 min­utes to catch up on a House of Cards marathon, avail­able on the en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem.

AR­RIVAL We landed at Mum­bai’s Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji In­ter­na­tional Air­port on time, with a quick taxi and a smooth im­mi­gra­tion process.

VER­DICT Lufthansa de­liv­ered well on ser­vice, com­fort and ef­fi­ciency. With Mu­nich Air­port’s ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties and con­nec­tiv­ity, it makes this sec­tor a great op­tion for travel to Europe and on­wards to North Amer­ica.

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