TRIED & TESTED
Lufthansa A350-900; Grand Mercure; Lotte New York Palace; Roger Smith Hotel
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.