Lufthansa versus United Airlines — comparing flights in business class. Also, dining in Reykjavik.

This item appears on page 4 of the August 2011 issue.


Having booked a Star Alliance flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt many months ahead, my wife, Joan, and I were excited when it was announced in early May 2011 that Lufthansa was inaugurating service on this route with the new Airbus 380. Here is some feedback on our flights.

The upper cabin has eight first-class seats and 98 business-class seats (where we were seated); 420 economy-class seats are on the lower deck. The business-class cabin is huge, and one feels like just another cog in a large gearbox.

When we first sat in our flat-bed beds/seats, we thought they were awfully hard but that we’d get used to them as the flight progressed. Well, the seats became harder and harder instead, and even in the flat-bed position we were uncomfortable. It was a very long night and we did not rest well.

On the plus side, the plane was very quiet; one can conduct a conversation in a normal voice. The boarding process was smooth, since the airports now have two-story boarding ramps for these aircraft.

Lufthansa’s in-flight service was perfunctory — not what we were accustomed to from Lufthansa. And I would not consider the meals we were served to have been satisfactory even for the economy-class cabin.

By comparison, our return flight from FRA to SFO was on a United Airlines 747-400. What a difference, in every respect — attentive and excellent service and excellent meals! Best of all, the lie-flat bed seats were comfortable.

The business cabin of the 747 was much smaller and had a more intimate feel to it. The cabin noise level was higher, though.

Given a choice between those two aircraft, there is no question that we would opt for the United 747-400.

After our May 16 outbound flight from SFO to FRA, we were transferred to a Lufthansa Cityline flight to Prague. The June 8 return flight was on Cityline from Florence to Frankfurt, then we transferred to United for the leg home. Ticketed by United, the business-class fare for two for the entire trip was $8,377, purchased from our travel agent using a consolidator.

— Peter Klatt, Berkeley CA

Report from Iceland…

Try the lobster bisque at the Fiskmarkadurinn, or Fish Market (Adalstraeti 12, Reykjavik, 101, Iceland; phone +354 578 8877), in the Miðborg area. Not cheap but worth the price! I did not pay this bill, but I can tell you that, including a bottle of wine, we never ate out for less than $100 for two each night.

— Marlene Lomas, Honolulu, HI