Lufthansa Review: Economy vs Premium Economy vs Business Class

Last month I had the odd but fortunate experience of flying Lufthansa in three different travel classes in one continuous journey on a single ticket.

Ten months in advance of the flight, I purchased a Premium Economy return ticket from London to Bahrain. In this review I outline the fantastic experience I had with Lufthansa for the return journey, from Bahrain to London Heathrow (via Riyadh).

Lufthansa A330-343X
Our Lufthansa Airbus A330-343X in Frankfurt. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

The prices on Lufthansa flights to the Middle East do not linearly increase in price as the day of departure approaches, as is visible below. The first of the charts displays the price movement of my flight until the day it changed timings. The second chart displays the price movement from that day of flight change until the day of the flight.

Google Flights
The price of my flight over time, before Lufthansa adjusted the schedule. Photo: Google Flights
google flights
The price of my changed flight, up to the day of the flight. Photo: Google Flights

LH636 and LH624

Lufthansa flies to Bahrain International Airport from its base in Frankfurt once daily, with a stopover in Riyadh. This is the same arrangement as its daily flight to Dammam via Kuwait. Neither Bahrain-Riyadh nor Kuwait-Dammam can be purchased as fifth freedom flights. Interestingly, Lufthansa adjusts its Middle Eastern destinations timetable continuously.

As reported by Routes Online, Lufthansa used to fly to Bahrain via Doha in 2014. This stopped in 2015, when services to Doha began continuing to Muscat instead. Before it finally discontinued all flights to Doha in 2017, Lufthansa also flew Frankfurt-Kuwait-Doha.

Flights to Bahrain operated via Dammam in 2017 and via Kuwait in 2018. When I purchased my ticket in August 2018 I was meant to fly Heathrow-Frankfurt-Kuwait-Bahrain, but this was switched to Heathrow-Frankfurt-Riyadh-Bahrain in September of 2018.

Riyadh used to be operated as a non-stop flight with no onward legs in 2015, but when Lufthansa cut Doha in 2017 it started flying Frankfurt-Riyadh-Dammam, at the same time when it began flying to Bahrain via Kuwait. And then all of this was rejigged around again just a year later, in 2018!

Flight 1: Premium Economy, Bahrain to Riyadh

I had arrived to Bahrain International Airport by Uber and within fifteen minutes I passed through passport control and security.

Bahrain
En route to Bahrain International Airport. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

 

bahrain
Bahrain Airport’s unflattering interior. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

Our aircraft was D-AIKN – an A330-343X, 11 years old.

Boarding started at 23:20. This was slightly later than planned, but there was only 20 of us boarding the entire A330 so it made no difference. In fact, our gate push off time was 11.42pm, eight minutes early.

A330 Lufthansa
Our A333 parked at gate 16 in Bahrain International. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

bahrain a333
Our A330. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

The Premium Economy cabin on this aircraft consisted of four rows of seven seats. The total number of passengers was seven, which made the load factor on this segment 25%. The percentage was lower in Business, and far lower in Economy.

Lufthansa Premium Economy Seat
Lufthansa Premium Economy cabin. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

Lufthansa Premium Economy Legroom

lufthansa legroom

The legroom was excellent. The distance between the seats is such that the passenger in front of you can lean back as far as the seat goes without you feeling any pressure to move back.

lufthansa amenity premium economy

The amenity kit for Premium Economy includes a refreshment towel, a toothbrush and a toothpaste, a sleeping mask, earplugs and a thick pair of socks. The earplugs were weak and the face mask did not fully isolate light, but I loved the socks.

lufthansa ife

The IFE system is far inferior to the likes of Emirates but still includes a decent offering. One of the features, as seen in the photo above, is live GPS tracking of the aircraft. For the whole Bahrain-Riyadh segment I watched 100 Things, a 2018 German movie.

bahrain
The Kingdom of Bahrain from air. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

Despite departing Bahrain eight minutes early, we arrived in Riyadh five minutes late because we waited some fifteen minutes for our gate to be vacated.

Flight 2: Business Class, Riyadh to Frankfurt

As Bahrain-Riyadh is not a fifth freedom flight, passengers travelling to Frankfurt from Bahrain do not have to leave the aircraft in Riyadh. We were instructed to stay seated for ten minutes while the aircraft refuelled.

This was when Lufthansa’s representative from Riyadh Airport came into the aircraft and asked me to follow him into Business. There I was given seat 10H. I later realised this was because the entire Premium Economy, as well as Economy class, were about to fill up with passengers for the Riyadh-Frankfurt segment.

The segment from Riyadh to Frankfurt was 100% full in Economy, Premium Economy, and Business.

Lufthansa Business
Lufthansa Business Class seat. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

Lufthansa’s headphones in Business are stunning. They block out the noise completely. I couldn’t even hear the aircraft while we were up in the air. Plus, the quality of the sound coming from the IFE is crisp and clear. Thus, I could sleep very well.

I must not be the only one who absolutely loves these headphones – they are locked into the seat and cannot be removed!

orange juice business
While the passengers were boarding in Riyadh, we who came from Bahrain were served freshly squeezed orange juice. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

dinner
Dinner. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

breakfast
Breakfast. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

We departed Riyadh King Khalid at 2.10am, 15 minutes late. We arrived in Frankfurt at 7.14am, one minute early. The average delay of LH637 is 10 minutes.

Flight 3: Economy, Frankfurt to London Heathrow

Sadly it was this final flight of my sequence of three that arrived late. It had actually arrived early from its previous flight, but for some reason cleaning took over an hour.

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Our Lufthansa check-in desk at Frankfurt. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

The aircraft was D-AINC, Lufthansa’s first A320neo. It is three years old.

air canada 787
Taxiing in Frankfurt: two Air Canada 787s in two liveries. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying
A Lufthansa line up in Frankfurt. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying
frankfurt from air
Air view of the surroundings of Frankfurt. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

My seat was an emergency exit row window seat. Lufthansa allows you to choose these for free at the time of check in. I always check in as soon as possible. So far, I have never failed to get an emergency exit row seat with Lufthansa.

emergency exit row
Lufthansa A320neo emergency exit row. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

 

Lufthansa legroom on short-haul flights is rather disappointing. My emergency exit row seat was just about enough for my long legs.

Rather disappointingly, the crew served everyone the same sandwich, which was full of cream and cheese. There was no alternative for those of us who don’t eat dairy.

Furthermore, the crew refused to give out any water before take off. I was thirsty, but got told to wait. Because it took over an hour for us to take off, with taxiing being very long, I was thirsty for a long time.

london from air
London from air. Photo: Jakov Fabinger, Simple Flying

The load factor was 100% in Business and near full in Economy. Despite LH637 being on time on average, we arrived 40 minutes late having pushed off from Frankfurt 29 minutes late. We also spent a very long time circling around London.

It was no major annoyance but it was still a step down from the service between Bahrain and Frankfurt. It was even a step down from what I had between London and Frankfurt on the outbound journey.

I should mention that Lufthansa quickly and without much hassle issued me the 600 Euros of compensation for the connecting flight I missed for my outbound journey. In fact, I was so impressed with how they handled my case that I will endeavour to choose Lufthansa for all my future connecting flights.

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