This article is part of the Flight Reviews series, in which I review the onboard product offered by airlines across a variety of aircraft types and routes. These first-person reports review a particular flight — a unique combination of factors including operating airline, aircraft type, route and class of service.
German flag carrier Lufthansa offers non-stop flights from its hub airports of Frankfurt and Munich, Germany to a number of U.S. destinations, including my home airport of Boston, Massachusetts. When a friend invited me to try out the airline’s long-haul business class product on a flight from Boston to Frankfurt, I jumped at the opportunity. Here are some basic flight details to get started:
Airline/Flight: Lufthansa, LH423
Route: BOS-FRA — Boston, Massachusetts to Frankfurt, Germany
Flight Date: February 22, 2023
Scheduled Departure/Arrival: 3:50 p.m. ET / 5:15 a.m. CET
Scheduled Flight Length: 7 hours, 25 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300
Lufthansa is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A340, with 22 of the aircraft type currently in service. The airline operates 17 of the A340-300 variant, an aircraft it sends all around the world. Its Airbus A340 fleet is due to be replaced by new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft, which means this review may soon be obsolete as the type is retired.
Lufthansa Airbus A340-300 Seating Layout
Lufthansa’s Airbus A340-300 aircraft type is a three-class aircraft, with business, premium economy and economy class cabins.
Business class is arranged in a 2-2-2 seating configuration, with 30 seats across 5 rows. The 28 premium economy seats are arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration, and the 221 economy class seats are arranged 8-abreast in a 2-4-2 configuration up to row 40, after which seats are arranged 2-3-2 due to the narrowing of the aircraft’s fuselage. A high-quality seat map of the Lufthansa A340-300 is available from aeroLOPA.
Wheelchair Accessibility of Business Class Seats on Lufthansa’s Airbus A340
While most airlines have moved to a 4-across 1-2-1 configuration in business class, Lufthansa’s A340s are arranged 2-2-2, meaning the window seats do not provide direct aisle access.
The benefit of the 2-2-2 configuration is that the aisle seats make lateral transfers from the aisle wheelchair incredibly easy.
Aisle seats feature a movable aisle armrests that can be lowered by pressing a button and gently pushing downward. Once the armrest is lowered, it is level with the seat cushion and provides superb access to disabled passengers. Unlike the reverse herringbone seats found in other business class cabins (see this, this and this), there is no seat shell, shroud, wall, door or enclosure that restricts lateral transfers from the aisle chair — a big win for accessibility!
With the press of a button, the seat can be reclined into a variety of lounge positions or a fully flat bed mode. Although I slept for the majority of the 7-hour flight, I neglected to take a photo of the seat in sleep mode. The photo above, supplied by Lufthansa, shows the A340’s business class seat reclined fully flat.
Despite its 2-2-2 configuration, the seat itself is spacious. The footwell is not enclosed, meaning travelers benefit from the ability to move freely while lying down. I found the bed to be a bit hard, leading me to reposition frequently throughout the night, however the seat was very comfortable in lounge mode.
Most inflight entertainment screens feature touch screen displays, however that is not the case on the Lufthansa A340-300. My particular aircraft, registration number D-AIGY, was delivered in June 2000 and it doesn’t appear that the business class cabin has been updated since then. The entertainment system is controlled using a handheld remote control/mouse that is a bit tricky to get used to. At best, it would prove extremely difficult for those with limited dexterity to use effectively.
Headphones are provided at each business class seat, though their quality Although I didn’t have time to watch a movie, I did scroll through the in-flight entertainment library. The selection of films was decent, with both new and old titles available. The IFE system also provided access to additional content, including games and a moving map — I left my screen on the map for the duration of the flight.
Food & Beverage Service
The first of two meal services began shortly after the flight’s departure and upon reaching our initial cruising altitude of 37,000 feet.
My cocktail, a Jack & Ginger, was served with a ramekin of cashew nuts. The starter course, included a salad, selection of breads and a choice of three appetizers:
- Herb roasted Beef, chilled Polenta with Feta and Dill, Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade enhanced by Arugula Pesto
- Ahi Tuna Poke, marinated Cucumber, curled Daikon Radish and Green Tea Noodle Salad
- Chilled Ratatouille Parcel with Artichoke Escabeche and Pomegranate Balsamic Glaze
I chose the beef and selected a pretzel roll from the bread basket — it was a fantastic way to start the meal!
For the main course, passengers were offered a choice of three entrees:
- Gorgonzola and Porcini crusted Beef Filet served with Burgundy Sauce, Dauphinoise Potatoes, Baby Fennel Gratin, sautéed Baby Zucchini and Red Onion
- Crab Patty with Shrimp and Scallop Mousse, Capellini Pasta with Mushrooms, sautéed Squash and Carrot Ribbons, sautéed Baby Bok Choy and Lemon Chive Beurre Blanc
- Mild Goat Cheese Tortelloni, seasoned Vegetable Ribbons, seasoned Broccolini, charred Corn, Tomato Confit and Basil Oil
I’ve taken a lot of long-haul flights in my life and this was the first time I’d seen a crab cake on the menu — it’s one of my favorite meals, so I had to give it a try. The crab cake proved to be a bit dry — certainly not seafood restaurant quality, but it was enjoyable and broke up the “chicken or beef” monotony of inflight dining.
Following the main course, a selection of desserts was offered:
- New England Cave Aged Cheddar, Rouge Affinee and smoked Cheddar Cheese garnished with Grapes
- Dulce de Leche Mousse with Caramel Sauce
The mousse was a sweet treat before bed and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I regret not asking for a second serving!
Prior to landing in Frankfurt, a continental breakfast was served — it consisted of fresh fruit, Passionfruit Muesli with Kiwi, Raspberry and Blueberry, and an orange juice. A selection of breads was also made available — I chose a croissant.
All in all, I found the meal offering to be more than adequate for the short length of the flight. Flight attendants provided quick and efficient service with a smile (one of whom was my friend!), and I made sure to share my appreciation for the pace of onboard service. On an eastbound flight from New England to Western Europe, the priority for most passengers (myself included) is sleep.
Accessible Lavatory on the Lufthansa Airbus A340
I committed the cardinal sin when it comes to wheelchair accessible flight reviews: I never went to the lavatory! After the flight departed, meal service commenced, I ate, then slept. I never had to use the bathroom during the flight and only realized I had forgotten to check it out after I had deplaned.
Despite having scoured the web for a photo of the largest of the A340’s lavatories, I wasn’t able to locate one. What I can say is that the larger lavatory is located behind row 27 in the center of the economy class cabin. The sink and toilet are located opposite each other and the door opens into the space between the two. I believe this design will permit a transfer from the onboard aisle chair at a 45 degree angle, however this is only an educated guess. I’m currently working to secure a photograph of the lavatory and will update this review if I am able to locate one.
For more information on getting to and using the bathroom on the airplane as a wheelchair user, read the article on wheelchair accessible airplane lavatories, which contains photos and descriptions of the various lavatory styles.
Lufthansa’s Airbus A340-300 fleet is a bit long in the tooth, but its business class cabin is much more accessible than the premium seating products that have more recently entered the market. For non-ambulatory passengers, the ease of transferring from the aisle wheelchair to the seat, whether independently or with assistance, is a major benefit.
A business class seat with above-average accessibility isn’t the only reason to fly Lufthansa’s long-haul product. The carrier’s solid food and beverage offering, together with its strong commitment to customer service, really moves the needle for me. I had a great flight — my first long-haul trip with Lufthansa — and am looking forward to the next!