Reviewing the newly reopened Lufthansa First Class Terminal
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The Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is back in business – and definitely deserves a place on your aviation bucket list.
This space, located in a standalone building set apart from the main terminals at the carrier’s megahub in Frankfurt, is designed to provide a seamless preflight ground experience for the airline’s most premium passengers.
Once inside, it’s immediately clear that this is not like any other airport terminal.
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Whether it’s the private security and passport control lanes, the oversized shower suites (some with bathtubs), a top-shelf bar with whiskies more expensive than most domestic coach tickets or a private limo ride to your aircraft, the terminal sets a very high bar for a first-class lounge.
Personally, I’ve been eager to return to the First Class Terminal. I’ve passed through here numerous times before the pandemic — it was this experience that first got me hooked on the power of points and miles — with my last visit in late 2019 after a flight on Lufthansa’s Airbus A380.
When the pandemic first took hold, Lufthansa shuttered this terminal. It only recently reopened in early September, and I’ve been keen to check it out ever since. What changed, I wondered, and would it still live up to its pre-pandemic standards? Read on to find out.
Access and location
The First Class Terminal is only open to Lufthansa’s VIPs.
Specifically, that means any passenger ticketed in Lufthansa or Swiss first class for a same-day flight can use the terminal. This includes travellers departing Frankfurt for their long-haul flight, as well as those who are connecting in Frankfurt from a first-class flight to a regional hop on Lufthansa, Swiss or Austrian (regardless of the cabin of the onward connection) on the same day.
While Lufthansa first-class tickets typically cost a fortune, points and miles can help unlock this experience, with as little effort as a single credit card sign-up bonus.
Additionally, top-tier HON Circle elite members can use the terminal for any same-day departing flight on Lufthansa, Swiss or Austrian.
Assuming that you meet the entry criteria, you can bring a travelling companion with you to the terminal, as long as they are booked on the same flight (irrespective of cabin or status).
The First Class Terminal is open from 5:30 a.m until 10 p.m. As mentioned, it’s located in a separate building from the main airport terminal, circled in red on the map below.
If you’re originating in Frankfurt, you can be dropped off directly at this terminal. There are signs as you enter the airport roadways for the First Class Terminal.
Inside, you’ll find check-in desks, a private security checkpoint and even a passport control station before you head out to your flight — allowing you to completely bypass the main terminal.
You also can use the space if you’re connecting in Frankfurt.
That’s especially enticing since the First Class Terminal is the only first-class lounge that’s currently open in Frankfurt. The ones in the main terminal are still shuttered due to the pandemic.
In my case, I flew from Paris to Frankfurt, with an onward first-class flight to Newark. My wife and I had about 90 minutes between flights, so we decided to pay a visit to one of our all-time favourite lounges.
This required entering Germany as an arriving passenger, clearing customs and walking about five minutes to the First Class Terminal.
Getting to the terminal on foot is fairly convenient. After exiting the airport and turning left, we quickly set our eyes upon the prize: the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. We passed the taxi queue, crossed the road and entered the ground level of the building.
There’s a small (unstaffed) waiting area there, along with an elevator to bring you up to the reception lobby.
At the reception and check-in area, an agent will verify that you’re eligible for access. Then, you’ll need to re-clear security in the private lane before entering the lounge.
Once we made it to the upper level, a friendly personal concierge welcomed us, asked for our passports and confirmed we were flying in first class that day.
She quickly printed our boarding passes and then escorted us to the private security checkpoint.
At that point, the premium experience was temporarily interrupted when we were handed off to the German security authorities to complete our screening.
My wife’s bag falsely tripped off the explosive detector, so a bomb-sniffing dog paid her a visit before we were allowed to enter the lounge. That ordeal lasted about 15 minutes, but once complete, the frosted glass doors opened, admitting us to one of my all-time favourite airport lounges.
Another concierge formally welcomed us into the lounge and invited us to take a seat wherever we felt most comfortable.
There are a variety of open-layout seating options in the lounge area, ranging from comfortable sofas to armchairs to full-length recliners.
My first impression was that it was quite crowded for a Sunday afternoon. This was easily the busiest I’ve ever seen the lounge throughout the years, so I asked one of the lounge attendants about it. The answer: With other first-class lounges closed, there are fewer spaces to accommodate all the premium passengers.
Despite the so-called “crowds,” we quickly found a private nook near the recliners to relax before our flight. Meanwhile, staff collected our passports and sent them to the First Class Terminal’s immigration desk downstairs for processing.
Once we had settled in, a dedicated agent whose job is to verify documents discreetly stopped by to check our pre-departure tests for travel to the United States.
There’s no question this was the most seamless pre-departure experience I’ve had during the pandemic.
With the formalities over, it was time to indulge and experience the lounge.
I briefly toured the entire space — spanning nearly 20,000 square feet — and walked through the various seating areas, all of which feature high-end finishes and a welcoming colour palette.
The lounge has one main relaxation area just as you enter, with plenty of individual recliners and sofas arranged around a rectangular table. Before the pandemic, the airline used to offer nuts and other snacks on these tables, but they’ve been temporarily removed.
This traditional seating arrangement spans most of the lounge, though you can also spend time in napping pods as well as individual phones booths, the dining area and a cigar lounge.
The First Class Terminal is a great place to unwind before your flight.
If you need to get caught up on work, there are five private workstations right by the entrance. These were already occupied by travellers on the morning we visited.
Additionally, there are two nap rooms for those trying to catch some shut-eye. The rooms are fully enclosed, and they can be reserved with the shower concierge by the restrooms.
Each has a bed along with an alarm clock and luggage storage area. The rooms are refreshed in between guests, so expect at least 15 minutes for cleaning once you notice someone leaving the room.
The one area that was noticeably empty during our visit was the cigar lounge. In addition to top-notch food and drinks, the lounge also has high-quality cigars on offer.
My first stop on this visit was to the shower attendant stationed by the restrooms.
There, I inquired about the availability of showers — two of four were available — although showering wasn’t my goal since I’d already taken one that morning (and didn’t have time for another during my visit). What I really wanted was one of the terminal’s famous rubber ducks.
Collecting a Lufthansa first-class rubber duck is a rite of passage for most aviation enthusiasts and points and miles collectors. There are numerous varieties, as well as limited-edition ducks.
I received a Porsche-branded one to celebrate the airline’s partnership with the luxury German car manufacturer. (I was really hoping I’d receive one of the “welcome back” ducks that debuted on 1 September, but unfortunately, those were already gone.)
I have, however, showered in the First Class Terminal before. The shower suites have plenty of room and offer thick towels and all the bathroom products you might need.
Some shower suites even have a bathtub — be sure to ask for one of them if you’d prefer a bath.
Finally, if you’re bringing the kids along, there is a play area tucked away behind the bar.
With a duck (or three, for my friends back home) in hand, it was back to the dining area.
Food and beverage
Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal has traditionally offered an extensive dining experience. While that was still true during my mid-pandemic visit, some things have changed.
Perhaps the biggest pandemic-related modification is the elimination of the buffet.
Historically, the dining room had both an extensive buffet and an à la carte menu — both catered by DO & CO — but now it exclusively features the latter, with just a few individually wrapped cold dishes in a small cabinet.
You can still get waiter service in the dining room and around the lounge, but you’ll be picking from the limited menu pictured above, which features some long-time favourites like a smoked salmon starter or an entree of escalope of veal with potato-cucumber salad.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to sit down for a full meal, but we did grab some of the famous (and delicious) soft pretzels to enjoy during our short visit. These hit the spot and definitely helped us save room for a larger meal once on board.
Another major pandemic-era change is the elimination of the tall candy containers that used to sit next to the bar. Those shared containers have been replaced with single-serve portions of nuts and candies.
As for the bar itself, it features nearly every top-shelf liquor you could possibly imagine, including over 130 whiskies. You can ask the bartender for a full menu, but some highlights include Lagavulin 1998 Distillers Edition, Dalmore King Alexander III and Laphroaig Quarter Cask.
If you prefer nonalcoholic beverages, you can take a peek at the 14 different brands of water that are available, ranging from Perrier from France to Voss from Norway and Hildon from the U.K.
At 12:40 p.m. local time, 40 minutes before our flight’s departure, our concierge came by to grab us. She escorted us downstairs to the limo loading area, where we waited for two other passengers to join us.
Once all four of us were together, our boarding passes were scanned, and a driver walked us to a waiting Mercedes van for the five-minute drive to the plane. (Depending on how many fellow travellers are in the lounge, you might luck out with a private ride, but there’s no way to guarantee one.)
It was a bit of a tight squeeze in the car — earlier in the pandemic, Lufthansa had been sending premium passengers in individual cars — but the ride wasn’t long. As a bonus, I even met a TPG reader along the way.
When we arrived at Gate Z62, the driver parked, unloaded our bags and escorted us directly onto the plane. He introduced us to the purser and our first-class flight attendant, Nina, before bidding farewell.
With my rubber duck(s) packed securely away in my backpack, I was excited about the next step of the journey: the flight itself. And as I trotted along the jet bridge, I kept thinking about how fortunate I was to have visited the First Class Terminal just weeks after its reopening.
Between the seamless check-in and private security experience (even if that part wasn’t so seamless in our case), the lounge’s luxurious relaxation areas, the restaurant-quality dining and bespoke amenities, you might not want to leave.
Our 45 minutes in the First Class Terminal weren’t long enough, but it’s clear that despite some mid-pandemic modifications, this space still offers one of – if not the best – ground experiences your points can buy.
All photos by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
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