When comparing British Airways (BA) vs. Lufthansa (LH), which is the best airline choice when traveling in Premium Economy, Business, and First Class?
British Airways and Lufthansa are more or less on the same level. The best choice largely depends on the individual flight and how accommodating the pilots and flight attendants are. That said, for short-haul, you get food and drink on Lufthansa in Economy, which is a great bonus as you get nothing like this on British Airways.
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1. Best Airport Lounges
Lufthansa operates from Frankfurt airport in Germany, as well as other cities in Germany, including Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, etc. If you choose to fly First Class out of Frankfurt, you will get access to the famous Lufthansa First Class Terminal at Frankfurt Airport. You can drive right up to this terminal and avoid the main airport altogether.
The lounge in this terminal is swish and offers loads of magazines and papers as you would expect. There is a central bar with every alcoholic drink you could wish for on offer. There is a restaurant area where you can have buffet or table food ordered off a menu, plus there are loads of lounging areas. Also on offer is a cigar room and showers. Perhaps most noteworthy, when you leave the lounge, you are driven to the plane from the First terminal in a Porsche Cayenne, Mercedes S-Class, or a Mercedes van. The British Airways Concorde Room is not a patch on this Frankfurt lounge.
For Business Class, Lufthansa’s lounges aren’t as good as the BA Galleries overall, except the new Business Class Panorama lounge at Frankfurt (FRA) is much nicer than the Galleries.
We have reviewed a large number of the British Airways airport lounges so that you can see what you are likely to experience in food, ambiance, and service when you fly in both Business and First Class. You don’t get lounge access on either airline if you travel in Premium Economy unless you are a high tier member of their loyalty scheme.
2. Best Pilots
As a nervous flyer, I like to fly British Airways, as the pilots tend to keep you informed of turbulence and tend to have a rather comforting (for me) British accent. Many have a background in the RAF. I am sure pilots from other airlines are equally competent, but no other airline has the Biggles style British Airways pilots.
3. Best Premium Economy Seat
Both airlines offer a comparative Premium Economy. Premium Economy on Lufthansa’s A350 is laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration. Therefore those traveling in a couple should always opt for the windows as the worst seats are the middle 3 seats in the cabin’s center.
These middle seats mean you have to climb over your neighbor to access the aisle. I would always choose rows A & K for the window. I would never pick the middle seats (E). All the premium economy seats on the A350 are over-wing, so you do best for views by opting for the front seats in this cabin in row 12.
Premium Economy on BA’s Dreamliner has an identical 2-3-2 configuration, although the exact layout will be dictated by the plane type as well as the airline.
4. Best Business Class Seat
Lufthansa Business Class seats have the edge over British Airways, but neither are noteworthy in Business Class. Why is Lufthansa the best? Because there is somewhere to put your glasses on Lufthansa and not on BA. Lufthansa seats always have a moleskin-lined cubby to stick your glasses in, or a glasses hook, on their long-haul Business Class seats. This means you don’t lose your glasses when you sleep as there is somewhere sensible to store them!
Both have the problem that some seats lack direct aisle access. That said, the British Airways Business Class seats are more comfortable overall and have more privacy. On Lufthansa, you find yourself watching your neighbor’s movie on the inflight entertainment system, which is most annoying.
A major advantage of Lufthansa is that they have got a decent Wi-Fi offering, and it actually works, unlike BA, which can be essential if you are traveling on Business.
However, I wouldn’t say I like the Lufthansa 2-2-2 seating pattern, which makes things very awkward for the window seat passengers when they want to use the bathroom or stretch their legs. Even regardless of the 2-2-2, Lufthansa’s Business Class still knocks the socks off BA’s unrefurbished 777.
If I were to be specific, British Airways probably has the better product on the 787 with its 2-3-2 seating pattern. Still, Lufthansa’s A330 and A350 Business Class (with 2-2-2) are better than BA’s 777, largely because some of the 777 planes remain unrefurbished.
The Business Class seat on the Lufthansa (LH) is identical on both the A330 and A350. By comparison, the Brussels and Swiss airlines J-seats are definitely better, especially if you get a throne seat, so these airlines win in Business Class if you have the choice.
British Airways Business Class seats are poor with thin foam, narrow seats, and no direct aisle access for many of the seats. The BA Business Class seats were groundbreaking when they were launched, but other airlines have improved on their model and are now much, much better than the seats on British Airways.
British Airways Club World seats currently lie flat but are thin, which means less privacy when you are trying to sleep to the point that you can feel quite vulnerable to passing traffic on these seats. Of course, if you have a non-aisle seat, you will feel less vulnerable, but you do not currently get aisle access from a non-aisle seat, so you have to climb over neighbors to get out, a real problem for sleeping if you need to get out and climb over or if you are being climbed over! This is a problem for both airlines.
If you fly on Lufthansa’s A350, I like window seats, so seats marked A&K are the best seats, IMHO. For quick disembarkation, row 6 is probably your best choice. For minimizing noise, row 1 is furthest away from the engines. I would always choose the front cabin for less noise, more to see, and being away from the toilets and wings (that will block some of your view). For me rows, 1-6 will always be the best choice on this plane.
5. Best First Class Seat
British Airways First Class is poor and cannot be compared to the Lufthansa First Class. If I focus on the LH A380 cabin, you will see what I mean.
Lufthansa’s First Class cabin is located at the front of the A380 upper deck. It is an intimate cabin with a spacious feel because it does not have overhead bins. The design is open seats rather than the completely enclosed suites like the ones you find on the A380s of Emirates and Etihad Airways.
There are just 8 First Class seats in the cabin, spread across two rows and arranged in a traditional 1-2-1 configuration. The 4 seats on the side are ideal for solo travelers (with 3 windows per seat), while the 4 seats in the middle are perfect for those traveling with a companion. If you are a solo traveler and you end up in one of the middle seats, you can pull up your divider between the seats for privacy.
The decor feels warm, relaxing, and very German. A small vase with a single red rose is attached to each seat wall, next to the entertainment screen, which I particularly liked, and you will find a small bar (with water, Champagne, and orange juice) located between the cabin’s front wall and the middle two seats in the first row. There are also several private lockers in the cabin’s front, with each passenger being assigned one locker upon boarding.
The First Class seat doesn’t feature a closed suite design based on customer feedback. While visually less striking and impressive as enclosed suites, I did like the ‘open seat’ a lot, in fact, more than an enclosed suite as I don’t like being ‘locked up’ for hours in a small, sometimes claustrophobic box. And Lufthansa combines the best of both worlds since you can raise a partition to transform the seat in a suite with complete privacy if that’s your preferred seat configuration.
The seat is extremely comfortable in all positions and features generous dimensions with a width of 31 inches (78 cm) and a pitch of 90 inches (230 cm). The Lufthansa A380 First Class seat ranks among the widest seats in the airline industry and also has a little extra room compared to the First Class seats that you find on Lufthansa’s other aircraft (Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A330/A340). One armrest holds the seat controls as well as the control for the privacy screen, while the other armrest holds the handset for the in-flight entertainment system, a USB port, and two universal adapters. The window side of each window seat (or the central side of each middle seat) also features some storage boxes, a cabinet with the in-flight magazines, and a small fixed table (for drinks and snacks); it also holds a very large tray table which need be pulled out for any use. In front of the seat is a large retractable ottoman, which can be positioned to create the ideal footrest and doubles as a storage box. A 17-inch entertainment screen is fixed above the ottoman, which is on the small side, considering some airlines now offer 30 inch TV screens.
Upon request, the flight attendants turn the seat into a fully flatbed with a length of 81 inches (205 cm). The bed is covered with a comfortable mattress topper and temperature-regulating duvet and dressed with Fleuresse cotton sheets, a throw, and a thick pillow. The bed(ding) is superb, and I was able to sleep for a couple of hours (which doesn’t happen to me a lot).
Solo travelers should go for the window seats, while companions should choose the middle seats. There is no worst seat in Lufthansa’s A380 First Class cabin. They are all pretty great!
While Lufthansa in First Class is something to be experienced, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend paying for a First Class seat on British Airways. You will get better sleep in British Airways First than in their Business Class, but this is not a particularly good First Class compared to other airlines and is not worth paying a high price for. In fact, the Qatar Airways Business Class QSuites are better than British Airways in First Class.
6. Best Shorthaul
Lufthansa is perfectly pleasant to fly and in the same league as BA for short-haul, but Lufthansa is slightly better as it tends to have cheaper fares in and out of Germany as well as free food and cleaner planes. Oh, and let’s not forget the free chocolates! British Airways in Economy on short-haul offers no food or drink. You have to buy something off the M&S inflight menu. Conversely, on short-haul British Airways, you can book and get the exit row seats which is a big bonus if you are large or want to stretch out, so there is one reason to choose British Airways.
7. Best Food
Now that BA has upgraded their food and drink in Club World, there is little to choose between the dining on either airline in Business Class, although Lufthansa wins in First.
Lufthansa’s First Class product is known for its excellent menus that have been prepared using seasonal and regional produce. The carrier’s onboard catering is provided by LSG Sk Chefs, a subsidiary of Lufthansa and the world’s biggest airline caterer. On my latest flight, dinner was served right after takeoff and breakfast about 90 minutes prior to landing (although you could have your meals at any time you want). You can read my Lufthansa food review in full here.
Like Lufthansa Business Class dining services (which is comparable to the BA equivalent), in Premium Economy, you can expect a small snack and a hot meal before on a flight of around 7 hours. The “snack” can be on the basic side; something like sandwiches, fresh fruit, and smoothie-type juice. The main meal is usually good on Lufthansa. For example, Dubai to Munich routes tend to offer an Arabic theme like mezze and chicken tandoori.
Lufthansa probably offers better food out of Munich and Frankfurt than British Airways out of Heathrow, but this should not be a dealbreaker when choosing between these two airlines, as the difference is small, except in First where the Lufthansa food is definitely better than the British Airways First menu.
8. Best Amenity Kit
BA offers a luxury amenity kit with Elemis skincare products and accessories in Business Class, which is not noteworthy. You also get a pillow and a blanket.
Currently, Lufthansa offers its business class passengers a Reisenthel amenity kit (includes an eye mask, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, and body lotion), a colorful pillow, and a high-quality soft blanket. The headphones on Lufthansa are branded Bose QC3s, connected, and stored in a small compartment to the right of the seat. The audio from these is excellent.
There is little to choose between these amenity kits, although Lufthansa’s Premium Economy headphones are a bonus and probably give them the edge.
In Lufthansa First, you get an amenity kit in a navy blue bag created by Jil Sanders. The bag contains the essentials (e.g., eye mask, earplugs, a comb, shoehorn, toothbrush, and toothpaste) as well as three tubes with La Prairie skin products. There are also bose noise-canceling headphones (you cannot keep these as the crew collects them before landing), a pair of slippers, and Van Laack branded pajamas.
The BA First Class Amenity kit is not one of the best airline amenity kits in the world; it is adequate. There is different content for men and women. The stylish, grey-colored bag features a BA leather logo on the front and the word “First” imprinted on the leather zipper pull. The men’s bag contains shave gel, revitalizer moisturizer, lip balm, deodorant stick, and eye gel from London-based grooming emporium for men, The Refinery, in addition to essentials such as a pen, eyeshades, socks, earplugs, hairbrush, and razor.
BA’s First Class passengers also receive pajamas with slippers. The lightweight, dark green pajamas and feature the BA First Class logo on the chest. Again these are good and nice to have, but they are not great.
9. The Best Toilets
Lufthansa First and Business Class toilets provide mouthwash and moist towelettes. British Airways don’t, so Lufthansa wins here.
10. Best for Loyalty
In terms of loyalty programs, Lufthansa operates Miles and More, whereas British Airways operate their BA Avios, so it’s sensible to choose one brand over the other and stick with it. Both loyalty schemes are comparable.
11. Best Routing
If you are UK-based, BA has a much better network; if you tend to fly out of Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, etc., Lufthansa makes much more sense.
12. Best Flight Attendants
Lufthansa and British Airways have a similar caliber of flight attendants. Some are kind and helpful; some are not. British Airways flight attendants vary from the excellent to the pretty unhelpful right through to the occasional rude air hostess.
13. Conclusion: British Airways vs. Lufthansa
British Airways and Lufthansa both offer solid but uninspiring Business Class products. Lufthansa planes are cleaner overall, and extras like toilet wipes are appreciated as well as short-haul food and drink, even in Economy. Where possible, I would choose Lufthansa for short-haul as I like to have something to eat and drink on my flight. For long-haul First, Lufthansa is the superior airline. For Business Class, both airlines are comparative. For Premium Economy and Economy, the airlines are comparable, but you get better headphones and Wi-Fi one Lufthansa.
Overall, British Airways is not as good, but it is still an enjoyable experience comparable to Lufthansa. If the cost of your First, Business Class, or Premium Economy ticket is the most important aspect of travel for you, you may choose to pick whichever is cheapest, as the overall experience is fairly similar.
In these trip reports, I review my long-haul Premium Economy, World Traveller Plus experience on my last two flights on their Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Read More.
I have flown with British Airways many times and have reviewed their long-haul Business Class flights in First and Club World as well as Premium Economy. My trip reports in Business Class can be found below. Read More.
I have reviewed a number of my British Airways flights in First Class. You can find my flight reviews on the A380, B787 Dreamliner & B747 below. The question I also answer in this article is whether it is worth… Read More.
I have flown Lufthansa long haul in Business Class and have written flight reviews outlining my experience. Lufthansa offers a very good Business Class and an even better First Class. If you fly out of Frankfurt Airport, you get access… Read More.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor.
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