When comparing Lufthansa (LH) vs. Austrian Airlines, which is the best airline choice when traveling in Premium Economy, Business, and First Class?
For a start, Lufthansa has First Class, but Austrian doesn’t, so if you want to fly in First, Lufthansa is your best choice and is actually one of the best European airline First Class products. For Business Class, the two airlines are more or less on the same level, with the exception of the food, which is much better on Austrian. However, the best choice largely depends on the route you want to travel as Austrian airlines have a minimal footprint in the sky, whereas the larger Lufthansa flies all over the world!
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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 possibly 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.
For Business Class, Lufthansa’s lounges are great, and the Business Class Panorama lounge at Frankfurt (FRA) is their best Business Class lounges. The Lufthansa lounge network is more extensive than the Austrian network, so this is also an advantage.
2. Best For Planes
Austrian has an old long-haul fleet. It still flies the B763, which was put together in 1992, so if new planes are what you are looking for, fly Lufthansa!
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 center of the cabin.
Premium Economy on Austrian Airlines is also now available. Still, it is worth mentioning that on their refurbished Boeing planes, some of the Premium Economy cabin may be situated right behind the toilets, which are used by a stream of Business and Premium Economy passengers – not ideal. The worst seats in this cabin are the center row bulkhead seats because the legroom is used by people queuing for the bathroom. Even if you don’t have one of these seats, the cabins of Austrian’s older planes are noisy when compared to the more modern planes used by Lufthansa, and the toilets are dated.
The new Austrian Premium Economy Class provides passengers with more comfort on their journey compared to regular Economy Class seats, and all twelve long-haul aircraft in the Austrian Airlines fleet have been refitted to include the new travel class.
On both Lufthansa and Austrian, the seat is nearly identical. Seats offer 38 inches of pitch and 9 inches of recline, but the reality of the pitch on Austrian has been reported online to be disappointing, with around 5 cm or 2 inches longer pitch than regular economy class. Parent Lufthansa’s legroom in Premier Economy on their A340 and A380 is around 20 cm or 7 inches longer than in Economy. This again makes Lufthansa the better choice.
The Premium Economy seat on Austrian is produced specially for the Lufthansa Group. It’s supplied by the aircraft seat manufacturer ZIM, and provides passengers with plenty of legroom based on seat spacing of up to 97 cm or 38 inches. Additional footrests take the strain off the legs on a long flight. The central armrest with a fold-out table between the seats and a personal, broad armrest for every passenger enables more privacy and more room on the side. Also, every seat is equipped with its own power outlet and USB port.
Passengers in Premium Economy can check-in two pieces of luggage at no charge, each with an allowable weight of up to 23 kilograms before being pampered on board with two hot meals per flight (instead of a second, cold meal) and a water bottle as well as a hot towel and welcome drink.
Travelers can conveniently select their favorite food from the menu card, and the food is served on china dishware. Meals are catered by DO&CO, which offers some of the world’s best in-flight dining. While it doesn’t match Business Class, it’s similar to the meals that Economy passengers can pre-order in Austrian’s a la carte program (with a 15 Euro surcharge), so the food is a little better than that in Economy.
Every Premium Economy passenger on both airlines is given a small amenity kit with useful travel accessories, including an eye mask, earplugs, socks, a toothbrush, and toothpaste, to ensure a restful stay on board. Premium Economy passengers enjoy the extensive in-flight entertainment program on large 12-inch touchscreen monitors.
4. Best Business Class Seat
Austrian Airlines’ Business Class cabin design looks beautiful, airy, and trendy with a red-blue-white color scheme contrasting with the dark grey seat covers. It looks fresher and feels more luxurious when compared to the design aboard its Lufthansa Group sister company, Swiss or Lufthansa itself.
All Business Class seats on Austrian Airlines feature the same dimensions: 152 cm (60 inches) in pitch, a width of 50 cm (19.5 inch), and a 180-degree recline, which you can read about in my reviews of Austrian Airlines below. But it is not the seat design that makes this airline stand out. It is the cabin design (mentioned above), the staff, and most importantly, the food.
The Austrian Airlines Business Class seats are in a staggered layout. The same layout can be found on Brussels Airlines’ A330, Finnair’s A330/A340, Swiss’ A340/A330, Delta’s B767, and American’s B767.
The staggered Business Class cabin configuration on Austrian Airways comprises 10 single seats, while the remaining 38 seats are in pairs. The seats enjoy decent privacy (an improvement on Lufthansa), as none of the rows quite line up. Most seats also have direct aisle access (also an improvement on Lufthansa), except for the paired window seats.
Lufthansa seats lack direct aisle access and privacy. On Lufthansa, you find yourself watching your neighbor’s movie on the inflight entertainment system, which is most annoying.
I don’t like the Lufthansa 2-2-2 seating pattern, which makes things very awkward for the window seat passengers when they want to get out to use the bathroom or stretch their legs.
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
On the A380, Lufthansa’s First Class cabin is impressive and 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 has a little extra room than 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 huge 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 could 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, it cannot be compared to Austrian Airlines as Austrian doesn’t have First Class at all.
6. Best Food
IMHO, Austrian Airlines has its meal service down to an art. The food comes from DO & CO, a catering company that has upscale restaurants and cafés in cities like Vienna, London, and New York.
The crew offers a selection of starters, entrees, and desserts through the cabin, so for each course, you can always choose what you want.
Finally, Austrian Airlines has hired an onboard sommelier to develop wine pairings for its Business Class passengers. You can also choose from 11 different types of Austrian Meinl coffee.
On my most recent flight on Austrian Airlines B777 Business Class Colombo to Vienna, Lunch was served after takeoff, and I choose the following items from the menu:
- Chicken curry salad
- Traditional air-dried beef ham / mountain cheese
- Grilled vegetables
- Smoked eggplant salad
- Salmon tartare / pine nuts with rosemary
- Traditional black pudding pastries /herb dip
- Viennese style potato soup with croutons
- Grilled prawns, homemade pappardelle, light tomato sauce, and fresh parmesan
- Cheese and exotic fruits from the trolley, double nougat tart, raspberry sorbet, and sweet curd soufflé crepes
A second, lighter meal was served 2 hours prior to landing:
- Mediterranean feta salas
- Viennese style red pepper chicken, homemade spaetzle
- Austrian chocolate cake, oven-fresh bread selection, and freshly brewed coffee or tea
- A walk-up snack bar was also set up in the galley between the two Business Class cabins
Lufthansa’s First Class product is known for its excellent menus that have been prepared using seasonal and regional produce and is comparable to Austrian in Business Class. Still, Austrian Airlines has much better food in its Business Class than Lufthansa does in Business.
Lufthansa’s First onboard catering is provided by LSG Sk Chefs, a subsidiary of Lufthansa and the biggest airline caterer in the world. On my latest flight, dinner was served right after takeoff and breakfast about 90 minutes before landing (although you could have your meals anytime you want). You can read my Lufthansa food review in full here.
7. Best Amenity Kit
Currently, Lufthansa offers their 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, which are connected and stored in a small compartment to the right of the seat. The audio from these is excellent.
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 Austrian Business Class amenity kit comes under the form of a redesigned version of Austrian Airlines’ established ‘Schuhsackerl’ (shoe bag). Its content features travel essentials such as socks, sleeping mask, shoehorn, toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, and cosmetic Edition Edelweiss items (moisturizer and lip balm) by Sin along with a comfortable, thick pillow, a stylish and comfortable, high-quality blanket, and noise-canceling headphones (you cannot keep these as the crew collects them before landing).
8. The Best Toilets
Lufthansa First and Business Class toilets provide mouthwash and moist towelettes. The Austrian toilets on their older planes can be dated. Lufthansa wins here.
9. Best for Loyalty
In terms of loyalty programs, Lufthansa and Austrian operate the Miles and More loyalty scheme.
10. Best Routing
Lufthansa has a much larger route network than Austrian Airlines.
11. Best Flight Attendants
Austrian Airlines’ crew members are amongst the best and most friendly in the world. As a general rule, they are more lovely than those on Lufthansa.
14. Conclusion: Lufthansa vs. Austrian
Its flatbed seats are not the best in the industry, but Austrian Airlines Business Class with mainly direct aisle access (except the window seats) remains my favorite European airline for flying in Business Class for the service, amenities, and food, which is the best in the skies (similar to what you usually get served in First).
For long-haul First, Lufthansa is the superior airline because Austrian doesn’t have First. For Premium Economy and Economy, the newer planes and better pitch of Lufthansa wins.
Overall, I prefer Austrian, it is such a love-in, in terms of the superb staff and food, but with only 12 planes, it doesn’t always go where you want to go!
I have flown with Austrian Airlines and have reviewed their long-haul Business Class and Premium Economy flights. My trip reports can be found below. 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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