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Flight Report: Lufthansa 409

Passenger Laura Begley
Aircraft Airbus 321
Date March 9, 2005
Class Business
Route Newark––Düsseldorf, Germany
Seat No. 10A
Departure Time 4:40 p.m.

Check-in/Boarding
Grade B
Check-in for the airline's all-business-class flight was an absolute breeze, and the ticket agent gave me a stamp to get me through security faster. With only two working computers and basic snacks, the otherwise chic lounge was a bit of a letdown. Boarding, however, was so speedy that I didn't even have time to buy a magazine.

Cabin
Grade B+
The narrow cabin of the Airbus 321 lacks the glamour of a 747, and the smaller size seemed to leave the plane vulnerable to turbulence. But the airline's new Private Beds are ingenious: rather than recline, they extend forward, so there's no seat back in your face. The leather chairs unfold to a near-prone position and come with two feather pillows.

Service
Grade A
The staff was as sharp as a tack, friendly, and accommodating. Although their buttoned-up uniforms weren't the height of fashion, the look conveyed professionalism. When one flight attendant found out I was headed for Berlin, he offered to give me a list of his favorite new restaurants in the city. That was above and beyond the call of duty.

Food and Drink
Grade C-
Meals are served on simple-yet-stylish white porcelain, with ultramod flatware (including real knives!). The food was bland, from a tasteless crab salad to a pasta with pesto sauce, which a flight attendant replaced for me with an equally lackluster venison. The latter—a "Connoisseurs on Board" selection—came with a recipe. Why bother?

Tech/Entertainment
Grade B-
Each passenger receives a personal mini-cassette player for watching on-demand videos. The selection of movies and television shows was standard-issue. I couldn't figure out how the music system worked, but the listing of 10 audio choices looked appealing. Bonus: Oversized noise-reduction headphones.

Overall
Grade B
The all-business flight is a brilliant concept, and it pays off in efficient boarding, a civilized atmosphere, and a good night's sleep. If only Lufthansa would be more attentive to all the elements, such as the amenity kit (where was the lip balm and hand cream?), then this flight would be a truly elevated experience.

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