Pretending to speak German: fun flying Lufthansa

I’m rather proud of my ability to understand a VERY limited number of words and phrases in various (mostly Western European) languages.  Being able to order a beer and find the bathroom, airport and train station are useful life skills, especially when you can do it in many places around the world.  Like the weekend I spent in Belgium constantly trying to speak French when everyone there spoke perfect English, but what the heck.  I was having fun.

After the crazy week in Germany last month for the Star MegaDo and other meetings I found myself in the business class cabin of Lufthansa’s Munich – Los Angeles non-stop flight.  Damn, that is a long flight.  But with the big comfy seat and plenty of booze available I figured to be quite fine.  The flight attendants came through offering up beverages and I put my limited German to use.  A glass of sekt to start would be lovely.  Danke.  And then, after takeoff, the drink cart.  The weißwein, bitte.  It really is delicious.  And, if you wouldn’t mind, also some wasser mit gas.  After all, I have to stay hydrated and the little bubbles are nice.  So I’m 90 minutes or so into the flight and I’ve managed to only speak German with the crew.  Not too shabby. 

SBM_1439 And then my little dream came crashing down around me in a hurry.  They came out to offer dinner and the flight attendant addressed me in a flurry of German.  Perhaps if she spoke slowly I had a chance but she assumed I actually spoke the language.  I very much don’t.  I actually found myself sitting there laughing quite a bit.  I wasn’t really sure how else to respond.  I explained that I actually don’t really speak German and she admitted that she thought I did.  We switched to English and the rest of the flight was quite fine, though uneventful.  And not nearly as entertaining as that first 90 minutes where I appeared to be quite accomplished in my knowledge of German.

As for the rest of the details about the flight, as I said, it was uneventful.  The food was OK but nothing special.  There are two sunsets, at least during the early winter months, so that is fun.  And Lufthansa’s version of the A340-600 have the economy lavs downstairs in the back which is pretty cool.  And the business class lav on the starboard side has a window in it.  That’s rather awesome.

SBM_1435 SBM_1437
Headed down to the coach lavs Looking out the window in the biz lav
The glow of the second sunset we experienced during the flight shining on the engines

But I wasn’t all that wowed by their business class service.  It was very professional and very proper but not a ton of emotion in the service.  It comes across as stiff and a bit standoffish, but lots of Germany appears that way. I’ll get over it.  I enjoyed it much more than my recent United Airlines business class service but that is mostly because the seats are way better (no, I wasn’t in the new UA seats) and, more importantly, because the flight attendants didn’t yell at me because she spilled orange juice on another guy’s laptop.  But I’m drifting off topic now.

Overall, the experience was probably around 3.5-4 stars out of 5.  Quite proper and efficient but lacking the little personal touches that make me think “great” service.

Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.

Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.