While the intra-Europe business class product is embarrassingly bad, Lufthansa does lead the pack with amenities and half-decent catering. I wasn't fussed about the lack of WiFi or power ports on this short regional jet flight, though the lack of WiFi on their A320neos is a bigger problem.
For the last segment of my itinerary to Hong Kong for Christmas, I flew Lufthansa’s E190 in business class from Frankfurt to London City. There were three reasons I specifically sought out a flight to London City Airport, even though it came at a (very slight) premium: I could fly the Embraer 190 for the first time, I wanted to fly into City Airport for the first time, and any decision that avoids Heathrow Airport is a good decision. I flew Lufthansa’s A321 in business class a few years back, and reviewed it here.
In this review, I’ll be reviewing the seat, facilities, food and beverages, inflight entertainment (or lack thereof), and service onboard my flight on Lufthansa’s Embraer 190 in business class.
How I Booked Lufthansa’s E190 Business Class
I booked a cash roundtrip itinerary between London and Hong Kong, consisting of flights in Swiss, Cathay Pacific (on a Swiss flight number) and Lufthansa business class. My itinerary cost a total of ~£2,720 (~HK$25,800 at time of writing). For context, this price was about on par with many premium economy one-stop itineraries, or even some direct flights in economy class during the 2022 post-COVID peak travel season – and far below the market average price for Christmas business class tickets this year.
My Experience Flying Lufthansa’s E190 Business Class
After flying Lufthansa’s A340 business class from Hong Kong to Frankfurt, clearing immigration, and briefly stopping by Lufthansa’s Welcome Lounge at Frankfurt Airport for a shower and coffee, I headed out to Frankfurt for a few hours, as I had never been in the city before. I particularly enjoyed having a coffee (and getting some work done) on a terrace atop the Galeria Department Store, as well as a delicious lunch at Restaurant Emma Metzler, a restaurant serving up modern dishes with locally sourced ingredients.
At around 2 PM I made it back to the airport, ahead of my flight’s 4:15 PM departure time. I found Frankfurt Airport’s Terminal 1 delightfully easy to navigate, and very quickly found the security checkpoint for flights to the B gates.
Frankfurt Airport Departures Hall
Security staff were friendly, which is rare for such a large airport. It took a mere few minutes to get through security, and there was a separate immigration checkpoint located a few meters away, with a few gates in between for flights departing within the Schengen area.
I caught a glimpse of Lufthansa’s first brand new 787 in the distance, readying itself for one of its crew familiarisation flights to Munich (I couldn’t piece together a ticket that would allow me to try this flight economically, though would love to try out Lufthansa’s newest plane in the future). Lufthansa has started flying their 787s to New York in the meantime.
Lufthansa 787 at Frankfurt Airport
After clearing immigration, I checked out the Lufthansa Business Lounge, as well as the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge. Boarding was scheduled for 3:30 PM, so at around that time I headed to gate B47, where my flight would be departing.
This flight would be my very first flight onboard an Embraer aircraft – exciting! This particular aircraft was D-AECI, a Lufthansa Embraer 190 that had been with the airline throughout its 12-year life. The aircraft was named after Tauberbischofsheim, a town in the Franconia region in Germany.
Lufthansa E190 at Frankfurt Airport
Since my A340 flight was boarded 30 minutes before departure, I had a gut feeling that 3:30 PM was only a “gate open” time. While we didn’t have a “holding pen” gate (i.e. a gate where you’re confined to a gate-specific waiting area for a while after your boarding pass is scanned), I was correct in assuming that boarding wouldn’t start at 3:30 PM. Instead, at around 3:35 PM, passengers were invited to come up to the gate area to have their passports checked.
Boarding Gate at Frankfurt Airport
Boarding actually started at 3:55 PM, 25 minutes after scheduled boarding time. It began with families with young children, followed by business class passengers.
Lufthansa Flight LH934
Thursday, January 5, 2023
Origin: Frankfurt (FRA) Gate: B47 Dep: 16:15 (16:10)
Destination: London (LCY) Gate: 8 Arr: 16:40 (16:35)
Duration: 1 h 25 min (1 h 25 min)
Aircraft: Embraer 190 Reg: D-AECI
Seat: 2F/1A (Business Class)
A flight attendant was holding a basket of chocolates upon boarding, though otherwise she didn’t say much.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Cabin and Seat
Lufthansa’s E190 features 100 seats in a 2-2 configuration, with business class featuring the same seats as economy, as per the industry standard. This aircraft is particularly nice in intra-European business class, since you get two seats to yourself.
Intra-European business class is modular in size – the crew can just move the curtain forward and backward to adjust the size of the cabin based on demand. In the case of this flight, business class took up the first 7 rows, for a total of 14 seats.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Cabin
I’d selected seat 2F, the right window seat in the second row of the cabin. The seat itself was comfortable enough for this short flight, padding was adequate, and recline was good.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Seat 2F
The advertised seat pitch was 32″, and I didn’t feel cramped. It’s funny that these seats have more floor storage than Lufthansa’s longhaul business class product, even though these are just economy seats.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Legroom
In the case of the first few rows, a table was “fixed” to the seat beside me, effectively blocking it for my use. Here’s the thing – I was fine with the table as I was seated near the window, though Lufthansa staggers where they seat their business class passengers on this aircraft, and I’d be quite annoyed to be seated in an aisle seat with the window seat blocked in such a fashion. Even when seated in a window seat I kind of wished the table wasn’t there, so I could raise the armrest and spread across both seats (I’d feel differently if I was flying on an A320, and had a seatmate with the middle seat blocked).
Funnily enough only rows 1 to 4 were staggered in this fashion. Rows 5 to 7 didn’t feature this table, and all passengers were seated by the window – how interesting.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Blocked Table
The tray table that folded out from the seat in front of me was fairly large and sturdy, but not bi-fold. Unlike many newer aircraft, this table didn’t feature a nook to prop up a tablet.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Tray Table
I did enjoy how large the E190’s windows were.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Window
The overhead panels of this aircraft featured air nozzles, which were useful on this flight as well, if for no other reason than to keep the airflow running so I could stay awake. The plane did get fairly cold inflight, so I only used it during the boarding process.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Lights and Power Ports
Halfway through the flight I switched to the first row, to get a better view of the sunset. The first row did feature substantially more legroom, and I suppose floor storage in this case wasn’t too much of an issue, since you could just store your belongings under your seat (due to the way the seats are staggered).
Lufthansa E190 Business Class First Row Legroom
The tray table in the first row folded out of the armrest, though I did wish it were more properly cleaned.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Tray Table (First Row)
It’s fun to have two seats to yourself on these E190s, especially on short hops within Europe. This isn’t a particularly stand-out seating arrangement, especially because there aren’t any power ports, or headrests, though these planes do operate fairly short flights.
I’d say within Lufthansa’s fleet, the E190 has a leg up over their A320neos, since you can have both seats to yourself (Lufthansa’s A320neos feature power, but no WiFi).
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Pre-Departure Service
As I mentioned earlier, I was handed a chocolate upon boarding, which all passengers get. The chocolate was very tasty.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Pre-Departure Chocolate
There was no other pre-departure service on this flight, including a welcome beverage of any sort.
Taking Off from Frankfurt Airport
While the boarding process started quite late, it was very efficient, and we’d wrapped up by 4:10 PM. The flight was quite full in economy, though rows 1 and 3 stayed empty in business class (someone was seated across from me, and rows 4 to 7 were filled as well).
The captain welcomed us onto the PA, before the purser announced our flight time of 1 hour and 10 minutes. A manual safety demonstration followed, and before I knew it we pushed back at 4:10 PM, ahead of our scheduled 4:15 PM departure time. My eyes were glued to the window as we taxied, and I caught a beautiful LATAM 777, as well as a landing Lufthansa A320neo.
Taxiing at Frankfurt Airport
We took off from runway 25 at 4:20 PM, and from the right side of the aircraft I had some awesome views over Frankfurt Airport.
Frankfurt Airport Takeoff
We veered towards our northwesterly routing, and I caught some great views over Mainz and the Rhine River, despite it being a gloomy day outside.
Views upon Takeoff from Frankfurt Airport
Once we ascended above the clouds the sun was just starting to set, and blazed into the cabin. Once the seatbelt sign was turned off just under 10 minutes after wheels-up, I eventually decided to move to seat 1A. Not only would I have a better view of the sunset, but I’d also have control over one of the left window shades, since there was a fair bit of glare from the sun.
Sunset After Takeoff from Frankfurt Airport
Lufthansa E190 Business Class WiFi
This regional aircraft didn’t feature WiFi (or onboard power ports, in fact), which I don’t mind too much, since the flights Lufthansa operates with their E190s tend to be under two hours.
Some may suggest that I forfeited access to onboard WiFi by flying the E190 instead of one of Lufthansa’s bigger narrowbody jets, though funnily enough Lufthansa operates their Frankfurt to London Heathrow route exclusively with A320neos. None of Lufthansa’s A320neos feature onboard WiFi – apparently their A320neos are so dense that the WiFi receiver would offset the aircraft’s center of gravity. Oh, intra-Europe travel…
I have a bigger issue with the lack of WiFi on Lufthansa’s A320neos, since those planes operate longer flights, and more competing airlines have WiFi on their A320neos. I did think WiFi was less of a problem on this short flight.
For the record, Lufthansa’s E190s don’t have power ports either.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Meal Service
Not long after the seatbelt sign was turned off the crew sprang into action. Lufthansa serves full meals to business class passengers and a buy-on-board menu for economy passengers on this short flight, so they had plenty to do.
I was asked if I spoke Deutsch (“sorry, no”), and the crew communicated with me in English for the rest of the flight. I didn’t interact with them too much, though they were friendly, and would offer refills whenever I finished my drink.
I was one of the first to be served a meal, which was given to me less than 15 minutes after takeoff. Lufthansa offers their “Tasting HEIMAT” menu on their shorthaul flights, meant to highlight regional German cuisine. Typically this would come with menus, though no menus were offered on my flight.
The dish I was served was a cold cut platter, which came with two types of meat (beef and a mystery meat), some pickled root vegetables, and cocktail sauce. I was also served a chocolate cake with an apricot puree of sorts, as well as a cold bread roll. All were tasty, though unmemorable.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Meal Service – Beef, Mystery Meat, Pickled Root Vegetable, Cocktail Sauce
I was asked if I wanted anything to drink. I asked what they had, and they said “water, juice, or red and white wine”. I later learned that they had beer as well, when I saw a bottle of beer being served to someone else in the business class cabin.
I wasn’t sure how good alcohol was for my jetlag, given that it was nearing midnight in Hong Kong and I was tired, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy a glass of white wine with the sunset. The crew also offered me water, and proactively asked if I wanted to top up both glasses.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Meal Service Beverage – White Wine
Also provided with the meal was a refreshing towel (when giving my tray back to the flight attendant, she pulled out the refreshing towel and said “it’s for you”).
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Refreshing Towel
Lufthansa doesn’t serve hot meals on shorthaul flights, though I like that local cuisine is being highlighted.
The entire meal service was also very efficient – my tray table, sans wine glass, was cleared right after I finished, 20 minutes after takeoff. The buy-on-board process for economy class began only after all business class passengers were served.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Lavatory
After staying hydrated during my snack I needed the lavatory, which is located in front of the business class cabin. The E190 lavatories feel similar to the lavatories on some smaller Airbus planes.
Lufthansa E190 Business Class Lavatory
Sunset Over The English Channel
The sunset started to get good after the meal service, and I had a great view of it from seat 1A. I spent a majority of the rest of the flight looking out of the window.
According to FlightRadar24, I was enjoying the sunset from 36,000 feet – this is something I would have no way of knowing during the flight, as there wasn’t a moving map or inflight WiFi.
Sunset Over English Channel
Landing into London City Airport
Before long we were scheduled to land into London City Airport. The captain came onto the PA, and said “for those of you who are landing into City Airport for the first time, we will have a rather steep approach into the airport”.
I’d selected a window seat on the right hand side in the first place in hopes that we’d get some dramatic views over the City of London (the plane basically flies right over the Shard whenever approaching runway 09), though unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be today, since we’d be approaching London City Airport straight from the east. Instead the views were of Essex and Southend-on-Sea, and eventually more and more of the River Thames as we pulled in closer to London City Airport.
Views Over Kent/London City Airport
Wheels-down occurred at 4:30 PM, and we made a very short taxi towards London City Airport’s terminal.
View of London Skyline from City Airport
The purser welcomed us to London City Airport, though unfortunately said that mobile phones weren’t allowed on the tarmac, and could only be turned on once inside the terminal. Our Embraer 190 turned towards the terminal, and made an approximately 135° turn to align with its parking position.
KLM E190 at London City Airport
We disembarked the aircraft via air stairs, and were ushered directly into the terminal (there was no need for a bus). I still managed to sneak a quick picture of our E190 upon deplaning, though it wasn’t very good…
Lufthansa E190 at City Airport
London City Airport Arrivals Experience
Once landing at London City Airport, it was a quick walk towards immigration, where there was no wait. I’d signed up for the Registered Traveller Service over Christmas (which allows passports without eGate eligibility, including my Hong Kong passport, to get through the eGates at the UK border), and the friendly border control staff member said that he’d just given me the final stamp of approval, though I should expect the eGates to be temperamental with Registered Traveller Service passports sometimes. When I commented that this was a much smoother arrival process than Heathrow, he smiled and said “it always is”.
About four flights had arrived at City Airport within the hour, and I arrived at the baggage carousel before bags from my flight were loaded on. For some reason, my bag was one of the last to come out of the carousel (despite having a Priority tag on it). Despite this, I was still out of the airport in 15 minutes, and was on the DLR heading home within 20 minutes of deplaning.
Getting on the DLR at City Airport within 20 minutes of leaving the plane!
I love any London airport that isn’t Heathrow…
Conclusion: Lufthansa’s E190 Business Class
Lufthansa’s E190s offer a decent experience in business class, at least as far as intra-Europe business class goes, since you get two seats to yourself. I wasn’t a fan of the way seats in the cabin were blocked using fixed tables, and can imagine this could be annoying in certain situations, though I didn’t mind too much. What’s more noteworthy is that these planes don’t feature power ports or WiFi, though even then these planes operate fairly short routes, so it’s not a dealbreaker.
Although Lufthansa doesn’t do hot meals in business class, I have no complaints about the meal I was served, and appreciated the German influence that the “Tasting HEIMAT” meal offered. The crew on this flight were also friendly, efficient, and proactive with refills.
I can think of very few reasons why you’d ever pay a premium to fly intra-European business class (unless the price premium was below €50), though if you’re connecting onto a flight in Lufthansa intra-Europe business class, there’s nothing wrong with the product. I’d go a step further and say that Lufthansa generally leads the pack with intra-European business class, since a good number of their planes feature power ports and WiFi – this is where the A320neos and their lack of WiFi come in, since they prevent Lufthansa from being truly competitive on some lucrative intra-Europe routes.
Does Lufthansa offer one of your preferred intra-Europe business class experiences?
Thanks for the nice review! I just wanted to highlight a thing about why the neo’s of Lufthansa don’t have WiFi as it’s not because the aircraft would exceed its maximum take off weight, but rather a problem with its center of gravity. Due to the fact that these planes are more densly configured, their center of gravity is shifted to the back as there are more seat rows. And equipping the aircraft with a WiFi antenna on top would just shift the center of gravity even more towards the back, thus making the problem worse during critical phases like extreme climbs or go arounds. As far as I know, Lufthansa still has to block the six seats in the last row to cope with it. Let’s see if they’ll ever install WiFi or not, as other carriers have already done it in the meantime…
Thanks, corrected the post (N.B. the original incorrectly stated that it was a maximum takeoff weight issue).