Whenever you ask a room full of frequent flyers to name the best first class lounge in the world, two of the names you may hear the most are Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and Thai’s Royal First Lounge in Bangkok.
I recently completed a rapid fire First Class around the world trip where I had the opportunity experience both lounges for about 4 hours each on the same day (technically) as I flew from Bangkok to Frankfurt to Washington. The quick succession made it easier for me to compare the products because my memories of each were fresh as I was experiencing the next. The other “First “ impression posts can from the trip can be found here.
- Cathay Pacific First Class 777 and 747
- Thai First Class A380
- Lufthansa 747-8i First Class
- British Airways 777 New First Class
Lounge design and comfort
Similar to their First Class products inflight, the Lufthansa FCT design is modern and sleek throughout while the Thai lounge has a bland color scheme and looks dated. Spatially they feel about the same size. Because of how restricted access is to both, neither lounge should ever fill up to the point of not getting a comfortable space to yourself.
Thai has several semi-private rooms which I really enjoyed. I actually wish they would add a half door to make them further enclosed. You almost feel like you are on display in the rooms since everyone entering is checking each room to see if one is unoccupied.
Food and Drink
Both lounges offer a restaurant and a buffet. The Lufthansa lounge has a wide selection sitting out for self service or one can dine in the seated area with a server. The food is excellent all around. I was in the lounge during breakfast where pretzels are not typically served though the chef approached me and offered to make one. The Lufthansa bar is top shelf with excellent bartenders. There is a cigar bar though I have never visited.
Thai has a sit down restaurant, a buffet where you point to what you want and an iPad where you can order food at your seat. Call me old school but I do not like over-technologizing food. The iPad concept is neat except I spent an extra ten minutes figuring out how to navigate the menu to ensure I was seeing every item they were offering. Even once you’ve made your selection you simply point it out to the server so they can go tell the kitchen.
I found both the Thai sit down restaurant and the point-only buffet to be unappealing. I was in one of the semi-private rooms near the restaurant and noticed no one actually used the restaurant.
I appreciated that all of the dishes were small so you could try a few different options without filling up.
Service is excellent in both though I found the styles to be a bit different. Lufthansa’s service is very refined but not over the top. They approach you at appropriate times for refills or other requests without feeling like they are watching over your shoulder at all times.
The Thai lounge has that over-the-top style service where they treat you like royalty and you won’t spend one second with an empty plate or glass. The staff seemed to match if not exceed the number of guests in the lounge at all times so they were always available to help you whether you needed it or not.
Security and Access
The Lufthansa First Class Terminal is not connected to the main terminal so if you are connecting you may have an uncomfortable winter walk over to the terminal. Once there, security and customs are performed quickly and comfortably. If you blink you may not even notice you went through.
If you use the First Class check-in at Bangkok, they escort you through a standard security and customs checkpoint and then walk you to the lounge where they then drive you on a golf cart to the First Class Lounge. Comically the drive takes you through the Business Class lounge which draws a few funny looks.
I did find it frustrating that we had to clear security a second time after leaving the lounge to head to the gate. The communication was very poor as we were rushing through the airport in golf carts towards our plane so I am not sure if it had to be done that way. Interestingly this second security checkpoint confiscated a few additional items from my bag that the first security passed through.
The real differentiation between these two lounges and the rest of the pack is the extra services they deliver to guarantee your experience is memorable.
Once you have arrived at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, you don’t have to worry about anything else. When your flight is ready, your personally assigned agent will come find you and escort you downstairs to Chauffeur Services where you will be driven to your plane in a fancy German vehicle.
The Thai First Class Lounge allows you access to a one hour massage at the Thai Spa. While the actual price of a massage is not too high in Bangkok, it is a unique airport experience nonetheless. Just for the record, you can hear boarding announcements over the top of the soothing bird chirping soundtrack they play during the massage. It is quite humorous.
The bottom line
While both are fantastic lounges, my personal favorite is the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. The space is beautiful, the service is excellent without being over the top and I love how easy they have made travel. Thai offers an excellent though slightly different experience. I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone for preferring the royalty treatment offered by the Thai lounge.