Last week I had spent time in Austria to attend the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring and in a departure from my travel habits (LH/OS/LX), I flew LOT Polish Airlines primarily to experience what a 787 offers during a 10 hour flight. My only previous 787 flights were aboard United when they were testing and training crew on domestic US routes when the 787 joined their fleet. With the domestic flights, they typically lasted only 2-4 hours, hardly enough time to get a true feel for a long-haul aircraft.
Over the years, LOT has had stretches of greatness and then periods of ‘What are they thinking?’. However as they continue to upgrade their fleet and add new long haul destinations, it appears that ‘LO’ is on quite an uptick, especially as far as Business Class travel is concerned. I admit I had my doubts about what the on-board experience would offer, but the doubts were allayed almost immediately upon boarding. In my case, it was aboard LO 2 flying from Chicago to Warsaw (and on to Vienna) and then flying aboard LO 1 for the return flight to Chicago.
What was an unexpected surprise was the warm greeting that the purser offers soon after boarding. In the case of both my long haul flights, the purser personally introduced herself and thanked me for being a Miles & More Senator, which actually surprised me since I thought that was reserved for Lufthansa, Austrian, or SWISS flights (at least based on my experiences). I also realized after the fact, that I was asked for my meal preference before any other passenger on our outbound flight. I suspect that LOT follows a policy of prioritizing meals based on Status level and fare class. A nice, noticed touch.
The outbound flight to WAW was a completely pleasant experience, even with a full Business Class cabin due to the cancellation of one of the previous days flights from Chicago (LO operates 2 flights daily between ORD and WAW) the cabin crew was friendly, attentive and efficient in looking after 18 passengers. Our return flight was even better since there were only 2 of us in the cabin, giving a bit of First Class / Private Jet type feel to the trip, and a LOT of attention from the cabin crew…..pun intended.
The new Business Class cabin offers comfortable, true lie-flat seating with enough room that your ‘neighbor’ will not infringe on your space. The seats are parallel to each other so there is no fear of incidental ‘footsie’ with a stranger. The width of the seats is also a bit above average, giving you additional room to become comfortable. The Inflight Entertainment System offers almost 40 movies, several collections of TV shows and music options and is similar to what you would find on most long haul aircraft. Mine had a bit of a bug to it and had to be rebooted 3 times during the flight. But when hurtling at 600mph at 35,000 feet, a lot more serious things could go wrong than my screen freezing during a movie.
The photos below combine both the outbound and return flights and are in no particular order:
As you can see, the seat design is fairly simple and does not offer some of the extras that you’d find aboard other airline’s Business Class cabins, however this simplicity is a major advantage in some aspects. A simple example is the tray table. Some Business Class seat designs require an engineering degree to figure out how to take out, and stow your tray table. With the LOT seat, it pops out, folds over and its done. No need to know geometric theory when handling the tables. Another nice feature is the fact that each seat has its own fan control. Most Business Class cabins now have centralized climate control where passengers no longer can open a vent to increase air flow. With the LOT cabin, you can adjust the fan to meet your needs. Minor feature, but major impact especially when a crew decides to turn the cabin into a Sauna.
Moving to the soft product, including cabin crew, meals, and the intangibles LOT executed very well across the board on both flights. Since LOT offers an intimate 18-passenger Business Cabin with 4 flight attendants, you are never far away from having an attendant to help. This was most noticeable during meal service. On aircraft that have larger Business Class cabins, crews are sometimes forced to use meal carts to bring appetizers and entrees to passengers. In the case of the LOT cabin and crew, each part of the meal was already pre-plated and brought to me as if I were in a restaurant. A nice touch especially since it was personalized and quiet. No rattling of plates, glasses or carts during meal service. The only time they used serving carts was for the first beverage service after take off due to the variety of options and then again for the dessert service due to the multiple choices that were available.
The photos of the meals shown below are in no particular order, but combine both flights. One minor observation is the lack of ‘presentation’ in some of the meals. Some maximizers and spoiled ‘brats’ will criticize that a poorly presented meal must not be any good, however in the case of the LOT menu, it simply is not the case. The total of 7 or 8 courses that I had aboard my flights were great, even the pickled herring was delicious! In the case of some of these photos, they simply do not relay just how good the food actually was……
After all is said and done, I was very happy with my experience aboard all of my LOT flights and certainly will fly with them again. The crews showed a genuine desire to make sure that passengers enjoyed the trip and were sincere in their execution. Many times you come across crews going through the motions but that was not the case with LOT. I could tell that at least with the crews I had, they actually enjoy doing what they do.
However, there is one minor criticism and piece of advice that I will leave you with that has to do with the aircraft and not the crew……
For those of you not familiar with the 787, the aircraft does not have ‘physical’ window shades that pull down to completely block out the outside light. Boeing decided to install windows that can be tinted electronically by each passenger. The electronic tint has 6 levels of strength, however at its strongest setting does not completely block out light.
Not even close!
My advice to anyone traveling aboard ANY 787 is to make sure you are sitting on the opposite side of where the sun will be during most of your flights. In the case of traveling from west to east from the US to Europe, you will want to sit on the right hand side of the aircraft, or the side that will be facing south during your atlantic crossing. If you sit on the left side, you will be extremely annoyed by the sunlight in the morning as it enters the left side of the aircraft during sunrise. When traveling westward from Europe, again, sit on the right hand side of the aircraft (facing north) since the bulk of the sunshine will enter the left side of the cabin during a typical daytime flight to the States. Quite honestly, the electronic tint is nearly worthless when exposed to direct sunlight. I specifically chose the right side of the aircraft for this reason. Otherwise, the 787 is a great aircraft for a long-haul flight. The cabin does feel more ‘humid’ due to it being pressurized to a lower altitude, and the large windows provide great views….except of course when you’re trying to block out the sun!
So what do I think about LOT? Fly them….You’ll like them a LOT!