Experience Germany Like a Local

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Is Lufthansa Premium Economy Worth It?

A first-hand review from a passenger who upgraded for anxiety reasons. It explains the differences between the Premium and regular Economy for Lufthansa. Includes annotated photos of the upgraded finishes.

In the eleven years we’ve been together, I’ve personally flown with Sebastian on twelve vacations to Germany. We’ve been fortunate that our hard work has rewarded us so well. Although I’m not fond of flying for eight to nine hours over the ocean, I’ve always been able to ‘get through it’ because Sebastian was by my side. This year’s trip was unique in that Sebastian flew two weeks before I did, so I needed to fly solo.

What?!

Yup. Alone.

While all sorts of morbid, paranoid dust storms kicked up in my imagination, I tried to talk myself out of my irrational fears. Sebastian’s sister who is my age flies by herself all the time. Heck, I flew by myself to Australia when I was 15. But, that was before I grew up and knew enough to be afraid, that was before 9/11.

Sebastian knows me well enough to know how to outsmart my fears, and my paranoias. When he booked my flight from Florida to Germany, for the first time ever he upgraded my seat to Lufthansa’s Premium Economy. He flipped my ‘situation’ upside down, and tried to give me something to look forward to instead of dread.

It helped, and my curiosity battled it out with my fear. Sebastian himself has never flown Premium Economy, so I made sure I took notes of the differences and took pictures. I hope this post will provide some insight if you’re on the fence about upgrading, whether it be for anxiety-related reasons like mine, or just for more personal space.

Welcome to Your Lufthansa Premium Economy Bubble
Right away, you notice the upgraded finishes and larger armrest. There’s leather/pleather accents where in Economy there’s plastic. The arm rest is wider, and seemingly longer with it's slightly recessed cup rest at the end. In Lufthansa’s Premium Economy the seats recline further, warranting the need for the pull out tray to come from the arm rest instead of the seat in front of you. This took me and my neighbor some getting used to and mutual coordination, but it was much more comfortable than in Economy where I felt I had to lean forward to eat over the tray. Storage for your carry-on luggage above and below seems about the same as economy. Storage below the seat in front of you can be tricky with the the added foot rest, but the foot rest is definitely worth the trouble. I'm 5'5" with short legs, and it was comfortable for me, and I used it. If you have long legs, it might be a nuisance.

Also because the seats recline further in Lufthansa Premium Economy, there’s a need for a remote. Although I had movies on my phone, I used the on-board entertainment. The screen is noticeably larger and nicer than what I’ve had in Economy in the past. There’s a corded remote also on the arm rest, right next to where an additional side strap holds your complimentary ammenity bag. I noticed the headrest will go a bit higher if you’re taller and need a few more inches. Between the seat reclining further, the extra armrest space, and the foot rest, I slept three hours, my best yet.

A first-hand review from a passenger who upgraded for anxiety reasons. It explains the differences between the Premium and regular Economy for Lufthansa. Includes annotated photos of the upgraded finishes.

Additional Customer Service in Lufthansa Premium Economy
I was startled when the flight attendant asked if I’d like an orange and mango juice while the plane was still in the boarding process. He also helped my neighbor with her carry on luggage by lifting it up to the overhead compartment. With Lufthansa’s Premium Economy, you’re allowed a 2nd checked bag, so I had checked my rolling carry on bag. There’s a regular-sized bottle of water waiting for you when you board, so no need to find and purchase one after getting through security at the airport. You also receive a traveler’s amenity bag, which I mentioned earlier is tucked into your arm rest. At the time I flew, it was a Picard® pouch, and inside were a generic pair of warm, tall socks, an eye mask with Lufthansa logo, toothbrush and toothpaste, and packaged cleansing towelette.

Boarding Process
My only complaint with Lufthansa Premium Economy is that the boarding order is last. First on is the Handicapped, then Families with 6-year-olds and younger, next is Business Class, followed with Economy Rows 29-46, and then finally Premium Economy. The Premium Economy is such a small section of the plane, probably consisting of 25 passengers in total, that it really seemed odd to make us board last. With the extra checked bag allowance, I noticed I wasn’t the only one that checked a rolling carry on, so our boarding would have been incredibly fast. Especially given that a juice drink is served during boarding, why seat us last? It felt like a mistake.

Was Flying Lufthansa Premium Economy Worth It?
Yes, definitely. For the additional hour or two of comfortable sleep and personal space it was worth it. If you’re planning on working on a laptop, the pull out tray from the arm rest is perfect, and there’s enough space between the tray and the back of the seat in front of you that you can have your laptop screen upright. If it's a stretch financially, I’d recommend upgrading the flight only on your way to Germany, since that’s when you want to sleep, and then fly back to the States in regular Economy. Have you tried Lufthansa Premium Economy? What did you think?

If Premium Economy isn't an option for you right now, and you're looking for tips on how to sleep on the long-haul flight, we wrote about that previously here. For Sebastian especially, getting noise-cancelling headphones was a big game changer. He was able to sleep for 5 hours and was so happy he wrote a whole product review for them. With the holiday season soon upon us, that might be a great gift idea for your own wish list or for the traveler in your life.

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Lufthansa Premium Economy
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4 Smart Strategies for Finding Calm During Turbulence

4 Smart Strategies for Finding Calm During Turbulence

The plane jostles and shakes, as if we’re riding a bucking bronco in a rodeo. The overhead, ever-so-polite DING sounds to indicate the fasten our seat belts icon has illuminated again. Barely a moment passes before the airplane’s intercom crackles to life, suspending all of the in-flight movies. First in German, and then in English, we’re informed of turbulence. Yup. Kind of hoping that’s all it is. Sebastian squeezes my hand, and I squeeze his back. I take a deep breath. It's time to break out one of my tools for mentally getting through the heart stopping moments of turbulence when my imagination wants to concentrate on every single horrible, tragic ending to my situation.

1. Mental Images: Good Imagination For Peace of Mind
A therapist from college taught me how, and it's the closest I’ve ever felt to being a jedi. First you imagine white light. Starting from inside you, you envision the light, and concentrate on expanding it, pushing it out as if you’re in a bubble of white light. Personally, I take this a step further and imagine a polar bear, my favorite animal, something that brings me peace and a spark of joy. For you, it's probably a different animal, or a person, or a good memory, or a place. Famously, in my favorite movie French Kiss, Meg Ryan’s character Kate has a little cottage she’s supposed to imagine. Or if you’re a Harry Potter fan, think of the Expecto Patronum spell, what’s your Patronus?

2. Bottle Up Your Happy Place
When you start to panic during turbulence, break out your good smells. If you have a calming essential oil you like, a book that’s sporting the new book smell, or a sweatshirt that smells like home, get it out, close your eyes, and breathe it in. Let your nose fool you into believing you’re anywhere else but on a plane. Smell is our only sense that projects directly to the amygdala, a center connected with emotion and memory. Using smells during emotionally heightened episodes, like turbulence on a plane, can retrieve pleasant memories more powerfully than other senses.

3. Tick Tock, Tick Tock
Hyperventilating? Being told to take a deep breath isn’t very helpful is it? Something that helps me find my rhythm is a ticking clock. Look into downloading a sound or nature app on your phone. Most of them have an old fashioned clock and more. I’ve seen one that has a cat purring sound. Anything that is regular and a soothing sound can help regulating your breaths or heart rate. Yes, the next time the plane lurches suddenly you'll have to start over again, but it gets easier.

4. Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To
Notoriously, the flight back from German to the U.S. is worse as far as turbulence goes, with the plane fighting against the wind and jet streams the whole time. Once, personally I experienced turbulence over the Atlantic that dragged on for hours. You may need a long-term plan. Save the next few episodes of a TV show you’re currently loving to binge watch during the turbulence. Similarly, get hooked on a new book a few days before your departure date so you can’t wait to jump back in again. Don’t buy a new book that you may or may not get into, take one whose world you’re already distracted and enthralled with.

What has gotten you through seemingly never-ending turbulence?

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How I Was Able to Sleep for 5 Hours on a Transatlantic Flight: Product Review

Bose QuietComfort 35 Review
For several years I had seen noise-canceling headphones at our local Best Buy, who had several headphones on a testing display. While Denise was looking at the movie selection, I played with the noise-canceling headphones, fascinated like a child. I have always bought headphones in the $35 to $50 range, because I could never justify the tenfold price for the Bose headphones with noise-canceling technology for flying only a few times a year. However, I kept looking at the weekly ads every now and then, hoping that the price would drop or they would announce a special doorbuster sale. Anyone who has already purchased Bose products knows that Bose has solid pricing and special offers are unfortunately extremely rare.

How I was able to sleep for 5 hours on a transatlantic flight in economy seating

My Best Sleep on a Transatlantic Flight Ever
When Bose announced that their new wireless headphones with noise-canceling technology would be released in June 2016, I was thrilled and kept watching early Youtube review videos. In 2016 we also happened to fly to Germany on my birthday and Denise surprised me with the headphones right before the flight. You can imagine my excitement, even though I had to tame myself not to bounce up and down the plane aisle. This was also the first flight where I slept 5 hours just listening to an audiobook. I rarely get more than 2 hours of sleep on the nighttime flight across the Atlantic, so I can definitely tell you that the technology works. As soon as I put on the headphones and paired them with my phone, the cabin noise was muffled down to a whisper. Even during the flight, the constant drone of the engines was only about 15% audible. Several times Denise tried to talk to me and had to repeat herself, because I simply could not hear her the first time around.

After testing the headphones for several months now I am still impressed by the sound quality, noise cancellation and fit, which is why I wanted to share my thoughts.
How does noise-canceling work?
How Does Noise-canceling Work?
Noise-canceling technology tries to reduce the surrounding ambient noise to a minimum. Behind small openings on the outer side of the headphones, the QC 35 contains small microphones, which record the frequencies of the environment. The speakers inside send a compensation signal in the direction of the ear. The ambient frequency and the compensation signal resemble each other and can almost completely eradicate ambient noise, which is no longer perceived as a disturbance by the brain. The noise-canceling function is clearly the highlight of these headphones. It tunes out the constant drone of an airplane and most noise around you, with the exception of high, shrill voices and sounds.

First Impression
I loved the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones immediately after unpacking. The main components are made of plastic, reinforced with stainless steel elements and covered with Alcantara, a manmade, suede-like material. The headphones feel high quality and provide great wearing comfort. They are so-called over-ear headphones that surround the ear completely, which I had to get used to a little bit. My former headphones were in-ear headphone plugs, that also helped to suppress . surrounding noise, but never had a noise-cancellation feature. To my surprise, these new Bose headphones are designed in such a way that they do not cause headaches from pressing on your head too much or "hot" ears from wearing them too long.
Bose QuietComfort 35 Product Review | Travel Case Included
What’s in the Box?
In addition to the headphones, a travel case, an aircraft adapter, a micro USB cable for charging, as well as an audio cable are included. Here as well, a high quality of production is seen in all parts.

Technical Things to Know
The QC 35 are Bose’s first noise canceling headphones, which can also be connected wirelessly. This is possible via Bluetooth as well as via NFC (Near-field communication). Wirelessly, you can easily switch between two permanently connected devices, which is great when you listen to music on the laptop and then take a call on the smartphone. The music playback will pause until you hang up the call, then continue afterwards. Up to six connections can be stored and, to better organize all your connections, Bose provides an app for iOS and Android.

The built-in Li-Ion battery holds 20 hours in cordless operation according to Bose. Tied to a cable, the battery lasts for 40 hours - all while providing noise canceling.

The sound quality of the QuietComfort 35 headphones is at least as good as the noise reduction. The sound characteristics come with powerful bass, which was never overpowering. I caught myself several times hearing many small subtleties on my favorite albums, which my in-ear headphones never picked up. Bose has also incorporated a sound correction that slightly increases the bass and treble at low volume to create a more balanced listening experience. Even when the noise canceling is switched off, the headphones display excellent sound quality.

Control Panel
The three buttons on the back of the right headphone are for controlling the volume and interact with the connected devices. They are mounted in a good position and can be operated intuitively. The built-in microphones offer a very good voice reproduction during telephone calls. All the people I’ve called with the headphones could understand me perfectly well.

What's Not to Like?
With all the praise for these headphones, there are very few critiques that come to mind. One of them being that the battery of the QC 35 is permanently installed and can not be replaced by the customer. If I want to use the headphones for many years, I doubt that the battery will last for as many hours as it did when first bought. The second point of criticism has to do with the battery again. While charging the headphones, the noise-cancelling technology is switched off.

And lastly, these headphones are pricey and not something that most of us just grab at a store and take home. If you want to test them out and hear the difference for yourself, check out an electronics store around you and look for the Bose display in the headphone section.

Verdict
At the high price level, I expect perfection from headphones. The noted criticisms are minor, and can be easily overlooked, since the overall product is perfect. I am sure you will enjoy a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35, especially when traveling. They will make you feel like you have the whole plane to yourself and hopefully give you many hours of sleep on your flight.


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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler