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Review: LOT Business Class Warsaw-JFK on 787 Dreamliner

by on August 6, 2014 · 18 comments

in Membership Rewards, Reviews, star alliance, Starwood

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On the return flight of his recent trip to Europe, TPG Contributor Jason Steele had the chance to try out LOT’s Business Class from Warsaw to New York (JFK). Here’s his experience on this Polish carrier.

Sure, the 787 Dreamliner has been in service (off and on) for nearly three years, but it’s still a treat for me to fly on Boeing’s newest wide-body jet. In fact, I haven’t been on board a Dreamliner since TPG and I were on the Star Mega-Do 4 charter, and that was only for two short-haul domestic segments in coach on United.

That’s why my family and I were especially excited to return from Europe on LOT Polish Airlines, which offers twice daily service from Warsaw to New York’s JFK airport. We knew that we’d be flying on Dreamliners since LOT is the only airline to have finished converting its entire long haul fleet to that aircraft (Norwegian initiated its first long-haul service with a fleet of Dreamliners as well).

Aircraft image courtesy of Shutterstock.

LOT offers twice daily service from Warsaw to JFK. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

Booking awards on LOT

There are dozens of different carriers that could have gotten us home to Denver from our recent family vacation in Italy, but the real challenge was finding four award seats from Europe to anywhere in North America during the summer with just three months notice. Thankfully, we found business class awards on LOT to be somewhat plentiful, perhaps because LOT’s long-haul award space is not visible when searching United.com, or maybe because LOT serves New York from JFK, which has very few Star Alliance connections compared to United’s hub at Newark.

So we were thrilled to book four seats on one flight from Milan to Warsaw, as well as four business class award seats on 787s continuing on to JFK, albeit on separate flights.  We were able to start our journey on the same flight to Warsaw, and then split the team onto different flights to JFK, with the outside chance that we could all standby for the same flight. In the end, LOT gate agents seemed willing to allow two of us to standby for the earlier flight, but the flights were full.

Boarding the Dreamliner. Gotta love the glass jetway!

Boarding the Dreamliner. Gotta love the glass jetway!

To book the flights, we pooled our American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts by transferring to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. Thankfully, Air Canada offers one-way awards from Italy to the United States for just 45,000 miles each.

Once we identified award space on ANA’s site, I had to call Air Canada to book it, since their web site didn’t properly display the space. Taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges added up to only $80 per person each way, expenses which are eligible for reimbursement with miles from Capital One Venture Rewards or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus.

Other options that could have got us these award seats included:

  • United. By transferring Ultimate Rewards points to United, we could have booked a one-way partner award flight for 70,000 miles each, but with no fuel surcharges.
  • Singapore. Points transfer to Singapore from American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Cit ThankYou Rewards. A one way award would have been 75,000 miles plus fuel surcharges.
  • Miles and More. LOT is part of the Mile and More program, but charges 75,000 miles for premium class flights between Europe and North America, plus fuel surcharges.
  • ANA. I could have used 63,000 ANA miles by transferring them from Starwood or American Express Membership Rewards.

The biggest problem we had was the lack of any domestic award seats from New York to Denver on United, in any class of service from any New York area airport, so we had to book a separate award on Southwest out of La Guardia. However, with our two Southwest companion passes, it didn’t consume too many points for the four of us to book the positioning flight the next day.

Our experiences on LOT from Warsaw to New York

After arriving on-time on our LOT flight from Milan, and gawking at a few Soviet era aircraft on the field, we were pleased to find Warsaw’s Chopin airport to be clean, modern, and relatively compact, with even a few children’s play areas to boot. LOT is the only long-haul carrier serving Warsaw, and its only other long-haul destinations are Chicago, Toronto, and Beijing using its fleet of just six Dreamliners.

One of the children's play areas in the Warsaw airport.

One of the children’s play areas in the Warsaw airport.

My wife and our 2 year old daughter took the 1 pm departure to JFK, while my six year old daughter and I met her in New York after taking the 5:30 pm flight, and spent the afternoon in Warsaw’s Copernicus Science Centre, about a half an hour away in downtown Warsaw. Once we were reunited at our hotel in New York, we compared notes and realized that we both had similar experiences.  Both flights boarded, departed, and arrived on-time, and we both found service in business class to be friendly and efficient, without any over the top embellishments.

The food

Boarding in Warsaw was from the most forward door, so that all passengers in premium economy and regular economy streamed by us for some time after we had taken our seats. Nevertheless, the crew was able to offer us a pre-departure beverage of water, juice, or champagne.

Speaking with friends who have flown LOT and reading other reviews, I had pretty low expectations for the meal service, but again, we were pleasantly surprised. Dinner began with a pre-meal aperitif of some sort of shaved meat on a cracker, presumably a Polish version of prosciutto. Our choice of appetizers included roast beef with Parmesan cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, or Sorrel soup. Unaware at the time of what Sorrel was, and with our flight attendant lacking the English vocabulary to describe the soup, in the spirit of adventure I gave it a try and found it to be quite good. Only later did I learn that this is a traditional Polish dish made with eggs, croutons, and the leaves of the Sorrel plant, which is a local herb.

Beef appetizer.

Beef appetizer.

Our main course choices included a salmon filet with buckwheat soba noodles, chicken with mushrooms, or a pork loin dish. My oldest daughter and I found both the salmon and chicken to be a bit dried out, but edible, while my wife on the earlier flight, found them to be a lot better. My guess is that all of the meals were prepared at the same time, so ours was just four and a half hours older.

Dessert was a choice of a cheese plate or a mango and vanilla ice cream sundae. I loved the cheese plate, while my daughter had no complaints about the ice cream (hard to believe, I know). I also enjoyed an after dinner drink of a nice Polish liqueur.  Interestingly, economy passengers on LOT can order the premium class meal service for an additional $30. A later snack service was provided, but frankly, all of us were well fed and happy to sleep through it.

LOT Business Class Amenity Kit

LOT Business Class Amenity Kit

Seats and entertainment

Once the entertainment system was enabled, my daughter and I enjoyed a modest selection of 24 different movies, as well as some games and music. The fully horizontal lie-flat seats were spacious, comfortable, and easy to use. At 5’10, I was quite comfortable, but I estimated that those over 6’2″ might be a bit cramped. Power was supplied by USB and standard power outlets, with no adapters needed for standard American or European power cords.

When Boeing announced that Dreamliner crews would have the ability to control passenger’s window shades, which dim electronically, I feared that some carriers would abuse this feature. While it was not a problem during the Mega-Do flights, my fears were realized on this trip. Passengers were locked out of using the electronically activated window shades not just during taxi and takeoff, but for for about an hour after we reached cruising altitude.

With the sun shining directly on me through the aircraft’s enlarged windows, and the flight approaching the coast of England, I had to ask the crew several times to re-enable passenger controls of the windows before I was able to dim the ones next to my seat. Similarly, the in-flight entertainment system was turned off before takeoff and not re-started until after I requested it. I could chalk this up to a forgetful crew, but my wife noted the same issues on her flight.

LOT Dreamliner business class seats

LOT Dreamliner business class seats.

Conclusions

As long as you know how to find award space on LOT, there are several different ways to redeem your flexible reward points for their flights. With top of the line equipment, decent food, and efficient service, we wouldn’t hesitate to choose LOT in the future when it fits our award travel needs.

Have you flown on LOT airlines before, or do you have plans to fly LOT in the future? Please share your experiences, questions, and recommendations in the comments below!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Paul

    Flew LO’s 787 round trip between YYZ and WAW last month. Wasn’t impressed with regard to the hard product compared to the 787s of QR or UA that I’ve flown this year (the fact that these are some of the earlier 787s really shows), but the service was up to standard.

  • http://www.jasonsteele.com/ Jason Steele

    I found the LOT seat to be better than UA BusinessFirst, as UA’s product is somewhat angled and your feet go into a little cubby hole that fits between the seats in front of you. Also, just curious, in what ways was it apparent that LOT’s Dreamliners were early models?

  • Paul

    The late-2012 period when LO began taking delivery of their 787s was roughly right around the threshold when wired control IFE was being replaced by more accurate and responsive touchscreens that are commonplace even in coach on QR/UA. Additionally, it was notable to me at least that the LO 787s were delivered prior to the shadeless window tinting refinement, and I was essentially given the options of near-black-but-not-quite, a sort of awkward aquarium blue, or blinding sunlight that was disruptive to the cabin. Next to those two things it was just the simple wears and tears that are visible on the lighter colored hard product that’s more subject to dings, scrapes and stains than the darker toned products that are becoming increasingly common.

  • http://awardtravelwisdom.com/ aureo11

    My wife and I got to enjoy the WAW-ORD flight in Biz class and we loved the seats on the LOT Dreamliner. Overall our experience was great, except for the part where they messed up our vegetarian orders and only had one meal on board for two of us.

  • Jerry

    In lucky’s Trip Report on 787, there were tapes on the back of seats and etc… and the food was so-so

    It’s those reports on LO 787 that hold me back from actively seeking LO 787 for TATL, unless I run out of options

  • http://www.jasonsteele.com/ Jason Steele

    Interesting. I didn’t notice any obvious wear and tear like Paul or Lucky, but I did notice that the window tint was different than on UA’s Dreamliners, now that you mention it.

  • Joe

    Wait, you went from Milan to Poland, just to get back to New York? This doesn’t seem to be very efficient … sometimes the miles game seems to be taken too far.

  • http://www.jasonsteele.com/ Jason Steele

    Alitalia, American, and UA offer non-stop service from Milan to New York, but there were no award seats available. It is not uncommon to book an award flight with a stop, rather than pay for a non-stop flight. Certainly, that is a trade-off I was willing to make, especially to fly in business class on the Dreamliner.

  • howard

    Just Flew on LOT from WAW to ORD. also on the 787.i love the 787 is my favorite plane in the sky. Seats and all are comfortable nice configration pretty standard. Food is just ok, service is also ok not anywhere near the standards of the top airlines, Cathay , Emirates etc. I purchased a business class ticket at an extremely attractive price, so did not use miles. I flew from IST to WAW via LOT the IST to WAW portion was on Turkish who is a vastly improved airline. On way over i flew on Aeroflot with low expectations but must say the international business class portion was a touch above LOT. All said i would fly them again due to the 787 and the price point, especiall heading east where much of flight is sleeping

  • Eden

    Flew JFK-WAW on LO’s 787, and loved the product. My first 787 experience. I booked my ticket with US AIRWAYS with the aid of this wonderful blog!!!

    I wrote a review on a Chinese forum http://www.flyertea.com/thread-277921-1-1.html
    Quite nice experience. The only thing I might complain is the limited selection of movies I guess.

  • Joe

    “…our flight attendant lacking the English vocabulary to describe the soup…”

    Hmm. Sounds as if you’re blaming the flight attendant. Maybe you lack effective language skills?

  • Ryan L

    Joe. I wouldn’t really call flying from Milan to New York via Poland a ‘game’. I concede that people sometimes take cockeyed routings for any number of reasons, but this routing seems pretty routine to me. People take less direct routings save money or access award availability that might be lacking on more direct routes. Some people have the money or expense account to let them take more direct flights. Good for them.

  • Connie

    Is there a way to use United Miles to fly on LOT? Please help!

  • Ryan L

    So everyone who flys LOT Polish has to learn a little bit of Polish before their flight? Do I have to also learn Russian to fly Aeroflot and Hebrew to fly El Al? I can’t blame the flight attendant too much here either. Explaining what a sorrel is in a foreign language isn’t the most mainstream conversation.

  • taryn

    The flight was JFK-Warsaw. The flight attendants should be bilingual to properly service the expected customers at each end point.

  • slaman

    Thanks for the review – your review and other like this, made me avoid a TATL on LOT’s 787 in Business and allowed me to focus my efforts on a more direct routing… I will experience a 787 eventually though!

  • Mike

    Sorrel is sorrel,what else is there to explain? :-)

  • maciej

    Sounds like you’re the one whose English was lacking in this case. Sorrel is not a specifically Polish herb, you just hadn’t heard of it.

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