Lufthansa is in the midst of a fight for survival, so this criticism will be more tempered than it would in boom years. Nevertheless, the whole Dr. Jeckyl – Mr. Hyde approach to being a “premium” airline is simply nothing but double-talk. Lufthansa can and should do better.
Lufthansa Thinks “Premium” Means Eliminating Free Drinks?
Earlier this week Lufthansa (in fact, the entire Lufthansa Group of airlines) announced that complimentary snacks, meals, and beverages on shorthaul and midhaul flights would no longer be offered next year. A new buy-on-board program will be offered in its place, which will offer additional choice, but further level the playing field with budget carriers.
I found it quite ironic that Simply Flying caught up with Bjoern Becker, Lufthansa’s Senior Director of Product Management for Ground and Digital Services a day or two this news broke and he promised Lufthansa would remain a premium airline:
“Lufthansa will stay in the Lufthansa Group. Airlines like Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, they will stay premium airlines. Definitely, we will stick to our strategy here because the strategy is not wrong because of a pandemic. That has nothing to do with each other.”
Nice, except that Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian all announced they would cut free food and drinks. Becker had to know about this news…yet he insisted that Lufthansa would remain premium with a straight face?
To be sure, Becker made clear that premium cabin service would remain premium:
“The hypothesis is, let’s say, this way, that the leisure travel demand will pick up earlier than the business travel demand, so we are also looking into this. But also, here, the general positioning of the Lufthansa brand will be a premium airline with the services we offer; so we still have lounges, we still have first class services, we still have priority lanes, limousine services, personal assistants. We will keep these premium aspects in our services, definitely.”
There’s no doubt, as I personally witnessed earlier this month, that Lufthansa is still a premium airline in first class…an amazing airline that I love.
But when you say you are a premium airline, people tend to assume you mean for all customers…especially those in the majority of real estate onboard. And shouldn’t customers who pay a premium to fly Lufthansa expect something as simple as a drink and sandwich onboard?
Becker told Simply Flying that one thing Lufthansa has learned during this pandemic is to listen to customers “more than ever before.”
Ok…I’d really like to know which customers told Lufthansa they hated getting free drinks onboard.
My point of this story is to highlight Lufthansa talking out of both sides of its mouth, annoyed in a sense that Becker would even give lip service to customer service and the word “premium” to describe the entire Lufthansa Group (versus simply premium cabins). Lufthansa will move ahead with its cutbacks in economy class aligning it closer to the easyJets and Ryanairs of the world in terms of onboard experience. Whatever strategy is behind that move, it certainly is not premium…