5 Starhansa? Lufthansa’s Upcoming Service Cuts in Long-Haul Economy and Premium Economy

As part of its economy and premium economy class service overhaul, Lufthansa will be downgrading its meals, switching headphones, and adding a “water service.”

The changes were first reported on Vielflieger, a German aviation forum, and are expected to come into effect on November 28, 2019.

5 Starhansa? Lufthansa's Upcoming Service Cuts in Long-Haul Economy and Premium Economy
Lufthansa is very proud of its Skytrax five star rating.

Lufthansa’s New, Downgraded Economy Class Service

Lufthansa’s service is, apart from some minor differences, largely the same in economy and premium economy. As such, two of the new changes will affect both classes. Those will include:

  • Substitution of the second hot meal on long haul flights for cold, likely vegetarian, sandwiches
  • Substitution of headphones for disposable earbuds

In addition to that, Lufthansa will also add a 0.5 liter water bottle service to economy class. This is the only positive change in the upcoming service revamp. The water bottle is already offered in premium economy and business class.

Lufthansa Water Bottle Service
Water bottles are already provided in premium economy and business.

As for the meal downgrade, Lufthansa serves two meals – one main hot meal and a smaller hot meal (or a warm snack on flights shorter than 10 hours). The last time I flew with the airline, there were two choices for both the main as well as the second meal.

By switching the second meal to a snack service, Lufthansa will join Iberia (and potentially other airlines) which only offers a sandwich prior to landing – even on flights that are blocked at well over ten or twelve hours.

Lufthansa Economy Class Meal
Main meal.
Lufthansa Economy Class Meal
Pre-landing meal.
Breakfast in Lufthansa Premium Economy
Lufthansa’s premium economy meals are the same as economy class ones, just served on proper glassware.

That’s certainly not a change that would be expected from an airline that proudly claims on its website that:

Lufthansa is Europe’s first and only 5-star airline and has thus joined the list of the world’s ten best premium airlines.

That said, Lufthansa reportedly explained the move in typical “marketing speak” packaging the changes as an improvement to customer service as follows:

Many customers like the possibility of either enjoying this second meal immediately or packing it for the rest of their journey. This also results in an environmental aspect, as less packaging waste is generated.

Iberia Snack Box
Iberia serves a snack box instead of a second hot meal.

Finally, as for the headphones, Lufthansa argues that the switch will save 175 tons of fuel and 500 tons of CO2 emissions per year. The question that remains unanswered, though, is how much of an ecological impact using disposable earbuds rather than reusable headphones will have.

Lufthansa Economy Class Headset
Headphones that Lufthansa currently offers.

Summary

Once the downgraded service is rolled out, Lufthansa will become one of the very few “full-service” airlines (I am not aware of any others except for Iberia, but please comment with other ones you might know) that offer only a cold sandwich as the pre-landing meal on even their longest flights.

Even though I can understand the move from an economical standpoint, I am quite disappointed to see a uniform cut on all long-haul flights. At the very least, I would have expected the airline to continue offering smaller but still hot snack on flights over 10 hours and a cold snack on shorter flights.

In either case, the move will likely have very little – if any – effect on their economy class bookings where passengers choose based on price.

At the same time, I think it’s a much more serious downgrade in premium economy class where more and more airlines are trying to distinguish their service from regular economy.

While I am not sure how much Lufthansa charges for upgrades now, if I paid 350 EUR to upgrade into premium economy and got a cold sandwich before landing – even if served on proper glassware instead of in plastic wrapping – I would be seriously disappointed.a

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