Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Das Ist Gut

Last week, I was in Europe on a business trip and had a chance to fly on Lufthansa for the first time. My timing was good because there were a couple of days during the week when pilot strikes at Lufthansa disrupted the flight schedule, but fortunately I managed to avoid them. My flights on the airline were relatively short (Amsterdam to Munich to Cluj, Romania and back again) and all in economy class. Here are a few things that I enjoyed about my Lufthansa flight experience that US airlines would do well to consider emulating.

1. Free beer and wine on flights. Technically, all the flights I was on were international, but the distances and duration were comparable to US domestic flights. Opening the bar cart to all passengers on these flights was a nice amenity.

2. Free food on the flights. Granted it wasn’t a full meal, but getting a sandwich and, on an early morning flight, a croissant was another pleasant surprise. The sandwiches and croissants were prepackaged and only once was there a choice (chicken or salami) so it didn’t require much effort for the flight crew to dish them out. And while not substantial in size, they were good. They certainly beat the paltry peanut/pretzel options you get on most US flights.

3. Free coffee at the airport. There were several of these coffee stations at the Munich airport where passengers could enjoy a free cup of java.

Another Lufthansa practice that I appreciated was one that would not typically come into play often in the United States. At the Munich airport, we deplaned and boarded our aircraft on the ramp using stairs (we got to and from the terminal via bus). So Lufthansa allowed us to get off and on the plane by the front and back exits simultaneously. This made both processes much faster and less painful.

Most of the benefits that I have listed here would not be prohibitively expensive for a US airline to provide. And my ticket prices on Lufthansa were not exorbitant either. These small luxuries in and of themselves weren’t significant, but combined together they do make for a better flight experience overall.