Shame on you Lufthansa!

I’m on my way back from Ancona to Munich on LH1959. I am seated by the window on 6A. Across the aisle on 5F a gentleman is sitting on his own. The aisle seat next to him on 5D is empty. Once the cabin crew announce that boarding is completed, another guy appears from the back of the aircraft and asks the gentleman on 5F is perhaps he might store his large North Face rucksack next to him, seeing at the bag won’t fit in the overhead bins of the tiny CRJ900 and the crew have obviously not been particularly accommodating in assisting the passenger to stow the large bag.

But of course the bag is so huge that it won’t fit under the seat. And so the owner of the bag wedges it in, de facto blocking the guy on 5F’s access to the aisle. I worked as a flight attendant long enough and I think I travel more than enough to know that the reason they ask you to store your bags under the seat in front of you is to ensure they will not obstruct your escape path in case of an emergency.


At some point Mr 5F tries to get out of his seat to get something out of his own bag in the overhead bin. As he clambers over the obstructing bag he nearly ends up falling on one of the flight attendants who happens to be passing. She looks down at the huge rucksack, smirks and then waltzes off. Quite obviously she either doesn’t realise that this is a violation of a safety rule or, she quite simply couldn’t give a shit.

The bag is still in the same place as we go thundering down the runway on our take-off roll.

Forty minutes later we’re already descending through the clouds towards Munich. The crew pass through the cabin to make their final cabin check. The same flight attendant walks straight past the bag wedged in between the seats and just ignores it. By this stage they guy next to me, who has also noticed the bag, is getting concerned so he uses the call button for the flight attendant. A short while later the purser appears from the front of the aircraft. He points out the bag to her and asks if that is seriously the way the bag should be stowed. She explains that her colleague must have missed the bag on her check. I then explain to her that the guy had nearly fallen on to the flight attendant before the flight and that she simply hadn’t done anything about it before take-off, to which the purser only replies ‘dann hat sie’s wohl vergessen’ – then she probably just forgot – in a tone of voice suggesting that this is all no big deal and I am only being persnickety. The guy next to me asks her what the cabin crew’s name is, to which the purser replies that she doesn’t know but think her first name is Lisa. Seriously? And then she walks away and eventually we land.

Surprisingly there’s a bit of a hold up deplaning because the owner if the bag is still waiting in the rear of the aircraft, while the poor gentleman on 5F is having trouble getting out of his seat because the bag, which is now stuck and obstructing the aisle…

I find this incident simply unacceptable from Lufthansa. I can accept bad service, rude cabin crew, crap food, delays, you name it. But safety on board is simply not negotiable. I appreciate that Lufthansa has to watch its costs. But if that means cutting down on crew training and compromising safety, then I think this airline definitely has a problem. Furthermore, the fact that the purser apparently didn’t know the name of her colleague is either a blatant lie and indicative of a highly unprofessional behaviour, or it highlights just how dire the training situation at Lufthansa is. If you don’t even know the name of the person you’re working with, what exactly does that say about your crew resource management?

Air Dolomiti, Economy Class – Embraer 190: Basel to Munich



I’m on may way to Recanati on Italy’s Adriatic cost to attend a meeting on language training for the military. The best option for me to get to Recanati is to fly with Lufthansa via Munich to Ancona. In Munich I shall meet my colleague, the flying Dutchman P. who has rented a car from Ancona airport. Originally, I wasn’t going to post on the flights, seeing as they are in Economy Class and both are fairly short sectors. But…


I know I probably sound like a grumpy old bastard. A grumpy old bastard who just really, really dislikes Lufthansa on principle. But that’s definitely not the case. You’ll have to take my word for it. Honest, I’m not old…

In any case, it just struck me on this trip that Lufthansa keeps making changes to its frequent flyer programme and introducing new brands and new rules and fare conditions. One would like to think that all these changes and ‘improvements’ were introduced for benefit the airline’s customers. But that is hardly the case and while their new fare structure may make sense on paper, in practice it simply lacks transparency and leaves you with the sinking feeling that the customer was actually the last thing Lufthansa had in mind when the changes were implemented.


I arrive at Basel airport about an hour before departure. Our secretary has booked me on an Eco Light fare with no check-in luggage allowance. But I’ve decided to take a small suitcase and a rucksack with me after all, so from my research on the Lufthansa website I’m guessing this means I’ll have to pay to check in one item, which is fair enough. Only, the website and the app will not allow me to purchase a checked luggage allowance. In fact, the app won’t even allow me to view my booking because it was done via our travel agent and not directly with Lufthansa.

Apparently, you can always pay for checked luggage at the airport when you check-in, although that is then quite a bit more expensive. So as I approach the check-in counter, I’m fully expecting the check-in lady to want to charge me the higher amount, even though I think it’s hardly my fault if Lufthansa’s website and app don’t work. Only, that’s not what happens. Instead, the lady explains that I am entitled to take both pieces into the cabin ‘because it’s such a small aircraft’. Is that even supposed to make sense to the customer?


Boarding is from gate 32, which is in the non-Schengen sector of Basel airport, seeing as the state of emergency imposed by the government of the department Haut-Rhin in France remains in place. The result of which being that flights to and from some Schengen countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, are treated, de facto, as overseas flights.

The Cabin

Today’s flight to Munich will be operated by an Embraer 190 of Air Dolomiti, which belongs to the Lufthansa group and the Miles and More programme but is not, if I understand correctly, a member of the Star Alliance. The carrier operates a number of flights on behalf of Lufthansa. These are mainly wet leases rather than code-share flights, which is also why the Basel to Munich flight only operates with a Lufthansa flight number but not an Air Dolomiti one.


The cabin design and seats are similar to those of the Lufthansa Embraers, with the exception that everything in the Air Dolomiti cabin is green.

Another shot of my popular hairy legs, cunningly disguised as a photo to show off the seat pitch…


I am greeted at the door by a friendly young lady. The first thing she does, is to shove a small cake with a good dusting of icing sugar in my hand. Which is a bit unfortunate because I’m holding my suitcase in one hand and the rucksack, my boarding pass and a bottle of Coke Zero in the other. So I decline. For Lufthansa this means that in doing so, I forfeit my basic human right to be served a snack on this flight, because the service protocol does not foresee distributing food, no matter how insignificant, after take-off.


Once we’re airborne, the crew do a drinks round with a full bar service. Here’s another thing I don’t get about Lufthansa: how can a large organisation like the Lufthansa group be so inconsistent and careless in the treatment of its own brand? Despite the fact that this flight is being operated as a Lufthansa service, the catering is entirely Air Dolomiti branded, which really does not make any sense to me at all.



But at least it’s a lovely day for flying and eventually we land in Munich after a flight time of about 35 minutes.



For a flight of only 35 minutes duration the performance Lufthansa gave here was okay. I was not expecting them to roll out the red carpet. But flying Lufthansa has become a bit of a pain, at least for me, because somehow you’re never really quite sure what you’re letting yourself in for. The website is not intuitive, the interface with other reservation systems simply doesn’t work properly, check-in online didn’t work and between the fees for check-in luggage, fees for reserving a seat and so on, the experience is really not very enjoyable.

And I really don’t see why the crew can’t at least wait for all passengers to be seated before distributing the snack.

Lufthansa, Economy Class – Airbus A 320: Zürich to Frankfurt


Date: 08 February 2017
Departure: 18:45
Arrival: 19:25
Aircraft: Airbus A 320
Flight time: 40 minutes
Seat: 20 E on the starboard



After the snow the rain came. And then after the rain the cold returned. Only the grey remained – a mournful, dark and dreary, gloomy veil hanging over the landscape like a curse. And so I decide the time has come to move on to greener pastures and head south where the weather is not so cold, not so wet and hopefully a lot easier for me to deal with.


Getting to the Airport

Transport: Train
Journey time:
13 minutes
Departs from:
Winterthur main station
Zürich Flughafen.
CHF8.80 for a single one way ticket, 2nd class
Ticket purchase:
Online, via the SBB app or at the ticket machines at the station. There is also a ticket office, but the queues there tend to be rather long.


Terminal: 1 or 3
Counters: Check-in 3 is the area right above the platforms of the railway station, Check-in 1 in the dedicated terminal of the Lufthansa group. As you enter the building, Economy Class is on your left, while Business and First Class and the SWISS ticketing office are on the right side of the hall.
Web check-in:
If you are flying with Lufthansa from Switzerland, you will automatically be redirected to the SWISS page for check-in.
You can also check in via the Lufthansa app, which is not very intuitive. If you want to add the boarding pass to your Passbook, you have to select ‘save pass to app’ first. The icon to upload it to Passbook will then appear, but you have to scroll to the bottom.
Self-service check-in:
Available in Check-in 1 and 3.


There are separate entrances for the security screening area for First and Business Class passengers and Economy Class passengers.


The SWISS Business Class Lounge

Location: Upper level of the Airside Centre
Type of Lounge:
SWISS Business Class and Frequent Traveller lounge
Toilets & Showers:
Available in the lounge
Food & Beverages: There is a selection of sandwiches (tuna or cheese), snacks like popcorn or gummibears and one hot dish, which is macaroni with a meat sauce that is served with a healthy dollop of apple sauce. It is a typically Swiss dish and goes by the name of ‘Älplermagrone’.
A wifi code is issued at reception.
Newspapers & Magazines:
There is a selection of English and German language newspapers.
For a change the lounge is not so busy. But judging by the amount of trash lying around, I think I might have just missed the mad rush. Bananas seem to have been very popular today… Other than that, the lounge is starting to show some serious signs of wear and tear.

Not my rubbish…


Business Class, Senators and Hon Circles are invited to board first using the personalised gate. The riffraff can use the automated gates to board.


The Cabin

Configuration: 3 + 3
Seat Layout: There are a total of 168 seats on the aircraft, although the maximum number of passengers varies on the size of the Business Class cabin, where the middle seat is kept empty.
Pitch: 30 inches
Width: 18 inches
I think what strikes me the most about the aircraft as I enter is just how bland and boring the cabin looks. Everything is kept in murky shades of grey. Pretty much like the weather outside. The carpet is blue, but it is a very dark colour too that does not do anything to lighten the atmosphere in the cabin.

Now that looks seriously uncomfortable.

The Crew

The crew are rather nondescript on this flight, pretty much like the cabin of the aircraft actually – dull and grey. The ‘service’ consists of a packet of greasy potato chips that you are handed at the entrance to the aircraft and that you are then expected to hold in your hand during take-off or demolish as soon as you take your seat. There is also a drinks service once we get airborne. All in all, the whole experience really is nothing to write home about. Admittedly, the flight time is announced as being only 45 minutes, so you can hardly expect Lufthansa’s catering to go all out in Economy Class.


Eventually we land in Frankfurt after a flying time of only 40 minutes and for a change even the taxi to the apron is not too long.


In summary, this was a rather unspectacular short intra-European hop. In a way, an airline like Lufthansa does not really stand a chance against the low cost carriers on such a short route because there simply are not enough possibilities for them to set themselves apart from the competition with their product. With that in mind, they might as well adapt their business model to that of the low cost carriers and at least save some money in the process.