Lufthansa / Swiss / Austrian following BA with new short-haul fare structure

Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss (all of which are owned by Lufthansa) have decided that the British Airways ‘hand baggage only’ model for short haul ticketing is the way to go.

For flights from October 1st which are booked from June 23rd (Swiss) or July 28th (Lufthansa or Austrian) you will be presented with three different ticket types:

Light – no baggage allowance (irrespective of frequent flyer status), no seat reservation (irrespective of frequent flyer status), non-refundable

Classic – baggage allowance, seat reservation, non-refundable

Flex – as per Classic but refundable and changeable

Lufthansa

Oddly, Lufthansa describes the Classic fare as having ‘free seat reservations and free baggage allowance’, which is an interesting definition of the word ‘free’ since in all other respects the ticket is the same as the cheaper Light!

There is no change to Miles & More earning rates and passengers will continue to get lounge access if they have status irrespective of ticket type.

What we won’t know until ticket sales begin is how big the fare difference will be between Classic and Light.

As far as I can tell, the Lufthansa set-up will now be virtually identical to British Airways.  Lufthansa has already adopted the ‘super-thin, no leg room’ seats on short haul – seats which are generally seen as less comfortable than the ones BA introduced.

Given my general lack of enthusiasm for Lufthansa lounges (see my review of the Terminal 2 lounge from earlier this week), BA may well be the better option on routes where they compete.  I don’t know enough about the Lufthansa short-haul food options to compare those.  I have never been desperately excited by the plate of ham and cheese that passes for breakfast in their short-haul business class on the few times I have flown it.

If I were easyJet, I would now be tempted to start offering everyone free seat reservations in order to claim they are offering a better deal than the legacy airlines ….

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Comments

  1. RIccati says:

    Hand luggage fares to GVA and ZRH have been on Swiss for years. But now you can’t select a seat on HBO fare! This is more restrictive then before.

    My sense of fairness struggles: when you purchase a ticket it comes with a seat. The seat stock is tightly controlled and everyone is seated (unlike trains and other transport with seat reservations). Now, there are desirable seats with legroom, for which some airlines charge extra (American, United, Singapore) — that is understandable. However, making to pay to choose among all the same seats… it’s making people to pay for something that has no benefit to them.

  2. Britbronco22 says:

    Could be wrong, but I think German Wings actually set up this fare structure before BA

    • Hardly a stroke of genius in the first place, I hope you’ll agree.

      Different fares offering different benefits.

      Hmmm…

  3. Wyvern says:

    At least Lufthansa’s offering is sensibly named, they are being fully upfront about this, and unlike BA, Lufthansa doesn’t have two levels of ‘classic’ fare with differing status points (where the upper level can’t be booked online on the airline’s own site).

  4. Idrive says:

    On my last LH flights to MUC and FRA I was just offered a sandwich and a drink. On a partner,AIr Dolomiti, even a glass of prosecco in a real glass!

  5. Not just easy jet. Ryan air must be cock a hoop and these changes. All the genuine low cost carriers must be laughing all the way to the bank.
    There will be no real competition or customer service improvements until a new airport is built and or Ryan air and easy jet are given unfettered access to fortress Heathrow.

    • Callum says:

      The average cost of a Ryanair fare is about £55. The Heathrow airport charge for Europe is over half that – I dont think they have the slightest desire to use Heathrow.

      Easyjet say they’ll fly out of Heathrow if it’s expanded. Whether they could sustain a proper hub there is another matter!

  6. I would agree that the food on Lufthansa short haul business is poor but I have found the food in economy far superior to BA. Plus, Lufthansa will give you (cheap) sparkling wine in economy if you ask.

  7. SWISS used to have a no-brainer USP: first item of winter sports equipment free in addition to regular baggage allowance, whether skis, boots or whatever. No longer on Economy Light but still a better deal on other fares.

    I prefer SWISS Y catering – fresh cheese or ham roll superior to birdseed. At least the chocolate bar remains as the Swiss USP (doesn’t it?).

    • Stewie says:

      Chocolate bar remains.
      And I must have different sensibilities to Raffles, as I prefer the LH T2 lounge to GC at T5 – it’s clean, for a start, the toilets don’t look like something from the M5 services on a bank holiday weekends, and the scotch selection is miles better!