Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt: how does it compare to BA CityFlyer?

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

This is a review of Lufthansa CityLine in Business Class, flying from London City Airport to Frankfurt. CityLine is Lufty’s equivalent of BA CityFlyer, operating smaller aircraft from smaller airports.

As my nearest airport, I try, as much as possible, to fly from London City. Not only does it take about half as long to reach as it does Heathrow but I also find it one of the smoothest, hassle-free airports to use.

In part, this is because they now have two next-generation 3D baggage scanners where you can keep liquids and laptops in bags rather than having to unpack and repack your bag every time you go through security. This will increase to four – 100% – by Easter, which means you’re guaranteed a faster security experience.

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

When Lufthansa invited me to Berlin to see the unveiling of their next-generation Allegris business and first class seats, I asked to fly from London City. (Totally bizarrely, there are NO direct flights between London and Berlin on any Lufthansa Group airline, even Eurowings, so either way I had to connect in Munich or Frankfurt.)

Like British Airways, Lufthansa owns a small subsidiary called Lufthansa CityLine that operates flights with smaller aircraft such as the Embraer E190 to smaller airports such as London City.

As this was my first time on CityLine I thought I’d see how it compares to BA CityFlyer, which obviously dominates the airport.

Lufthansa CityLine – ground experience

I was travelling light and with just a backpack. Armed with my mobile boarding pass, which I downloaded to Apple Wallet from the Lufthansa App, I headed straight upstairs and through security.

Some passengers had already decanted their liquids and laptops only to be told they didn’t need to, so there’s definitely some educating that needs to be done. I imagine will ramp up once all of London City Airport’s scanners have been upgraded.

If you’ve ever wondered how to tell whether your security queue has a next-gen CT scanner, you can normally tell by looking at it. They often look more high-tech and tend to be clad in white plastic versus the older boxy stainless steel scanners. They’re also noticeably larger.

Within five minutes I was through and into the gate area, which is currently undergoing some refits as it rejigs the space to create a handful of bigger restaurants and retail options. Another five minutes or so and I was at my gate just as boarding started, and all within arriving at the airport just 30 minutes before my departure.

Of course, one trade-off is that there are no jet bridges at London City and you have to board via the open-air stairs. This isn’t always the most pleasant experience, depending on the weather.

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

Business class on Lufthansa CityLine

Lufthansa CityLine operates the Embraer E190 to London City Airport. This is about as big as it gets at the airport, with 100 seats – only the A220-100 is bigger, with 125 seats. SWISS flies these if you want to try one out.

Seats are in a 2-2 configuration, so even if you’re in economy you’ll get a guaranteed window or aisle seat. In business class, Lufthansa Cityline blocks the neighbouring seat so it is effectively 1-1. This is better than BA CityFlyer, where both EuroTraveller (economy) and Club Europe (business) are in a 2-2 configuration.

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

Next to each seat is an interesting metal side table:

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

I’m not sure what the point of this is, apart from to block the space, as the top surface is not level, so you can’t exactly use it for drinks or food!

Legroom is great:

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

…. and you also get large, square windows:

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

After boarding the cabin crew came round and handed out small bottles of water, which I appreciated. After a quick safety demonstration and taxi a couple of metres down to the runway we were off, with a typically steep ascent out of London City Airport.

Service onboard Lufthansa CityFlyer

Average flight time between London City and Frankfurt is just a hair over an hour, so it’s not a long flight. The crew were up as soon as the seatbelt signs were off and delivering the meal service.

As is standard for Lufthansa’s shortest routes, this is a cold meal and there’s neither a menu or a choice. If you have any dietary requirements you need to order these in advance.

Of the four flights I took with Lufthansa over two days, three of the meals were fish based (one fish, two prawn) whilst the other featured pastrami. On this flight I had a cold prawn salad which reminded my of the Skagen toast I had in Stockholm:

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

It was fine for what it was, although the meal offering is clearly a lot weaker than on BA CityFlyer where you can at least expect choice of hot meals.

It also came with a bread roll brought out by the crew as well as a small cheesecake for dessert.

To accompany the meal I enjoyed some German sparkling wine. There is no champagne on board. The crew were very attentive at proactively topping me up – I didn’t have to ask for a refill once and even declined them once or twice!

After the meal, the crew also came round offering the classic Lufthansa chocolate:

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

As well as an apple in a mini paper basket, which was delicious:

Review: Lufthansa CityLine from London City to Frankfurt

Before I knew it, we were landing in Frankfurt.


Like BA CityFlyer, I find Lufthansa CityLine an upgrade over the mainline fleet simply because of the lack of middle seats and the size of the aircraft, although you do have to contend with smaller overhead bins and the lack of jetbridges.

Whilst the seating experience is superior to BA CityFlyer thanks to the “Ihr Freiraum” empty seat, the food and drink offering is weaker with only a cold plate on offer.

The crew were very attentive and overall it was a good experience. My only complaint is that Lufthansa only operates these flights to Frankfurt, and doesn’t have any direct flights at all between London and Berlin!

Comments (102)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • riku says:

    >>Next to each seat is an interesting metal side table..I’m not sure what the point of this is

    A table like that means the seat is not counted when it comes to calculate the cabin crew needed for the plane. There is a legal minimum crew based on number of seats (not number of passengers). If they did not have the tables they would probably need one more cabin crew for that plane (despite only selling business class in 1+1 config).

    • Andrew J says:

      And was the table not just broken by not being level, as it has cup indents suggesting that’s its purpose?

      • HAM76 says:

        They are the same table as on the A32x family. On these aircrafts the tables are mounted further to the back, are leveled, and placed in the empty middle seat. They are quite usable for a drink and the phone. The back part holds a newspaper or magazine.

        Maybe they don’t fit the seat on Embraer, but LH CityLine didn’t want to come up with something new (and more expensive).

  • Erico1875 says:

    The LH 1+1 seating makes it a better business class experience than BA despite the food

  • Rich says:

    The window seat looks significantly narrower than the aisle seat, although camera angle may be making it look worse.

    Some reduction is of course normal, but I’d rather sit in the aisle seat for that reason if it’s possible to move the tray?

    • The real Swiss Tony says:

      The blocked seat alternates, so in one row A & D are blocked out then in the next it’s C & F, and so on, rather than all the aisle seats being taken out.

    • Rhys says:

      I think it’s the same. But wide-angle lenses tend to distort images closer to the edge, which is why it appears that way.

      The tray can be moved, if you want to change which seat you’re in.

    • lumma says:

      I think most of the pictures are taken with that insult to photography, the wide angle phone lens, that’s why it looks narrower

      • Rhys says:

        Wide angle lenses are a huge benefit for us. It’s really hard to photograph aircraft cabins without it.

  • George K says:

    There’s a story doing rounds about Lufty having removed the promise of an empty adjacent seat in business, having replaced ‘guaranteed’ with ‘where available’.

    I wonder what’s that about.

    • Rob says:

      Being married to a German I am sure it is bad grammar age nothing else. After all, BA only offers a free empty seat ‘when available’ because CityFlyer does not.

    • Andrew J says:

      So they can sell the seats if there is demand presumably.

    • Rhys says:

      Possibly during times of disruption, they feel it is easier to fill the cabin then fly business out with empty seats and leave people stranded.

  • Joy says:

    I used to fly Lufthansa a lot pre lockdown, I really liked them as an airline, in all respects.
    My recent flights, four in 2022, were a complete nightmare and shambles, delays, cancellations(within a few hours of flying), lost luggage for over 5 days; their service in attempting to resolve problems they inflicted on us passengers was diabolical. These were business class bookings, after these experiences, and the appalling after service I have stopped using Lufthansa.

    • flyforfun says:

      I flew LH only for the 2nd time in December. Well, it didn’t happen. 4 hours before going LCY-FRA-SIN-BNE we got a text saying sorry your flight was cancelled. This was due to the bad weather in FRA that day.
      No one was picking up phones here or Germany. Chat was useless so went and queued for 4.5 hrs at LCY. Got seen to a 9.15pm and found the lines would go down at 9.30!! Rerouted 4 days later out of LHR on SQ, but via SYD and then a transfer onto Jetstar. That was the worst part of the trip. Had to self transfer at Sydney including lugguage. Spend most of the 2.5hr layover in the JQ queue!! Coming back as fine with SQ out of BNE and then LH to MUC with a 1hr transfer to LHR. It was fine in Y. Had booked extra leg room SIN-MUC which helped.
      Despite BA flying out of LCY to FRA while I was in the queue there, my EU261 claim was turned down. Still waiting for reimbursement of my extra legroom seats on the outbound and taxi to the airport.

    • BB says:

      I can only agree. I flew them on a trip recently. Outward: uneventful. Return: Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Lufthansa scheduled a 6-hour delay that I only found out about due to a TripIt alert. Rebooked on Singapore Airlines, my next Lufthansa leg was cancelled as we were all already sitting on the aircraft. Disembarked, sent through FRA security again, rebooked to another airport, they then lost all our luggage. Still hasn’t arrived. At best, Lufthansa is now a bog-average 3* airline. At worst, a headache inducing computer-says-no airline.

  • John says:

    Why would LH fly to Berlin? BA doesn’t offer flights between Birmingham, Leeds, or Edinburgh and major German cities, either.

    BA and LH both operate a hub-spoke model. Obviously, at one end of the route is almost always a hub of their own.

    • Sean says:

      Isn’t it more that it’s strange they chose to host a global launch event in a city they offer few flights to.

      • Willmo says:

        It’s as if Lufthansa are showing off about how poorly connected BER is. I’ve needed to fly there twice recently, once from Hamburg and once from Dubai. No direct flights to BER from either city.

      • Rob says:

        Indeed. And to do it one week before the same journalists had to return to Berlin for ITB.

    • lumma says:

      It’s strange as it’s Germany’s airline and doesn’t fly from its capital city to anywhere other than Frankfurt or Munich. Obviously it’s for historic reasons but I can’t think of another country where this would be the case. (Although Washington DC only has United flying long haul)

      • John says:

        Australia and Canada?? I don’t think LATAM has any international flights from Brasilia either

      • Andrew J says:

        Qantas and Canberra?

        • Rhys says:

          Berlin is not comparable to Canberra (or even Ottawa) though. Berlin is a major tourist destination in its own right, and a growing city…nobody goes to Canberra for the museums/history/night-life!

          • Roosit says:

            Berlin is the capital but Berlin isn’t the centre of Germany (figuratively speaking) like Paris is for France or London is over here. It just doesn’t have the same importance in the country, regardless of museums and nightlife / its attraction as a tourist destination.

          • Rhys says:

            That doesn’t change the fact that Germany’s home carrier operates ZERO direct flights between London and Berlin!

        • lumma says:

          Ok then. Capitals that should be capitals then

          • patrick C says:

            It says more about the lack of finance related business in berlin which is why they struggle to fill planes to ber

          • Michael Jennings says:

            Qantas or Qantaslink flies from Canberra to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay and Gold Coast. That’s a lot more routes than Lufthansa out of Berlin.

      • HAM76 says:

        Germany is like this… Take Hamburg, second largest city of Germany after Berlin, most populated non-Capital city in the EU, home of Airbus, original city of Lufthansa, headquarter of Lufthansa Technik and one of the oldest airports in the world (Hamburg Airport turned 112 two months ago).

        Yet, the only intercontinental flights are to the Middle-East with Emirates being the only one of relevance.

    • His Holyness says:

      I’ve flown to TXL on LH from LCY.

  • Froggitt says:

    “Lufthansa CityLine operates the Embraer E190 to London City Airport. This is about as big as it gets at the airport, with 100 seats – only the A220-100 is bigger, with 125 seats”

    Is it maybe 10 years since an A320 (BA1?) was flying to JFK in from City?

    • Richie says:

      It wasn’t an A320, but the smaller A318.

      • Sean says:

        And then it only had 32 seats.

      • marks7389 says:

        The A318 being the only A320 family aircraft that can operate from London City, even then with a strict weight limit that meant it had to refuel in Shanon.

    • BA Flyer IHG Stayer says:

      BA1/2 operated as late as early 2020

      I certainly flew on it in 2019.

  • Softy25 says:

    Back in the early 1980’s I was UK Manager for an airline called Conti Flug which ran BAe 146 from LCY to Tempelhof. Rhys would have been a happy traveller as its business class was superb.

    • His Holyness says:

      That’s really interesting. I’ve never heard of it. I see they flew for Eurowings. What was the service like?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.