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

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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.

  • Bagoly says:

    The substitution of sekt for champagne would send me to BA in the evening.
    Is this the case on all Lufty short-haul, or only on those operated by CityLine?

    • Bernard Lavelle says:

      LH have a policy of leaving the next seat open for business class. On the city line E190’s which have a 2/2 configuration, that means you won’t have anyone beside you. On larger aircraft with 3 seats in a row, the middle seat is left open in business class. Back in the day I was getting worried about LH’s load factors on their FRA flights. They were about 55% which was low. They explained their seating policy – basically the flights were all business class! No need to worry.

  • PH says:

    Does BA really do a choice of hot meals on LCY flights of that length? An improvement if so, as it was cold salad last time I did a similar length route (pre pandemic)

    • Rob says:

      Whilst not directly relevant, when we flew Salzburg to Heathrow at lunchtime two weeks ago they had THREE hot lunch options available. Compared to the days of the old crappy salads ….

    • Flyer says:

      Yes, but only for breakfast or after 5pm.

  • iamfugly says:

    Erm, I can confirm you definitely have to still take out electronic equipment to be scanned! I didn’t think you had to either, but got called back by security to take my laptop and iPad out my bag. Although, liquids were fine left in the bag.

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

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