Brands in the News

The Lufthansa Mystery

15 Nov 2009  

This weekend I flew from London to Frankfurt on Lufthansa, and I am now very puzzled.

The flight was terrific.  It left on time, the plane was clean and shiny, there were free newspapers at the gate, the flight attendants were friendly and helpful and the in-flight service was excellent.  Despite the fact that it was a short one hour flight departing after 7 PM, I enjoyed a tasty sandwich and an excellent, free German beer.  I could have had two beers if I was really feeling wild, but I held off.  And this was all in economy.

The mystery: how is this possible?

In the United States, all the major carriers are struggling to survive.  As a result, they have cut back on service as much as possible.  If you’ve flown in the past couple years you know what I mean: lean staffing, harried flight attendants, no free food and definitely no free beers.

Why hasn’t Lufthansa cut back, too?

There are low-cost airlines in Europe, as in the United States.  Lufthansa is having financial trouble, just like virtually every big airline around the world.  People are scrambling to make ends meet in Europe, as in the U.S.  One would think the impact on Lufthansa’s service would be similar, too.  But so far Lufthansa hasn’t cut service to deal with short-term financial pressure.

This is an impressive bit of brand stewardship; Lufthansa is protecting the brand despite profit challenges.  Let’s hope Lufthansa is able to keep it up.  The fine service makes flying around Europe a joy.

2 Responses

  1. Mark Howerton says:


    Spot on as usual. Appreciate the periodic insights.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours,


  2. On this, I found quite interesting the comment from Lufthansa deputy CEO which can be found in the followig articles (and other articles in the press today).

    Lufthansa plans to tighten belt to spur demand,,4901236,00.html

    “We must create additional markets through favorable prices,” the newspaper quoted him as saying.

    Among the belt-tightening measures under consideration are raising aircraft capacity and a change in the catering policy, reducing the space reserved for kitchens. However, Franz stressed that food and drinks would still be free on flights. Making customers pay for refreshments “does not work with a premium brand,” he added.

Join the conversation