Lufthansa Cuts First Class On All US Routes Until June 2021

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Lufthansa hasn’t been offering its first class product to the US since November 2020, and that has now been extended by several more weeks.

Lufthansa pulls 747-8s & first class on US routes

Lufthansa has a greatly scaled back schedule due to the pandemic. In the fall of 2020, Lufthansa’s only US destinations to feature first class (on the Boeing 747-8) were Chicago and Los Angeles.

In October Lufthansa revealed plans to cut this even further. Between November 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, Lufthansa cut first class on:

  • LH430/431 between Frankfurt and Chicago
  • LH456/457 between Frankfurt and Los Angeles

These were the two US routes operated by the Boeing 747-8, though over the winter they were replaced by Airbus A350-900s. These swaps have now been extended further — Lufthansa has canceled all 747-8 service to the US through May 31, 2021.

This means that at the earliest, Lufthansa will once again fly the 747-8 (and in turn offer first class) to the US as of June 1, 2021. Presumably Lufthansa’s plans haven’t been finalized, and this remains subject to change.

For what it’s worth, Lufthansa is flying the 747-8 between Mexico City and Frankfurt, for anyone traveling to Germany who is willing to make a detour.

Lufthansa isn’t offering first class to the US for seven months

Why has Lufthansa cut first class on US routes?

I think Lufthansa’s logic for these aircraft downgrades is pretty obvious, in light of weak demand:

Lufthansa has cut 747-8s from US routes

While cargo is no doubt a motivator for some of Lufthansa’s US routes at the moment, clearly there’s not enough demand to justify a 747-8.

Lufthansa has replaced 747-8s with A350-900s on US routes. This is interesting since historically Lufthansa based all of its A350s in Munich, but the airline has temporarily based four of these planes in Frankfurt.

Lufthansa is now also flying A350s from Frankfurt

Bottom line

Between November 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021, Lufthansa isn’t flying any Boeing 747-8s to the US. This was initially only supposed to last through early spring, but has now been extended by several more weeks. That also means that Lufthansa isn’t offering any first class on US routes.

Only time will tell if Lufthansa actually resumes US flights with the 747-8 as of June 1, or if that timeline gets pushed back even further. I think it all comes down to border restrictions in Germany and other European countries.

Ultimately this doesn’t come as much of a surprise given how little demand there is for transatlantic travel, though it sure is a shame for anyone who was hoping to cross the Atlantic in comfort on miles in the coming months.

At least the 747-8 has a future at Lufthansa, unlike the A380 and A340-600, which are being retired. With that, the 747-8s will be Lufthansa’s only planes with first class.

What do you make of Lufthansa pulling 747-8s (and first class) from the US?

  1. FCL will disappear. I said before HONs hated the new FCL mock-up in FRA, and the current fleet development suggests FCL won’t be installed on the first batch of their 777X, too. That leaves the 748 with FCL.

  2. The big unknown is when AND IF business travel will resume. Currently many firms have blocked business travel due to the perceived health risk to employees. With the alternatives being used, true demand might never resume at a level even close to previous demand. This would lock the door on FCL.

  3. I booked two business award tickets via LifeMiles for their DEN-MUC route on the A350 for mid December. I’m honestly just hoping this route stays on their schedule.

  4. According to LH website the FCT will soon be reopened and limousine service will start again.

    Five german Lufthansa lounges will close forever: Bremen, Dresden, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Cologne. (Nuremberg and Cologne have a priority pass lounge).
    Lufthansas C and Sen Lounges in Delhi will also not open again as there is an Air India lounge.

    By the way:
    The Lounges in Vienna are closed for Star Gold passengers (unless traveling in C).

    And Lufthansa has cancelled all third-party access (even for F/HON/C) except for Prague, Sofia, Krakow and Nice.

  5. @Tom:
    Enjoy the AI lounge at Delhi if it will be re-opened in December. Plaza Premium in T2 currently is also closed.

  6. Koln Priority pass lounge, well remembered. A non lounge if there ever was such a thing. It was a partial balcony with no walls and barely any food or drinks.
    This was a long time ago, I realized that secondary airports and secondary airlines do not make an ideal situation.

  7. It’s another nail in the coffin of first class in the interest of using modem fuel efficient aircraft to keep USA routes on life support while everyone is losing their shirt TATL/TPAC. If you’re keeping track, that’s CX, SQ and LH who have all decided A350s with no F are what work right now in the USA market. All with reasonably well regarded F products.

    That leaves the US with what, EK? And even EK doesn’t fly it to SEA, SFO…

  8. @Klaus I said DEN as in Denver, not DEL. Unfortunately the lounge situation at Denver is nothing to get excited about but to be fair during these times I’m just happy to be going to the airport and flying business is always a privilege.

  9. It has been long overdue for LH’s ratings to be reevaluated.
    LH has evolved into a 3☆ airline, at best.
    With a highly inferior business Class product and closed down first class terminals in FRA and MUC.

  10. @Donato: Here in Europe the employers are not usually blocking business travel. In contrast, our HR is currently desperately looking for double citizens, because they have the monopoly of work related intercontinental travel.

  11. This sucks, although honestly when I flew LH in F I found the experience in the air to be lacking to say the least. The ground experience in Frankfurt was good but the flights were the most disappointing international first class flight I have had.

  12. @Andy, I’ve speculated that dual citizens/residents might become sought after as the only folks who can make easy trans-atlantic trips.

    I’m based in Switzerland and have been back to the US 3 times for work since travel began to loosen up in the way summer.

  13. This is another great thing happening. The elitist who feel they are entitled to first class need to grow up, and realize those days are over. Business class is sufficient and one needs nothing more. If you pop so much coin for a first class seat, then get your own jet. Frankfurt airport stinks, it’s a mich mash of terminals that I don’t know how anyone can maneuver, at best, Munich would be my connection point or destination and then travel accordingly to where you’re really going. Funny to hear all you mileage dudes whining about how you can’t do this that or the other thing. Tough!

  14. Horrible company they still didn’t refund me my 4 tickets. Flight was canceled due to covid and I haven’t got my refund and I’ve been waiting since June 8th.

  15. Pretty much everyone is throwing the A350 and 787 to the US and as many places worldwide as possible.

    Incredible to see A350’s in SQ and CX at LHR and LAX.

    This makes sense for LH and others. Passengers get a good inflight experience, and these can haul a ton of cargo, especially with less pax.

  16. It looks as though because demand is down, they won’t operate the B747-8s & utilize the F cabins as business & place their most loyal customers in those seats. Cargo isn’t enough to justify it either.
    I wonder if LH will roll out their new Business Class before their first B777-9s arrive?
    How long can this go on for?

  17. @ Andy
    Yes, I did not mention or consider firms that are not US based. I usually travel on my own dime but I always observe my surroundings. it seems as though much of premium travel (Business and first Class) is based on US multinational firms. Even if the split if 50/50 that represents a steep drop in revenue to support First Class.
    I will admit that the demand for true first Class in LH Group countries might continue but without additional paying passengers First Class might have to end.

  18. Business travel has just collapsed in general, let alone the transatlantic and transpacific routes. I’m retired so it’s a little academic for me nowadays. But my daughter who works for NBC and is based in Denver says the company has blocked all travel to NYC until at least the second quarter 2021. This is just the world we live in right now, and for airlines who’s biggest revenue source is the business traveller and gonna be hurting big time

  19. “Lufthansa’s only US Destinations to feature first class were Chicago and Frankfurt”. Didn’t know Frankfurt relocated to the Americas.

  20. OPM flying is dead.
    And probably will only return in a distant future at a smaller perecentage

    All the airlines that hedged their bet on OPM are justly suffering now.

  21. Do they no longer fly 747-400s to the US? LH seems like the last option to take a 747 to Europe from the US…

  22. @ shoeguy
    I am NYC based currently.
    it is so refreshing to hear English spoken correctly. That experience is limited in NYC. It is more common in Germany or watching DW German news on TV.
    I guess this was the hidden meaning of the typo listing FRA as being in the US.

  23. Lufthansa is a joke. I flew MIA-FRA in J yesterday. Business was full, and I had to play footsy with the random person next to me the whole flight because of those angled seats towards each other. Had a 5 hour layover on my way to BEG, and not a single LH lounge was open. No excuses since the flight was full, airport was pretty busy, and other airlines have already opened lounges. They really need to change those J seats and stop drastic cost cuts.

  24. Not really surprising considering that they had 787-8s scheduled on basically all routes to the US in their “preliminary” summer schedule (e.g. 3x 747-8 to NYC almost daily). Seeing all of them gone is a bit sad though.

    Quick question Ben, what’s your source on this? I just checked and it seems that LH actually zeroed out A and F till June 1st on all flights to NYC (where I’m based), though no adjustments to the aircraft types have been made yet. So it actually looks like they might pull First class till the end of May rather than just the end of April.

  25. Doesn’t Air France still operate a First cabin to the US? It’s probably the best out there as far as European carriers are concerned.

  26. The odd travel ban, in fact an explicit privilege for double citizens, can obviously not generate sufficient demand.

  27. From Feb 12 ahead, the route ORD-FRA is schedule with 747-8 on Lufthansa website, but they are not selling F! Why?

  28. I’m pretty sure they are currently in the process of figuring out the summer shedule (which will take effect on 3/28) and have already decided that they’ll pull the 747-8 from all US routes.
    So to not end up being forced to rebook everyone who buys a ticket between now and whenever they’ll update the shedule in Amadeus, they zerod out all A/F/O inventory.
    I think we can expect the final shedule to be pushed to the reservation systems in late Feb/early March (incl the actual aircraft types).

  29. I have a friend who works for another airline, and he says those tasked with scheduling are having a nightmare. One thing is the massive drop in travel demand, but constantly changing requirements can throw all your plans out the window.

    On top of that, the way people book has changed dramatically. Previously, they could make a schedule based on early sales. Now, something like 2/3 of tickets are booked within 2 weeks of departure. Despite sales campaigns, people are not buying tickets now for summer as nobody knows if/when borders open, will they get travel insurance or get vaccines before then?

    In a best case scenario, most adults in my country will receive vaccines by the end of Q2. If so, summer travel can go ahead- but nobody knows.

  30. This is not shocking. Demand to the US from Europe and from the US to Europe is very weak, with flights going out with LF’s in the low, low teens. The First Class cabins on LH’s planes ex-US chase business travelers and these are nowhere to be found. The A330s and A350s will be the airplane of choice for US-Germany flights through the end of the year.

  31. I think that COVID-19 will bring the death of most First class cabins, at least for the foreseeable future. In many ways, it’s really an academic issue since First classes cabins have already greatly shrunken or disappeared in recent years, and many Business class products are virtually as good (and in case of Qatar, even better!) as their First Class counterparts.

    My guess is 90% of F-class-leaning passengers will be happy with a solid J product, and the remining 10% can go fly Private!

  32. One of my first major points/miles trips involved Lufthansa. I was talking to Brett Snyder (the one at Cranky) and he suggested using my points for a first class award to Frankfurt. He said while the seat isn’t the best, the overall experience would be memorable.

    We flew from (PHX to) IAH to FRA and back sitting on the upper deck of the 747 back around 2008. I’m glad we got to do that since getting those award tickets got harder and harder and now 747s are mostly gone. My GF and I won’t ever forget that experience.

  33. Come on, LH. Pick the low hanging fruit first.

    Catering and seat comfort in Economy, PE and Business leave a lot to be desired.

    People are uncomfortable. Why should they come back?

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