Well, I guess this is about as good of a time as any to make a negative change that was probably going to happen eventually anyway…
Buy on board coming to Lufthansa in 2021
It has just been announced that in the near future, Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian will eliminate free food and drinks in short and medium haul economy, instead replacing this with a buy on board menu. This won’t apply in business class, and won’t apply in long haul economy.
The airline group will be taking a phased approach towards this being introduced, starting in the spring of 2021. Austrian will eliminate free food & drinks first, followed by SWISS and Lufthansa.
The airline group claims that the buy on board selection, preparation, and presentation will use “high quality standards,” and that there will be more of an investment in sustainability, by selecting environmentally friendly products and packaging.
Will Lufthansa’s onboard catering look this good? And that’s an excellent manicure…
Will any food & drinks be free anymore?
In the coming months the individual airlines will reveal their updated product offerings. It’s stated that on Lufthansa and SWISS there will still be a complimentary water bottle for passengers, while on Austrian everything will have to be purchased.
While minor, I’m also curious to see if SWISS stops offering each passenger a free chocolate, which has been a tradition on the airline for years.
Austrian will be the first of the three airlines to introduce buy on board
This has probably been in the works for years
It’s pretty clear the airline group was already headed in this direction, and this would have happened eventually regardless:
- In 2017, British Airways introduced buy on board catering in short haul economy, setting the precedent for “full service” airlines in Europe
- In 2018, SWISS conducted a trial out of Geneva, whereby catering in short haul economy was only available for purchase
SWISS had already conducted a buy on board trial
Doesn’t this increase contact points?
I can’t help but feel like the timing of this seems a bit backwards in terms of coronavirus. Obviously airlines are in a bad financial situation and are looking to cut costs and increase revenue.
But isn’t travel right now also about minimizing contact? If so, isn’t having flight attendants spending more time in the aisle processing payments increasing touch points and interaction?
Processing purchases increases passenger contact
This is due to customer feedback… lol
I love how a Lufthansa Group executive describes this change:
“Our current snack offer in Economy Class does not always meet the expectations of our guests. The new offer was developed on the basis of feedback from our customers. With the high-quality offer available for purchase, our passengers will be able to decide what they want to eat and drink on their journey.”
Look, I get that most companies aren’t going to be particularly honest in press releases when they make negative changes. That’s also why I think there’s no point in quoting executives with announcements like this, because the only honest thing to say is “meh, well we’re losing a ton of money and we think we can get away with this, so tough luck.”
But instead Lufthansa quotes an executive who claims:
- Lufthansa is eliminating free food & drinks because the free selection hasn’t met the expectation of guests
- The introduction of buy on board is due to customer feedback
Right. I’d like to talk to the person who said “the Diet Coke is fine, I just don’t like how it’s free.”
Also, fair enough, but it’s funny to me how Lufthansa published another press release seven minutes after publishing this one, so it wouldn’t be the first story on the Lufthansa news page.
Customers have apparently been asking for less
As of spring 2021, Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian, will be eliminating free food & drinks in economy on short and medium haul flights. Lufthansa and SWISS will still offer free water, while Austrian won’t offer anything for free.
Unfortunately I can’t say I’m surprised by this change, as this is something that was under consideration even pre-pandemic. There really is no difference nowadays in Europe between “full” service airlines and ultra low cost carriers.
Are you surprised to see the Lufthansa Group switch to a buy on board model in economy?