Lufthansa Introducing “Economy Light” Fares To The US

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Over the past several months we’ve seen both oneworld and SkyTeam airlines add transatlantic “basic economy” fares, which don’t include a free checked bag, and don’t include free seat assignments. While we saw US airlines add basic economy on domestic flights prior to that, doing so on transatlantic flights was a bit more complicated.

That’s because each of the “big three” US carriers operates as part of a transatlantic joint venture, and they typically offer aligned fare structures across the airlines, so there’s a lot that has to be done on the back-end to make this possible. Typically you don’t just see one airline add a feature, but rather all of them.

It looks like we’ll soon see the first Star Alliance airline offering these fares on transatlantic flights on a widespread basis. Lufthansa has announced that they plan to begin offering “economy light” fares on a widespread basis on transatlantic flights as of this summer.

Lufthansa A380

This will be available on all Lufthansa Group airlines, including Lufthansa, Swiss, Brussels, and Austrian. While it hasn’t yet been announced, I’d be surprised if United didn’t added these types of fares around the same time.

These economy light fares won’t come with free checked bags or free seat assignments, though passengers can pay to add those on individually. However, if they do, chances are that they’ll be worse off than just buying the regular economy fare. Based on what we’ve seen from oneworld and SkyTeam airlines, the roundtrip premium for a regular economy fare over a “basic” one seems to be around $100.

The fare difference between regular and “basic” economy on American

There will be no differentiation in terms of the onboard product, and those on economy light tickets will continue to receive free meals and drinks.

Lufthansa first introduced these light fares on flights within Europe in 2015. Then they started testing this on select flights between Scandinavia and North America in October 2017, and now they’ll be expanding this on a widespread basis.

  1. One can then hope that they will also introduce large penalties for oversized carry-on. The domestic plague will now be flowing into international travels and with Americans throwing a tantrum every time they get caught in breaking the rules – big penalties will be desired. Starting at $250 per bag would be good – and then strict enforcement at check-in, not in the gate.!

  2. Lufthansa weighs carryons at checkin (though not personal items). Or at least they did when I flew coach to Frankfurt from Portland in 2007.

  3. SAS has offered their version of economy light or basic economy (Go Light) for awhile on transatlantic flights. Though they do offer seat selection for anyone booking which I guess makes their light fare not as awful as other carriers (and thus not counting towards their not being the first Star Alliance carrier to offer such restricted fares on those routes?) The seat selection is somewhat limited though…

  4. My goodness, I really hope we won’t get the american drama in europe with oversized, overweight carry-on luggage. LH should be extremely strict on over-limit carry-ons and charge heavily for it.

  5. Swiss, LH and Austrian – if their personell see you with a “oversized” carry on, they make you to weight it & size check it as well even before you got to duty free zone.
    Was stopped numerous times (my carry on looked large than it was). After a quick check I was just let through. My bag is label as “OK” each time as well.

    I hope they will keep doing this!

  6. sorry – my last post was rather hastily written and with so many mistakes, sorry.

    Anyway – what I wanted to say, I hope Star Alliance keeps continuing measure/weigh carry on bags which seem to be oversized. To check every single normal bag would be, of course, not reasonable.

    What IS reasonable, however, is to stop anyone who is trying to avoid luggage rules…

  7. How long till frequent flier tickets correspond to the worst of the light fares — meaning no checked or carry on bags, no seat assignments, no changes possible , no anything. Pay large cash amounts to get these things back, and or pay double miles?

  8. I just shows you that the airline industry is not competitive at all.
    Because in a real competitive environment, suppliers would fight for your dollars and IMPROVE the QUALITY of the product while LOWERING the PRICE. Take for instance cell phones, laptops, cars, or bus travel.
    Cars? More and more features and luxury for the same or lower price.
    Bus travel? More and more comfy seats, free WiFi, etc. for the same or lower price.
    Cell phones? See Android viz Apple.

  9. The Race To The Bottom continues.

    Airlines deserve every bit of the contempt heaped upon them by their victims.

  10. I thought TAP was the first one to sell something like that.
    Not only to/from the US, but to/from Brazil too.

  11. Awful airline, best avoided in every class , sector and fare. No redeeming features whatsoever.

  12. @Paolo: did you ever actually fly Lufthansa? It seems you don’t know what you’re talking about!

  13. This is a fad. True legacy carriers will reject this nonsense as a point of differentiation at some point in time. Especially on the ten+ for flights. If you want THE lowest fare sit in 28 inch pitch. Pay for water. Otherwise pay a competitive fare and get what comes with that.

  14. Ugh, the plague of ‘basic economy’ just got worse… It may be worse than the Black.

  15. Seat assignments on long haul Economy stopped being free (before check-in) with Lufthansa more than a year ago — even on more or most expensive Economy fares.

    So that one’s not actually a loss (unless you won’t be even able to select a seat upon check-in going forward).

  16. I simply don’t get it:

    1. Who flies europe-us with only carry on?

    2. To not allow seat assignment on 10+ hours flights is a big deal.

    3. Don’t the basic economy fare in US ended up as a failure and rolled back?

  17. I booked a Lufthansa flight to Europe on the travel site “Cheapfareguru” and it was listed as an Economy flight. AFTER I paid it turned into a “Light” or “Basic” Economy flight. Is it even legal to sell a ticket under the perception that you receive the fare it was listed under and only after they received your money to add additional charges?
    The best was, after I complained they cancelled my flight and told me I get my money back in 1 or 2 business cycles!

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