Lufthansa Is Launching The World’s Worst Flight

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Most of you are probably aware that intra-Europe business class leaves a lot to be desired. For most of the major European airlines, business class on short-haul flights just consists of economy seats with blocked middles, and then you get better food and drinks. So you can expect seats with 30″ of pitch and virtually no padding.

Sometimes European airlines fly these planes on their longer routes within Europe, which can reach up to four hours. That’s a long time to spend in those uncomfortable seats.

However, Lufthansa is doing something truly crazy. Lufthansa has been flying to Pune, India, since 2008. They’ve been the only airline to fly nonstop between Pune and Europe. Lufthansa’s Pune flight has been operated by PrivatAir, which has both Airbus and Boeing narrowbody aircraft in a premium heavy configuration. This meant they could operate a low capacity plane on this fairly long flight.

However, over the summer Lufthansa ended their partnership with PrivatAir, causing them to cancel flights to Pune. The problem is that Pune Airport doesn’t have a very long runway, so I suspect they couldn’t operate a widebody aircraft there without taking a serious weight restriction (and even then it may not have been possible).

So Lufthansa is doing something creative… and sort of cruel. As of November 1, 2018, Lufthansa is resuming flights between Frankfurt and Pune. However, they’re using a regionally configured A319 for the route, and the plane will make a fuel stop in Baku.

The plane won’t actually pick up or drop off passengers in Baku, so passengers will remain onboard the aircraft the entire time. The schedule will be as follows:

LH768 Frankfurt to Baku departing 10:30AM arriving 6:05PM
LH768 Baku to Pune departing 6:50PM arriving 12:50AM (+1 day)

LH769 Pune to Baku departing 2:10AM arriving 6:10AM
LH769 Baku to Frankfurt departing 6:55AM arriving 9:15AM

That return flight is an 11hr35min redeye on a regionally configured plane with intra-Europe business class seats. That’s sort of unbelievable to me.

Meanwhile in both economy and business class there’s no inflight entertainment. They don’t even have drop-down monitors.

Not, surprisingly, there’s a ton of award availability on the flight, should you want to subject yourself to this.

Can anyone think of a worse flight — on any airline, anywhere in the world — to take in business class (and maybe even in economy)?

(Tip of the hat to @flight_report@Brabbworld)

  1. Friend flew DOH RGN on QR and it was like that, but that’s just one very long leg as opposed to one with a technical stop.

    I’d assume even Primeira has an power outlets at least maybe?

  2. I don’t see the value in this. Pune isn’t that far from mumbai, so why wouldn’t people juat connect on jet airways or take an me3 flight (of one exists) rather than taking a non-stop flight that stops anyway?

  3. “The plane won’t actually pick up or drop off passengers in Pune, so passengers will remain onboard the aircraft the entire time.“

    I think you meant Baku.

  4. “The plane won’t actually pick up or drop off passengers in Pune, so passengers will remain onboard the aircraft the entire time. ”

    Well, it does seem to be a waste of time to fly 8 hours to remain in the plane and return another 8 hours.

  5. As soon as I read Lufthansa and worst flight I immediately knew you were talking about the Pune one…

    It has to be a ridiculous move but such is the power of operating a monopoly route …

  6. If you’re stopping anyway, why not take one of the many other one-stop flights? It’ll be a little longer but waaaay more comfortable. And Baku is smack in the middle of the flight, so just as you’re getting settled in to sleep, you’re going to be woken by cabin crew to prepare for landing. Geez.

  7. Same as any United Flight on the A319/320 series with those ridiculous seats. I refuse to fly on ANY UA flight over 1 hour on the A319/320.

  8. @ Ryan — The difference is that United doesn’t operate any 11+ hour flights with their A319s/A320s. Also, they at least have domestic first class seats so you can pay to be a bit more comfortable.

  9. Once upon a time

    Air India
    ewr-cdg-bom in 747 (economy) – middle seat

    Little over hour stop in CDG. But can’t leave the aircraft or move around in cabin as it was a fuel stop/crew change.

  10. My wife went to University in Pune. She’s tells me it’s primarily a college town, so lots of young people. I imagine lower fares are going to trump comfort for many residents, so this might work out for Lufthansa.

  11. Jesus Christ!!!
    Then look at those prices!! I guess the route is rather premium heavy (and probably abit subsidised too) or else LH wouldn’t be plying the route. Imagine paying that much for a seat with no recline e.t.c meaning you’ll arrive tired and cramped! What a joke!

    Lufthansa also operated the Privatair plane to Nairobi when they relaunched the route before upgauging to A340s/A330.

  12. There must be some compelling reasons for them to even consider deploying a regionally configured 319 on such a Long route. Product aside and the fuel burn of operating such aircrafts on a distance of this length is prohibitive. My hunch is that this is to appease some major corporate clients- I know that there are several major German automobile manufacturing plants there.

  13. Their ‘real’ business class is bad enough so agree that this would be the stuff of nightmares. Take the trip, please…tremendous schadenfreude amusement for the readers.

  14. Pune is also industrious. There are many German based companies as well as some international ones who are setting up plants there – as an alternative to space limited Mumbai. But oh boy – that’s a terrible business class product for such a long flight. I’m sure people will just travel overland to Mumbai Airport for three hours to catch full-flat bed product than choosing to fly in such a horrible seat. At least the expressway between the two cities is very smooth and in a good condition.

  15. Alittle online research shows that lots of german companies have bases there – from automobile, agrobusiness to IT etc. So LH must have some juicy corporate accounts and clients to fly there who would rather fly direct instead of stopping over in DEL/BOM. Those clients won’t be happy with this product.

    If the internet is anything to go by, Pune is definitely more than just a college town. This offer is clearly not for young poor students. Look at the ticket price again or google an eco price ticket!

  16. Hi Ben,

    Some inputs on this post, since I am have lived all my life in Pune (and i love it)…
    1. Pune airport is an Air Force station and commercial flights are allowed with some restrictions. This includes bigger aircraft and ban on take offs / landings at certain hours.
    2. With Pune being located just 150 kms from Mumbai, and having one of the best freeways connecting both cities, passengers as well as airlines find it better to operate international flights from Mumbai.
    3. The State Government has identified land for Pune’s own civil/commercial airport, but that is at least 4-5 years away.
    4. As for current international flights, Pune is served by Etihad (via its partnership with Jet Airways) along with LH.
    5. Business fliers to US find the Etihad option much better as Abu Dhabi provides the pre-immigration clearance option, which LH and Frankfurt does not.

  17. In reality if this plane has light loads there’s a good chance you can lie flat on three seats even in economy, so not that bad

  18. Wow, I wonder who was responsible for that partnership ending. If Lufthansa is trying to serve premium business clients, they will be pretty pissed in the new product compared to the lie flat seats on the Privatair route.

  19. “Can anyone think of a worse flight — on any airline, anywhere in the world — to take in business class (and maybe even in economy)?”

    In economy? Yeah… any flight that is longer than 11.5 hrs. I’d MUCH rather fly this than one of the New Singapore Air ULRs.

  20. @ Maximilian Lukas — The plane they used to fly to Pune was a PrivatAir A319, which is why it had a different configuration. I’m not sure what the source is for, but the seatmap doesn’t reflect that. It shows 25 rows, the same as all of Lufthansa’s A319s.

  21. @Mike
    Check your facts. The new Singapore Airlines nonstop flights to the US only have Business and Premium Economy so even in the lowest class, it will be a far more comfortable experience than the LH A319. Lufthansa is known for being consistent, but not overly creative. They could easily install some type of either recliner or lie-flat seats for these new flights if they wanted to be true to their 5-star image that no one believes in, haha.

  22. @Lucky
    Maybe you guys are right, but I just can’t imagine what kind of thought went into this decision, since after probably 1 flight, all the big german corporate customers would book different connections (e.g. etihad), since they pay for business class tickets so that their employees are well rested and productive in Pune and that surely wont be the case in a regional a319, i.e. they have more expenses.

  23. @phize – it looks like FRA-GYD-ASB (LH 612) will still be operated. That flight can actually be booked on either sector in addition to FRA-ASB, unlike this flight to Pune, which can’t apparently be booked between FRA-GYD – as Lucky notes it’s a fuel stop only in Baku.

  24. I’ve survived 10+ hours in coach fine, but I’ve never flown anywhere near that amount of time on a plane with seats as thin as these. I’ve found LH’s Recaro slimline seats very uncomfortable after about an hour. United got the same seat but with extra cushioning (called Comfort Package I think), and even that seat I found uncomfortable after 3 hours.

    Lufthansa really should have bought some 787-8’s for routes like these.

  25. Wow. I fly to Pune/Mumbai every year from LA and now I know what airline I won’t be flying this year into Pune. Those seats are really bad. The only decent premium cabin product internationally that comes into Pune is Jet’s 737 recliners from Abu Dhabi. That’s about it! Anything else really does suck now as this point. Can’t wait until Pune builds their own intl airport years from now so they have n resctricions on plane size.

  26. Do they carry extra pilots on this flight or switch out crews at the fuel point? Seems like a lot of flying time for one crew.

  27. I’m from Pune, and OMG I will not be flying into PNQ with LH now. For those wondering why there even is a flight there, it’s because of the huge amount German companies and IT firms there. This is why this was historically a business-class-only flight. I can’t imagine they’d get any good yields from this flight. Fingers crossed that this changes with the new airport.

  28. Lufthansa is such a trashy airline. From their sub-par F to their horrible Y, it’s seriously a scam through and through that anyone considers them one of the world’s best airlines.

  29. Current day flying community is maybe a little bit spoiled. I remember SE Asia and Australia flights in the early 90ies.

    JAT business class: Belgrade – UAE – Bangkok – Singapore – Melboure – Sydney. Same plan, just stops. If you wanted to get off you had 15m walking before it was time to get in security line and board again. You were staring at the same food tray 5 flights in a row. In-flight-entertainment? A book or airline magazine. No outlets, ipads or laptops with more than 1 hour battery existed.

    Rome – Karachi – Bangkok – Jakarta on and old Garuda 747-200 was not overly exciting either in hindsight.


  30. Too bad they don’t offer first class on this route. As you know, I’m only flying first, paid with my own money. Haters gonna hate, but hey, do I care? I’m just a bored, pathetic troll without a life, working at Starbucks for $2,38 per hour and begging for attention. Oh, just in case I’ve mentioned it already: I only fly paid first class.

  31. LH almost got it right. This should be a better remedy.

    The Y passengers already have similar seats, now just give them tablets.
    The C passengers each gets 1 row, for the fake lie-flat and some makeshift bed pads.

    Who knows this might open a new market for LH in long haul low demand route.

  32. @Mikee –

    Thanks for the tales grandpa. I suppose you also walked 20 miles to school, barefoot and uphill both ways?

  33. I go to Pune every 3/4 months and I flew once with LH/Privatair. Never again. Nowadays I fly to Mumbai and I drive to Pune. Uphill it’s a nightmare, downhill it’s instead quite ok. LH J class longhaul is already shitty enough you really don’t want to be on their regional plane for that trip.

  34. Have taken the PrivatAir/Lufthansa FRA-PNQ flight multiple times. They did have a fuel stop in Bucharest, Romania before. It is Buka now. So actually the flight isn’t getting worse, it stays the same.

  35. Majority of Business class passengers will just take a wide bodied flight into or out of Mumbai and then a 3 hour drive into/out of Pune

  36. I can sure as hell think of a worse flight – that Qantas direct flight from Heathrow to Perth/Perth Heathrow doing it in coach. I don’t care if it is a 787….. so what?! I’m not sitting in coach for ~17 hours + for anyone on any type of plane. 11:35hrs is a doddle with the long haul I do from Oceania to Europe.

  37. @William Y. –

    LOL, you really made my day. Funniest comment I ever got. I was 13 at the time.

    The only time I had to walk up the mountain was when I was stupid enough to take my Porsche with R-tires in November and the first snow hit. Practically bare footed yes…

    Sometimes it’s funny to read comments on aviation readers comparing flights to SQ A350ULR flights to other ditto. I haven’t met anyone taking those flights. Funny SQ did not yet get their ULR’s delivered yet.

    Not a LuftHansa fan, and has never gone out of my way to fly them, but my experiences flying them has always been quite good.

  38. Just to give a little background;
    Getting to Pune from Mumbai is a HUGE PITA.
    That’s the reason for the FRA-PNQ flight, since there are a lot of businesses having a trench in Germany and Pune.
    Lufthansa had to end the PrivatAir thing. They wanted to wait until they find a new suitable partner (that fulfills certain safety standards – they’d never hire those Estonian charter carriers).
    A lot of companies urged LH to fly the route, no matter how.
    LH doesn’t like this solution either, but’s its a reasonable interim thing. This won’t last forever, Lie flat J will be back!

  39. Amazing! I was sure that headline was going to be clickbait. Not at all. But then, who doesn’t love a good tech stop where you aren’t allowed off a narrowbody to stretch your legs.

  40. I once flew Finnair from Dubai to Helsinki in European faux biz class, about a 7 hour flight. Why European airlines insist on calling these economy seats business class is puzzling. Are they still in austerity after WW2?

  41. Imagine the person who doesn’t do their homework and pays nearly $4000 for business class on that flight without knowing what they’re getting. Talk about a rude awakening at boarding.

  42. Try Cubana Airlines from Madrid to Havana on a Soviet IL-96 – it’s a widebody, but just about the same level of comfort of a regional Lufthansa A319.

  43. Silkair flies SIN-CNS – 6.5 hour flight on 737-8, codesharing with SQ.

    It’s awful. Thin seats, loud aircraft and skimpy meals. But same fares as SQ widebody flights to Australia.

    Longest regular scheduled non-stop narrowbody flight on a ‘recognized’ carrier?

  44. I was surprised to see so many comments on flying to Pune. In 2002 I spent a few weeks there on business. First trip was Air India to Mumbai from Atlanta with the fuel stop in Paris. Like another commenter we didn’t disembark (supposedly doing so would have imposed some sort of additional French tax on the airline). After hotel stay near the airport, I had a short flight to Pune. Second trip was similar but on Delta with a CDG layover, but had a taxi to Pune. At that time there was little traffic on the expressway, and I found it enjoyable.

    Both trips I stayed at the Le Meridien, a so-called 5* hotel that I would have rated as 3* in the US. I used the in-house wired internet over which I got a virus from logging in.

  45. How about a USAF C-130, in a jump seat, from Frankfurt to Athens (6+ hours). Great airline, uncomfortable seats and very noisy (ear plugs/muffs required).

  46. My husband and I are flying Amer Air one month out from Dulles to O’Hare—chg planes to a 787 Dreamliner 14:40 hrs to Yokahama. I’m scared learning this Dreamliner is only a 2 engine aircraft over the PACIFIC BUT JUST READ 188 Dreamliners are grounded because of engine problems! HELP!!!

  47. @ Ann Perry — You’ll be fine. Most aircraft flying over the Pacific are two-engine nowadays, and there aren’t problems with the Dreamliner engines as such. Rather the wear and tear is happening faster on these engines when attached to the 787 than anticipated (partly because the longer range of the aircraft), so airlines are being required to adjust their inspection and maintenance schedules to accommodate the new guidance. It’s expensive and inconvenient for airlines and suppliers, but there isn’t a passenger safety concern.

  48. Does this mean no in-flight entertainment for 11 hours? What are you supposed to do then? Surely they’ll add monitors…

  49. I am flying to PNQ on 8th Nov.
    The seat selection on LH website shows one seat on each side of the aisle m
    I guess that is to fool the passengers
    I paid for the business class ticket and guess I will be “enjoying” the economy class from FRA to PNQ!!
    LH guys are smart. They have added a stop after about 4hrs50 min so technically it’s still a short flight like any European flight

  50. Why not re-configure some A320/A321 with some long regional Business Class (for example old Lufthansa Long-Haul Business Class). I traveled with Austrian (OS) from VIE to AMM (3:30 hours) in A320 Business and was terrible.

  51. I traveled from Detroit to Pune and back via Frankfurt on Oct 31 and returned via the same path on Nov 30. I traveled on Economy with my wife and a 2-year-old daughter. I was born and brought up in Pune. Here is my experience and some observations as a local.

    I had originally booked DTW-Pune on Oct 30. At the time of booking, there was a non-stop flight between FRA-Pune operated by Private Air. Flight time was 8 hr 20 min. Return from Pune-FRA was 11 hour with a technical stop on Bucharest.
    Lufthansa rescheduled us on Oct 31 flight and provided a new itinerary. They gave 14 days to cancel since it was involuntary change. However what Lufthansa didn’t do was to fully explain the impacts of this change. It was dishonest behavior in my opinion.

    There was no in-flight entertainment. Lufthansa gave a free voucher for connecting to the Internet. It worked. Lufthansa had also sent an email about bringing a power-bank since there won’t be power outlet on FRA- Pune flight. It is very disappointing for most the travelers. Me traveling with a 2-year-old this time, I could hardly watch any in-flight entertainment. (I flew on Delhi- FRA last year on A380. My DD was 6 months at that time and I watched a video for about 30 mins !!!). So it was not an issue for me. We had downloaded videos for my daughter to keep her busy.
    For those who need entertainment, I recommend having videos downloaded on your device. Also, have a power-bank available.

    Seats were thin as shown in pictures by Lucky. Seat recline was also very minimal. I had booked seat row 12. Legroom was fine. In fact, I felt more legroom than DTW- FRA A340 flight. Maybe because seat padding was so thin. And I personally hate seat reclining too much. The person in front me on DTW-FRA reclined his seat back fully, it practically was touching my face.

    Pune-FRA was supposed to be 11 hours 35 minutes flight. Scheduled arrival in Frankfurt was 9:15 am. It reached FRA at 8:23 am. But the plane is parked far away from the terminal and you need to take a bus from the plane to reach the terminal. I had a 10.55 am connection to Detroit and I reached the gate at 10:10 am. I would have missed connection had the Pune-FRA had arrived on time.

    We had 3 cabin baggage. Lufthansa requested us to check-in one bag since the flight was full and there was a space limitation in the overhead compartment. They said one of the bags is oversized for cabin luggage and they might ask us to check-in at the gate. In reality, it was standard size cabin bag and perfectly fit on the same flight between FRA-Pune. It sounded more of a threat than a request. I was very annoyed since we had 3 tickets and were allowed to carry 3 bags in the cabin. The same thing happened on my last year’s journey between FRA-Pune Private-Air flight. They randomly ask to check-in cabin bag at the gate since the plane is small.

    I was checking for an upgrade on Lufthansa website and they mentioned a fully flat bed. I did not upgrade. I did not witness any difference between Economy and Premium Economy/Business on the FRA-Pune connection. I am wondering how this is classified as an inconvenience and not a fraud. You clearly are taken more money and promised a service and did not provide that. It is a fraud in my opinion.

    Some of the people have mentioned flying to Mumbai and then taking the road to reach Pune. It might look only 150 km from Mumbai or 2 hours drive, the reality is very different. One could travel fast on Mumbai-Pune expressway, but then you have to deal with Mumbai city traffic once it is over. Additionally, consider the hilly section of expressway around Lonavala which is notorious for congestion and it is even worse. Most of the international flights to Europe leave Mumbai between 2 am -4 am. So if you have a flight from Mumbai at 2 am, people normally leave home from Pune at least by 7 pm (or 6 pm to avoid getting delayed due to unexpected traffic congestion). On the other hand, you could leave by 10 pm if you are connecting from Pune. For me, those extra 3-4 hours make a huge difference when making a 24-hour journey to the USA. Same is the case with connecting via middle east or Delhi. Any stopover will add 5-6 hours to your journey.

    Pune has a lot of automotive and software firms. Having a direct connection to a major European airport is a very tempting option despite these drawbacks.

    Overall I felt one needs to consider the pros and cons of flying on a FRA-Pune flight or connect via ME/Delhi or drive from Mumbai. I am going to avoid flying on this route again and would rather drive to Chicago from Detroit for better options or fly via Delhi/Mumbai.

  52. @Paolo Stuff of nightmares? Get a grip. It’s not industry leading but you get a comfortable fully flat bed. What more do you want

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