Lufthansa Reducing Meal Service In Economy & Premium Economy

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Different “full service” airlines take different approaches to their long haul economy service. For example, Delta has been investing in their international economy experience, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the new service.

Meanwhile it looks like a major European airline — one that also happens to be a Skytrax 5-star airline — will be going a very different direction.

Lufthansa Reducing Economy & Premium Economy Meal Service

Lufthansa will be reducing service in economy and premium economy as of November 28, 2019. So, what’s changing?

  • On long haul flights, Lufthansa will only offer a small cold vegetarian snack as the pre-landing meal, with no choice
  • Currently on flights with a block time of over 10 hours, Lufthansa offers a small hot tray with two choices
  • Currently on flights with a block time of under 10 hours, Lufthansa offers snack boxes with hot food
  • The only positive change is that all passengers will receive a half liter bottle of water

I’m shocked to be saying this, but Lufthansa is cutting back their economy and premium economy meal service in the same year that British Airways has greatly improved their premium economy product. This includes the introduction of a second hot meal in premium economy on long haul flights, which was a big improvement over their previous service.

Lufthansa Introducing Disposable Headphones

In addition to the meal service changes, Lufthansa will be replacing their current headphones with lighter, disposable earbuds. Lufthansa says that this change will save about 175 tons of fuel and 500 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

While that sounds good, it also creates a lot more waste, since they’ll fully be using disposable headphones, rather than reusable ones.

Bottom Line

Starting later this month you can expect the pre-landing snack in economy and premium economy on Lufthansa to be a single cold vegetarian option. It’s sad to see the direction Lufthansa is taking, though it’s hardly surprising.

I also find the lack of differentiation between economy and premium economy to be disappointing here. You’d think if you were paying the huge premium for premium economy you’d get some sort of improved service, but it looks like even that cabin isn’t spared.

(Tip of the hat to Vielfliegertreff)

  1. Shocked they didn’t try and frame this as an environmental upgrade given the change to a vegetarian meal

  2. Compared to BA, Delta, Air France and Virgin, the Lufthansa premium economy hard product looks far behind. So if they reduce service then will the High prices reduce?
    Does it matter when they have a huge monopoly in Central Europe.

  3. I find it hard to believe on a 11-12hr run like Frankfurt – Singapore that they’d only be offering a cold arrival snack! Crazy. But thanks for the heads up as I am doing this flight in Y in May, will pack my own second meal and snacks

  4. Wow, service in Lufthansa Economy on longhaul flights wasn’t good before and now gets a bit worse. I was surprised to experience a level of service that was even below KLM. Only very small drinks, single-use plastic everywhere, no listing of available beverages. Selection of beverages was poor.

  5. They just put the final nail in their stingy frequent-flyer-program’s coffin, so why not add some icing to the death cake


  6. Everyone complains when something is removed, which I get, but does it actually really matter? Does anyone book travel based on the in flight food? In economy/premium economy no less, when you know whatever it is you’ll its going to be sh1t anyway? DL can put a nicer wrapper on it which looks great, but I still don’t believe it actually really matters to most. Just airline fanatics that visit this site care 🙂

  7. @Julian, one might argue that the soft product is a general reflection of how the entire passenger experience is. And yes, such things do make a difference when it comes to deciding which airline to book. Knowing that you will have a hassle-free, enjoyable flight will push a lot of people over the edge. In this case, LH is a really poor choice as it is. Now it is even worse.

  8. I flew lh in exonomy back from Munich to ord last week. Was a decent flight. In terms of catering they did multiple drinks runs and the pre arrival snack was small but very tasty. Chicken (or veg) empanada thing. Was small and simple but tasty. Why is it so hard to stick with that?

  9. Disposable earphones vs. CO2 emissions. Yet another demonstration of how the enviro virtue-signal is merely a cover for increased profit margins.

  10. In the past few months I have flown the following airlines:
    – Copa Airlines
    – Qatar Airways
    – Norwegian
    – Eurowings
    – Emirates
    – Cathay Pacific
    – Qantas
    – Singapore Airlines
    – Thai Airways
    – and finally… Lufthansa

    I can truly say that Lufthansa was the worst of all of them. Even Norwegian and Eurowings did better all round. And with Lufthansa, I’m talking about long “international” flights – HKG-MUC, and MUC-SIN. Bad service, average food (except the Warsteiner beer – that is good!) and terrible seats. They somehow even managed to make the A380 uncomfortable! Needless to say, I won’t be booking them again.

  11. LH has promised their shareholders to massively increase ancillary revenue. Therefore they are cutting everything and selling it separately for a higher price.

  12. @ Julian

    “Does anyone book travel based on the in flight food? ”

    Maybe not, but do you really believe that only “airline fanatics” care about being fed something substantial on a 10 hour flight?

  13. @Julian – also it is very possible to have excellent food in Y. Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and the ME3 (I haven’t tried Turkish yet but hear the food is incredible) are all good examples of airlines that offer very yummy and decent quality food.

  14. LH premium economy is always close to triple economy price from here. I’d be very unhappy with the cold, same as economy, pre arrival snack. Their PE wasn’t especially competitive before, but I’m confused how being more cheap matches with the whole 5 star airline marketing nonsense! Clearly they have confused themselves with so many brands. What is Eurowings for if LH mainline is a cheap and budget?

  15. PE is about a better seat with larger decline and roughly 30% more space vs. economy.

    That’s the product. Not the better service.

    You don’t want to induce firms to change travel policies from J towards PE. It’s a risk, particularly as Germany’s economy is heading into a recession.

    If you want more food in eco and PE, you have the option to buy premium meals (LH calls it “menu a la carte”). That seems perfectly in line with LH’s strategy of unbundling and of introducing certain packages soon which may include things such as free WiFi, fast-track security, or a premium meal.

  16. This is disappointing. I’m based at ORD and have always preferred LH for flights to Europe. I’ve found the service consistently professional and efficient and, for economy, the food has always been solid. I’m not going to claim that Chicago to/from Frankfurt or Munich is a super long haul but come on – 9.5-10 hours is still a long flight. The vegetarian aspect is fine but a “cold snack” is pretty lame for what claims to be a 5-star carrier. If Croatia Airlines can offer 1-2 passes of free wine and an olive and cheese snack box on a 70 minute flight, LH can do better. And, as others have mentioned, LH Premium Economy is a complete rip off and joke. You’re better off pre-gaming with a few beers at the airport and buying a sandwich to enjoy mid-flight.

  17. As someone who has been subject to the hot Lufthansa “breakfast” on a number of occasions an alternative might certainly be a better option. Will reserve judgement until then.

    However, this doesn’t make them very competitive with some of the other airlines, especially in premium economy.

    The bottle of water, while appreciated seems to be a step backwards in terms of sustainability though.

  18. I have been a regular client of Lufthansa for more than 20 years. Last year I had two bad experiences with Lufthansa. They did not even care to answer my written complaints. Since then I have not flown with Lufthansa and I have no plans to do so in the future. They used to be good but unfortunately that is no longer the case. There are better alternatives out there.

  19. This airline is run by pieces of sh*t who do not care about the passenger experience; only about making money. Time to submit an appeal to remove them from Startrax 5 star!

  20. The current pre-landing hot breakfast for flight over 8 hours is already vegetarian. Just FYI. The differences are changing the from 8 hours to 10 hours for severing hot breakfast and hot to cold pre-landing breakfast under.

  21. Expect Swiss, Austrian and Brussels Airlines to follow the trend as they are just LH with a different beard..

    I flew CDG-ZRH-ATH on Swiss in Business Class last month and was shocked at the meals poor quality / quantity (and how does one sabotage a cold breakfast?). The reason for going via ZRH was that, as awards go, LH MilesandMore systematically blocks access to nonstop flights (As would have been Agean which showed max availability,7, of J seats on Expertflyer). AF tends to do this too, CDG-ROM via AMS on KL but CDG-TLV via ROM on AZ, same day…

    I was also shocked at the poor Business lounge in ZRH main terminal (A). as the old lounge is now restricted to “Senators” only and the common folk (still traveling Business) is parked into a small overcrowded adjacent room with minimum facilities.

    It looks like the Lufthansa Group is becoming the European AA.

  22. @Julian – I understand and agree partially with the premise that people don’t book flights based on the food but all other things being equal, I’d definitely book away from an airline offering no meal (or less meals) over one that does. I wouldn’t however, book away necessarily if one airline offers marginally better food than another. In my decades of long haul international flying, mostly in economy, I can’t recall a single flight where I wasn’t offered a hot (meat) meal after takeoff and a snack before landing.

    Word will get out and some passengers will start booking away from LH and these meatless snack flights (predictably predominantly raw vegetables and unripened fruit). It takes only a small percentage of empty seats to turn a flight into a money loser. Hopefully the meatless cold snack international long haul concept dies with LH and isn’t picked up by other airlines. LH has really hit the bottom here.

  23. Greedy bastards. Will be looking into alternative routes, even if it means an additional stop (SAS, Turkish, BA for example) Main route is FRA-NKG or FRA screw that vegan breakfast. I fly only PE and was quite content until now. Or I need a pay-rise and go into C …… 😎

  24. I agree with @Donna. Vote with your feet. If too many passengers conclude that LH is no longer worth the money by going elsewhere, LH will be forced to change. One can only wonder how it could come to this. Apart from poor experience with LH last year as I wrote before, I had very poor experience with Ryanair in Europe. Two such flights made me conclude that I will never fly with them again – even if they gave me the tickets for free. Even Ryanair would react if they lost too many clients.

  25. Horrible (2-2-2 business class outdated) seat and horrible (arrogant) service has now met horrible food. I still would not go as far as saying BA is better – both those airlines are vying to be in the class of AA. The only thing to top this off would be horrible planes – maybe they should consider switching to the 737 Max with 10 seats across in economy? Think that might be ever more greener if you divide by the number of passengers they could carry!!

    Sarcasm aside, I do believe Delta is looking better and better each day. Flew them a few times this year and they are better than any European or South American airline. While their planes are cramped like everyone else I have been impressed by their service and quality. I just wish they would add DFW as their hub… and personally while i dont care much about leg room of 1″ more (yes I am only 5’9″), I would prefer a bit more shoulder room if they are listening…

  26. Just to clarify, I’m pretty sure they’re still offering a regular hot meal on the long flights. But, the pre-arrival meal will no longer be a hot meal as well. I don’t think they are expecting passengers to go potentially 10+ hours without eating.

  27. Probably not a huge difference, overall. The 2nd meal is typically breakfast, consisting of a croissant/muffin, fruit, yogurt and eggs/omelet. I guess they’re getting rid of the omelet, but they generally aren’t great on flights anyway as they’re too greasy.

  28. Lufthansa used to be one of the top five airlines. Now it has sunk to the level of a one star airline.

  29. Staff and a reputation for safety are LH’s remaining assets now. The seats, in J, PE and Y classes are Recaro Slim Line under-padded painful horrors, with poor width and pitch. The food in F is good, barely ok in intercontinental business, and no longer acceptable in European business class. A mushy slice of apricot streusel cake, served on a paper covered mini tray with a nonwoven napkin for a 2 hour flight? Really? The Y meals, such as they are, started at a high quality level, with several courses, and adequate quantities. Each of those elements has already been dying the death of a thousand cuts, this is just the next one. My loyalty to Lufthansa is gone. Why bother coming off a flight in pain, thirsty and hungry???

  30. This change is certainly in line with their 5-star rating from SkyTrax! Another example of why those ratings are totally bogus.

  31. Gawd if you are in regular economy, within continental Europe or transcon, pack additional food ahead if in doubt. You are buying a seat for price, minimal comfort and/or convenience. One’s expectations of elevated meal services in PE are legitimate. If LH meals suck and AF or BA seemingly are exceeding LH in PE, you do have choices.

  32. @Chris – “Staff and reputation for safety are LH’s remaining assets now,”….
    Only true if one wants to ignore the Germanwings 9525 crash into the French Alps in 2015 by a 27 year old suicidal pilot with diagnosed mental illness. Germanwings is the former Eurowings, owned and operated by LH. The survivors of the dead passengers and crew might hold a different view of LH’s safety and staff superiority.

  33. Lufty’s ‘best days’ have been over for more than two decades now. Today’s sad apparition is nothing more than a bloated, second class bus service which had to pay SkyTrax for a placing. And when an American carrier (i.e. Delta) beats you in economy and p.e. with genuinely good service, you know you’re a real loser airline. A Gulf Arab or East Asian airline executive would cover their face in shame at the mere thought of being trounced by any American carrier! But senile old Lufty keeps limping on obliviously into the sunset.

  34. I recently flew paid business class on Lufthansa (747-400 upstairs) SEA-FRA and it was the saddest business class flight I have ever taken. The food was very poor and portions were just tiny, there were zero snacks available during the 10 hour flight, and service was deplorable. I would never fly this carrier again.

    Worse though is the embarrassing situation at FRA airport–what a sh**hole. So bad is the situation that our 747 had to park on the tarmac and we all got loaded onto busses. CLASSY! Isn’t this Lufthansa’s home airport? Also the lounges were packed and the whole airport is in disarray.

    No thanks. Too many fine options are available to do that again.

  35. > While that sounds good, it also creates a lot more waste, since they’ll fully be using disposable headphones, rather than reusable ones.

    To be fair, you would also need to factor in the resources used to:
    replace reusable headphones over time as they get damaged
    whatever additional packaging is necessary for the larger headphones
    make the reusable ones durable enough for reuse
    sanitize the reusable headphones for the next passenger (cleaning/replacing the ear pads?)
    And so forth.

    But yes, this seems more like it was driven by economics than any sense of ecofriendliness.

  36. Good. People also can have their travels suitably modified to avoid Lufthansa and OPT for other better options. Even otherwise it is not a sought after AIRLINES and the Customer Service even in informing the possible travel disruptions because of some of its own internal issues is perhaps the worst one can think of. None can survive in business without customers is perhaps the last lesson to be learned.

  37. It seems to me that this is a BIG mistake on LH’s part. They are making lots of money. There is no need for this.

  38. Lufthansa is not worth traveling. Have been into practice of cheating. They don’t credit due mileage points and they have been swallowing the points so that you don’t reach frequent flyer status.

  39. I’m flying LH Y over the changeover time (thanksgiving week) so it will be interesting to compare outbound to inbound food. Round trip sale routing both ways.

  40. I probably missed this in an earlier post, but they’re also trying to charge me $35 ahead to preselect our seats. I think it’s time to ditch Lufthansa, and find a better airline.

  41. So the flight attendants aren’t happy. Now they want to make sure the passengers aren’t happy either. Who will the pilots fly in the plane?

  42. Have flown LH business 747 from SFO/LAX to FRA/CDG and back a number of times and have always had good/great service/meals. Last flight three weeks ago was one of the best airline meals ever.

  43. @Christopher

    Yes, indeed. LH is not alone in charging for seat pre-selection, but in tandem with just about everything else bad about them, it’s time for thinking customers to look at other options. Not an easy proposition. Apart from AF, Europe is now largely bereft of quality carriers, no matter what class you choose to fly.

  44. I know Lucky is opposed to this, but I wish he’d review more Premium Economy flights. There is so much variation across airlines, especially compared to Business products. Just about every airline and you’re going to get a flat bed, hot meals, unlimited drinks in Business.

    But Premium Economy is all over the place. At some airlines it’s just more pitch but not more width, while others have special seats for PE. Same with meals — some airlines offer upgraded meals to PE, or even the same meals as in business class but on cheaper plates (LOT for example), while others just give you the same meal as in economy.

    Then you have this move by LH which cheapens PE, meanwhile United (which flies many of the same routes as LH on Germany-US routes) has recently introduced PE with special seats and upgraded meals. There’s just so much variation here, and I’m sure readers would like to know more.

  45. Seriously impressed by the outrage over the second (not the main) meal reductions. Amazed this is such a big deal for most of you.

  46. People say there isn’t much differentiation between carriers in Y and W, but some still exists. Sure, not as obvious as the forward cabines, but it matters to me.

    I don’t travel much for business but our corporate policy is Y, period……even intercontinental, except above a certain pay grade. And for my leisure travel, i still care in principle where my money goes. Why reward penny-pinching and mediocrity ?

    So despite being based in Frankfurt, I fly AF connecting via CDG/ORY. Or take the TGV.

  47. It’s just laughable that Lufthansa is ranked ahead of Turkish. Even before I started reading travel websites my first international trip was in Turkish economy. I was so impressed I booked Turkish again when I went to London from the US. I know crazy out of the way routing. Soft service does matter on longer flights. I did not realize British had upgraded their premium economy. My only complaints with their product was the second “meal” and seat selection costing money when I flew them on the inaugural Pittsburgh flight. Glad to see the second meal has been fixed. I will definitely book away from Lufthansa thanks for the heads up.

  48. @Pierre

    Totally agreed

    LH is such downgraded to a s**t level, even worse than LCC!

    Even Swiss is going to be like this!

    What a ruin to the Swiss brand name!

    Hope the Italians unite, against LH shareholding on AZ, accept the deal from AF – KLM

    Then the new AF – KLM – Alitalia group will follow the direction of Delta – keep Climbing!

  49. Frankfurt is already a terrible airport to transit at, particularly in those situations where they force you to re-clear security. No matter what carrier you are using, I believe LHR is now better than FRA.
    As others have pointed out, there is a steady decline in the quality of the overall experience. I haven’t flown F in a while in LH, but the other COS are just bad. I don’t know how they became a 5* skytrax airline, but the rating is obviously just a random number.
    With the potential upcoming changes in M&M status qualification, I guess I have to agree with some of the other posters here: BA might be the way to go (only viable alternative on my regular route).

  50. Fully endorse. There is no consideration for seniors and handicapped passengers. No sense of timing and urgency . Even the last minute boarding , Security officials have no sense of priority in allowing seniors to proceed fast to catch the flight. Change of flight within the security area should have some sense of relaxed approach from the security angle. Mechanically carrying out checks without application of common sense of each and every passenger irrespective of age, physical and mental conditions causes irritation, delay and mental tension for passengers. All are not terrorists and there are travellers who are completely ignorant of handling any kind of weapons. Even millions of dollars are offered many cannot harm others even mentally leave alone physically. The security officers should have some sense of identifying threat to the Airport and travellers.

  51. This whole Skytrak airline star rating is such a pile of cow dung I am afraid , and the prime example of this meaningless rating is……… drum roll please…….. 5 stars awarded to LH!

    Enough said.

  52. if you have ever eaten on Lufthansa this is actually a blessing in disguise..I have had my worst meals on actually in this case eating less is a good thing..but from a service point it sucks..LH is probably one of the most overrated airlines to begin with..

  53. A whole post because of the pre landing snack changing?… Are you kidding me?…

    Of course you always have the opportunity to praise Delta… Lucky you’re a loser and a joke!!!

  54. I’ve traveled with Swiss air from Johannesburg to Hannover via Zurich lay over in 2015 and Lufthansa back from Hannover to Johannesburg with layover in Frankfurt to Johannesburg.the food on Swiss air was good but on Lufthansa flight not good.und again in 2016 and both Lufthansa economy and food was bad
    And January 2018again Lufthansa and food was bad.july 2018 flew back Swiss air food was good.
    June 2019 flew South African airways flight from Johannesburg to Hannover Germany and back to South Africa on South African airways and food and service was best.
    Definitely won’t fly Lufthansa again,got to expensive

  55. What I also don’t like about Lufthansa is the flight crew are very nose in the air.think a lot of themselves not very friendly and helpful.typical German people

  56. @jeremy

    totally agreed.

    LH is as crap as LCC!

    Meanwhile, Delta offers really great international services! A true 5-star airline, but underrated.

  57. Think their CEO is starting to show his Engineering background in totally ignoring his passengers’ needs. Another reason to avoid LH. Their food was always ecentric at best and mediocre on a bad day. And yes I do avoid flying with airlines who despite record levels of profitability keep cutting back passenger amenities. There are enough choices now that I dont have to fly them except on a reward ticket and even then the inclusion of the hideous fuel surcharges make them the most expensive option. The truly mind boggling thing is that they have conned the German government that a floor on low cost ticket pricing must be implemented.

  58. Premium Economy Premium Price. Cutting back on food is the wrong way to go. I hate that LH doesn’t let PE passengers check in at the Business desk. I’m rethinking LH in the future.

  59. Looks like Lufthansa doesn’t care to maintain their 5 star status with Skytrax. I wish I had known about this before making my reservations for Rome. I wish I could cancel it, but it would end up costing too much since it was a package deal.

  60. I’m more pissed off about paying $50 each way to choose my seat in PE!! Never frigging ever I have had to pay to choose seats in premium class – be it business or Premium Econ, not even in AA or UA – and LH charges for both the classes – business and PE!

    To top that I cam to know today that with LH there’s no priority boarding for PE class, you have to pay separately! And we make fun of US airlines? LH is absolutely ridiculous!

    And now this? I had already booked my flights from IAD, so I guess I have to deal with this. Not that I wait for plane food, still…

    I am never going to fly by LH while flying to Germany.

  61. yes i will also not,,any case thy use a Beoing 747 from johannesburg South AFRICA and its much to a bumpy flight,and there prices are much to high in compare to Air France or air uses airbus which is a much softer flight,,and i was never happy with the quailty of the food on Lufhansa

  62. Rumour on German aviation website aeroTELEGRAPH has it that LH will also slash their signature Cocktail Hour service before the 1st meal.

  63. And other thing is the airport fuel and airport taxes St Frankfurt Germany airport is so high that causes or forces Lufthansa to make there return flight prices much higher than the flight from Johannesburg South Africa to Germany,the price of a ticket from Johannesburg to Frankfurt is much cheaper than other way around

  64. Lufthansa‘s changes is a simple reflection of stupid consulting firms’ recommendations: Cutting cost and service level significantly without thinking about customers, negatively impacting their competitive positioning

  65. Definitely it’s going to have a impact on there ticket sales,
    Who wants to fly 10 hours and one must take own food with
    But in hindsight the quantity of food in any case on flights isn’t good

  66. You forgot the main reason why they change the service because they are going to reduce also the crew by one flight attendant (A330/340) So on this aircraft there will be no longer a cocktail service, it starts immediately with the meal service. On 747/380 there will be still a cocktail service followed by a meal service.

  67. That pretty much sums up why I don’t even bother to use European airlines anymore. Qatar all the way. The service & friendlyness in economy pretty much beats even most European Business class seats. Especially Swiss and Lufthansas.

  68. On 23 November I booked a flight from Johannesburg to Hannover Germany on Lufthansa .but quickly on Sunday 24 December did a full refund application and immediately booked a flight from Johannesburg to Hannover Germany on Swiss air as it was in any case cheaper price than flying from 17 March until 26 June 2020

  69. I bought my premium economy ticket 8 months ago. Now they cut the service I paid for. I asked for a refund but was refused. I pointed out that their website still lists the former services. Too bad!! Maybe I could sue for false advertising !!

  70. I just flew Lufthansa In economy from the US to India and that made me search for a post like this.
    The food on the US to Frankfurt sector has typically been bad but this time it went from bad to worse.
    Usually the food from Frankfurt to India is s redeemer after the previous leg but the cold sandwich before landing was just irritating. The same sandwich served hot would have been quite good.
    There is a noticeable change in service flow too – Not that the crew were rude per se , but it was just mechanical. Like the reduction in service resulted in a reduction in warmth too. Quite sad. Might fly through the middle east despite the longer routing and multiple stops.

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