Lufthansa Launching Frankfurt To San Jose Flight

Filed Under: Lufthansa

In late August, British Airways announced a new daily nonstop flight between London Heathrow and San Jose, California. The flight launches on May 4, 2016, and is also British Airways’ first US route operated by a Boeing 787-9. This route is British Airways’ fourth destination in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.

Growth at San Jose Airport has been interesting, given that this was the airport’s first transatlantic route. Meanwhile they already had existing transpacific flights, on ANA to Tokyo Narita, and Hainan to Beijing.

Anyway, it looks like British Airways will be getting some rivalry from other European carriers in San Jose, as Lufthansa has just announced that they’re launching 5x weekly flights between Frankfurt and San Jose, California, as of April 29, 2016. That’s right, Lufthansa will be launching service to San Jose before British Airways does.

Via, the flight will operate with the following schedule:

LH488 Frankfurt to San Jose departing 10:40AM arriving 1:40PM
LH489 San Jose to Frankfurt departing 3:20PM arriving 11:35AM (+1 day)

At 12 hours westbound and 11hr15min eastbound, it’s quite a long flight.

The flight will be operated by a three class Airbus A340-300. Initially it will feature 30 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 221 economy class seats.


Interestingly the flight will be swapped to a Cityline A340-300 as of June 30, 2016, which features 18 business class seats, 19 premium economy seats, and 261 economy class seats. That’s the same configuration that Lufthansa flies to some of their leisure destinations, like Tampa.

That seems like an interesting choice, since I figured the San Jose flight would be going primarily after the tech industry, and therefore would be a premium-heavy route. Putting a leisure-configured aircraft on the route seems a bit backwards. I’m not sure if that’s simply a function of aircraft availability or if I’m misunderstanding the market they’re going after.

Regardless, this is a great new option for Star Alliance flyers, especially since award space can be really tough to snag on Lufthansa’s flight to Los Angeles and San Francisco (though perhaps given the limited premium cabins on this flight, it won’t be any easier here).

Bottom line

It’s interesting that this announcements comes just weeks after British Airways announced their service, with the flight even launching before British Airways’. While I don’t understand the aircraft choice, this is a great new addition for Star Alliance fliers in the Bay Area.

What do you make of Lufthansa’s new flight between Frankfurt and San Jose?

  1. SFO is likely more convenient to the city, East Bay as well as the peninsula. The primary advantage of San Jose is likely elimination of fog issues causing delays. SJC is of course smaller and would be generally preferable for passengers if all else is equal

  2. While silicon valley does create lots of wealth, most high tech companies do not pay for their employees to fly in business class, so Lufthansa may have felt that the demand for econ/premium econ would be higher.

  3. woohoooo!!!! now SJC just need to have a better lounge than the “Club”….. and flights to Taipei, Paris, and Hong Kong….

  4. I think this is their lowest risk plane to launch such service and they are lumping SJC with the “second-tier” leisure cities. But what worries me is that it looks like this C class product is well rather class C on both mainline LH and Cityline, right? Not flat bed like the A380.

  5. @Ed

    Quite a lot of travel out of Silicon Valley is immigrant workers visiting family abroad. When the company isn’t paying your way, it’s a lot easier to buy Y out of your own pocket.

    And after paying Valley rent, there usually isn’t much left over. It’s hard to make more than low six figures around San Jose and that’s just above poverty wages.

  6. SJC is center to “Silicon Valley”, but SFO is closer to where the wealthiest employees live. The most expensive zip codes to live in the Bay Area are SF city proper, heaps of cities/towns on the Peninsula (Menlo Park, Atherton, etc.), North Bay cities like Marin and Tiberon, and East Bay cities Orinda and Lafayette. For each one of those zip codes, SFO is either equidistant or closer than SJC. Given SFO’s significantly larger infrastructure than SJC, makes sense that premium traffic is still SFO based.

  7. I agree with @Ed. The ratio of employees who can fly business class to those who have to fly economy for tech companies is much smaller than say major corporations, finance, consulting, law, etc. That said, I would imagine that the amount of passengers on the SJC – FRA flight paying full or close to full fare coach will be pretty large.

  8. I’m a high paid tech worker in the silicon valley and fly mostly Y….that’s just the way it is here…we get out money’s worth in stock options.

  9. @ Marcus

    SFO may be more convenient to SF, but SJC is far more convenient to San Jose and Santa Clara Co population 2M – many more people then SF

  10. Hey Ben,

    SJC isn’t BA’s first U.S. route with the 787-9. That distinction goes to BA190/191 flying between AUS and LHR. Although, according to SABRE, the aircraft used alternate between the -8 and -9 variants.

  11. Show’s up in United’s award search, tried to book with miles one day next summer , 2 Biz class saver seats but errors out after payment page, called United but they said its as not available ? Any thoughts, just keep trying? It’s like the only premium cabin award space out of Europe I can find on Star Alliance…

  12. @Ben Gregg

    This happened to me two years ago. Saw 2 ANA F Class seats appear on on for FRA-NRT. I opened up two browser sessions and started booking. Was successful for me, but the page returned an error for my wife. Called UA, and their call center agent informed me that F Class was NEVER available on their site and tried to charge me $200 USD to cancel the res that I had made just 2 minutes prior. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, he promptly canceled the res, returned my miles to me, and didn’t charge the change fee. Go figure.

  13. Since I just read this after reading that LH is bringing back MUC-(to my beloved)DEN, I wanted to point it out here (especially since Den is about to -finally- have rail to downtown).

    @Mike: yeah, haven’t been too impressed with the “Club” locations, although I thought SJC was relatively positive, especially with a great (?asst mngr) at the front desk, a good bartender, and passable food. Now, as Gary writes today, the Club at Phx? WOWsa.! (Exluding the very lovely female bartender originally from Lithuania…).

    Hope you are doing well, Ben. Happy travels. Oh, since I have you on the line, would love to have another post from your wonderful father sometime soon! Oh, and more Tiffany! What an asset, and a joy to read!

  14. What is the consequence of the switch from Lufthansa to Cityline?
    Less experienced pilots?
    Older planes? (I have read about A340, and seems to be more reliable for long-haul flights than its siblings)

    Since Cityline is a separately operated subsidiary, could it possibly affect safety, considering that a separate P/L (is it?) could cause lower cost maintenance, possibly affecting safety?

  15. The aircraft choice makes sense as it’s likely depreciated. They need to have full flights on newer aircraft, and, this may not yield the ROI. Likely, if it does well, the route will upgrade the plane. Until then, don’t sink tons of capital into an unproven route. Nice add for Star Alliance indeed!

  16. Need some help here. According to Lufthansa website all a340-300 have the new business class (lie flat bed) in business class. But this is a Cityline not really a Lufthansa. So I am wondering if they have the new LH business class in those 18 seats or it is just the old one.

    According to Seatguru the a340-300 from LH still has the old angle lie flat seats but according to google flights they are lie flat bed. Information is all contradictory. And after calling LH, they couldn’t confirm it.

    Can anyone confirm how business class seats are?

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