Lufthansa Becomes The First European Skytrax 5-Star Airline

Filed Under: Lufthansa

It has just been announced that Lufthansa is the 10th airline to get a Skytrax 5-Star rating, and they’re the first airline in Europe to get the distinction. They join nine Asian carriers who already have the ranking (two of which are Gulf carriers). The two most recent airlines to get a 5-star rating are Etihad (in October 2016) and EVA Air (in June 2016)

Here’s what Lufthansa’s CEO and Skytrax’s CEO had to say about the award:

“The award is a well-deserved recognition of our major efforts to make Lufthansa one of the world’s leading premium airlines again,” says Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. “We have caught up because we made huge investments in our fleet, updated all our cabins, introduced digital services, opened new lounges and improved service on board and on the ground. The combination of premium offerings with the quality and professionalism of our employees has earned Lufthansa the status of a five-star airline,” Spohr adds. “Everyone at Lufthansa can be proud of this certification, especially our colleagues in the cabins and cockpits and on the ground who fulfil our premium promise every day in their interactions with our passengers. I am convinced that the most important factor in getting the fifth star was that we have the best airline employees.”

Edward Plaisted, the CEO of Skytrax, confirms: “The achievement of 5-Star Airline status by Lufthansa is not only a great accolade as the first European airline to reach this target, but is a clear recognition of the improvements they have made in recent years, particularly in all areas of the front line service delivery.”

Lufthansa in the past has won Skytrax awards for being the best airline in Europe (a title they took away from Turkish), and has also won a 5-star rating for their first class. Here’s a bit about why Skytrax thinks Lufthansa deserves a 5-star award:

The testers at Skytrax travel with the perspective of a passenger. For their ratings, they evaluate the service quality of the respective airline with comprehensive assessments on the ground and in the air in up to 800 categories. These include the service on board, seat comfort, catering, security measures, in-flight entertainment, duty-free offers and many other services. For Skytrax, the consistency and constancy with which Lufthansa has forged ahead with the modernisation of its product was a key consideration in the decision to award the fifth star. For instance, the cabins in First, Business, Premium Economy and Economy have been comprehensively upgraded over the last few years. The airline has also expanded its restaurant service from First Class to Business Class, improving its personalized appeal to passengers in the process. And it is also important to look ahead: to the new Business Class that will be rolling out in 2020 with the Boeing 777-9, and to a new and even better Premium Economy and Economy Class. Lufthansa also scored points with the new Lufthansa app and a wide variety of digital services on the ground and on board. The aim is to increasingly use digital opportunities to develop customized offers and services for Lufthansa’s passengers.

I don’t put too much weight into Skytrax ratings, though I do still follow them with interest. However, personally I can’t agree with Skytrax on this one, and actually take issue with their ranking. I love Lufthansa, and in particular their first class, though as of now they don’t have direct aisle access from every seat in business class on a single plane. If an airline can’t even have a decent business class product it seems a bit crazy to give them a 5-star rating.

Lufthansa’s current business class product

That’s why I have a real issue with this:

A key factor behind Lufthansa gaining 5-Star Airline Certification is the recently announced new business class cabin and seat that will be delivered when the airline receives their first Boeing 777X aircraft. 

Wait a second, Lufthansa is getting a 5-star certification because of a business class product that they’ll begin to install several years from now (and it will be years and years before the entire longhaul fleet features this product)?!?! Seriously? It’s one thing if they were awarded this after 2020, but to award it because of a concept they’ve revealed seems preposterous.

Lufthansa’s new business class, as of 2020

What do you make of Lufthansa receiving a Skytrax 5-star rating?

  1. Quoting Skytrax: ” A key factor behind Lufthansa gaining 5-Star Airline Certification is the recently announced new business class cabin and seat that will be delivered when the airline receives their first Boeing 777X aircraft.”

    Nothing to add…. just embarassing.

  2. I really like LH. But agree that 5 stars is just too much. However, I must admit that they personnel handles difficult situations better than most airlines’ staff.

  3. Laughable.

    I take it they didn’t assess a single intra-European flight, where “business class” is almost exactly the same as Economy Class except there’s a plastic tray over the middle seat?

    But, hey, they *will* be fabulous in the future… Reminds me of Enron’s “Mark to Market” accounting system for reporting future projected profits, and we all know how well that ended.

  4. I just don’t think they really care about direct aisle access that much. It’s a great perk to have, but it’s not a must have. I was raised flying coach everywhere, and I’m perfectly happy to sit in a middle seat on an EK 777 on a 15-hour sector. Does it turn into a bed? Good enough for me.

    There are more factors than just the seat in many cases.

  5. While I will say that LH arguably is the best airline in Europe, I find the 5 star rating to be a bit absurd especially considering their substandard long-haul Business Class product that does not feature direct aisle access from all seats. What’s more is that LH has been tightening the personal space for passengers on intra-Europe flights in both Business and Economy, with seat pitches in Economy as low as 29 inches… worse than Ryanair, technically. As if this is anywhere close to 5-star…

  6. Like SQ, Ek, EY and now Lufthansa advertising great looking new hard products that will not be generally available till 2020, the report adds nothing and really does look plainly embarassing for all airlines concerned. I always find it kinda embarrassing when Airlines start showing on web pages and advertising new seats and features that are only available on a few selected aircraft and routes. SQ, EK and EY all still fly old configurations and have no intenet of refurbishing then after all these years of newer advertising.

  7. By this line of thinking United should be lobbying to get promoted from their 3 star ranking (and they actually have a few planes with the new business class seats).

  8. @W:

    While it may not matter to you or I – I don’t mind the middle on TK, either – ultimately they’re comparing the airline against all other airlines, not our personal tastes. Lack of direct aisle access isn’t a “must have”, no, but it’s certainly a “nice to have” which places many other J products ahead of LH and making LH wholly undeserving of a 5-star rating. Further, while LH’s F product is great, several other airlines have just as – or nearly as – good an F product *and* have direct aisle access from their J seats. LH isn’t 5-star. 4-star? Absolutely. 5-star? Nah.

  9. LOL. It reminds me (rightly or wrongly) of President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize just as he took office for the great things he would do according to the committee.

  10. Lucky.. you do know not EVERYONE wants direct aisle access from every seat, There is such thing as couples traveling together or business partners. The fact is, its ok to be different. Lufthansa still offers one of the worlds best business classes due to their service, its simply amazing and personalized. A 5 star rating should be about the service more than anything. how does the airline treat its passengers? They are great at that. Consistent as can be. No airline has more consistent service, lounges or onboard product and thats 5 star worthy. 100% no questions asked. The Lufthansa level on consistency is nearly impossible for airlines to achieve. Have you flown on them in coach? I flew FRA-BUD and received a BIG bottle of Warsteiner and a nice sandwhich. In First they are almost unbeatable in service, business class is persoanlized and coach is very comfortable with lots of Airbuses with nice wide seats.

  11. Ryan,

    Agreed, direct aisle access is over-rated by many. I maybe go to the bathroom once on a Trans-Atlantic flight. How big a burden is it to step over someone’s feet or ask them to scoot over for a moment?

    I suspect those who actual pay full-fare to travel in F or J don’t mind at all. It’s those using points or upgrades (i.e. the folks here) who seem almost anal-retentive about minor things.

    What really matters? Checkin/screening procedures, lounge, space/comfort, food/drink, lie-flat beds.

    The rest is fluff. I don’t even need wifi or entertainment. Just get me there comfort and a little style.

  12. There is nothing 5 star about Lufthansa.
    First class is less and less (none one many new aircraft).

    Business class is atrocious. 2-2-2 seating on the hardest seats I have ever slept on. Literally zero sleep. Food is mediocre. IFE offerings are miniscule. The lounges don’t offer anything interesting, certainly not freshly cooked food. But hey if one thinks a few cold items and an automated coffee machine make 5-stars then oh well. Many planes are old inside and out. The FAs are … German. For the longest time they had no amenity kit. Their on-time rating is mediocre.

    And don’t get me started on short to medium-haul. “European Business class” is an insult to the intellect of anyone paying money for that shit. It’s an economy seat with economy pitch, economy comfort (i.e. none) and economy width. I have set numerous times in LH economy with no seat neighbour. Woohoo. Meant I flew “business”.

    Come on. 5 Stars…

  13. This is ridicolous.
    They are among the only airlines not to have a decent business class -heck, if I had to spend 12 hours in flight, I would prefer even Iberia or Alitalia for business class, it would be a no brainer!-. Even the economy is not on par with others, with the seats having generally less pitch than others.
    So, everything only for the first class, which applies to less than 1% of the traveller base?

    LH business is more less like AF old product, and completely outclassed by the new product. Premium economy is also much worse, with AF being number one. FAs are grumpy, and the ground service in FRA is abysmal: if you are late for a connection, don’t expect any support, such as telling the gates in advance.

    Apparently, releasing a few renderings of a business class is enough to get a Skytrax star. That removes any credibility from the site.

  14. Direct-aisle access is pretty much a necessity these days. Full stop. And the couples argument is a bad one—there are plenty of great products that offer side-by-side middle seats for couples that also provide direct aisle access.

    There are many people who get anxious about having to use the bathroom or being bothered by someone else who does. Sure—there are times when it isn’t an inconvenience. But during meal times or when someone is sleeping, it can really be an annoyance. When you have a tray full of food and the person next to you just has to go, are you really going to think it’s no big deal to reposition everything on your armrest so they can get out? Conversely, what if you have to go and someone’s just been served? Do you wait until the dishes are collected and hold it in (knowing it could be upwards of an hour depending on the crew), or do you bother the person to let you out?

    This isn’t even considering the sleeping issue. Transatlantic flights in particular are so short that it’s hard enough to even get a few hours’ sleep when all goes perfectly. When you wake someone up they may never fall back asleep—essentially negating what that business class money was intended to pay for in the first place.

  15. @ Martin
    “I suspect those who actual pay full-fare to travel in F or J don’t mind at all.”

    I pay full fare and I do mind, very much. I think I’m paying for peace, space, comfort and quiet. And that means not having to disturb a stranger when I want to stretch my legs, or vice versa.

    The other stuff – great food and wine, fabulous amenity kit, F/As that will want to have sex with me – all those are nice-to-haves, but don’t make a difference when I choose an airline.

    But maybe you know best. And maybe people travelling in F and J also don’t mind if their hotel bedroom is not en suite. Yes, that’s probably true. It’s just anal points people…

    Though, as someone else wrote above, maybe we all want different things.

  16. Totally agreed with many people on the comments section. Total disappointment and embarassment on Skytrax.
    Totally a political maneuver in my opinion.

  17. Drill down into the detailed ratings and you will see how ridiculous it is.

    For Economy long haul, only 1 category out of 28 applicable gets 5* (‘Attention to cabin safety’) yet the overall rating is 5! Short haul actually gets two 5* in Y but its overall rating comes out as 4 (and the other ratings they have are similar across the categories). Interesting math there.

    Even with the bizarre 5* rating for Y L-H, the only other class that gets 5 is F (less surprisingly), but somehow – with 4/6 having an overall average of 4.25* they make it a 5* overall rating.

    Sounds like Lufty stuffed Skytrax’s pockets with gold.

  18. I travel mostly Economy, and have done so on some other 5* airlines, but I have lounge access with Lufthansa through Brussels Airlines. Honestly, I’ve never felt happy with any of the other airlines long haul, aside from Lufthansa. ANA was mediocre at best (and I flew business with them), Qatar is generally fine, though not consistent with the hard product.

    However, with Lufthansa, the comfort of the cabin, the open feel, the consistently pleasant service and a feeling of security from arriving at the lounges in FRA or MUC, which I find very comfortable compared to other lounges (with the exception of the Doha Airport lounge), all make me want to choose them over any other for long haul flights. Short Haul European flights are another matter, but then again I don’t know any European Airline which offers anything better (with the possible exception of Swiss).

    I don’t care about access to the aisle (in Economy I go for window in all cases), and I agree that it is flawed to upgrade to 5* based on future plans for business class. However, as a relatively frequent long haul traveller, when I have the choice I would fly Lufthansa over any of the other 5* carriers.

  19. What a joke. Some one was paid handsomely for this no doubt. They are a good airline but not anywhere near five stars.

  20. A 5* star airline… but handing out peanut butter sandwiches when you enter the plane (Intra Europe). What a joke.

  21. What a joke.
    Their current Business Class is certainly subpar and even in First Class the soft product was underwhelming on a recent SFO-FRA flight.

  22. I’ve flown quite a bit of LH Business class recently and have to say United has them completely beat on service. All the little enhancements United has been making with Polaris (even if not the full experience on all aircraft) and little touches like the Ice Cream Sundays puts United far ahead in my opinion. But then again UA is not a European airline.

  23. What a joke! I used to pick LH for all of my N. America to Germany flights in Business Class but in recent years the food has gotten so horribly bad that I rarely pick them anymore. Whoever decided that the cold crappy soup they serve pre-arrival in the USA should be fired and don’t get me started on the entrees for the main meal service. J Seats are ok but the footwells are a joke. I will take SQ in Business Class any day on the JFK-FRA route as that is now my preferred flight. Food is good and the flight attendants are actually nice.

  24. @Zach:

    Turkey is geographically in both Europe and Asia, straddling the Bosphorus Strait that separates continental Europe from continental Asia. As TK’s headquarters are in Istanbul, which resides on the European side of the strait, TK could be considered a European airline.

  25. @ EndlosLuft
    “All the little enhancements United has been making with Polaris (even if not the full experience on all aircraft)”

    Is the “full experience” what Dr Dao got? How much extra is that?

  26. Skytrax lost its credibility when they gave 5 stars to Etihad, even with the consistently low ratings they receive from flyers on the Skytrax website itself!

    If anyone thinks LH is a “consistently good” airline, I’m sorry that your standards have been put so low.

  27. This is indeed a joke. I’ve flown LH business across the Atlantic more times than I can count – usually because there’s always award availability. I think LH hands down has the worst business class product in Star Alliance across the Atlantic. Terrible seats that angle towards each other and have no privacy, mediocre catering with limited options and tiny portions, poor IFE options, and cold/robotic service in many cases. After recent TATL flights on both SK and OS, it hit home how inferior LH actually is. I would even prefer United vs. Lufthansa – better seats (even the 2-4-2 seats have more privacy than LH’s seats), better food, better IFE, etc.

  28. Disqualifying Lufthansa based on lack of direct aisle access would be inconsistent. Hainan has 5 star even though their current business product lacks direct aisle access as well, so let’s not pretend Lufthansa’s case is unprecedented.

    That said, Lufthansa certainly doesn’t deserve 5 stars, based on the joke of a business class intra-Europe alone.

  29. @David. I agree to some extent. Even QR has a 2-2-2 on their A330. However, to this day, Lufthansa’s flagship aircrafts still don’t have direct aisle access for J passengers which I think is the real problem people are trying to address. Also, you’ll be stuck playing footsies with your seatmate.

    LX & OS offer much better products in business class, especially catering on OS. This is a farce

  30. I used to work for one of these 5-star airlines in South-Korea. Whenever the CEO of Skytrax (or one of the “testers”) was taking our flight, we received a notice from HQ to make sure we take best possible care of these passengers, as well as instructions to upgrade them.

  31. I recently flew LH J to Buenos Aires Amsterdam via Frankfurt, whilst the lounges were good they certainly weren’t great – neither (the share in Amsterdam ) lounge or the LH in Frankfurt had a shower (I know some do in Frankfurt) I was not impressed.

    The flight was ok, service was good not too excellent, food was ok not memorable and I was sitting in a window seizing had to climb over an unknown person in the middle of the night and woke that person.

    Five stars? I don’t think so… wait till beyond 2020 if you must.

  32. I am a big fan of Austrian. Long-haul business product from IAD is terrific. FAs excellent. And the food. The food was great. Too bad I don’t drink coffee. I enjoy sitting on the throne in Austrian business class and holding court. The Lufthansa lounge for business at IAD is not great, but I do like boarding through the lounge. Direct aisle access is a must for me now. I do not consider LH right now for long-haul except in first class.

  33. Skytrax seems to have outlived it legitimacy. They need attention again, so they need to connect to new targets. While Skytrax might have been credible a few years back, each time when dealing with them, I only received arrogance back in return. Yes, it still is a great marketing tool, refer to Skytrax 4 or 5 star rating, but more and more, people start to realise that its more show than substance. Especially for passengers traveling in Y class, Skytrax does not provide credible arguments and still thats where the vast majority of passengers travel in.

  34. I think it’s well deserved. They have a good economy and premium economy product and a great First Class.
    True, business class isn’t all aisle access, but they are one of the few airlines to deliver a great end-to-end experience from door to plane to door and a consistent experience regardless of the plane you find at the gate. SkyTrax pointed out the consistent business class product, so you know what you get on a long-haul flight. Few other 5* airlines can promise that. Even SQ still flies B777 with recliner seats in 2-3-2 layout on mid-haul routes and ANA flies recliners on their B787 even on long-haul routes. Much heralded Emirates just rolled out a new B777 with a 2-3-2 layout…
    Delivering a consistent, end-to-end experience is what defines quality for me – not the lucky, one-time great experience on the flagship plane with the crew of the month!

  35. Okay, I’ve only flown LH J class, once. The flight took off 24 hours after schedule. That was not a small deal. Service was lovely, wine selection was nasty, food was okay, no more. Fortunately, my seat mate was agile and vaulted over my sleeping form several times with little disturbance. Yeah, my original seat assignment had no vaulting seat mates, but you get what you get with LH.

    Adequate, disappointing, had to be arm-wrestled into giving me any compensation at all for an expensive repair to my schedule on the far end. Top airline? Not to me they aren’t.

  36. Lufthansa is NOT a five star airline and is in NO way comparable to the other Skytrax five star airlines. To award it five stars based on promises it makes for the future is absurd. By that standard, practically every airline could get five stars.

    There is something very fishy about this.

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