Fascinating: Lufthansa’s European Union Strasbourg “Shuttle”

Fascinating: Lufthansa’s European Union Strasbourg “Shuttle”

62

Did you know that Lufthansa operates a twice monthly flight between Frankfurt and Strasbourg, with a huge business class cabin, and with disproportionately expensive fares? Neither did I, until I stumbled upon this FlyerTalk thread.

Lufthansa’s twice monthly Frankfurt to Strasbourg flight

Two times per month, Lufthansa operates a route between Frankfurt, Germany (FRA), and Strasbourg, France (SXB). At just 111 miles, this is also one of Lufthansa’s shortest routes. The route is so short that it’s ordinarily operated by a bus… except for those two times per month.

These flights typically operate around the middle of each month, from Frankfurt on Mondays, and to Frankfurt on Thursdays, with the following schedule:

LH1072 Frankfurt to Strasbourg departing 1:25PM arriving 2:20PM
LH1073 Strasbourg to Frankfurt departing 2:05PM arriving 3:00PM

Even though the flight operates with the above patterns, tickets aren’t sold on the Strasbourg to Frankfurt flight on Mondays, and tickets aren’t sold on the Frankfurt to Strasbourg flight on Thursdays. So the plane operates with passengers in one direction, and empty in the other direction.

What’s the logic for this route? Well, Strasbourg is the official seat of the European Parliament, and the European Parliament meets for 12 sessions each year (so once per month).

In order to transport people there, Lufthansa sells tickets on this route that coincide with that schedule. By the way, while it’s claimed that the European Parliament meets for around four days per month, in reality they’re only “working” two full days, as they arrive in the afternoon on Monday, and leave around the same time on Thursday.

There are a couple of things that make this even more interesting:

  • Nearly two-thirds of the plane is business class, as the business class cabin goes all the way back to row 16 (there are just 25 rows on the Airbus A319)
  • The fares on this route are exorbitant; if you just want to fly from Frankfurt to Strasbourg roundtrip, you’ll pay over $1,000 per person in economy, which comes out to over $5 per flown mile (admittedly if you’re connecting to other destinations, fares will be different, and in some cases may be lower)
The seatmap for Lufthansa’s Strasbourg flight

Is this flight reasonable, wasteful, or both?

Lufthansa offers several daily services between Frankfurt and Strasbourg, though only by bus… except when government officials want to travel, and then suddenly a plane is operated. Also keep in mind the issue isn’t just that a plane is being used for a 111-mile flight, but also that it flies empty in one direction.

Lufthansa ordinarily uses a bus for the route

We’ve seen several European Union countries start to add bans and restrictions on short haul flying on environmental grounds, but that same logic obviously isn’t applying here.

Now, in fairness to this service:

  • Many people on this flight are presumably connecting beyond Frankfurt, heading to other European Union countries; at the same time, “regular” passengers traveling from Strasbourg to other destinations on Lufthansa need to first take a bus, and what makes this flight even worse is that it’s totally empty in one direction
  • In many cases these are high ranking government officials, and presumably if this flight didn’t exist, they might travel on private jets, which would be even worse; in order words, these people probably wouldn’t otherwise take a bus
  • Regardless of political affiliation or beliefs, it’s just generally accepted that high ranking government officials travel via wasteful means that are discouraged for others; I mean, the US President (regardless of political party) travels almost everywhere on a 747

I’m tempted to book this flight some time, because I imagine it must be a very interesting crowd on board…

This “shuttle” has a huge business class cabin

Bottom line

As an avgeek I love discovering seemingly random routes, and I’d consider Lufthansa’s Frankfurt to Strasbourg flight to be one of those. While Lufthansa usually operates a bus between Frankfurt and Strasbourg, twice a month the airline flies between the two cities. That coincides with when the European Parliament meets.

So twice a month the airline flies between Frankfurt and Strasbourg with an A319 that has a huge business class cabin, and the flight is empty one-way on each of the journeys.

What do you make of Lufthansa’s Strasbourg shuttle?

Conversations (62)
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  1. Always Flying Somewhere Guest

    This isn't unique to LH. LO operates one of their WAW-BRU flights with an E 195 with the cabin configured exclusively for Business Class.

  2. Gregor Guest

    It is also nice to see that LOT operates a flight on October 17th direct SXB to FRA for fares as low as 88€ / oneway on an E175.

  3. Jones Guest

    ⅔ of the plane is nothing. I once flew BRU-LHR pre-Brexit and 16 out of TWENTY rows (80%) were C. It was a Friday night and C was completely full, I was the only person in Y. In seat 1A was Britain's top dog in the EU at the time.

  4. Massimo Zanetti Guest

    Being that Ben is a German citizen, he should present this question to his local elected representative back in heimat.

  5. Test3000 Guest

    Worth mentioning LOT does the opposite to Lufthansa and sell flights at much lower prices on the same days, also one way, but in opposite directions.

  6. Manuheit Guest

    Why find justifications for a flight to SXB with connections from the rest of Europe while there should only be a shuttle from Brussels? Oh an hey there is a daily high speed train running from Brussels to Strasbourg that even has 1st class, WiFi and where MP could work all the time, in case they would bother about productivity!
    And if it has to be a metal tube with wings, why not arrange...

    Why find justifications for a flight to SXB with connections from the rest of Europe while there should only be a shuttle from Brussels? Oh an hey there is a daily high speed train running from Brussels to Strasbourg that even has 1st class, WiFi and where MP could work all the time, in case they would bother about productivity!
    And if it has to be a metal tube with wings, why not arrange a private shuttle from BRU to SXB?!? Airbus also has these private shuttles outsourced to fly employees between their sites for instance.
    Last, Ryanair operate out of Baden-Baden and would gladly operate to BRU (or CRL ) with a little EU funded « marketing » help from the airports ;-)

    1. Max Guest

      Most of the EUrocrats are not permanently in Brussels. They only go on the days where they have to sign the paper to get additional money ('attendance bonus'). On other days they are chilling out at home with family or somewhere else with the mistress.

  7. Michael Guest

    Take a look at LO1381. Once a month from FRA to SXB for 135 Euro (oneway)

  8. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

    Ben, the main seat of the European Parliament is in Brussels. But due to the French being - well, French - when the EU Parliament was set up, the French insisted (with the threat of a veto against the whole project) that a little part of it should be within French territory. So, it was agreed that once per month, for two days, the whole European Parliament would decamp to Strasbourg, before then going back...

    Ben, the main seat of the European Parliament is in Brussels. But due to the French being - well, French - when the EU Parliament was set up, the French insisted (with the threat of a veto against the whole project) that a little part of it should be within French territory. So, it was agreed that once per month, for two days, the whole European Parliament would decamp to Strasbourg, before then going back to Brussels for the rest of the month. That arrangement has stuck ever since. It is entirely wasteful, bad for the environment, pointlessly expensive, and an utter waste of time. However, the alternative was not having a European Parliament which all countries could agree on, so most participants simply accept it as being “less worse” than not having one at all (It’s main purpose, at the point of establishment, was to prevent war between European states, which it has so far helped to achieve). Better to let the French waste our time and money than to have them getting all Napoleonic again! So the French get the ego boost, the Germans make more money on transporting everyone, and everyone else is happy that the French and Germans aren’t invading the other European countries anymore. That’s why this flight exists…

  9. horcon New Member

    France has banned internal flights where a train can complete the journey within, I believe 2.5 hours.
    Strasbourg is in France.
    Interesting that President Macron makes no comment on these flights. Just as part of the operation to maintain the farce of the European Parliament moving lock, stock and barrel from Brussels for 2 days work a month!!!

    1. Max Guest

      Strasbourg is actually in German Elsaß, temporarily occupied by France.

      Just like Crimea and Donbas are Ukrainian territory, temporarily occupied by Russia.

  10. Greg Guest

    Cool find! As well as the commenter who found WAW-STR

  11. Gordon Guest

    The flight and associated profiteering is entirely understandable. The issue is why Strasbourg has not been negotiated out of the EU model as it has evolved. As a Brit, not my problem any more.

  12. Sebastian Guest

    Interesting, didn’t know this existed. It’s not their shortest flight though as LH still flies between STR and FRA (97 miles), multiple times a day with CRJs and A320s.

  13. Michael Guest

    The rotation is weird. The flight from Strasbourg departing before the arrival of the incoming flight? That costs 2 aircraft.

    1. horcon New Member

      The flight to Strasbourg is needed on Day 1 and the return flight to Frankfurt on Day 4.
      All to keep the farce of moving the EU Parliament to France for 2 days work each month.
      I have no doubt that there are similar flight between Brussels and Strasbourg, although I have not heard of them.

  14. Stefan Guest

    FRA-STR are just 97 miles according to https://www.airmilescalculator.com/distance/fra-to-str/ and there are several LH flights per day. So FRA-SXB is not the shortest route.

  15. ArnoldB Guest

    Smh at all the "Hurr EU bad" comments of the usual suspects. This has zero to do with the EU itself and everything to do with France, who since forever refuses to give up the Strasbourg EP location. Literally everyone else wants it to be in Brussels full-time, only the French are refusing (even refusing an exchange with a different EU agency place) and thus causing this insane back and forth.

  16. Henry LAX Guest

    they might as well offer it as a same seat through flight BER-FRA-XER, southwest style, instead of making the domestic politicians find their connecting gate at the Goblet of Fire Maze that is FRA T-1

  17. Chris Guest

    The US President has a 747 used as a private jet because public transportation is not a viable option.

    There are the security concerns, not only the itinerary, but electronic and infrared countermeasures. The VC-25 is set up with secure communication capabilities and is meant to be a mobile office.

    The US President also typically travels with a press corps which also flies on Air Force One.

    And there is normally an advance team...

    The US President has a 747 used as a private jet because public transportation is not a viable option.

    There are the security concerns, not only the itinerary, but electronic and infrared countermeasures. The VC-25 is set up with secure communication capabilities and is meant to be a mobile office.

    The US President also typically travels with a press corps which also flies on Air Force One.

    And there is normally an advance team of secret service and possibly multiple transport aircraft to preposition his Limo and helicopters and their backups.

    The POTUS is the most powerful man in the world, in charge of the largest economy and most powerful military. Keeping him safe is vital to the stability of our government, where transfer of power is best kept to the 4 year intervals defined by the constitution.

    1. Max Guest

      How is he ‚the most powerful‘ if he is just a marionette of his Big Pharma, Big Business, Military-Industrial-Complex handlers? And is fully dependent on FakeNews-Lamestream-Media?

    2. jetjock64 Guest

      @Max. Don't use this forum to air your inane right-wing grievances and alt-right conspiracies. Thank god for our so-called "military-industrial complex," which is in the process today of not only protecting America but helping, through weaponry and training, to help free Ukraine and to simultaneously put Russia on its back foot, hopefully for generations. You obviously do not understand the concept of national security.

    3. Max Guest

      Nothing against weapons, security, help for Ukraine.

      The problem is most of the exorbitant military budget is not invested into effective weapons, but directly goes into the pockets of a few powerful people.

    4. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

      If keeping POTUS safe is the main priority (rather than funnelling money to US corporations), shouldn’t he be flying on an Airbus?

  18. Creditcrunch Gold

    It’s not just people and their luggage that needs shipping but a huge amount of cargo too. There was a documentary on the EU and it’s operations which showed office staff literally packing the contents of filing cabinets into huge secure boxes.

    1. Vlad Guest

      And how exactly does this explain 16 rows of business class on a half-hour flight?

    2. Max Guest

      Come on, it’s not like LH shorthaul Euro-‚Business‘ has anything to do with luxury. Catering is abysmal and of bad quality and the free middle seat doesn’t help if seat pitch is still too tight.

    3. Creditcrunch Gold

      With everything federal and government, grades have entitlements, senior civil servants are entitled to travel business or first class.

  19. Yreal Guest

    Lots more airlines run flights like this. A3 for example has one of their bru-ath flights pick up pax in strasburg on these days.

  20. jcil Guest

    The idea that some think of these self-serving bureaucrats as public servants is amusing. The reality is they view the public as their servants, and our duty is to OBEY, keep our mouths shut, and of course pay for all of their extravagance. Obscene is the right description.

  21. Bagoly Guest

    Everybody except the French wants to end the Strasbourg farce by having the Parliament stay in Brussels all the time.
    Mainly because the inefficiency of moving, but also because Strasburg is not well conected transportwise.

    While it's there, I agree that 'buses aren't very pleasant, so they could arrange for one or two of the trains to loop out to stop at FRA (currently one has to change in Frankfurt City). But that would...

    Everybody except the French wants to end the Strasbourg farce by having the Parliament stay in Brussels all the time.
    Mainly because the inefficiency of moving, but also because Strasburg is not well conected transportwise.

    While it's there, I agree that 'buses aren't very pleasant, so they could arrange for one or two of the trains to loop out to stop at FRA (currently one has to change in Frankfurt City). But that would require joined up thinking between rail companies and airlines....

    1. Bill Guest

      Buses stop at both terminals right outside. And stop a few yards from the parliament. Not sure why eurocrats would accept to trek all the way to FRA train station. Wait for a constantly delayed Deutsch Bahn train then trek by taxi from Strasbourg's railway station to the parliament.

    2. Max Guest

      French SCNF TGV could operate the service instead of Deutsche Bahn ICE. They already serve Frankfurt Central station anyway, no issue extending that to FRA.

    3. Hudute Guest

      funnily enough Lufthansa already cooperate with DB extensively, so even less of a reason for this to not happen.

  22. derek Guest

    Many airlines in Europe, including Lufthansa, has 3+3 seating but block off the middle seats for business class. Wouldn't it be a laugh if they used an all economy plane and not only blocked the middle seat but occasionally blocking an entire row? ha ha an illusion of more space!

  23. Stefan Guest

    Something similar existed in the old days between Berlin and Cologne-Bonn. Our tax money at work! Obscene.

    1. Hudute Guest

      it. still. does. Its just now open to the public as well, but there is often still half the plane used as "business class" for commuting bureaucrats. Oh and on occasion, they use the government fleet for this shuttle as well.

  24. Andrus Guest

    I've been on this flight several times while working at the EU Commission. Not only is the flight used by MEPs but also by EU Commissioners and their staff. Due to very busy schedules and often also security concerns, they would otherwise have to take non commercial flights at a much higher expense.

    1. Max Guest

      If they actually did politics for their own people, there wouldn’t be any ‚security concerns‘.

    2. David Guest

      What a ridiculous assertion. There are crazy people like yourself regardless of the politician's virtue (or lack of). Even someone as well regarded as Abraham Lincoln was murdered.

    3. Max Guest

      In Denmark, Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania government officials and royals are regularly taking part in society without excessive security measures without any problems.

      Wonder why? Maybe, just maybe their leaders care more about their people instead of about their handler’s interests?

    4. horcon New Member

      It is the EU decision to meet 2 days a month in Strasbourg instead of Brussels.
      Why? To keep France happy despite the significant costs and loss of efficiency.

  25. David Guest

    So when I see stories like this, it confirms that all this climate change nonsense is just that - nonsense. If it was really an issue, these flights wouldn't exist.

    Another case of the global elites having "rules for thee but not for me."

    1. TravelinWilly Guest

      Did this comment sound better in your head?

    2. DCAWABN Guest

      I don’t think anything happens in their head.

    3. Watson Member

      Or the more plausible scenario: the climate crisis is very real and those in power dgaf because they'll be dead in 20 years and would rather preserve their power and lifestyle at the expense of future generations.

    4. Steve Guest

      I completely agree. The flight exists for the EU parliament that meets in Strasbourg...they supposedly are concerned about climate change, but won't take an easy train ride which is far more green than a round trip short airplane ride? Hypocritical? I think yes.

      I've gone between the FRA airport and S'bourg by train...very easy and pleasant.

    5. Max Guest

      Not just the flight itself is hypocritical, the entire EU parliament presence in Strasbourg is.
      Brussels is the capital of EU, just because of France‘s big un-European ego Strasbourg also has some EU presence. And parliament is constantly switching between Brussels and Strasbourg, every time transferring hundreds of parliamentarians and thousands of bureaucrats + servants. Additionally also transferring truckloads of papers.

  26. David Guest

    It is not intended for Germans who originate in Frankfurt. It’s intended for people who are connecting. SXB otherwise doesn’t have a lot of service, especially not on full service carriers. Anyone coming from the east would have a hard time getting there, so someone flying BUD/PRG/VIE/ZAG etc to FRA and then connect onto SXB is entirely logical, and those fares are not nearly as insane on a per mile basis as booking only FRA-SXB

    1. Jimmy Guest

      Connections make a lot more sense, since it's just a 2 hour train from Frankfurt to Strasbourg.

  27. Nelson Member

    This is realy insane! Don't know today but back in time RO did it quite more economical. On those days the flight BRU-OTP just made a stop at SXB to pick up those guys.

  28. DenB Diamond

    I'd expect there are sensible reasons for this arrangement, which could be discovered with research. The alternative probably has a problem. But obviously now the comments will fill with populist objections to public servants experiencing comfort or convenience at public expense. Race to the bottom.

    1. Bill Bentaieb Guest

      Ben do your research... there is a 5 star LH bus several times a day from FRA to Strasbourg. You check in once at your European point of origin or to your final destination. There is advance seat assignment, a LH ground handler and wifi. And it stops near the parliament in Strasbourg

    2. VladG New Member

      There is nothing sensible in taxpayers funding 16 rows of business class for a half-hour flight. Even if it's a connecting one.

  29. Beep Guest

    Think there's a typo in paragraph 2 "These flights typically operate around the middle of each month, from Frankfurt on Monday, and to Frankfurt on Thursdays". Think that second "Frankfurt" was meant to be "Strasbourg".

    1. Mark Guest

      Looks correct to me. The first flight is from FRA and the flight later in the week is the return to FRA.

    2. John smith Guest

      Weirdly enough, there’s also a LOT flight doing the opposite rotation, SCB-FRA Monday, then FRA-SXB on Thursday.

  30. Watson Member

    LOT seems to fly the other direction (SXB-FRA), similarly once a month (Mon-Thu). LO 1380 & 1381. There's even award space in both cabins! Book in Y on UA for a mere 11,450 miles + $77.50 RT!

    1. askmrlee Guest

      At least that flight originates in WAW.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

TravelinWilly Guest

Did this comment sound better in your head?

5
David Guest

So when I see stories like this, it confirms that all this climate change nonsense is just that - nonsense. If it was really an issue, these flights wouldn't exist. Another case of the global elites having "rules for thee but not for me."

5
jcil Guest

The idea that some think of these self-serving bureaucrats as public servants is amusing. The reality is they view the public as their servants, and our duty is to OBEY, keep our mouths shut, and of course pay for all of their extravagance. Obscene is the right description.

3
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