Lufthansa Group Members Begin To Reveal New Short-Haul Fees

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Airlines news seems to be coming in instalments nowadays. First we’re given a heads up that “something” may be changing, then we’re told what that “something” is (but left in the dark as to what the actual change is to be) and then, finally we’re told the full story (or most of the story).

A good example of this drip-feed process in action is what’s happening over at Cathay Pacific and their Marco Polo Club. In January we got news that changes were coming, we got a bit more information yesterday but we still have absolutely no idea what the final program will look like.

Lufthansa Group Of Airlines

The Lufthansa group of airlines has been playing a similar game with us when it comes to the changes they’re planning to help combat the “threat” of Low-Cost airlines: We knew in April that they were considering changes to their short-haul fares, last month we were given an idea of what those changes were going to be (but were given no costs) and yesterday they finally began to reveal the full extent of the changes together with their costs.

Austrian Airlines and SWISS (both members of Lufthansa Group) have announced the details of their new short-haul fares which will come into force from 1 October 2015.

Fare Types:

There will be 3 distinct economy class options and one business class option. All options come with onboard catering (which is just a snack for those travelling in economy class) and all fares will still be eligible to earn frequent flyer miles.

Note: The eligibility for frequent flier mile accrual is a pretty important one as, at one stage, it was suggested that the airlines may introduce fares that didn’t qualify for any sort of redeemable or elite-qualifying miles.

Economy Light: This is the option that the airlines see as being the one to combat the low-cost carriers. It’s a non-refundable, non-chageable, hand-baggage-only fare and comes with no allocated seating before check-in.

Economy Classic: This is the fare closest to the non-flexible economy class fares we have been accustomed to. The fare includes everything that Economy Light has, allows passengers to pre-select seats at the time of booking and includes one piece of checked-in baggage up to 23kg. The fare also adds a little bit of flexibility in that in can be rebooked to another flight “on the original connection” for a fee.

Economy Flex: This fare is aimed at those who need a lot of flexibility. It includes everything that Economy Classic offers but also includes seating in the “preferred” zone and the ticket can be changed/rebooked at no extra charge.


Image courtesy of Aero Icarus via Flickr

All the details I’ve laid out above, together with indicative costs, can be found at Austrian Airlines and at SWISS. I’ve attempted to collate the basic information they’ve provided into two tables (one per airline) but for greater detail please check out the links provided.

Austrian Airlines (prices based on departures from Vienna) – Click to Enlarge

Austrian Airlines Pricing From October

SWISS (prices based on departures from Geneva) – Click to Enlarge

SWISS Pricing From October

Business Class Fare: In addition to the 3 economy fares the airlines will continue to offer a business class fare as well. An additional benefit of these new business class fares is that they will all be fee-free for cancellations and rebookings. As in the past, these fares will come with an increased baggage allowance (2 bags up to 32kg each) as well as lounge access, free seat selection and priority boarding.

Miles & More Banner

Something that doesn’t appear to have been addressed in these press releases is how Elite Status will play into all of this. When British Airways decided to go down similar road, they announced that elites travelling on hand-baggage-only fares would not be allowed to pre-select seats even if their status normally permitted it. There has even been talk of British Airways introducing a fare that would remove lounge access from elites – that could well be a step too far!

I’ll be interested to see how the Lufthansa Group airlines decide to treat their elites. Will they be able to circumvent the “no seat allocation” rules on the cheapest fares or will they have their wings clipped like the long-suffering elites at British Airways? Let me know in the comments if you find out.