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How did Lufthansa Airlines deteriorate so much?

I formed a good impression of Lufthansa after traveling with them a few times several years ago. But after my experience traveling with them in November, I've decided to avoid Lufthansa and Frankfurt airport, unless I don't have a choice. BTW, I have a European River Cruise planned for later this year and was exploring alternative flights to Germany from SFO.

For those considering Lufthansa and Frankfurt airport as a transit stop, check out these reviews:

Posted by
20430 posts

What river cruise? Munich is a decent airport. Zurich is my favorite.

Posted by
1504 posts

In 2014 Lufthansa Group, which is the parent company of Lufthansa Airlines in addition to Swiss Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings— brought in a new CEO who began implementing changes that began alienating what its passengers considered to be Lufthansa’s greatest asset— its employees. In 2005, Lufthansa Group took over full ownership of the low-cost carrier Eurowings. Today, a Lufthansa pilot has an average annual salary of more than $200,000. At Eurowings a pilot makes $60,000. And while the average Lufthansa Flight Attendant makes $4,166 monthly, over at Eurowings the pay is $1,866 per month. In 2023 Lufthansa announced it plans to expand into the low-cost airline market which many believe will be the unraveling of their well-compensated jobs at Lufthansa and its other legacy airlines.
Pay is not the only issue. The way management has handled issues with its employees has not promoted goodwill toward the company, with some saying it’s created a toxic work environment. In Germany, where companies are required to include employees in their Supervisory Boards of Directors, consensus in decisions has been the norm in corporate governance. In recent years, though, the unions have been unable to get the company to move on issues from safety to salaries, and have increasingly resorted to strikes. Lufthansa ground crews just yesterday were on strike. Last summer, it was the pilots who went on strike, which led to Lufthansa finally conceding on pay raises for its pilots.
Flight-Report. a company that compiles reviews of airline passengers and rates airlines based on the reviews, has Lufthansa rated just above “7” which is
an average rating among airlines. Notably, the category that Lufthansa passengers assigned their highest rating to is Lufthansa’s crews.
Flight-Report has seen a steady decline in Lufthansa ratings for years until it currently is at #19 among airlines. That is below Portugal’s TAP Airline, Poland’s LOT Airline and even Air France’s budget airline called “Air France Hop”.

Posted by
7906 posts

I haven't flown Lufthansa in decades, since I fly Delta a lot as well as associated lines like Air France and KLM.
Both of those European lines are excellent.

Posted by
148 posts

You can fly nonstop from SFO to Munich on United. I did just this December and had a good flight and the Munich airport has a Christmas Market!

Posted by
6795 posts

If you fly United to Frankfurt, one of the legs (going or returning) will be on a Lufthansa aircraft. I’m not a huge fan of Frankfurt airport, but sometimes it makes more sense to go through it than alternative airports.

Posted by
174 posts

Thanks, Kenko for your post. Our KLM flight to Athens via Amsterdam was canceled one day before departure, but fortunately I was able to call KLM within a few minutes of receiving the cancellation email, and KLM then booked us on Lufthansa to Athens via Frankfurt. Lufthansa ground staff at SFO tried to force us to check-in our carry-ons (we didn't have check-in baggage), wi-fi was "broken" on-board, water bottles were handed out 5 hours into the flight, food was terrible with salad simply chopped iceberg lettuce with a slice of lemon, and ground staff at Frankfurt's huge airport were unhelpful bordering on rude. Your post explains why.

Posted by
597 posts

Several years ago British Airways brought in a two tier pay structure; newer cabin crew staff would be getting paid on a ‘different’ (lower) pay schedule. Not sure if that is still the case but at the time we chatted with some of the cabin crew who were new and they were all younger and still keen.

A year ago November our Lufthansa flight was changed to a Eurowings one. We were flying Business Class and hadn’t previously flown Lufthansa. I have to admit that the cabin crew was great, the BC section was fine. Our only challenge was arriving at Frankfurt, the gate connection was not working so we all had to deplane at the rear of the place and might have missed our connection to Rome but they held the plane as there were a few of us on that next flight. Our luggage didn’t make it but it was delivered to our hotel the next day.

Posted by
10390 posts

“ If you fly United to Frankfurt, one of the legs (going or returning) will be on a Lufthansa aircraft.”

This is not necessarily true. I have flown between SFO and Frankfurt in both directions multiple times on United. I do try to avoid Lufthansa flights.

Posted by
545 posts

What a shame to hear, but I have to say that Lufthansa vastly eclipsed my experiences with both KLM and Air France / Delta on my last few trips. We flew LH over Christmas, and the family in front of us was a young couple with apparently limited flying experience AND with a baby in a bassinet. The cabin crew did such a lovely job of talking them through both the normal and emergency procedures and really taking the time to ensure everyone--parents and baby and those nearby--was comfortable. The food service was efficient--no trays sitting there forever while you have to visit the restroom. My recent trip on AF last summer had numerous problems--none of them the fault of the airline (a medical on board, a birdstrike, and the climate crazies gluing themselves to the runway), but all of the rebookings were poorly handled and the poor service at CDG made the whole thing even worse. The North American connection was with Delta, and that whole mess plus the resultant baggage fiasco were absolutely AWFUL, leaving me hoping I wouldn't be wearing Walmart clothes to my grandfather's funeral and costing me precious time with family to deal with luggage during this time.

The Frankfurt airport is very German--efficient and not meant to be pretty. Boring concrete look, but you can get from A to B quickly and effectively. I find Amsterdam way more inviting for the most part but less secure and Paris absolutely awful--I will pay extra not to fly through CDG (fine for originating or terminating, awful for transfers). I once entered the Schengen in Amsterdam and through a freak of where staircases were ended up never even showing my passport. I have also been stuck in lines counting down until my flight or stuck in a US bound pre-check area with no food or water in AMS. I have never had any truly memorable experiences at FRA, either good or bad, and that is a solid recommendation in my book.

But like any recommendation, it is based on experience. Over the decades, we have found LH and FRA to be solid, KLM and AMS as well, AF and CDG awful, and BA and LHR perfectly fine until you have a tight connection. We hate United, but have flown with them a heckuva lot because of where we were living in the US. We have flown through other airports around Europe and think Munich is great, but those are the ones we have used most frequently. Pretty much every truly bad story we have somehow involved CDG.

Posted by
327 posts

I've flown Lufthansa (as part of United legs). Not a fan. I don't hate it, but not a fan.

Last summer I had some challenges with a European ticket for my son's beloved... No sense boring you with details, but I can say unequivically, you can't complain about Lufthansa's custiomer service -- because there isn't any.

I booked a premium class trip to Frankfurt for May via United's site a couple of months back. I found out - midstream - even for a premium ticket that I couldn't pick my seat on the Lufthansa leg (a code share partner with United)... I started the booking process again and booked the entire trip on United.

Posted by
18725 posts

Lufthansa is the absolute best airline...... when they are the least expensive acceptable option. Nothing wrong that any airline does is so horrible or so frequent as to matter for 9 hours out of my life, just as long as the price is such that I can travel more.

Posted by
127 posts

We love flying out of Frankfurt to Chicago on Lufthansa. Check your baggage the night before and that worry is done.

Posted by
1335 posts

Flughafen München and Lufthansa are married. Unless there is a strike I don't think you can get much better.

Posted by
837 posts

I think that deterioration and airlines are two words that go hand in hand. It is a general degradation of quality and caring and profit that has been the mantra of airlines. We are in the era of mass transport using steerage as a model. It is a rush to the bank and the bottom. No bar is too low to go under.
Then again, my 401k has been on a roll. So perhaps I am part and parcel of the lowness.
An airline experience nowadays is the closest most of us (these forums) will ever get to know, in part, the travails and toil of refugees. For whom a cramped seat on any airplane would feel like first class. Sure beats paying $2000 to a coyote to get you through the Darien Gap and that is just the beginning of the long walk.