Geneva - Frankfurt
- Snacks and beverages are complimentary for all passengers
- Download magazines or newspapers before your flight
- Snack service is limited on short flights
- Speedy baggage drop for passengers who checked-in online, skipping the usual queues
With many cash-conscious companies booking business class only on flights of a certain number of hours, taking short, hour-long hops across Europe regularly finds business travellers seated in economy.
On these flights, it's the little things that set each airline apart: ease of check-in, personal space on board, inflight service, and for eligible travellers, their airport lounge options.
Here's how Lufthansa's Airbus A319 economy class stacks up.
- Frequent flyer program: Miles & More, Star Alliance. Miles can also be earned and spent through partner programs like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and United Mileage Plus.
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x8kg bag (maximum dimensions 118cm, or 126cm if a garment bag), plus one small item such as a laptop bag (maximum dimensions 80cm).
- Checked baggage allowance: 1x23kg on Economy Flex and Economy Classic fares, and reward bookings – including flights reserved using Star Alliance partner miles. No checked baggage included on Economy Light tickets.
- Frequent flyer baggage boosts: On Economy Flex, Economy Classic and reward bookings, Miles & More Frequent Traveller, Senator and HON Circle members, as well as all Star Alliance Gold frequent flyers of other airlines, can check in a second 23kg bag at no charge. This does not apply to Economy Light tickets, where even top-tier frequent flyers receive no free checked baggage.
- Frequent flyer priority perks: Those same elite flyers can make use of the priority queues for check-in, security screening and boarding.
- Tips for a speedy departure: Even without Star Alliance status, use your smartphone to check-in for your flight ahead of time via the Lufthansa app. Then at Geneva Airport, you can scan that boarding pass at the automated baggage drop counters to print your own bag tag, skip the usual check-in queues and head straight to the gate.
Lounge access is not included by default with any economy class fare type, but one-off access can be purchased from SWISS – a fellow Lufthansa Group and Star Alliance member airline – or may be available via your frequent flyer status or other lounge membership.
In Geneva, entry to the SWISS Business Lounge, normally the domain of business class flyers, costs CHF 49 (A$72.50) per person and can be booked online.
Miles & More Frequent Traveller members receive complimentary access to that Business Lounge, while Miles & More Senator cardholders and all other Star Alliance Gold members can instead use the higher-tier SWISS Senator Lounge.
A Miles & More HON Circle card goes one better, unlocking the SWISS First Lounge in Geneva.
Alternatively, Priority Pass members can visit either the Horizon (Swissport) Lounge, or the Dnata Skyview Lounge – the latter proving relatively quiet during a mid-afternoon visit ahead of LH1223.
Travelling from Geneva to Frankfurt is a quick 75-minute hop, with eight daily return flights offered between Lufthansa and SWISS.
When travelling on this route with either airline, four types of economy class fares are available – each with different inclusions:
- Economy Light is the lowest-priced option, covering inflight snacks and beverages, the ability to earn miles and bring carry-on baggage. However, checked baggage attracts a fee (including for elite frequent flyers), as does selecting your seat in advance.
- Economy Classic adds one free 23kg checked bag into the mix, along with complimentary advance seat selection in standard seats.
- Economy Reward, for passengers who've booked their journey via the Miles & More program or a partner frequent flyer program, affords the same inclusions as Economy Classic.
- Economy Flex extends complimentary seating to the 'preferred' zone at the front of the aircraft for a speedier exit (SWISS flights only), although extra legroom seats remain chargeable. Complimentary same-day flight changes are also possible at the airport or online.
Normally, priority security screening and boarding are included with Economy Flex too, but these aren't available on flights to or from Switzerland.
Economy class aboard Lufthansa's European Airbus A319s comes in a standard 3-3 layout, with seats 18 inches (46cm) wide at a 31-inch pitch.
This provides comfortable-enough legroom for the 75-minute hop.
Even at six feet tall, this author's knees weren't pressed against the seat in front. Instead, there was ample room to use the storage pouch for personal items.
More storage is available higher up – mainly for literature and other large items, although a Microsoft Surface tablet was too wide to squeeze in.
Still, the pocket adopts a smart design because if anything smaller gets stuck inside, all you have to do is open the tray table in front:
That table proved sturdy enough to house a laptop, with indents for a beverage on either side to suit both right-handers and southpaws.
Passengers can recline, but on such a short flight, this seat remained comfortably upright.
Despite being a dinnertime flight, the short duration allows for a snack service only, which you'll get from the crew at the door of the aircraft, before taking your seat.
Complimentary drinks are served after take-off including tea and coffee, soft drinks, juices, water and white wine.
Orange juice was a refreshing pick, and as the middle seat happened to be vacant, its tray table was put to good use for just a little more working space.
Inflight snacks and beverages are complimentary for passengers on all economy fares, so once you've taken your seat, the service is the same regardless of the fare type purchased.
Entertainment & Service
Rather than opting for seatback inflight entertainment on these short routes, Lufthansa takes a different approach by offering complimentary digital newspapers and magazines which can be downloaded to your own device.
This option is provided during online check-in, or, you can head to the eJournals page on the Lufthansa website and key in your name and booking reference to access your free allowance.
When travelling Lufthansa economy class, passengers without Miles & More status can download one complimentary title per flight. Senator-level frequent flyers get three downloads, and HON Circle members get 20.
One magazine proved more than adequate for the flight, and inflight WiFi is available too, although charges apply.
At just over an hour from gate to gate, Lufthansa's European economy is a perfectly acceptable way to hop from one city to the next.
As paid fare prices can get quite high – especially on one-way flights and with checked baggage – this is one time where using miles to book economy makes complete sense, particularly when the inclusions are the same as a mid-level Economy Classic fare.
Chris Chamberlin travelled at his own expense using miles.