The strike by Berlin’s Ground Crew has now been extended through Tuesday, March 14 until 5pm local time.
Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian have now cancelled all flights that serve Berlin through the end of the strike. The strike was scheduled to end at 5:00a on Tuesday March 14, but apparently the union thought it was a good idea to extend the misery for passengers for another day.
Please be aware that there may be residual cancellations that leak into March 15 due to the positioning of aircraft.
UPDATE: Since publishing this post, Lufthansa has now cancelled flights to and from Philadelphia on March 14, 2017.
With Blizzard Warnings spreading throughout the Northeast Corridor, airlines are beginning to announce cancellations ahead of the incoming storm.
Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian are not immune to mother nature thus they have announced that flights to and from New York / Newark and Boston will be cancelled for Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Philadelphia and Washington DC are scheduled to operate normally.
As of the time of this post Brussels still showed their flights as being scheduled but that may change sooner than later.
If you were scheduled to fly to or from the NYC or BOS area, please use this link to determine what your options are, including rebooking, refunds, or alternative routings. You can also log in to your Miles & More page to see what options are available to you.
In what was not exactly a surprise, Lufthansa took the opportunity at last week’s ITB travel show in Berlin to confirm that a new long haul Business Class product is coming for 2020. Why 2020? It’s because 2020 is when LH plans to introduce Boeing’s new 777X to their fleet.
What makes this announcement different from past Lufthansa cabin announcements is that the new Business Class seat will be ‘standardized’ across Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian. In other words, each of these carriers will share the same exact seat in their respective Business Cabin. At this point, no decision has been made on Brussels, but in my opinion since Brussels is being melded into Eurowings, it may not enjoy the same cabin as the other carriers within LH Group.
The reason for the standardized Business Class is simple. It is much easier to develop one seating system, and more cost effective to install and maintain that one system.
No specific details of the seat have been revealed other than it will be a very ‘digitized seat’ in that passengers will have complete control of their seat through their ‘smart’ device. This control will extend to the control of seat position, lighting, and of course the IFE system.
The one concern that I have with the announcement has to do with verbiage from Lufthansa. It is suggested that the seat HAS been developed instead of WILL BE developed. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the seat will already be obsolete by the time it is introduced. This has happened in the past, so hopefully lessons have been learned.
Also, in my opinion, based on what I have heard from Lufthansa and others in the know while I was in Munich a few weeks ago, it appears that this Business Class cabin upgrade may also go a long way in reducing, if not eliminating the First Class cabin from Lufthansa’s DNA. With no plans for a First Class cabin for the 777X, and the new A350s also being without a First Class cabin, the writing is clearly on the wall.
Austrian Airlines on March 7 introduced the first wet-leased Air Berlin A320 into service for Lufthansa Group. The aircraft, D-ABZA, flew in Austrian colors from Vienna to Skopje. D-ABZC entered service for OS in March 8.
D-ABZA and D-ABZC are the first 2 of 5 Air Berlin aircraft that will operate for Austrian. Under the wet-lease agreement, the aircraft will carry OS colors, however the crew that you will see aboard the plane will be dressed in their Air Berlin uniforms since technically the employees are on lease from Air Berlin.
D-ABZA shows off her new Austrian Colors. Photo courtesy of Austrian Airlines.
This opportunity for Austrian to expand their fleet and reach comes after Lufthansa agreed with Air Berlin to sublet 40 Air Berlin aircraft in order to help Air Berlin restructure their operations in an attempt to return to profitability. Air Berlin’s key investor, Etihad, was instrumental in working with LH to make the deal possible.
D-ABZC in her old AB colors…..
Most of the 40 aircraft will be painted in LH Group’s Eurowings livery and will be deployed on routes that EW normally serves along with a few new additions thanks to having an airport full of new planes to deploy.
Austrian provided an update today as it relates to the introduction of Wifi aboard their Airbus fleet.
As part of a broader roll out, Austrian now has outfitted 10 narrow-body Airbus aircraft with Wifi capability and has ‘turned on’ the ability in 4 of these aircraft for a trial period with passengers. During the trial period, passengers will be able to access the service for no charge.
As the service becomes available on the remaining 6 aircraft, Austrian will introduce a 3-tiered cost structure based on the kind of service that the passenger selects:
FlyNet Messaging will enable passengers to access their e-mail, chat services such as WhatsApp, iMessage, and others. FlyNet messaging will cost €3 per flight.
FlyNet Surf will include FlyNet Messaging as well as the ability to surf the internet via the passenger’s smart device or laptop. FlyNet Surf will cost €7 per flight.
FlyNet Stream will include ‘Messaging’ and ‘Surf’ as well as the ability to video to their device. FlyNet Stream will cost €12 per flight.
Austrian has made it its policy to prevent these services from allowing voice-calls to be made while using FlyNet. A very good idea if you ask me.
Austrian expects the trial period to end in the in next few weeks for the 4 aircraft currently being used to test the connectivity. Once that trial is complete, Austrian will ‘turn on’ the FlyNet service aboard the other 6 Airbus aircraft later this quarter.
I suspect that further announcements will be made relatively soon regarding the expansion of the service to the rest of the ‘OS’ fleet.