Over the last few days, German media has been reporting a new concept being considered by Lufthansa to further enhance cost savings when it comes to flight operations out of the hubs in Europe.
Lufthansa’s Harry Hohmeister has unveiled plans that will create a potentially new ‘Flexible Routing’ fare that will allow Lufthansa to change already issued tickets for passengers willing to be more flexible in their trip routing.
The reasoning behind this concept will allow Lufthansa to self-direct passenger flow through hubs based on demand and pricing. For example, Frankfurt Airport charges Lufthansa up to 20% more for handling long haul LH flights and passengers than Munich, Zurich, or Vienna charge. Having passengers reroute through lower cost hubs obviously would net a positive impact on LH’s bottom line. In their planning, LH would be able to determine in advance if other hubs and flights have capacity to handle last minute changes. If not, the flex fare passenger would fly their original ticket.
An example could look like:
A passenger books a flight from Chicago to Berlin. The original booking would have the passenger transit through Frankfurt enroute to Berlin. Under a flex routing fare, Lufthansa could re-ticket the passenger a few days before the flight to have them fly Chicago – Munich – Berlin, Chicago – Vienna – Berlin, or Chicago – Zurich – Berlin and thus avoid the extra costs associated with routing a passenger through the more pricey Frankfurt.
Passengers flying under a flex routing fare would be informed days or weeks ahead of their trip, letting them know if their original routing has changed.
Please understand that only a ‘flex routing’ fare class would subject a passenger to a last minute rerouting. Passengers flying on traditional fare classes would not be subject to these kind of changes.
Lufthansa has already sent a ‘shot across the bow’ to Frankfurt by announcing a transfer of 5 A380 aircraft to Munich, thus already reducing capacity at Frankfurt and potentially preparing for the roll out of the new flex-routing fares and increasing capacity in Munich.
In his comments, Hohmeister indicated that passengers agreeing to a flex routing fare would be well rewarded for their willingness to be flexible.
Plans are in place to unveil the new program for Lufthansa and Austrian operated flights at the beginning of 2018.
After a 17 year absence, AUSTRIAN is set to resume service to one of my favorite destinations in the world.
Beginning on September 5, AUSTRIAN will begin service to Hong Kong with 5 flights per week aboard their 777-200ER aircraft. Flights will take place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday (from Vienna). Reservations can already be made.
The flight information is as follows:
Flight OS 67 will depart Vienna at 1:00p and arrive in Hong Kong at 6:25a the following morning.
Flight OS 68 will depart Hong Kong at 9:40a and arrive in Vienna at 4:10p the same day.
AUSTRIAN has quietly introduced extremely strict monitoring of Carry On luggage at their hub in Vienna and at gateways throughout Europe. According to OS, this is in direct response to the new fare concepts (Light/Classic/Flex) that were launched on October 1 that are specific to the European market.
Specifically in Vienna, enforcement of the carry on policy will take place just before the Boarding Pass Control Gates in Terminal 3. Similar methods will be put in place throughout OS’ Euro network. The scrutiny will be ‘Pass/Fail’. Either your bag fits and you can proceed, or it doesn’t and you will be forced to check the bag for a cost if your fare class does not allow for a free checked bag.
OS says this is being done to ensure cabin safety and expedited boarding. However looking through those comments, it comes down to revenue. I have no doubt that the ‘Light’ fare option will by far be the most popular fare class under the new program. ‘Light’ is the only fare class out of the 3 that has a fee for checking a bag, so it only makes sense that OS wants to stop people circumventing the luggage policy by having ‘slighty’ non compliant carry on luggage taken on board. If it was about safety and expedited boarding the policy would have been strictly enforced for years.
Regardless of class, any passenger wishing to board an OS flight for travel within Europe will be forced to comply. The policy for baggage size has always been there, but now it looks as though revenue models are forcing it to be enforced. In short, EVERY bag is now subject to the scrutiny.
Be mindful if you are arriving to VIE from a transcontinental destination. Your bag might have been allowed on a 777 or 767 but it will be subject to the new scrutiny if you are connecting onward on an OS flight from VIE, you’ll need to pay to check the bag if it doesn’t fit the carry on luggage sizer.
A very nice and simple contest has been launched by CAT (City Airport Train) of Vienna/Austria for the month of November and December. The contest will award 3 lucky winners with 10,000 miles each for their Miles & More accounts simply for just booking their ticket online.
The contest is open only to the CAT’s C-Club members which is free to join and open to anyone. If you are not yet a member but your plans include taking the non-stop CAT service between Vienna and the Airport (or vice versa) during the next 2 months, use this link to visit the CAT website and sign-up. No obligation or restrictions exist beyond needing to be a C-Club member.
To celebrate the Holiday Season which transforms Vienna and most of Europe into a wonderful collection of Christmas Markets , AUSTRIAN will be offering a bit of ‘Cheer’ to their passengers who plan on visiting Schönbrunn Palace’s Holiday Market. The Market is scheduled to take place between November 22 and January 1 (Click here for further details).
AUSTRIAN passengers who present a boarding pass to the Information Desk at the Palace’s Christmas Market will receive a mug of Hot Punch or Mulled Wine, very much traditional beverages for this time of year.
It wasn’t clear as to how recent the boarding pass needs to be. Austrian’s offer simply stated that a boarding pass ‘TO Vienna’ needs to be presented but did not offer date limitations, etc. What I do know, is that the offer is only valid for one boarding pass per person so bringing 30 of your OS boarding passes will not help your cause.
As luck would have it, I’ll be in Vienna to take OS up on their offer after spending a few days in Frankfurt visiting with Lufthansa and taking part in the Advent-Do slated for November 27-29. Its become a tradition for me over the last few years to tie a visit to LH with a trip to Slovakia and Austria to visit family and these great Markets.
If you have never been to Europe for the Christmas Market Season, I strongly recommend that you put it on your ‘To-Do’ list. In many ways Europe is more enjoyable in the Winter than in the Summer. Great airfares, great food and accommodation, and smaller crowds make Europe easy in the winter!