Lufthansa today announced the results of a pilot program undertaken in Los Angeles that allows passengers to board flights without the use of a passport or boarding pass at the gate.
In association with Customs and Border Control (CBP), Amadeus, and other partners Lufthansa set up self-boarding gates in LAX that allowed for biometric facial recognition technology to determine if a passenger is authorized to board a flight.
According to LH, when a passenger approaches the self boarding gate, a camera takes a photo of a passengers face and is immediately compared against a US CBP database. Within seconds, the information is relayed back to the gate and if everything is in good order, the gate opens and allows the passenger to board the aircraft.
With this technology in place, it would eliminate the need for a boarding pass or passport to be used at a gate.
In fact, Lufthansa was able to successfully board 350 passengers aboard an A380 in 20 minutes, marking a significant improvement over the normal time it takes to board the aircraft.
With the success of this pilot, Lufthansa will now consider expanding this concept to other USA gateways in an effort to modernize the passenger experience at the airport and at the same time enhance air travel security. No timeline has yet to be determined by LH as of this writing.
Lufthansa has announced that they will be introducing an ‘A La Carte’ menu for passengers traveling in Premium Economy or Economy class on long haul flights out of Frankfurt and Munich.
The program will be similar to what is offered by Austrian, where passengers can order specific meals ahead of their flights.
The Lufthansa version of this program will begin this May, and will give passengers the option to order one of several unique meals for their flights. As far as pricing is concerned, expect to pay between $20 and $35 per meal.
The menu will cover a wide range of options including Sushi served in Bento Boxes, Mediterranean Seafood, Thai curry, Bavarian specialities, an Asian ‘vitality’ meal, or simply a grilled steak.
The meals can be ordered as part of your booking process. Orders need to be placed at least 24 hours prior to your departure.
The standard, complimentary economy or premium economy meals will be available as usual for passengers not wishing to purchase the ‘A La Carte’ option.
Lufthansa and Austrian are introducing a new concept that will allow Economy Class passengers to choose a seat further forward in the cabin for a nominal fee.
The concept is already in use by SWISS, and allows passengers to choose a seat that is closer to the aircraft’s exit (not exit rows!). The preferred zone will be behind Premium Economy class on aircraft equipped with “Prem Eco”, and will will be immediately behind Business Class on birds that do not have a Premium Economy section.
The zones will be available on all long haul flights operated by Lufthansa and Austrian. The fee for the seat will range between €30 and €50 ($37 to 62$). The price is per segment, and will vary based on the length of the flight.
Passengers will be allowed to start using this new program on February 20 for flights that take place from March 7 and onward.
Miles&More HONs and Senators will continue to be able to choose their seats free of charge.
Over the coming months, pay attention to the inflight / on-board products (Amenity kits, cabin appointments, etc) that will be coming from Lufthansa.
As part of LH’s ‘5-Star’ strategy everything is being re-evaluated to make sure that they deliver not only a premium passenger experience, but do so in a manner that is conscientious and has a low impact on the environment and world around us.
From what has been shared with me, look for the reduction of plastic wrappers and packaging from items such as Amenity Kits and meal packaging later this year as new kits are introduced.
With Amenity Kits in particular, you will see kits that are more practical than before. Practical in such a manner that many of these kits will be useful in everyday life.
During a recent flight from Frankfurt, I had the privilege of spending a significant amount of time talking to Lufthansa’s Senior Directors of Product Development and they made it perfectly clear that our onboard experience will be going through a quantum leap over the next few months as the new Livery spreads throughout the airline. I was given the opportunity to see a lot of what they’re planning to roll out and what is in development, and I’ll share more of what I have seen once LH gives me the green light to do so.
One of the directors summed it up perfectly as far as environmental awareness is concerned when she suggested that since Lufthansa flies to environmentally sensitive places like the Maldives, Costa Rica and other destinations, it should not be destroying the very environment that passengers are wanting to see and appreciate first hand.
It’s hard to disagree with that kind of sentiment……..
Beginning tomorrow, October 26, passengers heading to the USA will be subject to a substantial increase in security measures before being allowed to board their flight. In fact, the new requirements include being at the airport AT LEAST 90 minutes ahead of your USA-bound flight’s departure so that you have enough time for the new screening process. This covers all USA and International carriers that fly to the USA.
According to the TSA, this will impact 2,000 daily flights that arrive in the USA and approximately 325,000 passengers.
This is not exactly a new surprise that popped up today. Tomorrow happens to be a deadline that was set 120 days ago when the USA first issued bans on electronics in the cabin, and other restrictions. Most if not all of those restrictions have since been lifted once airlines and airports demonstrated compliance with the new policies.
What might be different starting tomorrow?
The biggest change that I see is that security personnel will increase the number of ‘random’ interviews that they conduct with passengers heading to the USA. These interviews can happen either at the check-in area or at the gate.
Airlines have announced substantial changes as a result of this policy change. For example, Cathay Pacific has suspend ‘remote check-in’ at locations away from the airport and bag drop off services in cities such as Hong Kong.
Lufthansa Group is asking Economy Class passengers to be at the airport at least 90 minutes prior to departure to allow for enough time for the added scrutiny.
The TSA has been intentionally cryptic with what other security measures take effect tomorrow, but considering the nature and sensitivity of security, it’s understandable that they’re not telling us everything that they plan on doing. In their comments however they did indicate that this security enhancement is being done in order to prevent something like an Electronics Ban from being reinstated.
I guess for that alone, a little more screening at the airport is a small price to pay.