SkyTrax certified Lufthansa (LH) as a 5 star airline, making it the 10th airline worldwide to reach this highly valued award, shared with airlines like Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Air (ANA) or Etihad. The award takes into account not only the onboard product, but the end-to-end service from the ground service to lounges and transfer, as well as the service delivered by staff throughout, considering all classes of services, from economy to business and first!
Lufthansa received the “Best European Airline” award earlier this year, snatching it from long-time favorite Turkish Airlines and now was upgraded from 4 star to 5 star certification by SkyTrax, leading with the following statement:
This really highlights the keys for any type of leading customer service experience and why I believe Lufthansa’s 5 star SkyTrax rating is well deserved.
End-to-end experience – few airlines (or travel bloggers) have figured out that a good experience goes beyond “the best seat” or onboard service, but a positive service experience starts the moment you look for flights, book them and check-in online. It continues with the ground services at check-in, the lounges or the gate. While the seat you find on board is the most important thing to me personally, it also includes the onboard service, the entertainment and food and small things, like the cleanliness of the bathrooms or how kids or elderly passengers are treated.
And it doesn’t end there – how are transfers handled and what services are available on arrival. A rare, but deciding factor for me is how airlines handle problems and service recovery? Planes can be late for all kinds of reasons – but are you rebooked quickly and adequately without having to run after it? Is due compensation paid immediately or to you have to threaten with lawyers to get it?
Great companies have this covered from start to finish. In my experience, Lufthansa is doing a great job here. From a good online presence to smooth check in and nice lounges to the onboard experience, it’s all taken care off. And when something goes wrong, they’ll do their best to fix it, without me having to do anything: I remember well the excellent handling of a delay due to to snow: My domestic flight to Munich was late due to the winter weather, putting me at risk of missing my connecting flight to the US. I was getting antsy when I saw us pull up to a remote gate, making it next to impossible to catch my flight. To my surprise (and that of a few other international travelers), a small van was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, whisking us away to a separate security and immigration clearance and staff escorting us directly to our gates, all accomplished in minutes and getting us on our respective flights in time!
This is where many 3- or 4-star airlines fall down. In comparison, United in a similar situation denied me boarding the flight (after running through the terminal and getting to the gate on time), because they decided to rebook me and had given away my seat already! Even my favorite airline Singapore Airlines (also 5-star) is not as good here – SQ has what I consider the best onboard service you can find, yet their ground service leaves a lot to be desired and their heavy rule book can get in the way of a smooth service recovery!
Consistency – any upscale business, from retail to hotels or airlines, needs to deliver the promised experience every single time, not just occasionally! This includes consistent staff service, consistent lounges and consistent onboard products.
Lufthansa does excel in this regard as well. While their Business Class (only rated 4-star) is not the best, not providing direct aisle access to all passengers, it is consistent across their whole fleet, providing the same seat on all long-haul planes. That’s worth a lot to me – it doesn’t help, if I’m flying a 5-star airline and then get the nasty surprise of a recliner seat upon boarding! Other 5-star competitors, like All Nippon Air or SQ are still flying recliners or angled-flat seats on their long-haul planes.
SkyTrax has published all the detailed ratings of the airline, including the rating of airport services, onboard product and services, by cabin class and short-/long-haul, providing transparency for the ratings. The summary rating by cabin and distance is below:
Other bloggers have dismissed the decision, suggesting that LH unjustly got it for the new business class that won’t be available for two more years. Looking through the detailed ratings makes it pretty apparent that the future business class is not the deciding factor, but the First Class, Premium Economy and Economy cabins are highly rated (rightfully so, in my opinion).
Others question the credibility of SkyTrax, without proposing any alternatives. Sure, SkyTrax is a business, sharing their criteria with the airlines and working with them on achieving better results. Yet they are the only independent and transparent organization out their with a clearly defined methodology to assess and rate airlines, making this the only standard of airline certification available – which is why I publish it in any of my airline overviews!