February 2017 | For years, Lufthansa has been one of the very few airlines – if not the only one – to offer passengers waiting for their flight at the gate complimentary coffee, tea (image), and newspapers at main airports around Germany, including its Frankfurt and Munich hubs.
Or as Lufthansa has stated in the past: “Offering hot beverages to passengers prior to departure is a long Lufthansa tradition. Lufthansa first began offering hot coffee and tea from large thermos flasks in the mid-80s and the first automatic vending machines serving freshly brewed coffee were installed at airports in 1993.”
However, similar to any other full service carrier around the globe who is looking to rationalize every cost item, Lufthansa has to rethink these kind of free amenities. Instead of cutting costs by simply terminating the free hot beverages and print newspapers the airline has come up with a smart alternative that taps into trends such as ‘paid premium’ and digitalization.
Coffee at the gate
Following trials in the first half of 2015 at selected gates at Frankfurt and Munich airports, Lufthansa a few months ago partnered with Nespresso to bring the ubiqituous coffee capsules to the gate area.
The premium Nespresso coffee doesn’t come for free though. Passengers can choose from regular coffee, espresso, cappuccino ior latte macchiato (the latter with fresh milk), each at the cost of 2 euros. For those passengers who might consider bringing their own coffee pods: For the business market, a different pad-shaped system of Nespresso pods exists which are not interchangeable with the consumer capsules.
According to Lufthansa, a total of 20 Nespresso Coffee Points have been placed throughout Frankfurt and Munich airports so that passengers from different gates can access the machines.
By replacing the free coffee vending machines with a paid for premium product, Lufthansa acknowledges the fact that consumer tastes have evolved over the years. Starbucks and Nespresso coffee can now be found at homes, hotels, lounges, as well as up in the air, and for example the Nespresso capsules generate revenues of around USD 4.4 billion to Nestle each year.
As Vassilios Georgakopoulos, Director Product Innovation and Concepts at LSG Group, puts it nicely: “The truth is that instant coffee is simply not good enough in 2017 and what international passengers want is 100 percent quality similar to what they experience at home. I wish more airlines could simply see the value of similar brand cooperations where both brands feature respectfully next to each other.”
As for the provision of free print newspapers at the gate: Lufthansa is switching over to digital reading material. The airline’s ‘e-journal’ service provides passengers with a choice of over 250 digital titles including publications in 18 different languages.
Passengers can access the digital editions up to three days before their date of travel by going to lh.com/eJournals via the Lufthansa app, and entering their name, plus either their booking code or ticket number, passengers can select their favorite titles, download them and then save them on their own electronic device. The reading material chosen is then available to them as a PDF file, even after the flight for an unlimited period.
In the Lufthansa lounges and in First Class on long haul flights, the usual printed reading material will still be provided, as well as printed versions of magazines in Business Class on intercontinental flights. In addition, at Lufthansa’s Frankfurt and Munich hubs, as well as at Berlin, Stuttgart, Hamburg and Düsseldorf airports, newspapers will be offered to all Lufthansa passengers from one of several central distribution points.