Readers following the story of the worst flight in the world will be delighted (or disappointed!) to hear that Lufthansa has backtracked on their insane choice of aircraft.
They have recently announced that they will be returning back to flatbed seats on their flight to Pune, India!
The story so far
For those new to this story, a quick summary.
Originally, Lufthansa ran an all business class route between Frankfurt, Germany, to Pune, India (With a fuel stop in Bucharest, Romania (OTP)). This service was contracted out to a little know airline called Privatair, which specialized in transporting executives around the world.
Pune is a hub for German automobile companies, with plenty of demand for a direct business only route to the region.
However, the partnership between the two airlines fell on the rocks and Lufthansa dropped the route. Industry leaders demanded a return of the service, so Lufthansa recommission of their own jets to fly there.
However, the problem is the Pune runway is not actually long enough to have any long-distance double aisle aircraft, thus a smaller single-aisle plane needs to be used. And the best plane that Lufthansa chose was an Airbus A319.
Typically Lufthansa uses their Airbus A319’s in their fleet to service short range point to point destinations within Europe, only one or two hours. This route, from Frankfurt to Pune clocks in at nine hours flying time!
Knowledgeable readers will realize that this plane doesn’t actually have the fuel to reach its destination eleven hours away. Thus it has to stop in Baku, Azerbaijani to refuel on its eleven-hour journey. Passengers will not be able to get off for the 90 minutes that the plane rests on the tarmac.
The new route will be 11 hours and 25 minutes long and is 4159 miles / 6693 kilometres / 3614 nautical miles. As we mentioned the new route will be flown on an A319, (with a range of 3,750 nmi or 6,950 km) thus the plane has to stop in Baku, Azerbaijani (GYD), and passengers will not be given the opportunity to disembark.
For those eleven hours, you have no entertainment and no flatbed seats. The seats themselves are the standard economy seats with 31 inches of legroom.
And the best part of this story? The tickets themselves cost nearly $4,000 each way.
One has to wonder why passengers didn’t just fly to Mumbai instead.
With Pune being located just 150 km from Mumbai, and having one of the best freeways connecting both cities, passengers, as well as airlines, will find it better to operate international flights from Mumbai. The State Government has identified land for Pune’s own civil/commercial airport, but that is at least 4-5 years away.
Lufthansa tries to make it better
Of course, Lufthansa got roasted by the press, with some dubbing it the worst flight in the world.
They tried to fix this by blocking out all the seats on the plane, allowing only the window seat on each side to be accessed. Essentially turning a row of three economy seats into one long economy bench that each business owner could enjoy.
This was still unacceptable for business executives that wanted the famous Lufthansa flying experience, commonly known as quite the luxury in their bigger jets.
Again, this was totally unacceptable for business travelers, who I remind you, paid $4,000 for this crazy 11-hour flight.
Lufthansa has a third attempt at getting it right
Not to be the only in a constant PR nightmare, Lufthansa has decided to go back to where it all began and re-launch the route with Privatair.
“Starting Feb. 1, the A319 goes away and the 737 returns, flying Frankfurt (FRA) – Pune (PNQ) – Bucharest (OTP) – FRA. The stop in Bucharest is needed for fuel, since winds blowing eastward increase fuel burn when flying westbound.” – The Points Guy
This means a return to flatbed seats, in an all business class formation. It has not revealed if there will be economy seats on board.
However, until they take it over there will be several months (Starting from the 1st of next month) of the wonderful A319 Lufthansa Pune express.
What do you think? Should we send a team member to experience the flight?