Lufthansa screws cellists

Lufthansa screws cellists


norman lebrecht

December 02, 2014

A heartfelt letter from a working soloist:

Dear Lufthansa,
As a classical musician (a cellist) and someone who, because of this profession, has to travel a lot I have a question that I know I’m asking on behalf of many of my colleagues as well:

Cellists travelling with expensive (often antique) instruments usually travel with the cello next to them in an extra seat. With most of the big airlines (low cost airlines excepted) we can book an extra seat for the same price as your own ticket, excluding the taxes, since the cello isn’t using any facilities etc.

Since some time in 2012 Lufthansa has changed its policy so that extra seats can only be booked if one books one of the highest, and therefore most expensive booking classes (though still in Economy), both for the person and the extra seat (still excluding taxes for the extra seat).


cellos mangled

To illustrate the incredible difference it makes:
Today I was looking at a return flight Amsterdam-Munich which is advertised on the Lufthansa website for €99 (total price for 1 person). Calling with Lufthansa reservations I got a quote of at least €400 for 1 person + extra seat!!

One could argue that booking an extra seat costs somewhat more because we have to make a reservation via the phone and we cannot use the check-in machines at the airport, but 4 times as much? Really??

It would be great if you could clarify why this is your policy, because the people at the phone reservations couldn’t tell me. The result as it is now, and I’ve asked many of my colleagues this as well, is that these musicians, who could be your loyal customers, will not fly Lufthansa at all but just use other airlines like KLM, British Airways, SAS etc, who do not charge such a huge and almost incredible price.. It is a big shame, because Lufthansa was one of the better airlines for travelling with musical instruments and could be one of musicians’ favourites if it wasn’t for this.

Looking forward to hearing from you!


  • Greg Sulley says:

    And is it illegal to book two seats for yourself and decide one of them should be left for the cello? (As far as I know, we’re still allowed to buy all the seats if we want to fly alone.)

  • Paula M says:

    I can confirm that Lufthansa is still doing this as of 15/4/15. Their customer service at least was better than the time I spent several hours on the phone being told contradictory things about how to book a cello seat. Still, they won’t let you book the lowest-fare seats so don’t be fooled into thinking they’re a good deal.