Lufthansa adds Cloudstream and internet content to long haul flights

Up until late this year, internet access has been a privilege served only to those flying on domestic carriers — the signal delivered on most of those flights is provided by land-based mobile phone towers. Those flying overseas, conversely, were doomed to their overhead video projectors and DIY in-flight entertainment.

With satellite communication, however, several carriers are now starting to offer wireless internet onboard trans oceanic flights. Among those serving the US, Lufthansa will be the first to bring service to hungry internet browsers, starting on service from New York, Detroit and Atlanta into Frankfurt.

The service, which will be delivered over a wireless signal, should be “fast enough to connect to a VPN and send large attachments,” though the airline has provided few hard metrics on exactly how much bandwidth each passenger will receive.

Lufthansa is further augmenting their onnboard internet with a new service called Cloudstream, where passengers will be able to pick out assorted content prior to departure, cache interesting links into a virtual folder and browse the content while onboard. They’ve even asked a few local travel folks for interesting, inspirational links.

To get the service rolling, internet will be offered for free on all wireless equipped flights through the end of January.

Airplane food with a luxurious twist: Lufthansa, Ritz-Carlton team up for in-flight entrees

You’re used to fine dining in luxury hotels, but is it possible for fine dining to take place in-flight? First-class travelers are no stranger to white tablecloth service at 38,000-feet – hot meals replace boxed sandwiches and bags of peanuts; wine is served instead of the half a can of Coke you get in coach. Now, a new trend is taking place up in the air – hotels are partnering with airlines to create in-flight meals prepared by top Michelin-starred chefs that represent local flavors in top markets.

Case in point: Ritz-Carlton and Lufthansa.

The luxury hotel group and the German airline have been in partnership for over a year, but recent changes to the airplane food menu mean not only a decent meal, but an impressive marketing campaign. The unique partnership between Ritz-Carlton and Lufthansa gives guests flying in premium seats specially-created dishes by award-winning chefs from various Ritz-Carlton hotels, which in turn keeps the hotels top of mind to flyers.

Chef Bernd Schmitt of LSG Sky Chef team works directly with Ritz-Carlton chefs to create and deliver the unique in-flight meals. Denver, Laguna Nigel, New York City, Boston, and San Francisco hotels have already been presented, and now South Beach joins the mix, added a little Latin flare to the in-flight fun. The Miami in-flight menu features everything from black bean soup and queso fresco to sautéed snapper, spiced tomato “enchilado”, and pepper and tomato “sofrito” stew.The program has been so successful for domestic hotels, Ritz-Carlton tells me they are planning to introduce menus created by chef’s in international markets.

“This past July, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company expanded its relationship with Lufthansa’s Star Chefs program. Specifically, our hotel and chef in Shanghai has developed First and Business Class menus for flights to and from Germany to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, Nanjing and Guangzhou,” said Victoria Gottlieb, Director, Partnerships and Strategic Alliances, for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC. “Asia is a critical region of growth for the Ritz-Carlton so we are very happy to have such a strong presence in Lufthansa’s Asia flight network.”

The menus, which will be created by chefs from The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai, will be on board for 12-months. Lufthansa’s own sommelier, Markus Del Monego, will consult with the Ritz-Carlton chefs to create a wine list that marries the flavors of the food with the best global vintages.

What pairs well with spiced ceviche, duck confit, sherry vinaigrette; a vegetarian plate of seared watermelon, and goat cheese mousse with a Banyuls glaze and crushed pistachio nuts? That’s for the airline and hotel to figure out. In the meantime, the collaboration between Ritz-Carlton and Lufthansa leaves premium-seat flyers satisfied, and keeps the concept of good food and experience top of mind in-flight.

We want to know what you think: Would you be more inclined to visit a hotel after tasting the chef’s in-flight creations on a flight?

Huge fight between French and German passengers on Lufthansa flight caught on video

In this video, you’ll see the effect of stuffing too many people inside a metal tube, feeding them mediocre food and keeping the temperature a constant 10 degrees too cold or too warm. Thankfully, nobody was hurt in the battle – but as you can see, the entire coach cabin was involved, as was one of the poor flight attendants.

Seriously though – I want one of these fights on my next flight, followed by some warm cocoa and freshly baked cookies.


Lufthansa takes delivery of its first Airbus A380 super jumbo

Earlier this week, Lufthansa Airlines took delivery of their first Airbus A380. With room for 388 passengers in coach, 98 in business class and 8 in first class, this is one massive plane. For the passengers in coach, the experience is nothing too special – with a 3-4-3 layout, there are a huge number of “middle seats”, but at least each seat has its own personal video screen.

The new plane has been named “Frankfurt Am Main” and will enter scheduled service on June 11th when it starts flying passengers between Frankfurt and Tokyo. By fall 2010, Lufthansa will have four Airbus A380’s in their fleet.

In the gallery below, you’ll see for yourself just how massive this plane is – the first class bathroom alone is larger than some puddle jumpers I’ve been on.


Lose your phone? Go to Munich!

Scott Carmichael wrote about a great spot for a bit of pre-flight relaxation – and a cold beer – in Munich. Well, if you have the chance to hit it, you may run into a celebrity.

Have you heard of Gray Powell? Well, he’s the guy from Apple who lost the latest-and-greatest-top-secret iPhone at a bar while being seduced by German beer and celebrating his birthday. It’s all gone downhill for him since then, but Lufthansa’s offering some relief. The airline has offered Powell a free business class roundtrip ticket to Munich … because it seems like he needs it.

In a letter to Powell, Nicola C. Lange, Lufthansa’s Director of Marketing and Customer Relations for The Americas, writes: “We all know how frustrating it can be to lose personal belongings, especially when it is such a unique item.” Well, I don’t think we know quite how frustrating it is to reveal your entire company’s future.

But, moving on:

We thought you could use a break soon – and therefore would like to offer you complimentary Business Class transportation to Munich, where you can literally pick up where you last left off. [I’m sure that’s exactly what he wants] Upon arrival in Munich, feel free to check out our new Bavarian Beer Garden business Lounge, and experience the best Germany has to offer.

Never has one’s “passion for German beer and culture” been so richly rewarded!