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Flying Lufthansa Airlines

There’s nothing like a trans-Atlantic flight in economy to separate the experiences provided by different airlines. So when we first flew Lufthansa in January, paying our own way, I was surprised and delighted to discover each seat came with a bag of amenities – a small bottle of water, an orange, eye shades, and ear plugs. And the blankets were real blankets. The food was excellent and came with real silverware. The flight attendants were cheerful and friendly. I was happily astounded. My partner Ed swore that was the only airlines he wanted to fly from then on.

So, when we had a chance later on to upgrade to business class for essentially the price of economy in order to experience that level of comfort, we saw the lay-flat seats and were hooked. It was everything we hoped for, and more. The food which had been excellent, became gourmet, we padded around in the comfy slipper socks, and had a plenitude of entertainment choices, including over a dozen movies. Did I mention the nonstop selection of wine, spirits, and other alcoholic beverages.

But it was the seats, those totally comfy lay-flat seats that turned flying for over 8 hours from a drudge to a dream. The seats are adjustable in just about every way we could imagine, and with a special lumbar massage cycle. And they aren’t short “beds” either – over 6 feet of space. It was the first, and probably only, time I was truly comfortable on a plane.

Of course, most of us fly economy, so I looked into what else Lufthansa has to offer, and found one of their newest initiatives – a special children’s menu on long-distance flights. These can be booked in advance free-of-charge for all children under 12.

Flying trans-Atlantic is expensive, and it is to Lufthansa’s credit that they also offer special programs. Many people in the USA have family tied to another country. WeFlyHome® offers flights from its 17 U.S. gateway cities to countries around the world. A comparison check of prices booked through the WeFlyHome® program and their regular website between Washington DC and Cairo (the destination we visited in January) showed a savings a several hundred dollars. It even compared well to the prices (about $100 cheaper) found on a discount airfare site but which were not Lufthansa flights.

Their GenerationFly® program is aimed at students. And they take it very seriously, requiring registration and qualifying applications only if they are students currently enrolled in a U.S. college or university or faculty members employed by a U.S. college or university. And don’t think of fibbing – a valid “.edu” email address is required to access the site as well as book fares. And you have to present a valid college / university-issued ID card at check-in.

Since I didn’t qualify in either position I couldn’t get very far, however the flights on the main page looked really good. But the site is more than a place to get a good airfare, it has a social network exclusively for student travelers. The site’s Genfly® Lounge encourages registered students to meet, connect and share ideas with fellow students who love to travel internationally. It isn’t often I miss my days as a student, but this is one time I could cheerfully go back. Just for the flight perks.

At a time when many airlines are posting losses and cutting back on services to hold off a flood of red ink, Lufthansa still posted a record first-quarter result for 2008. They are doing something right.