What should families expect flying with Lufthansa Airlines?
We welcome to the blog today Chelsea, who talks us through their experience using Lufthansa to relocate to and from Germany. How did the German Airline stack up to this family travelers expectation?
When my husband, who is active duty army, was given his orders to Stuttgart, Germany, we knew we wanted to fly Lufthansa. As a military spouse moving her family (and pets) overseas, you become quite familiar with different airlines and their policies. Lufthansa is well known for its high care of animals and its ability to fly larger animals in the baggage area under the plane. This was key for us flying with a 50lb pup and a larger cat.
This post is part of our Flying with Kids series. You can read all our family airline reviews here.
Lufthansa Airlines is the largest European carrier. They offer in-flight entertainment on individual screens with a large variety of entertainment (yoga, movies, tv shows, music, games) and also offer in-flight internet. They are part of the Star Alliance network. Since our flight was to and from Germany, all announcements were given first in German and then in English.
You can read more here on the practicalities of flying with Lufthansa including all their airline policies covering expectant mothers, infants, unaccompanied minors and much more.
Purchasing our tickets for Lufthansa
As a military family, our tickets are purchased by the travel office. However, United is a codeshare with Lufthansa and they are often a very inexpensive way to get to Germany, so certainly something to look into. Even though it looks like you are booking a United flight, look at the small print and you will often see “United, operated by Lufthansa”.
Flying with Pets on Lufthansa
There is so much information to know about flying with your pet, such as getting a 10-day health certificate and making sure your pet has the appropriate vaccinations.
With all of our paperwork in hand, animals loaded into the correct crate sizes, we took almost an extra hour just checking the animals in at the Lufthansa check-in desk. Weighing the animals, manual inspection of the crates, last-minute potty breaks and then finally the last goodbye.
You’ll also pay the fees (determined by crate size and not weight) before the check-in process is complete. We paid 300 euro for the dog and 150 euro for the cat to fly EACH WAY. The staff were so helpful and kind with this process. As you can imagine, it is stressful flying with pets. They had extra “animals inside” stickers and thanked us for taping extra food and leashes to the top of the crates. We also zip-tied each crate to make it tamper-proof, which is a pet-friendly recommendation by Lufthansa although not a requirement.
Our experience flying with kids on Lufthansa
Our son was 18 months when we moved from DC to Stuttgart. He was almost 4 years old when we returned. Our flight to Stuttgart was an overnight flight and our flight back was an all-day flight, so I’ll include information about both flights and tips to make each a success.
Overnight Flight with an 18-month-old
I tried to prepare as much as possible for the flight. Many other moms with young children suggest bringing the car seat, so we did. It was the worst decision we made and I didn’t repeat it for future overnight flights.
The car seat was fine on takeoff, but when it came time to sleep, my son wanted nothing to do with it. I tried to settle him down and get him to sleep, but he wasn’t having it. He was still nursing at that age and all he wanted to do was snuggle up with me and sleep in my lap.
With nowhere to ditch the car seat, we were lucky enough to have some empty space in the back of my plane, where my husband relocated to. This gave my son and me some space to snuggle up together, but let’s be honest, we didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. My son was still snuggled up in my lap asleep when it came time for landing.
The Lufthansa cabin crew were sweet enough to give me an attachable seat belt to loop around my son and then lock into my own seatbelt instead of waking him up and putting him back into the car seat. Huge bonus! For future flights, we invested in a blow-up footrest, which allowed us to create a bed and gave everyone at least a few hours of much-needed sleep.
See our full review of which international airlines allow footrest pillows and sleeping devices to be used
I will say that flying with an 18-month-old is quite the adventure. They are old enough to want to move around and make their wishes known, however, they are young enough that you can’t always reason with them as effectively and they like routine and comfort items.
We made sure to pack special blankets, favorite toys, lots of snacks, sippy cups and a few treats to help with takeoff and landing.
Related Reading: What to pack in your toddler’s plane bag
Both of our flights, with a connection in Frankfurt, went smoothly. Our animals were well cared for and arrived safe and sound in Stuttgart. There were no delays and our family was whisked through customs in Frankfurt due to having a small child.
Eight hour return flight with a 3.5 year old
There is a bit of a debate on which is harder, an overnight flight or a long haul flight. They both have their pluses and minus. After living in Europe for a few years and many flights under our belts, I considered us a pro travel family.
Here is how we made our eight-hour return “home” flight a success. We bring the typical items: antibacterial wipes, comfort items, lollipops for takeoff and landing, kid’s cups and toys.
For long haul flights, we also like to keep things fun, so we purchase a new toy for every hour of the flight. We also wrap each toy in wrapping paper (to keep it a secret).
Our son knows that there is a pile of goodies to unwrap at each milestone (or hour of the flight). These little wrapped gifts also work great for any need to get behavior back on track quickly.
We pre-ordered a kids meals and those (along with special dietary meals) are served first. We always bring a small Tupperware container to save leftovers for later in the flight. All of our meals were quite good.
Warm towels were served before meals and drinks were offered soon after our meals came. No complaints about the variety of food and drink options.
If you get hungry between meals, you can walk to the back of the plane into the galley and find water and snacks left out on a tray, so help yourself. The cabin crew was polite, informative and helpful on the flight.
They informed us when the animals were loaded and checked in on us a couple of times during the flight to see if we needed anything. They even walk around with a basket of various toys and games for the children within the first 30 minutes of the flight. It’s a fun way to let the kids connect with the flight crew.
Overall thoughts about flying Lufthansa with kids
We’ve actually flown on Lufthansa at least six times over the course of a few years. All of our flights have taken off on time, the boarding process on each flight went smoothly and we utilized being able to board early with our young son (under the age 2), when needed.
We also ordered kids meals before each flight on their website. I can attest that the kid’s meals are pretty delicious. The cabin crew was always respectful, helpful and understanding of children’s needs when traveling.
About the Author
Chelsea is a military wife and mother of a young son. She is a special education teacher by trade, but is currently staying home and writing for her new family-friendly travel blog. You can read more of her travel tips for Stuttgart here, or for more on their travels around Europe and the US, head over to their family-friendly blog Pack More into Life
Thanks to Chelsea for sharing her family’s experiences using Lufthansa and showing why it is one of Europe’s premier airlines for family (and pet!) travellers.
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Disclosures: All opinions expressed are those of the guest author. This page contains affiliate links that may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy here.