If you’re travelling around Europe, you may come across an airline called Eurowings. Part of the Lufthansa Group, Eurowings is a low-cost carrier based in Germany.
Eurowings operates a large network of short-haul flights to destinations all over Europe using Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft. While its parent company Lufthansa operates many short-haul and long-haul routes from Frankfurt and Munich, Eurowings operates short-haul flights from other airports across Germany including Dusseldorf, Cologne/Bonn, Hamburg, Dortmund, Stuttgart and Berlin. It also has bases in Salzburg, Prague and Stockholm.
The airline also caters to business travellers with its “BIZclass” product on routes like Berlin-London, but its “bread and butter” is flying Germans non-stop to sunny holiday destinations across Europe.
I recently flew with Eurowings on a 3-hour flight from Lisbon to Hamburg. The Airbus A320 was completely full, mainly with German tourists returning from holidays in Portugal. This is what the experience was like…
|Route||Lisbon (LIS) to Hamburg (HAM)|
|Aircraft type||Airbus A320|
|Class of travel||Economy|
|On-time performance||We arrived 35 minutes late|
I paid around €127 (~AU$191) for an Economy Smart fare. This fare type includes a checked bag and priority boarding (in Group 1).
Theoretically, this fare type also includes complimentary seat selection. However, as this was part of a round-trip journey with the return leg on Lufthansa, I had booked my ticket on the Lufthansa website. It was not possible to select a seat on the Lufthansa website and when I tried to select a seat on the Eurowings website, I was redirected every time to the home page. In other words, the website didn’t work. I also could not check-in online, meaning I was stuck with whatever seat was still available once I got to the airport. (I reported this bug to both Lufthansa and Eurowings and haven’t yet received a response from either airline.)
I haven’t had this problem before when booking direct with Eurowings. In fact, last time I flew with them, I could even add a vacant neighbouring middle seat to my booking for a small additional fee – a great concept!
I arrived at Lisbon Airport exactly 2 hours before the scheduled departure time, which is when the check-in counters opened. There were only 3 counters open and the queue was already 45-minutes long.
Eurowings is a partner of United Airlines, which means I was able to earn United MileagePlus miles for this flight. As I have United Gold status, I could normally also access benefits when flying with Eurowings such as priority check-in, priority boarding and access to Lufthansa Lounges where available. However, there was no priority check-in line at Lisbon Airport. As there are no Lufthansa-operated lounges at this airport, no lounge access was available either.
(If flying in the other direction, I would have been able to use the Lufthansa Senator Lounge at Hamburg Airport. I really like this lounge, mainly for its outdoor terrace and self-service beer on tap!)
The inbound aircraft arrived 45 minutes late, so boarding was also delayed. There was a priority boarding lane available, which happily was enforced, although it seemed like more than half of the flight had priority boarding as it’s a standard benefit of the Smart fare.
The aircraft operating our flight had a striking black livery paying homage to Dortmund’s football team, which raised a few eyebrows.
For comparison, this is the normal Eurowings livery:
During boarding, the captain made a rushed announcement welcoming the passengers on board and asking everyone to please sit down quickly so we wouldn’t lose our departure slot. In the German version of his announcement he also apologised for the external aircraft livery and promised that as a proud Hamburger, he wasn’t responsible for this.
The Hard Product
There are 180 seats in an all-Economy configuration on the Eurowings A320.
Normally the first three rows are designated as BIZclass, which basically just means the middle seat is blocked, although this cabin wasn’t offered on this flight.
The seats in front of the exit rows have extra legroom. I was lucky enough to be allocated one of these seats at check-in, and the amount of legroom was reasonable. As you can see, there were also advertisements on the back of every seat.
The leather Recaro slimline seats are basically identical to the seats found on Lufthansa, Austrian or SWISS, just in a slightly different colour. There is no adjustable headrest and the seats are very thin, albeit with just enough padding to make them bearable for a 3-4 hour flight.
There was an inflight magazine and a menu in the literature pocket at each seat. In-flight wifi was also available.
Normally you would need to pay to access the in-flight wifi or (very limited) range of streaming entertainment content. The prices ranged from €3.90 to €9.90 (~AU$6-15), with different price points to access the internet for different lengths of time and with different connection speeds. However, I was able to connect for free using my Boingo account that comes for free with the 28 Degrees Mastercard. The wifi worked for a while, but seemed quite slow and stopped working later in the flight.
The Soft Product
As Eurowings is a low-cost carrier, nothing was included for free with the ticket price. But after take-off, the cabin crew offered food and drinks for sale from the Wings Bistro menu.
I personally didn’t think the autumn/summer menu was all that comprehensive or inspiring, but was hungry so bought a sandwich for €5.50 (~AU$8) which was fresh and tasted fine. You could also combine this with a non-alcoholic drink for €7.50 (~AU$11) or a beer for €8.50 (~AU$13).
During the middle of the flight, a crew member then came through the aisle trying to sell products from the onboard shopping catalogue. There was a second food & drinks trolley run towards the end of the flight.
The cabin crew on this flight worked hard and were friendly. They came through the cabin regularly to collect rubbish, kept the toilets clean and were happy to help the many parents on board with young children.
Eurowings A320 Economy Class
Eurowings offers a very much “no-frills” experience, with limited airport staff and extra charges for anything other than the seat. That said, other than the delay, the flight was fine and got me (and my luggage) to Hamburg in one piece.
The cabin crew were great but the overall experience is what you’d expect from a low-cost carrier. As I paid almost $200 for the ticket, I didn’t think this particular flight was excellent value. But if the price was right, I’d happily fly Eurowings again.
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