Big QuestionsOur work related to complex challenges.

The Challenge

Update Lufthansa’s long-haul business-class service to go beyond “champagne and fancy food."


Bringing a higher level of customer service to passengers.


A hospitable new service that pampers travelers and fosters connection.

The key to winning the competition in high-end business class air travel lies in the level of service. Legacy European carrier Lufthansa approached IDEO to help redesign its long-haul, business-class service experience into one that’s thoroughly modern, distinctly Lufthansa, and centered on the new needs of today’s discerning passengers.

After putting themselves in the shoes of both travelers and flight attendants on a variety of different airlines, the IDEO design team found that what matters, above champagne and fancy food, is a personal connection between crew and passenger. They used this insight to focus on a new goal: Flight crew consider themselves to be travelers’ trusted, knowing hosts.

To achieve the goal, the design team focused on improving service in six key travel moments, then built a cardboard 1:1 scale mockup of different parts of an airplane to see what they’d need. Designers tested the service in a full section of an Airbus A380 at the airline’s Raunheim, Germany, facility, with real passengers and crew. This prototyping process was crucial, as executives witnessed firsthand how big an impact the new service would have across the organization, which includes 18,000 flight attendants.

Rolling out across the fleet, Lufthansa’s hospitable new service is already getting a good reception among crew. “Pampering passengers like this—individually and personally—was the reason why I started flying for Lufthansa 25 years ago,” said Sabine Schwarz-Odewald, senior flight attendant.

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