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Lufthansa Boarding Process & Groups — Everything You Need To Know

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Jeff Brownson
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Jeff Brownson

Former Content Contributor

24 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 40U.S. States Visited:

Jeff got into the points and miles game in 2010 and since then has visited over 35 countries, flying mostly in first and business class. He’s a contributor to Traveling Dad and has spoken at the Chica...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

32 Published Articles 3112 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 45U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Lufthansa is Germany’s largest airline and has its base of operations and main hub in Frankfurt, Germany.

As one of the founding members of the Star Alliance, Lufthansa has long been an innovator in the airline world. Lately, it has taken to working to improve the airplane boarding process.

Adding turnstiles that allow passengers to scan their own boarding passes at some airports and facial recognition systems that don’t even require passengers to have a boarding pass at others has allowed Lufthansa to speed up a process that has been largely stagnant for many years.

With these advancements in boarding, it’s not surprising that Lufthansa can load all of the passengers on even its largest planes in well under half an hour. That’s right — Lufthansa can actually put over 350 people on a plane in about 20 minutes.

What does that mean for you? It means that when it comes time to board a Lufthansa flight, things are going to move very quickly, and you’ll be much more comfortable if you know how the process works ahead of time.

Luckily, that’s what we are here for. Let’s take a look at the details of Lufthansa’s boarding process so you won’t be left behind.

Lufthansa Boarding Process

Lufthansa somehow manages to make its boarding process both quite simple and fairly complex at the same time.

Rather than just skip boarding first class passengers when the plane doesn’t have a first class cabin, Lufthansa moves a couple of other groups of passengers around and provides a separate boarding procedure for its short-haul flights.

Lufthansa uses the same pre-boarding groups that you usually see on most airlines and then offers priority boarding to several groups of premium cabin passengers, Miles & More elite members, and Star Alliance elite members.

Once priority boarding is complete, general boarding is done in 4 groups on long-haul flights and 3 groups on continental flights.

Lufthansa has also implemented procedures that will speed up the boarding process like Quick Boarding turnstiles and biometric boarding.

Although the lines may look long, you will be surprised by how quickly Lufthansa can get all of its passengers on board!

Long-haul Lufthansa Flights

For the purposes of boarding, Lufthansa seems to be defining long-haul flights as any flights that extend beyond continental Europe. These flights will be flown with larger planes that have first, business, and economy cabins.

Pre-boarding

  • Passengers with reduced mobility
  • Unaccompanied minors
  • Families traveling with small children under 5

Priority Group 1

  • First class passengers
  • Miles & More HON Circle members

Priority Group 2

  • Business class passengers
  • Miles & More Senator members
  • Star Alliance Gold members

Group 3

  • Premium economy passengers

Group 4

  • Economy class passengers with a window seat and companions

Group 5

  • Economy class passengers with middle seats and companions

Group 6

  • Economy class passengers with aisle seats

Continental (Europe) Lufthansa Flights

Continental Europe flights are just what the name sounds like — flights that do not extend beyond the European region.

These flights are typically flown on smaller planes that do not have a first class cabin. Because of this, the boarding process needs to be adjusted slightly, as you will see below.

Hot Tip: On most flights, the continental European business class seats are simply economy seats with the middle seats blocked off. Passengers will have a little more elbow room and upgraded service, but the experience is a far cry from long-haul premium classes. Make sure you are aware of this when paying more or using more miles for a “business class” experience within Europe!

Pre-boarding

  • Passengers with reduced mobility
  • Unaccompanied minors
  • Families traveling with small children under 5

Priority Group 1

  • Miles & More HON Circle members
  • Miles & More Senator members
  • Star Alliance Gold members

Priority Group 2

  • Business class passengers
  • Economy class passengers traveling on a Flex ticket

Group 3

  • Economy class passengers with a window seat and companions

Group 4

  • Economy class passengers with middle seats and companions

Group 5

  • Economy class passengers with aisle seats

Quick Boarding

Lufthansa uses what it calls Quick Boarding turnstiles at gates in Frankfurt, Munich, and several other airports around the world. Instead of gate agents needing to scan each passenger’s boarding pass, a gate can have several of these Quick Boarding turnstiles all working at once.

Passengers simply step up to the turnstile, scan their boarding passes face down, and wait for approval. Once a passenger is approved, the gate will open and allow the passenger to pass through to board the plane.

These scanners work even more quickly than the gate agents could scan passengers, and there are often more of them, so the boarding speed is increased even further.

In the rare cases where a passenger has had a change in seat assignment due to an upgrade or any other reason, the Quick Boarding turnstile will print out a new paper boarding pass before opening the gate.

Lufthansa gate agents are still present during the boarding process, but they are freed up to help passengers who have problems or need to make last-minute changes.

Biometric Boarding

Star Alliance Biometrics am Hamburg Airport 3 OSorg
New facial recognition boarding gates like these will help speed up the boarding process. Image Credit: Lufthansa

Imagine boarding a plane without having to show a boarding pass, a passport, or even a regular ID.

Well, you don’t have to imagine that anymore! Lufthansa is currently using its new biometric boarding gates at Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, and Orlando and looking to expand to other airports across the U.S.

These biometric gates use facial recognition to identify each passenger and approve them to board the plane. As you walk up to the gate, the cameras scan your face and immediately begin to communicate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection databases. Once you are approved (taking only a few seconds), you are given the ok to board the plane.

Facial recognition gates at LAX have allowed boarding speeds to increase greatly, with Lufthansa being able to board 350 people on to an A-380 in about 20 minutes during testing.

Other airlines like American and Delta are also starting to take advantage of facial recognition, so it won’t be long before you’ll be seeing these new gates in use at airports across the country.

Final Thoughts

If you travel to Europe or between countries in Europe and like to use Star Alliance airlines, it won’t be too long before you find yourself waiting to board a Lufthansa flight.

Lufthansa has made some advances to the boarding process over the past couple of years, and the first time you see its process, it may feel very unfamiliar. With biometric boarding, you may not even need a boarding pass or ID to get on the plane! That’s not something you see with most airlines.

If you’ve read through the details of the Lufthansa boarding procedures here, you’ll be ready for whatever technology it is using at your specific gate. You will know just what to do when that Quick Boarding process starts up, and you won’t miss your turn to get on the plane.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many boarding groups are there on Lufthansa?

Lufthansa uses 4 groups on long-haul flights and 3 groups on continental flights for its general boarding. It has certain passengers who are eligible to pre-board and certain groups who are given priority boarding. In total, it has 7 boarding groups on long-haul flights and 6 groups on continental flights.

Are Lufthansa flights assigned seating?

Yes, Lufthansa uses assigned seating on all of its flights. Seats can be selected at booking or any time through check-in for no cost for most flights. Premium seats will require a surcharge payment when selected by the passenger.

Who has pre-boarding on Lufthansa?

Lufthansa allows passengers with reduced mobility, unaccompanied minors, and any families traveling with small children under 5 who may need extra time to pre-board on all of its flights. If you have reduced mobility and will need extra assistance to board, be sure to contact Lufthansa ahead of time to arrange special services.

Who has priority boarding on Lufthansa?

On long-haul Lufthansa flights, first class passengers, business class passengers, Miles & More HON Circle members, Miles & More Senator members, and Star Alliance Gold members have priority boarding.

On Lufthansa flights within continental Europe, business class passengers, Miles & More HON Circle members, Miles & More Senator members, Star Alliance Gold members, and economy class passengers traveling on a Flex ticket will have priority boarding.

When can families board on Lufthansa?

Families traveling with small children under 5 who need extra time to board and get settled are allowed to pre-board on all Lufthansa flights.

What are Quick Boarding turnstiles on Lufthansa?

The Quick Boarding turnstiles that Lufthansa uses for boarding at some airports allow each passenger to scan their own boarding pass at the gate. Once verification is complete, the turnstile gate will open, allowing the passenger to board the aircraft. The process speeds boarding because there can be multiple Quick Boarding turnstiles operating at the same time.

How does Lufthansa facial recognition work?

Lufthansa has implemented biometric facial recognition gates at some U.S. airports. Cameras in these gates scan your face as you approach. The data is then compared with U.S. Customs and Border Protection databases. Once approved, you are allowed to board the plane. No boarding pass or ID is needed at facial recognition gates.

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About Jeff Brownson

Since discovering miles and points in 2010, Jeff has traveled to over 35 countries, flying in first class, business class, and sometimes even in coach. Whether he’s staying in a hostel dorm, or in a luxury suite at a 5 star hotel, Jeff is constantly looking for the best deal to make travel as close to free as possible.

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