GERMANY. Lufthansa is offering passengers the chance to do their grocery shopping onboard in a pilot programme.

The airline noted that travellers often return home from a trip to find their refrigerator empty – and said the service would alleviate this stress.

Simple and convenient: The shopping orders can be made using the free onboard Lufthansa FlyNet internet portal

Passengers can use the free onboard Lufthansa FlyNet internet portal on long-haul aircraft to order their shopping. It will then be delivered to their home by German supermarket chain REWE, which has partnered with Lufthansa for the programme.

A desired date for delivery can be selected during the ordering process, and the groceries will be sent in a chilled box directly to the required address.

Lufthansa said the pilot service, part of the airline’s digital strategy, aimed to make passengers’ journeys more comfortable, and would also be a good use of time during the flight.

The pilot project will run for three months from 1 October. The service will be tested on all long-haul routes from Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf in the first six weeks. For a period of six weeks after that, customers can try out the service on all long-haul routes to Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf. Deliveries are only available in Germany.

Expert comment

Portland Design Managing Director Ibrahim Ibrahim said the service represented a “shift in shopper ownership from the travel retail operator to the airline and their partner brands”. Even more importantly, “they therefore own the data”.

Ibrahim told The Moodie Davitt Report: “The airline is aligning itself with another brand, delivering a co-branded experience.  Opening the door to the perception that shopping onboard is a new activity, which may in the future become more experiential.

Ibrahim Ibrahim: “The opportunity for brands is to deliver seamless customer engagement from airport in-store to aircraft in-seat”

“It responds to the key demand from customers for hyper convenient, frictionless shopping which is an anathema for most travel retail operators with the queues and snaky walkways and forced impulse shopping.

“It’s purely a functional pre-planned ‘locate’ shopping mission. In order for airport retailers to survive in this new shopping paradigm, they will have to deliver more experiential, event-driven shopping in the airport or indeed the airport customer experience may in the future be less about shopping and more about entertainment, wellbeing experiences and media platforms.

“So the opportunity for brands is to deliver seamless customer engagement from airport in-store to aircraft in-seat.

“Grocery today – tomorrow everything else?”

Live entertainment

Lufthansa said it would continue to introduce pilot projects to test what customers want. One new initiative being implemented is the airline’s FlyingLab programme, which presents a series of digital-focused live event streams onboard flights.

Offering a new form of inflight entertainment, passengers can listen live to guest speakers from their seats using headphones and a Wi-Fi-enabled mobile device. Thy can also send in questions, which the speaker will aim to answer.

Last month, the airline partnered with Dmexco (Digital Marketing Exposition & Conference) to offer travellers on flight LH405 between New York and Frankfurt the chance to hear five conference speakers onboard, covering a range of digital themes. Irrespective of booking class, passengers could view the live streams of the presentations. They also had the chance to get to know other conference participants at a ‘Meet & Greet’ session at the gate at John F. Kennedy International Airport or during the flight, ahead of the Dmexco event.

The FlyingLab live events are free, and do not require the aircraft to be reconfigured.