We’ve been an advocate of high-quality Air-Rail links and tie-ups between airlines and rail systems at Economy Class and Beyond. It seems there’s been a big agreement signed between United Airlines, Lufthansa Group and Deutsche Bahn to advance these links in Germany.
The new arrangement will allow United customers travelling between Germany and the United States via Frankfurt Airport to book integrated rail and air journeys with just one single transaction, one combined fare and one single ticket.
Customers will be able to connect between 25 cities in Germany, as well as Basel, Switzerland, and United’s hubs at New York/Newark, Chicago, Washington, Houston, Denver and San Francisco and beyond to destinations across the Americas.
The destinations are:
- ZWS – Stuttgart HBF
- QUL – Ulm
- ZMU – Munich HBF
- KJR – Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden
- QFB – Freiburg
- QWU – Wuerzburg
- ZAQ – Nuremberg
- QDU – Duesseldorf HBF
- QKL – Cologne/Bonn, Cologne HBF
- XHJ – Aachen HBF
- DTZ – Dortmund HBF
- MKF – Muenster
- ZPE – Osnabrueck
- DHC – Bremen
- KWQ – Kassel Wilhelmshoehe
- ZEU – Goettingen
- QPP – Berlin HBF
- ZVR – Hannover HBF
- ZMB – Hamburg HBF
- XIU – Erfurt
- XIT – Leipzig HBF
- XIR – Dresden
- MHJ – Mannheim
- ZPY – Siegburg/Bonn
- AGY – Augsburg
- ZBA – Basel
- ZQU – Wolfsburg (from December 2023)
The collaboration builds upon Star Alliance’s Intermodal Partnership model, launched in July 2022, that intelligently combines airline with railway, bus, ferry or any other transport ecosystem, alliance-wide. It is designed to link loyalty systems and facilitate convenient airport/station/port transit.
Customer benefits include the possibility to receive boarding passes for both rail and air sectors when checking in, priority baggage handling and other services in the AiRail check-in area at Frankfurt Airport, as well as the ability for United MileagePlus customers to collect miles for rail journeys taken as part of a combined rail/air ticket.
Also included is transfer and connection protection in the event of delays and breakdowns. Eligible customers can enjoy access to Deutsche Bahn lounges as well.
Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President, Global Network Planning and Alliances at United Airlines said:
“We are excited to announce our new partnership with Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn,”
“This new collaboration will offer our customers even greater travel choice and flexibility, allowing convenient connections between 25 cities across Germany and the United States with just one convenient transfer at Frankfurt Airport, all on a single ticket.”
Stefan Kreuzpaintner, Senior Vice President Network, Alliances & Partnerships, Deutsche Lufthansa AG added:
“Connecting amazing places on both sides of the Atlantic has never been so easy,”
“Together with our partners, we have consistently expanded our intermodal services in recent years in many European countries. In Germany, Lufthansa offers a rail alternative to every domestic feeder flight to Frankfurt. This new partnership is another milestone in the successful Lufthansa Express Rail programme. It offers travellers to and from the USA a convenient, comfortable journey – a real premium product.”
Hans Joachim Luhm, Vice President Pricing, Revenue- and Partner-Management, DB Fernverkehr AG said:
“We are very pleased to announce a cooperation with United Airlines through our Express Rail agreement,”
This agreement between United Airlines, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn offers our joint customers an easy and flexible journey with air and train – seamless with just one ticket – for example from Chicago to Stuttgart.”
Renato Ramos, Vice President of Corporate Strategy, Star Alliance concluded:
“We are thrilled to see our innovative Intermodal Partnership Model extend to a significant member of Star Alliance – United Airlines,”
“Initiatives like these foster greater collaboration among modes of transport, providing enhanced convenience and flexibility for customers. This marks another step towards a seamlessly integrated travel ecosystem, aligning with our collective vision for the Alliance.”
This is a big step up
Make no mistake – this is a big expansion of the Air-Rail Service, allowing for modal shifts from Frankfurt to destinations in Germany and beyond without the need of booking another ticket, and knowing your onward connection is protected.
It cuts down domestic flying – something which is climbing in the German travel agenda, saving those Co2 outputs on electric traction, rather than in the turbine of a jet.
In addition, there’s milage plus points in too – which will sweeten the deal for those travellers who are avid point collectors.
And yes, I’d love to see more multi-national services like this harnessing a train service in the heart of a town or city, allowing a passenger to go straight to an airport, and connect to a flight with ease – rather than having to fiddle with separate tickets, jumping a domestic flight or worse – driving.
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