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Lufthansa offers iPhone loser free flight for German pub crawl

The Local · 23 Apr 2010, 10:34

Published: 23 Apr 2010 10:34 GMT+02:00

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In an opportunistic marketing gambit, Germany’s biggest airline has offered Powell a free business class trip to Munich to “pick up where (he) last left off” by hitting the southern city’s famous beer halls and gardens.

In an open letter posted on Twitter, Nicola C. Lange, the airline’s director of marketing and customer relations for the Americas, suggested Powell he might need a break after the flurry of worldwide infamy he has earned from losing the next-generation iPhone.

Powell, a software engineer at Apple’s headquarters, lost his cutting-edge prototype in March. He’d been given the device to field test, but after celebrating his 27th birthday at the Gourmet Haus Staudt German pub in California, he left the phone on a bar stool.

It was picked up by another patron and found its way into the hands of internet technology magazine Gizmodo, which reported on its every detail – making a mockery of Apple’s tight product security.

“We all know how frustrating it can be to lose personal belongings, especially when it is such a unique item,” Lange wrote in the open letter.

“At Lufthansa we also noted with great interest your passion for German beer and culture. We thought you could use a break soon – and therefore would like to offer you complimentary business class transportation to Munich, where you can literally pick up where you last left off.

“Upon arrival in Munich, feel free to check out our new Bavarian Beer Garden Business Lounge, and experience the best that Germany has to offer.”

A spokesman for the airline in the US, Martin Riecken, confirmed the authenticity of the letter to The Local, but said they had so far had no response from Powell.

Story continues below…

He said the airline was careful in its letter not to make fun of Powell's predicament but added the offer had been made ''with a twinkle in the eye.''

Lufthansa’s publicity strategy may have something to do with its upcoming plan to relaunch broadband access on its trans-Atlantic flights.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:23 April 23, 2010 by Kayak
I couldn't care less what these overpaid and underworked mareting people do. You'll never catch me getting involved with such a publicity stunt. - D'oh!

11:25 April 23, 2010 by chimpansi
Smart move :)
15:47 April 23, 2010 by SpitfireMkIX
What an extravagant waste of company funds! Last year, I booked flights to take my mother, father and sister to Nuremberg to visit the Christmas Market. The day before we were due to fly, my father was taken ill, so we had to cancel the holiday and the flights. Lufthansa took FIVE MONTHS to refund our tickets, not to mention countless phone calls, contradictory instructions on how to obtain a refund, and a total lack of customer service. It says a lot about Lufthansa that it took them just a few minutes to take our money, but nearly half a year to give it back. Not surprising, when they're squandering their profits on expensive PR stunts instead of investing in good customer service.
20:58 April 23, 2010 by wood artist
Spitfire, I think you completely missed it here.

First, I'm sorry you had a negative experience. I have always found Lufthansa to be very good, and the service in-flight is outstanding. Of course, I must confess that my frame of reference is US carriers, so almost anybody would look good by comparison with that.

As far as wasting money? This took somebody a few minutes to create the letter, and it was posted electronically, so the cost was virtually nill. It's great publicity for them, since it's tied to an event that has drawn attention worldwide. I think it's safe to say they are hardly "squandering profits" by simply writing the letter.

Also, if you've noticed, there haven't been any profits for a while, largely due to the general economic conditions, not to mention the minor little problem with a volcano that popped up last week. During that little debacle, I was very happy that Lufthansa was able to help me reschedule around the cancellations. It was quite nice to have that friendly voice on the phone and all the helpful suggestions coming from somebody I know was just buried in calls and complaints. Nice work, Dan.

07:19 April 24, 2010 by vonSchwerin

"He said the airline was careful in it's letter not to make fun of Powell's predicament but added the offer had been made ''with a twinkle in the eye.''

The word "it's" = "it is." "It's" is not a possessive. You should have written "its."
01:44 April 25, 2010 by SpitfireMkIX
wood artist, I think you completely missed it, actually.

I said nothing about Lufthansa's in-flight service (I didn't even fly!), so I'm curious as to why you brought that up (trying to get in some positive spin, perhaps?) I was talking about Lufthansa's total lack of customer service when I was trying to obtain a refund, and the 5 month ordeal they put me through just to get back the money I was entitled to receive for cancelling my tickets.

As for wasting money? Read the news story again. They're not simply writing a letter. They're offering the guy a free business class flight from the USA to Munich!! So if he accepts the offer, what's the cost of that? Thousands of dollars, especially if the flight were to be from the US east coast (likely, as Powell works for Apple and, according to the story, he celebrated his birthday in California).

As an example, a quick check on Lufthansa's USA website for a return business flight from Los Angeles to Munich in May showed prices starting at just over $8,000.

There would be other costs, too. I used to work for a publicity/PR company, and since then have hired such companies my own business -- so I know how these things work. This idea was suggested to Lufthansa's marketing dept. by a PR agency -- a Google search reveals the agency to be Profero -- and big international PR agencies don't come cheap! They will likely be charging Lufthansa for coming up with the idea, writing the press release for publications such as this website to use, monitoring the news coverage -- and, if Powell accepts the offer, there could be further costs to produce follow up press releases and other activities to publicise the story, perhaps even commissioning photographs of the guy using their services. It all adds up. The costs of the business class flight and the PR agency have to be budgeted for by Lufthansa, and these costs come off their bottom line.

Yes, I'm aware of the drop in profits many airlines have suffered, and how this situation has been exacerbated by the recent volcanic ash problem. At a time of a crisis in the airline industry, this is all the more reason for Lufthansa to invest their profits in better customer service procedures and training in ALL of their customer-facing departments, instead of squandering money on PR stunts.

wood artist, do you work for Profero, by any chance? (and no I don't expect you to admit it if you do)
21:53 April 25, 2010 by OMFG
@ Spitfire - It probably took Lufthansa much less time to write that public letter, than it took you to write your lengthy posts here. You have too much time, Spitfire!

And by the way, Los Angeles, CA, is US west coast, not east coast... ("Thousands of dollars, especially if the flight were to be from the US east coast (likely, as Powell works for Apple and, according to the story, he celebrated his birthday in California)"
03:35 April 26, 2010 by wetdawg~
I am sorry I lost the iphone and the trust of my employer. I shant do it again. Thank you for your generous offer. Please send my 'round trip tickets to the following address, #$@^&*$!!!

Warmest regards,

Mr. Powell
23:18 April 26, 2010 by SpitfireMkIX
@ OMFG - well spotted! I meant to say west, as of course that's further from Germany than the East coast, hence the high big ticket price.

I'm quite fast at typing, and those posts only took around 10 minutes each. I must have been typing so fast I got my east and west mixed up! ;)
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