Two years after Lufthansa stunned visitors to ITB travel show in Berlin with the unveiling of its all-new business seat, the airline has done it again, with the premiere of an all-new class for the German carrier: premium economy. Indeed the new class for long-haul routes has been developed partly as a result of the new business class, as the airline felt that the improved product really widened the gap between its economy and business classes. This reveal marks the first introduction of a completely new travel class by the airline for 35 years.
The seat design – created in partnership with müller/romca Industrial Design in Kiel – was developed taking into account the results of extensive passenger surveys and workshops with sales partners. The theme of German engineering continues with the choice of ZIM Flugsitz as the seat manufacturer, and Lufthansa intends to install 3,600 of the new seats on all 106 of its long-haul aircraft in just one year – between 21 and 52 seats in each, depending on the aircraft type.
The premium seats offer up to 3cm more seat width than standard economy, greater privacy, and approximately 10cm more room at the sides thanks to each seat having its own wide armrest and a centre console between the seats. The backrest can be reclined further than the economy version, the seat pitch is a spacious 38in, and the headrests can be set to the exact height desired and folded at the sides for added comfort and support. Height-adjustable footrests from the second row back and – for technical reasons – leg supports with an integrated footrest in the first row provide extra comfort. The touchscreen IFE display is 11 to 12in (at least 2in bigger than in economy). Practical features around the seats such as a bottle holder, electrical socket and lots of storage space for passengers’ belongings also help to enhance comfort. Additional soft elements include a welcome drink, a high-quality amenity kit with practical travel accessories, and upgraded meals served on porcelain tableware.
Additional services for premium economy passengers include a two-item baggage allowance (up to 23kg each, twice as much as in economy class) and the option of using the Lufthansa Business Lounges for an additional 25 Euros. Lounges were previously only open to status customers and are otherwise unavailable on a paying basis. Check-in and boarding procedures as well as hand luggage regulations are the same as in economy class.
“Our premium economy class will create a completely new travel experience that combines affordability with greater comfort. The seats offer up to 50% more room than economy class and will position us in a premium segment within the international competitive environment,” said Jens Bischof, CCO & Member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board in charge of sales, product and marketing, during the Berlin unveiling. “We expect to see more than 1.5 million passengers per year in our new Premium Economy Class,” he added.
The new travel class can be booked from May onwards and will be available from November 2014, initially on the Boeing 747-8i. The new seats will gradually be fitted on the entire long-haul fleet within 12 months. Expect a return flight across the North Atlantic or to Asia to cost around 600 Euros more than a standard economy ticket.