Transport Airlines

Lufthansa to sell cheaper first-class seats with restrictions

Mar 06, 2013 5:59 am

Skift Take

Discounted first-class seats? Now there’s a wrinkle. Lufthansa would rather get some revenue for them instead of giving them away in free upgrades.

— Dennis Schaal

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A Lufthansa A340-300 departs Lester B. Pearson Airport in Toronto. flickr.com


Deutsche Lufthansa AG will sell first-class seats at a discount to people willing to give up booking flexibility as the German carrier seeks to squeeze more revenue from its most exclusive product.

The so-called tourism first-class will have a minimum lead time for bookings and carry restrictions on cancellations and changes, Lufthansa board member Jens Bischof said at the ITB travel fair in Berlin today. The actual on-board experience will be the same as for full first-class, he said.

“The tourist offer is shaped in a totally different way from the business offer, but you can use it for holiday travel,” Bischof said.

The tourist version of a first-class flight to Bangkok from Frankfurt next week will sell for about 4,500 euros ($5,865), less than half the full fare, according to Lufthansa’s website. Europe’s second-biggest airline is splitting its offering to tap a wider group of travelers, with the introduction of a premium- economy class planned next year and the Germanwings subsidiary picking up travelers in non-hub cities throughout Germany.

Lufthansa said last month that it will reduce the proportion of long-haul planes with first-class seats to 75 percent, responding to waning demand for tickets that can command the price of a small car. The carrier currently has top- end cabins in more than 90 percent of its wide-body fleet.

New Routes

Under the first-class initiative announced today, a regular fare to New York will cost 8,499 euros, compared with 5,499 euros for the “budget” alternative. The reduced fare will be available to more than 40 long-haul destinations.

Restrictions include a minimum six-day stay on the U.S. east coast, or 10 days elsewhere, which can be canceled for a fee of 400 euros. Air miles will still accrue and other perks, such as the baggage allowance and a chauffeur, remain the same.

As part of the summer timetable, Lufthansa will add flights from Frankfurt to destinations including the Spanish holiday island of Ibiza and Antalya in Turkey, it said today. It will also add service from Munich to Vancouver, the island of Menorca, and the British cities of Cardiff and Glasgow.

Capacity will be “stable” compared with a year earlier.

–With assistance from Richard Weiss in Frankfurt. Editors: Benedikt Kammel, Chris Jasper.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Rothman in Berlin at aerothman@bloomberg.net

 To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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