Skift Take

Lufthansa's large-scale rollout of Premium Economy at a price point that's not prohibitively expensive bodes well for flyers who can afford more than coach but not quite business class.

Yesterday Lufthansa took the opportunity at the ITB Berlin travel conference to reveal what Premium Economy class will soon be like for its long-haul fleet.

“The installation of 3,600 [Premium Economy] seats on all 106 of our long-haul aircraft in just one year will mean another step towards becoming a five-star airline,” said Jens Bischof, CCO and Member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board in Charge of Sales, Product and Marketing, during the airline’s reveal of their new Premium Economy Service at the ITB 2014 in Berlin.

Lufthansa is doing everything required to earn those five stars. This new Premium Economy is only one in a series of recent passenger experience enhancements to their cabins, which include improvements to its First Class and Business Class products.

Lufthansa boasts their new Premium Economy seating will be 50% roomier than existing Economy Class seats, and affordable, too. “Tickets in the new Premium Economy Class will be closer to Economy Class than Business Class — a return flight across the North Atlantic or to Asia will cost an additional EUR 600 on average,” Lufthansa indicates.

They’ve hit the mark on market trends and passenger preferences. Fears over the crowded seating trend worsening on new aircraft configurations are somewhat abated by this news.

The new Lufthansa Premium Seats, designed in collaboration with müller/romca Industrial Design in Kiel, and manufactured by ZIM Flugsitz, Markdorf, will be up to 3 cm (1.18″) wider than standard economy seating, but provide up to 10 cm (3.93″) more room at the sides.

Each seat will have its own wide armrest with a center console to ensure privacy and separation. All seats are equipped with electrical sockets, a must for iPad and laptop-loving passengers. They will also include bottle holders and extra space for storage.

Passengers will also appreciate the extra leg-room. Seat pitch is 97 cm (38″). The back rest has ample recline, and since seat trays are stored in that spacious gap between the seats, no one will have to contend with a reclined passenger in front of them making it impossible to work on a laptop. Both headrests and footrests can be adjusted for height.

Premium Economy passengers will enjoy other perks, including a welcome drink, a complimentary water bottle, even an amenity kit stuffed with useful travel goodies. They will also enjoy dining from a dedicated menu served on porcelain tableware. Extensive content will feature on the 28 cm to 30 cm (11″ to 12″) touchscreen IFE equipment.

Chris Nurko, Global Chairman of FutureBrand, has listed privacy and separation as top requirements for the entrepreneurial passenger who will soon dominate the market. Though too price sensitive for full business class airfare, this passenger will pay extra for a quiet private place to work on the plane and sufficient personal space, Nurko predicts.

Lufthansa Premium Economy passengers can purchase Business Lounge access for EUR 25. Nurko suggests that unbundled “A-La-Carte” service options, like lounge access, are attractive to entrepreneurial passengers, and could become a good revenue source for airlines in future.

The new Premium Economy class will launch on Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8. Boeing has previously said seat width should be decided by airlines. This announcement is evidence that Boeing will support wider seats when an airline specifies them.

“We expect to see more than 1.5 million passengers per year on our new Premium Economy Class,” says Bischof. As this Premium Economy will also be attractive to a wide range of passengers who want extra comfort at an affordable price, these numbers could be easily met, then exceeded.

Those eager to experience the new Lufthansa Premium Economy can do so on select flights starting November 2014 (bookings start in May).

Marisa Garcia has worked in aviation since 1994, spending 16 years on the design and manufacturing of cabin interiors and cabin safety equipment. She shares insights gained from this experience on her Flight Chic blog.


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Tags: in-flight, lufthansa, ux

Photo credit: Lufthansa's new Premium Economy class. Lufthansa

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