Lufthansa creates exclusive atmosphere in new Premium Economy

Rotation

Wednesday, 8 October 2014, was a day of firsts for Star Alliance member and German flagship carrier Lufthansa. Departing gate Z52 at Frankfurt Airport and bound for Washington Dulles was the maiden voyage of ‘Schleswig-Holstein’, the carrier’s newest Boeing 747-8I aircraft.

That however, was not the day’s biggest news: for within that gleaming new 747-8 was the first installation of Lufthansa’s new Premium Economy cabin.

International press joined some of the airline’s top executives to fill the 32-seat cabin separated by full dividers and a set of lavatories from Business Class (in front) and smaller, ceiling hung fabric partitions from economy to the rear.

Lufthansa Premium 5

Similar to other ‘premium’ full service airlines, Lufthansa’s new product is a truly dedicated Premium Economy offering, not simply an extra legroom seat. “From Lufthansa, people always expect a lot…and we are not the first,” explained Annette Mann, director of premium economy launch management at Lufthansa. “So when you come late, and there’s a lot expected, and you come with a simple eco-plus product, this does not really fit. We would get really bad press for that.”

Journalists were permitted on board the Schleswig-Holstein prior to regular boarding for an opportunity to inspect the product. In a flurry of flashbulbs, reporters thoroughly poked and prodded the specially-modified Zim Flugsitz-made seats, wiggled and pulled the brushed platinum-finish coat hooks and leg-rests and located and occupied various ports and plugs at every seat for headsets and electronic device integration or charging.

Lufthansa Premium 2

Aside from allowance for a second checked bag, a Premium Economy ticket entitles the holder to Lufthansa Business Class Lounge access for an additional $25, and priority boarding. Service begins pre-takeoff with refreshment in the form of mint-infused orange juice, proffered in a stemmed plastic glass. A bottle of water is also provided to each guest – a move that wins points from even the crankiest flyer.

Lufthansa Premium 8

Subsequent meals (hot lunch and cold second service) were served upon china tableware, with a serviette made of a rich, non-woven textile and real metal cutlery – plus glass for beverages. The content of first-service (larger) meals on Premium Economy will basically mirror the main cabin offering, however a menu is supplied and small upgrades will be incorporated. For example, our side salad was garnished with fresh prawns. Another small, but noticeable add-on was an after-dinner drink service of Baileys or Cognac.

Hot towels are a nice touch as well. Second-service meals in premium economy are served on a half-tray with china and metal cutlery, while economy passengers receive some variety of a boxed snack. We had a fresh Brötchen (little bun) with several cheeses, butter and sliced meat with a fruit salad and drink.

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This reporter was seated in seat 25A (window), found in the last of four Premium Economy rows. I discovered that this seat, at a still-comfortable width of 18”, was actually one inch narrower than those in the three rows ahead of me. According to Dorothea von Boxberg, director of passenger experience and design for business and premium, this is the airline’s solution to a trolley navigation issue stemming from the abrupt 2-4-2 to 3-4-3 configuration switch and aisle curve encountered when moving between Premium Economy and regular economy cabins. The final premium row also has a 20” backrest where the other rows boast 21”.

At just less than 5-foot-4, I represent the smaller end of the passenger demographic. With the seat in an upright position I could not quite reach the metal footrest which extends down from the seat in front. When fully reclined (8” compared to economy class’s 6”) I found it to be perfect. My 6-foot neighbor was comfortable as well. Seat pitch in the Premium Economy cabin is 38”, which many will agree is enough to ensure a degree of comfort to even the most vertically-gifted passenger. The centre console between seats is probably the most profound source of space and relief; your shoulder and arm will likely not come into contact with your neighbor… unless you want it too.

Lufthansa Premium 3

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LSG’s amenities subsidiary Spiriant arranged a collaboration between Lufthansa and Germanmade, a design firm specializing in electronic bags and sleeves, for the creation of the amenity bags.

Overall, Lufthansa’s goal of creating a truly independent product, positioned directly between economy and business, has been achieved. Passengers will ultimately decide whether additional space, intuitive storage compartments for the modern traveller, fine detailing like stitched-leather and sleek organic seat fabric, a distinctive color scheme, and all the other perks and service enhancements that create an exclusive atmosphere, are deserving of this Premium Economy product’s projected price point (Lufthansa says this is €600 above standard economy fare as a rule of thumb but can, if you’re savvy, be had for less).

Every three days between now and December, a new 747-8 will leave Lufthansa’s Frankfurt hanger with the new Premium Economy class. Until the full Boeing long-haul family (19 birds) has been reconfigured, the existing seats will be offered on a flight-by-flight basis as a paid upgrade or as a compliment to awards program members, frequent fliers and travel agencies known to book high-yield clientele.

Lufthansa Premium 7

Journalist Maryann Simson puts Lufthansa’s Premium Economy seat to the test

 

6 Comments

  1. Jeff

    So hope the UA award miles can be used to upgrade to other Star Alliance premium economy products (DLH, SIA and ANZ)

  2. Todd Richardson

    Seems like a good product, but at roughly double the regular fare minimum it is still geared to the well healed. It would be nice to see in addition to exit row extra leg options some wider seats scattered in regular economy, for example taking advantage of the taper at the rear of the cabin better. This could also be a place for innovation for child seats and such. Still the name of the game in the back is standardization and lowest cost, but a cheap traveler can dream 🙂

  3. Raj Balasubramanian

    March 12, 2015
    Just flew round trip LAX-FRA-BLR in Lufthansa Premium Economy.

    Awesome experience–definitely worth the extra $500 we paid over Economy.

    Almost no jet lag when we got to India, so we were able to get a lot done that 1st day.

    Return flight BLR-FRA was regular 744 without PE, but Lufthansa upgraded us to Business Class FOR FREE!!!

    Though it was old LH J class with angled flatbeds, my mother slept soundly & awoke fully refreshed for breakfast.

    Our PE Asian Veg meals were excellent, even if they might have been the same as Y class. For our J meals, we got larger portions, extra courses, and a choice of naan + paratha + Western breads, all created by a 5-star chef team–along with linen hot towels, tablecloths, napkins.

    In J, we got a variety of welcome drinks, including sparkling wine, but the orange mango juice offered in PE from LAX was unbeatable and the orange juice with mint pulp from FRA was neat.

    Certainly PE is awkwardly sandwiched between 2 Y cabins on some LH 747-8Is (SeatGuru version 4), like the ones on 3 of our 4 sectors.

    PE passengers had to compete with Y pax for 2 nearby bathrooms because there was no truly separate PE cabin, but Y pax did not try to steal amenity kits, nor try to bum rush their way into empty PE seats on FRA-BLR–and there were zero PE seats left between LAX + FRA due to inflight upgrade sales.

    LH can easily remedy this by simply expanding PE into the misplaced front Y cabin and by installing curtains at the rear of the current PE space. Demand will be heavy no doubt for these extra PE seats.

    LH must also provide priority check-in and boarding for PE pax, though we improvised by making our own PE queue at LAX and taking advantage of senior-citizen preboarding in FRA.

    Overall, flying LH PE between LAX and BLR is, for us, an obvious must-do. No other airline offers PE on all sectors for our journey. And we want an affordable PE class, with an emphasis on both “premium” and “economy “–not a pricey “Business Lite” option. extra PE seats.

    LH must also provide priority check-in and boarding for PE pax, though we improvised by making our own PE queue at LAX and taking advantage of senior-citizen preboarding in FRA.

    Overall, flying LH PE between LAX and BLR is, for us, an obvious must-do. No other airline offers PE on all sectors for our journey. And we want an affordable PE class, with an emphasis on both “premium” and “economy “–not a pricey “Business Lite” option.

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  5. Patrick Leahy

    I’m getting a bit pissed off on luftansa flights with the constant reminder of the several layers of purchased privilege. I fly economy on luftansa a lot. We customers who are packed in like sardines would like to remind luftansa that without us there would be no long haul flights. A bit of respect and extra leg room please.