It’s no secret that Lufthansa Group is seeking to disrupt the premium cabin space by unbundling its forthcoming new business class product, in turn giving customers the option to pay extra for certain seat types like those offering a longer bed or more privacy.
But when the first aircraft with the new interior is pressed into revenue service — following delivery of new Boeing 787-9 twinjets to Lufthansa — the carrier will ensure that its “Classic Seat” is priced as baseline business, reveals senior director customer experience design Kai Peters, the seat designer for Allegris, which is Lufthansa-mainline’s internal brand for this Lufthansa Group-wide generation of longhaul cabins.
One of seven different kinds of seats within the new business class family, the Classic Seat includes the aisle-adjacent seat of the outboard sections, and the aisle-adjacent seats in the centre (but not the Extra Long Bed versions).
Confirming that these four configurations are “yes” baseline, Peters told RGN at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, “[We] have a standard seat with all the features every seat has, which is a Classic aisle seat. And then you have the seats which you choose, like you choose a seat today” in economy class with a seat reservation. “And seat reservations these days also sometimes have the price or not, depending on the booking class.”
These particular Allegris business seats, he continued — whether the Business Suite, which are the front-row business plus seats; the Extra Space Seat, better known as the “throne”; or the Extra Long Bed — “have a seat reservation on top of the normal business class fare”.
“So, we don’t put new fares out there. We don’t have a new fare concept,” stressed Peters. “And I think that’s very important to understand because many customers ask us, ‘so does that mean business class gets now more expensive?’ No.” And, if a passenger opts not to pay more than the baseline price for a Classic seat but finds on check-in that an extra-amenity seat is available, they’ll “get them anyhow”.
This strategy makes rational sense given that Lufthansa’s current widebody fleet features a legacy seat relatively akin to the Classic Seats product, and indeed given that the rollout of this new longhaul cabin will take years. Because, in addition to taking new jets with the new interior starting this year, Peters confided that aircraft retrofits for Lufthansa-mainline and sister Swiss likely won’t be finished until 2026.
Importantly, this strategy also ensures that passengers ask themselves what they really want. Is privacy important for me? Do I like an open layout? Do I want to be enclosed? Do I need a door?
It takes all kinds to make a world, as the saying goes, and we all have different preferences. A claustrophobic passenger might eschew a doored Business Suite, for instance, whilst partners flying together might want the get-closer space provided by the Double Seat, that is the pair of seats at the back of the cabin that are slightly broader at the shoulder and with less apparatus between the two passengers, but not a full double bed.
Frequent flyers, no doubt, will gain a preference over time and, noted Peters, “your frequent flyers are going to be like ‘that’s my seat!'”
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All images credited to Lufthansa