Lufthansa is (finally) introducing a new business class product onboard its incoming Boeing 777X jets. But first class remains an open question and Lufthansa appears to be considering eliminating it altogether in favor of a “premium” business class product.
Aero Telegraph, a German aviation blog, reports that Lufthansa is considering skipping first class altogether on its 777 jets in favor of a premium business class cabin within the new business class cabin. These seats would not only be roomier, but also featured enhanced levels of service and other amenities.
A Lufthansa spokesperson confirmed the consideration of a premium business class, but stressed, “No final decisions have yet been made.”
This isn’t exactly breaking news. Last June, I reported that Harry Hohmeister Chief Commercial Officer of the Lufthansa Group, said:
“It’s not just one business class anymore. Within the [Boeing 777X] business class cabin, you can upgrade yourself to an even better product than just standard business class… it’s a real jump forward in terms of convenience, and in terms of product selection.”
Note in the picture above that the center throne seat is indeed more private than the other seats in the cabin. It will also feature a longer bed. In a sense, it absolutely a premium business class seat.
“The challenge for us, is how do we present this to the customer? This is what we are working on, because we do not want to sell just a standard business class. For example, having a 220cm bed (as an upsell) is of course a selling argument, especially for (taller) guys like me.”
We have to make clear in the market that we are not disrupting the (existing business class) product, but developing it to a better quality standard … to give the customer the best selection for themselves in terms of individualization.”
And at the time, I argued that makes sense considering it is an objectively better seat.
But I’m not sure how practical it will be to serve caviar to seat 5D while serving nuts to 5A and 5L. In fact, I’m quite skeptical that could be pulled off in a cabin in which the “premium” seats are mixed in with the “normal” business class seats.
> Read More: Lufthansa Business Class Seat Assignment Charges Make Sense
Lufthansa (Likely) Won’t Ditch First Class
Of course plans can change, but I simply don’t think Lufthansa is going to abandon first class–on the 777x or in general.
Lufthansa has already announced its first batch of 777x will not have a first class cabin: this is not a surprise. But we also know that a new first class suite is under development.
Last fall, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said:
“First class is developing better than we’d imagined three or four years back. We’re looking at routes where it makes sense, where we have the customers who want it…
“In general, we want to keep the share of first class-equipped aircraft in Lufthansa’s long-haul fleet at the current 50 percent.”
Even more direct, Hohmesiter said:
“When we talk to our really top premium customers, our HON Circle members, most of them really prefer to travel in first class on long-haul flights. So, for us as an airline, it’s simply not an option to have no first class.”
Thus, I think we can say that whatever sort of “premium” business class will be introduced, it will not replace first class.
Perhaps we will see a premium business class offered on routes between the U.S. East Coast and Germany, for example, that are relatively short. Hohmesiter again offered a dual path forward.
“You don’t need all the tool set like having a bed and a separate seat on all the routes: if you have a quick flight from Europe to Boston you might not need that, but if you have a long flight to the Far East, then of course there’s a purpose to present something like that. This is exactly what we have to work on.”
I’m not betting that Lufthansa will replace first class with “premium” business class. But I do think Lufthansa will charge a premium for those larger throne seats on its 777x.
But as long as Hohmesiter and Lufthansa still see first class as a powerful brand marker, I do not expect it to go anywhere:
“First class is also more than just selling a seat, it’s about brand positioning, about product positioning, and it also has a pull effect in terms of customers and reputation. We are presenting ourselves as a flight carrier on the premium side, and I think in the premium segment, you have to either do it right or you don’t do it at all!”
> Read More: The Future Of First Class On Lufthansa
> Read More: Lufthansa Affirms Commitment To First Class, Hints At Private Suite
Maybe they should actually offer a competitive Business Class product first! I can just imagine the marketing meeting…we need to upgrade our business class because it sucks in comparison to other airlines….Swiss has gotten away with either charging extra for their throne seat or giving it to elites so let’s try to upsell ours as well…and since we are a Skytrax 5 star airline (for which we paid dearly to get) we might as well market it as “premium business class!” What will they think of next?
I agree. Lufthansa keeps installing outdated business-class products on new aircraft. They put angled seats on the A380 even after other airlines started flying with fully-flat beds with direct aisle access. And even now they don’t have a single aircraft with 100% direct aisle access in business class.
A reason first class is so important right now could also be the fact that their current business class product is terrible. When the new business class product rolls out, it may not be so important anymore.
I flew Luthansa’s current business class product once; never considered using them again afterwards.
It’s more likely because the hon members can’t bear to be in the same class as those plebs in business.
Different meal / drinks in the same cabin makes me less likely to want to fly them either way
Having a larger seat available for an extra price – that makes good sense and frankly is what people pay for
What they should really do for that seat upcharge is add first class lounge access and handling – that’s value add and really easy to execute
Plus there is the question of the first class terminal. They would not want to make that one redundant.
The First Class Terminal has always been considered more of an HON terminal in LH’s mind than anything else. I’m sure most of the people that use it are HON anyways, regardless of whether they are flying F. LH would just change it to an HON terminal and it would probably still be used almost as much as it is now.
How do I sign up for Matthew blog. I lust after LH First on 747-400 but all my miles are on Alaska which is on mileage plan with BA. Also looking for first flight on Boeing Dreamliner. I live in Seattle. Best flight ever was YVR to HKG a few years ago in the last of their 747s. Seated in 1A and 1B 19 feet apart with attendants with caviar in between. Didn’t want it to end