Lufthansa is betting big with its 3 billion EUR upgrade plan, and the Premium Economy class of service where the company goes all in.
It's a nice offering in terms of seats: 50% roomier than Economy (3 centimeters wider, 10 cm on the side, and 97 cm of leg room), a true armrest separation between passengers, a better recline. The airline is touting "not more than one seat away from the aisle", which translates into both a 2-4-2 and 2-3-2 configuration
Here are some numbers to compare (in inches this time, so everybody's happy):
In addition, Premium will have a footrest. Anectodally, you'll also get a leg rest in the front row, but you'll have to sacrifice screen size, as it will be only 9" (as in Economy) compared to the rest of the Premium cabin with 12".
A welcome addition is power on every seat—as you have to carefully select your seat in Economy, only one in two allowing you to charge your devices up.
The service will also be enhanced, with double the luggage (twice 23kg), an amenity kit, better meals, a slightly bigger screen, more storage. And access to the Business Lounges.
Interestingly, LH is not cutting through its Business or First offering to add this new class of service in the 747-8. There will always be 8 First Class seats, 92 Business class ones (or 80 in the alternate model) , but the Economy cabin will downsize from 262 to 208 (from 298 to 244 respectively) gaining space for 32 Premium seats, in a 2-4-2 configuration.
On the A380-800, the front of the Main Deck will be reserved from 52 Premium seats in 2-4-2, sheding 84 Economy ones (I don't have seen the seating plans for the A340-600s yet—I guess I'll have to check personally when they start flying from MUC in early 2015).
It's a trade-off. And a risk.
With an expected 600 EUR premium over Economy and no less than 10% of its long-haul seat capacity (roughly 1.5 million PAX a year). Lufthansa is betting big.
Early booking numbers however show that customers are willing to try it out, at the company says they are "exceeding expectations".
If you're a Miles & More frequent flyer, you might be wondering about the upgrade system. During the first weeks, the company will offer free upgrades from Economy, but I'm not entirely sure how it will be organized later. I bet it will look like a system of "half-upgrades", from Economy to Premium to Business.
The new product will be first available in December on the new 747-8s and gradually be introduced on other long-haul aircrafts until the end of 2015.
The dedicated website is truly well-done, you can check all the routes directly, but also visit the cabin.
The best way to see it is to wait for the augmented reality app that Lufthansa is about to launch for iOS in which you can truly immerse yourself in the new cabin.
A little bit more can be a lot more, says the ad. Well, Lufthansa, you're truly doing more than a little here.