Revealed: Lufthansa’s second-gen premium economy seat
Lufthansa’s new premium economy seat is big on privacy and increased personal space.
Lufthansa promises its next-gen premium economy seat will be much more 'premium' than 'economy', with added focus on both privacy and personal space for the traveller.
The Star Alliance member has settled on a model from Germany's ZIM Aircraft Seating with a shell-like design and wrap-around 'wings' on either side of the headrest.
Travellers on Swiss premium economy will be the first to see and experience this seat, which will begin to appear on the airline's Boeing 777 and Airbus A340 jets by March, followed by nine of Swiss' regional A330s and 19 Lufthansa's Boing 747-8 flagships – with different trim and finishing to reflect each airline's own colour schemes and branding.
The seat will also make its way onto Lufthansa's future deliveries of the Boeing 787-9, Airbus A350 and eventually the much-delayed Boeing 777-9.
For comparison, here is Lufthansa's first premium economy seat, introduced in October 2014 and also developed by Zim (with styling from Müller/Romca Industrial Design).
One of the most significant changes is that Lufthansa's new premium economy seat is housed in its own fixed ‘shell’ and reclines within that housing rather than leaning back to encroach on the space available to the passenger behind.
This cradle-style recline can play havoc with your lower back if there’s insufficient lumbar support, although stuffing a pillow behind you is a quick but short-term fix – it remains to be seen how well Zim’s designers and engineers have done their job to ensure passenger comfort on those long international flights.
The new seats boast a large 15.6" video screen, with USB-C and wireless charging plus a Bluetooth audio feed to the passenger's own headphones listed as optional – and it'll certainly be interesting to see if Lufthansa has ticked those high-tech boxes.
Other creature comforts include a dedicated storage nook for airline-supplied headphones, personal reading lights and a shared cocktail table.
Notably, this seat is the same design Lufthansa teased in its 2019 Capital Markets Day, which at the time was slated to launch from late 2020 on Lufthansa's delayed Boeing 777-9 jets as well as the Swiss Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A340-300 fleets.
While the impact of Covid has pushed the overall rollout back, and the arrival date of the Boeing 777-9 is still to be locked in, Lufthansa still plans to standardise on this seat for a consistent cabin experience across the fleets of its siblings Swiss, Austrian and Brussels Airlines.
Up next: a new Lufthansa first class for the A350
As previously reported, Lufthansa plans to follow the 2022 launch of its latest premium economy seat with an all-new first class offering on board the Airbus A350 from 2023.
The Star Alliance member has confirmed its first Airbus A350-900 offering first class "will join the fleet and take off from Munich... in late summer 2023".
Ten A350-900s with first class are expected to be based in Munich, and will complement the Boeing 777-9s which will make Frankfurt their home.
However, the German flag-carrier is expected to take a measured approach when it comes to the post-pandemic travel market.
The new first class suites are believed to be limited to the first row of the A350's cabin – and given that the A350s will sport Lufthansa's fresh business class created by Thompson Aero, it's likely the airline could adopt a more bespoke 'front row' experience which is something Thompson and its partner Factorydesign have been steadfast in promoting.
This transforms the normal attributes of the front row in a cabin – where business class seats facing the bulkhead wall already tend to have extra legroom – into a superior set of seats with more personal space plus sliding privacy doors.
It's the approach adopted by China Eastern for the 'Air Living Room' of its Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 fleet...
... and, in a more radical fashion, on Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350, which has its own row 1 cabin – although this was subsequently rebranded from first class to 'business suites' in December 2018.
Lufthansa has previously floated the idea of a 'business class plus' row along those same lines, offering even more comfort and privacy, paired with upgraded meals, drinks and service.