Lufthansa to launch new first, business class in 2023

Ten Airbus A350s will be crowned by a fresh take on first class while Lufthansa’s all-new business class will finally take wing.

By David Flynn, March 4 2022
Lufthansa to launch new first, business class in 2023

Lufthansa will make a renewed play for premium travellers in 2023 with the launch of all-new first and business class suites, alongside the airline's improved second-generation premium economy seat.

All three products will share an increased focus on privacy and personal space.

Ten Airbus A350 jets will sport Lufthansa's new first class, with the airline previously stating these "will join the fleet and take off from Munich... in late summer 2023".

"Munich Airport is Europe's only 5-star hub for years and is popular among Lufthansa passengers... as a leading, premium airport offering an inspiring travel journey."

True first class, or ‘business plus’?

The new first class suites are believed to be limited to the first row of the A350's cabin, in which case there would be just four suites – which in turn means the airline could adopt a more bespoke 'front row' experience

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...

Big screens, big space: China Eastern's Airbus A350 'Air Living Room'.
Big screens, big space: China Eastern's Airbus A350 'Air Living Room'.

... 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'.

Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350 pioneered the 'front row first class' concept.
Malaysia Airlines' Airbus A350 pioneered the 'front row first class' concept.

Lufthansa has previously floated the idea of a 'business class plus' row along those same lines, offering even more comfort and privacy than other business class seats, paired with upgraded meals, drinks and service.

Lufthansa’s new business class

Also from 2023, those newly-delivered A350s and Boeing 787s will be the launchpad for Lufthansa's latest and long-overdue business class, first revealed in late 2017 and intended to debut on the Boeing 777-9 from 2020.

The middle 'throne' seats in Lufthansa's new business class cabin will be highly sought-after.
The middle 'throne' seats in Lufthansa's new business class cabin will be highly sought-after.

However, ongoing delays to the Boeing 777-9 have pushed deliveries back to 2023 at the earliest, and the German flag-carrier has decided it – and its passengers – can wait no longer.

In a media call overnight following the airline's presentation of its financial results for 2021, CEO Carsten Spohr confirmed the innovative business class – which alternates rows of a conventional 1-2-1 layout with 1-1-1 rows featuring a middle 'throne' seat – will now take wing in 2023 on that year's factory-fresh Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s.

While each business seat will of course convert into a fully flat bed, Lufthansa has previously noted this will be a 2.2 metre sleeping space for most seats but only 2 metres for the throne seats.

"Depending on their personal needs, passengers can choose between a number of spatial configurations," is how Lufthansa sells this arrangement. "For instance, they can choose to have an extended-length bed or a seat with twice as much desk space."

Staggered seating in Lufthansa's new business class cabin alternate between facing the window and being angled slightly towards the aisle.
Staggered seating in Lufthansa's new business class cabin alternate between facing the window and being angled slightly towards the aisle.

These same seats will eventually appear on the twin-aisle jets of sister airlines Swiss and Austrian, although slightly customised to suit each airline's unique branding.

In addition to plenty of working and storage space around the business class seat, mod cons will include wireless charging and, based on these mockups, a removable tablet to control everything from the inflight entertainment and seating position to lighting and ventilation.

Super-screen: this one tablet will control every feature of your business class seat.
Super-screen: this one tablet will control every feature of your business class seat.

Both the A350s and Dreamliners will share the German flag-carrier's new premium economy seat, which has already begun flying with Swiss.

Also on the way: Lufthansa's second-get premium economy seat.
Also on the way: Lufthansa's second-get premium economy seat.

Spohr added that new business class seat would be rolled out as an upgrade to Airbus A350s and Boeing 747-8 jumbo jets already in the fleet – but in a twist, there will also be an 'interim' business class seat for any A350 and Boeing 787 jets delivered over the next 12-18 months.

Lufthansa has described this as "an upgraded business class compared to the current product" – but it'll be a clear step up, beginning with direct aisle access so there'll be no need to step over anyone.

That 1-2-1 layout is about all that's known of the new seat, with a Lufthansa spokesperson saying "this represents an important first step in improving our long-haul product as a whole, in the course of which the new Lufthansa Group Business Class will also be introduced."

Lufthansa expects to collect the keys to its first Boeing 787-9 in the coming months.