Last month I wrote that airlines dropping first class leaves a revenue opportunity on the table. The airlines that have failed with the product market it wrong.
Lufthansa sees first class as crucial to their brand positioning, but they quite correctly don’t see a market for it on all of their flights. They’ve offered the cabin on more routes than where it made sense because they didn’t want multiple configurations of the same plane, and have wanted the flexibility to deploy an aircraft across different routes.
I wrote three years ago that I expected them to continue offering first class, just with fewer seats, and “could imagine offering just one row of first” on new Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s.
We know now that Lufthansa is keeping first class, and introducing a new seat next year along with a little something about what to expect. This will happen alongside the introduction of new business seats as well.
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”.
…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..
New business class was supposed to debut with the Boeing 777-9, but with that plane delayed it will debut on A350 and 787 deliveries. It will be “alternates rows of a conventional 1-2-1 layout with 1-1-1 rows featuring a middle ‘throne’ seat.” The throne seats will have more desk space but won’t offer as long of a bed. SWISS and Austrian will eventually get a version of this seat as well.
These new products are expected at the end of 2023, with new delivery aircraft in the meantime receiving an ‘interim’ seat that they expect to replace but that has direct aisle access at least. The A350s offering first class will be based in Munich.
In normal times Lufthansa doesn’t release first class award seats to those using miles in a partner frequent flyer program, like United’s MileagePlus or Air Canada’s Aeroplan, more than 15 days in advance though there are exceptions. With a four seat cabin on the A350 I’d expect award availability to be even stricter.