Back in 1992, Virgin Atlantic introduced Mid Class, later renamed Premium Economy for (to quote) “the cost conscious business traveller who for budgetary reasons travelled economy but still required extra space in which to work or relax.”
In reality, Premium Economy and World Traveller Plus (on BA) seem to have become the domain of better off leisure travellers. It is, apparently, the most profitable part of the aircraft on a square footage basis, adjusting for load factor.
Lufthansa – the airline that still doesn’t have flat beds in business on most of its planes (see a post next week) – is now catching up, 22 years on.
The new seat, image above, was launched at the Berlin travel show last week.
The formal webpage for the new seat is here. Lufthansa summarise the benefits as:
- Double free baggage allowance: two bags per person, each weighing up to 23 kg
- A welcome drink, a water bottle at every seat and a high-quality amenity kit with many useful accessories providing additional refreshment
- The high quality meals are presented in menus and are served on china tableware
- An 11- or 12-inch touch screen monitor, a handset to control the in-flight entertainment and a generous range of magazines provide for even more entertainment
- More storage space for personal belongings
- Central console between the seats with sturdy table and power outlet at every seat – well suited for work on board
- All seats in Premium Economy Class are not more than one seat away from the aisle
- Access to Lufthansa Business Lounges available (for a fee of EUR 25)
The last of these – lounge access for €25 – is novel. This is something I feel British Airways and Virgin should be offering in Premium Economy to really differentiate the entire ‘kerb to kerb’ experience.
Lufthansa also fails to mention the other key benefit of Premium Economy, at least on BA. You have a pretty good chance of being upgraded to Club World on a full flight, and a pretty good chance of being offered a cheap cash or Avios upgrade to Club World on an empty one!
Lufthansa is expecting to charge €600 more for this seat than a standard one.
In the short term, I expect some ‘issues’ as the seat is rolled out. It will be going into the Boeing 747-400 fleet to start with, but until all are converted there is a chance that either a) you pay for it and the plane does not have it, or b) you don’t pay for it but the plane unexpectedly has it and you get sat there anyway.
(PS. Fact of the week. I have never flown Premium Economy with any carrier, ever!)