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Here’s Lufthansa’s new premium economy seat, with a fixed-shell design

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Lufthansa’s business class seating might be in disarray but it is making in-roads on updating its premium economy offering.

Lufthansa’s first Boeing 747-8 aircraft are coming up on ten years old and will launch the airline’s new premium economy seat, originally due on the delayed Boeing 777X.

Lufthansa has selected the same seat as its stablemate SWISS, which announced it was retrofitting the ZIMprivacy fixed-shell as its new premium economy seat last summer. Whilst the seat finishes and branding will be different it does seem as if Lufthansa Group is starting to align its sub-brands more closely.

Lufthansa's new premium economy seat

What’s special about a fixed-shell seat?

A fixed-shell seat means that the person behind you will not be impacted when you recline. The seat itself is separate from a fixed husk, much like modern business class seats.

Fixed-shell seats are widely seen as more of fusion between traditional premium economy and business class. Last year, there were rumours that Emirates had selected Haeco’s fixed-shell seats for its new premium economy cabin, although those rumours turned out to be false and Emirates went down a more conventional path.

Lufthansa's new premium economy seat
Haeco’s premium economy seat

Prior to that, Air New Zealand had some truly radical fixed-shell seats that were close to business class than economy. Sadly, it couldn’t make the business case work out and eventually ripped them out:

Lufthansa's new premium economy seat
Believe it or not, this was Air New Zealand’s revolutionary premium economy seat

The key benefit of fixed-shell seats is that your personal space is not impacted when the person in front of you reclines.

Lufthansa’s new premium economy: the specs

Lufthansa’s new premium economy seat will give passengers slightly more privacy than traditional seats, with winged headrests and closed gaps between seats:

Lufthansa's new premium economy seat

The seats will be rolled out to the 19-strong 747-8 fleet initially, although it will also be fitted to new deliveries of A350 and Boeing 787-9s. It will presumably also be on the Boeing 777X fleet, whenever those start arriving.

The seat also has what Lufthansa is calling an ‘extra large IFE screen.’ Assuming this is the same as the SWISS seat it measures 15.6″ diagonally – significantly larger than the 12″ on BA’s A350s.

Legroom is 39″ – again marginally better than competing premium economy products. The maximum recline is 31 degrees and includes a leg rest.

Here is a picture of the new seat in the colour of SWISS, which is also installing it on selected aircraft:

Lufthansa's new premium economy seat

Conclusion

Lufthansa joins a growing group of airlines – including its sister carrier SWISS – choosing to upgrade the premium economy experience with fixed-shell seats.

The seatback IFE screens are a particular draw – the expansive size is not far off what you find in many business class screens. Hopefully Lufthansa also stocks suitably high resolution HD content, which isn’t always a given.

It’s not clear when the first refurbished 747-8 will be flying but I imagine it will be some time this year.

PS. You may not know much about the Boeing 747-8, since virtually no airlines globally bought it for passenger use, and only Lufthansa in Europe. I wrote about the Boeing 747-8’s history here.

Comments (34)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • PaulD says:

    The ANZ seats were so uncomfortable and had zero leg room at first

    • Qrfan says:

      They had to remove some seats to increase legroom and that ruined the business case, right?

      • JK says:

        Correct. They were good after they gave it more space but then the economics didn’t work. They went conventional on their 787s, can’t remember which model but they were also good with loads of legroom.

        JAL do a fixed PE which is ok for night flights. That one doesn’t just slide fwd, I think it tilts back inside the shell also.

  • Barry says:

    The hard shell Air NZ premium economy seat in the photos was probably one of least comfortable seats I’ve ever been forced to sit in, in land or air! Definitely not hanging on for a reprise…

  • Ben says:

    These type of seats have been universally unpopular when tried elsewhere (Inc the NZ one, business case failed as no one wanted to book them!).

    It will be interesting to see if LH/LX have managed to solve the problem, or like others, they’ll be ripping them out for a more conventional option in a couple of years time

  • Lady London says:

    Isn’t the 747-8 an old and rather noisy aircraft? Why would Lufthansa invest in old aircraft rather holding back for newer ones with better air and less noise?

    • memesweeper says:

      It’s not *that* old. The engines are noisy though.

    • janolabs says:

      That’s the 747-400 and its predecessors.

    • Rob says:

      It’s a new iteration of an old aircraft. But, yes, its total failure in the market is a sign of the lack of demand for this sort of aircraft, given that lighter composite-based aircraft were on the way.

  • WaynedP says:

    Our A380 parked up right next to a LH 747-8 at JNB this morning.

    Nostalgic to see the iconic Queen of the Skies, but it was filthy. The normally pristine white parts of the LH livery were soot blackened and what looked like black waterfall stain marks streamed down from the bottom of each porthole window.

    It really looked neglected and unloved.

  • Would anybody know if it could be installed on the Germany South Africa 747 routes by August? I would be sorely tempted to upgrade from always flying economy. Looks great!

  • Albert Coccia says:

    Flew Air France this fall and they had a hard shell premium economy seat, and they were really uncomfortable. Would probably would not want to fly them again.

  • Morme says:

    I’m a big fun of hard-shell seats in PE. The key benefit for me is that my space is not impacted by the person in front of me reclining their seat. Unfortunately LH PE doesn’t have a dedicated section, which is a shame.

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