LUFTHANSA: New Allegris cabins across fleet – ‘shoulder sink-in’ for side sleepers
One of my enduring memories from childhood is my godfather giving me a ‘gold’ Lufthansa lapel pin on his return from a European business trip. I prized it for years. Lufthansa seemed soooo exotic, as was Europe and international air travel for an Australian child with a Germanic surname.
Lufthansa flew to Australia from Europe from 1969 through until 1994 on various routes usually ending in Frankfurt and via Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. The German airline no longer flies to Australia, however, it continues to service various Asian destinations including Singapore, Tokyo and Bangkok, which are popular stopovers for Australians travelling to Europe. In fact, in planning a recent trip to Spain, I kept coming across Lufthansa fares via Munich or Frankfurt. They were not tempting due to connection times, and the the nature of the business cabin layouts available. Well, all that will change over the next few years.
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Lufthansa is introducing all new cabins across all classes from 2024, starting with the new Airbus A350s, but then being retrofitted across the airline including on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 jumbo fleet. The price tag is high at 2.5 billion euros by 2025, representing the largest product overhaul in Lufthansa’s history.
The headline innovation is the new ‘First Class Suite Plus’ or double Suite to be installed as the ‘middle seats’ on the new fleet of A350s, revealed in Berlin yesterday (28 February). There will be just 3 suites, accommodating up to 4 passengers in the new A350s. The middle double suite will be bookable on its own, or shared by a couple.
Like Qantas, Lufthansa is using the high-end hotel analogy for their First Suites, promising in its media release that ‘The Allegris range promises individuality, exclusivity, and premium service along the entire travel chain.’
‘Guests can warm or cool their nearly one-meter-wide seats in the suite according to their personal needs and connect their own mobile device to the entertainment system. Ample storage space is provided by a suite wardrobe so that travelers can comfortably change and have all their personal belongings at hand. ‘
Now, while the seats look quite good, especially those single ‘throne’ seats, the first row and the actual window seats, the cabin frankly looks like a dog’s breakfast. There are seven, count them, seven different seat types in that cabin of just 20 seats! They all have different storage areas and access ways. You will need to choose your seat carefully, depending on whether you want an extra-long bed (2.2 meters0, or more workspace, a bassinet, or to be beside the window. The only thing that looks consistent is direct aisle access, albeit some through a kind of ‘walkway’.
On the plus side, this configuration gives each business passenger their own suite with chest-high walls and a sliding door. Front-row passengers get even more space and larger monitors (27″). You also get a wardrobe and minibar, and those front-row seats can be joined to make a double suite.
The seats convert into a minimum 2 metre bed and have 4k screens, wireless charging and Bluetooth connectivity. Bonus, you get individualised air conditioning. Novel innovation is a ‘shoulder sink-in’. Sounds like the devil’s work to me, but apparently it allows for greater comfort if you are a side sleeper.
From these renderings, I would say that Business Class is a vast improvement on what Lufthansa currently has. I would book this cabin, whereas, I consciously avoid booking the current business cabin.
The business class suites will give you between 2.2 to 2.5 square meters of space depending on aircraft type.
Premium Economy and Economy: more space, more choice
The new hard-shell Premium Economy seats were introduced on SWISS earlier in 2022. These ‘Allegris’ versions give more legroom, a leg rest, and have even greater recline. Premium Economy Class passengers will now receive a sustainable travel amenity kit too.
Not much change other than cosmetic for Economy Class. Lufthansa is boasting that the new Allegris seating offers more choice, because the first-row seats have more legroom, and are bookable with a blocked seat next to you.
Lots of new seats
The ‘Allegris’ seating across all cabins will be introduced on 80 new aircraft including Boeing 797-9s, 777-9s and Airbus A350s. The airline’s other existing fleet including the legacy 747-8s will also be retrofitted with the Allegris product. That’s 27,000 seats being replaced.
Here is what the seat count will be by cabin for Lufthansa’s leading long haul aircraft:
- Boeing 787: Business 28 (inc. 4 suites); Premium 28 seats; Economy 231 (inc. 34 with extra legroom) = 287 total
- Airbus A350: First 3 suites (4 seats); Business 38 (inc. 8 suites); Premium 24; Economy 201 seats (inc. 22 with extra legroom) = 267 total
These are impressive innovations. The business class choice might end up just being confusing for passengers, although it does lend itself to a lot of subtle sub-marketing depending on whether passengers want privacy, space, or a really long bed.
With only 3 First Suites for up to 4 passengers, I’d say that securing reward seats in these cabins will be all but impossible.
The innovations in premium and economy, are just keeping up with current trends – it doesn’t look like there is any startling innovation here.
Depending on how you read the Lufthansa media release, there may be uniformity in cabin features across the entire Lufthansa fleet by 2025. The release implies that without actually overtly saying it. And when has a cabin refit gone to schedule?
These new Allegris cabins mean that Lufthansa, come 2025 is more likely to be higher on my flying option list than it was before this announcement.
Are these new cabins industry leading? I don’t think the First Suites cabin will rival Singapore Airlines or the Etihad Residence. It’s probably on par with the new Qantas First, except for the advantage of that double seat, which Qantas has omitted in its redesign.