Lufthansa launched its new cabin class – called Premium Economy – in 2015 in selected aircraft, extending to almost the entire longhaul fleet early 2016. The new Premium Economy Class is positioned in between Economy and Business class – quite literally. It is a mix of both worlds, aiming at the business traveler that doesn’t have permission to fly business class, but is in need for some extra comfort and privacy.
One of the most obvious differences to Economy is that in Premium Economy seats are much more spacious in all three dimensions – width, distance and pitch. Especially for tall passengers, traveling in Economy can be close to impossible nowadays. The Premium Economy seat, which has been designed specifically for Lufthansa, offers a much more ample feeling of space. Extra privacy is added due to the double armrest, giving each passenger enough space to rest their arms at all times without having to fight for it. A personal power connection as well as a huge screen help with work and entertainment.
Some elements of Business Class have been adopted to make passengers feel more comfortable. An extra drink before takeoff lets you relax in style, and a comfort kit provides essentials for the flight. A bottle of water for each seat makes sure we stay hydrated. In total, the design of the cabin is very well done, and a lot of thought has gone into the seating concept.
Enough with the praise, though. There are major drawbacks to this service class, and for me they are clearly food and cost. For the food, even though Lufthansa claims there are special Premium Economy menus, the food is as crappy as Lufthansa Economy gets. In fact, it’s exactly the same food. Frequent Lufthansa travelers know what I’m talking about – there are not many airlines with worse food (in all cabin classes) than Lufthansa.
And then there’s the price tag. Premium Economy really comes at a premium – often more than double than a standard Economy class ticket. Lufthansa has packed so many extras into its Premium Economy concept that the product became very blown up – resulting in very high ticket prices. Other airlines have done a smarter job – they focus on what’s really important to the traveler, and that is in most cases space.
But there’s one great thing about these fares: If you have a short haul connection flight, say from Frankfurt to Vienna, there is usually no Premium Economy cabin on that flight. In this case, Lufthansa gives you the Y booking class in Economy, which means full flexibility. And this flexibility means you can even reroute the flight, which I did just today. I changed my destination (within Europe) directly while connecting in Frankfurt, and they did it without any extra cost. Normally this is next to impossible.
To me, Premium Economy is a step into the right direction. More space, privacy and comfort is highly appreciated by a frequent traveler like me. But somehow I get the feeling that we’re sold an Economy Class the way it was 20 years ago, at today’s Business Class prices!
Read on: 5 ways to eat better on airplanes