Lufthansa’s New 787 Business Class: Here’s What I’m Expecting

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Lufthansa will be introducing a new business class on upcoming 787s, but it won’t be the carrier’s new business class that was announced back in 2017. In this post I wanted to talk about what we know about the new business class product, and then share my best guess of what seats Lufthansa will offer.

Business class on Lufthansa’s upcoming 787s

On Monday it was announced that Lufthansa ordered an additional five Boeing 787-9s and five Airbus A350-900s (on top of the existing order).

Perhaps most exciting is that Lufthansa will take delivery of all five of those Boeing 787-9s in 2021 and early 2022. While the timing may (understandably) seem strange, the reason for this is that Lufthansa got a great deal on the planes since they’ve already been manufactured and were intended for other airlines.

One question I raised is what business class seats Lufthansa would offer on these 787s:

Lufthansa’s new business class for the Boeing 777-9

With Lufthansa taking delivery of its first 787 in a matter of months, where does that leave us? It’s reported by that Lufthansa will introduce an “upgraded” business class product on upcoming Boeing 787s, but not the new business class product we’re eventually expecting.

It’s being claimed that Lufthansa will be designing a business class product similar to what it’s currently offering, but with direct aisle access from every seat (for the record, I don’t think this is quite correct, as I don’t think Lufthansa is “designing” anything, but more on that below).

As a Lufthansa spokesperson explains:

The five Boeing 787s that Lufthansa will receive by mid-2022 will have an upgraded Business Class compared to the current product. This represents an important first step in improving our long-haul product as a whole, in the course of which the new Lufthansa Group Business Class will be introduced.

Which Boeing 787-9s is Lufthansa getting?

Lufthansa’s upcoming Boeing 787-9s are planes that were manufactured for other airlines, but those airlines decided not to take delivery of the planes.

The always knowledgeable @xJonNYC suggests these 787-9s will have “inherited” business class seats. Therefore figuring out which airline(s) these planes were intended for could also give us a clue of what business class seats to expect.

I’ve seen some people speculate that these 787-9s were intended for Norwegian. On the surface that makes sense, given that there are four 787-9s that have been manufactured and that were intended for Norwegian, but which the airline will no longer take delivery of, given that Norwegian has cut all long haul routes.

However, the fact that Lufthansa plans to “inherit” business class seats seems to suggest that this isn’t the source of the planes, because Norwegian doesn’t have business class (but rather only premium economy).

Could Lufthansa be acquiring 787-9s intended for Norwegian?

To me the much more likely explanation is that these were 787-9s that were intended for Hainan Airlines or Vistara, based purely on the cabin configuration.

Hainan is in a terrible financial situation, and hasn’t taken delivery of quite a few new planes. As a matter of fact, Vistara has taken over some of Hainan’s orders, but there are questions about Vistara’s willingness to take delivery of more 787-9s.

Here’s what I’m expecting from Lufthansa

For context, Lufthansa’s current business class product is in a 2-2-2 configuration, and I can’t think of any practical or efficient way you’d turn that into a 1-2-1 configuration, as is hinted at in the initial story quoted above. Yes, Apex Suites are awesome and also in a 2-2-2 configuration, but those seats are expensive and the density isn’t great, so I doubt that’s what Lufthansa is getting.

Lufthansa’s current business class product

The only logical explanation here is that Lufthansa is “inheriting” business class seats that were planned for these planes, given the short notice. My money is on one of two options.

I think the most likely explanation is that Lufthansa will have reverse herringbone seats, which you’ll find on a variety of airlines. There are two versions — there are the Safran Cirrus seats and the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats, which are among the most common seats on 787s (Hainan has the former).

Hainan’s Boeing 787-9 business class

The second most likely option, in my opinion, is that Lufthansa’s 787-9s will get Stelia Aerospace Symphony seats, which is what Vistara offers (you’ll also find these seats on Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, etc.).

Vistara’s Boeing 787-9 business class

Bottom line

Lufthansa will be taking delivery of five Boeing 787-9s in the coming months, and the airline plans to introduce a business class product featuring direct aisle access from every seat.

No, the plane won’t have Lufthansa’s new business class product announced in 2017, but rather will have some sort of other product, likely inherited from whatever airline was supposed to get these planes. If I had to guess, I’d say these 787-9s were initially intended for Hainan Airlines, and that Lufthansa will offer reverse herringbone seats in business class.

What are you expecting from Lufthansa’s 787 business class?

  1. OS and others use the Vantage seats now, but that’s 1-2-1 with direct aisle access only on the 767. With the wider 787 they’d need to use the wider version of the Vantage (like Scandinavian does in their A330).

  2. This is terrible news. We are finally coming out of covid … and now this indignity.

  3. Between BER and the vaccine rollout, I’m beginning to see why it will likely take close to a decade before the “new” biz seat actually is fitted to a LX plane.

  4. Hawaiian airlines J is the only seat that comes to mind that has debatably all aisle access in a 2-2-2 config. Quite a niche design, and clearly it’s a leisure focused seat doesn’t fit Lufthansa’s needs (outside of Covid.) Will be interesting to see what they go with.

  5. Having worked in airlines and dealt specifically with the rollout of new cabin configurations, I can tell you that with the decision to rapidly bring in new airplanes in a short time period there’s NO WAY POSSIBLE for Lufthansa to have quickly brought their new, customized, and unproduced product to a new airplane type that (apparently) hadnt even been contemplated until relatively recently. These kind of things take a very long time, and as you pointed out it wasnt event contemplated that they’d have 787s this quickly – this product was designed for the 777 and A350 apparently. You cant just swap them out. It’s really not that easy.
    They’ll likely go with something that is pre-made/ configured for the 787 that’s already in production and on 787s in the real world. When decisions are made that quickly – to acquire new airplanes – that’s just the way it is.
    It’s important to learn about how these things actually work. While it would be nice if the 787 had the new product, it’s absolutely irrelevant that they announced the new seat 4 years ago. As noted, they had apparently been working towards implementation on the 777/ a350. They cant just switch a customized new product to an unanticipated new plane in less than a year. That’s not the way things work in real life. Lufthansa had a decision – get the new plane when they could and do the best they could with it – or stagnate. I know what decision I would have made given my experience actually working in this space.

  6. There’s no way they can get their new seat certified on the 787 in time. It’s also possible that the planes were already configured with a specific business class seat for the previous customer and LH can’t change that. If the seat looks like one from another airline that cancelled their order or went bankrupt then we’ll know.

  7. I don’t understand the hatred of LH business class. I’m guessing that so many of us – at least on this or other bloggers – travel with a partner. If so, the seats are fantastic. I’ve flown one segment with an adjacent stranger and – guess what – pick the middle section of seats, use your headphones, and it’s fine. I find the suites with doors to be claustrophobic and appreciate the clean design and openness of LH. Is the the best business class in the sky? Absolutely not. But it’s consistent, crews are professional and (in my experience) friendly. And they haven’t hacked their service because of Covid like virtually anyone else. I’m thrilled to have 3 segments to Europe booked on the upstairs of a 747 from ORD and can’t think of a better way to cross the ocean.

  8. @Dave 8:29 AM: Oy is the Finnish equivalent of the LLC/Ltd. Just google “Osakeyhtiö”.

  9. @AJO, LOL

    @Dave, if only there were a worldwide network of connected computers with a convenient way to make queries. What a world that would be!

  10. Lets hope they are what AA has in their 787J as its much better than a staggered config. Like other people said this short notice its going to be a seat already being flown and the AA product is solid, not the best but certainly not the worst.

  11. @Reaper

    I’ll ignore your creepy, passive aggressive sarcasm and explain why I was asking. Here in the UK, “Oy” is used as an aggressive/informal/rude way of getting someone’s attention (which was why I was surprised to see it here). So I thought it may have a different meaning in an American context… I did use that “worldwide network of connected computers” to search for such meaning but couldn’t see any, hence my question.

  12. “Hawaiian airlines J is the only seat that comes to mind that has debatably all aisle access in a 2-2-2 config.”

    As others have pointed out, the Apex seats on Oman Air, Gulf Air, JAL, and KAL have all aisle access in 2-2-2 configuration. JAL ven has that in a 2-3-2 configuration…

    Maybe Lufthansa will be using that seat.

    “So that makes me wonder if Lufthansa might introduce a staggered configuration, similar to what Lufthansa Group carriers Austrian and SWISS offer in business class.”

    Probably not, since not all of Swiss’s seats have all aisle access. As others have mentioned, SAS does offer a staggered seat where all seats have aisle access. SAS, EVA, Qantas, etc…

  13. @Dave, since Lucky is an American, the meaning of his usage of the word Oy is:

    Oy vey (Yiddish: אױ װײ‎) is a Yiddish phrase expressing dismay or exasperation. Also spelled oy vay, oy veh, or oi vey, and often abbreviated to oy, the expression may be translated as, “oh, woe!” or “woe is me!” Its Hebrew equivalent is oy vavoy (אוי ואבוי, ój vavój).

    If you need examples, go to YouTube and search for a sitcom called “the nanny”.

  14. @Dave- Reaper wasn’t just flippant—he was also wrong.

    ‘Oy’, in this use, is short for ‘Oy vey!’, a Yiddish exclamation of dismay or grief. It’s common among the eastern European Jewish diaspora and all residents of the New York metro area (as influenced by the former)

  15. @Kevin @Scudder Thanks, both! That clears it up.

    Fascinating! You learn something new every day.

  16. I think most probably it’ll be the seats that are already in the plane. What seats does Hainan Airlines have again? Yea, those ones.

  17. Can’t anyone find out which airline didn’t take their 787 orders? So maybe that brings us closer to know which C might already have been installed on the planes.

  18. THE most laughed about 5* Airline in the World.
    So sad it’s a German Product.
    . . . BUT, lying was always one of the best Promos of LUFTHANSA!

  19. LH’s current business class is way better for us taller people than any of those options. More power to the seats that don’t restrict your feet and knees and don’t damage your shins. I’ll take a neighbour over a coffin every day of the week and Sunday.

  20. @Dave not sure how to break it to you but “Oi!” is the term you’re referring to. “Oy” if pushed would be from the Jewish term “Oy vey” but as it’s use here lacks any real context to a degree that would be a guess.

    I’ll leave it to you if you wish to use the internet to discover what the Jewishism means.

  21. @ Kevin
    IMO (in my not humble opinion) the best use of Oy was in a Friends episode when Monica’s parents realize that there was a connection between their daughters new boyfriend and their Dentist friend’s new twinkie.

  22. So hilarious that LH’s ‘temporary’ new seat inherited from another airline will still be 100% better than their own. Plus we can look forward to the delightful prospect of enjoying this ‘temporary’ seat for many, many, many years to come(!) – because efficiency and product implementation timetables are not well regarded management concepts over there in Cologne HQ. LOL.

  23. Important for travel ORD-FRA, what will become of the 747-800 fleet? How will the upper deck BC be refurbished?
    Just as long as AA’s mistake in reverse seating in FC on 787s is avoided.

  24. What about something like the JAL Sky Suites? 2-2-2 but still direct aisle access for every seat. Will be interesting to see

  25. With all the time they had, they probably optimized to hell the seat widths to just *right* fit in the A350 and maybe designed a slightly wider version for the 777.

    It’s quite clear they would not be ready for the narrower 787 cabin as it seems it was never in the plans. Also lead time for cabin interiors is quite long and does not fit the timing for such an express delivery.

    Also I don’t see them developping a new product for a 5-aircraft subfleet, it does not pay off. They’ll re-upholster what was already fitted in and will transfer those planes to Swiss, Brussels or Austrian when the product needs a refurbishment, which will conveniently be when travel situation will have recovered and when LH will not need those smaller planes anymore.

  26. Well won’t try those anytime soon LH still owes me money for fully refundable tickets cancelled in just before covid jn March 2020. No one in my company & entourage will fly this airline until I get my money back.
    Just today they are loosing 2 BC class tickets which have been bought at Emirates. Usual routing would have been LH….

  27. @Lucky

    “Lufthansa got a great deal on the planes since”………

    it is owned by the same government [sic] that owns Airbus… no coincidence there.

  28. If they did indeed say that they were going to have a product “similar to what [they’re] currently offering, but with direct aisle access from every seat,” then I would agree with others that Apex suites sound like the most likely candidate, given that they allow a 2-2-2 config with direct aisle access from each seat. However, I didn’t see anything in LH’s statement about their 787 product being “similar to what [they’re] currently offering,” but rather just that it would be “upgraded,” but would not be the planned new product. If that’s all they said, then it seems that either Apex or pretty much any type of 1-2-1 config would fit the bill.

  29. Hainan 787-9 new business class has a 1-2-1 config, so that seems to fit the overall picture.

  30. LH currently has one of the worst business class seats across the Atlantic. These can only be better than the current offering.

  31. Collins has indicated that it will be installing their new Elements seat (next gen Super Diam) this year for a carrier’s 789s and 350s.

  32. The picture referenced for Collins Super Diamond on Hainan is actually the Safran (Zodiac) Cirrus seat.

    For people saying that the Apex suite could be up for consideration, I would be very skeptical given that LH was density focussed withe their existing seat. It really wouldn’t make sense to have Apex seat as you can fit fewer in the cabin space compared to a reverse herringbone or Stelia Symphony/Opal staggered seat.

  33. I think Ben knows better than anyone (by having german background)…

    … but I think LH would not choose the Stelia Aerospace Symphony because they are actually quite cramped. The tall and bulky germans would suffer on long travels and if you think about their past seat choices, they are always open and can accommodate a tall/big person with ease.
    So I think the probably and wisest choice would be Safran Cirrus or the Collins Aerospace tbh.

  34. These are the ex Hainan birds that were even painted in Vistara colours back in Oct 2019 when Boeing was desperately trying to make a deal for these frames
    They seem to have found a good buyer with Lh group

  35. If Vistara seats are used, they will have used the same business seats as TK. I don’t think they would want to use the same seat as one of their biggest competitors in Europe.

  36. I feel that it might be SQ canceling 787 order but their seats are already bought and paid for. SQ had ordered 787-10s expecting the A330 to be too small. There’s no reason to take delivery of mor 787-10. I would think the logical move for them, is to relook A330neos. Potentially 339s to replace 359s, 338s to replace 359ULR

  37. @ekthe
    They are not Vistara seats they still have the Hainan seats as far as I am aware

  38. I can’t find evidence for Vistara cancelling their orders. Neither does it make sense considering domestic air travel remains relatively strong and the 787s are quite popular on the heavy routes. The numbers don’t add up completely since the order book says six aircraft for Vistara of which two are already delivered. In addition, Vistara did not accept the Hainan birds when offered in place of their existing order in 2019. I’m guessing they are the existing Hainan airframes or 787s intended for SQ.

  39. @Emily
    Vistara has not cancelled their orders
    These were as you guessed correctly , perhaps the Hinan ones that they dint take delivery of
    , and those weren’t offered in place of Vistaras existing orders by Boeing as far as I am aware but we’re additional
    Either ways we will know in a few months
    My guess is LH is taking these 2019 frames that were originally destined for Hainan

  40. Maybe it‘s the Recaro Cl6710 … they are certified for the 787 (ElAl), apparently Recaro will produce LHs upcoming customized seat … and so now LH could take Recaros off-the-shelf offer for the more immediate deliveries

  41. … plus: the cl6710 layout seems to be not too different from the new seat (except the 2-1-2 middle seats) …

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