Lufthansa To Charge For Business Class Seat Assignments

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Lufthansa will be the launch customer for the Boeing 777-9, as they have 20 of these planes on order. They’re expected to take delivery of the first such plane in 2020, so it’s not too far away.

While the 777-9 in general is a plane I’m looking forward to, what makes Lufthansa’s 777 exciting is that it will be the plane on which they’ll debut their new business class.

Lufthansa’s new 777 business class

Lufthansa revealed their new business class in late 2017, and miraculously won a Skytrax 5-star award just days later based partly on this.

Yes, that’s the case even though they were more than two years off from taking delivery of the first such plane, and even though Skytrax claims that one key component in the ratings is consistency of product. Makes you wonder, eh? Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked…

Lufthansa’s new business class looks great, and I’m especially excited that they went with an all new product we haven’t seen before on another airline. They’ll have direct aisle access from every seat, which will be the first Lufthansa plane on which that’s the case.

Lufthansa plans to charge for many business class seats

AusBT reports how Lufthansa plans on introducing a “business class plus” model with their new business class. They quote Lufthansa Group’s CCO as saying that these changes aren’t “unbundling,” but rather are “upgrading.” As he explains:

“It’s not just one business class anymore. Within the (Boeing 777X) business class cabin, you can upgrade yourself to an even better product than just standard business class… it’s a real jump forward in terms of convenience, and in terms of product selection.”

So is Lufthansa installing different seats they haven’t revealed yet, do some seats come with caviar and roses and others don’t, or what’s going on?

Well, Lufthansa’s big “upgrade” and “jump forward in terms of convenience and in terms of product selection” is that… they’ll start charging for some seat assignments.

To me this is some serious spin. Charging for some seat assignments in business class isn’t an upgrade… at all.

By this logic, airlines like British Airways are really leading the pack when it comes to business class. I guess British Airways charging for all business class seat assignments — and charging more for the best seats — is a real jump forward in terms of convenience and product selection, no?

In the case of Lufthansa we’ll still have to see how this fully plays out:

  • Swiss currently charges for “throne” seats in business class, but they can be selected for free at online check-in
  • Will Lufthansa only charge for a very limited number of seats, or could we see them charging for a good percentage of the seats?
  • Are we talking upgrade fees of $100-200, or much more?

Looking at the renderings of Lufthansa’s new business class, I’m guessing that Lufthansa considers the single center seats to be among the most premium. However, like most seats, there are pros and cons to them. Sure, it’s nice to be seated alone and to have two large armrests, but you also don’t have any window view.

Bottom line

In a vast majority of business class cabins, not all seats are created equal. Just look at Apex Suites, or staggered seats, or Qsuites. But no matter how you slice it, charging for seat assignments isn’t an “upgrade” and a “jump forward” in any regard. Well, at least not for passengers… maybe it’s a different story for Lufthansa’s bean counters.

  1. Swiss wanted me to pay 189 chf for a throne seat in my way to PVG…
    It’s not 10 chf…

  2. Whatever happened to Ben Smithson? Really enjoyed looking at his articles, not to mention any pictures of his perfectly coiffed hair!

  3. Have you seen the video of that YouTuber who’s getting sued by Skytrax? Apparently his friends in a 5-star rated Chinese airline told of how an airline could “buy” a package of sorts where they can be reviewed as a 5-star airline. His name’s Josh Cahill. What do you make of the whole sitch?

  4. This looks to be the end of flying LH for us. No seating together at a window and have to pay extra to sit together.

  5. @Mitch Cumstein

    If you’re asking about that particular name, then you must obviously know what happened to him.

  6. Haven’t you read about Lufthansa’s very recent earnings decline?

    The problem is that even without charging for seats, when comparing business class fares LH are always among the most expensive.

    I know a senior Mercedes employee who travels globally and uses Flying Blue for business travel due to the prices of Lufthansa.

  7. It’s no surprise that their substandard business class product is facing financial issues. As for the new seats it’s too bad passengers aren’t organized enough to reject these fees and just refuse to pay

  8. The Thrones are free for SENs and Hons on SWISS so it might be the same case for LH. Unless you are on a SEN/HON heavy route (like SIN) you always get a single seat at check in.

    Honnestly, Since each seat has direct aisle access with the new LH layout, I don’t see my self paying more for the center seat. Even on SWISS I’ve never paid the 200-300 fee. Even if I’m paying 6k for the ticket you are getting the same service and what not. Keep the 200-300 for a nice diner.

  9. Do we know if free seat selection is offered to their elites?

    With BA, it must be noted, Silvers (& OWS) and Golds (& OWE) can pick seats when booking, and Bronze (& OWR) can do so 7 days before departure. Not too bad.

  10. One World Emerald and MH Platinum Plus I have been able to select any seat at no additional cost on OW carriers. BA never charge extra

  11. I guess they will charge a premium for the centre seats but the rest are window or aisle seats unless they are going to start, as they do in economy charging more to sit nearer the front.

    I can’t get excited about this, I hate the seats on LX and OS and these look like an upgrade of those. Back to Air France….

  12. Well, just to give u a reference, I flew yesterday from FRA to PVG. Out of ~70 J passengers, only one was with no status, maybe 6-7 *A gold, handful of FTL, 4 HON and rest all senators. LH is having so many status passengers they really do not care for the rest…

  13. Wow, I knew James was no longer writing for OMAAT, but I had no idea he is now at TPG. Despicable. I used to enjoy his posts here. Now I think far, far less of him.

  14. @AdL, thanks! Looks like Ben landed at TPG UK, so he’s based in London. And he finally dropped the pseudonym “James”.

  15. @Brian Wu its just a race to the bottom for unbundling everything. Flying SWISS next month from Greece to London and learned I’d have to pay 2 different times to choose a seat, one for each leg. Euro vacationers taking 2 day holidays with just a backpack for as cheap as possible have torpedo’d the market for anyone coming from abroad.

  16. From the comments above, Lufthansa already charges more for business class than competitors charge, so I suppose they figure that their overpaying customers won’t mind paying even more for a seat selection. What I wonder is whether the new seats will have foot cubbies that are super tight like the current ones.

  17. I do not patronize hotels that charge ‘resort fees’, neither will I pay extra for a seat assignment – especially when I’m already holding a J ticket. I recently flew LX 777 J. I like the mini-cabin (two rows only) and looked everyday to see if a seat opened. One did and I enjoyed sitting in the middle. The divider provided enough privacy. I don’t like the throne seats, too confining. Recently I flew AA’s 787 TA in Y. At booking they had $100 dollar charges reserving a forward Y cabin seat. I kept an eye on pax load. It was only half or less filled just days from departure. At check-in I asked to change to a seat up front. Done. No charge. On boarding I noticed that the rear section of the Y cabin was 70 percent or so occupied. The forward cabin where I was was perhaps only 25 percent full. A full row by the window to myself, the center row completely empty. Rows everywhere empty. Very nice and quiet flight. Saved points not buying a J ticket when I had spacious room in Y. Also, it’s interesting to note how others did not change their seats like I did. Good thing.

  18. I prefer a window seat anyway. What’s the next differentiation upgrade? Only business plus gets metal silverware… basic gets plastic??

  19. I don’t see a mentioning of the 220 cm bed ( Emirates is introducing a business fee where most things cost extra, so I don’t see a problem with charging for a unique selling point. There will be people buying it. Prices drop, so this is a legitimate attempt to make some extra dollars. We will see how it goes.

  20. As it is they do not give any miles for travelling in Business P class,why?
    Next time will re think travelling with them and the crazy FRA airport

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