Lufthansa May Install First Class On Some A350s?!?

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Am I the only one who had no clue that Lufthansa is at least considering installing first class on some of its upcoming A350 deliveries?!

Lufthansa’s sad first class prospects

There’s not a first class product in the world that’s more sentimental to me than Lufthansa’s. My desire to fly Lufthansa first class between the US and Germany (in order to visit family) is what got me interested in the points hobby to begin with, and I can’t even count how many times I’ve been lucky enough to cross the Atlantic in the pointy-end of a Lufthansa jet.

Unfortunately Lufthansa’s first class footprint has been decreasing for years now, and the situation keeps getting worse:

Lufthansa’s new business class product

At this point Lufthansa first class is only available on the 747-8, and Lufthansa has only 19 of those. With eight first class seats per plane, that means we won’t ever see more than 152 first class seats in Lufthansa’s fleet again… or so I thought.

Lufthansa’s 747-8 first class

Lufthansa installing first class on A350-900s?!

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I was under the impression that all of Lufthansa’s A350s would be delivered in a three cabin layout, with business class, premium economy, and economy.

Lufthansa plans to launch its new business class product in 2022, suggesting to me that Lufthansa will be installing this new product on its upcoming A350-900 and 787-9 deliveries, since the 777-9 has now been delayed until late 2023 at the earliest. Lufthansa has a total of roughly 40 A350s on order, and the airline has already taken delivery of nearly half of those.

Lufthansa won’t take delivery of 777s before late 2023

However, it’s now my understanding that Lufthansa’s plan all along has been to install first class on some of the later delivery A350s, which could start to be delivered in the 2022-2023 timeframe.

I first saw some reliable posters on FlyerTalk pointing this out. I then reached out to a friend with knowledge of the matter who said that at least at some point pre-pandemic the plan was Lufthansa to install first class on the later delivery A350s. He wasn’t sure about the status of that, though, and for that matter I’m not sure anyone is.

Why would Lufthansa install first class on A350-900s, but not 777-9s? Well, because historically A350s have exclusively been based in Munich. The only planes out of Munich that featured first class were the A340-600s, and with those planes retiring, Lufthansa wanted to maintain a first class product for the markets where there’s demand, like Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, among others.

The Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich

Of course the pandemic has changed that timeline — with Lufthansa retiring its A340-600s effective immediately, there are no longer any Munich-based planes with first class.

Lufthansa has been incredibly tight-lipped about its plans for upcoming A350s and 787s. For that matter, we don’t even know how many A350s or 787s are going to Lufthansa, since the orders were for the Lufthansa Group overall, and some are earmarked for Austrian and SWISS.

I’m passing this on as a rumor for now. Based on what I’ve been told, Lufthansa was planning on (or at least seriously considering) installing first class on some of its upcoming A350 deliveries. It’s anyone’s guess if coronavirus has changed that.

While I’m absolutely certain that this is something that Lufthansa was at least seriously considering pre-pandemic, I can’t make any guarantees, given the pace at which stuff changes in the industry.

Lufthansa still has 20+ Airbus A350s on order

Could Lufthansa introduce a new first class seat?

In the event that Lufthansa does install first class on its A350s, what should we expect? Well, I definitely expect we would see something better than the current first class seat, given that these planes will presumably also feature Lufthansa’s new business class.

Lufthansa’s current first class seat


Lufthansa’s new business class seat

My guess is that we’ll see one of two things. Maybe we’ll see Lufthansa install something similar to SWISS’ first class product, in a 1-2-1 configuration. This would be a bit better than what’s found in business class, though ultimately Lufthansa first class is all about the service, both on the ground and in the air.

Swiss’ 777 first class

Alternatively, I could see Lufthansa installing an actually awesome (but not groundbreaking) new seat, perhaps in a 1-1-1 configuration. Up until now no airline has done anything fun with A350 first class, so perhaps Lufthansa could be the first?

Bottom line

While it’s anyone’s guess what ends up happening, it seems that Lufthansa is seriously considering installing first class on some A350 deliveries a couple of years down the road. This had been the plan pre-coronavirus, and the logic was that with the A340-600s retiring, the airline still wanted some Munich-based planes to have first class.

With the pandemic, who knows what actually ends up happening, though. Lufthansa Group has told us virtually nothing about upcoming A350 and 787 deliveries, from interiors, to which airlines these planes will even be going to.

Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if Lufthansa has a change of heart and installs first class on the 777-9s, given the early retirement of the A380s, and also given that this plane is still a few years from entering service.

Do you think we’ll see Lufthansa install first class on some A350-900s? Could Lufthansa have a change of heart about first class on its 777-9s as well?

Comments
  1. Even though I usually fly out of SFO or LAX with 747-8, I’d be happy if they were to roll out F on other types.

  2. But of course the skies of Lufthansa will be graced with a first class cabin whether you choose Frankfurt or Munich as your starting points. It would be quite unusual to ignore the south of Germany in this regard.

  3. This is great news, I’m happy to hear it. I know there are many people who are willing to pay cash for Lufthansa First, so I’m not surprised here. My guess is they’ll just install 4 seats per plane.

  4. The proposed new LH business class seats in the 1-2-1 configuration will certainly go far to close the gap that once existed between the old 2-3-2 J cabin and the former F cabin. Personally, I don’t believe I would find enough value to pay the price premium in anything they offered up in a new F cabin as long as they roll out the proposed 1-2-1 J cabins which look absolutely stunning. I’m the rare premium passenger who puts more weight into the real estate and not the dining experience and other soft product amenities. Of course, I anxiously await Lucky’s review if and when the new F cabins debut! I could be wrong in my assumptions.

  5. Pre-pandemic, LH invited HONs to take a sneak peek at a new first-class mock up in Frankfurt. The feedback from HONs was so overwhelmingly negative, that LH has put the thought on hold. The mock up was somewhat similar to the Q Suites. I doubt it was the same seat, but it was very similar.

  6. @The Original Donna: There will be people who value the privacy the first-class service offers in the air and ground more than the actual seat and food provided.

  7. They Have to keep a First Class product!
    Lufthansa set the bar. It would be foolish not to keep their excellent product in some form.

  8. I am one of those who will pay, out of my own pocket, to fly LH F. With a good sale, I can find non-refundable fares almost the same as C. That’s just worked into the vacation budget.

    I’ve flown all the major airlines in F. For me, nothing equals LH F. Seat 1A on the 747. Seat 2K on the A380….which sadly has gone away.

  9. This is far from settled. I think you may see first on some A350’s and 777x’s. With first only on the 747 800s it would probably be too costly to maintain. Austrian desperately needs new long haul planes. Suspect they will get some 787’s. Swiss will probably get some A350’s with a first class cabin as they have first on all their long haul planes. First should have 8 seats on all planes to be able to swap planes easily. Wonder how AF does with its’ 4 seat F cabin?

  10. “Maybe we’ll see Lufthansa install something similar to SWISS’ first class product, in a 1-2-1 configuration. This would be a bit better than what’s found in business class”

    Er, their current first class seat is still better than what’s found in business class. Even their nee business class seat they plan on installing.

  11. Look at the headline of your article. When it has the word “MAY”, the article is garbage until you can evoquivically put “WILL” on the masthead. Or is dealing with rumors good with you?

  12. Hi Ben,

    I think it is fair to say that there will be a F on some of the A350-900. But there will be only 4 seats in a 1-2-1 set-up. At least to all my knowledge (post corona outbreak).

    There won’t be a First on the 787-9 though, which Lufthansa is getting in 2022.

    As for the 777X the final decision has not been made yet. Depends a bit on the route profile.

  13. The future is hard to predict for travel products. Germany looks problematic. Here’s today’s news from Deutsche Welle.
    https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-digest-germanys-third-wave-has-begun/a-56833513
    Germany’s third wave is in full swing, the president of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI), told the UN Journalists Association in Geneva on Wednesday.

    “We have clear signs: The third wave in Germany has already begun,” said Lothar Wieler.

    This may alter plans yet again for Lufthansa, as there is only so much “busywork” you can do with no income. Germany has been in lockdown since November. There is nothing to indicate that will be relaxed and employment grow again to support new travel infrastructure.

  14. Deutsche Welle today reports that Germany is entering the third wave.
    “Germany’s third wave is in full swing, the president of Germany’s Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases (RKI), told the UN Journalists Association in Geneva on Wednesday.

    “We have clear signs: The third wave in Germany has already begun,” said Lothar Wieler.”

    Germany opening to travel anytime soon seems a bit far fetched.

    I’d rather believe the Robert Koch Institute than some “maybes” from Lufthansa.

  15. Well they certainly won’t just be keeping F around to satisfy points enthusiasts. Pre-pandemic F was losing more and more business to private jet travel. I’d see that accelerating post-pandemic, and not due to fleet decisions, but more because of what people willing to pay $15k/ticket want. A recent Foders article talked about luxury travelers valuing things differently post pandemic, and one of those things is privacy, both in terms of exclusivity, but also safety. Avoiding the masses will be more in demand, and F just can’t compete with private jet travel on that front. Enjoy F while you can.

  16. Dear Ben,
    I also spend a few weeks each year with my German friends. One of the subjects that that passes in conversation is Lufthansa. It seems many German companies have contracts with Lufthansa for travel. From what I gather Lufthansa First is a perk for many top level managers and so may trips are contracted per contract. I would image much corporate travel will be reduced post covid. However I think some routes will need to keep first class for these lucrative contracts.
    Fra-lax, Sfo-Fra. Fra- Sin,HKG etc. Not to mention demand out of Munich for German auto.
    I do not see the few 748’s covering all of the First class demand. I HOPE. I was quite disappointed to see all the new LH orders did not have first Class. I was shocked to see the 777-9 without First.
    I was happy to see SFO-FRA-JNB has a 748 in the schedule

  17. Still don’t understand why there isn’t more fleet similarity between LH-FRA, LH-MUC, Swiss and Austrian. The only thing that should need to change is the logo on the disposable paper sheet on the head of the seat. Everything else can be blue or red

  18. The only planes out of Munich that featured first class were the A340-600s.

    Not true, A380 were in Munich too.

  19. Nico’s right, was just going to comment on that too. Lufthansa had A380s stationed in MUC. In 2019, they even had plans to move 2 additional ones from FRA to MUC to serve BOS and SFO. We all know what happened to those plans.

  20. @WR2 I don’t think F class won’t be threatened by private jet travel. F routes are primarily long-haul and the private jet market long-haul is very small. There are a few smaller jets such as the G650er that can manage non-stop long-haul routes but even then you are looking at around $150,000 (assuming they can get a return passenger) for FRA-HKG.

    These are totally different markets, especially when you consider that most F routes between major cities have at least a daily frequency. The main threat to F is J because corporate policies will likely consider J to be satisfactory.

    I think LH could keep running F from MUC, but as others suggested they may fare better with a 4 seat cabin.

  21. “Deutsche Welle today reports that Germany is entering the third wave.”
    I fail to see the connection to LH’s mid-term fleet planning. It’s not like those A350s will be delivered tomorrow.

    “but more because of what people willing to pay $15k/ticket want”
    They’d learn that 15k doesn’t buy them a private jet for intercontinental travel. With the same logic you could argue that folks willing to spend 3k expect F instead of C in the future.

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