Is there such a thing as too many choices for passengers? Lufthansa is about to find out. The company formally revealed its “Allegris” long-haul cabin concept on Tuesday, highlighting options for “individuality and exclusivity” on board.
The new seats – particularly the updated first class suite – are impressive. But the variety of options could prove overwhelming in some ways for the airline or for passengers. There could be as many as 14 different seating types/options from nose to tail.
The new cabins are expected to enter service on new build A350s in 2024.
Premium options, even in First Class
What’s better than a first class seat on board? After teasing the updated cabin last October (to generally positive reviews) the company showed off the full cabin, including a “Suite Plus” option for travelers who want a bit more.
Rather than the already generous meter-wide seat/bed option, a pair of passengers flying in the middle seats get something more akin to a loveseat. The double-wide seat by Collins Aerospace extends to a shared bed, closed off from the rest of the cabin by a full height door. The door is a flexible fabric option, reducing weight and complexity.
Exactly how Lufthansa plans to sell the middle seat pair remains unclear. Certainly it would be a nice win to buy a single seat and score a double bed on board. But the company will also want to prevent that as much as possible, hoping to secure the premium revenue from a couple traveling together.
First class passengers will be able to control the temperature in their suite. Lufthansa also highlights sufficient space to change clothes as well.
If nothing else, the offering shows a creative streak that was missing from a similar announcement by Qantas last week.
Too many business class options?
When does flexibility become a liability rather than a benefit? Lufthansa will offer seven different seating options for passengers in the business class cabin. That’s a lot.
As teased in October, the bulkhead center pair in business class will offer higher walls and sliding doors for increased privacy. The outboard single seats at the bulkhead will also feature doors as aprt fo the business suite setup.
Beyond this suite idea, the company also advertises:
- An extra-long bed measuring 2.20 meters
- Extra space and work area (center throne seat; interestingly, access to these seats is only available on one aisle and will alternate)
- An exclusive seat directly by the window (yes, somehow we’ve gotten to the point that having a window seat is special)
- That extra private window seat, but also with a baby bassinet
- A center pair with a retractable center divider “to transform [the seat pair] into a reclining surface for two,” though the renderings seem to show a large console still between the seats. It is not a double bed akin to QSuites
- A center pair without that retractable divider, or the less private window seats that are closer to the aisle
Most other airlines would just call these seats on board. But the Lufthansa Group is part of a select group with a strong history of figuring out how to get travelers to pay extra once they’ve already booked a premium cabin seat. Swiss has been doing it for years. Just how many of these options come with a surcharge remains to be seen.
Down the back
As expected, the Premium Economy and Economy cabin seats are nothing especially new. Depending on the aircraft, Lufthansa will offer four potential seating options in economy:
- Extra legroom
- Blocked middle seat
- Sleeper’s Row 2.0: This builds on the offering launched in 2020 and expanded last year. The new version will offer a flip-up extension of the seat, akin to the Air New Zealand SkyCouch. It will also include an extra mattress for increased comfort
Again, pricing details are pending.
All told, this adds up to 14 different seating products or options on board across four cabins (or is it 16, as John Walton suggests?). The company is certainly getting away from the commoditization of air travel. But if that comes in the form of customizations that cannot be effectively sold through partner channels it is even more challenging for travelers. Retailing is shifting rapidly (by airline standards, not in reality) to allow for such customizations, but support at this level seem unlikely in major consumer-facing channels anytime soon.
And, even when it is possible to sell all the options, if Lufthansa chooses to put a price tag on all of them, customers are unlikely to appreciate that unbundling, particularly in the forward cabins. Which is not to say that the center pairs should price the same; they are a truly different product on board. But pretending that a window seat or a bassinet should cost extra is not a smart choice for any airline.
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