Lufthansa outlines 'business class plus' plans for Boeing 777X

Lufthansa outlines 'business class plus' plans for Boeing 777X

As the launch customer for the Boeing 777X, Lufthansa is planning to do business a little differently when its fleet of those Boeing 777-9s begin arriving in 2020, moving from a one-size-fits-all business class cabin to a more bespoke offering tailored to individual needs and price points.

But rather than emulating many low-cost airlines – where the base price of the ticket includes only the seat, and everything else is an added extra – Lufthansa’s approach will maintain all the staples of business class for every passenger, while introducing new options on top, for those who want to pay.

Speaking with Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) AGM in Seoul, Harry Hohmeister, Lufthansa Group’s Chief Commercial Officer Network Airlines (Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian) is quick to assure that “it's not unbundling, it's upgrading.”

“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.”

This approach would see an extra charge levied on seats that have more favourable aspects such as added privacy, longer beds – being up to 220cm (7’ 3”) at some prized locations – or extra working and bench space, such as these ‘throne’ seats in the centre of the Boeing 777X cabin:

However, Hohmeister affirms that regardless of whether a passenger buys into the ‘business class plus’ experience or opts for a standard business class seat, all the usual business class inclusions would remain, such as meals, lounge access, and the ability to earn miles on paid fares.

This is a distinctly different approach to that unveiled by rival Emirates this month, which instead created a new ‘discounted’ business class fare with some features like airport lounge access, chauffeur services and advance seat selection excluded on the lowest-priced tickets.

Read: Emirates’ new cut-price business class axes chauffeur, lounge access

“The challenge for us, is how do we present this to the customer,” Hohmeister continues. “This is what we are working on, because we do not want to sell just a standard business class. For example, having a 220cm bed (as an upsell) is of course a selling argument, especially for (taller) guys like me.”

“We have to make clear in the market that we are not disrupting the (existing business class) product, but developing it to a better quality standard … to give the customer the best selection for themselves in terms of individualisation.”

Direct aisle access will be standard on Lufthansa's Boeing 777X

Currently on Lufthansa’s intercontinental flights served by aircraft like the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747-8, the business class experience requires many travellers to either step past a seatmate to access the aisle, or give way to another traveller doing the same.

AusBT review: Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 business class, New York-Frankfurt

But on the Boeing 777X, business class will instead adopt an alternating 1-2-1 and 1-1-1 approach, finally giving every passenger a direct (and uninterrupted) path to the aisle, regardless of their seating choice.

“I don't want to ask my neighbour, “please wake up so that I can jump over you!”,” Hohmeister admits, sharing that Lufthansa’s new approach to business class is based on extensive passenger feedback, as well as a broader trend towards more privacy for high flyers.

“It's really this privacy which is ‘premium’, or what is defining ‘premium’ in these days: so too is individualism, and this is a trend to which the answer is our new business class concept.”

Although these new types of business class fares aren’t yet on sale, Hohmeister confirms that the price point for the standard business class experience will remain comparable to today’s business class fares, with passengers paying more to select one of those more favourable seats.

Lufthansa remains the launch customer for the Boeing 777X

With conflicting media reports stating that both Emirates and Lufthansa are the launch customer for the Boeing 777-9 (777X), Hohmeister also takes the opportunity to clear things up.

“I’m quite sure that we will be the launching customer. Who else can it be? We already have our ‘ingredients’ in the test programme, and we are in close collaboration with Boeing.”

Being a launch customer “is more than just buying an aircraft, it’s also a collaboration not just regarding the interior, but also the technology and things like that, so I would wonder if we would not be the launching customer, and I don't like wonders!”

Like Lufthansa, Emirates also has Boeing 777-9s planned for delivery from 2020. Emirates will follow this with Boeing 777-8s from 2022, which Lufthansa has not ordered.

Also read: Lufthansa's new Boeing 777X business class seats revealed

Chris Chamberlin attended the IATA AGM in Seoul as a guest of IATA.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

5 comments

  • kimshep

    kimshep

    18 Jun, 2019 07:28 am

    Interesting article, Chris. Thank you!


    One has to wonder about the obvious question, which I am sure would be kept under wraps until launch at least. With this new, entirely capable missile - I wonder whether LH will examine the possibility of re-opening Germany-Australia flights with a nonstop FRA (Frankfurt) - SYD route, using the B777X.

    With the amount of established business (and leisure) travel between the two countries, it would seem that this frame and its configuration would be a very potent tool in LH's armoury. I suspect that Harry Hohmeister might have an ace or two up his sleeve to take on the likes of TK (Turkish) and EK (Emirates)among others. Although, those aces may only appear after the launch of USA / NYC services become established.

    Yes, I know that - at this time - such talk is only speculation. But what a fascinating potential subject.

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  • Thebearupthere

    Thebearupthere

    19 Jun, 2019 06:18 pm

    Currently, EU law (specifically EASA flight / cabin crew duty limitations) would not allow for such a service.

    EASA law dictates a safety limitation of 18 hours maximum duty time for pilots and cabin crew (which must include pre-flight briefing and preparation).

    The flight over from FRA may scrape it in, but the return sector would be over time wise.

    (As an aside : the PER LHR sector is also above the limits allowed by EASA safety limitations, however Australian carriers operate under the less restrictive CASA and are not bound by the more restrictive standards of EASA)
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  • Aidan

    Aidan

    18 Jun, 2019 09:08 am

    Any hummings on the direction of Lufthansa first class ?
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    18 Jun, 2019 09:55 am

    Member who gave thanks

    Aidan

  • Herman  G

    mancho90

    19 Jun, 2019 08:27 pm

    People seems to forget that LH were the first order for the 777X program...months later at the Paris Show EK placed the order for the larger number if aircraft. You made the question that was already in the news years ago when Boeing announced the LH order... There is a lack of investigation before people write articles here and other business news sites....I recommend you to be more prepared for your articles.
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24 Jul, 2019 05:39 pm

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