On the following day of the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s updated premium product ‘Dream Suite‘ comes news from troubled Lufthansa of a different nature. In an effort to try and become more efficient, curb spending and reign in the purse strings after a less than successful stint of turning bmi around, they are going to drop first class from several of their routes. This seems like a complete U-turn from what can be only their year old first class cabin product, boasting individual bed and comfy arm-chair recliner seat in an all in one suite (only available on the top deck of their 747′s. A different first class product is available on the rest of the fleet).
Whilst it is understandable that first class yields probably just can’t work in the current global economic climate and it may take several years for the industry to revert back to ‘the glory days’, it’s sad that a legacy carrier such as this is yet another casualty to this environment. Qantas recently removed it’s first class product out of most of its fleet and now apart from the ‘American carrier’ version of first class, the only true first class products are found in Asian fleets, or the now only true bastions of Europe, Air France and British Airways (with it’s fantastic new first class product – above).
It is possible that these products too will soon fall prey to a lack of demand. Virgin Atlantic has managed to be one of several airlines to cleverly and perhaps rightly so, market a ‘premium business class’ (above) similar to that of Air New Zealand or Qantas’ business class seats. It seems that the classes onboard have just been downgraded, with first class passengers now flying in business class and business class passengers now taking premium economy seats to reduce costs.
It’s a shame as Lufthansa’s first class product, whilst appearing as a slightly illogical use of space (not combining chair and bed), also appears to be a real treat, and something that should be tried at least once. If you feel the same, you better act quick, as in my opinion, no airline would offer first class on a few select routes as a permanent business strategy, it will only be a while until it is phased out altogether.
The good news though is that Lufthansa is reinvesting time and research into premium economy. If they do decide to launch a premium economy product, we’ll be amongst the first to post about it here!