Friday saw the announcement that KLM will finally introduce its own Premium Economy product, bringing the carrier in line with Air France, Delta and Virgin Atlantic, its strategic partners. Dubbed Premium Comfort Class, the product sits above its economy comfort product which is fundamentally an economy seat with a little more legroom, and below the World Business Class product.
Considering the rise in premium leisure travel the airline should be able to cash in on the increase in leisure travellers willing to spend a little more on their aircraft experience.
The reconfiguration of aircraft cabins will be carried out by specialists at KLM Engineering & Maintenance at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and by November 2023, the transformation will be complete on all Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft flying to intercontinental destinations.
The installation of Premium Comfort across its entire long-haul fleet (except A330’s which will be phased out in the coming years) will actually change the airline’s weighting towards premium seating. Featuring in its own cabin, the class will feature popular MiQ seats as well as distinctive service and catering concepts. Depending on the aircraft type, the capacity of Premium Comfort Class will vary from 21 to 28 seats.
“We have great expectations for this new Premium Comfort Class, based on extensive market research. The new class will meet the wishes of business passengers as well as leisure travellers, strengthening KLM’s standing as a global network carrier offering an appealing and varied range: World Business Class, Premium Comfort and Economy Class. It also reaffirms our partnership with Delta Air Lines, Air France and Virgin Atlantic on North Atlantic routes, where we can now combine all products on all routes.”Boet Kreiken, executive vice president of KLM Customer Experience
Kreiken’s comments seem perhaps a little redundant, after all KLM is one of the last major airlines in the world to introduce this lucrative cabin class, some three decades after the likes of EVA and Virgin Atlantic brought out their products. Even the slow to adopt Lufthansa Group has brought Premium Economy across its brands prior to KLM, which was previously seen as an innovator in aviation.
The new MiQ seats in Premium Comfort Class were designed by Collins Aerospace together with specialists at KLM Customer Experience. Apart from their elegant design and comfort features, the seats are also lighter than previous designs. Similar care was taken in selecting catering materials for Premium Comfort. They are either reusable (special cutlery, bowls and plates made of lightweight polypropylene) and those that are not reusable are made of recycled PEF. All materials were carefully assessed in terms of circularity and weight, without detracting from aesthetic features.
However, as pointed out by fellow journalist John Walton, the choice of location for the USB and USB-C charging points seems ill-conceived. This means for concerns over comfort while charging personal devices, and it could be that the location was selected due to the heating issues with USB-C charging, similar to the location of the charging point on Etihad’s A350 Super Diamond seat.
Premium Comfort also has a distinctive catering concept. On intercontinental services, one or two hot meals will be served, depending on the duration of the flight. There will always be a choice of meat, fish or vegetarian dishes. After the meal, passengers will be offered coffee, tea, liqueur and ice cream. A variety of snacks and cocktails will also be served between meals, which will be largely selected from those that were previously popular in World Business Class.
Supporting the hard product, KLM’s Premium Comfort Class experience will start at the airport, where passengers will have more flexible baggage arrangements and SkyPriority privileges, including preferential check-in and boarding and lounge access at a fee.
Bolstering the group’s presence on Transatlantic routes, the first KLM aircraft equipped with Premium Comfort Class will operate on routes to the USA. It is anticipated that passengers will be able to book Premium Comfort to a growing range of destinations from the end of the July 2022.