Business / Companies

Cashing in from the changing paradigms

By WANG WEN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-24 09:18

Lufthansa launched its fourth cabin, the premium economy class, in October 2014, and the first flight with the new cabin to China started in December. Though the fourth cabin is available on several routes from China to Germany, China Daily decided to understand first-hand what it was like to be in the new cabin on a flight from Beijing to Frankfurt.

First-off, passengers in the premium economy class can check in two pieces of baggage totaling up to 23 kilograms, which is one more than that permitted in the economy class. The check-in process is the same as for the economy class, but passengers can use the carrier's business lounge for a fee of about 25 euros ($26.41) per person.

We flew on a Boeing 747-8, which had 32 premium economy class seats positioned between two sections of economy class seats.

Annette Mann, Lufthansa's director of launch management premium economy, said the carrier chose such a layout to avoid the toilets near the middle gate.

What was interesting to note was the layout was more like an on-board demonstration, as flight pursers invited all the passengers on board to check out the facilities. At first glance, it offers 50 percent more space to stretch out, has a footrest on the first row and a bigger entertainment screen.

Not surprisingly, four passengers sought upgrades from economy to premium economy class seats and each of them paid 300 euros for the upgrade, said Doris Lelieveld Maurer, purser of that flight.

Welcome drinks are provided to premium economy class passengers and food was served on china tableware. However, the two meals we had on board the flight were no different from the ones available in the economy class.

Actually, the whole design of premium economy class is closer to economy class than business class, since the carrier aims to upgrade its consumers from economy class rather than grab passengers from the business class.

The performance of premium economy class also reflected the carrier's target, as 65 percent of the premium economy class consumers were upgraded from Lufthansa's economy class, while only 5 percent of them were downgrades from business class. The balance 30 percent were new consumers.

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