A new Premium Economy at Lufthansa and Swiss

Lufthansa and Swiss will be renewing the Premium Economy cabins in their long-haul fleets. A product that represents a significant advance on existing products, but is not without raising a few concerns.

A rationalized cabin between Swiss and Lufthansa

As is often the case within the Lufthansa Group, it is the quest for consistency between airlines that prevails. Just as short- and medium-haul cabins are identical from one airline to another except for the colors, the same logic applies to the choice of long-haul Premium Economy cabins, at least for Swiss and Lufthansa.

Swiss, which until now has not had a premium economy cabin, announced in spring 2021 its intention to equip itself with such a product, relying on ZIM and its ZIM Privacy seat.

It comes as no surprise to learn that Lufthansa has made exactly the same choice for the renewal of its long-haul Premium Economy cabin, launched in 2014 with ZIM Magic seats.

Progress and questions

Compared with the existing model, there’s a larger screen, dividers at the top of the seat to enhance the passenger’s sense of privacy from his seatmate, and the fact that this is a fixed-shell seat.

In other words, unlike a normal economy seat and most premium economy seats whose backrest reclines towards the passenger behind, the back of the seat is fixed, which increases the comfort of the passenger behind, and the backrest slides inside the shell thus formed instead of reclining.

This choice may come as a surprise, as most experiments with fixed-shell seats in Premium Economy have not been successful, and most of the airlines that have made this choice are now backtracking.

The reason is that this mechanism, which works perfectly on a seat designed to recline to 180°, is far less convincing on a seat with an intermediate recline, when the backrest slides to allow a more reclined position, puts the passenger in a position that is uncomfortable, to say the least, and even painful for the lower back.

Visually, the effect was successful: the seat had all the look and feel of a small business class seat, rather than an improved economy seat.

But finding a comfortable sleeping position was simply impossible, and I remember an Atlanta-Paris flight where I almost regretted not traveling in economy, given the state of my back on arrival.

In fact, for its A350, Air France has opted for a “recliner”, which seems to meet with more unanimous approval.

We’ll have to wait and see, but for the moment we remain cautious.

And in the meantime, we’re still waiting for a business class worthy of the name for the German airline.

Where and when can you find Lufhtansa and Swiss’s new Premium Economy?

At Lufthansa, this seat, which was originally due to begin its career on the B777-9, whose entry into service has been constantly postponed, will be deployed on the B747-8 (which will therefore not be retiring) and on its future A350s and B787s.

At Swiss, it will be installed on the airline’s 12 B777-300 ERs, 9 A330s and its A340s.

As the Swiss airline made its choice almost a year ago, customers will be able to discover this cabin as early as this spring.

Bottom line

Lufthansa et Swiss ont décidé d’harmoniser leurs futurs avions long-courriers Premium Economy en choisissant un siège ZIM Privacy.

The seat looks very premium, but we’re dubious about the choice of a fixed-shell seat, which in the past has failed to convince passengers in terms of comfort.

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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