Lufthansa Goes Back in Time, Gives First Class Travelers a Seat and a Bed

Airlines have spent a lot of time and effort trying to figure out a way to squeeze a seat and a bed into a very small space on an airplane, and they’ve done an admirable job. But any time you try to create multiple uses in one place, it’s not perfect. Lufthansa has decided to go a different way. Back to 1950. First Class fliers on some 747s will now get a seat and a bed. And as far as I’m concerned, this might be the best First Class product in the air. (Not that I’ve tried them all . . .)

Lufthansa New First Class

Tell me that doesn’t look sweet. It’s made even more awesome by the fact that it’s on the upper deck of the 747. Eight of these babies upstairs and that’s it. Amazing.

As I’ve said, airlines have put some serious research and development into creating the perfect experience in a very small space. The problem, however, is that no seat can also be a perfect bed. Except for the Craftmatic adjustable, beds are not meant to fold up. Sure, they can be very comfortable, but most airlines get to that point by putting an increasingly thick mini-mattress over the bed to hide the bumps and dips.

What you get is a pretty comfortable bed with a mostly comfortable seat. It works well considering the space constraints, but Lufthansa looked it in a different way. They applied typical German efficiency.

Lufthansa’s First Class on the 747 is dated. It does go fully flat, but you sit right next to someone. In a world of insanely-private suites and opulent amenities, it’s just not that competitive. So Lufthansa looked at the space and said, “Huh, instead of selling 16 First Class seats, why not sell only 8 of them so it’s more private?” And that’s exactly what they’re doing on the 747s starting April 22. So First Class customers will have two seats all to themselves.

But on 10 of the 747s, Lufthansa is pulling out eight of those seats and installing real beds instead. So there will still be eight First Class seats sold, but instead of two seats, you’ll have a seat and a bed. Works for me.

My only problem with this whole plan is that it’s only on 10 of the 747s. I’m told that these airplanes will not be dedicated to any specific routes, so it will really be luck of the draw. And that’s a bummer. It’s also kind of a waste since people won’t be willing to pay extra if they don’t know that they’ll actually get it. But it was emphasized to me that there will be only be 10 done “for now” because that’s how many they can get done this year. My guess is that we’ll either see more retrofitted later or we’ll just see more of the 747s retired.

Beginning next year, Lufthansa starts taking delivery of the bigger 747-8, and those will have this new First Class as well as a new business class. So it seems this year is something of a transition year.

I do like where the airline is going with this. You can now have a true bed and a comfortable seat for reclining and eating. Sounds like a nice way to pass the time to me. Combine that with the private First Class Terminal in Frankfurt and you’ve got an incredible experience from the time you arrive.

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