Lufthansa Continues To Cut First Class Capacity

There’s no denying that I love Lufthansa first class, which might explain why I’ve flown it as much as I have. It’s just such a lovely product, and one of the few airlines that has a truly top notch ground and onboard experience, in my opinion.

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Lufthansa first class caviar service

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Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Early last year, Lufthansa announced that they would be cutting first class on ~20% of their longhaul fleet, which certainly made me sad. At the time they had first class on 94 of their 100 longhaul aircraft, while they had plans to reduce that to 75 aircraft over the next two years. At the time, the source for the first class cuts came primarily in two areas:

  • A340-300 aircraft — the plan was to install the new business class product on these planes and eliminate first class entirely
  • 747-400 aircraft — at the time six of Lufthansa’s 747-400s didn’t yet feature the new first class, so the plan was to just install the new business class product on them and eliminate first class

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Lufthansa 747-400 first class cabin

Well, it looks like the cuts will be more drastic than that, as Lufthansa will eliminate first class on all 747-400 aircraft. That’s really unfortunate, since the 747-400 is the only aircraft to feature Lufthansa’s most innovative first class hard product, consisting of both a separate seat and bed for each passenger (not that I dislike the first class product on the 747-8, A330, A340, or A380). šŸ˜‰

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Lufthansa 747-400 first class seat

In May Lufthansa announced the five 747-400 routes on which they would stop selling first class, including:

  • Frankfurt to Osaka Kansai as of March 29, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Seoul Incheon as of March 29, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Tokyo Narita as of March 29, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Toronto as of March 8, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Vancouver as of February 5, 2015

Apparently that was only the start, as Lufthansa has just announced much more drastic cuts. Lufthansa has now announced additional routes on which they’ll no longer sell first class. Initially these flights will be sold as two cabin planes (with 67 business class seats and 322 economy class seats), though starting August 12, 2014, premium economy will be sold as well. That configuration will feature 67 business class seats, 32 premium economy seats, and 272 economy seats.

Via airlineroute.net, the 747-400 routes which will see the elimination of first class include:

  • Frankfurt to Vancouver as of March 26, 2015 (previously February 5, 2015)
  • Frankfurt to Toronto as of March 29, 2015 (previously March 8, 2015)
  • Frankfurt to Denver as of April 10, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Shanghai as of May 7, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Orlando as of May 15, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Boston as of May 25, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Osaka Kansai as of March 29, 2015 (as previously announced)
  • Frankfurt to Washington Dulles as of June 22, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Mumbai as of June 30, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Seattle as of June 30, 2015 (I’m not sure whether to be more sad about first class being cut, or more happy about the fact that Seattle is getting Lufthansa 747 service!!!)

It’s also interesting to note the new A380 and 747-8 routes that Lufthansa will be launching.

The following routes will see A380 service next summer:

  • Frankfurt to Los Angeles as of March 29, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Beijing as of April 16, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Seoul Incheon as of April 26, 2015

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Lufthansa Airbus A380

Meanwhile the following routes will see 747-8 service next summer

  • Frankfurt to Boston as of April 27, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Buenos Aires as of March 29, 2015
  • Frankfurt to Newark as of March 29, 2015
  • Frankfurt to New York JFK as of March 29, 2015

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Lufthansa Boeing 747-8

Bottom line

I fondly remember the days where Lufthansa had 16 first class seats on the 747-400, and they’d frequently make half of them available for awards. Then they reduced the size of the cabins and began releasing less space. And then they started only releasing first class award space to partner airlines at most 15 days out.

Add in the fact that they’re further cutting the number of first class seats and that MileagePlus devalued their award chart and LifeMiles is blocking Lufthansa first class award space, and Lufthansa first class is as unattainable on miles as ever.

Comments

  1. This is also annoying because, correct me if I’m wrong (haven’t flown LH in years) but don’t they have a fairly mediocre business class product AND a habit of not really releasing seats on it far in advance?

  2. Flew Lufthansa business class May 2013 on miles. Business class was nice—MUCH better than AA. Waiting for them to release space on United site for next summer. Nothing so far.

  3. This is too bad because all of the variations of Lufthansa’s First Class is Awesome while their old business class is awful and even there new business class is below average.

  4. Interesting they list Dulles, given that Dulles already gets 747-8 service, and hasn’t seen 747-400’s since the 8’s were having tech issues. It’s also been no less than 6/8 full — almost always 8/8 full, in fact — each of the ~10 times I’ve flown it.

    Are they planning to replace the 747-8 with the 400 and drop F? I can’t imagine that’s true…

  5. Well looks like this is my lucky day Mr. Lucky. After all your reports and help we are boarding a Lufthansa 747-400 today out of Chicago and headed to ICN via FRA. Lufthansa going away from the First CLass on the 747-400 this sure could be my last flight in the legend itself? Other good thing is we are flying Asiana a380 first to LAX.

  6. With a lot less passengers flying First it’s hard to see how the FC Terminal can’t be seeing a lot less traffic to the point where at some point they are going to consider shutting it down. Or do you think they’ll just let it run even if it is mostly empty since without it passengers will take a different carrier?

    I can only see them opening it up to Business class passengers unless they get rid of First entirely.

  7. I’m booked on the 747-400 from FRA-ORD next fall. I didn’t see it on the list. Do you know if my seat in F is going to disappear? Thanks!

  8. Sad news, I just flew both FC products 2 weeks ago. Both flights were awesome, but the cabin was empty. You think you’d just lower ticket prices, cut a deal with United to get them for lower miles or something? Paying to rip out all those cabins and install all news one can’t be cheap? It’s like airlines have never seen a supply and demand curve?

  9. Hey Lucky, sorry I’m a little confused so please clarify if you can. Is Seattle getting a 747 with F class up until June and then switching or is it the A330 until then and then switching to a 747 but only with business class going forward?

  10. @ Sachin — It’s anyone’s guess what plane they’ll be operating on the route by then. They haven’t loaded the finalized schedule for next fall yet.

  11. @ Steve — Given that it’s primarily intended for HON Circle members, I don’t see them getting rid of it, but I could be wrong. At its peak it was way overcrowded, so maybe this helps bring it to a more reasonable level of occupancy.

  12. @ Levy Flight — You’re just best off looking at the fare classes for individual flights and seeing if they have “F” class or not.

  13. @ James K. — Yep, interestingly we’ve seen some airlines eliminate first class in favor of “super business class,” though Lufthansa really has a mediocre business class product and is still eliminating first class. If I recall correctly part of the reason for their business class product being the way it is was so that first class was still sufficiently differentiated.

    Worst of all, the 747-400s will have seven seats per row in business class, so they’re going back to having middle seats in business class, which they don’t have on their 747-8s and A330s/A340s.

  14. Lack of demand
    Also, since they want to protect the premium cabin, it has its own problems like SQ
    If they had just opups from bz to F for full fare biz for their own elites, F would be full.
    and business would be available for awards as well.

    Anyway, I am glad there will be a premium economy product.
    I think they will take the 8 beds and 8 seats and pack double rows of economy plus
    I just wish there was a way to pay for that w miles
    BA has a good system of 1.5x from E-Y-C-F

    I wonder if they at least put recliners (old bz class seats at least in economy plus w 38in pitch) or if that is asking too much of them to show common sense.
    If you do not have a F, your C is bad, at least make up for that w paying pax w economy plus+ and charge a 50% premium

  15. sad that the golden goose is perhaps dieing… and that the heyday of the ultimate, aspirational F might be coming to an end.

    which makes me want to do the same trip Chris is taking.

    Lucky (or even Chris) — what mileage currencies would you use now, that are the best/most efficient way to get this Star Alliance itinerary: ORD-FRA-ICN (all in LH F) and then ICN-LAX (in Asiana F)?

    p.s. dont mind paying YQ if that means an equivalent amount of fewer miles will be required for the redemption. I value every $1 in YQ as representing 100 FFM. so a $500 YQ surcharge should be an equivalent of 50k in miles required comparatively (ex: one airline charges 70k in F with $500 or another just charges 120k in F with no YQ)… so open to both such scenarios. obviously looking for the best value proposition! danke.

  16. It’s unfortunate that they are removing their F cls products on their aircrafts
    Also, LH did not officially announce it but, LH is planning to place their A380 on their FRA-ICN route starting from Mid-April 2015

  17. Wait ! We are booked FC FRA to LAX next August. It was supposed to be the 747-8, and I was happy to have 1-A and 1-K. Flying where the Flight Crew usually sits seemed very cool. Plus we would both have window seats yet be fairly close together.

    LH has not notified us of the change, but I just checked online, and we are still booked in 1-A and 1-K, but on the A380 that means we are separated by 1-D and 1-G. Assuming all the other seats are still open, I assume we need to change to the middle two seats to have any experience of flying together. Do we want the first or second row? 1 is closer to the lavatories, 2 is closer to the galley. It being an 11.5 hour flight, and driving once we get there, I am going to need to get some sleep in flight.

  18. @ Adam — There really aren’t any good ones. LifeMiles is blocking Lufthansa first class, so that leaves Aeroplan and United, for all practical purposes. United is expensive as heck, Aeroplan imposes fuel surcharges and is still expensive. Bleh!

  19. @ Robert Hanson — I would do 2D & 2G. There’s not really any galley noise thanks to the thick curtains/dividers they use between first class and the galley.

  20. Wow, really surprised they are upgrading SEA to 747. I think a lot of A330s go out with empty seats. This makes the upgrade chance even better! When is it starting?

  21. LH F on 747-400 is awesome. So sad they are discontinuing it. One of the FAs said that some passengers cannot navigate the stairs.

    Sweet that SEA will get the 747-400 for a while before F disappears.

  22. Lucky, these reconfigured 2-class 747-400 will still feature the old business class, right? the middle seat would suggest that. Maybe they use the upper deck for Premium economy?
    Right now, as a business class passenger, the 747-400 must be avoided at all costs. I do enjoy the new business seats on the 747-800. So much storage space for the window seats on the upper deck!
    I’m very comfortable in United’s seats too, even the ones that face backwards. I don’t care if I have to step over somebody or if somebody climbs over me. If the seat goes 180-degree flat, I’m happy, if not, I’d rather sit in Economy Class!

  23. @ augias — Nope, they’re actually eventually installing a new business class product on the 747-400, though it will still have a middle seat.

  24. I am booked on a Miles & More award ticket for June 2015 SEA – FRA in business class. I was just made aware of the aircraft change to the 747-400. Will the new business class be installed in the 747-400’s by June 2015? Otherwise, I may have to look at upgrading to F since it will still be available thru end of June 2015 from Seattle.

  25. I think what you are seeing here is that there are more customers willing to pay for business class and premium economy (both in cash and in miles) and less willing to pay cash for first class, unless you are a carrier like Emirates. Given that, it makes sense for many airlines to increase business and PE at the expense of first. Delta is already there, and more airlines are moving in that direction.

  26. “…and Lufthansa first class is as unattainable on miles as ever.”

    @ Lucky — isn’t that more applicable to LX F? At least, LH F can be had with M&M miles.

  27. @ Ivan Y — Right, Swiss first class is almost entirely off limits, but I still think Lufthansa first class is as tough to snag as ever, between them reducing first class capacity and the partner programs making it prohibitively expensive to book Lufthansa first class.

  28. I am loosing my will to travel Lufthansa. Their non 747 400 first is nothing special, and the routes I use do not have it anyway. And their Business (old and new) is just terrible! Privacy is zero, it does not look comfortable, and the while new Business is sub par, it is safe to say their old Business is the worst on the market! Very disappointed in Lufthansa’s decision to follow the USA airline business model, and I will be avoiding them in the future…

  29. Ah yes. 8 seats with beds on the top deck was my favorite product. Better than Singapore, better than showers on Emirates. So very sorry to see it go:(

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