Bloomberg is reporting that Lufthansa plans to remove first class seating from about 15-20% of long-haul flights due to weak demand. Believe it or not, Lufthansa currently has first class seating in more than 90% of its wide-body fleet, something unheard of for American and European based carriers. For comparison, British Airways has first class on 80% of its long-haul fleet while Air France has 40% of its long-haul fleet outfitted with first class seating. Chief Executive Officer Christoph Franz told Bloomberg that first class will disappear from some A340-400 aircraft this year and from select B747-400 aircraft in 2014. “They’ll serve routes where there is simply no more demand for first class.” “We’re a little bit exotic here — we had first class seats on 94 of our 100 long- haul planes. Others thought we were mad.” The healthiest first-class routes currently include Frankfurt to Kuwait, Johannesburg, Riyadh and Miami.
Lufthansa first class generally has excellent availability from the US for award redemptions using United miles and Ultimate Rewards points for travel to Europe and onwards to Asia. I’ve taken advantage of their generosity several times over the last few years! If you’re willing to book your travel plans last minute, you are almost guaranteed to find LH first-class award availability from a US departure point. Take a look at flights from NYC to Frankfurt and Munich on Friday…
So, what routes are in jeopardy of loosing first class? It’s hard to say as LH will likely swap aircraft based on those markets where first class is just not working and the article mentions that only some A340-3 and B747-4 aircraft will loose the first class product. One route that is mentioned is Vancouver (YVR) – Frankfurt, currently served with an A340-300 aircraft.
North American A340-300 routes
North American B747-400 routes
B747-400 – EWR-FRA (Newark seems unlikely, UA hub and prime NYC market)
Major North American Frankfurt bound routes served with other aircraft
A340-600 – JFK
JFK-MUC A330-300 (Munich)
EWR-MUC A340-600 (Munich)
ORD-MUC A330-300 (Munich)
Some of the more popular Asian routes