Last February I posted Lufthansa to Reduce First Class on Long Haul Aircraft by 15-20%, where Lufthansa formally announced plans to remove first class seating from about 15-20% of long-haul flights due to weak demand. Well, last week in an interview with Bloomberg, CEO Christoph Franz noted that the “premium cabin revamp” has been a success. He points out that the first class cabin previously was dominated by passengers who had redeemed points for awards and that there has been considerable growth in paying passengers. From Bloomberg:
Chief Executive Officer Christoph Franz said that Lufthansa may have stuck with a comprehensive first-class network for too long, and that the product risked becoming “an upgrade class” for people redeeming frequent flyer points. “For an entire product class to be more or less serving as a mile-burning product, that’s not the right thing,” the CEO said in an interview in New York on Nov. 6. “It’s a top-notch luxury product. We want to have passengers essentially for first class, with a few upgrades.”
Sales of first-class tickets have risen more than 10 percent following a revamp of its premium cabins and efforts to fill seats with paying customers rather than passengers burning air miles. The trimming of first-class routes to focus on the strongest markets, coupled with cheaper but less flexible fares aimed at wealthy leisure travelers, has also spurred uptake of the premium product, Jens Bischof, sales chief for Lufthansa’s main brand, said in an interview at the carrier’s Frankfurt hub.
Luckily, for those of us redeeming United miles, there really hasn’t been much impact. Why? Lufthansa first class generally has excellent last minute availability from the US for award redemptions using United miles and Ultimate Rewards points for travel to Europe and onwards to Asia. 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 as Lufthansa continues to prefer filling the seats with an award passenger rather than letting them go out empty…you just have to wait until a day or two before departure when they are more confident that they aren’t going to be selling the seats. For example, looking at flights for today, there is fantastic availability from New York in First to both Frankfurt and Munich. Of course, the price of these redemptions will soon be increasing with United’s announced devaluation for partner awards.