Many airlines now offer Premium Economy on long-haul flights. But the Premium Economy product can differ substantially between airlines. On some airlines, it’s a slight upgrade over Economy. For others, it’s more of a “Business Lite” experience.
So, what’s the Premium Economy experience like on German Star Alliance carrier Lufthansa? We found out on a Boeing 747 flight from Frankfurt to Dubai.
Note: This flight took place before COVID-19.
|Route||Frankfurt (FRA) to Dubai (DXB)|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 747-400 (D-ABVM)|
|Class of travel||Premium Economy|
|On-time performance||We arrived about 20 minutes late|
A Lufthansa Premium Economy ticket from Frankfurt to Dubai costs around $1,200 return, however it may be a little cheaper if you book a connecting flight ticket originating elsewhere in Europe (such as Amsterdam, as I did).
You could also redeem miles with some Star Alliance airlines. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles can’t be redeemed for Premium Economy flights on Star Alliance partners, but you could use Lufthansa Miles&More or Air Canada Aeroplan miles (for example).
I was connecting via Frankfurt from another Lufthansa flight coming from Amsterdam. It took almost an hour to disembark the previous flight via buses, walk (and walk, and then walk some more) to another terminal and finally clear immigration & security. This didn’t leave much time left to visit the Lufthansa Senator Lounge, which was otherwise very good.
Lufthansa Premium Economy passengers do not automatically receive lounge access, but can purchase Business Lounge access in Frankfurt and Munich for an additional €25 fee (or €50 for access to the arrivals lounge in Frankfurt).
As a Star Alliance Gold cardholder, I was able to use both the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and Lufthansa Senator lounges in Frankfurt. I prefer the Senator Lounge which has a good selection of food & drinks, a bar, showers and plenty of seating with tarmac views. I particularly like the beer taps in the Lufthansa lounges.
Boarding in Frankfurt was done in groups, with the electronic boarding gates automatically rejecting passengers trying to board before their zone was called. (I wish more airports would use this system!)
It’s worth noting that Lufthansa does not offer priority check-in or priority boarding to Premium Economy passengers. I was only able to use these benefits due to holding Star Alliance Gold status.
The Hard Product
The spacious seat is the main reason to upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy on Lufthansa. On the Boeing 747, Premium Economy is laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration.
The cloth-covered seats are wider than regular Economy seats and have substantially more legroom. The seats have a reasonable amount of recline and there is a leg-rest, although I am personally too tall to find this useful. The tray table is in the armrest between seats and each passenger has their own large personal TV screen. I was happy with the amount of in-flight entertainment content available, and enjoyed watching some of the interesting world movies.
On this particular Boeing 747-400 flight, I was allocated an aisle bulkhead seat in the front row of Premium Economy. There was ample legroom and I could stretch my legs out comfortably.
For a daytime flight of around 6 hours, I could not have asked for more. I was comfortable and able to get some work done using the in-flight wifi, although it did stop working intermittently during the later part of the flight. (I receive free Boingo wifi hotspot access with my 28 Degrees credit card, which also works on Lufthansa flights.)
If you wanted to sleep on an overnight flight, the Premium Economy seats are no substitute for a lie-flat Business class seat. But they certainly offer more comfort than Economy class.
The Soft Product
While the Lufthansa Premium Economy seat is pretty good, the service is not substantially differentiated from Economy class. You do get an extra baggage allowance (although you don’t get priority baggage) and receive a welcome drink – which on my flight was a delicious mango-passionfruit juice. Lufthansa Premium Economy passengers also receive an amenity kit and a bottle of water.
Pillows, blankets and noise-cancelling headphones were distributed, however the plug of the latter didn’t actually fit the headphone jack on this aircraft!
Printed menus are handed out, and the meals are served on proper china with metal cutlery. But the actual menu is exactly the same as that of Economy class – just presented more nicely! (Luckily, the Economy class catering is quite good anyway.)
This was the menu on my Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Dubai:
Shortly after takeoff, a drink from the bar was offered along with a hot towel and a small bag of crackers.
This was followed by lunch. I chose the lemon chicken, which was good.
A choice of a vegetarian cheese & salad wrap or a pastrami wrap was served about an hour before landing. It wasn’t quite a second meal, but enough to tide over my hunger at the end of the flight.
It’s worth mentioning that Lufthansa also offers a meal “upgrade” to Economy and Premium Economy passengers for an additional €20 fee. There are a range of “a la carte” meals to choose from, such as this tasty Thai chicken curry that I pre-ordered on a different Lufthansa flight departing from Frankfurt:
I do like with Lufthansa that the service is consistent. The crews are almost always professional and friendly, and you know what to expect. In particular, I appreciate the little touches such as the detailed announcements at the start of every long-haul flight explaining the service flow and exactly what time each meal will be served.
One final thing – if you’re travelling in Lufthansa Economy class, you can sometimes upgrade to Premium Economy on board for a reduced cost. If there are still seats available, the crew will usually make an announcement just after takeoff.
Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 Premium Economy Class
Lufthansa Premium Economy is a comfortable way to fly, but the service could be differentiated much more substantially from Economy class. This is an “Economy Plus” product, rather than “Business Lite”, but it’s worth the upgrade if the price is right.
It wouldn’t hurt if Lufthansa offered a few more benefits, such as priority check-in & boarding, to its Premium Economy passengers.