It is hard to get excited when you read about airlines introducing “innovative seats” that will “make travelling even more comfortable” when it relates to developments in the economy cabin of a single-aisle aircraft. All regular travellers ultimately don’t really want to be sat down in the back cabin, but on short-haul flights that has become the norm and in Europe in particular there is now actually little difference in terms of cabin design.
- Lufthansa has taken delivery of its first Airbus A321neo, the first aircraft to be fitted out with its new short- and medium-haul seat offering;
- The design will be the standard fitting on all future single-aisle aircraft deliveries for Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines;
- Lufthansa is currently deploying the aircraft on its domestic network linking Frankfurt to Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.
It is German flag carrier Lufthansa that is talking about a “new, improved seat for an even more comfortable travel experience” following the entry into service of its first A321neo. The airline has operated the smaller A320neo since last year and now operates 19 of the type, according to the CAPA – Centre for Aviation Fleet Database, but the arrival in May-2019 of the larger 215-seat A321neo has brought a new interior design into operation.
The aircraft (registration D-AIEA), which is currently being used on domestic routes linking Frankfurt to Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, is the first with the new short- to medium-haul seat that will be the standard fitting on all future single-aisle aircraft deliveries for Lufthansa, as well as its sister European flag carriers Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines. In fact, the only distinguishing features will be a different trim and an airline branded headrest on each seat.
The seat comes from Italian manufacturer Geven and is an adaption of its Essenza seat, which is also being used by LCCs such as flynas, InterJet and Wizz Air, albeit these will likely be in a denser arrangement possibly seating almost 240 passengers. When it announced its order Lufthansa described the seat as “jointly developed” with the manufacturer, with Geven going as far as describing Lufthansa as a “demanding and meticulous customer but also an ideal partner for developing new products”.
Lufthansa Group will gain from the introduction of a modern lightweight seat, although the benefits to the customer may not be as obvious. The carrier highlights a standard 20 degree inclination of the backrest across all seats with business class customers able to recline to 26 degrees during the cruise. The slimming of the seat and the backrest also provides “more personal space,” says the airline even if the pitch may actually be a little tighter.
One big benefit though is the introduction of USB ports in the current and future standard, which is the first time this is available within the Lufthansa Group on short-haul flights. Passengers will also be able to set up their own tablets with a special column inserted into the table to facilitate the tablet holder.
“Many customer feedbacks have been incorporated into the design of the seat. We received a lot of positive feedback on the new features. We are therefore convinced that the new seat and the modern ambience of the cabin will further improve the travel comfort of our guests,” says Paul Estoppey, head of product management cabin for the Lufthansa Group Hub Airlines.
Above all, for the Lufthansa Group the seat’s introduction highlights its increased purchasing power with all future A321neos configured and unified in such a way that the aircraft can be adapted quickly and easily when transferred between Lufthansa Group airlines. This enables the company “to react faster and more flexibly to current developments and to move aircraft and capacities more easily and efficiently to another airline or to another hub,” it explains.