Review: Premium Economy Class with Lufthansa

Greenland InFlight

It turns out that premium economy class is the new cash cow for airlines, according to recent statements by Lufthansa. It is even more profitable than business class since premium economy fares are sometimes double the price of economy class but the space used is not double. That’s at least one of the reasons.

PE LH Success
Premium economy is the most successful cabin class for Lufthansa

But is premium economy really worth it? That’s what our editor Dennis SchΓ€fer wanted to find out enroute from Frankfurt to Shanghai.

Check-In

The check-in process was rather easy since I only travelled with hand luggage. I checked in online and had my electronic boarding pass in a few minutes.

Info

Please note: Be aware of the fact that Lufthansa does not issue mobile boarding passes from China to Germany. Their check in counter in Shanghai only opens 3 hours before the flight. Arriving early at the airport and passing some time in a lounge is therefore not possible.

Hand luggage rules are the same as with economy class and are as follows:

  • 1 piece of hand luggage with a maximum weight of 8kg (max. dimensions: 55 x 40 x 23 cm)
  • or a compact, foldable baby buggy
  • or a foldable garment bag (max. dimensions: 57 x 54 x 15 cm)
  • and a small item of baggage (max. dimensions: 30 x 40 x 10 cm, e.g. handbag, laptop bag)
  • or per child, either a baby carry cot, a child seat or a foldable pushchair
  • or mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and orthopaedic aids

However checked baggage rules differ from economy class: You are allowed 2 items of baggage, each up to 23 kg with a maximum size of 158 cm (width X + height Y + depth Z) per item.

Premium economy on Lufthansa does not include priority airport check-in, priority baggage handling, airport lounge access or priority boarding.

If you are a Star Alliance Gold member, you can get all above mentioned amenities plus you are allowed one extra piece of checked luggage.

Since I only hold a Frequent Traveller status with Miles & More for now and try to achieve a Star Alliance Gold status with another loyalty program this year (SAS EuroBonus), I was not able to experience the aforementioned benefits.

Workaround: For German American Express card holders there’s an agreement in place that allows them to visit the Lufthansa business class lounge at gates B in Frankfurt. However there is passport control before the B gates and I didn’t want to go through all of that effort to visit the lounge.

Luckily enough with my Priority Pass that also came with the American Express Platinum, I was able to visit the LuxxLounge landside. It is a nice spacious lounge. Food & drink selection was pretty standard for Priority Pass lounges.

Boarding

The seating area at the Z gates in Frankfurt airport feels very spacious. At all times there were enough available empty seats.

At first business class passengers and status holders were boarded, followed by families with small children. After that all other passengers were allowed to board. The total time for the boarding was about 25-30 minutes.

One thing that I miss in Europe in general is boarding according to boarding groups. The US airlines do that much better in my humble opinion. It makes the boarding process more efficient and less exhausting for passengers. Needless to say that I missed this with Lufthansa’s boarding and wish they would implement something like this soon.

There were really tempting upgrade offers available at the gate. Looks like Lufthansa didn’t fill their premium cabin classes on this flight. I must say that the business class offer was very interesting to me. However I decided to stay in premium economy after all and it turned out it was a good decision because I even got lucky with no seat neighbour during the flight. These were the upgrade prices:

  • Economy class to premium economy class 199 €
  • Premium economy class to business class 399 €
  • Economy class to business class for 499 €

Cabin & Comfort

There are about 32 premium economy class seats in Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400. Overall, there are 4 rows in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Lufthansa Premium Economy Class Boeing 747 8i 2
2-4-2 configuration in Lufthansa’s premium economy class

I like Lufthansa premium economy a lot, not least because of the seat. The are numerous reasons for that. First of all the seat feels very spacious. The width is excellent and there is plenty of leg room. I am 1.89 m tall and at no times I felt there is too little space. The cushion is not too hard and not too soft. The seat pitch feels excellent. I also like the adjustable head rest with foldable sides. There are also foot rests which many people seem to be a fan of. Personally, I am not a huge fan since most of the times I am not using them and they are rather uncomfortable on my shin bones. In this case they didn’t bother me too much since I had enough space for my legs.

There are two arm rests at each seat. Between two seats the arm rests are connected. That’s also where the tray tables are located. Once the tray table is out, it’s a bit hard to wake up from the seats without putting the tray table back into the arm rest.

I was able to get full 6 hours of sleep in this seat.

Before departure the air temperature became extremely hot. Some passengers must have complained as the pilot later on apologized and explained the situation: Apparently parked airplanes use ground-based air conditioning. However once the aircraft is in taxi, it has to use its own air conditioning system which takes some time to work in full power. The pilot must have forgotten to turn it on early enough.

I really liked the blanket at first. Not too thick, not too thin. Just right. However in the night I was pretty cold, especially my arms. The size of the blanket is also not gigantic, so my feet were not covered and became cold as well. The pillow was pretty standard. Felt a bit thin overall.

When you sit down you have immediate access to water which has been left for you in the holder between the two seats in front of you.

The amenity kit is pretty average and contains an eye mask, socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a refreshing towel and ear plugs. That’s it. Not that it bothered me much that there was no creme or lip balm but I have flown normal economy class and received amenity kits that contained these. Therefore I was a bit disappointed here.

You share the toilets with economy class in Lufthansa premium economy. With that many people sharing a toilet, it doesn’t take long for it to get dirty and rather unpleasant. I would have not mentioned this would I have not been spoiled by EVA Airways which offers a separate toilet exclusively for their premium economy passengers. The toilet itself was very basic. Soap, toilet, basin. Nothing to rave about.

Food & Service

I received a really nice welcome drink after boarding. It was based on orange juice with crushed mint leafs. Very tasty and a nice gesture.

What started nice turned into an overall average experience I would say.

Food service began about 1,5 hours after departure. It felt a bit slow to say the least. I received a printed out menu but soon realised that my choice of food was the same as in economy class. Just with nicer utensils. For dinner I chose the chicken and I was not very happy about it. The rice was mashy, the chicken a bit overcooked and the peas were terribly overcooked. However breakfast was great! I chose scrambled eggs. Taste was on point. As always with economy class, I felt the portions were a bit too small. But I always travel with additional snacks for cases like that, so didn’t have huge problems with it.

I was not offered additional bread after food had been served. Disappointing.

In general the service did not feel great. I cannot say that the employees were unfriendly but I also didn’t get a very hearty and welcoming feel. It was just enough service to be ok but too little to be happy about it.

One side note: While I appreciate the extra service by Lufthansa in handing out arrival cards, the employees should have some kind of knowledge about them. I mentioned that I am transiting in China and making use of the 24-hour visa-free transit rule and had a few questions. None of my questions could be answered and additionally, it was the wrong arrival card for visa-free transit which I only noticed at the immigration counter…

Entertainment & WiFi

I didn’t use the entertainment system at all since it was a very late flight and I just slept and worked a bit. However I was able to scroll through the menu. It looks like Lufthansa offers a really extensive entertainment selection. The screen itself has an ok size.

LH PE FRA PVG Entertainment

I wanted to charge my phone through the USB slot that is located next to the screen. Unfortunately for some reason the USB socket didn’t work. I used the electricity plugs located at the bottom of my seat instead and that worked just fine.

I tried to connect to the WiFi service but it did not work until about 2 hours after departure.

The options that were offered were very unattractive to me. Too expensive for what you get. I passed and just slept. However I have summarised the information for you:

€7: Flynet Chat

  • Speed is limited to 64 kbps
  • The internet access is valid on this flight only

€17: Flynet Mail and Surf

  • Speed is limited to 400 kbps
  • Up to 500 MB of data
  • The internet access is valid on this flight only
  • After having reached the data volume limit, speed is limited to 64 kbps

€29: Flynet Mail and Surf Plus

  • No speed limit
  • Up to 1 GB of data
  • The internet access can be used for up to 24 hours on connecting long haul flights
  • After having reached the data volume limit, speed is limited to 64 kbps
Lufthansa Boeing 747 Premium Economy
  • Check-In & Boarding
  • Cabin & Comfort
  • Food & Service
  • Entertainment & WiFi
  • Extras
3.3
Conclusion

I will book Lufthansa premium economy class again. The seat and space is great and due to my height that’s extremely important to me. Service and other amenities can be improved. Another benefit of booking premium economy is the mileage accrual. If you keep that in mind and wait for nice deals, you can get a decent amount of more comfort for just a small amount of extra spending.

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Comment (1)

  1. Richard Eyre says:

    Hi
    I think it is unreasonable of you to expect the flight attendants to be able to answer questions about your particular visa situation – they work for Lufthansa, not Chinese Immigration. The fact that they tried to help you get ahead of the game by handing out arrival cards should be seen as a positive which might help the majority of arriving passengers.

    Which one is it ? The amenity kit is pretty average …Not that it bothered me much”…”Therefore I was a bit disappointed here.” So it did bother you then !?
    A little confused
    Richard

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