The latest developments in international carriers’ long-haul fleets include Lufthansa’s completion of a long-term cabin overhaul, British Airways’ re-commitment to a disappearing wide-body, and Singapore Airlines resetting of premium economy schedules.
Lufthansa said it has finally finished a four-year project that it calls “the most extensive cabin renewal program in the company’s history” — an overhaul of business class and economy class in all 106 of its long-haul aircraft. In addition, 76 of the planes also have new first class cabins now, Lufthansa said, and by this fall, all long-haul flights will also offer a premium economy section. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr first told TravelSkills about the seat upgrade plan in a interview back in 2011. In all, the airline spent $1.7 billion installing or modifying a total of 39,000 seats — including 7,000 new fully-flat seats in business class and 3,600 seats in premium economy class, “which has already become a best-seller,” the airline said. The work also included installation of new in-flight entertainment screens with more audio and video content, and the deployment of Lufthansa’s on-board broadband Wi-Fi network called FlyNet, now available on all long-haul flights.
While many airlines are phasing out their four-engine Boeing 747s in favor of new twin-engine long-haul aircraft, British Airways decided to keep the big birds around for a while. So BA is refitting the Boeing jumbos, and the first one to be finished just went into service between London Heathrow and New York. They’ll also be flying from LHR to Chicago and Boston, as well as Lagos, Riyadh and Kuwait. Among the improvements in BA’s 18 747s: A new in-flight entertainment system from Panasonic Avionics called the eX3, its most advanced version. It provides passengers with high-res touch-screens, along with 1,300 hours of programming, including 400 TV shows and 130 films. Seats in both economy and premium economy got new foam and new covers matching those in BA’s other long-haul models. Seats in premium economy (World Traveller Plus) got universal power sockets, while economy (World Traveller) seats got USB ports for charging devices.
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Some U.S. passengers who were hoping to try out the new premium economy seating section on Singapore Airlines will have to wait a little longer. The company said the installations are not going as fast as hoped, so it will have to reaccommodate some passengers who have already booked the new cabin on some of its early flights. On the Singapore-Tokyo-Los Angeles route (SQ012/011), premium economy will not be available December 1 to January 16 on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday flights; and December 2-January 29 for other days of the week, the airline said. On the Singapore-Frankfurt-New York route, premium economy will not debut as planned on December 14, but the airline gave no new starting date for the seats. The airline released a chart of all the affected international routes. “Customers with ticketed bookings who are affected by the delays will be contacted progressively by Singapore Airlines or travel agents to offer alternative travel arrangements,” the airline said.
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