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Lufthansa is the latest airline to take delivery of one of the newest wide-body aircraft, the Airbus A350 XWB. I recently got the chance to join Airbus and Lufthansa at the aircraft’s delivery ceremony at the Lufthansa Technik Hangar in Munich.
After hearing some speeches from Carsten Spohr (CEO of the Lufthansa Group), Dr. Markus Söder (the Bavarian Finance Minister), Dr. Michael Kerkloh (the CEO of Munich Airport) and Thomas Enders (the CEO of Airbus), we were invited to take a tour of the Lufthansa’s first A350 XWB.
What’s great about the carrier’s new aircraft is that it improves comfort for all its long-haul passengers, no matter which class they’re flying in. This is mainly because of the extra-wide cabin cross-section — exactly why it’s called the XWB.
With the Airbus A350-900, we introduce a new milestone in our fleet strategy as its entry into service marks a generational change on long-haul routes.Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr
The new A350 has some features that are already onboard other aircraft, such as the A380, so they’ll look familiar to travelers who are used to flying LH long-haul, but the new plane still has some tricks — like new economy seats, a new onboard entertainment system and a ‘self-service bar’ — up its sleeve.
There are two business-class cabin sections on this aircraft, each with a 2-2-2 configuration — there’s still no direct aisle access for Lufthansa passengers. This is such a shame, as a new aircraft delivery would have been the perfect opportunity for the airline to introduce a product that offered direct-aisle access. This is the same seat you’ll find on Lufthansa’s other wide-body planes, such as the A380 and 747-8 — it reclines into a horizontal sleeping surface measuring 78 inches (1.98 meters) in length.
Illuminated handrails underneath the overhead compartments are a nice touch, an enhancement that’s becoming more common on A350 aircraft.
The ‘Self-Service Bar’
In the build up to the A350 delivery for Lufthansa, the airline promoted its new ‘self-service bar’ that would be stocked with snacks and drinks.
While this is a nice enhancement to the business-class cabin, I wish Lufthansa hadn’t branded the offering as a ‘bar’ — the carrier would have been better off not mentioning the enhancement at all, rather than build up expectations of having a full bar only to find that it’s really a drop-down table near the galley that offers some snacks during the flight.
The ‘self service bar’ is located between the first business-class cabin and the second, smaller business-class cabin, and can only be set up once the seatbelt sign is off, providing there’s no turbulence. It’s a little different from the Emirates onboard bar, that’s for sure!
Lufthansa’s premium economy seats are popular, as they are up to an inch wider with approximately four more inches of room on the sides thanks to each seat having its own wide armrest and a center console between the seats. The back rest can be reclined further and the seat pitch is a significantly more spacious 38 inches. There are only three rows of premium economy class on the A350, arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration, and the seats offer around one-and-a-half times as much room as the ones in regular economy.
Headrests can be set to the exact height desired and folded at the sides, while height-adjustable footrests (from the second row back) consist of leg supports with an integrated footrest to provide extra comfort.
As in business class, there are practical features around the seats, such as a bottle holder, electrical sockets and some storage space.
The A350-900 also offers more comfortable seating for passengers in regular economy due to the wider cabin, which is arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration. On Lufthansa’s A350, the seats have been redesigned to maximize space.
The economy seats are made up of various shades of blue, which becomes lighter toward the center of the cabin. It’s certainly a clever trick of the eye, to have the cabin appear more spacious. Each seat offers 31 inches of pitch.
Lufthansa frequent flyers will welcome the new seats, as they felt more comfortable than the existing ones and are a bit more attractive, too. Savvy travelers should pre-book seats like 28A, pictured below, which has no seat in front of it due to the emergency exit, offering a huge amount of extra legroom.
An interesting new addition to the aircraft is the refreshed inflight entertainment system, which now allows passengers to pre-select content from home as early as six weeks in advance. Once passengers have downloaded the “Lufthansa Companion App” onto their own tablet or mobile phone, they can synchronize their the selections with their individual IFE screen.
It’s great news for passengers that Lufthansa will now be flying the A350 XWB aircraft. Personally, I think it’s the best long-haul aircraft besides the A380 in terms of passenger comfort throughout all its classes. Fresh air is circulated through the cabin every 2-3 mins, while LED mood lighting and an extra-wide footprint means that as a passenger, I find I feel more refreshed and less jet lagged after flying on an A350. Despite Lufthansa not introducing a game-changing new product to enhance what the A350 has to offer, it’s a very nice cabin with comfort in mind throughout all of three of its onboard classes.
For more on the Airbus A350, see:
- Review: Singapore Airlines (A350-900) Business Class from SFO to Singapore
- Behind the Scenes at Airbus’ Singapore A350 Delivery Ceremony
- Touring the 10,000th Airbus Plane (Singapore Airlines’ A350-900)
Are you excited to fly on Lufthansa’s first A350 XWB?
All photos courtesy of the author.
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