On Thursday 2nd February, Lufthansa unveiled the latest addition to its fleet: the Airbus A350-900 XWB (extra wide body). Lufthansa is the 10th airline to take delivery of this type of aircraft, receiving it on December 19th 2016. In total, Lufthansa has ordered 25 Airbus A350-900. The first 10 planes will be stationed in Munich, with Delhi and Boston as the first two destinations. Delhi will see the first A350-900 on Friday 10th February. Lufthansa has yet to decide if the subsequent 15 aircraft will be stationed in Munich or Frankfurt.
Initially, the A350s will be deployed on routes currently being served by Airbus A330/A340s, which will means that First Class will no longer be available on those departures.
Lufthansa has selected a cabin layout with 48 seats in Business Class, 21 seats in Premium Economy, and 224 seats in Economy. The seats in Business and Premium Economy are the same as the rest of the airline’s fleet, while Economy features brand new seats.
A completely new entertainment system has been installed, which offers about 100 movies and 200 TV shows. The screens are bigger than before and the interface has been updated. Lufthansa has also developed an app that can be used to access on-board material six weeks in advance, allowing passengers to create their own playlists ready for when they fly. Latest news and sports results are also available via live TV or the FlyNet portal, which is free.
New LED lights have been installed to provide ambience and atmosphere, as well as to sync with passengers’ body clocks to ease jetlag. In total, there are 24 different pre-programmed light settings.
As you come on board, you will notice that there is an entirely interior, with everything seeming very fresh and spacious. Luggage racks do not take as much space as previous, which makes the plane feel very airy.
When it comes to Business Class and Premium Economy, the seats are the same as the rest of Lufthansa’s fleet. 48 Business Class seats are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration, which is unfortunately not quite ideal if you are tall as it can be quite cramped when the seat is reclined into a bed. The seat itself is comfortable, if a little compact. A new feature on the Airbus A350 in Business is the self-service buffet, where you can grab yourself drinks and snacks between meals. If you wish to continue to be served at your seat, that is of course still an option.
Premium Economy is arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration. It is a good product with ample legroom. The front row even has leg support, while the two rows behind have a footrest.
In Economy Class, there is a 3-3-3 configuration featuring a very comfortable new seat. Unfortunately, the legroom is very limited and a longer trip could be troublesome if you are tall. When you recline the seat backwards, the cushion also moves forward slightly.
However, there are some places that offer decent room, like rows 16 and 27, which are both exit rows. Seats 18C and 18H, and 28A and 28K are located behind the exit rows, making them the best Economy seats as the seat in front of them is missing. However, the tray table and in-flight monitor are installed in the armrest, making the armrest immovable and slightly reducing the seat width.
The Airbus A350 is a completely new aircraft that has only been in operation for two years. It incorporates new Rolls-Royce Trent engines, which, employed together with improvements in aerodynamics and materials, reduce fuel consumption by 25%, emit 25% less carbon dioxide, and also decrease noise during takeoff and landing by about 50%.
The aircraft’s appearance is also very different from previous models. One can especially notice this on the wing tips, which bend upwards, while the nose is placed much lower. This is primarily an aerodynamic innovation to reduce air resistance. Meanwhile, the black border around the windows of the cockpit is only there to “improve” the plane’s appearance.