It’s a concept that anyone who has travelled in Economy Class with light loads will be more than familiar with… stretching out across several seats to get an elevated sleeping experience in what has been dubbed as ‘poor man’s Business Class’. And with many airlines flying near-empty planes around the world due to the pandemic, it’s a benefit that the few people who are flying have been able to experience a little more often this year.
Lufthansa has clearly seen an opportunity to monetize this little perk and is now trialling what it calls ‘Sleeper’s Row’ with an initial trial taking place on flights between Frankfurt and São Paulo.
Economy Class passengers on flights with a light load will be given an opportunity to purchase three or four adjacent seats in a row (dependent on whether the sleeper row is next to a window or in the middle of the cabin) for an additional fee of €220 / $260.
The offer will only be available at check-in or at the boarding gate because, presumably, Lufthansa could still make more money from selling individual seats. Along with the extra space, passengers willing to pay a little extra will also get a Business Class sleep kit with pillows, blanket and topper, as well as priority boarding with premium passengers.
Importantly, Lufthansa is marketing this purely as a way for passengers to get a better nights sleep on long-haul flights rather than giving passengers additional space for social distancing purposes. Like many carriers, Lufthansa insists it’s safe to fill planes to capacity so long as everyone wears a face mask and avoid too much movement around the cabin.
A plan by Frontier to allow passengers to purchase an empty middle seat for social distancing quickly drew a fierce backlash and the Denver-based low-cost-carrier quickly soon the marketing gimmick.
An Economy Class sleeper row, however, is far from unique. Air New Zealand has sold its ‘Skycouch’ for years and not only is it pre-bookable but it also comes with the benefit of a special footrest that can be lifted all the way up to expand the footprint of the bed.
The now defunct airline Joon also trialled a similar concept which, again, came with a footrest that extended the amount of space you could lay-on. In theory, the extension makes it possible for two passengers to share the same sleeper row, although that would prove to be a challenge on Lufthansa.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.