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Two more big carriers will add premium economy seating

The global trend toward a premium seating option in the economy cabin is taking another step forward with news that two big international carriers—both members of the Star Alliance—plan to introduce that amenity in the months ahead.

Lufthansa announced that its supervisory board has approved a major expenditure to transform its long-haul aircraft by adding a premium economy section, although it released no details yet. The airline said it will create a special project group early in 2013 to design the specifics of the new product.

“Premium Economy will be installed on the entire intercontinental fleet,” Lufthansa said in a statement. “This substantially upgraded Economy product will fill the gap between the superior Business Class segment, which features a seat that can be converted into a fully flat bed, on one side and the classic Economy Class on the other.”

Several of Lufthansa’s transatlantic competitors already offer premium economy seating on some or all flights, including Air France, British Airways, KLM, SAS, Virgin Atlantic and Turkish Airlines. The three largest U.S. transatlantic airlines—United, Delta and American—have also been adding extra-legroom seating to the front of their economy cabins.

Meanwhile, Air Canada hasn’t made any announcements yet, but Canadian media are reporting that the airline is expected to install new premium economy seating in next-generation long-haul aircraft as they are delivered.

That includes two new 777s that are due for delivery next summer, as well as Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which will be delivered starting in 2014.

Air Canada has no premium economy seating now, except for an extra-legroom section called Comfort Plus on a few 767-300s.

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