A Lufthansa 747-8 departing Frankfurt for LAX – Photo: Brandon Farris
I recently flew aboard two Lufthansa Boeing 747-8s. In doing so I was able to cross off a longstanding item on my AvGeek to-do list. Like most (all?) AvGeeks, I have long had a passion for the 747. Sure, there are plenty of great planes flying today, but there’s something about the Queen of the Skies that is inexplicably special. Despite having admired the 747 for the greater part of my life, this was the first time I flew aboard one. Did I mention it was upstairs in business class, both ways? This is the stuff AvGeek dreams are made of. I had extremely high expectations from years of envy and admiration. Let’s discuss how the queen held out, shall we?
Korean Air’s new 747-8I glistening during delivery – Photo: Colin Cook | AirlineReporter
Earlier this week, at the Everett Delivery Center, Korean Air and Boeing celebrated delivery of the airline’s first of ten 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft. The delivery marked Korean becoming the only carrier of both the freighter and passenger variant, with Korean already operating seven freighters. We were invited to attend the delivery ceremony and it certainly did not disappoint.
Arriving about an hour prior to the ceremony beginning, I had the opportunity to do a little light plane spotting and to chat with some other members of the media. As you can imagine, security is tight at events like this and we had to go through a couple security checks. Once in the delivery center, I was allowed to step out onto the terrace to watch the big 747-8I be towed up to the Delivery Center. As the plane neared, the Korean Air pilots were also outside on the terrace with us. You could tell how excited they were to be a part of this event and to fly this beautiful plane home.
My ride to Newark — the first Boeing 747-8I (D-ABYA) to enter service commercially. Seen here from ground level!
I have been lucky enough to fly a few different airlines in first class. I am referring though to international first class here, not domestic ’œfirst class.’ An airline that I have been obsessed to fly in first class is Lufthansa.
My flight on Lufthansa would be two firsts for me: flying their first class and being a passenger on the updated Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. Having one first is normally exciting enough as it is, but two? Yes… one could say that I was excited!
Lufthansa first class seats 1A & 1K, in the nose of a 747. Can’t get any far farther into the pointy end than this.
The benefit of departing Frankfurt with a first class ticket starts when one arrives at the airport. I was given access to their first class terminal, which was amazing. When it was time to board my flight, I was driven in a Mercedes Vito van that took me on a quick ride across the tarmac to my gate in the A/Z concourse.
Riding along at ground level and looking up at gate after gate of 747s is pretty special. When we pulled up to our gate, the very first 747-8I (D-ABYA) was looming above me. Being able to step out onto the ramp and snap a photo is nice. Being ushered all the way up to the aircraft by our driver is even better. Even though boarding was already underway when we arrived, our driver created a hole in the crowd and had us at the front in mere moments. Now THAT is service.
Front part of Lufthansa’s special retro livery on the Boeing 747-8I – Photo: Lufthansa
Lufthansa was the first airline to fly the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental and now has 16 of the type in service. Over the history of the airline and the 747 program, Lufthansa has been a very good customer. They have operated the 747-100, 200, & 400 (with a good portion of those 747-400s still flying).
The airline, as a whole, has been around since 1926 (in some form or another), during which time they have been through a number of liveries. What better way for an airline to receive their latest aircraft than to paint it in an retro livery?
Air China’s first 747-8 completing its first flight – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Air China has taken delivery of their first 747-89L, making them the second operator of the 747-8 Intercontinental after Lufthansa.
Air China will operate the 747-8 on training flights from Beijing to Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport. The aircraft’s first international destination will be Frankfurt, with New York and Los Angeles both slated to gain service as more aircraft arrive.
Air China’s 747-8 is configured in four classes with 12 first class seats, 54 business class, 66 premium economy, and 233 economy seats. Economy class will offer between 32 and 33 inches of seat pitch, whilst Premium Economy will offer 38″. The aircraft will also feature onboard wifi.
The whole cabin was designed by famed Chinese designer Han Meilin. But it was odd that we didn’t get more information about the interior.