: Lufthansa 747-8 FRA-EWR J
Background: My favorite airplane is the Boeing 747. Over the last several years, my mission has been to fly on 747-400s with as many airlines as possible. The rate of 747-400 retirements has unfortunately been increasing, but the good news is that Boeing decided to build a new iteration of this legendary aircraft: the 747-8. With only three airlines currently operating the passenger version, my new mission is to fly on the 747-8 with all of them.
The first 747-8 operator to try was Lufthansa, the launch customer for the passenger 747-8 Intercontinental. This year I had two trips to Europe. I scheduled both trips to begin with flights on the Lufthansa 747-400, and both trips to conclude with return flights on the Lufthansa 747-8. During my Mission: 747
I have loved flying on the 747-400 with ten different operators, and I was thrilled to be able to try the new version of my favorite plane for the first time with Lufthansa.
Please enjoy the reports, and I look forward to your comments.
Departure: 13:20 (actual 13:36)
Arrival: 15:45 (actual 15:28)
Actual Block Time: 7h52
Actual Flight Time: 7h29
Seat: 88A Business Class
I arrived to Frankfurt's T1 Lufthansa Business Class check-in area, and found no line. I had a nice in-person check-in, and received a cardstock boarding pass along with directions to Z-gates. There was also no line at passport control, and only a short line at security. Security in this area featured a weird full-body scanner, which I noticed was optional, so I requested the alternative manual check, which actually seemed to take no longer than the scanner! To get to the Z-gates, the path has you walk through the large duty free shop. Once out of the shop, I intended to photograph my plane at Gate Z62, but it turns out that to access the concourse, your boarding pass must first be scanned. I decided to instead visit the lounge, and proceed to the gate early enough for photos. I enjoyed relaxing in the Lufthansa lounge from around 10:45 to 12:00. Boarding was set for 12:35, and departure for 13:20.
I was feeling quite happy about my flight today, my first on the 747-8. I'm glad Boeing built the 747-8, and that at least three passenger airlines decided to operate it: Lufthansa, Air China, and Korean Air. Lufthansa will be my first. Today's flight would also be my second Lufthansa longhaul flight. My first was at the start to this trip, on the 747-400. I would be starting my first-ever 747-8 experience right, by sitting on the elongated upper deck in Lufthansa Business Class. It should be a great flight home.
I headed to the gate at 12:00; it was a 10-minute walk to Gate Z62. I met my first 747-8, D-ABYH, being prepared for our transatlantic journey. I took a moment to admire the beautiful design of the newest Queen of the Skies. Swept-back wing tips, modern engines, and the stretched upper deck. In fact the world's longest plane! Lufthansa had introduced their new livery shortly before my trip, and while the first aircraft to receive the new livery was in fact a 747-8, my aircraft today was in the old livery.
At the gate in FRA:
I joined the queue for boarding to try to be among the first onboard my waiting 747-8. After a small number of people pre-boarded, either those with small children or those needing extra assistance, boarding began for First Class, Business Class, Lufthansa Senators, and Star Alliance Gold. I boarded through L1, passed through the maindeck Business Class, and then up the stairs to the upper deck. I liked the stylish new design for the stairs, complete with two windows providing some nice natural light.
I was the first one into the stretched upper deck. I found my seat, 88A, the last seat on the left-hand side, providing a view of the entire cabin, but also affording privacy.
Lufthansa 747-8 Upper Deck:
Lufthansa's first flat-bed Business Class seats debuted on the 747-8. The 2-2 arrangement was not uncommon at the time, but the unique design chosen by Lufthansa has each pair of seats angled towards each other. In fact the footwell, or ottoman, is shared by both passengers, separated by only a small divider. The arrangement quickly became known as footsie class, being critized enough so that the layout was modified for installation on newer aircraft, with the pairs of seats angled the same direction with their own footwells. Today's flight would be my first in the original Luftansa footsie class. I found no privacy dividers between the seats, and thought it was a weird design with the IFE screen directly in front, despite the seats not facing directly to the front. The screen can instead be swiveled around a hinge, but not really to align with your line of sight, as my seat was angled towards the aisle. I was happy to find the typical 747 side storage bins, a common feature of a 747 upper deck seat, and one I particularly appreciate, although with the limited number of seats here, there was plenty of overhead space as well. Passengers continued slowly boarding, a nice start to my international Business Class experience.
View of the footwells for Seats 88AC:
Once the upper deck boarded full, pre-departure beverage service commenced. German sparkling white wine, orange juice or water were offered. I accepted a sparkling wine and a water, along with my seatmate, a friendly German gentleman who mistook me for a German speaker as I tried to utilize my foreign language German skills. I recognized the experience so far as an incredible improvement over my Detroit boarding experience at the start of this trip. I was enjoying settling in to my first 747-8. It was a bright cabin with modern LED lighting, truly a clean, welcoming cabin. The windows were lower than I remembered on the 747-400. The seats were stocked with a pillow, blanket and amenity kit, bottled water under the screen, and Bose noise-cancelling headphones inside the armrest.
Safety Card and Seat Controls:
The captain's welcome announcement said we were nearly ready to go on this sunny afternoon. My flight attendant arrived, introducing herself and greeting my seatmate and me by name. She asked if we both spoke German, to which I answered ein bisschen
, which was good enough for her to continue speaking to me about the flight in German. I am really interested in practicing and improving my German, so I hoped to continue speaking to the flight attendant in German for the rest of the flight.
The purser's welcome announcement highlighted the fact that we were aboard a 747-8, "the newest iteration of the legendary Boeing 747 jumbo jet. At 76.3m or 251ft, it's the longest airliner in the world." The flight time will be 7h30.... Very nice welcome with the information about the Queen of the Skies.
The view from 88A:
The safety video began in German, followed by English. Pushback was at 13:36. The captain invited us to watch the takeoff by viewing one of the outside cameras installed on the aircraft.
At 13:51 it was time for our takeoff, from a stop. I could hear a small bit of futuristic engine noise at first, but then it was very quiet. I could hear more wind noise than engine noise. There was not too much pushback into the seat, and after a long takeoff roll, we were airborne into a pretty steep climb. Somehow it became even quieter than before.
For my first show, I chose a documentary of the Swiss Gotthard tunnel: A Giant Beneath the Alps
, the longest rail tunnel in the world at 57km, through which I expect to travel next year. The IFE was showing an estimated arrival time of 15:27. Before my show could start, there were numerous announcements on TSA regulations, US arrivals info, and WiFi availability info.
Service began, front to back with the first flight attendant, middle to back with the second flight attendant, and simultaneously back to front with my third flight attendant, leading me to be among the first served. Drinks and almonds were offered, and I asked for champagne - wunderbar!
- the champagne was presented, offered to taste, and then served. This was excellent service so far from my very friendly German flight attendant, who very kindly didn't mind me practicing my German.
Meal orders were taken, and I requested the octopus followed by the vegetable ragout: for the appetizer, Seafood and Octopus Salad with Passe Pierre Seaweed and grilled Zucchini
, for the salad, Seasonal Leaf Lettuce with Cucumber, Tomato and Pumpkin Seed Oil Vinaigrette
, and for the entree, the vegetarian option of Mixed Vegetable Ragout with Morel and Potato Puree
. As my champagne neared the halfway mark, it was immediately refilled, and then our tables were set. The bread basket was brought out, and I selected one bread roll... "Just one?" I happily took a second one! And then my appetizer was served with freshly ground pepper. My seatmate asked for red wine. Rather than ask him to specify which of the two he'd prefer, the flight attendant brought two glasses, and poured one of each for him to try and select. Very good service all around! The appetizer was very good. It was interesting to find octopus on a plane! As my appetizer plate was cleared, "more bread?" Yes I believe I will. And the champagne continually being refilled. So far, a very high standard of service.
The salad was served next. It was excellent, particularly the pumpkin seed vinaigrette.
My entree was served, again with fresh pepper. "More champagne or something different to drink?" I switched to Warsteiner. I just have to enjoy a fine German beer on a German airline. The entree was delicious. Somehow I knew the vegetarian option was going to be worth it.
For dessert, I was offered ice cream, cheese and/or fruit. I chose the ice cream, and received bourbon vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate coated wafer pieces. Excellent! Every part of this meal was wonderful. And now to finish my delicious German beer.
The meal service and the Gotthard Tunnel documentary finished with 6h, or 2,800mi, to go, with about 1.5h down. We had almost passed over Ireland.
My next movie was one from my childhood, The Lion King
, because they just don't make Disney movies like they used to. Chocolates were a perfect ending to the service.
The movie finished with 4.5h, or 2,000mi, to go. I watched a couple quick features on the Lufthansa 747-8 retro jet, and the new A350, with which my parents are scheduled to fly this fall. Me personally, I'll stick to the Queen of the Skies, or at least other quad jets for as long as possible.
My next movie was Brad's Status
, a 2017 drama with Ben Stiller. The flight attendants were continually passing through the cabin with trays of water and juice.
The movie finished with 2h15, or 1,000mi, to go. We had just entered Canadian airspace.
With 1h45 to go, the second second service began, with extremely hot towels. This time, not feeling like another beer, I ordered mango-passionfruit juice. The arrival meal included Crayfish Soup seasoned with Tandoori Spice
, Salade Nicoise with light Balsamic Dressing
, and Cheesecake with Mandarins
This soup and salad were perfect as an arrival meal, and the mini pretzel was very cute and fun (and of course tasty).
The flight attendant cleared my table - "I hope you enjoyed it" - she was actually one of my best flight attendants I've had. Genuinely caring and just really nice. Not to mention providing top notch, attentive service, all with a smile while I attempt to speak German.
Moving map already updated with the new Lufthansa livery:
It was time to sit back and relax for the final hour in flight. I had really liked Lufthansa on this flight, and I had also really enjoyed the 747-8 upper deck. I'd had wonderful service, comfortable seats, good food, the convenience and exclusivity of the upper deck, and all on the 747-8 for my first time. You can't beat that.
Flying past New York City:
We had a very gusty descent for the final twenty minutes. We landed at 21:20, and were at the gate in EWR Terminal B at 21:28 (15:28 Eastern time).
At the gate in EWR:
This Lufthansa flight had been excellent, with top notch service, a friendly flight attendant, very good food, pretty much everything very enjoyable. The seat was not class-leading, but it was OK. It had been comfortable, and the footsie class shared footwell hadn't been as bad as I had expected. I don't think I'd even avoid it for an overnight flight, and I wouldn't mind flying it again. No aisle access and minimal privacy were on offer, but truth be told, I really didn't mind. You can't beat flying upstairs on the 747-8, and for me, practicing German on Lufthansa, I'd really enjoyed it overall. It had been an unbelievable difference from my first longhaul Lufthansa flight at the start of this trip, DTW-FRA on the 747-400. I wouldn't fault the 747-400, but the service on that flight was nothing in comparison to this flight. I'm glad I had this second Lufthansa flight to conclude my trip, to compare to my initial flight and see the quality Lufthansa is known for. After what was truly a great flight, I conclude with how glad I am that airlines like Lufthansa decided to operate the 747-8. While the 747-400 is rapidly being retired from service, the 747-8 will ensure continued passenger 747 operations for years to come.
My second 747-8 flight with Lufthansa was scheduled to come about six months after my first 747-8 flight. LH404 ended up suffering a last-minute change to an Airbus A340-600. This was a very unexpected plane swap considering the perfect historical record of 100% Boeing 747-8. But truth be told, I was actually pretty excited to get on the A346. It is not a plane easy to catch in the United States. In fact I had only flown the A346 twice before, with Etihad and Iberia, and I had not been expecting to fly one with Lufthansa. LH has begun the retirement of their A346 fleet, combined with their already-limited routes, and I wasn't expecting to fit one into my future travel plans. It was a loss to miss out on a second 747-8 flight, but at least I expect them to remain in operation longer than the A346 of the world.
My unexpected Lufthansa A340-600, D-AIHX:
A340-600 Business Class Seats 11HK:
The view from 11K:
Previous Mission: 747
trip reports:Mission: 747: United 747-400 SFO-ICN JMission: 747: EVA 747-400 PVG-TPE JMission: 747: Thai 747-400 BKK-HKG FMission: 747: Delta 747-400 CDG-DTW JMission: 747: British Airways 747-400 DEN-LHR JMission: 747: Virgin Atlantic 747-400 MAN-MCO JMission: 747: Air France Final Scheduled 747-400 JMission: 747: United 747-400 SFO-NRT FMission: 747: Qantas 747-400 HND-SYD JMission: 747: KLM 747-400 IAH-AMS-JFK JMission: 747: Lufthansa 747-400 DTW-FRA/SEA-FRA J