Lufthansa Brings the 747-8 to Los Angeles

747, Boeing, Lufthansa

While I was excited to ride Lufthansa’s A380 last year, I was secretly looking ahead to the introduction of the 747-8. To me, that was a much bigger event for Lufthansa. Last week, the airline brought the 747-8 to LA on its first scheduled passenger flight to the airport and I was able to go check it out.

So why was it that I was excited about the 747-8 more than the A380? Because while Lufthansa rolled out its new First Class on the A380, it kept the same old angled bed in Business Class on that airplane. The 747-8, however, introduced the new flat beds in Business Class, and that is way more important for most people. I’ll get to that a little later.

This event was also a good opportunity for me to see some Lufthansa folks and talk shop. So how was it? The airplane was impressive, though I do wonder about spending time in the coach seats. Let’s start there.

From afar, the cabin looks great. The colors are very Lufthansa and the big 787-style overhead bins disappear quietly into the ceiling to leave an open feeling. The seats themselves seemed comfortable, but I only sat for a minute. It’s hard to know what it would feel like 6 hours into a 12 hour flight.

The seats do recline, but they also slide forward a little bit when you do, reducing legroom a little. The seatback screens are big and, I assume, packed with content. And the seatback has one of my favorite features, a little cupholder so you don’t have to pull your tray down if you just have a drink.

But there’s one big issue.

The seat tracks are awkwardly not aligned with the edge of each seat. So in this particular seat above, the seat anchor splits your legroom. The little inflight entertainment box on the left restricts you even more. (How did that not get buried under the floor?) But where do you put your carry-on under your seat? On your left, barging in on the person next to you? Or on the right, messing with that person’s space? Each seat has a different setup, and that’s a concern. (Thanks to Taylor Michie for pointing this out onboard.)

Now, what about the business class? It looks fantastic.

The seats look great, they’re comfortable to sit in, and since they angle out near the head, it feels pretty private if you want it to. But if you’re traveling with someone you know, then you don’t feel isolated as you do in some of the current business class seats.

The one area where there might be some concern is around the feet. Your feet really are very close to those of the person next to you, but it really doesn’t seem like an issue when you’re sitting there. The bigger issue may very well be that the person in the window seat has to climb over the aisle seat to get out. It looked a little easier than in other double seat pairings on other airlines, but it’s still the weak point of this seat.

Unlike on the 747-400, Lufthansa also has business class upstairs on this airplane, so for those who aren’t concerned about climbing over the person in the aisle, those window seats should be the best onboard with the extra ledge next to them. The upper deck has been extended again on this airplane, and because of that, it has lost some of the exclusive feel from the smaller cabin on previous models but it’s still excellent.

I asked Jürgen Siebenrock, VP of the Americas, about why LA was chosen as the second destination for the 747-8 in the US behind Dulles. He said that it was a combination of solid leisure and high business demand. The new business class has very strong appeal to business travelers (especially compared to the old angled seats), and there are a lot onboard. Up to 92 seats. At the same time, there are fewer coach seats than on the 747-400, and around 150 seats fewer than on the A380. So this fits well for Lufthansa in the LA market.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to fly on the media trip Lufthansa is putting together on this airplane in January, but hopefully I’ll have a chance to do it another time.

[See my post detailing the Business Class offering at Conde Nast]
[See more photos from the day at Google Plus]

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20 comments on “Lufthansa Brings the 747-8 to Los Angeles

  1. I flew the inaugural commercial flight of their second 747-8 from FRA-IAD this summer. The seats were noticeably less padded, but not as uncomfortable as I feared. I was a bit stiff getting off the plane in IAD, but our experience may have been a bit different since we were in the bulkhead, not a standard economy seat (though I doubt it).

  2. This looks very exciting. But it has me thinking. I don’t travel as often as the other guy. So, when I do I usually go coach. And while I am not concerned overall about the comfort of the seat (because they do look comfortable and modern for coach). I am concerned about who may be my neighbor and trying to stuff an oversized bag under the seat taking away my personal space or playing war with your feet as you try to claim personal space. I know this makes me sound spoiled and bratty; but I’m 6′ 4″. I have to take these things into consideration.

    1. I agree with Don. I always fly coach and it is just something that I have to do. But having to play footsies with both neighbors is strange. I kind of like the tracks on normal planes because they also keep me in my space and I can press my feet against them.

      1. Playing footsies? not exactly the way I would like to spend my time on a 12-hour flight regardless of the comfort level of the seats.

        Playing footsies, LOL

        1. @ cranky & others –
          you are making it sound like this is the only plane on this planet with misaligned seat tracks?
          this was the case on my last 747-4 flights on United in economy as well.

  3. The seat-track is definitely a “head scratcher” as to how it got past Boeing, the seat manufacturer, and LH designers as being acceptable given the long flights it will be used on.

    I like that the VP recognized (unlike many airlines) that profitability is based on filling the right number of pax on a route in each class. The a380 is great from a CASM perspective, but when you have to sell bargain tix to fill those added seats at no profit, its RASM gets crushed (supply and demand). Its fine to capture pax and market share, until a flight is cancelled, and you have to accommodate of another 100 pax, or your ROIC is lost as you spent money on added capacity that is not returning profit. Profit is about balancing RASM and CASM–bigger isn’t always better, and the mix of premium and coach isn’t always fixed. LH has done a great job of deploying both aircraft side-by-side, profitably, because each is configured for a different mission.

  4. That coach seat track is dumb and doesn’t look like it would be fun to to deal with for many hours.

    In Business does the montior screen come out and swivel? I not you will have a stiff neck from looking at it to your side.

    That flat bed looks like it angles down at the foot, maybe it’s just how the photo was taken.

    1. Read elsewhere that the screen does pivot from side to side.

      The seat tracks in coach that are not aligned to the seats seems like it could be problematic. Hopefully seatguru will eventually get the details on which ones are the better seats.

      1. Just realized I read about the screen rotation in Cranky’s other article about the 747-800 for Conde Nast, wanted to make sure I attributed this knowledge correctly!

    2. Yep, the screen pulls out from one side so that you can see it easily. Much better.

      And while we’re adding attributions, Taylor Michie is the one who pointed out the seat tracks onboard, so I should give him credit (and will update in the post).

  5. The seattrack issue is not unique to this airplane. In coach on 737s (or, at least, the 737s I have flown on AA and AS), the tracks are not evenly spaced among the three seats. The aisle person has far less under-seat storage than the middle person; the window is in the middle. On Airbus narrowbodies, the space is equal.

    Same is true with first class (at least on AA): window has a full space for a bag, aisle barely any. In first, there is then an awkward middle. My briefcase, which fits perfectly underneath a normal coach seat, does not fit in the little under-seat storage section, so I put it in the middle when flying first. That pissed the guy sitting next to me off next week, who wanted to extend his feet into that space.

  6. I’m sure the aircraft and airline people were well aware of the matters of where the seat tracks fit in and knew that there would be people who would not like that. Probably everything decided on cost. Besides, we’re talking about Ecomomy, the Little People. People who, shame, shame, make their travel choices based on the cheapest fare.

    Want less obstructive seat tracks? Sit in Business, where for only 10 times your Economy fare, you can get a really nice travel experience, except maybe for the times you have to climb up and over your seatmate to get to the lavoratory. [Is there a different fare depending on whether one has to climb up and over, and one doesn’t?]

    1. Are you suggesting there not be different levels of service or fares in the cabin? Certainly theres a number of airlines that have tried this, but few have survived on the sort of long-haul and ultra-long haul routes that this 747 is going to be plying its trade on.

      Being someone whose flown economy on a number of long flights, I can say its a decent enough experience on most airlines and exactly what you pay for; namely a seat, some entertainment, and passable food. The expectations people have are for a level of service that was never in their price range even back in the 50’s and 60’s during the golden era. If you think I’m wrong look at the price for a ticket back in those days for First in todays dollars. A lay flat bed in a Stratocaster back in the day cost almost 400-500 dollars more on top of a first class ticket, pricing it far higher than any business seats today.

  7. The overhead luggage bins are similar to those used on the B777. A great plane thats been flying for years.

    Dont’t know why you say they are similar to the bins on the B787, when the B787 bins are derived from the B777 :-)

  8. I don’t understand why Boeing can not make the seats line up with the seat posts. It seems like all their planes are like that. It drives me crazy.

  9. I flew in Y on the 747-8 FRA-IAD in September. No complaints about the seat comfort, and the track spacing was not an issue since the middle seat was vacant. One feature you didn’t mention: The AVOD lets you bring up a view from the front- and downward-facing cameras on the plane, which made takeoff and landing a lot more fun.

  10. Rob

    Same feature on the B777… I used to fly a lot on THAI AIRLINES, and that feature was on the B777-200ER as well. Was great for take-off and landings.

  11. More coach seats than the 747-400. The 747-400 flew to LAX with either 8F 80C 234M or 8F 66C 270M, but the version of the B747-8i that comes to LAX currently with LH is 8F 80C 298M. The version 8F 92C 262M has not come to LAX yet.

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