Few things excite me more than trying out a brand new plane. When I noticed Lufthansa, the launch airline for the brand new 747-8i, was using their new aircraft on flights to Washington Dulles I made sure to re-arrange my itinerary to get on that bird. The flight was a real treat as this was the best and most comfortable long haul flight I have ever experienced in Economy. For someone who doesn’t mind sitting in back, I am very excited to see new planes improving the Economy experience.
- Introduction and trip planning
- Lufthansa First Class Dulles to Munich
- Lufthansa Munich First Class Lounge
- Lufthansa Business Class Munich to Oslo
- SAS Economy Class Oslo to Longyearbyen
- Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, Spitsbergen
- Exploring Longyearbyen
- Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo
- Exploring Oslo
- Park Inn By Radisson Oslo Airport
- Lufthansa 747-8i Frankfurt to Dulles
- Park Hyatt Washington DC
After a quick Lufthansa morning flight from Oslo, I deplaned at one of my favorite airports, Frankfurt am Main Airport. I had originally planned to try out the LUXXLounge or SKY Lounge on my layover, both members of the Lounge Club as part of my two free lounge passes from signing up for the Ink Bold, but a window down a quiet hallway caught my eye and I ended up spending the short layover plane spotting. Frankfurt is one of the very best airports to see the world’s largest commercial aircrafts land and takeoff.
After my quick detour, I headed for the gate. Clearing security was not a pleasant experience. Though there was a pretty short line, the metal detector went off for EVERY SINGLE PERSON! One by one, we each were pointed to an area to wait to receive our thorough pat down because the detector had gone off. It was going off so frequently there wasn’t enough staff to perform the pat downs so there was a significant wait to receive your ‘massage’.
When I finally arrived at the gate, I saw the beautiful aircraft. There was an elevated level of excitement for many of the passengers waiting to board. Several travelers were lined up snapping photos with their iPhones and digital cameras.
Once on board, I could smell that ‘New Airplane Smell’ that I love so much. I had flown Lufthansa First on the way over but opted to spare some United miles for a future trip and fly Economy on the way back. I headed to the back where I had reserved a window (they are bigger now!) seat for the 8hr 45min flight.
Configuration in economy class is 3-4-3. They have outfitted this new aircraft with the slim line design Economy seats. As far as comfort goes, these were the most comfortable seats I have ever had in Economy on a long haul flight.
One of the best aspects for a 6’1” traveler like myself is how the magazine pocket has been moved higher up on the seatback. That little change made a HUGE improvement over the course of a long flight. My knees had enough space to keep me comfortable in various leg positions throughout the flight.
The aircraft comes with several inflight technology improvements. The new entertainment systems are bright LCD touchscreens. Initially I was worried about a touchscreen’s impact on the person in front of you but I didn’t feel any issues myself.
The entertainment software was intuitive and fast. I was able to navigate menus with no delay and create playlists of content like queuing up 10 episodes of Modern Family. Again this is a small improvement that makes a big difference for me. On the whole, there was a wide selection of content on this flight and a number of cool flight information features like a robust flight map that overlays the map to let you see (virtually) what the pilot sees through the cockpit window.
Additionally there is a power socket at every seat in Economy as well as USB and Ethernet.
The service was friendly and consistent as usual with Lufthansa. The meals were on par with the best I have had in economy on other airlines. Nothing mind blowing, but enough to keep me full and happy. The flight attendants were very attentive and did an excellent job keeping me hydrated with a good number of Warsteiners throughout the flight.
As a mid-flight snack, they brought us hot pizza.
The entire flight was as smooth as can be. It is hard to tell if that was a result of the plane itself or the weather that day. The 747-8i is not as quiet as the A380 but I enjoyed the flight better because it was not as crowded in Economy, both the shared spaces and the seating itself. We touched down a few minutes early at Dulles and hopped on the bizarre Dulles trams headed for the Immigration line. There was no wait for Immigration and in minutes I was on my way to the Park Hyatt Washington for my final night of the adventure.
The bottom line
I can’t tell you how excited I am to see a new aircraft (and airline) greatly improve the Economy flight experience. It is a given that newer planes will incorporate newer technology and seat designs. However that does not always equate to a better Economy flight experience. Several of the newer seats designs I have experienced lately, specifically ones on the A380, actually make flying a whole lot worse than the older seats because the airlines have used the ‘improved materials and design’ to cram as many seats as humanly possible in the back.
Lufthansa’s 747-8i is a step in the right direction for Economy flyers. The seat comfort is top of the line and they have rolled out new technology like touchscreen LCD’s and in-seat power to improve the experience for us folks in the back. If you are looking for a comfortable transatlantic Economy flight experience, set your sights on this flight.