In case you missed my post from June 24, let this serve as a reminder that Lufthansa’s 747-8i will fly to Chicago tomorrow (July 13). This flight is a regularly scheduled flight and will operate as LH 430 from Frankfurt departing at 10:45a Frankfurt time and arrive in Chicago at 12:20p. It will depart Chicago as flight LH 431 at 4:40p and arrive in Frankfurt at 7:35a the following morning.
The reason for this one-time visit is to demonstrate that the aircraft can safely operate in the tight confines of O’Hare. The FAA and Lufthansa have been discussing bringing the 747-8i to Chicago for several weeks and have agreed to this ‘test-flight’. The 747-8i will be perhaps the largest aircraft ever to visit O’hare. The FAA has had concerns about the 747-8i being able to taxi from O’Hare’s Terminal 5 (International Terminal) to Terminal 1. If you are not familiar with Lufthansa’s operations at O’Hare, their flights arrive from Germany and passengers deplane in Terminal 5 (where immigration/passport control is located). When the plane is emptied, it is taxied to Terminal 1 / Concourse B and is prepared for departure. The issue is the 747-8i’s ability to safely taxi from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1 since there are a few tight corners that have to be navigated between the 2 terminals.
Lufthansa has held fast to its desire to have their flights depart from Terminal 1 instead of Terminal 5 (as most international carriers operating in O’Hare) because of passenger convenience. Being a Star Alliance member, departing from Terminal 1 makes it very easy for passengers to connect from their United flights to their Lufthansa flights without going through additional security. If the FAA does not approve the 747-8i to use Terminal 1, it would force all passengers arriving to O’Hare on United flights to leave Terminal 1, take a tram to Terminal 5 and be subjected to security for a second time during their travels, making it quite inconvenient and quite honestly, annoying. This is something Lufthansa does not want to happen since it puts additional stress on passengers, especially those with tight connecting times between flights.
No doubt that Lufthansa will be able to demonstrate to the FAA that the 747-8i can operate safely in O’Hare and hopefully lead to the 747-8i to be a permanent fixture in Chicago.