A year ago today, one of Lufthansa’s most popular aircraft was officially delivered by Boeing and I was there to experience what is perhaps the highlight of my ‘Avgeek’ hobby.
On March 25, 2015 Boeing literally handed over the keys to Lufthansa’s 18th 747 and a small group of us took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington and brought her home to Frankfurt. Since entering service she has been a huge favorite of passengers and avgeeks alike due to her unique paint scheme. To honor their 60th Anniversary, LH had ‘Yankee Tango’ painted in a livery that resembled what the 747 fleet looked like in the 1970s when LH began flying 747-100 and -200 variants. Later in the 1990s, the -400 model would begin to replace the previous version. In all, LH had at one time or another operated 4 747-100, 26 747-200, 31 747-400 (13 still in use), and now 19 747-8i model aircraft.
The delivery event had been overshadowed by the Germanwings crash they day before and it was even discussed that the delivery be postponed. Ultimately it was decided that the aircraft should go home as scheduled if for nothing else than to demonstrate some level of normalcy and to keep to the schedule that had been months in the planning.
Not exactly a routing that one sees often…..
Having a 747-8i to share with only a few people and having the ability to roam anywhere in the aircraft including hours spent with the pilots in the cockpit was certainly a one-off experience. In addition, since the Economy Class cabin was not installed since the seats were in Frankfurt, it gave the 748 a cavernous feeling. As a bonus, since we were flying a very northern route from Everett, I finally got to experience the Northern Lights as well. It was certainly a once in a lifetime event for me. Until of course LH starts to take delivery of their 777s…….
I share below the stories I posted that covered the delivery event in case you’d like to see what’s behind a Delivery Flight. I’ll also include links to my dedicated ‘Yankee Tango’ gallery on my Aero-Shots.com plane-spotting website that has ton of photos of the aircraft going through her very first test flights. Enjoy!
‘Yankee Tango’ Delivery Coverage:
60 years ago today Lufthansa inaugurated service to New York when it started flying to the Big Apple from Hamburg. It was also the launch of Lufthansa’s long haul service.
LH even flew their Retro 747-8i, D-ABYT, to JFK today to mark the occasion.
Earlier today, Lufthansa released the following piece comparing the ‘Then and Now’ of their flight experience, including comparisons between dining, entertainment and cabin comfort. It’s an interesting read and has a few brow-raising facts that may catch your attention. A lot has certainly changed over the years:
Lufthansa press release June 8 2015:
When Lufthansa’s Lockheed 1049 “Super G” Constellation first took off from Hamburg, Germany for New York on 7 June 1955, it was not just the birth of the airline’s long-haul service, but also the start of six decades, and counting, of top-quality service for intercontinental air travelers. What began as two long-haul flights a week from Germany to New York, taking 20 hours for the trip (including a stop in Dusseldorf and a refueling stop in Ireland), has evolved and expanded over the years into the present 104 Lufthansa long-haul flights to 77 destinations worldwide, per day. New York is served six times daily by the airline, with today’s Lufthansa jets taking a mere eight hours for their journey from Germany to the East Coast. Lufthansa now offers no fewer than 32 daily services to the United States.
1955 vs. 2015: The Lufthansa Long-Haul Fleet, its Passengers and Capacity
With its four Super Constellations, Lufthansa carried 74,040 passengers in its first year of long-haul operation, with 18,420 of them crossing the North Atlantic. Today, Lufthansa’s long-haul fleet consists of more than 130 state-of-the-art aircraft, which carry more than 15 million passengers a year, more than two and a half million of them to and from the U.S. The seating capacity aboard has substantially increased as well. While that first 1955 flight carried just 20 passengers in First Class and 44 in Tourist Class and the Super Constellation had a maximum capacity of 86 to 94 seats, Lufthansa’s transatlantic flagships today – the Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380 – offer space on board for 364 and 509 guests, respectively.
1955 vs. 2015: 60 years of Lufthansa First Class
The 1955 flight to New York marked not only the beginning of Lufthansa long-haul travel but was also the debut of the air carrier’s First Class. In 1955 Lufthansa launched a luxury service by the name of “Senator”. The “Senator” services offered only eight First Class seats, 18 Deluxe seats and four beds, for a grand total of 30 passengers. Fast forward to today, and Lufthansa’s Premium product and service has only further improved with time. Lufthansa’s current onboard First Class product, which received a five star rating from Skytrax, features a seat that measures 6’9” feet in length and 2’7” feet in width. The seat also converts into a flat bed with an ergonomic mattress to alleviate pressure from shoulders and hips, and state-of-the-art blankets and pillows that regulate climate for enhanced comfort. Passengers receive pajamas designed by Van Laack and turn-down service is provided by flight attendants. The cabin is equipped with soundproof curtains and sound-insulated flooring to reduce noise. With just eight seats, First Class passengers are offered “privacy-on-demand” via an electrically operated partition that they can control. Furthermore, and as a first in the industry for commercial airliners, Lufthansa’s A380 offers an automatic air humidification system that provides more than 25 percent air humidity.
In addition to First Class, travelers on all Lufthansa services on the Frankfurt-New York, Munich-New York and Dusseldorf-New York routes can also choose today from three further booking classes: Business Class, the new Premium Economy Class, or Economy Class. In contrast to those early long-haul years when anyone looking to sleep on board had to specifically request one of the few “sleeper seats”, now, not only every First Class seat, but also every Business Class seat throughout Lufthansa’s current intercontinental fleet will be transformable into a totally lie-flat bed upon the completion of the corresponding retrofit program within summer of this year.
1955 vs. 2015: The Culinary Experience
On the culinary front, Lufthansa, already on its 1955 flight, stood out in terms of onboard catering. While other airlines catered their coffee from the ground and then brought it aboard in thermos flasks, the German airline was the first in the world to serve its guests coffee that was freshly-brewed on board and freshly baked bread rolls. Passengers on today’s Lufthansa long-haul flights can still look forward to gastronomic highlights. The carrier offers a range of 16 different meals on its long-haul flights that are specially tailored to particular customer needs. For flights from destinations specifically in the U.S., Lufthansa unveiled a new culinary concept in March 2014 created especially for the airline’s U.S. market. Four distinct, regional dining experiences celebrate the gastronomic styles of the 17 Lufthansa gateways located throughout the continental U.S., including the West (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle), Central (Dallas, Denver, Houston), Southeast/Mid-Atlantic (Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Orlando, Washington, D.C.) and Northeast/Midwest (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Newark, Philadelphia) regions. The menus, offered in First and Business Class, reflect the corresponding region where the aircraft is departing from and thus, Lufthansa is able to use locally sourced ingredients for a truly, authentic homegrown experience. Lufthansa’s top-notch meal creations are accompanied by carefully-chosen, award-winning wines.
1955 vs. 2015: Inflight Entertainment
In 1955, when passengers grew tired of gazing out the window, they would amuse themselves with the “reasonable amount of reading material” which they had been advised to bring on board, Lufthansa’s transatlantic travelers today can choose from 200 TV channels, 300 CDs, 100 movies in up to eight languages and a vast further range of series and audio books. And on top of all this, Lufthansa offers Flynet – its fast broadband Internet access for passengers to use while inflight, with their laptops and other mobile devices, by means of Wireless LAN on all its Atlantic routes. Lufthansa is the only airline to offer this service while flying over the Atlantic.
1955 vs. 2015: Air Fares
Air fares were different back in 1955, too. At the equivalent of approximately three month’s salary, the price of a transatlantic Economy Class ticket, back then, kept the experience of flying with Lufthansa as exclusive and only to a small and affluent circle of people. Today, a round-trip Economy Class ticket for a flight with Lufthansa to the eastern United States can cost as little as a third of a monthly salary. Currently Lufthansa offers a Frankfurt to John F. Kennedy airport roundtrip Economy Class ticket for as little as $660.
To mark their 60th Anniversary, LUFTHANSA is set to start the party on April 15 in Frankfurt where it will invite upwards of 4,000 of their employees, business partners and other friends to gather in the A380 Hangar. To lead the list Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel will open the Ceremony.
The gathering will be used to show attendees where Lufthansa has come from, where it is, and where it is going. I suspect the 747-8i retro-jet (D-ABYT) might make a cameo appearance as well.
If plans and security checks work out (because of Merkel & because I’m a ‘foreigner’), I’ll be sharing my experiences with you on April 16!