On June 3rd I returned home on the new 747-8i from Frankfurt after attending the ceremonies surrounding the inaugural flight of “Brandenburg” (nick name for the new 747-8i) that took place June 1st. For my flight, I was seated in 1K in the First Class cabin of the aircraft and as luck would have it, I was the only passenger in the cabin for that flight. This basically gave me untethered access to explore the cabin and go into more detail than would typically be possible. Along with a phenomenal crew, we explored most of the “nook and crannies” of the cabin. It was this crew’s first time officially flying on the aircraft so they had as much fun and interest as I had when it came to poking and prodding the cabin.
This is a fairly lengthy write up, including videos of various aspects of the cabin, so hopefully you can take a few minutes and go through it.
The first class seat on this aircraft is the same as the “new” first class seat that is gradually being retrofitted on existing Lufthansa aircraft so there’s not much new in terms of the seat itself. However seeing this seat in the first class cabin on the new 747 gives it a completely different perspective. Until now, Lufthansa’s 747 had their first class seats located on the upper deck “bubble” of the aircraft. For the 747-8i, the First Class cabin has been brought downstairs into the section immediately behind the nose of the aircraft. This actually creates a very intimate and comfortable cabin. Even though the cabin narrows at the nose of the aircraft, there is still plenty of room for passengers and it does create a wonderful environment that has a very “exclusive” feel to it as I hope my photos demonstrate. For this post, I’ll skip the food service portion of the flight and focus on the seat and cabin. The food service was the same as other First Class flights and was outstanding as usual.
Here is the view as you enter the cabin:
Other Cabin Views:
The upgrade over the previous First Class seat is a dramatic one. With these seats, you can see the quality construction and engineering that was involved. The seat is well though out, with fantastic features and is fairly simple to use. The seat comes with it’s own user’s card so a passenger can very quickly master the features of the seats. The build quality is outstanding and rivals the quality interiors of Mercedes Benz, BMW and other high end car manufacturers. I examined the fit and finish of seats closely and found them to be extremely well built.
However, there were a couple of things I would have liked to have seen done differently. The plug for your headphones is in an awkward position within the headphone storage compartment. The positioning of the plug requires very small or deft hands to maneuver the plug into the port. If you have an average sized hand or larger, you may need to play with the plug a bit to line it up with the port. Not a major issue, just something that I noticed. The other item that I would say is more important to address is the glare of the IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) video screen. It seemed that the screen would lack some contrast at full cabin lighting or if you had a window shade up. Even adjusting the brightness control did not help much. I think the best fix here would to apply anti-glare shields on the screens to help with the screen contrast.
Following are photos highlighting some of the seat details:
This is a typical seat in the cabin. You’ll notice the Ottoman in front of the seat. It serves as a storage space for the passenger. It also is integrated into the seat controls and will move closer to the seat to be used as a foot rest and also becomes part of the lay-flat bed when the seat converts to in “sleep mode”:
As you can see in the following photo, there is plenty of room for a passenger, the seat is generously wide and extremely comfortable.
The left arm rest contains the seat adjustment controls for the seat, including the privacy barrier that rises from the left armrest (apologies for not have a photo of the privacy barrier). It’s covered by an integrated door built into the arm rest. The door helps to prevent spills from reaching the control buttons as well as keeping the smooth lines of the seat intact:
The control panel allows for a myriad of seat adjustments:
The right armrest contains the IFE (In Flight Entertainment) controller. It integrates both the IFE menu controls as well as the game control for the games installed on the IFE. One item of note is that with this new First Class cabin technology, First Class passengers can join the onboard games that are going on during a flight. Up until now, if there was a poker game being played together by passengers, only business and economy passengers can play against each other. Now First Class passengers can join in.
The controller is removable from its armrest cradle and has a retractable cord to help guide it back into place:
Both Armrests also have integrated buttons for various controls. The left armrest has “short-cut” buttons for various seat positions while the right armrest has IFE controls such as volume and channel as well as the flight attendant call button:
The seat area also has storage compartments built into the area between the seat and the wall of the fuselage. This is also where the “tray table” is stored when not in use. The compartments are lit and include storage for headphones along with a general storage compartment. One item of note is that first class passengers are issued a set of Bose QC15 noise canceling headsets for the flight. There is also a pocket built into this area that contains the Airline magazine, safety card and “Quick Start” guide for using the seat:
It takes a little of maneuvering to get the plug in place if you have larger hands:
The integrated pocket that holds inflight magazines, safety cards, etc.:
The tray table is extremely large and is very easy to move. Once the table comes out of its storage compartment, it actually slides forwards and backwards so that it is very easy to adjust the table to the passengers need. Getting in and out of the seat is effortless thanks to the table having a 2-3 foot range of motion:
The tray table is stored in an integrated compartment:
The power ports are also integrated into seat an are located on the vertical support of the arm rest. Outlets include 2 USB ports and 2 Power Outlets:
Additionally the seat features a personal reading lamp that is integrated into the shoulder of the seat so passengers can still have a light source when the cabin is darkened.
Other Cabin Features:
The 747-8i introduces several new things never before seen on a 747. These features deal primarily with cabin lighting, improved lavatories and enhanced storage solutions.
One of the first things that caught my attention upon entering the aircraft was the cabin ceiling. It was domed, with 2 levels of indirect lighting that play an integral role in the cabin’s ambiance:
This lighting system is designed so that the cabin crew can create lighting moods in any cabin aboard the aircraft. Lighting options include standard lighting for boarding, night and daytime flights as well as more advance features like sunrise and sunset simulation to help passengers slowly awake in the morning, or help them drift into slumber during an overnight flight.
The panel is controlled by the crew from within the galley:
Daytime cabin sleep mode:
Here is a 3 minute video capturing the subtleness of the Sunrise Mode (The modes can be set to last several minutes):
Cabin storage is vastly improved over previous 747 versions. In this edition, each First Class passenger has their own personal wardrobe cabinet at the rear of the First Class cabin that easily accommodates 2 carry ons. Additional there is a bar with hangars so that you can easily hang your clothing if you change into the pajamas that are provided for passengers.
The attention to detail is evident everywhere. For example the inside of the wardrobe door is lined and trimmed:
Overhead storage is more than sufficient:
A closet in the nose of the aircraft stores the bedding for the seats:
Another feature unique to the new 747 involves the window shades. Previously the shades were manually operated and you would need to lift and lower them. That is no longer the case as the 747-8i now has electronically controlled shades that have 2 levels of coverage. The first level is simply a light shade and the second level creates a true blocking of outside light. The shade is placed behind glass so that it can not be touched directly. The shade can be stopped and set at any position simply by touching a button located under the window. The cabin crew can control all window shades from the galley, but a passenger can override them. Here is a video demonstrating the new shades:
Finally, the lavatory. This is among the nicest that you will find in any aircraft. It is nearly twice as large as a typical lavatory and has some enhancements that improve its usefulness.
Drawers contain toiletry items:
Infant changing table integrated into lavatory wall:
Here is another video showing a panorama of the cabin:
This new Lufthansa First Class cabin on the new 747-8i is a quantum leap from it’s predecessor. The thought and engineering behind its design is obvious. This cabin is extremely quiet. The engines are not heard during flight and only a minor “hiss” of airflow is audible during flight. The cabin walls are covered in a suede-like material that helps with noise supression. Additionally the curtains at the rear of the cabin are extremely heavy and are filled with noise deadening material that block noise from entering the cabin from the galley. It’s easily the most modern cabin that I have ever flown in and I honestly believe Lufthansa and Boeing have a winner here. Moving the First Class cabin to the lower deck certainly creates an intimate atmosphere that passengers will appreciate during their long flights. This takes First Class travel on Lufthansa to a new level.
If you ever have a chance to experience their new First Class cabin, DO IT! You will not be disappointed.