Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lufthansa Brings the 747-8 to Los Angeles

Lufthansa Brings the 747-8 to Los Angeles:
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 J├╝rgen 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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