Right now, the Boeing 747-8i is one of the coolest, newest airliners flying. People who are into air travel should put this on their "must fly" list.
This October, I got to fly in a 747-8i to Frankfurt Airport from O’Hare Airport and back. Lufthansa was my airline of choice. And I know that air travel nerds like me will want to know what the 8i is like.
What’s the Deal?
If you like air travel as much as I do, you probably already know what’s so cool about the 747-8i. But for the rest of you might need some background: The 8i is built on concepts learned from the 787 Dreamliner. It’s incredibly fuel efficient thanks to new engines and a wing that sweeps upward steeply, especially after takeoff. It’s also the longest passenger airplane flying.
Inside, it’s all slick modern goodness, from LED lighting to fairly spacious lavatories to huge overhead luggage bins. And on-demand entertainment at every seat, of course.
How Did I Like the 747-8i?
On both flights, I had seat 34A, right up against a bulkhead and behind the wing and engines. So this wasn’t a quiet place to be.
Our choice of seat was based on getting a bassinet for our 9-month-old daughter. The flight attendants attached it to the wall after takeoff, and the little person got some quality sleep.
The on-demand entertainment worked perfectly and included some cool extra programming, like short documentaries offering looks inside Lufthansa operations, in addition to movies, TV and sports. I would’ve loved some German language lessons.
This was also a very comfortable slimline seat. Usually, my buttcheeks get achy and numb Â starting at about 5 hour. I had no problems at all on these 8-and-a-half hour flights.
Boeing wisely skipped the Dreamliner-style window dimmers and opted for traditional shades. There are also power plugs at every seat, including a USB port. The USB port did seem to have an oddly loose fit with our cables, though.
What Complaints Do I Have?
No plane is perfect, not even the 747-8i. It didn’t have air nozzles at the seats to cool you off. This could be a problem if one gets left in the sun to bake; this is a trait it shares with the Airbus A330.
There are also some problems with the bassinet and retractable video screens and tray tables. They can interfere with each other, and their appears to be some inconsistency: It wasn’t a problem on the first flight -- a minor bit of Tetris allowed me to move the tray and monitor without moving the bassinet. The second plane. though – the monitor didn’t rotate as far, so I was out of luck.
I also have yet to find a plane like the Asiana 777 that has self-serve water fountains. That is so much better than waiting for shot glass-sized water cups from the flight attendants. Why every airline doesn’t do that is beyond me. One thing I noticed in Europe is that people don’t drink water like we do in the U.S., especially in Arizona. So this could be partially a culture thing.
Summing Up the 747-8i
This is a graceful, elegant aircraft in spite of its size. Generally, I think all aircraft are industrial art forms. But the 747-8i is especially pleasing to my eye. It extra-awesome when you see the wings flex upward as the plane lifts off.
Strictly from the passenger experience, though, the Dreamliner still has a modern, starship-like mojo that tops even the 747-8i. And there’s that aforementioned Asiana 777 that I love so much. I probably won’t make a huge effort to get aboard a 747-8i in the future since the Dreamliner and 777 (depending on the individual airline’s configuration and service, to be sure) are out there. And I have yet to fly an A-380, so my next Lufthansa booking will probably be on an A-380 of my schedule allows. And yes, I’d fly Lufthansa to Europe again in a second.
Be sure to check my other review for Lufthansa; it focuses on the airline’s kid-friendly flight attendants and amenities.