Boeing is no longer making the 747 jumbo jet, and most airlines flying this fondly-remembered Queen of the Skies have retired it, with a series of farewells – including Qantas, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Thai Airways – triggered by the pandemic.
Lufthansa, however, is charting a different trajectory: its Boeing 747s not only continue to ferry travellers around the globe, they will be upgraded with the airline’s newest seats and suites to further extend their life.
Such a refit doesn’t seem to be on the cards for the A380, which indicates the jumbo could become Lufthansa’s flagship – at least until the first Boeing 777-9 arrives in 2025 or later.
Lufthansa currently flies the stretched 747-8I or Intercontinental version of the venerable jumbo; it was the 787-8’s launch customer in 2012, and among its 19-strong fleet is the 1500th 747 ever built (the final tally reached 1,572 jumbo jets after Boeing pulled the plug in July 2020).
And those 747s are in line for a makeover which travellers are sure to welcome.
That sharply-curved nose of the 747’s main deck will receive eight of Lufthansa’s ‘Allegris’ first class suites, each framed by “nearly ceiling-high walls” with a sliding privacy door and inbuilt wardrobe.
The seat converts to a wide fully-flat bed, although during the rest of the flight passengers face an ottoman which doubles as a companion seat.
Behind the exclusive first class cabin, and also on the extended upper deck ’bubble’, Lufthansa’s little-liked 2-2-2 business class seats will make way for a bespoke business class where rows of a conventional 1-2-1 layout alternate with 1-1-1 rows boasting a middle ‘throne’ seat.
In addition to plenty of working and storage space plus high-walled privacy around each seat, creature comforts include wireless audio beamed via Bluetooth from the 17-inch monitors to the passenger’s own wireless headphone or earbuds, wireless charging and a removable tablet to control everything from the inflight entertainment and seating position to lighting and ventilation.
The front row of each business class cabin will host a slightly roomier business class seat branded as a ‘business suite’ with sliding doors and a personal wardrobe.
This tip-to-tail refresh will also add Lufthansa’s third-generation premium economy seats, which like their business class cousins are big on privacy and increased personal space.
The former comes from a shell-like design with wrap-around ‘wings’ on either side of the headrest.
The seat is also housed in its own fixed ‘shell’ so it reclines within that housing rather than leaning back to encroach on the space available to the passenger behind.