Photos: Inside Air China's Boeing 747-8 first, business class

By David Flynn, October 9 2014
Photos: Inside Air China's Boeing 747-8 first, business class

Air China's first Boeing 747-8i takes to the skies this week, with an all-new interior created for the Chinese flag carrier by JPA Design.

The 747-8i – essentially a stretched next-gen version of the popular Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet – contains first, business, premium economy and economy class across a total of 365 seats.

The first class cabin (shown below) is located in a unique position on the main deck, nestled behind business class and sitting just ahead of the wings and the premium economy cabin.

There are three rows of 12 seats in a 1-2-1 arrangement.

The 54 business class seats are shared between the nose of the main deck...

... and the entirity of the upper deck, which offers a more exclusive 'private jet' feel.

Most of these lie-flat sleepers are arranged in a staggered 2-2 configuration, except for a mini-cabin ahead of first class where the jumbo's wider body allows for two rows of a 2-2-2 layout.

Air China's Boeing 747-8i premium economy cabin numbers 66 seats right over the wing, in a 3-4-3 layout.

Economy class stretches from there back to the tail, with 233 seats adopting the same 3-4-3 grid but with 32-33 inches of pitch compared to premium economy's 38 inches.

JPA worked with Chinese artist Han Meilin to create the new Air China interior design, which features two artworks created by Han for the airline – dubbed 'Phoenix In Flight' and 'Cloud' – along with earthen tile patterns referenced through the cabin to reference Air China's cultural heritage.

The same design will also be seen on Air China's new fleet of fifteen Boeing 787-9 jets, due for delivery from 2016.

"The design in the new cabin interior sets out to tell a story," explains JPA Design, "where the passenger is carried on the wings of the phoenix flying high in the sky and with a sense of being surrounded by clouds."

"These soft dream-like images feature throughout the cabin on the wall laminates, on the seat covers and across the inflight soft goods."

"Carpets and lavatory floorings display the earthen tile design, referencing stability and a solid surface showing 'the earth at your feet'."

Also read: Air China's first Boeing 747-8 routes – Guangzhou, Frankfurt 

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2014

Total posts 15

Hi David,

Great article. Interior looks tastefully designed.  I'm a huge fan of the 747. Interesting choice to place the first class cabin behind business class. I'm hoping more airlines will purchase the 747-8 as it is a great aircraft.

31 Aug 2013

Total posts 60

The 777-9X is killing it's market, and without the assured resale value airlines will not take the risk.


Also the first business class picture does not actually excist on this aircraft (there is no section of the aircraft it can match).  This image appears to come from their 777-300ER material.  Also it should mention the third section is upstairs.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2212

The whole idea of the renewed 747 to carry on the tradition is all very romantic, but the harsh reality is that the 747-8 is too little, too late.

Perhaps they'd used the 777 wing and engine technological advances and put them into a 744ERX of sorts about a decade ago, it might have made its mark then. Having said that, the 77W was being developed then, and that's where the money was an still is. In any case, that flight has already departed.

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 212

The First Class positioning certainly is odd, having it in the nose or upper deck (despite boarding/disembarking queues) would be much more preferable in my eyes.

13 Dec 2011

Total posts 30

Preferable for who?

It’s pretty obvious that due to the rectangular design of the suites, CA have positioned them in the widest part of the aircraft to make the best use of the space.

Simple mathematics.

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 212

Preferable for First Class passengers

31 Aug 2013

Total posts 60

The nose has prestige about it and is why Lufthansa moved their first class there from the previous location upstairs on the 747-400s.  It allows a nice view which is not visible on any other aircraft.  Additionally it means the forwards jet bridge is not shared with economy meaning there is not an issue of large lines for later arriving first class passengers.

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 149

I imagine F pax board through 1L with J.  This still avoids J pax traipsing through the Fcabin, and makes the most of the super-wide 747 cabin.


American Airlines - AAdvantage

30 Sep 2014

Total posts 5

Don't think you intended to write 32-32 inches underneath the economy class cabin pictures. But CA's 747-8i is looking impressive! In liking the blue with the gold , and the subtle Chinese art

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1252

Are those the same J seats as LH's new J?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 144

There's something odd aobut the first photo of the J cabin. It shows 7 rows at 2-2-2, whereas the seat map shows only two rows (in the nose cabin) at 2-2-2. All the other rows are 2-2. Have I missed something?

31 Aug 2013

Total posts 60

It's because that picture is from the 777-300ER, not the 747-8i.  The difference is visable in the side panels for the windows (different shape windows on the 747 family) and on the overhead bins which are from the 777 family, not the 787 family which they 747-8i uses.

29 Mar 2014

Total posts 79

Their 747-400 has F behind J too, one of the few airlines that do this. Genius in my opinion.

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