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SPOILER ALERT. If flying First Class is on your to-do list and you'd rather "open the gift" of the First Class Terminal when that day comes, stop reading now!
It's an almost mythical place, the First Class Terminal (FCT) at Frankfurt International Airport. In the darkness of the autumn evening, just before the last flights depart ahead of the 11pm curfew, a little building just off of Terminal 1 glows with the golden crane of the Lufthansa logo.
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2.5 years. TWO POINT FIVE YEARS.
2.5 years is how long it's been since we first used a mobile boarding pass on our iPhone. It was a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Hamburg and that mobile boarding pass served not only to get us through security at FRA but also worked at self-boarding gates to scan us into the jetbridge to board the airplane. It may have been a short flight, but the technology was in it for the long-haul.
Today Lufthansa opens an extension of Terminal 1 at Frankfurt International, called the A Plus Concourse. The statistics are staggeringit's been under construction for four years yet opened on time (take that, Berlin-Brandenburg), it's 800 meters long, cost €700 million to build, can accommodate six million additional passengers every year, and is equipped with seven new gates (four of which can handle the superjumbo A380s). Still, what the average passenger is most likely to "ooh" and "aah" over? The technology.
Lufthansa has enough money to bail out subsidiaries, design multimedia enhanced iPad apps, and pay for planking-centric travel advertising. What they don't have money to do is pay their cabin crews what their cabin crews want to be paid. And thus we come to the part of our story where 26,000 travelers got stranded across Europe today.
Lufthansa crews, having warned the airline that they were going to go on strike, staged an eight-hour walkout at Frankfurt this morning. More than 220 FRA flights were canceled, including those servicing some U.S. cities, Tel Aviv, and India. Frankfurt being Europe's third busiest airport, the delays and cancellations quickly rippled across the continent. At one point the airport closed off incoming flights from other European airports because it simply ran out of open space.
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For scale, that's a magazine down there in the lower left corner
By now we're going to go ahead and assume that you've lost your in-flight WiFi virginity, but have you done it over an ocean yet?
Long-haul WiFi is a real thing, and some airlines already have it installed and ready to run via satellites, provided you're willing to pay for the service. For example, Lufthansa, via its partnership with Panasonic, offers "FlyNet," which runs 20 Euros for 24 hours (with other pricing plans available). You can fly from the US to Germany and send a braggy Facebook status update from above Iceland. You know you want to.
A connection to the world wide web from 38,000' doesn't just happen by magic, of course; there's technology up the wazoo working to let you tweet "I'm on a plane." That technology is mostly contained within a special bump on the top of the plane's bodylook for it on aircraft and you'll begin to see it everywhere. That bump is the home of a tiny satellite dishthe one pictured above. You have it to thank for long-haul in-flight internet and live satellite TV, where available of course.
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New airplane alert! On Friday, June 1, Lufthansa sent the very first Boeing 747-8 for passengers on its very first regularly scheduled flight. Hopping from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington DC's Dulles Airport, the jumbo-jumbo jet made history with us onboard. Stay tuned the next few days for dispatches from the tarmac!
So yes, the world's first Boeing 747-8i is up and flying and, while it's fun to celebrate all the new seats and passenger-side comforts, real appreciation for the new aircraft must include understanding that most of the major improvements came for the technical, operational end of the jumbo.
This is a plane made up of over 6 million pieces, all controlled by a few men sitting up front, switches and buttons beneath their fingertips...fingertips that know the geography of the cockpit by heart. Welcome to the Boeing 747-8i's flight deck....where the magic happens.
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New airplane alert! Last Friday, June 1, Lufthansa sent the very first Boeing 747-8 for passengers on its very first regularly scheduled flight. Hopping from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington DC's Dulles Airport, the jumbo-jumbo jet made history with us onboard. Stay tuned the next few days for dispatches from the tarmac!
It used to be that flying in luxury on a jumbo jet meant somewhat wider seats with better recline, friendlier flight attendants, a spiral staircase to the upper deck and lobster on the menu. This was the premium class of the 1970s, when Pan Am took off with the very first Boeing 747 passenger plane, a 747-100. Fast forward to 42 years later (!!) to the new 747-800 Intercontinental and, as much as we bemoan the loss of the "jet set" glamor, stepping into Lufthansa's new Business Class forces the realization thatholy mackerelthese last few decades have actually produced a plane that can again cause passengers to mouthe "wow" (or "toll" if you're German).
The 747 has always been an impressive work of aviation engineering, but it's this 747-8i that Boeing is calling "a flagship aircraft that airlines will want to customize" and "a cornerstone of the Lufthansa fleet for years to come." So, no surprise that Lufthansa chose this baby for the grand debut of the new lie-flat Business Class seats, right? So let's check it out...
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New airplane alert! Today, June 1, Lufthansa sent the very first Boeing 747-8 for passengers on its very first regularly scheduled flight. Hopping from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington DC's Dulles Airport, the jumbo-jumbo jet is making history with us onboard. Stay tuned the next few days for dispatches from the tarmac!
"Haben Sie einen schönen Flug."
The captain's calm pleasantries were the usual remarks that come at the beginning of a long flightthe weather is cloudy and warm at our destination and he hopes all passengers enjoy the onboard services during the 10-hour journeybut this is where the "usual" ended and the extraordinary began.
You see, earlier today we participated in a little bit of aviation history. Take that backwhat happened wasn't little at all, but JUMBO. Flying direct from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington, DC-Dulles, the very first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental completed its very first scheduled passenger flight. It is not the 747 you already know and love, but a fresher, faster, more technologically advanced and larger 747, and Lufthansa is the only airline with their hands on this new "Queen of the Skies."
Though the majority of the passengers had completely lucked out on booking this inaugural flight and only figured out something special was afoot when the airplane came under a firetruck water cannon shower on its creep out to the Frankfurt runway, our journey to the Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental began some time ago, and we'd already been in Germany for nearly two weeks, psyching up for this first flight.
So here's what went down:
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Did you know that there's a whole separate building, just off the tarmac at Frankfurt Airport, that caters only to First Class passengers? Waitit's even more specific than that; you've got to be flying First Class on Lufthansa or Austrian Airlines or Swiss Air and have enough time on your hands to enjoy the amenities of this special building, such as nap rooms, bathrooms with showers and and (gasp!) soaking bathtubs.
Hopefully you did already know this, because we've taken you through it with a photo gallery and this time we just want to know what's good to drink up in here.
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This was taken with an iPhone. Crazy, right?
New airplane alert! Tomorrow, June 1, Lufthansa will send the very first Boeing 747-8 for passengers on its very first regularly scheduled flight. Hopping from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington DC's Dulles Airport, the jumbo-jumbo jet is making history with us onboard. Stay tuned the next few days for dispatches from the tarmac!
First things first: the Boeing 747-8 is a ginormous airplane. So ginormous that we couldn't capture her in a single photo, even though we had the entire space of Lufthansa Technik's A380 hangar to work angles. Though you may see the 747-800 rolling out on the tarmac and not recognize her from her older sibling, the 747-400 you already know and love, this new jet has serious differences and all for the better.
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They're baaaack! The doubledecker Airbus A380s of Lufthansa have resumed flying to San Francisco and, soon, New York-JFK. The big planes pulled back into SFO on March 25, but it's NYC that'll have the big welcome back when Lufthansa names their newest A380 after the city.
From May 21, planespotters and Frankfurt-bound flyers at JFK should keep a look out for tail number D-AIMH, the "New York" A380. Lufthansa has been naming their superjumbos after German hubs and, then, Star Alliance hub cities, but this'll be the first named for a US City.
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Yes yes yes! Or, rather, ja ja ja! Lufthansa today made the huge announcement that they will be introducing an all-new Business Class, with redesigned seats and entertainment systems. Oh, and guess what? The new seats will be lie-flat, which solves the biggest complaint about the current seats, which recline to an angle (and you end up sliding down as you attempt sleep).
The new Business Class will hit Lufty's fleet beginning with their fresh-off-the-line Boeing 747-8 in only a few weeks. Following this, we hope for a swift fleet-wide rollout, but there's not definite dates on that quite yet.
Trust us when we say that every bit of this 3-billion-Euro in-flight upgrade is for the better. Sure, travelers should be excited for the 6' 5" lie-flat bed, the 15" seatback TV screens and new materials, but perhaps the sweetest perk of the new seats will be massively increased personal space.
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Hey, who wants to fly to Frankfurt onboard an Airbus A380? Trick question! Who doesn't?
If you followed along with our incredible journey on none other than the Singapore Airlines A380 recently, then we've got super awesome news: the mega flight deal from New York-JFK to Frankfurt has returned, for a 15-day sale.
As the weather in Europe warms, prices will go up. Book this now or forever hold your peace. Here's the deal: roundtrip in economy between JFK and FRA on the Singapore A380 for $774, all taxes and fees included. Search Singaporeair.com to find the low fares, which are good for travel between February 15 and May 31, 2012; just be sure to book the tickets by February 29.
This is perfect for east coasters who want the opportunity to fly on an A380, but with the best service for the lowest price. Plus Lufthansa has removed their A380s from JFK for the winter, so if you've got to head to Frankfurt anyway...