In the latest of our series of guides to the next generation of airliners that you'll find on your flights in the next few years, we're turning our attention to Boeing's 747-8 Intercontinental -- the last version of the venerable jumbo jet.
Bigger than either of those, the four-engined 747-8 is already flying for Lufthansa -- and we've reviewed it. The 747-8 also has orders from Korean Air, Air China, and Arik Air of Nigeria in the pipeline, with several cargo airlines also using the jet.
Numerous other airlines, especially in China, are looking into adding the plane onto their routes. And that's good news for business travellers.
At the end of the day, you get quietness, space, storage -- and like any new plane, the 747-8 has the latest business class seats, entertainment and services.
Quiet time for business travellers
The 747-8 is quiet -- really quiet. That comes partly from the new GEnx engines and partly from improved noise insulation throughout the plane, not just in the pointy end.
As it used to be in older jumbos (like Lufthansa's 1975-era first class section, above) sitting in the nose is still the very quietest spot, where all you hear is a bit of wind, but the rear of the upper deck is also seriously quiet -- much quieter than the front of the upper deck. We checked.
Expect airlines with first class to keep their very best passengers in the nose, with business class in the downstairs cabin behind the nose and on the upper deck.
The upstairs cabin has been a real bonus of the 747 for business travellers since it was a fabulous flying lounge.
With the advent of Qantas' first stretched-upper-deck 747-300 in the 1980s, Australians had the full advantage of the quieter, smaller, more exclusive upstairs business class cabin, and there most airlines' business class has remained through the 747-400 that business travellers still fly today.
The 747-8 has further stretched the upper deck several metres, meaning airlines can host even more business class passengers upstairs.
The wide downstairs cabin will also be business class, with Lufthansa filling two full sections of their 747-8 with fully flat beds to capitalise on the business-heavy markets where it'll fly the jumbo.
The Sky (Interior) is the (luggage) limit
Business travellers with bulging carry-on bags will find extra luggage room in the overhead bins on the new jumbo.
They're the same Boeing Sky Interior that Qantas launched on its 747-400ER planes, and which is also found on new 777 and 737 jets.
For you, it means more storage space, both for your stuff and for that person with the wheeled kitchen sink who tries to cram their stuff in on top of your luggage.
It's still the good old jumbo
Let's face it, if you're a frequent flyer you'll know the previous versions of the 747, from its original late-1960s version through the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. It's an iconic plane, an iconic design and still a firm favourite of many passengers.
And with its upgraded, elegant profile -- and brand new wings -- the 747-8 is like an old friend with a new nose: still recognisable, but looking and feeling better.
For more insights into the future of travel:
- Join us on an exclusive photo tour of the first flying passenger 747-8
- Read our eagle-eyed review of Lufthansa's new 747-8 business class seat
- Gaze into the crystal ball for other innovations from next-generation jets
- Take a peek at our pictures of the return of Qantas' 747 Boxing Roo
- Beginning of the end for the Queen of the Skies as Singapore Airlines retires its last jumbo
- Follow us on Twitter for the very latest: we're @AusBT
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.