Taking the new Lufthansa 747-8i IFE for a ride


Among the many changes Lufthansa implemented in their brand new 747-8i aircraft, the in-flight entertainment system is quite nice. Certainly a significant upgrade from the 747-400s which had none for so long, and competitive with many other carriers and their systems. During my flight at the beginning of the month I put the system through a bit of a proving run; here are some of the photos.

For the economy class passengers the screens are quite large (9-10"), but not too big such that they are difficult to watch. The screen is slightly shiny so there can be reflection issues when watching it. I didn’t find this to be an enormous problem but it was definitely noticeable in certain situations. Darker views on-screen were more of an issue than others in my limited sample set.

They are touch screens for controls, meaning that you might end up with another passenger thumping the back of your seat all flight; I was fortunate that this wasn’t an issue personally and I found the screen to be reasonably sensitive so that sort of tapping shouldn’t be necessary. Doesn’t mean it won’t be. Also, the screen articulates making it reasonable to watch should the passenger in front of you recline, though that also does bring it quite close to your face. Maybe that thumping on it isn’t so bad after all.

 

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When activated the system offers a selection of 10 different languages to run in.

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And from there the selections available are reasonably broad.

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It isn’t the best movie selection I’ve experienced in-flight but it is broad enough that finding something to watch shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

The system also offers USB plugs at every seat (under the arm rest). This can be used for charging a device as well as for playback through the IFE system.

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In my testing the IFE balked at my circa 2006 Sony MP3 player for playback, but it charged both that and my phone without issue.

In addition to the USB plugs there are also 110V plugs in every row. Very nice to have access to charge a laptop during the flight, though, like most similar connections, the amperage is limited which can be quite frustrating, particularly with devices which draw more power. Plus you have to share with your seat-mates if everyone wants to charge a device; there are two plugs for three or four seat sections.

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For me the most entertaining part of the IFE system is often the moving map. In this area the new Lufthansa IFE is pretty much at the front of the pack. I’ve seen similar systems on other carriers as well so I know this isn’t unique to Lufthansa, but it is still one of the better systems out there. Rather than just a line on a screen the map is integrated with satellite views so you can see what it looks like on the ground from a variety of views (tail cam, above the plane, cockpit view, etc.) during the flight. The satellite data isn’t real-time but it is still pretty neat to see.

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The IFE system is the same in the Business Class and First Class cabins as well, though the screen is much larger. As you can see in the picture below the screens slide out from the angled stowed position to be facing the business class passengers directly. This can not be done during taxi/takeoff/landing so that’s a minor annoyance. Also slightly annoying is that the screen doesn’t tilt forward so when in a reclined position it is more difficult to see. Definitely minor issues, but still annoying. The system is controlled through a remote device in these seats rather than touch screen. Makes sense since you’re generally sitting too far away for a touch screen to make any sense.

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Overall I found the new IFE system to be quite pleasant. The usability was good and the selection was broad enough that I was sufficiently entertained. Multiple forms of power were also quite welcome, making self-supplied IFE a reasonable choice even for longer flights. Definitely a significant step up from the older versions Lufthansa used to fly.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

2 Comments

  1. If someone is thumping at my head I give them this trick: use your nail. A gentle tap is all that’s necessary then.

  2. I just flew on 747-8i in economy and found the touch screen hard to deal with. In both of our seats, it was very unresponsive and had a reaction delay. Neither the passengers in front or behind us used it but I actually thought about how I would feel about someone tapping/thumping on it. The selection was about 15 movies (mostly B-rated and unheard of) and some where categorized in multiple categories (rom com, drama, etc.) Overall, I was kind of underwhelmed with this product for what is supposed to be a new flagship offering but it helped to pass the time.

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