Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8 (and first class) returns to the US in March
Lufthansa pulled its Boeing 747-8 aircraft from international flights to the U.S. in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak massively reduced international travel demand, instead operating smaller twin-engine jets on these routes.
Passenger demand is still low, but continuing to operate these long-haul routes lets Lufthansa move cargo between the U.S. and Germany and transport essential workers and other travelers.
But this will change in late March when Lufthansa reintroduces the 747-8 on its route from Frankfurt (FRA) to Chicago-O'Hare (ORD). The route is set to switch back to the 747-8 on Mar. 30, 2021. This route is currently operated by the airline's Airbus A350-900.
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This marks the return of Lufthansa's first-class service to the U.S. as well. The aircraft is outfitted with eight first-class seats in the nose of the aircraft. You can book Lufthansa first class on this route now, but it will set you back nearly $14,000 round-trip on many dates this spring.
It's worth noting that Google Flights is currently showing all Chicago to Frankfurt flights being operated by the 747-8 — even for dates before the end of March. However, Lufthansa confirmed to TPG that the aircraft will only reenter service when the airline's summer schedule starts at the end of March. The carrier's website also reflects this.
It's unclear why Lufthansa is bringing back one of its largest planes so early in the year. We're still in the middle of a pandemic and Americans are largely barred from entering Europe.
With this in mind, we assume the 747's reintroduction is mostly for additional cargo capacity.
Related: Europe reopening a country-by-country guide
Looking at award space
Lufthansa only opens first class award space to partners two weeks out from the travel date, so we can't find first-class award space right now. Additionally, we're unable to find business class award space through July on this route, but we're hopeful that space will open soon.
You may have better luck finding award space when booking with Lufthansa's Miles & More program, as the airline generally opens more award space to its own members.
Related: The ultimate guide to Lufthansa first class
It's great to see Lufthansa bringing back the Queen of the Skies on one of its flagship routes to the U.S. — even if demand for international travel remains low. We're hopeful that other airlines will bring back their flagship planes as we move through the pandemic and passenger demand increases.
Again, we assume that the airline is reintroducing the Boeing 747 on its Frankfurt-Chicago route to increase cargo capacity. At the same time, it allows the airline to bring back first-class service to the U.S. as well.
Feature photo by Lukas Wunderlich/Shutterstock