Resident employee here. Long post, but worth reading.
First off, I want to get the unfortunate news out of the way. Per management, we were unable to take photos of the interior. While touring the cabin, hearing our station manager (who we shall call Laura) shout that out every 10 seconds got really old really quick. I'm not sure why Laura didn't want to test out the PA system instead, but I digress. Give it time, and some photos will be available via the likes of Twitter, Facebook Flickr, instagram, etc. Patience is a virtue!
Now onto the good stuff.
Some of my coworkers were there waiting for it too. It was hilarious as we kept taunting the prospect kids (aka those who push the wheelchairs) that we kept seeing it and drummed up a credible amount of excitement, only for them to start recording a CRJ-900 taxiing past our gate. A 744 taxied past on its way to NRT and it felt somewhat symbolic as we had fire trucks doing a water salute as it was taxiing in. I posted a video on Facebook, and I'll see if I can get it here.
The plane finally arrived with lots of applause and lots of inside jokes only my coworkers and i will understand (e.g. the jetbridge being the jumpy one, one shaking the camera to make it look like the aircraft was struck by it, etc.).
After pictures of the exterior, we all lined up to swipe ourselves down the jetbridge. I felt bad as a fellow employee from an outstation wanted to see it but couldn't as he didn't have the proper badging for DTW (nor did we have escort authority).
Walking on board, the first thing that struck me were the suites and the enormous amount of head room. The suites definitely are an eye-catcher, with the eggshell white cubicles being accented with a blue frame around the TV monitor, red for a little storage area, and purple mood lighting (likely complimenting the new passport plum uniforms). The head room reminded me a bit of a DC-10 in that sense. Naturally the suites were the part with the most amount of fan-fare and where Laura kept saying the no photos speech. I got into a suite, and it felt like it had a bit of some padding to it which was nice. I closed the privacy door and it still felt fairly roomy. My personal favorite was once the A330 seats for Delta One as it still has a good amount of privacy to them, but this definitely took it up a notch. Now came laying it out. It went fully flat, and while it still had a little cubby hole for your feet, it was not nearly as coffin-like as I have experienced on the 767s. There was also one for things such as books, but despite the lack of center overhead binds it looks as though there's a decent amount of storage. The lighting was fully customizable as it was dimmable to enable a more intimate feel, but I think most people will simply have it on or off. As for colors, nada. It's simply an LED white.
Now came the embarrassing part. I got myself stuck in the suite! I wanted to just slide the door back as I initially thought it would, but it looked like it just swung out (like any other door I guess?). I kept asking people if I can just get out, only for a coworker at the gates to look at me like, "Of course you'd get yourself stuck in this, Mike!" and laugh. One of the mechanics who showed it off simply walked past, so I had to concede defeat and hope that one day I will master the door on that.
A few rows back were the premium economy seats where I ran into my friend Mary who is one of our Mandarin-speaking gate agents based in DTW. Honestly, we fell in love with these and so did a lot of our coworkers, a lot more than I initially thought actually. It had a decent amount of legroom for me (I'm 5' 8" so about 180 cm) and while the seat does recline quite a bit, it didn't feel too bothersome to me while looking at the screen. The seats also have the hard case storage area in there for books, but Mary and I found there's also a little side pocket in between the seats that can work for a few slim things. i honestly wouldn't recommend it though as that's just asking for a passport or the like to be left behind there. The sides also have three separate buttons controlling the seat which were a bit difficult to maneuver without a serious push, such as the footrest. Also while I know touchscreens are all the rage these days, I didn't seem to like seeing that volume / channel controls were located inside the sides under the armrests next to the aforementioned pocket of doom. It seemed as though i would butt-dial my channel while watching if I wasn't careful. Nonetheless it is a place I wouldn't mind spending a few hours in to/from Asia. Mind you the last time was me in the middle seat coming back from ICN where 13 hours of watching Interstellar on repeat became a test of endurance.
Economy seats looked to be the exact same types as what we see on Finnair's A350s. I can't compare the comfort of the two, but it did have memory foam in the seats and had a good amount of padding. it might be broken in over time, but it didn't seem too bad. The blue isn't as drab as previous photos from an Instagrammer (who shall be anonymous) suggested. It looked to be a good bit lighter, but for most of the time on board the lighting was being played with. The bulkheads were hard bulkheads, but I sat in them and they still provided a good deal of legroom while not being exactly exit row style seating.
The lavatories were a far cry from the shoe closets on the 739s, but I didn't want to tempt fate in getting stuck in yet another part of the plane.
There was also a little video clip with Ed Bastian seeing the interior with a marketing representative of ours. He did mention there were some minor things to make parts of the plane more customer friendly like the latches, and also the second one will be delivered later this month with Chairman's Club employees flying on board back to ATL. Think of it like honor roll students going on a field trip to Italy to pick up a school bus made by Ferrari.
In conclusion, while there are some minor glitches to work out, I believe some homework has been done. This will definitely be a big step up for our Asia flights which constantly get mentioned as having a lower customer rating not because of the crew, but rather the product on our TPAC flights weren't quite on par with Asian competitors.
I intentionally went into work this morning, thinking I can get a quick peek of the plane, ask a few questions, run an errand and then head back to work. Well, the inbound was delayed about 90ish minutes due to a minor computer glitch and the plane did make a slight stop in CVG before continuing to DTW. Stupid me forgot to put something in my car while leaving this morning. Therefore I left around 2pm to drive back home 20 minutes away, only to turn back around as it was quickly approaching the time I normally leave. Fighting traffic, slow / distracted drivers, construction and weaving through the Nissan-Ultima infested stretch of highway known as I-275, I made it back in time for my shift.
Again I do apologize for the lack of photos, but I hope this covered the interior thoroughly. In the meantime, I'm seriously considering on going to Asia for my birthday in January to catch a ride on board.
A380(s) flown: HL7615(MSN 075) ICN-LAX KE 017 super 8/8/2012