Today marks the 10th anniversary of my favorite plane to fly as a passenger — the A380.
On April 27, 2005, the Airbus A380 took its first test flight, and two years after that it began commercial service.
I’ve had a bit of an A380 obsession, and have been fortunate enough to fly every A380 first class product in the world. This includes:
- Air France
- Asiana Airlines
- British Airways
- China Southern
- Etihad Airways
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
While Airbus is struggling to sell more A380s (and ultimately decided to cancel the aircraft type altogether), I still think it’s a really special plane which is unrivaled in terms of the passenger experience.
To celebrate the A380’s 10th anniversary, I figured I’d share the 10 things which I love most about the whale of the skies.
Unrivaled quietness & smoothness
While a lot of my favorite aspects of the A380s are focused around the premium cabin products, there’s one thing that’s universally awesome about the A380 — it’s quiet and it’s smooth. Really, really quiet and smooth. Takeoff on an A380 always sounds considerably quieter than cruise on most other planes.
An awesome tail camera
While there are some other aircraft out there with tail cameras, I don’t think there’s a plane which has high quality tail cameras as consistently. Who needs inflight entertainment when you can watch this video from behind for hours on end?
The first double bed on a commercial plane
Singapore Airlines pioneered something which had never been done before, with their A380 Suites Class. For the first time ever, there was a commercial plane with two seats which could be converted into a double bed.
Travel is always more fun with someone. Some would argue the same applies to being in bed (personally I just like having a double bed all to myself).
SHOWERING ON A PLANE ZOMG
I remember my first shower on the Emirates A380 like it was yesterday. I giggled throughout my entire five minute water allotment. From the shower itself to the heated floors to the huge selection of toiletries, showering is still the funnest thing to do in the skies, in my opinion.
In the meantime Etihad also has showers on their A380s, though I still prefer Emirates’.
Improved onboard bars
While onboard bars aren’t unique to the A380 as such, there’s no denying that the A380 certainly raised the bar for onboard bars (pun intended). While Virgin Atlantic had onboard bars before that, I think the highlight of onboard bars is the Qatar Airways A380. Emirates and Korean Air also have bars on their A380s.
The grand staircase
Even though I’ve flown millions upon millions of miles, aviation is still a miracle to me. And the fact that a whale like the A380 can fly is possibly the greatest miracle of all. When inside the plane, nothing really puts its size into perspective quite like the “grand” staircase at the front of the plane.
Boarding directly to the upper deck
Perhaps this is the ultimate first world solution to a first world problem, but there’s something awesome about being able to board directly onto the A380 upper deck.
While I sort of liked walking up the staircase on the 747, it wasn’t always practical, given how many carry-ons I sometimes travel with. I love boarding through the forward door of the upper deck and being able to go directly to my seat.
Due to the whale-like design of the A380, the front of the upper deck has a bit of extra space. Different airlines utilize the space in different ways. Qantas has a small lounge there. Emirates has shower rooms there. And many airlines just have nice big bathrooms there.
I’d say the best A380 bathroom (aside from the shower suite offered by Emirates) has to be Lufthansa’s, which even has urinals.
Etihad’s The Residence
While it’s unlikely most of us will ever have the opportunity to fly it and while I think it might be style over substance, it is really cool that Etihad has The Residence on their A380, which is a private three room suite with butler service. Having your own private living room, bedroom, bathroom, and butler on a commercial plane is just insane.
Etihad’s First Apartment
While most of us will never have a chance to fly Etihad’s The Residence, the First Apartment is much more attainable for most of us, given that miles can be redeemed for it.
While Etihad is the most recent carrier to take delivery of the A380, they’re also the airline which has innovated the most with their first class product on the plane, in my opinion.
While service and food on Etihad can be inconsistent, the hard product is one of a kind. It’s the only airline to have just a single aisle on the A380, meaning the first class seating is in a 1-1 configuration.
With only a couple of airlines with orders yet to take delivery of the A380, I’m afraid we’ve probably seen most of the innovation we’ll see from the plane. As the global demand for air travel continues to grow I’m sure demand for the A380 (or a similar plane) will grow as well. I guess the question is whether the demand will kick in soon enough.
Anyone else as big of an A380 fan as I am? What’s your favorite thing about the A380?