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Airbus A380

A type of aircraft manufactured by Airbus

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My first flight

  • Jul 18, 2010
The first delivery of the A380 was in October 2007, to Singapore Airlines. For the past few years, Singapore Airlines (SIA or SQ) has been the airline to take the lead in securing the 1st order of new Airbus or Boeing planes. It certainly takes pride in being the first to do things and also the most profitable airlines in the world. Despite the fact that Singapore is a small country, it has managed to stand out in the travel arena, to the envy of many big corporations and airliners. However, this is a review not about Singapore Airlines. I wrote that review months ago. Please check that out if you're interested.

This is a review about A380. The aircraft which seat 471 in Singapore Airlines case but has the potential to seat over 800 people if it's all in economy class. This is by far the biggest plane you can find in the commercial world. It is certainly huge! So huge that you don't realise it until it's side by side or next to a 747 aircraft! 

So, what's so special about this latest addition to the airline industry? Here's my version of my personal experience last month on the 3.5 hour flight from Hong Kong to Singapore.

1) Size
It's certainly huge compared to any aircraft you will find in an airport, even the biggest airports in the world. You won't realize how big it is looking out from within the airport though. It looks bloated and certainly not my idea of a beauty, compared to the Boeing 747, 787 or the Concord. It is also shorter in terms of scale. Having said that, when one is in the airplane, one still cannot experience how big the plane is. That's because it's been segmented into compartments and two different levels. The staircase is not visible either (I only found one at the back of the aircrafts, I was seated on the upper deck on both sectors of the flight). The upper deck consists of business and economy class while the lower deck consists of first class and economy class. I didn't manage to see what the first class (I was informed they are suites, ie. rooms with beds; ahem, specifically no sex policy, I have heard ;-)) since I was seated on upper deck for both times. I'd definitely try to get a seat in the lower deck next time, just to check out what it looks like :-)

So, how does one get a real perspective of size? When seated next to a window seat & having another 767 or 747 plane side by side in another runaway awaiting to take off. That's when its size hits you. It's gigantic. Just before the plane takes off too!

Then the next eerie question came to mind... will it take off smoothly & successfully with this heavyweight?!?!?

2) Sound
Despite my many flights, I did have a tinge of doubt and it occurred to me I had better prayed for a successful "launch"! The speed? It was distinctly slower than the jumbo jets I'm accustomed to. For a sec or two, I even questioned why it took so long to take off? Slower than normal. It's like it's a bit too heavy to take it right up into the sky (in real, it's a lot heavier than most aircrafts & double the amount of people on board, not to mention the luggages, food and also steel!). Not to mention the engine was too quiet for such a big plane! Combine the two, it didn't seem normal for me! 

Yes, it's a very quiet plane. I've heard from some frequent travelers that with this plane, they became so spoilt that they'll never take another plane again, esp. for long flights! it's a dreamer's paradise! Oh, wow!

Well, my flight was a little short and I didn't experience this quiet plane to its full advantage. So, can't really relate. In any case, it's seats are definitely comfortable.

3) Seats
There is definitely a slight improvement in its width. As with sound, I was on a short flight so didn't experience how much more comfortable it would be had it been a much longer flight!

I did however experience another comfort.

4) Lavatories
They looked a lot better and newer. There's even a tinge of design on these much needed convenience on the plane. Slightly more space within as well.

One complaint is that I'm not sure if because the plane is compartmentalize or because its air-conditioning system is not working so well, smell does leak if someone is having a bad day! I do feel that they might want to leave some air-freshener to regulate the cabins! There is certainly room for improvement in this case!

5) Entertainment
LCD screen is a lot bigger and the normal wide arrays of entertainment are available on flight. There is available room for improvement with regard to its headphone though. If I've a choice, which I think Singapore Airline should made available, it is this. Give the passenger a choice of a headphone or earphone. Personally I much prefer the earphone. I brought along my own for my flights since I do carry along my own MP5 onboard. If you wish to do so, just remember to buy an extra adapter for the plug to the seat. It's available at most airports. Without it, your earphone cannot be used on this flight. 

I also noticed the ethernet jack on the entertainment console on the back of the seat. So, I was curious if broadband is available on board. The answer is "not yet!". However, it is expected to be available in future. I do suggest you to bring along the ethernet cable should you be interested in surfing on board one day! So far, I've no idea at all if the cable will be available, nor do I know if the internet service will be offered for free or at a charge! But, that's a service I'd certainly be looking forward to!

6) Speed 
I do not feel there is a distinctly advantage in speed as compared to the Boeing jumbo jets. In fact, on both occasions, the plane was late on departure and arrival! If you're in a rush, do not take the A380!

On the downside, I do feel it's more bumpy on the A380. I was told by a friend that if there is any air turbulence, it might be felt more on such a big plane although I question that logic somehow. I always had the idea that it's more stable on a big plane than a small one for some reason. So, how on earth could it be felt more on a huge plane? That must be some turbulence. In my case, I felt these on both sectors of the flight, ie. from Hong Kong to Singapore & also on the return leg! Strangely enough, it felt scarier to me when experiencing turbulence on a huge plane, esp. one that's as heavy as this one!

7) Checking in & boarding
Despite the many passengers, no problem on this front. Everything was smooth and orderly. Passengers were on plane in no time. The normal process of online check in can be done 48 hours ahead of departure and self-printed boarding passes are available.

8) Luggages
There is room for improvement on this front. It takes longer than normal to retrieve luggages. I suppose it can't be help, this has to do with the airports staff and also the amount of bags that are loaded into the plane. One way to beat the odds is to drop the bags nearer to departure, ie. do not go to airport too early! One word of caution though, not too late either. I think the A380 counter closure is slightly earlier than for normal flights! Check that up when you check in online!

Final Verdict
So, will I take the A380 again? Well, the question is not if I enjoy the flight or not. The answer lies in how much more I've to pay for the flights since most flights I take are not companied paid!

Afterall, currently flights on the same route by the same airline account for a premium if they are made on A380. I will not pay so much more, in most case, at least 20% more, for flights on A380 as I do not feel the comfort is worth that much more. In fact, the punctuality of this flight is being questioned and also there is no noteworthy added comfort as far as I'm concerned. Although, if you are on Business or First class, there is a marked difference, according to some magazines. For people I talked to on the flight, they mentioned that it's company paid, so they don't mind it.

One thing is that A380 is being used on routes that passengers are abundant and timing are good. That's why they are able to garner so many passengers and command a premium. So, I gather passengers are not paying more specifically for its extra amenities. 

As for Airbus, whether this plane will bring it fortune and fame or legal tussles is still an unknown. Afterall, a few airliners are already beginning to sue for its late deliveries! 
My first flight

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July 29, 2010
great review sharrie, and really interesting!!
July 19, 2010
Well, I can fly 32 times the speed of sound so I am pretty sure I can outrace this plane LOL! But gosh, that plane looks real spiffy and cool. Thanks for the review, Sharrie! Glad to see you back!
July 19, 2010
Good to know that I've been missed :-) How are you doing? No vacations for the summer?
July 19, 2010
already went last month. I've been going fishing a lot :)
July 19, 2010
Fishing? Opportunities? ;-) I still haven't make my big trip of the year. Originally had Kyrgyzstan in mind but due to the unrest there last month decided otherwise. May be I should look into Bhutan this year instead!
July 19, 2010
well that too, but mainly fishing for fish. You are quite the traveler. hey, i forgot to finish that list I drafted for you; happy to see you back.. :)
July 19, 2010
I'm not really back, but the last two days, words been dictated to me in my sleep! Imagine writing these 2 reviews while I was half awake! Can't help it though... as I said before, sometimes they come in rains, sometimes totally drought! Weather been hot like hell over here! I need to go traveling but it's really not very encouraging so far!
July 19, 2010
Oh, didn't I tell you before? My motto? LIVE TO TRAVEL :-)
July 19, 2010
The good news is I've been invited to contribute my writing to a National Geographic publication in Russia! Imagine, of all languages! It'll be published early next year. Cool eh? In the mean time, I think I ought to finish my book project too. Am going to try to publish a book about China :-)
July 19, 2010
wow! congratulations on that, Sharrie! I do hope you still grace us with your presence from time to time.. :)
July 18, 2010
Wow, I hadn't heard about this new plane, but it does look and sound amazing. That's a ton of people in one airplane! The photos of the seats look great too. It's always nice to have just a little more room. Thanks for the great review:)
July 19, 2010
Yep, wait til you see the beds in that plane! It'll probably cost a fortune to have one of those suites :-)
More Airbus A380 reviews
Quick Tip by . June 13, 2010
posted in UP UP & Away!
I flew on the A380 last week for free on Singapore Airlines from Hong Kong to Singapore. No, not on business class but on the upper deck. Courtesy of Air Canada, ie. Frequent flyer miles ;-) The plane is not as huge as I've imagined, possibly because it's been compartmentalized! As big as this plane is, it can be bumpy too! The usual SQ service and efficiency. The lavatories are a lot nicer and roomier than the 767 or 747 flights!
About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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The Airbus A380 is a double-deckwide-body, four-engine airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. The largest passenger airliner in the world, the A380 made its maiden flight on 27 April 2005 from Toulouse,France, and made its first commercial flight on 25 October 2007 from Singapore to Sydney with Singapore Airlines. The aircraft was known as the Airbus A3XX during much of its development phase, but the nickname Superjumbo has since become associated with it.

The A380's upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage, and its width is equivalent to that of a widebody aircraft. This allows for an A380-800's cabin with 5,146 square feet (478.1 m2) of floor space; 49% more floor space than the next-largest airliner, the Boeing 747-400 with 3,453 square feet (320.8 m2), and provides seating for 525 people in a typical three-classconfiguration or up to 853 people in all-economy class configurations. The postponed freighter version, the A380-800F, is offered as one of the largest freight aircraft, with a payload capacity exceeded only by the Antonov An-225.[3] The A380-800 has a design range of 15,200 km (8,200 nmi), sufficient to fly from New York to Hong Kong for example, and a cruising speed of Mach0.85 (about 900 km/h or ...

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