It’s a giant, two-deck plane. Passengers take pictures and marvel at it while waiting to board. And wait you will, because boarding 500 passengers is an art no airline has yet to master.
On the way to India and Singapore we scored the cheapest tickets on Emirates through Dubai. By total coincidence the Singapore flight was the absolute first A380 to fly out of Amsterdam. Press was there, and what seemed like 200 Airbus employees saluted as we taxied away.
Evidently Amsterdam was the first A380-ready airport in the world, but because national carrier KLM/Air France/Delta fly only the oldest, junkiest old Boeing 747s they can scrounge, one has never flown an A380 there. Emirates is taking a stab on the 7 hour flight to their main hub in Dubai.
The plane even smelled new. No more leg room than most flights, but the seats seemed much wider. Every seat has two USB chargers and a multi-plug outlet, even in coach. There was WIFI internet on board, charged at $3 for 5MB or $15 for 30MB. Internet access really soothes the nerves when you’re stuck sitting for 7 hours.
A380s use accelerometers in the nose of the aircraft to dampen vibrations in the rest of the plane. The difference is a gentle rocking sensation instead of the jerking vibrations common during most trans-continental flights. We’d guess with the appropriate equipment one could do a rough reverse engineer on their compensation algorithms during a boring long-haul.
Dubai airport comes alive between midnight and 8am. Before midnight, nothing. After 8am, ghost town. We arrived to 104F heat outside at midnight. Transfers were speedy, dignified, and easy. Water in the toilets and urinals was steamy – something well documented on the web but seemingly unexplained.
In a strike of uncharacteristic luck, Emirates upgraded us to business class on the A380. We got to sit on the second deck, lording it over the riffraff and screaming children in steerage below. The seats fully reclined into a bed, but who could sleep away that business class service. Our personal attendant served a 2 course breakfast with 20 possible wine pairings, then invited us back to the bar to mingle with other passengers.
Yes, a decently stocked bar with plenty of standing room in the back of business class. Not exactly what you expect from an airline based in a country where individuals need a license to buy beer. It was a great way to pass a few hours, and eat some top notch snacks. Two thumbs up for Emirates and the A380. We’re easy to impress, and Emirates business class won us over for sure.
An airplane that holds 500+ passengers is swell, but we feel like the major downside to the A380 is that most airports aren’t designed to cope with that many people. 500 jerks have to check in, clear security, board, clear immigration, and retrieve baggage. Each step is accompanied by a mob of angry air travel people, like us.
Our journey concludes with this picture of a airplane toilet. Several people on Twitter asked specifically for a shot of the A380 bathroom. Emirates is probably not representative of all airlines. We’re used to the standard grey plastic airplane fittings. Emirates uses this faux wood stuff everywhere which looks very bright and clean.
We won’t hesitate to fly Emirates again in the future, especially if they keep up the bumps to business class. Our loyalty is still with Finnair though, for the shortest routes and medium sized A333 planes that carry around 200 passengers.