The A380 Is 10 Years Old: Here Are 10 Things I Love About It

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:

While Airbus is struggling to sell more A380s, 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.

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-113

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?

Qantas-A380-First-Class-66

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).

Singapore-Suites-Double-Bed-1

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’. 

Emirates-A380-Shower

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.

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-077

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.

Qantas-A380-First-Class-61

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.

Qantas-First-Class-A380-01

Amazing bathrooms

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. 

Lufthansa-First-Class-Urinal-1

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-A380-First-Class-24

Etihad-A380-First-Class-25

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.

Etihad-A380-First-Class-01

Bottom line

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?

Comments

  1. So smooth, so quiet. Taking off in SQ Suites, and not in the window seat, I wondered how much longer we were going to taxi before taking off. Then I turned and looked out the window, and we were already several hundred feet in the air. Totally missed the takeoff. Which by the way is just fine by me.

    And the Bose headphones stayed in their carrying case. So quiet I just didn’t have a use for them.

    Before that flight, we wanted to always fly FC. Now having flown the A380, we want to always fly FC in an A380. 🙂

  2. Still haven’t flown one, although I watched a Lufthansa A380 take off from SFO yesterday while I was hiking. I’m using my FlyingBlue points on KLM until AF installs their new business class on the SFO – CDG route.

  3. OMG, my sister was born April 27th too on 2005 and I’m celebrating her tenth birthday as I type. What a coincidence?

  4. I recall that i pop my A380 cherry with mate from LAX-MEL with QF a380.. surreal experience, and tried my EK F last month for first time, omgz reaction! Thank you for sharing tips how to score EY F, which I was able to do that for this Nov! Here’s to hope of more airlines order a380!

  5. Just flew on my first A380 (SQ Suites on NRT-LAX; two middle seats — with my mom). Was definitely awesome (we both wished the flight had been longer!) but not sure how much quieter it was on the lower deck compared to 772/77W — Bose headphones still helped.

    Having said that, if you are considering taking SQ F, I’d not think it’d be worth an extra connection to fly A380 instead of 77W. The “regular” SQ First is still great 🙂

  6. Still haven’t flown on one yet but did fly the 787 a few months ago and that was pretty quiet. Is the A380 significantly more quiet than a 787?

  7. Awesome positivity. And er….. You’re right, it has brought some incredible innovations to commercial air travel. I don’t get Gary’s negativity and his attitude that he knows about high level aviation knowledge. He doesn’t. And that’s coming from an ex 747 driver. Long live the A380!

  8. Happy birthday A380! I still am not convinced that the SQ suites class double bed is a double bed. Im having flown on it on my own, I’d consider it more as 2 twin beds with a hard divider in the middle that SQ covers with one sheet. It is very uncomfortable to sleep in the middle if you’re one person in that “double bed” suite. 😉
    However, the EY Residence double bed is a true double bed, imho.

  9. Everything I’ve read says that the A380 has been a financial catastrophe for Airbus. Any idea how such a debacle was ever approved? It seems almost akin to the Concorde in that affluent passenger loved it but it was a financial disaster for the manufacture.

  10. How does Lufthansa’s 380 product compare? The fact that their fanboy #1 doesn’t mention them has gotten me worried 🙂

  11. I miss the 747 – one of the greatest planes ever. The A380 more than takes its place as the plane I look forward to relaxing on – especially in the nice big lavs. I was telling this to an FA on ANA’s First Suites after flying to NRT on SQ’s A380. “Oh, you’re an aviation enthusiast? – so you must like our 777?” I told her the 777 sucks.

  12. Yes exactly , one of my favourite things too about the A380 is that it is so quiet and smooth even compared to the Dreamliner – it is so awesome !

    It is a shame nobody is buying the A380 currently !

  13. @Hessel:I think there is a picture of the LH First bathroom at least 😉

    (As a LH-Fanboy too, I also would like to hear/see more from LH here. Lately, not so much LH F for you Lucky, it seems !?)

  14. When choosing which airliner to fly with and what route to take, after cost and time, it being an A380 is probably the main deciding factor. It’s just such an amazing plane and what some of the airlines have done with them is amazing. I hope it survives and thrives, as it will be a shame to be living in the era where air travel peaked.

  15. Magnificent plane, I love the A380. I flown in one A380 once from Paris to Dubai and as everyone say it was super quiet and smooth. And I tend to be a little bit scared during take of but on the A380 it was quite ok.
    I’ve read an article today talking about the A380 saying that even it was not a big success, it was not a failure either and Airbus should start winning money very soon. They also mention that Emirates represents 44% of the A380 market and Emirates is pushing Airbus to start a NEO version of their A380. They are even willing to command 150 to 200 A380 if Airbus agree to start a NEO version… Here is the article….in French sorry :-/

    http://www.challenges.fr/transports-et-defense/20150427.CHA5338/pourquoi-l-a380-cherche-encore-sa-place.html
    A beautiful plane that I love to watch

  16. 10 years already! I’ve yet to fly on one. We had an A380 from Air France coming to Montreal in the beginning, but it didn’t last that long.

    But you can bet that on my next long haul, if I have two equal options and the A380 is one of them, I’ll pick the A380 !

  17. Just flew the Korean Air A380 in F and I gotta say the bar thing is kind of amazing. I was sure these kinds of “golden age of air travel” amenities were going to last 5 minutes and then just be ripped out in favor of more seats.

    I used my iPhone to try and measure the decibel level and the A380 is quieter overall, but i think that’s largely a function of the fact that most of the seats are simply further away from the engines than on the 787. like when you’re seated near the engines on both planes, it’s about the same volume. (well, so sayeth the free decibel meter on my phone).

  18. @ Hessel — Hah, I’ve reviewed it a few times, and I do love it. But ultimately the hard product isn’t that cutting edge.

  19. What I absolutely love about the A380 is the on board bars and lounges as well as all the product innovation and amenities. After trying my first A380 with Emirates I just fell in love with the A380, and Emirates by the way. A380 got me excited about flying again. I am trying Qatar A380 soon, thanks to a great deal I heard about from this blog. Got the ticket for a steal. Thanks Lucky. Can’t wait to compare to Emirates A380. After trying Qatar, the next in line will be Etihad A380.

  20. I have flown the A380 a number of times on AF, and I think it is the quietest and smoothest ride, even if AF does not have the shower, elaborate bar and whatnot. If it is an option, I take it and likely will again in a couple of months. That said, I have only flown in business and first on it – economy seems too much of a cattle call. Also, I have global entry, so arriving back in the US with about 500 other people at once is not the problem it might be without it.

  21. I was so happy to read this post. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    As soon as anybody tries the A380, they will be wowed. It is the smoothest most comfortable plane in the sky bar none. Out of any of the F products, it puts all other single level aircraft to shame. The added space is incredible. In business class the extra space to get up, walk about and socialize in the bar is terrific as well. I haven’t sat in coach on an A380, but would fee the smoothness and added amenities would also make it a crowd pleaser.

  22. Back in the mid 90s, when I read the newspaper about the plan for a “double decker” plane, I was in awe. Still today, I have yet to board A380. Any suggestion which airlines I should go with, now that I have more free time? Looking forward to when the day would come!

  23. @ Nani — If you’re looking for the coolest all around experience, I think it’s tough to beat Etihad or Emirates.

  24. Well I have to agree the best part of QR A380 is the lounge. I just flew CDG-DOH and I have a Y experience on F class.
    Not a cabin full of needier, but the online “angel” in F drive me crazy!
    He cried almost all flight. I have tried to the headphones but isnt comfortable to sleep… So, lounge and som Krug.
    I have complain with the Purser, she was adorable, but in that particulary situation she cant do nothing.
    The best thing to do was get drunk with all cocktails and spirits available.

  25. My first A380 flight was this past December: Korean Air, Inchon to LAX, first class. A great ride, the Kosmo Suite was incredible. Spent a little time in each of the 3 lounges available.

    My current goal is a Singapore Air A380 roundtrip in biz class: LAX-SIN-Auckland.

  26. I feel lucky to live in Sydney, Australia. Most of my flights, whether home to the UK or to elsewhere in Europe, to south-east Asia, or across the Pacific to the US are A380 operated.

    Normally I’m sitting upstairs, but even when I’m downstairs, the flights are really comfortable.

  27. The A380 is a flashy plane and was the plane I was most fond of as a toddler (btw I was born in 2003). It certainly is quite and the amenities airlines such as Qatar and Etihad have added are amazing! But I have a true bond with the A380 as an aircraft. I know most people won’t agree with me but I find the A380 to be a pretty plane (if you want to see an ugly plane go search “Boeing 737-200”). Airbus took a huge step into the unknown in aviation and I’m glad they did. Hopefully I might get to fly the “whale” one day.

  28. I agree with all the comments from follow aviation enthusiasts: the
    Airbus 380 is quite a special plane !
    It makes me sick noticing much too often three planes leaving one city within 20 minutes AND heading to the same destination.
    Case in point: DPS – CGK each A/L almost TEN times a day!!
    CGK – SIN at least 30 times daily.
    With a variety of EQ: A320, A332, A333, B737, B777.
    Garuda Indonesia, Air Asia, Lion Air, and Sriwijaya are the main ones.
    I am sure this scenario is repeated throughout the world!
    In Europe AMS-LON, AMS-PAR, PAR-LON, FRA-MUC, FCO-MPX/LIN.
    Wouldn’t it be much easier AND much more economical to have those 500 – 600 PAX each hour travel in an A380 instead … ?!?
    GA, QZ/QT, JT could each invest in half a dozen A380.
    The same holds true for the NE corridor in the USA, as well as the frequent flts to/fro ORD.
    And on the West-Coast the SEA-SFO-LAX-SAN “skyway.”
    We have flown Lufthansa’s A380 SIN-FRA RT just this past SEP.
    I on my own a few times before.
    Always great experiences!!
    In closing I do NOT buy the arguement how frequent flyers prefer to be able to choose from many departures on smaller A/C, rather than the comfort of the superb A380 … .

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