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Flying the A380 July 7, 2008

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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There is no getting round the fact that the A380 is an ugly spud of a plane. Its full length, two deck height make the plane look dumpy when viewed side on, however, rather like the early 747’s that were transformed into the stretched Mega Top version, the A380 will shed its dumpy looks when it is upgraded to a stretch version. Inside is a different matter.

There is no glamour in international jet travel, that is unless you travel business or first class. For us mere mortals who travel coach, international air travel is simply point to point travel, a bus with wings, an endurance test. I am pleased to say however that the A380, for the plebian traveller has injected a little of that glamour. The key to this is space. Apart from being a massive cabin, everything about the traveling experience on the A380 is just bigger and with more space the individual can relax. It all starts with the cavernous overhead bins. I was on the main deck, which I was disappointed to discover is the ground floor on the A380, I have always wanted to go up the stairs on the 747’s as you enter the plane, a tantalising hint of the glamour and luxury that is first class travel…

No matter, the next revelation for the standard class passenger is the size of the seats and the increased distance between your neighbours, in short there is plenty of elbow room and leg room. Pitch is the measure by which airlines measure how much leg room each passenger has, on the A380 I had a full hand length from my knee to the chair in front, my hand is approximately 20cm from wrist to finger tip, I was certainly not cramped for room even when the chair in front was reclined. There is also space between your seat and that of your neighbour, the gap is about 5cm but in addition your individual seat is wider too, this combination means that I had no elbow battles on the armrest with my neighbour!

Then there are the toys! The screen embedded into the seat in front of you is quite simply huge, I could not accurately measure it, but the diagonal measure was just longer than the span of my hand. In the end of each armrest is an international 110-240v adapter so that you can plug your laptop into a power point, no matter what plug you wish to insert. With the extra room working on your laptop is much easier than on any other plane I have been on. In addition, in the seat back there is a LAN port, USB port and a Video DIN port. Singapore airlines have made their multimedia controller into a full qwerty keypad too, with their own software bundled into the KrisWorld entertainment package. This means that even if you only bring your USB stick onto the plane you can work on your documents, pdf files, spreadsheets or presentations whilst traveling; your work appearing on the huge screen in front of you.

To quote the Mitre 10 guy, ‘Big is good!’ With more space, the battery hen feeling that you get on other planes is diminished, even removed on the A380. More personal space, big screens and an exceptionally quiet cabin make the traveling time just evaporate. The 13 hour flight to Singapore was not an endurance test, it was a pleasure. Who said that there was no glamour in international jet travel?

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1. Bookmarks about Pdf - July 15, 2008

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2. M Ryan - August 8, 2008

The seating layout is a function of the airline and not of the A380. Singapore determined the seat pitch as has Emerates. I shudder to think what a US carrier would do with the seat pitch given what I have experienced on 747s.

3. davidit - August 8, 2008

How true. I used to fly United from New Zealand to Europe, a choice based on price. But boy do you pay, no leg room and bounced through their hubs as a domestic passenger once in US airspace! United used to offer two classes of coach, the more expensive upgrade offered more leg room, but not much. Singapore has always been more comfortable, but even with their track record, the A380 Singapore cabin offers more leg room and personal space overall than the 747 cabin design by Singapore. I see that Emirates will bring the A380 to Auckland as part of their Dubhai-Sydney-Auckland route. Can’t wait for that.

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