Today’s news about Singapore Airlines starting the A380 service from/to India made me smile first thing this morning. Long overdue, I thought!!!
And got me thinking when I took the Airbus 380 from Dubai to Paris and back last year during our France-UK trip. Haha….It wasn’t only me who was brimming with excitement to board the largest passenger plane in the world. The Emirates agent in India who booked my ticket was excited too, exclaiming, “You will be flying the 380 Sir!!!”
Have been an aviation enthusiast since childhood, and have, over the years, ensured that I experience most, if not all the Boeing and Airbus planes in the world. A380, needless to say, was a dream then.
When I first sighted the A380. Boy! Was I IMPRESSED! And there were dozens of them in Dubai Airport. The A380 is huge even from a distance — most of us shamelessly clicking it before & after our flights.
How is the A380 experience? An early check-in and we had the 2nd row in front. The A380 is like no other plane in service (probably closest is the 747 Jumbos) – it has a staircase going up to the business/first-class. No, you can’t take a peek of the first-class until you have the tickets — the stewards ensure compliance with a ‘velvet rope’ stopper.
With a 3-4-3 seating, ample space in the alley, comfortable seats, enough baggage space and cabin height, you love the spacious feel of A380 immediately. The TV console in Emirates has always been ‘best-in-class’ and the additional mobile calls during flight & WiFi feature was a pleasant surprise.
The take-off felt slower and smoother than other planes. In fact, you almost feel that the engines are struggling to take the huge beast to the air. Similarly for the landing, it seems like ages that the plane is hovering over the runway and even after the rear wheels touch, it seems to take a lot of time for the front wheel to touch. Am sure that the visibility from the cockpit is severely limited and it takes lot of experience to land this beast without hitting the rear section on the ground. The size of the plane probably helps managing the turbulence better as well.
The number of passengers, though, seem to create issues for the flight staff as they seemed severely understaffed for the requirement. Calls went unanswered and rounds of water/ drinks in long flights were far spread and few. The washrooms soon had long queues and started stinking after 4 hours or so and a couple of them were closed making the situation worse. The check-in queues are also much longer as expected. Clearly, different infrastructure is required to manage these planes than the standard 757 & 767s.
And now the wishlist has just got bigger. The A380 can change the dynamics and profitability of airlines in busy routes and I only wish one of the airlines in India will soon start internal services within India.