The last Airbus A380 has been delivered to Emirates, effectively commencing the end of the double-decker jumbo jet era.
The A380 was first announced in 1990 and it made its flying debut on October 25, 2007, with Singapore Airlines. It was conceptualised to overtake the Boeing 747, but unfortunately, did not succeed. A number of factors are responsible.
First, the A380 is a large jet: measuring 73m (240ft) long and 24m (78ft) high, with a take-off weight of up to 560 tons, it would require more resources to operate and would only be viable for long-distance flights. What this means is that it uses more fuel, making it less environmentally friendly than the newer, smaller aircraft being produced today.
And if this was not enough to make the A380 less attractive, along came the pandemic to hammer in the final nail in the coffin. Reduced travel meant that it was even more expensive to own and operate this jumbo jet, and before the end of 2020, Lufthansa and Air France decided to permanently retire their A380s. Even if Airbus had not made its decision to cease production of this model back in 2019, the Coronavirus would have definitely forced its hand.
In spite of these, however, the Airbus A380 remains an incredible piece of work in the world of aviation. The plane has two full decks and normally seats 525 passengers, but can hold up to a maximum of 868 passengers — compared to the 747 that can only accommodate 467 passengers — making it the largest commercial plane built. Its maximum flying range is 8,000 nautical miles and for a jet its size, it uses less fuel and produces very low noise emissions.
In honour of a disappearing era, here are three of some of the most luxurious interiors of the A380’s first-class cabins of different airlines, according to the Luxury Travel Expert. If you’ve ever flown abroad any of these beauties, you are one of the lucky few to have experienced what is fast becoming history.
If you value privacy and personalized service above all else, you’ll love Emirates’ First Class private, gold-clad suites. Emirates’ A380 planes feature 14 First Class suites, each fully equipped with a sliding door, a personal mini-bar, adjustable ambient lighting, a vanity table, mirror and wardrobe, as well as a privacy divider for central suites. And should you decide to go to sleep mid-flight, the crew will convert your seat to a full flatbed with a mattress so you can arrive at your destination totally refreshed.
2. Etihad Airways
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways pushes luxury to a sky-high new level with its First Apartments in its A380 superjumbos.
More than just a seat, the First Apartment is upholstered with the finest leather and features a wide armchair and a separate bed of 208 cm (6 feet and 10 inches). There is even space to walk around after closing the privacy doors. Six of these apartments are interconnecting, perfect for when you’re travelling with a companion. Alternatively, you may invite a travelling partner from first-class to join you in your apartment for a meal or a meeting.
Inside, you’ll find a vanity unit with a lit make-up mirror. You can change into complimentary loungewear and hang your suit in a full-length wardrobe. And before landing, you can freshen up in the First Class bathroom with an energizing shower using exclusive Parma Di Acqua toiletries.
1. Singapore Airlines
The first to fly the Airbus A380, it is no surprise that Singapore Airlines has the best first-class cabin design. Their First Class suites, exclusively offered onboard the Airbus A380 aircraft, provide the distinguished few with their very own haven of tranquillity.
Its new first-class cabin features 6 suites within the front area of the upper deck (compared to 12 suites on the lower deck of the carrier’s A380s with the old layout). Each suite comes with a separate full-flat bed with adjustable recline and plush, as well as a swivel leather chair, enabling passengers to lounge comfortably in the chair or rest in bed without the need to convert the latter from a sitting position. For couples travelling together, the beds in the first two suites of each aisle can be converted to form a double bed.
Each suite also has a 32 inch full HD monitor, a full-sized personal wardrobe, specially designed carpet and a feature wall with mood lighting – all exquisitely crafted to give a touch of luxury and intimacy. And when it’s time for some sleep, passengers can request Singapore Airlines’ signature turndown service, with fine linen and plush, full-sized pillows, ensuring a restful slumber.