More than five years after the world’s largest passenger aircraft took to the skies, an OT staffer
More than five years after the world’s largest passenger aircraft took to the skies, an OT stafferfinally managed to clamber onboard. Trip report: she was dazzled. Of course it helped that she was flying Business Class. That the humongous Airbus 380–800 is an aircraft like no other is evident even to a traveller whose primary occupation when flying long-haul is to hope that sleep arrives and that the migraine doesn’t. All prayers are granted on the Emirates A380 flight from Dubai to New York, because to begin with, take a look at those seats. I’ve had the privilege of laying me down on flatbeds before, but this is in another league — first, because it’s big, it beats even the fabulously clever Swiss Business Class seating. The layout ensures that window seat travellers travel in solitude, but even the ‘unlucky’ ones in the centre have aisle access.
Because it’s big, classes are divided over two levels. Economy classes occupy the lower level and the ‘upper classes’, you know where they are. This means that there are a staggering 76 Business Class seats, all beautifully large and private. The vast cabin was packed to capacity, which felt comfortingly if erroneously democratic. (But not everyone likes that: one frequent flyer said, “There’s so many people here you don’t really feel special, do you? I like it that all those cattle class chaps walk past me enviously. Here, nobody’s walking past to anything worse!”)
Indeed they aren’t. When you walk past a fellow traveller on the upper level, you’re going to end up at the onboard Lounge. Here be drinks, fine snacks and sofas, just in case your five-course meal and award-winning ‘ice’ entertainment system aren’t cutting it. Travel First Class on Emirates’ A380s and you get private suites and ‘shower spas’. Fly Economy Class and you’re likely to be more comfortable: the seats recline more than you’re used to. Emirates is the largest buyer of A380s, so it’s appropriate that they take their fleet seriously enough to offer innovations that others don’t. Since they can’t fly their A380s out of India, you’ll have to haul yourself to Dubai first. To sweeten that bitter pill for ‘upper class’ flyers, remember you’ll get picked up from home in a Merc.