First Flight on an Airbus A380!

Well I’m now in Los Angeles on my way to SC’08 in Austin, Texas and I’ve got a few minutes to blog about flying here on Qantas’s only A380 before crashing out (if you’ll excuse the pun).

First of all, boy is an A380 big! I’d seen a couple briefly at Singapore but always from a distance. This time seeing one close up at the gate at Tullamarine, next to a 747, really brought it down how big it is. As we were waiting to board a 737 trundled down the taxiway behind it looking for all the world like a toy. Photos will have to wait as I’ve forgotten my USB cable, d’oh!

OK – first for the good points:

  • Quiet – much quieter than a 747 or similar in the cabin!
  • Power sockets – standard Aussie ones, hidden down below the center armrest of the seat in front.
    Self service “bar” at the back of the plane with soft drinks, plenty of apples, snacks.
  • Wide-screen safety video. 🙂 What I mean is that even in economy you’ve got a widescreen aspect ratio LCD which looks very nice. It also works all the time, you don’t need to wait for the staff to turn on the entertainment system. This leads nicely on to..
  • Skycam! There’s a camera mounted at the top of the tail which provides streaming video that you can see from your LCD screen (in the “Information” menu section). It also shows how big the A380 is when you notice that it’s about level with the roof of the terminal buildings at Tullamarine! It’s impressive to watch during taxi, takeoff and landing and you even can get good views of sunset and sunrise when you cross the terminator going from Australia to the US. Very boring at night, no stars visible, just the flash of the navigation lights..
  • Seats in economy seem well built and nicely designed, and the screen is great.

Now the not so good bits:

  • Economy class seats don’t seem any larger than other planes (not that surprising I guess).
  • The network point in the seat doesn’t work – I could get a 100Mb/s link negotiated but nothing responded to DHCP and there were no packets at all visible. 🙁
  • Donna and I were seated on opposite sides of the isle in row 68, the staff reckoned that might be because that’s usually the back row in a 747 and they’re sets of two and we’d have been together in that configuration. On an A380 it’s 3-4-3 all the way back.
  • Donna’s seatbelt didn’t work. She noticed just before takeoff that it wasn’t keeping its tension and would just slack off if you pulled gently. Fortunately the middle seat in the row of 3 I was in was free.
  • Before Donna moved the sound stopped working on her entertainment system. So it did for a couple of other people and one person behind me had theirs lock up. Mine seemed to restart itself once when I was selecting a menu but otherwise worked OK. So obviously some teething issues around that.
  • When the cabin lights are right down for sleeping on a long haul flight you can no longer tell whether a toilet is occupied or not because the indicators aren’t lit! People resort to trying the handles all the time which is disconcerting if you’re in one..

So all in all an interesting experience, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I had terrible restless legs at one point I’d have slept a lot more than I did!

Qantas are apparently going to be taking delivery of a second A380 quite soon and are aiming for about 20 of them in the fleet all up.

3 thoughts on “First Flight on an Airbus A380!

  1. The sky cam thing is very cool… I was on a flight to Finland in 1999 and the aircraft had a camera pointing straight down. Takeoff was awesome, seeing the runway drift away, and sideways out of the frame: and when flying over the Nordic fjords they looked just like a CGI map.

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