Flying Airbus A380

I’ve been announcing it here quite a few times already, but now it’s really time to write something about my experience flying the Airbus A 380. A while ago I was reading in the Lufthansa Newsletter that they’d started to serve the route HoustonFrankfurt with that new wide-body plane, and I was quite curious if I’d really fly in such a fat machine across the big pond and what this experience would be like.

Well, here’s what I think:

it certainly is something when you see it on the tarmac, with two storeys for its whole length. To my mind it looks a tad like that AirbusGuppy” with its high “forehead”. Once within, though, you don’t really notice how big it is. The fuselage is, with an interior width [on the lower deck] of 21.65 ft wider than that of a Boeing 747 [20.01 ft] and especially compared to the Airbus A 340 at 17.39 ft, but if you can’t compare directly you don’t really notice. Of course the plane is really spacious. Perhaps the “shoulder width” is more, since my personal impression is that there’s a tad more space between the side seats and the outside wall of the fuselage than in other types of planes. Really more space can be found, to my mind, in the overhead bins. Or could it be that it’s just an idea of mine as I travelled business class on the way out and as, on the way back from Europe in Economy, there were quite a few empty seats especially in my section of the plane. It would be interesting to get the exact dimensions. But as said, I got the impression that the overhead bins were really deeper than in different planes.

What I sure enough noticed – I was at the gate early enough to see the bird arrive – was the extraordinary physical dimension. And this – the dimensions and the capacity of the A380 [a total of 526 passengers in the Lufthansa configuration] requires an efficient organisation on the ground – which they did have in Houston – to guarantee a smooth and fast boarding. They had signs out for the passengers to line up behind for the respective boarding-zones. To my view that worked quite well. And if I got it correctly they had three jetways in Houston [at least on the way out] so that boarding could be managed really fast. Well, after all they want to keep the turnaround time for this huge bird equal to other big planes [Boeing 747 = 90 minutes] – which seemed to be the case in Houston. Of course, I didn’t time it by a stopwatch. And I can’t judge it for Frankfurt as there the plane was already at the gate at least 2 hours before departure, when I arrived. I don’t believe it was a real turnaround here but that the plane was deployed from there, maybe after a check-up. The organisation at the gate, though, wasn’t as efficient as in Houston: there were no signs for the different boarding-zones, and as then is usual, quite a few people rushed aboard as soon as the first boarding-zone was called, even if it wasn’t their turn yet. It was really difficult, therefore, for somebody with one of the early boarding-zones, to get to the entrance if they had been waiting behind a group which was to board later. That’s something Frankfurt really needs to be working on. That we got off nearly on time is, to my mind, due only to the fact that they could begin boarding quite early, about 45 minutes before departure time, because the plane had been at the gate for quite some time.

As mentioned above, I was lucky to have an upgrade to business class for my flight out, since with my many flights between Germany and the USA I had collected quite a few bonus miles. [Last autumn I used some of them to pay for my ticket, but I still had more than enough left now for an upgrade.] I wasn’t able to upgrade online, btw, but could do so in Houston at the gate. There must have been a few unoccupied seats in business class as I had a certain choice of where to sit. The lady at the gate wanted to do me some good and gave my 10D, immediately behind the galley. That turned out to be some kind of overkill as I had to unfasten my seatbelt to even reach that little net where the in-flight magazines etc. are stored. But of course it was quite pleasant to have that much legroom and the wide seat. And the fact that Lufthansa now boasts fully reclining seats was very convenient, too, especially on a red-eye flight. Altogether a really pleasant flight.

On my way back it was, as I’ve already mentioned above, “only” economy class, as I didn’t have enough bonus miles left for an upgrade. I had tried, though, to pay for one, but at more than € 4000!!! [according what the Lufthansa booking-service told me] I considered it just a tad   😉  too expensive. I still can’t believe that this amount just for an upgrade on the flight from Frankfurt to Houston only was correct, but that was what they told me. At the gate in Frankfurt I tried for an upgrade again, but there they could only do it with bonus miles, not a paid-for one, so that I wasn’t able to get a price quote, which would really have interested me.

My flight back in economy class wasn’t uncomfortable at all, btw. The seats were fairly wide-spaced. I had plenty of legroom, about 4 to 6 inches between my knees and the back-rest of the seat in front of me – more than enough even for someone taller than me, say up to 6 ft or a tad more. And since I was lucky enough not to have any neighbour in my row, there were no problems either with somebody next to me “fighting” me for the armrest, nor, as mentioned above, was there any lack of storage space in the overhead bins. Contrary to my experience from previous flights I could not only easily manage to stow my carry-on but also had no difficulties in putting up my jacket and even my cowboy hat.

What I’d rather do differently in future, though, would be getting a seat (way) further up to the front of the plane. For this flight I had 77C [altogether the A 380 has rows 50 to 94 on the lower deck] and thus I was sitting relatively far in the back, so that it took quite a while for me to be able to leave the plane after arrival in Houston. [As mentioned in my previous posting, I had the impression that they only had one jetway there for that big plane when we arrived and were leaving.] The exit is in front of row 60, so that a seat somewhere in the lower sixties or the upper 50s, come to that, would be desirable. Let’s wait and see what I can do on my next flight. On the whole I was – as mentioned – quite content with the comfort in economy class and it was a very relaxed flight. As much as I enjoyed business class on my flight out, I’m not at all certain if I would – even if I did some time have the money – spend about four times as much [that’s about what it would cost] to travel business class. I don’t think its worth that for me. I don’t really need a printed menu, the choice of three appetizers, three main courses and three desserts, nice as that is, nor do I need the choice of 4 different wines and/or the frequent refills, especially as I usually don’t consume any alcoholic beverages on flights anyway. And I also don’t have to have the ambience of a good restaurant with being served each course separately on real china. Let’s put it that way: if I want to have a good meal in a pleasant ambience I would not exactly book a flight to have it.

Conclusion: it was a really pleasant flight and I’m looking forward to my next time on board an A 380.

Um diesen Eintrag in Deutsch zu lessen, hier klicken.


11 responses to “Flying Airbus A380

  1. …and no pictures? 😦

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for taking your time to visit my blog and leave a comment. I’m sorry that there are no pictures of the A380. 😦
      Take care, and have a good one,

  2. Interesting to hear about it. I’ve been waiting for the update. Good to hear that there seems to be a little bit more space in Economy than the average plane which has, in all fairness, become so crowded that only children can get comfortable. That upgrade to Business class is ludicrous and, if economy provides decent leg room, then I’d definitely not spend that type of money.

    • Re updates from economy to business: I think I’ll do it again with my bonus miles, once I have enough, but I don’t think I’ll ever pay for it – not at that price.

  3. Can’t wait to flight on that jet.

    • It really is an experience – even if the plane doesn’t look that big from the inside. But when the pilot tells you that it weighs around 500 tons, you start wondering how such a thing can fly. 😉

  4. Fortunate to have a first-hand account of the airbus. I was especially interested in how long it took to get through security. haven’t flown for awhile and if I can avoid it – I will drive.

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for stopping by here at my blog and leaving a comment. As to security: I was fortunate that I was travelling outside of the holiday season. I was surprised, though, that even on a weekend [flying out] there weren’t many travellers. Thus, security was quite fast. Only, as I mentioned, in HOuston on my way back it was somewhat crowded. But I’ve seen worse. As to driving/flying: with me it depends. If I just want to go a long distance fast here in the US, I’ll fly. If it’s for sightseeing and/or bicycling somewhere, I’ll of course take the car.
      Take care, and Happy Thanksgiving,

  5. AirportsMadeSimple

    Very interesting and detailed from someone with first-hand experience. Good info to know!

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