Note: This may appear long, but well worth a read if you want to experience the NEW Airbus A380.
Here I am sitting on the upper deck of Singapore Airlines new Airbus A380 aircraft bound for Changi Airport, Singapore on route to Delhi, India. What a piece of engineering. It is everything plus more that Megastructures on the Discovery Channel told me. If this is the future of air travel, I think I might keep travelling for a little bit longer.
After a 30 min delay due to the late arrival of the aircraft into Sydney (and what I believe a 1 day stop in Singapore due to the punk towing the A380 in Singapore at the end of last week towing it off the runway! ( News Article), they began the boarding process and all was pretty easy. The 1st Class Suites boarded through the front door on the main deck, Economy on the main deck through another door and Business and upper deck Economy (Me) up another aerobridge to a door on the upper deck. It was just as quick as a loading a 747 if not quicker which is amazing since there are 475 passengers (100 more than a Singapore 747) on here.
On taxi out to the end of the runway it was so quiet. You could barely hear the engines. The noisy air conditioning of planes of planes of the past has probably been reduced by at least 50%. As the engines powered up and we powered off down Sydney’s bumpy runway the plane was strong and sturdy. It wasn’t shaking and shuddering, overhead lockers weren’t rocking like we have all become accustomed to with aircraft travel (or maybe this is just because of Qantas’s aging planes we so often fly on.) This plane is massive and ‘yes’ it takes a very long time to get off the ground. From the pilots putting their foot to the floor (I know they don’t really do this in a plane), and us being airborne felt like an eternity. Could have driven from Sydney to Melbourne quicker. Once airborne and cruising at 40000 feet, it’s true, it’s quieter, however still not as quiet as they have made it out to be. I will still be relying on my Bose Comfort 3 noise cancelling headphones for time to come.
So if you are actually reading this, you are probably asking by now ‘Tell me about the inside of the cabin. Is there really more room? What gadgets and gismos do they offer? How many movies?’ Well let me tell you about it.
Let’s start with the upper deck. This aircraft is more than just a 747 that has had the upper deck extended to the tail. For those who have ever had the privilege to sit on the upper deck of a 747 you will know that other than being a nice intimate business class cabin, the ceiling is low and limited luggage storage. The upper deck of the A380 is totally opposite of this. It has higher ceilings and overall just feels more spacious than a regular A340, 767 or 747, actually more like a cabin of a 777 without the extra seat (777’s have a 2-5-2 seating config). Which brings me to the next point, the seats are wider, and there is more leg room. There is a good 15 cm between my knees and the magazine pocket. I actually have enough room to fully open my laptop and write this without having to use it in tablet mode. The seats are very, very comfortable. No complaints. For those of you who like to look out the windows, the windows are a good 50-60% bigger than traditional aircraft. When you enter the restroom it has a typical look and feel of any newish Airbus aircraft however they have taken ‘lift’ music to the next level, welcome soft delicate ‘toilet’ music!
I also ventured down the wide spiral staircase at the very back of the aircraft to check out the economy section on the main deck. Definitely bigger than a 747. Singapore have chosen a 3-4-3 layout like the 747 but the seats on the A380 are so much more spread out and the aisles a rewider. Rumours has it that our ‘good’ friends at Qantas aren’t going to give their passengers this luxury in their A380s squeezing in an extra seat (3-5-3).
Now my favourite part, the technology. Where do I start? Firstly the screen is massive, clear, bright and widescreen. All the things that have been wrong with current in-flight systems. The controller looks modern, buttons are easy to press, has a full QWERTY keyboard and stows under the screen. The new Singapore Airlines Krisworld system gives you the options of movies (100), games (65 including 3D games), TV shows(181), CDs (700), Radio(22),travel info, learning and PC Applications(11).
Krisworld entertainment now gives you the ability to do word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, manage your files, view photos and wait for it, watch video files. The system gives you a USB port that you can use for accessing you files and playing your own AVI video files. This USB port also provides you with ability to charge your IPods and other 5 volt devices. This is my favourite feature. Before leaving home I was trying to prepare myself for fact my IPod Touch battery was going to die somewhere in the air between Singapore and Delhi and my West Wing watching would have been stopped. No need to fear, this is not going to be the case as I have it plugged, in with Eddie Vedder’s ‘Into the Wild’ cranking, and I don’t need to be worried. There is also a video input as well which I assume means you can plug the video out of your laptop into the system and play DVDs off your laptop. Unfortunately I don’t have a video cable or a DVD player to test this out. There is also a network cable input which seems to be inactive and I’m assuming this is in place for when they bring back internet to Singapore Airlines. The performance of the system is unbelievable (Must have used HP LoadRunner) and also a fresh new flight path info!
Only 5:53 mins to Singapore to go. To add to this experience I will be arriving at Changi’s new Terminal 3 that only opened 4 days ago. This Terminal is meant to be the world’s greatest airport terminals (When you spend as much time in airports as I do, the quality of the terminal matters) costing $1.47billion. This aircraft is one of the man made wonders of the world. Singapore Airlines has done an amazing job once again. This will definitely be one of my highlights of 2008. Hope you have enjoyed reading about my experience.