Airbus A380 Complete Review

Toilet facilities are critical for long-haul flights, which make the A380’s inadequate facilities truly surprising. The rear main cabin had a total of two toilets near the tail, and for reasons which defy logic, Singapore airlines closed the curtains between the economy class sections on the main deck. This prevented passengers from using free toilets in other parts of economy, and the result was long lines after dinner, and clearly upset customers.



The one improvement Airbus has made is in quietening their hydraulics, which on the A330 is loud enough to frighten nervous passengers as the wheels descend for landing. Kudos goes to Airbus for this single long-overdue improvement.

But perhaps this shouldn't be too surprising, as passengers aren't the A380's customers: the carriers are.


So, what's the conclusion? Does this aircraft provide significant levels of increased comfort to those passengers in economy class?


But I suppose the biggest disappointment, yet again, is in the poor quality of journalism. I suspect I’ve now read over fifty reviews of the A380 in the general and travel press, and almost all of them positive and uncritical. So many mentioned the possibility, seeded by Airbus marketing, of onboard bars and cinemas due to the A380’s huge size.


Well, the seats were about as comfortable as those on other Airbus Industries aircraft, which is to say that they are hard and painful. Many of my colleagues and I try to avoid flights over four hours on Airbus planes for this very reason, and it seems that the A380 has not rectified this long standing problem.


For the average passenger sardined into economy, there is very little difference between the A380 and its Airbus long-haul predecessor, the A340-600. In comparison with the Boeing 747-400, the differences are fewer still. Indeed, in many ways (toilets, seat comfort), the A380 experience I had was a step backwards in passenger comfort.


At least Boeing's seats, unlike Airbus's, weren't designed as torture devices. Interestingly, QANTAS is also an A380 customer, which it plans to use on the (obscenely profitable) Sydney-Melbourne route, as well as the Los Angeles and London intercontinental routes.


Leg room between seats is one area of improvement, with a slight increase in the pitch between rows in economy. Unfortunately, other discomforts largely negate this slight improvement.


The actual flight itself was reasonably comfortable, though nothing exceptional when compared to flying these routes in the nearest comparable aircraft, the 747-400. I should say, however, that comparisons based on a single flight are of questionable value, especially as the weather was so mild. It would certainly be interesting to see how the A380 handled tropical storms over the Celebes and Banda Seas, which so often make flights from Australia into North Asia very “interesting”.



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