The Boeing 747 has been the biggest commercial passenger plane for the past 30+ years now. It was first commercially available in the 1970 and has taken the crown for the biggest passenger load for 37 years. It was the first to feature a double deck hump and many people in the 1970s doubted it would every fly. Yet it is one of the most successful passenger planes in the world and it is being used even by the president of the United States of American and NASA to ferry their space shuttle
Picture from Wikipedia
Got to be an amazing sight to see the NASA space shuttle on top of a modified 747. Anyway last year we saw the launch of the first commercial flight something even bigger then the Boeing 747. Singapore Airlines was the first airlines in the world to fly the Airbus A-380. It has a maximum capacity load of 800 people which almost double the seating capacity of the 747. As again no one thought that this massive full double decker plane could ever fly but flew it did. However SIA only fitted the plane to carry just slightly over 400 passengers.
I was lucky enough to be able to fly on one of these planes recently. During the online check-in process I purposely booked a seat on the top deck since I never ever had the chance to go upstairs. I was thinking it would be the first time I would be able to walk up the stairs in a plane. Makes me feel like I am going to first class or something. However to my dismay we didn't need to walk up any stairs. The sky bridge connecting to the plane actually connects to the top deck already. :(
I think due to how big the plane is and the special needs to have sky bridges that connect to the top deck, most of the planes were parked at the corner of the terminal which didn't allow me to take pictures of the side of the plane. This was the best I could do.
On entering the top deck, you would have to walk pass the business class seats and man the seats are huge. I kid you not but it could fit 2 of me. I saw this lady sitting on it and she looks so small in the seat. All the seats are designed to be aisle seats and it has a huge 14" LCD TV for each of the passenger. Didn't have the pleasure to fly in business class so on to economy then.
The first thing I realised when I got into the plane is that how quiet the plane was. There was hardly any engine sounds and it feels almost eerie. The second thing I noticed after putting my bags into the overhead comparment is that everytime someone puts something in the overhead compartments there is a mechanical noise. Being the engineer I was, I decided to get up and try to pull down on the door of the compartment and I heard that same noise again. I am guessing they are weighing the comparment to ensure it is not overweight or something.
The entertainment system in the SIA A380 was superb. Each seat has I think a 10" bright and clear LCD screen. However I was suprised that it wasn't a touch screen. The controller is fitted to the back of the seat in front of you which is a better idea for fat people like me. In the older planes where the controller was on the side of the arm rest my fat bum tend to press some of the buttons and at sometimes it would exit the movie I was watching and I have to Fast Forward the movie again.
On the side of the LCD, there are 3 ports to stream video from your laptop/portable devices to the screen, view photos and play movies on the screen from any Ipod or USB device and not sure what the LAN port is for but I am guessing for internet in the future.
There were 2 really cool features included which were.....
A nice mirror in the tray table which is good for all the ladies, then they would not hog the toilets just to adjust their hair or what not. The second features is....
There is actually an extra set of LED lights that eminate from the bottom of the LCD screen which acts as a reading light. They call it the non-intrusive reading light. Quite smart if you ask me, you can read anything without disturbing the person next to you.
The seats on the A380 are actually thinner compared to most of the other airplane seats, so they give you a slightly augmented reality that the seats are actually bigger. However I think there is slightly more leg room compared to most of the planes I have been on. They have power plugs supplying 110V on most of the armrest but I never tried if they work. If you are sitting on the window seats, you get an extra about 1 foot of space between the seat and the window. They have padded that 1 feet and so you can rest your hands there or put stuff there. Again I think it is a really great idea.
All in all I think it was a great first experience on the Airbus A380. The only problem I felt was the lack of toilets. Each passenger compartment would have at least 50-100 passengers and they only had 2 toilets to service all of them.
I was telling one of my engineer friends about flying on the Airbus A380 and his response was "I would not fly on the A380. Being an engineer I know that the more complex the systems are the bigger the F**k-ups are too. I will allow a couple of years from the to fix it before I start flying on them".