The day I lost my A380 virginity — yes you read that right! — has got to be one of the happiest and most memorable days in my career as a luxury journalist and blogger. If you want to be nit-picky, you could say that, technically, I haven’t yet flown ON the Emirates A380. But if you ask me, being given a chance to visit the aircraft at my own leisure and enjoying a private guided tour of all the features of this magnificent bird mean so much more to me that just a regular take-off and landing. In the past, I have been decidedly unlucky when it came to getting onto an A380. I was even slotted to review the onboard product of Qantas’ new A380s when they just launched, a few years ago but due to some technical issues, I was shunted onto a trusty Boeing 747 jumbo for my flight.
But we aren’t talking about jumbos here. We’re going straight for the super jumbos. The India Aviation 2014 ‘air show’ took place in Hyderabad last week. This fairly well-attended expo brought together the who’s who of the global aviation industry. While there was a tarmac full of gorgeous airplanes, a throng of luxury aviation geeks, an even a dreamy Dreamliner, I can safely say (for myself) that the unofficial showstopper of the Hyderabad air show, was the Emirates A380. This was the very first time that the superjumbo belonging to any airline was being showcased in India (to herald the possible future arrival of A380 flights into certain Indian airports) and understandably enough, the crowd’s curiosity was sufficiently piqued.
As I was ushered by the Emirates and Airbus staff closer to the majestic A380, I noticed just how gargantuan its proportions were. There were a couple of tiny, uber-luxe private jets parked right next to the Airbus. Needless to say, they appeared like tiny specks of fuselage, standing next to a mammoth engineering marvel. I stood by its wings, its massive engines and marvelled at the tail, towering over me like a building.
After acquiring the necessary permissions and entry passes, we were finally on our way. Standing at the base of a step ladder, which would lead me to door 1 Left on the main deck of the A380, I snuck in a selfie before climbing up.
And then before I knew it, I was FINALLY inside an Emirates A380. What a feeling it was. It smelt fresh and new (just like how a new car smells). After all, I was on board A6-EES, Emirates’ newest A380 (only a few weeks old and already begun service) and welcomed by Captain Cyrus Cama (a Parsi from Mumbai, as I was thrilled to discover) and the gorgeous cabin crew. This particular aircraft was a long-range configuration, which means it carries no more than 517 passengers in three classes (First and Business Class on the Upper Deck, and Economy Class, which occupies the entire Main Deck).
My tour began with a walk around the economy class (3-4-3 configuration). Emirates has some of the widest economy touch screens in the sky (their ‘ice’ entertainment system is probably one of the best I’ve seen, 1600 channels of programming, email and telephone). I’m not going to go into the details here because I’m more interested in the premium cabins. And the best part, there’s WIFI throughout the aircraft. Prices, I hear, start from as low as $3 for inflight wifi on your smartphone.
I then took the back staircase up to Business Class, where I was welcomed warmly at the famous Business Class Onboard Lounge (laden with canapés, fruits, pastries and champagne) as well as the massive Business Class cabin (a more detailed post to follow). I can well imagine myself on my next flight, sipping champagne and nibbling at some caviar, while hobnobbing with the swish set of the skies. Next came the highlight of my visit – First Class. The ‘suites’ and not seats, are the very quintessence of luxury and I intend to dedicate an entire blogpost to them. So I shall not say much here. My tour concluded with a visit to the much-discussed First Class shower facility, exclusive to Emirates on their A380.
My guide for the aircraft tour was a lovely and superbly articulate Emirates stewardess, Karen, who is originally from Goa, India. During the course of my tour, I had a chance to interact with the other members of the Emirates crew. They are indeed proud ambassadors of their airline and were well trained enough to promptly answer even the toughest product related question I had (and I do tend to ask a lot of product related questions). I couldn’t help but notice how impeccably groomed each of the crew was. Not a hair out of place, quite literally. Call me old fashioned, but there is a certain glamour and decorum attached to a well-groomed flight attendant. And I’m happy that most Asian carriers understand that. A small observation: most of the stewardesses I interacted with, sported the elegant French manicure. I am certain this style is part of the grooming guidelines, but from my experience in the fashion industry, I can say that it blends with the beige, white and red uniform PERFECTLY.
After my aircraft visit, I had a chance to walk around the A380 and here are some shots from my walkaround.
There’s not much that I can say about the Emirates A380 besides the fact that it replaces the Boeing 747 as the face of modern aviation. It has effortlessly stepped into its role as a veritable icon of the skies today. And with the superlatives of luxury that are offered onboard, who’s to deny that the Emirates A380 is indeed the face of global luxury aviation. Watch out for my next posts here.