Airbus A380: How to ensure your next flight is on a superjumbo

It's a widely held belief that the larger the plane, the less likely it is to crash. This isn't entirely accurate. All aircraft cleared to carry paying passengers, from the smallest Cessna to the biggest Boeing, are - by any reasonable measure - safe. But there's a kernel of truth in it. Turboprops have a slightly higher accident rate than jets, and small jets have a slightly higher accident rate than large jets. It just isn't their size that's the determining factor.

The biggest passenger jet of all, the A380 "superjumbo", has a faultless record – not one fatal accident in 12 years of service. I informed my wife, a nervous flier, of this fact when we recently boarded one for a flight home from South Africa. It is now her favourite aircraft.

But it is the A380's newness, not its size, that helps its cause. Take the 747, the biggest passenger plane before the A380 arrived. Older versions of the jumbo jet have been involved in plenty of accidents. Well, a few. Its fatal accident rate is 1.4 per million departures, according to Boeing's own statistics. For the 747-8 variant, however, launched in 2011, the rate is 0.

It isn't just its unblemished safety record which makes the A380 so popular with passengers. Yes, it is far too big to be considered beautiful, but it is a glorious sight – an icon of the sky, just like the Comet, the 747 and Concorde. And it's a joy to fly on. Take-offs are almost indiscernible, turbulence feels diluted, and landings always gentle.

"I'll never forget the first time I flew in one, stationed in economy and overlooking the wing," wrote Gilbert Ott, the aviation expert behind the website God Save the Points, last month. "It was one of the gentlest flights I've ever experienced."

The size of the jet means more space for fliers, he added, with top carriers like Singapore Airlines offering a comfortable 18-inch seat width and 34-inch pitch in economy. Up front, reckoned Ott, it "reintroduced the sort of scenes that hark back to the golden age of flying: well-dressed passengers toasting at the bar and smiles all round."

All of which makes it a minor tragedy that Airbus has now called time on the A380, due to a lack of interest from airlines. Passengers love it, but the economics of operating it have proved off-putting. Simply put, every service needs to run at close to full capacity to make any money.

Fortunately, travellers will have many more chances to fly on the superjumbo. Airbus had built 234 units as of last month and one carrier - Japan's ANA - is about to launch its first ever A380 service (in May). The lifespan of a passenger jet can be 20 or 30 years - sometimes longer - so the superjumbo ain't quite dead yet.

How, then, can you ensure your next flight uses the model? Helpfully, there's an Airbus website for that: It shows the 14 airlines that operate the A380, and the routes on which they are used. For Australian travellers these are your options:



Dallas, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Singapore.


Seoul (with A380 connections to Frankfurt)


Dubai (from where you can take another A380 on to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Casablanca, Copenhagen, Doha, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Hamburg, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Madrid, Manchester, Mauritius, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Nice, Paris, Prague, Rome, Vienna or Zurich), Christchurch, Singapore.


Abu Dhabi (from where you can pick up services to London or Paris)

China Southern


Korean Air

Seoul (with A380 connections to London and Paris)


Doha (with A380 connections to London, Paris and Frankfurt)

Singapore Airlines

Singapore (with A380 connections to London, Frankfurt, Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Paris, Shanghai and Zurich).

Thai Airways

From Bangkok to London, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Osaka and Hong Kong

See also: Too big, too expensive: Why airlines are abandoning the superjumbo

See also: Why we love the A380 superjumbo (even if airlines don't)

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