Airbus A380 superjumbo ceases production: Why passengers will miss it

It always seemed destined to happen – sooner, rather than later. The A380 always seemed too good to be true. This oversized beast that managed to carry what seemed like 12,000 people on every flight and yet still feel spacious and comfortable always appeared, sadly, bound for the scrapheap.

And so it turned out. Airbus recently announced that its last A380 will roll off the production line in 2021. And then that's it. The plane only hit the skies in 2007 – that's a very short lifespan. To put it into perspective, Boeing's 747 first flew in 1969 and the company is still churning those out for cargo.

The A380 just didn't work. Passengers loved it, but airlines, apparently, did not. It was, and is, too expensive to run. It takes too many customers to fill it up and make a flight profitable. Its range isn't long enough. It can only fly into a limited number of airports, and it spews too many people into those airports once it arrives.

All of these are hard truths – but still, I'm going to miss the A380.

It might surprise some people to discover that I'm not actually much of a plane nerd. I love to travel, I love to go places and see things and have experiences and thrills. But mostly, I don't really care who built the aircraft that gets me there.

I usually have no idea what I'm even sitting in until I glance at the safety card in my seat pocket and think, oh, a Boeing 777. Cool. I don't really know if I prefer a 777 or an A340 (or if it's even reasonable to compare those two). I have no preference when it comes to a Dreamliner or an A350.

See also: Plane spotting: How to tell what sort of plane you're flying on

Mostly, I care about the airline I'm flying with. I've flown with the best and with the worst. There's a huge difference. The seats, the food, the service, the entertainment – all of the elements that really affect your experience are controlled by the airline.

The plane though? Couldn't care less. (Unless it's a Sukhoi, but that's another story.)


And yet, despite all of that, there is one exception. There's always one type of plane I look for when I'm booking a ticket. There's always one type of plane that I know for sure I'm about to step onto when I'm standing there holding my boarding pass. The A380.

Part of the fascination is this childish enchantment with just how big the thing is. This is one gigantic bird. How can a piece of metal that enormous soar through the sky, you wonder? How can a long tube carrying the entire average attendance of an A-League match make its way at lightning speed between two continents, even two hemispheres?

There's more, too. When I first heard about this plane that would carry 525 passengers, I thought, wow, that is going to suck. Being crammed into a jet aircraft with that many people? It's my idea of hell.

And yet, the experience is so much different. You never feel cramped in an A380. You never have any concept of how many people you're sharing your in-air experience with. The plane is huge but it's divided up into manageable chunks, cabins that feel roomy and distinct.

It's all about feel in the A380. The windows aren't particularly large but they feel as if they are, thanks to a double-panel design with a large opening in the interior. The seats are crammed in in the same way they would be in a Boeing 777, and yet you feel like you have more space to get up and move. It's quieter in an A380 too, almost silent despite the four enormous Rolls Royce engines blasting away just metres from your window.

And what about the top deck? I've been lucky to fly business class with several airlines on the A380, most notably Emirates, Etihad and Qantas. All have been amazing, but let's send a special shout-out to Emirates, who utilise all of that extra space up top in the A380 to put a stand-up bar at the back of the plane.

The new bar area for the Emirates Airlines A380 aircraft sits on display as it is unveiled to the trade and media during the ITB Travel Fair in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Flying bars that cater to premium passengers on the world?s biggest fleet of A380 superjumbos are set for a saloon-style upgrade as Gulf carrier Emirates seeks to use the sky-high hangouts to lure affluent travelers. Photographer: Rolf Schuten/Bloomberg

The bar on board an Emirates Airlines A380. Photo: Bloomberg

You can just wander back there, pull up a bar stool, order a drink and then sit around chatting to people in the same way you would at a pub back on ground level. Call me a raging booze hound, but that's one of the best things I've ever seen.

If it appeals to you too, then you'd better save up your frequent flyer points and get yourself booked in the next few years. Emirates has ordered 14 of the last 17 A380s that will ever be built, so the aircraft will be around for a while yet – but still, it has a limited shelf-life.

I, for one, will miss it.

What's your favourite aircraft? Will you miss the A380? Do you take notice of which aircraft you'll be flying in when you book your ticket? Which one do you look out for?



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