Flying out of Brisbane on an Airbus A380

The fanfare was impressive but what about the flight? Phil Lutton was onboard to road test the first A380 service out of Brisbane.

If you're a plane spotter, this was a good day. The first regular A380, emblazoned with Emirates livery, rumbled into Brisbane International Airport early on Wednesday morning, much to the delight of the hundreds of aviation enthusiasts who had lined the runway for the occasion.

The plane's sheer size stops traffic. It's a monster, dwarfing the rival carriers and smaller jets parked near the Emirates terminal. It's impossible not to be impressed by the scale up close.

And it won't be a novelty much longer, with Emirates operating a daily Auckland-Brisbane-Dubai route as of this week, meaning passengers can now fly long-haul to Europe on an all-A380 service after a connection in Dubai.

But is the A380 worth the fuss if you are planning a trip out of Brisbane? Here's our airport-to-airport report card.

Arrival

The boarding gate for the A380 at Brisbane International is quite the stroll, being situated at the far end of the airport. Be warned if you are running late or trying to drag along a gaggle of small children. The good part is, when you arrive, it's the best spot in the airport if you like to see the planes touching down. For business and first class passengers, the Emirates lounge is enormous and world-class. It's one of the handful of Emirates venues that allow you to board the flight directly from the lounge instead of having to hot-step it back to a distant gate after a few drinks.

First impressions

The external dimensions of the A380 are overwhelming, but it translates to a more spacious feel in all levels of the cabin. It's no secret the economy seats in the A380 have more room but that's just part of the story. The height of the cabin gives the impression of extra expanse on a whole and there's plenty of room to for the all-important stretching of the legs on a long trip. The business cabins are the quality you'd expect from a carrier like Emirates but the bonus on the A380 is a bar, where you can have cocktails to order and spend some time out of your seat. If you're lucky enough to be in first class, you want for nothing and can even enjoy a five-minute hot shower before landing.

The flight

The A380 rumbles into life without the overbearing roar of most passenger jets. It's quite and smooth and take-off as we get moving from Brisbane and stays that way for the duration of the three-hour flight to Auckland. She's a steady ship and there's barely a bump. Even when we hit some turbulence, the A380 seems to lessen the jolts. I was lucky enough to be in business class and the bar is a huge hit with fellow passengers, who congregate around and enjoy a chat and a drink. The descent into Auckland goes without a hitch and you can watch it all on your screen, with three cameras on the plane's exterior beaming live throughout the flight. A huge bonus is the lack of engine noise. It's still audible, of course, but is noticeably duller than a 747.

Entertainment and service

The Emirates ICE entertainment system is one of the best in the sky and there's a huge range of movies, TV shows and music to keep you busy. In business class, the noise cancelling headphones are brilliant, especially if there's a slightly grumpy little one not far away who isn't enjoying the ride as much as everyone else. The service in the business class cabin is attentive, polite and between them, seemed to speak about 75 languages.

The verdict

Hype aside, the million dollar question is whether it's worth making sure you are on the A380 for your next flight out of Brisbane, assuming you are heading to Auckland or Dubai and beyond. At the moment, Emirates can monopolise this market given no other airline is flying A380s from Queensland at this point. After making my first A380 flight on Wednesday, it's difficult not to be convinced. The ride, room and muted volume make it a clear cut above medium to long-haul travel on the more elderly rival aircraft.

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Phil Lutton was a guest of Emirates.

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