Is the Emirates A380 any good?
People yet to experience it may well ask “is the Emirates A380 any good?” My answer is a resounding yes! And for many reasons.
The A380 has been a headline grabbing aircraft since it first came into service a few years ago. As the biggest passenger plane going and reportedly more economical than older craft it is designed for the present and the future.
My experience can only relate to Business Class travel and on the Emirates A380 it is superior than any other Emirates craft. (I was then later to experience First Class on the A380!)
Why is it superior? Well for a start the layout and décor is far nicer on the A380 even though the Emirates standard is high on their other craft. This is even more important since I’ve also flown on the Singapore Airlines version of the A380. The Singapore Airlines version is furnished and designed exactly the same as the Business Class cabin of any other long haul Singapore jet. There is no novelty or uniqueness to the feel of their A380.
Emirates are different.
I’ll begin my review with the natural point of the boarding process. Sadly this is the only area which I have negative things to say.
On this trip the boarding was a bit of a shambles, unlike my previous experience of flying on the Emirates A380.
We were directed from the lounge as the gate was supposedly about the close. Yet on arriving at the gate there was a significant queue of people who had yet to board.
The British are renowned for their queuing yet it was quite lacking here. People were spread all over the corridor and various people were pushing in or jumping the line.
Staff did take some initiative and applied a slightly orderly system but not too much. As a Business Class traveller I had to go with a random and not distinctly clear queue down the middle of the corridor with people either side.
Once the ticket and passport was checked then it was fine.
Boarding to the Emirates A380 consists of two tunnel doors, due to the sheer size of the craft. Economy take the left tunnel to the lower deck whilst First and Business class take the right tunnel to the upper deck.
Layout on the Emirates A380
The entire upper deck is for premium customers only. I never saw the economy cabin on the lower deck.
The width of the plane in Business Class is such that there are only 4 seats from side to side. One by each window and two in the middle.
There is room towards the back of the Business Class section for a complimentary bar which you can use throughout the flight. There were even bar sofas with seat belts in case of turbulence. The bar was a big hit and proved very popular with the passengers.
Each seat has sufficient personal space and a rack with complimentary drinks.
Not only are there the standard bottle of water (“Voss” which I think is Emirates’ branded water) but a can of Coke-a-Cola, a can of 7Up, a bottle of Cranberry juice and a small bottle of Perrier. Even more to the point there was a glass with pre-poured water ready for when I boarded.
Sitting by the left window I had two deep storage units where I could fit more than enough of my personal items.
The windows also had some impressive electronic blinds which closed at the push of a button.
I could see through three windows. Sitting just at the front of the wing I could really appreciate how big the jet was by the size of the wing. Photos cannot serve justice to this. If you have sat by a wing seat before you’ll appreciate the size of the wing on the A380.
There were two mattress style sheets provided as well as a blanket and pillow. I’m glad to say that the seat was fully reclining and had a massage function.
Emirates had been accommodating in their design as there is more elbow room whilst lying down than on most planes. This is a big frustration of mine for other planes. When you lie on your back to sleep it can be very tight on your arms. There is little space to move your arms other than keeping them strictly by your side. Thankfully the Emirates A380 is designed to cope with this though to be honest even more elbow room would help.
ICE Entertainment on Emirates A380
In front of my seat was the dashboard/screen for the well established Emirates ICE (Information, Communication, Entertainment) system. There was also an on board telephone, a power socket plus two USB ports if you so chose to charge an iPod, iPhone, Ipad etc.
The ICE system is a real joy to the frequent traveller on a digital wide-screen. A wide range of movies, far more than you could see on a handful of long haul flights not just one. I’m not big on films and it is very rare for me to go to the cinema. I do however catch up on films whilst flying and it is at no extra cost to me.
I believe that the US based airlines should take note of the successful Middle Eastern and Asian airlines who do not charge to watch certain films.
Taking advantage of the selection offered I chose to watch “Battleship”. It was a film I wanted to see for a long time so was happy to find it. I didn’t watch any further films as I rested after the film finished.
The ICE system not only has films old and new, but a wide range of television and audio offerings. Prior to landing I did watch an episode of the British family comedy “Outnumbered”.
The ICE system comes with Emirates’ own headphones which are labelled as “Noise Cancellation”. I normally use my own ear phones on planes as they are far better quality than the standard airline issue ones. I did try these Emirates headphones and to be honest they weren’t bad.
In my experience the Middle Eastern airlines offer an Air Show with visuals from on board cameras. This is so from your seat you can see what the pilot sees as you take off and fly. I found the Emirates A380 cameras even more unique in that they had three as opposed to two camera angles. There were the traditional forward looking angle as if from the cockpit plus the downward camera so you can see below. In addition I discovered a camera pointing forward from the back tail fin. I found this to be a great shot as you could look down the full length of the plane. In some respects it felt a little surreal to me.
I’ve been told numerous times by people (primarily taxi drivers,)of something that I know is not true. The myth is that the A380 is so quiet that you don’t even know it has taken off. Well as someone who has flown three times on the A380 that is incorrect. Even when I did not have a window seat I could hear the aircraft engines and the sounds associated with lift off. Admittedly they are a lot quieter than a Boeing 777-300 or other aircraft. Even still the noise is there.
In flight the Emirates A380 is very quiet with a very slight drone from the engines. This can often be drowned out by the sound of the air conditioning. I found the flight extremely smooth and there was minimal turbulence.
Wifi on board the Emirates A380
The Emirates A380 also offered a wifi service for those wanting to go online. I did not take advantage of this so cannot testify to the speed and quality of the connection. However I did check out the pricing. At the time of writing (October 2012) the prices were in US$. For 30mb it cost $5 and US$0.073 per 100kb over this limit. There is also 100mb available for US$15 and US$0.073 for every 100kb over.
The Emirates A380 Business Class cabin had one toilet at the front of the cabin and four at the back. All the toilets that I saw were immaculately clean.
The styling was of the bright cream and brown colour to match the rest of the interior of the cabin.
There were facial and hand tissues plus cloth towels to dry your hands. Drawers within the toilet cabin contained sanitary packs, toothbrushes (with paste) and razors with shaving foam (it always amazes me that razors are made available in the current safety climate).
The toilet room is still quite compact like on other planes. However there is sufficient room to be able to manage your visit without inconvenience.
Emirates have always had a very international feel to their crew. On the Emirates A380 it was no different. There was a good blend of British, Irish, Australian, Arabic and Asian crew staff.
The captain who came over the tannoy had a distinct Irish accent. My server, Michael was clearly Scottish.
All staff were very professional and pleasant. There were even occasions of light hearted banter between the staff which is a sign they enjoy their work and it shows.
Prior to boarding the Emirates A380 I used the Emirates Lounge Manchester Airport.
The title of this article asks a very clear question and I’m sure you can see my views on this.
Have you ever travelled on an A380? Was it the Emirates A380? What did you think? Please feel free to share you views below.
For me, to answer the question of “Is the Emirates A380 any good?” is a resounding yes.
If you’ve not experienced the Emirates A380 yet then why not have a look at the Emirates website to see if they have a flight close to you.