Inside Emirates Airline's Airbus A380

by  Molly Fergus | May 17, 2011
Delta airlines plane in sky
Delta airlines plane in sky / VanderWolf-Images/iStock

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Only 46 of the massive, double-decker Airbus A380 (launched in 2007) planes are in operation, so when Emirates invited me to tour the world’s largest passenger jet at JFK last week, I happily accepted.

Quite simply, the double-decker plane is a beast: Baggage handlers look like dolls next to the oversized jet engines; the wingspan is wide enough to host a soccer game; and a nudge of Air France’s own A380 infamously sent a Delta plane twirling 90 degrees at JFK in April.

Despite the size, the planes consume 20 percent less fuel per seat than the next-largest aircraft, are more fuel-efficient per mile than Toyota’s Prius, and produce less than half the noise of a Boeing 747-400 – no wonder then that Emirates operates 15 of the machines and has an additional 75 on order.

One walk through the aircraft convinced me to try and nab a seat on any A380 for my next long-haul flight. Here’s what to expect if you fly Emirates:

Emirates Air A380 First Class / Emirates Airline

First Class: Absolutely everything about this class is lavish. Complimentary chauffer service whisks passengers to and from their respective airports; at JFK, passengers may board via jetway directly from the Emirates lounge; and FastTrack immigration clearance is available at select airports.

On board, passengers cocoon themselves in one of 14 suite-seats, each walled in by electronically operated doors to create mini-rooms throughout the upper deck cabin.

Once comfortably seated, flyers sip champagne, fresh fruit juices, and Arabic coffee before take-off; choose from more than 1,200 channels of OnDemand entertainment, 200 movies, and 100 video games at cruising altitude; and dine on multi-course, chef-prepared meals (served on exclusive bone china) throughout the flight.

Emirates A380 Shower / Emirates Airline

Even that grimy, I’ve-been-in-an-airplane-for-12-hours feeling is a non-issue. The two bathrooms have showers – the only such amenity in the industry – with enough hot water to service a full cabin (though know that the water will only stream for five minutes at a time).

Sample round-trip fare: NYC to Dubai, June 17 – 24, $19,140

Business Class: The in-flight shower is off-limits for business class passengers, but this middle tier still claims plenty of perks.

Travelers sit in one of 76 flat-bed seats, each stocked with seatback TVs, mini-bars, and dividers for privacy. Seat-to-seat calling, OnDemand channels, in-seat power outlets, and seatback SMS and email access keep travelers connected en-route, while complimentary drinks, gourmet meals (also served on fine china plates), and an in-seat minibar sate passengers throughout the flight.

Emirates A380 Bar / Emirates Airline

As if all those TV and video game channels weren’t entertainment enough, first and business class passengers may retreat to the shared bar and lounge in the middle of the upper deck; complimentary cocktails, wine, beer, and appetizers are on offer throughout the flight.

Sample round-trip fare: NYC to Dubai, June 17 – 24, $9,318.50

Even plain-Jane economy seats on Emirates are swankier than back-of-the-plane tickets on most domestic airlines. Passengers have access to the same menu of 1,200 OnDemand channels, 200 movies, and 100 video games as the folks upstairs; enjoy complimentary soft drinks, spirits, wines, and beers throughout the flight; and may hook up their laptops to power outlets, available in each seat.

Sample round-trip fare: NYC to Dubai, June 17 – 24, $2,215.50

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