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Travel Tuesday Top 10: Ways You Can Fly the A380

by on September 4, 2012 · 26 comments

in Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Malaysia Air, Singapore Airlines, Thai, Top 10

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With a range of 9,600 miles, a cruising speed of 560 miles per hour, 240 feet in length, 80 feet tall, a wingspan of over 260 feet, and over 5,000 square feet of floor space spread out over two full decks, the Airbus A380 is the largest jumbo-jet in the skies, and an aviation enthusiast’s dream. Here are the top 10 ways you can fly on this queen of the skies using your hard earned miles and points.

Note: Route maps and effective dates are subject to change, so please feel free to comment with any confirmed updates to the information below.

Emirates First Class Suites on the A380.

1. Emirates: Perhaps the most sought-after experience in the skies is Emirates’ A380 first class service with deluxe “suites,” gourmet meal service and even in-flight showers available. Of course, on the long-haul routes, that ticket will cost you well north of $10,000, but Emirates operates the aircraft on a few little-known short-haul routes in its network as well. You can find the full schedule here, but your best bets will be the Auckland-Sydney route, which is still long enough to take that shower. It costs about $1,300 each way in first class, or 47,500 Skywards Miles. A new Auckland-Melbourne route is also scheduled to begin in October, and the flight that operates Hong Kong-Dubai actually stops in Bangkok. That last flight is just under 3 hours and costs 60,000 Skywards miles each way for first class, or just $650! Miles-wise, you will be able to use Alaska Airlines miles at some point later in 2012. Korean Air is also a partner of Emirates and a 1:1 transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards, the points program of the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold cards.

2. Singapore Airlines: Singapore was the first airline to take delivery of the new superjumbo back in October of 2007. These days, it operates 18 of the 19 it has ordered so far on its New York JFK-Frankfurt-Singapore route as well as the route from Singapore-Tokyo Narita-Los Angeles, so unfortunately and there’s no really cheap option if you want to test out the airline’s ballyhooed first class suites on this particular plane because Sinagpore doesn’t release them as saver level awards and charges upwards of 1,000,000 KrisFlyer miles for the “suites” class. They do change the routes that the 380 serves, so you can try booking awards on other routes and hope for an equipment swap, but in general Singapore makes it extremely difficult to book business and first class awards on the 380.

3. Qantas: The Australian carrier has ordered 20 A380’s and so far operates 12 of them on its transpacific routes between Sydney and Melbourne and Los Angeles, as well as from Sydney to Hong Kong, and from Sydney and Melbourne to London via Singapore. Even the shortest of those routes (Singapore and Hong Kong) will cost you 30,000 points each way for economy, 45,000 for Premium Economy, 60,000 for Business and a whopping 90,000 points for first class, and each way from Sydney to Singapore would cost between $877 for economy and nearly $7,000 in first.

4. Lufthansa: This German-based airline operates the A380 from Frankfurt to Johannesburg, Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo, New York, San Francisco and now Houston, giving US-based flyers plenty of opportunities to catch a ride on the big bird. Again, there aren’t any secret backdoor short-hauls to take advantage of here, but you can get from North America to Frankfurt on it for just shy of $1,000 roundtrip, or as low as 30,000 miles plus $77.50 in economy, 50,000 miles and $77.50 in business and 67,500 miles plus $80 in first class, which I personally just experienced aboard the 747, each way. I flew the A380 business class last year and was underwhelmed since they kept their old product, but will be refurbishing them over the next couple years.

The business class cabin aboard Korean Air’s A380 with the new Prestige seat.

5. Korean Air: This SkyTeam carrier has ordered a total of 10 A380’s with just 5 in service so far. It’s known for having the most spacious A380’s in the industry with just over 400 seats in each, well below the industry standard. You can use both Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Delta SkyMiles to book flights on one of them, and you don’t even have to fly on the airline’s longer routes between Korea and Paris or Los Angeles to experience it. Instead, book a short-hop flight from Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon – about 3.5 hours – and experience the superliner service with the airline’s latest seats for about $275 each way in economy, or 30,000 of Korean Air’s Skypass miles each way in economy up to 65,000 miles each way in first using SkyPass miles (Delta does not allow international first class redemptions), though availability is extremely limited. If you were to use Delta SkyMiles instead, you’d be getting a relative bargain since the airline counts both South Korea and Hong Kong in its Northern Asia zone, so a roundtrip economy ticket could be as low as 25,000 miles, and a business class ticket would be as low as 45,000 miles roundtrip.

6. China Southern: This Chinese airline based in Guangzhou has three A380’s in service with a total of five on order. The airline is pondering putting the craft into service on it’s “Canton Route” from London to Sydney via Guangzhou, but you can take it on a shorter three-hour flight between Beijing and Guangzhou for about $290 in economy each way. The airline is also a member of SkyTeam, meaning you could use Delta miles, or even Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Korean Air to fly it, and again since this flight is within a single zone, you could redeem miles for a roundtrip economy ticket for as low as 25,000 miles, and a business class ticket would be as low as 45,000 miles roundtrip.

7. Air France: No short-haul routes on this carrier, though for a brief time, Air France did fly its biggest aircraft on the busy route between Paris and London. Now you can catch it from France to New York, Johannesburg, Montreal, Washington DC, Singapore, Los Angeles and Tokyo. Since Air France is a part of SkyTeam, one way around steep ticket prices to Europe would be to use Delta SkyMiles (60,000 roundtrip economy, 100,000 roundtrip business) to fly the airline.

Business Class onboard Malaysia Air’s A380.

8. Malaysia Air: Malaysia’s carrier has ordered six A380’s and already has two in service flying three times weekly between Kuala Lumpur and London. Starting November 25, it will put more into use daily from Kuala Lumpur to Sydney.  Though you might have a hard time snagging one of the 8 first class suites – with 40-inch-wide beds and 23-inch flatscreen entertainment systems – but business class looks quite nice too. The airline is supposed to join the Oneworld alliance later this year, which will mean you can use your American or British Airways miles (among others) to fly it. After all, how can you resist an airline so excited about its new aircraft that its website says, “Finally, a plane as big as our hearts”? Malaysia is a partner of Delta as well, though you can’t redeem for first class and Delta assess fuel surcharges to awards.

Royal First Class seats aboard Thai Airways’ soon-to-be-delivered A380.

9. Thai Airways: This Bangkok-based Star Alliance airline will take delivery of its first A380 (out of a total of six) on September 27, with plans to put it into service later in October. The airline plans to put the new planes into service on its routes from Bangkok to Hong Kong, Singapore, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Paris first. From October 28-December 14 the airline will use its first A380 on daily flights between Hong Kong and Bangkok and then will move it over to service its Bangkok-Frankfurt route. Following that will be flight service to Tokyo and Paris early in 2013. Each new plane will have 507 seats with three classes. The Royal First Class cabin will have just 12 seats and will include a dressing room, a bar and a small lounge. Each seat will be fully lie-flat with 83 inches in pitch. The business class Royal Silk cabin will have 60 seats, also with fully horizontal beds and 73 inches in pitch. If you do want to be one of the first to fly the airline’s new plane on the BKK-HKG route, it’ll cost you about $400 roundtrip.

However, if you used United miles (which you can also transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards), you could fly the A380 for 12,500 miles plus $22.40 one-way in economy, 17,500 miles and $22.40 in business, or 30,000 and $22.40 in first class!

10. British Airways: Though the UK’s main carrier has had A380′s on order for years, its delivery has been pushed back until late in 2013 to the chagrin of both Brits and those of us who have been hoarding Avios in anticipation of the airline’s new planes. BA has a total of 12 A380′s on order, and though routes are yet to be announced, it’s a pretty sure thing that at least some of them will fly from London to New York, Hong Kong, Beijing and Singapore, with the Singapore craft possibly continuing on to Sydney. I love BA’s latest first and business class products, so hopefully the A380 will represent yet another evolution in one of the best in-flight products in the sky.

Don’t have an opportunity to fly the A380 yet? Stay tuned, because several other airlines including Asiana, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic have ordered them as well.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Iolaire

    The AirFrance option is also open to AlaskaAir mileage program folks, I flew IAD – CDG last year in Business thanks to AS.

  • Pacificohk

    Qantas without the route between Hong Kong and Singapore

  • Mitch

    A great way to experience the first class product on Qantas is on SYD/MEL-SIN or SYD-HKG (not daily A380 service) by using American miles. It’s only 45,000 AAdvantage miles one way in first, so I’m closing the open jaw between AKL and HKG on an upcoming SkyMiles redemption by using my AAdvantage miles for Qantas F.

    I’m not convinced that Korean Air award inventory for those using SkyPass miles is extremely limited. There’s ample first class space for those with SkyPass miles. When we had that fleeting glimpse into business award inventory on ExpertFlyer, there were a lot of routes with great business class inventory for SkyPass redemption. Given the issues Delta agents have finding and booking Korean business award inventory, I don’t think Delta’s access is designed to be awful, either, other than Delta’s self-imposed excessive blackout dates. I’m booked on LAX-ICN next summer en route to AKL and looking forward to it, especially after it was pulled off FRA-ICN when I was booked on it for a trip to MEL in December 2011.

    China Southern starts operating their A380 on LAX-CAN sometime next month. (Too lazy to find the exact date.) This is a great way to cross the Pacific for those with SkyMiles, since the inventory can be readily checked, and ExpertFlyer shows at least nine business class award seats available on that flight on many days now.

  • Jimmy

    Lufthansa is also available on the MIA-FRA route in the winter only.

  • Cathy

    We flew the A380 SYD-LAX on Qantas in first and used only 72.5 K AA miles. Best award redemption we ever did.

  • Erik

    If someone is only looking for an ‘I flew the A380′ experience and doesn’t care if the seat is coach, Lufthansa occasionally has special offers to Miles & More members to fly the A380 from New York to destinations in Germany for only 38K miles roundtrip. There was also an offer from FRA->SIN for 50K miles. Seems to be, when they deploy it on a route they will run the promotion to generate buzz/interest.

  • http://twitter.com/askevi Askia Suruma

    Not sure if I understand this correctly, but can you use UR points to deposit into Korean Air and then use those miles for redemption on the A380 flown by Emirates?

  • James32323

    Hi Brian .. do you know if the a380 to Miami has been cancelled? I have flown it in past and can’t figure out what happened or if they cancelled it?

  • Heredity4me

    I am currently booked on a flight from Paris to Bangkok which is listed on a a380 in coach. At the time I wasn’t shown any availability for business but it shows up now. When I try to change the flight the business class doesn’t show up. Is there a way to upgrade from economy to business with miles?

  • MarkJ

    Brian,

    For a long time on Flyertalk there has been a discussion of cheap premium fares out of Columbo [CMB], Sri Lanka. I am using that to create a hybrid points/cash around the world trip.

    I am using American Advantage miles to fly Cathay Pacific in First to HKG and then make a stop in BKK and then to CMB. From there I am paying $2200 to fly Emirates in First to Dubai and then on to London in First on the A380. I am looking forward to my first airborne shower!

    I will stay in London for three days and then take BA to Miami in First as part of the paid ticket.

    Around the World in First…Cathay, Emirates, and British Airways!

  • thepointsguy

    Nice- so $2,220 for CMB-LHR-MIA.. I may have to snag one of those. Did you ticket on Emirates.com?

  • thepointsguy

    Did you book the ticket with miles? If so, what kind? If not, what fare class are you booked in?

  • thepointsguy

    It’s seasonal..should be back for busy winter months

  • thepointsguy

    Yes, but I’ve heard you can’t book Emirates awards that originate in the US, but will confirm that in an upcoming post

  • thepointsguy

    Nice.. are taxes/surcharges crazy? I have never redeemed with Miles & More

  • thepointsguy

    I got to see the Qantas 380 first class recently and it looked awesome.. I’m planning a trip down under this winter and will do everything in my power to fly it!

  • thepointsguy

    LAX-CAN has great availability.. look forward to testing it out on the 380!

  • Heredity4me

    I booked with miles on United

  • Colonelretwes

    Dec 19th, we’re now flying the a380 BC from BKK to FRA the day the 380 is introduced on this route w/TG (Thai Airways) checking daily for FC availability, none yet. Even if we don’t get the FC, looking fwd to trying the TG BC lounge in the sky.

  • Zinniaposy

    I flew on an AF 380 JFK to CDG last year and hated every minute of it. Beginning with the boarding process at JFK. One word for that: LONG. It took forever to get on the plane. My seat was lower level coach, inside, by a window . Or, so I thought. The body of the plane was so wide that I could extend my arm to the ‘window’ and still not touch it. There was a huge gap between me and the window wall that I could not even put a pillow under my head to lean on it. Instead I could put my entire backpack under my head. It was a cavernous plane.

  • Chris B

    What is the best way to use my miles to get to Thailand with my points? I would love to fly the a380. I would leave from MIA. I have 100K AA, 100K SPG, 100K CUR. I would like to use my SPG for hotels while there since they have a lot of hotels there. Planning for a 2 week stay. I was thinking of getting the hilton card as a backup. Any tips and recommendations is very appreciated .

  • Ets

    Just flew same route. Sat in economy upstairs where there are only 6 rows of economy and it was great, kinda like having your own plane

  • Waders123

    Hi Guys,
    I am a real newbie when it comes to these flights you guys do. What I would like to do is fly first class. I am in Alaska, (ANC) and I was to fly to BKK and stay for approx 4 months then return. I would like to try the A380 experience and Emirates seems to have the best first class? I do have some mileage on UA, Delta, Saffhire Pref and a few other airlines and cards. But am opened to buying a ticket or use mileage + money. Any ideas or thoughts from you seasoned Pro flyers would be greatly welcomed…thanks Wade

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  • Wade C

    I recently as in the last week flew an Air France A380 from New York to Paris and it was silent, roomy, and comfortable and I flew in Economy! To anyone wanting to fly from New York to Paris I reccomend Air France And flying the A380 is a must!

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