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There are currently 14 airlines (plus one wet lease and charter service) operating the Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial airliner. While the aircraft has not been the commercial success Airbus hoped for, when it comes to #avgeeks, the community could not be more pleased. The massive, two-story plane still impresses me every time I see it parked at a gate or taxiing across an airport.
- Video: Which First Class Is the Best on the A380?
- A380 First Class Showdown: Emirates vs. Etihad vs. Singapore
- 10 Fun Facts About the Airbus A380
Boasting cabins that include the most luxurious product flying the sky and, in my opinion, the most comfortable economy cabin, a flight on an A380 is an experience you have to try. Let’s take a look at the best ways to book an award ticket to fly on this mammoth aircraft.
Who Flies the A380?
Japanese airline ANA has just put its new A380s into service on the Tokyo to Honolulu route, making it the 14th airline to operate the plane. Here’s the full list of current operators of the A380 in commercial service:
- Air France
- All Nippon Airways
- Asiana Airlines
- British Airways
- China Southern Airlines
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Thai Airways
With 14 operating airlines representing hundreds of partnerships, there are dozens of ways to book award tickets. To narrow things down a bit, we’ll go through first, business and economy class separately and show you three of the best ways to book an A380 flight for each class of service.
A word of caution: many of the operating airlines shift the A380’s routes and dates on a rather dynamic basis. Make sure you book the correct flight scheduled for the A380, and keep an eye on your flight all the way up to departure — or even set an aircraft change alert in ExpertFlyer.
Qantas A380 — Dallas (DFW) to Sydney (SYD)
70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles and $42
Enjoy the A380 to the extreme when you fly 16 hours in first class from Dallas nonstop to Australia for the incredible price of only 70,000 miles and no fuel surcharges — though be forewarned that award space can be very difficult to come by.
If you can find award space, this is without a doubt the best value and the best way to enjoy the A380.
Asiana A380 — New York-JFK or Los Angeles (LAX) to Seoul (ICN)
80,000 Asiana Club miles and ~$125
You have less than a month left if you want to enjoy the full Asiana first-class service. As of September 1, 2019, the carrier is rebranding first class into “Business Suites”. The same seats will be on the aircraft, and we aren’t yet sure if they will be bookable with partner miles, but there are a few possible scenarios that could mean getting this first class seat for fewer miles. That means I’ll be keeping my eye on the Asiana A380.
You can book the long-haul trip for just 80,000 of Asiana’s own miles, and the airline is a Marriott Bonvoy transfer partner. When you include the Bonvoy transfer bonus, the flight will set you back just 195,000 Marriott points. Alternatively, you can book the flight like TPG did for 90,000 Avianca Lifemiles, which is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One. Don’t hesitate if you want to fly Asiana first class before it is no more.
Etihad A380 — Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Paris (CDG)
62,500 American AAdvantage miles and $32.70
Blocked at seven and a half hours, you’ll enjoy an overnight flight in arguably the best first class product in the sky. The Etihad First Apartments have yet to disappoint any flyer I’ve spoken with, and for only 62,500 miles and no fuel surcharges, this is a heck of a deal.
For additional award options in even more of the best first class A380 cabins — including options on Emirates and Lufthansa — check out our story on “The Best A380 First-Class Options and How to Redeem Miles to Fly Them.”
Bonus: ANA A380 — Tokyo to Honolulu
90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and $300 Round-trip
One of the best sweet spots in the Virgin Atlantic/ANA partner award chart is Japan to Hawaii round-trip in first class. You cannot book one-way ANA awards with Virgin Atlantic miles, so you’ll have to suck it up and enjoy both long-haul flights in the new first class product. Find availability for the route using the United website and then call Virgin Atlantic to book the flight.
Singapore A380 — Singapore (SIN) to Shanghai (PVG)
39,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles and $36
Enjoy business class on one of the world’s best carriers for five and a half hours for a low amount of miles and no fuel surcharges. Singapore is currently operating the A380 once daily: Flight SQ830, departing Singapore at 9:45am.
Lufthansa A380 — Frankfurt to New York (JFK)
40,000 Asiana Club miles and $600
Lufthansa has always been an enjoyable airline to cross the Atlantic with, even if there is a bit of disappointment in the Lufthansa business product as not every seat has aisle access. Star Alliance partner Asiana charges only 40,000 miles for the one-way trip but tacks on a steep fuel surcharge of $600. Still, for such a low mileage amount, I’ll overlook the less-than-stellar cabin and the out-of-pocket cost for the A380 experience. The flight will cost you 105,00 Marriott points if you transfer to Asiana.
Air France A380 — New York-JFK to Paris (CDG)
42,000 JAL Mileage Bank miles and $126
Two of Air France’s daily flights from New York-JFK to Paris are currently operated by the A380, and there is a really great booking avenue here that is often overlooked. Even though the two carriers belong to different alliances, Air France award flights are searchable on the Japan Airlines website. JAL MileageBank is a transfer partner of Marriott, meaning the flight will cost you 111,000 Marriott points (which factors in the 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer). Fuel surcharges are also much lower than you might expect, making this a great transatlantic redemption in business class on the A380.
Bonus: ANA A380 — Tokyo-Honolulu
60,000 ANA Mileage Club miles round-trip
You are now able to fly the new ANA A380 for only 60,000 miles round-trip during low season in business class between Japan and Hawaii. This award rate is available in 2020 for January 6 through February 29, April 1 through April 23 and May 11 through May 31. High-season pricing only goes up to 68,000 miles round-trip, making this a great route to fly no matter what time of year you need to travel.
British Airways A380 — Chicago/Boston/Washington-Dulles to London (LHR)
25,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and $185
British Airways operates numerous A380s to the US, but make sure you check the daily schedule, as the jumbo jet is coming to these cities on a seasonal basis. This is a great price for the transatlantic A380 flight, and Asia Miles charges less than half of the fuel surcharges of other programs for this British Airways-operated flight.
For the best seats on the plane, make sure you sit in the back of the upper deck, where the economy cabin only has two seats instead of three next to the windows.
China Southern A380 — Guangzhou (CAN) to Beijing (PEK)
14,500 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles and $7.13
Despite China Southern’s departure from SkyTeam, you can still book the carrier’s flights through Air France/KLM. This three-hour, domestic flight between two of China’s largest metropolises is operated by an A380 twice a day. Cash prices look to be $300 and above for the one-way trip, giving you almost 2.5 cents/mile when redeeming Flying Blue miles for the A380 flight.
Etihad A380 — Abu Dhabi to Paris
20,000 American AAdvantage miles and $36
Both daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Paris are operated by the A380 (for now). The Etihad flight must show Guest seat availability on the Etihad award search engine in order to book it with AA miles.
Bonus: Sydney to Christchurch (CHC) — Emirates A380
~12,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards
The Emirates fifth-freedom route from Australia to New Zealand has cash prices right now for $172 on almost any day. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and redeem points at 1.5 cents each through the Chase travel portal, the flight will set you back 11,467 Ultimate Rewards. Or if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card with a 1.25 cent/point redemption rate, the flight will cost 13,760 Ultimate Rewards.
There are dozens of additional ways to book an A380 award flight — and the good news is any A380 you fly on an award ticket is going to be a memorable experience. If I had to choose the absolute best way to book an A380, it would be paying 70,000 Alaska miles and less than $50 to fly in Qantas first class from Dallas to Sydney. I guarantee that when you sit down in that seat, having paid only that relatively small about of miles and cash, you’ll feel like you’ve won.
Featured image PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images.
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