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The Airbus A380, the biggest passenger jet in the world, can be found flying for 13 airlines globally. While it may be going through a rough period, the 380 is still unique when it comes to the passenger experience. With 40% more usable space than the second largest passenger aircraft, the Boeing 747, the A380 is home to some of the most luxurious features in air travel. Given the size of the jet, airlines are able to maintain large Economy cabins while still offering amenities like bars and lounges for the premium passengers.
Here’s a roundup of what some airlines do to use up space on the superjumbo. The front of the upper deck features the largest area of potentially dead space, with no seats, on the aircraft. In the image below, it’s indicated by the arrow.
1. Larger lavatories
The front of the upper deck Its too narrow for conventional aircraft seats, and so one way to fill the space is by being creative with larger lavatories. Airlines including Emirates (below), British Airways and Qatar Airways have increased the size of the lavatories there to use up some of the space, meaning they’re able to give passengers a little less of an “airplane lavatory” experience, and instead offer something that looks more like an en-suite bathroom.
While Emirates went all out with a shower (and so did Etihad), most airlines have used the extra space to install larger sinks, flower arrangements, and in Lufthansa’s A380 below, even something you wouldn’t normally see in a bathroom even on the ground: a sofa.
2. A lounge area
Airlines including Thai Airways (pictured below), Qantas, and Korean Air have created a narrow seating area for premium passengers to sit.
These are not the same as the dedicated onboard lounges that can be found for example at the center of the upper deck on Etihad Airways, which calls it “The Lobby,” or at the back on Emirates, which has a full bar there.
3. An onboard duty-free store
An airplane, even a big one, may not seem like the most obvious place for a physical duty free shop, but Korean Air decided to take advantage of the space at the rear of the main deck by introducing what it calls a “SkyShop.”
It’s certainly one of the greatest novelties of the A380, and even the lighting in this area of the cabin has been designed to ensure it looks more like an actual store.
4. A dedicated bar / lounge
The A380 was sold to airlines on the basis that they would be able to give premium passengers something more than just an impressive seat. That’s similar to what some airlines did with their 747s in the early 1970s — those lounges have long since disappeared, since airlines opted to put more seats in their 747s. But the A380 can still seat 500 or more people even with an onboard lounge.
Given the space, airlines are able to customize everything. Light fittings can be as extravagant as the ceiling can handle, and the area transforms a conventional airline cabin into what could be a very well-designed social area, such as onboard Qatar Airways’ A380 in the image above.
While A380’s might be ‘too big’ economically for some airlines – it’s a jet thats truly changed premium flying, given the different areas it’s able to offer at cruising altitude.
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