Book ‘Multiple Stops’ and save on fares aboard the A380
By Florin R. Ferrs
(Cheap Airfare guru and world traveler.)
The advent of the A380 pasenger aircraft and its immense capacity should, in theory, save travelers money. But so far, the airlines operating these behemoths of the sky seem happy to charge a premium for the experience. Much has been written about the A380’s upper floor, featuring showers, sleeper seats, private cabins and walk-up bars. But what’s the experience like for the pasengers flying coach? Is it worth the premium for a springtime trip?
The big boys of the sky
I will never forget the impact of seing two A380’s parked side by side, at continuous boarding gates at Johannesburg airport. The pair of giants (one belonging to Lufthsansa, the other to Air France) dwarfed the terminal’s corridors with their double decks, each plane loaded with over 500 pasengers. There are currently 5 airlines flying the A380: Air France, Lufthansa, Emirates, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.
Want to see more about the A380 airbus? The BBC provides a very informative video about the inside of Lufthansa’s new A380:
Add a stop and Save
Eager to fly on the A380, I focus on Air France’s Paris to Johannesburg A380 flight. I needed a few days in Paris anyway, so I first checked the price of two separate tickets: a roundtrip from San Francisco to Paris, and a separate roundtrip from Paris to South Africa. The Paris to Jo’burg roundtrip costs around 750 Euros (around $1000 USD). Meanwhile, my San Francisco to Paris itinerary books for $649. These fares were a bit too pricey, so I decided to use vayama.com’s ‘multiple cities’ feature instead; it pays off, and I nab a San Francisco to Jo’Burg roundtrip departing in April, with a weeklong stopover in Paris, for just $1149 USD total, including all taxes and fees. The best part of my itinerary: TWO long trips aboard Air France’s new A380 for under $600 USD per flight.
Is it really worth the premium to fly on The A380 in Coach Class?
Much has been written about the A380’s golden faucets and “spas” with showers. But most travellers will never experience the luxuries of the A380’s upper deck, which is exclusively reserved for business and first-class fliers. Is the A380’s coach experience really worth the premiums airlines are charging to fly on them?
Aboard the A380, the first thing one will notice is that “new airplane” feel, as most airlines have not been flying these big boys for too long. The second item of note is that the lower deck’s 3-4-3 seating configuration mirrors that of the more-familiar 747. Unlike the 747, however, the ceiling and walls are flat, instead of curved like on a traditional airplanes, and the ceiling is set higher, giving the coach-class cabin a spacious and “cathedral-like” feel. Every seat has a large, 10-inch personal video screen with multiple movies and games, more than enough entertainment to keep anyone distracted on long flights.
The A380’s take off is very smooth and almost 50% quieter than on a regular airplane. During the flight the engines are very quiet, making it easy to converse with one’s fellow travellers. The A380 features greater cabin pressure, the equivalent of standing on a mountain top at 6000 feet. This higher pressure helps prevent dehydration and allows for a better night’s sleep. The portholes on the A380 are also larger than normal planes’, a treat for fans of the window seat. Due to the sheer size of the A380, turbulence feels very different; instead of the rapid shakes of smaller aircraft, the experience is more akin to riding in a large, Detroit-made family car—bouncy, stately and solid.
Overall, coach class aboard the A380 is certainly worth the premium, but I wouldn’t mind travelling in the top deck next time ‘round.
Other A380 Airfare Deals available from vayama.