Novelty in Flight

Friday, June 18, 2010

I found a Wall Street Journal article on the Airbus A380 double-decker jetliner interesting, in terms of both the kinds of amenities the plane can offer and the economics behind how airlines choose whether to use them (and, if so, how). On that second score, the audio clip included with the article is worthwhile.

So for the most part, [airlines] opted for lots and lots of seats, with an occasional stand-up bar for premium passengers. A few exceptions: Singapore Airlines offers first-class suites -- private cabins with double beds (the airline has a no-sex policy). Emirates has a shower cabin installed on its A380s for first-class passengers. (You get 25 minutes in the shower cabin with five minutes of water.)

Because of the vast differences in service and cabins, fares aboard the same flight can vary as widely as the 262-foot wingspan of the plane. On Singapore Airlines, for example, an Aug. 14-21 round-trip between London and Singapore on A380 flights was priced Wednesday at $14,505 for a suite, or $1,556 for a coach seat. On Australia's Qantas Airways, the span was even greater. A coach seat from Los Angeles to Sydney and back on A380 flights for the same dates could be had for as little as $818; first-class seats on the same flights cost $24,538 round-trip. [minor format edits]
These jets have been in service for about three years now, and remain relatively rare. There are none flying domestically within the U.S. and, from what I gather, there won't be any time soon, given the general preference in that market for frequent, flexible flights.

-- CAV

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