Friday, July 13, 2012

Airbus A380 impressions

I'm mid-flight on a trans-Atlantic trip on an Air France A380. I've been curious for a few year to catch a ride on the new superjumbo and was really looking forward to this new experience.

How would I describe it in one word? Yawn. There's some minor improvements in amenities and overhead space. Also the cabin is quieter than most, but I otherwise found the flight experience underwhelming and a bit bumpier than hoped. (in fairness, it could just have been today's weather making the flight rocky for periods, but I thought such a big plane would suppress chop, but it seems the largeness of the plane might actually as a sail for wind forces.)

My main impression though is that such a large plane is a bad idea - today's pre-flight experience suggests that boarding complexity doesn't rise linearly with increased passenger count but rather arithmetically. Our boarding and pre-flight sucked - very long, slow lines in the terminal, clogged aisles on the plane, and a delayed departure, though I didn't notice anything to make today's boarding more complex than others.

I will definitely actively avoid the A380 if possible. On long trips, my preference would be:

1. Boeing 747 - still the best
2. Boeing 777
3. A380 - only beats the 767 because of it's higher speed.

I have a feeling that I'll rank the Boeing 787 in the top 2, once I get a chance to ride one.

It appears my lukewarm experience on the A380 is echoed by the airlines - A380 sales have stalled and are unlikely to produce enough orders to reach break even on the project.

Update: the rest of the flight tipped me from lukewarm to thumbs down, mostly because of the deplaning process. Boarding in Paris used 3 doors to the plane. At our destination (Washington Dulles), we used only 1 standard door to deplane. Being in row 47, approximately 469 people deplaned before I me, taking 20 minutes, and negating any speed advantage te A380 has over mid-sized planes.

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With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
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World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous