No aviation enthusiast’s life would be complete without a ride on the newest Airbus plane, the A380.
Introduced in 2007, this double-decker behemoth is capable of transporting up to 853 people more than 9,000 miles at a time.
Currently, no U.S.-based airlines fly this plane, which meant that if I was to fly one, I was going international.
As luck would have it, a crazy fare mistake on some online travel agencies made it possible to travel between the U.S. and Asia, in first and business class, for pennies on the dollar.
And when I learned that some routings included the A380, it wasn’t a question of IF, but WHEN.
I purchased two sets of itineraries last May, and patiently waited seven months until my December departure, when I’d have a good chunk of time away from work during the holidays.
It was worth the wait.
My first flight on the A380 was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had on an airplane (although, yes, being in first class also helped!)
The thing rides like a dream. From the moment you push back from the gate, you wouldn’t even know you were moving if it wasn’t for the view outside the window.
In fact, it didn’t even feel like being on an airplane until the four enormous engines revved to hurdle us down the runway for takeoff.
Even then, it was the sensation of being pulled back into your seat and not the usually-obnoxious engine roar that tipped you off. From the upper deck of this plane, you can barely hear the engines!
Takeoff felt all too quiet, all too smooth, and all too gentle. But there you find yourself, climbing though the sky.
That’s not to say you’re immune to turbulence; we certainly experienced some!
But it’s like driving over a potholed road in a brand new Hummer with shock absorbers… when you’re used to driving over the same road in a 1996 Volkswagen Rabbit.
Anyway, my first ride on the 380 came in the form of an Emirates flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok.
I routed to Hong Kong JUST to take this flight.
After hanging out at the Emirates lounge between flights, I made my way down to gate 60 for boarding.
Stepping onto the plane I was immediately greeted by name by the flight attendant, who promptly showed me to my suite, 3A.
After explaining the features of the suite, another flight attendant came around with a bottle of Dom Perignon for a pre-departure cocktail.
If I recall correctly, there was also a glass of tea and warm nuts served before departing. But to be honest, all I could think about was scheduling a shower.
Yes, the Emirates A380 has a full shower onboard for first-class passengers.
The flight attendant seemed surprised I would want to shower on a short 3-hour flight, but still happily obliged.
What she didn’t know was that I had just taken a 14-hour flight from L.A. to Taipei, spent the day wandering through Taipei before jumping on another flight from Taipei to Hong Kong, and had traveled to Hong Kong JUST so I could fly the Emirates 380 to Bangkok. JUST FOR THIS SHOWER!
After scheduling my shower I placed my dinner order. I was still pretty full from stuffing myself with dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Taipei, so I skipped the appetizer course and selected the pan-fried chicken breast with jus, mushrooms, garlic-infused mashed potatoes and broccoli. It was forgettable.
After takeoff and dinner, the flight attendant came to ask if I would like my shower now. Yes. Yes, I would.
She walked me to the front of the cabin to one of the two shower spa rooms and began explaining how everything worked.
I tried my best not to look like a little kid on Christmas morning — wide-eyed, mouth slightly agape at all the features — but I was in awe.
She explained that I would get five minutes of actual shower time, but could use the room for 20 minutes or so. She also showed me the amenities like shampoo, soap, loofah, hairbrushes, and hairdryer, etc., as well as how to work the heated floor.
Yes, the bathroom floor was heated.
After she left, I had a momentary freak out that may or may not have included pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, dancing around like an idiot, and going utterly crazy with picture taking.
As I previously explained, I actually DID desperately need a shower, and five minutes is NOT a lot of time, especially when you have long hair. (I found out later she actually gave me 10 minutes of water, which allowed me to snap a few SFW photos mid-stream.)
The verdict? One of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.
You know how when you travel, it always seems to take a lot out of you, and you arrive at your destination just a little more tired and a little more disheveled than when you departed?
Yeah, this is the complete opposite of that.
The shower is refreshing and invigorating.
I went back to my seat and all I wanted to do was blast David Guetta through the noise-cancelling headphones and dance in my semi-private suite.
Instead, I ordered a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue on the rocks, tried out the in-seat massage function before converting my seat into a bed, and listened to music on the ICE entertainment system for the remainder of the flight to Bangkok.
I traveled halfway around the world and spent half a week’s salary on that flight.
And I’d do it again in a second.