Monday, October 29, 2007

Singapore Airlines A380 completes flight

25th October 2007: The world's largest jetliner made aviation history Thursday, completing its first commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney with 455 passengers, some of them ensconced in luxury suites and double beds.

The Airbus superjumbo lifted off from Singapore's Changi Airport and landed about seven hours later in Sydney. Also aboard Flight SQ380 was a crew of about 30, including four pilots.

Flight attendants handed out champagne and certificates to passengers, some of whom paid tens of thousands of dollars in an online auction for seats.

"I have never been in anything like this in the air before in my life," said Australian Tony Elwood, reclining with his wife, Julie, on the double bed in their private first-class suite.

"It is going to make everything else after this simply awful," he said, sipping Dom Perignon champagne after a lunch of marinated lobster and double boiled chicken soup. He paid $50,000 for the two places.

The double-decker A380 ends the nearly 37-year reign of the Boeing 747 jumbojet as the world's most spacious passenger plane. Its European manufacturer, Airbus SAS, also claims that the A380 is the most fuel efficient and quietest passenger jet ever built.

Thomas Lee, who was also on the Boeing 747's first commercial flight from New York to London in 1970, described the latest experience as "spectacular ... fantastic ... incredible."

The Boeing 747 jumbo jet generally carries about 400 passengers. The A380 — as tall as a seven-story building with each wing big enough to hold 70 cars — is capable of carrying 853 passengers in an all-economy class configuration.

However, Singapore Airlines opted for 471 seats in three classes — 12 Singapore Airlines Suites, 60 business class and 399 economy class.

Each suite, enclosed by sliding doors, is fitted with a leather upholstered seat, a table, a 23-inch flat screen TV, laptop connections and a range of office software. A separate bed folds up into the wall. Two of the suites can be joined to provide double beds, one of which the Elwoods occupied.

On the upper deck, business class seats can turn into wide flat beds, while the economy class seats on both decks have more leg and knee room, the carrier says. Business class passengers also have a bar area.

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