I now flew on my second Airbus A380, both in economy class, and want to share my experience on both versions of this plane. This will be ThePointSoldier’s first aircraft review.
Lufthansa Airbus A380
I flew the Lufthansa A380 in September 2015 from Frankfurt (FRA) to San Francisco (SFO). The sheer size of the aircraft was nothing short of mesmerizing. I had flown on a Boeing 747 years prior on a trip to the Philippines, but the A380 is a different beast altogether. The plane looked like it came fresh from the assembly line. Everything seemed brand new and ultra modern, with sleek, very Lufthansa-typical, lines. I flew on the lower deck and I do have to say that the whole point of the aircraft is the one feature I wasn’t very fond of: the 3-4-3 seat layout. I always fly window, rather than aisle, whenever possible anyways, so thankfully I was traveling with my parents that day. Squeezing yourself past 2 complete strangers is no fun activity.
I don’t sleep well on planes, so the 11+ hour flight offered plenty of time to explore the aircraft’s state of the art on-board entertainment system, which was simply amazing. The screen was the size of an iPad and offered anything from the latest music, games, movies, to television shows. I explored it all and perhaps the coolest feature was the live stream of exterior webcams, which let you switch between views from the front, the wings and the landing system of the aircraft. The live stream of our landing at SFO was the coolest thing I have ever seen on any airplane. Of course, you could also switch to the traditional, animated view on a map if you wanted to.
The legroom in the Lufthansa Economy Class was adequate, but I’m also an averagely sized person. A taller individual should always consider, at least, a premium economy seat, especially on inter-continental flights.
British Airways Airbus A380
I flew the British Airways version of the A380 in December 2016 from London Heathrow (LHR) to Washington/Dulles (IAD), which was much shorter, at just over 8 hours. Since I was already used to the size of the aircraft, that was nothing new, but the seat layout was. I was able to fly economy on the upper level for the first time. This presented a whole new experience, as the seat layout was 2-3-2. Again, I had a window seat, and thankfully so. There was a little cubby next to my seat, large enough to fit my heavy winter coat. This was very convenient and also served as an arm rest. Unfortunately for other passengers in economy who paid just as much for the flight as I had, the cubby is, obviously, only available to passengers with window seats. Leg room was very similar to Lufthansa’s, same for the on-board entertainment, with one major difference: no exterior live stream. You still have the front, wing and landing gear viewing angles, but the stream was now animated, which wasn’t nearly as cool. Also, the flight tracker wasn’t as sophisticated as the one on the Lufthansa A380, which offered different parameters and an overall better animation of the route. But both showed you where in the world you are, so mission accomplished! The British Airways’ interior, however, had a bit more of a luxurious feel than the Lufthansa interior. The difference wasn’t great, but definitely evident. Think of Rolls-Royce versus Mercedes-Maybach.
As you can find on seatguru.com, the seat layout of these 2 behemoths is probably the biggest difference between them, particularly on the upper level. The LH A380 I flew on offered no economy seats on the upper deck, only on the lower, and all Business – and First Class seats were upstairs. However, there is a LH version with 4 rows of economy seating on the upper deck as well. I did not fly that one so I cannot comment on it. Either way, both LH versions also offer a “Economy Premium” class in the front section of the lower deck. The BA A380 is entirely different: First Class is on the bottom level only, while Club World (Business) and World Traveller (Economy) are located on both decks. Plus World Traveller (premium economy) is located upstairs. Roughly half of the BA A380 Club World seats face the aft end of the aircraft. This would be a huge problem for me as I get motion sick easily. If you do not want to, essentially, fly backwards, make sure to book early when planing on flying in business class with the BA A380.
Overall, and even without the live stream, I still found my British Airways experience superior to my Lufthansa experience, simply because of the little cubby next me on the upper level. In an industry where storage is a premium, every bit of extra room makes a world of difference. But neither aircraft will disappoint you, as both airlines clearly strive to offer a true world class product. Both have accomplished this, and then some.
British Airways (top) stream versus Lufthansa (below).
Have you been on an Airbus A380? With what airline and how was your experience?