The Airbus A380 is a beast of a plane. Some airports, Dubai and Houston come to mind, have built new gates to accommodate its two decks. So this plane might be the biggest beast you can fly right now, replacing Boeing 747s that are starting to retire from service. Air New Zealand recently ended its 747 service from San Francisco to Auckland.
I had mixed feelings about going on the A380, despite anyone who’s been on an A380 flight raving about the experience (Qantas has a bar on its planes! Emirates has showers!). And the reason is that since I was a kid, seeing the 747 at JFK or ATL was almost the coolest thing I could see at an airport because it was probably going to Europe, a place my grandparents went to and didn’t take five-year-old Tina. Pre-9/11, my dad would indulge me anytime we dropped off family at the airport by walking me along the gates and pointing out what kind of planes there were. That’s an L-1011 over there, look at the engine on its butt [tail]. Being a small Tina looking at big planes is a sweet childhood memory.
(Seeing a 747 was second coolest only to seeing the Concorde, which I sometimes YouTube videos of the Concorde taking off BECAUSE IT LOOKS LIKE A BIRD. A bird which sadly I can never fly. But if it did, I would consider maxing out a card to get on that flight.)
Any reservations I had were cancelled out quite easily because: 1) We’re on our way to Tokyo; 2) We’re flying Singapore Airlines; 3) We have 10 hours to max out on movies, so we can be more cultured and interesting at cocktail parties or on Twitter.
We settled into our economy seats, which were fine and on par with any other international economy class. I like to think because our seats were blue and gray, not tan, we were special but I highly doubt that. We were just a bunch of backpackers in economy wearing glasses and making sarcastic commentary, looking forward to drinking our share of free booze.
We had a great view of the curtains hiding the more-luxurious-than-anything-Kanye-touches suites, where you can have an actual bed. Not a business class pod, a bed in a room. It costs about $13,000 roundtrip to book a suite — I looked it up while waiting at the gate.
Some guy wrote about his experience in a Singapore Airlines suite (and is accused of alleged plagiarism) — he cashed in all of his miles to try it out and frankly, it sounds unforgettable. DeBeers has it all wrong: If you want to make two months salary live forever via your proposal (and you are probably a consultant or in finance or you are, in fact, Kanye), just buy two tickets for a Singapore Airlines suite and go propose in one. He or she will like the ring, but that ring is going to be a reminder of the time you flew baller status and no flight has lived up to it ever since.
So, back to economy class. Which is very nice. I really wanted to ask for a Singapore Sling, the specialty cocktail for the airline. And it was on the menu for economy class, so the Kiwi and I wanted to ask for one, just to experience it. But cocktails are a pain to make (multiple steps) and the flight attendants have to serve hundreds of people, including a class trip of high schoolers from Japan.
On the first drink pass, I chickened out and we asked for wine and beer. At the dinner service, I summoned my courage (Who are you to ask for a cocktail in economy?) and asked for a Singapore Sling, that it didn’t have to be right now, let me know when would be a good time to ask for one. Then, I think I imagined the guy saying we can do it later. Which I was fine with. But I felt very lame to be that person from economy to follow up on asking for that cocktail. So I let it go. We were fine.
I watched a few episodes of Veep; the Kiwi watched a bunch of movies. I tried to sleep on Kiwi with my neck pillow (that’s what you get when you get the aisle and I get the middle), which didn’t really work well. Of no fault of anyone’s but my own because my body doesn’t do origami well, but I had a hard time finding a comfortable sleeping position on this flight. I can do two-hour flights well, I can do 12-hour flights well. Anything in between, I get antsy and very “are we there yet?” for the majority of the flight and just want to sleep out of boredom.
Despite that, the A380 was a crazy nice flight. It was so much quieter and smoother than any flight I’ve ever taken. The take off didn’t even feel like we left the ground, it felt like gentle taxiing. And the landing was very gentle as well. The air also didn’t feel as stale, which was nice and not very easy to explain.
I would be very happy to jump on an A380 again. It’s the 21st century symbol of going some place far and cool, whereas the 747 was the 20th century equivalent. It makes me a little sad that the A380 is replacing the 747 on long-haul flights, but progress isn’t a bad thing.