Link Emirates Airbus A380 three class long-range
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We all know it's wonderful to fly in 'Business', 'First' or 'Platinum and Diamond Encrusted Everything' class. But what's it like for the rest of us?
This was my first time on an A380 (2nd time was the much longer connecting flight through to Sydney).
I thought I had scored a good front window, but in my row the port-holes lined up with the upright seats at take-off and landing. On my connecting flight, where the seat aligned with the window, I realised that the thickness of the fuselage made it seem I was looking down a hose-pipe.
I also missed having an optional foot-rest for comfort and bracing. Somehow I had sort of expected less turbulence, as with a larger liner, but this big bird wiggled constantly, from my seat in the nose, to the one at the.... other end. Can't help thinking there's a whole lot of metal fatigue going on.
Comfort wasn't increased by the fact that the passenger in front demonstrated an almost horizontal mode of relaxation, whereas my seat wouldn't actually recline. During an ensuing comedy scene, while a crew member dismantled my seat, I thought I might join the queue for the loo. After waiting some time, I returned to find the seat had actually been broken down to it's individual components: all but the back-frame moved about freely for the rest of the trip!
For these coveted window seats I sacrificed access not only to the bathroom, but to my back-pack, which was in a distant locker. With most people compensating for today's diminished luggage allowance by bringing one or more of the largest possible bags onboard, stowage is at a premium here. Consequently boarding, disembarkation and security checks take almost as long as the flight itself!
Annoyingly, half the passengers also seemed to comprise large, noisy family groups, who were given priority over the other half. Perhaps this may persuade some people to upgrade, but sadly, not all of us are travelling on expense accounts.
Also, a very late departure meant that the inadequate number of toilets were swamped and foul-smelling from the moment our seat-belt sign was extinguished.
It seemed like a lower crew to passenger ratio gave no time to clean anything, and no amount of button pushing or gesticulating got the crew's attention.
Also, menus were ostentatiously handed out at the start, but never fully implemented. However, there was food in my carpet and seat pockets from a previous occupant/s.
As well, the TV screen at the end of my nose (ie: behind the next passenger's head-rest ) and its remote, were cumbersome and hard to navigate. However, on the connecting flight, a newer model seemed to have resolved this problem with a slightly quicker touch-screen, and fewer choices.
When they got a chance, the crew seemed like they were doing their best to provide a modicum of service, but were clearly working with reduced resources, and perhaps less experience than is usual.
I may only fly 6 or 10 times a year, but over a lot of years and aircraft, this is the closest I've come to the dreaded 'Cattle Class'. It's hard to see these planes standing up to the wear and tear of carrying 'herds'.
Now, just don't get me started on the interminable terminal queues....
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