Friday, November 10, 2006

Airbus A380 :: Is Bigger Always Better?

A recent news report stating that Virgin Atlantic Airways has deferred delivery of the new Airbus A380 airliner from 2009 to mid-2013 brought to mind my thoughts about the whole idea of super-large jets. And according to the website for Singapore Air, who are first in line for the new planes, due to production delays, it will not receive its first A380 by late 2006 as planned, but perhaps by the 4th quarter of 2007.

Is this bad news? Well, not as far as I am concerned. When I first learned of this new supersized plane (the A380-800 can accommodate 555 passengers in three classes, and 853 PAX in one economy class), all that I could think of is what a nightmare it would be when checking in, boarding and deplaning.

Visualize, if you will, the boarding lounge for present day flights carrying 250 PAX: A sea of humanity, clutching carry-ons, fussing at the passenger agents and jockeying for boarding line order. Large, fully booked flights already take ages to board, especially in North America and Europe and nearly as long to deplane, then to pick up checked baggage.

Do I really want this whole experience magnified? No, no, I don't. I can only assume that the carriers who signed up for these jumbo jets did extensive market research that factored in operating costs, staffing requirements. I have to wonder if they asked the opinion of their passengers, who ultimately pay for them.

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