The A380 is the most comfortable and spacious aircraft ever to grace the skies.
The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by Airbus. It is the world's largest passenger airliner, and the airports at which it operates have upgraded facilities to accommodate it. It was initially named Airbus A3XX and designed to challenge Boeing's monopoly in the large-aircraft market. The A380 made its first flight on 27 April 2005 and entered commercial service in October 2007 with Singapore Airlines.
The A380's upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage, with a width equivalent to a wide-body aircraft. This gives the A380-800's cabin 550 square metres (5,920 sq ft) of usable floor space, 40% more than the next largest airliner, the Boeing 747-8, and provides seating for 525 people in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 people in an all-economy class configuration. The A380-800 has a design range of 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km), sufficient to fly nonstop from Dallas, USA to Sydney, Australia, and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h, 560 mph or 490 kn at cruising altitude).
As of March 2016, Airbus had received 319 firm orders and delivered 184 aircraft; Emirates is the biggest A380 customer with 140 on order and 75 delivered.
The cabin has features to reduce traveller fatigue such as a quieter interior and higher pressurisation than previous generation of aircraft; the A380 is pressurised to the equivalent altitude of 1,520 m (5,000 ft) up to 12,000 m (39,000 ft). It has 50% less cabin noise, 50% more cabin area and volume, larger windows, bigger overhead bins, and 60 cm (2.0 ft) extra headroom versus the 747-400. Seating options range from 3-room 12 m2 (130 sq ft) "residence" in first class to 11-across in economy. On other aircraft, economy seats range from 41.5 cm (16.3 in) to 52.3 cm (20.6 in) in width, A380 economy seats are up to 48 cm (19 in) wide in a 10-abreast configuration; compared with the 10-abreast configuration on the 747-400 which typically has seats 44.5 cm (17.5 in) wide. The A380's upper and lower decks are connected by two stairways, fore and aft, wide enough to accommodate two passengers side-by-side; this cabin arrangement allows multiple seat configurations. The maximum certified carrying capacity is 853 passengers in an all-economy-class layout, Airbus lists the "typical" three-class layout as accommodating 525 passengers, with 10 first, 76 business, and 439 economy class seats. Airline configurations range from Korean Air's 407 passengers to Emirates' two-class 615 seats for Copenhagen, and average around 480–490 seats. The Air Austral's proposed 840 passenger layout has not come to fruition. The A380's interior illumination system uses bulbless LEDs in the cabin, cockpit, and cargo decks. The LEDs in the cabin can be altered to create an ambience simulating daylight, night, or intermediate levels. On the outside of the aircraft, HID lighting is used for brighter illumination.
Airbus's publicity has stressed the comfort and space of the A380 cabin, and advertised onboard relaxation areas such as bars, beauty salons, duty-free shops, and restaurants. Proposed amenities resembled those installed on earlier airliners, particularly 1970s wide-body jets, which largely gave way to regular seats for more passenger capacity. Airbus has acknowledged that some cabin proposals were unlikely to be installed, and that it was ultimately the airlines' decision how to configure the interior. Industry analysts suggested that implementing customisation has slowed the production speeds, and raised costs. Due to delivery delays, Singapore Airlines and Air France debuted their seat designs on different aircraft prior to the A380.
Initial operators typically configured their A380s for three-class service, while adding extra features for passengers in premium cabins. Launch customer Singapore Airlines introduced partly enclosed first class suites on its A380s in 2007, each featuring a leather seat with a separate bed; center suites could be joined to create a double bed. A year later, Qantas debuted a new first class seat-bed and a sofa lounge at the front of the upper deck on its A380s, and in 2009 Air France unveiled an upper deck electronic art gallery. In late 2008, Emirates introduced "shower spas" in first class on its A380s allowing each first class passenger five minutes of hot water, drawing on 2.5 tonnes of water although only 60% of it was used. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways also have a bar lounge and seating area on the upper deck, while Etihad has enclosed areas for two people each. In addition to lounge areas, some A380 operators have installed amenities consistent with other aircraft in their respective fleets, including self-serve snack bars, premium economy sections, and redesigned business class seating. The Hamberg Aircraft Interiors Expo in April 2015 saw the presentation of an 11-seat row economy cabin for the A380. Airbus is reacting to a changing economy; the recession which began in 2008 saw a drop in market percentage of first class and business seats to six percent and an increase in budget economy travelers. Among other causes is the reluctance of employers to pay for executives to travel in First or Business Class. Airbus' chief of cabin marketing, Ingo Wuggestzer, told Aviation Week and Space Technology that the standard three class cabin no longer reflected market conditions. The 11 seat row on the A380 is accompanied by similar options on other widebodies: nine across on the Airbus A330 and ten across on the A350.