The Ultimate Guide to Flying on the Airbus A380: Airlines, Routes & More

The Ultimate Guide to Flying on the Airbus A380: Airlines, Routes and More

While nowhere near as legendary or as successful as the 747, the Airbus A380 certainly has its place in aviation history. And, without a doubt, it is an aircraft that many aviation enthusiasts – and even members of the general public – want to log a flight on.

Because of that, after taking a look at how the A380 compares with the 747 and at what routes the 747 can be flown on, I decided to take a look at the A380 fleets of all the airlines that operate the type.

I decided to publish this article today – on May 24, 2019 – since it’s the day the last airline to introduce the A380 into its fleet directly from Airbus, ANA, is putting the type into scheduled operations.

Below, I’ll take a look at all fifteen of the airlines currently operating the superjumbo -how many of the type they operate, what cabin configurations they are in, as well as what routes they can be flown on.

Before that, though, here’s a quick summary of the A380 operators and their fleets. You can click on the airline names in the table to jump directly to more details about that airline’s A380 fleet.

Airline1st DeliveryFleet SizeCapacitySome of the Airports Served
Air France200910516ATL, CDG, JFK, LAX, MEX, PVG
ANA20192520HNL, NRT
Asiana Airlines20146495BKK, FRA, HKG, ICN, JFK, LAX
British Airways201312469HKG, JNB, LAX, LHR, SFO, YVR
China Southern Airlines20115506CAN, LAX, PEK
Emirates2008162Up to 615DXB, GRU, JNB, ICN, JFK, SYD
Etihad Airways201410486AUH, CDG, JFK, LHR, SYD
Hi Fly20181471Varies depending on customer
Korean Air201110407CDG, ICN, JFK, LAX, LHR
Lufthansa201014509FRA, HKG, IAH, JFK, MUC, PVG
Malaysia Airlines20126486JED, MED
Qantas200812484DFW, LAX, MEL, SIN, SYD
Qatar Airways201410517CDG, DOH, FRA, PER, MEL, SYD
Singapore Airlines200719Up to 471FRA, JFK, PVG, SIN, SYD, ZRH
Thai Airways20126507BKK, CDG, KIX, LHR, NRT

 

Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?

If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.

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Air France Airbus A380

Air France introduced the Airbus A380 into its fleet back in 2009 – putting it into commercial service on November 23, 2009, on a flight from Paris CDG and New York JFK. Since then, its A380 fleet has grown to ten aircraft.

While the airline had another two A380s on order, it arranged with Airbus to switch those for the smaller A350 instead. On top of that, it plans to gradually cut its A380 fleet in half with the first aircraft expected to be leaving the fleet later this year.

Air France’s A380s are equipped with 516 seats in four classes. Those include 9 first class seats on the main deck, 80 business and 38 premium economy class seats on the upper deck, and 389 economy class seats spread across the two decks (359 on the main deck and 30 on the upper deck).

Unfortunately, the aircraft features older-generation business and first class seats, and so it is not as comfortable as other wide-bodies in Air France’s fleet. However, the airline plans to reconfigure the five A380s it will keep in its fleet, starting the process late next year.

Currently, the Air France A380 can be flown on flights between its Paris CDG base and the United States (Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco), Mexico (Mexico City), and China (Shanghai).

 

ANA Airbus A380

ANA ordered three A380s in 2016 in what was likely a move to save Skymark Airlines from having to declare bankruptcy. The first two of those were delivered earlier this year – and with that, ANA became the last direct customer of Airbus to introduce the A380 to its fleet. The third one is expected to join the fleet in 2020.

The airline decided to equip its A380s with a total of 520 seats. All of the 383 economy class seats are located on their main deck – and some of them can be turned into couch seats. The upper deck sports 8 first class suites, 56 staggered business class seats, and 73 premium economy seats.

The most interesting thing about ANA’s A380s is the fact that the airline plans to only use them on the Tokyo Narita – Honolulu route. Starting from today (May 24, 2019), the A380 will operate on the route three times a week. That will increase to ten weekly rotations later in July, and even further once ANA receives its final A380.

 

Asiana Airlines Airbus A380

Asiana Airlines was the second of the two major South Korean airlines to introduce the A380 into its fleet. It took delivery of its first two A380s in 2014, of another two in 2015, and of its final two in 2016. As such, the airline operates a fleet of six A380s.

Each of Asiana’s A380s features 495 seats including 12 first class suites on the main deck and 66 staggered business class seats on the upper deck. The remaining 417 economy class seats are spread across both decks with the majority of them being located on the main deck.

Currently, the A380 is the only aircraft type on which Asiana offers first class service (it has first class seats on 747s and 777s but those are assigned to business class passengers). That will change this fall, however, when it plans to rebrand it to “Business Suite” – essentially business class with a better seat.

The Asiana A380 can be caught daily on flights between Seoul Incheon and Frankfurt, Los Angeles, and New York. It also regularly operates to some of the airline’s regional destinations – namely Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Tokyo Narita. First class is not offered on these shorter routes, though.

 

British Airways Airbus A380

British Airways A380

British Airways put the first of its current twelve A380s into service back in 2013. Rather than deploying in on long-haul flights right away, it chose the short London Heathrow – Frankfurt route for its inaugural A380 flight to give its crew members a chance to get familiar with the superjumbo.

While the airline have considered adding extra, second-hand A380s to its fleet, that has not materialized.

British Airways’ A380s are in a four-class configuration and feature a total of 469 seats. Of those, 257 (14 first class, 44 business class, 199 economy class) seats are on the main deck and the remaining 212 (53 business class, 55 premium economy class, 104 economy class) seats are on the smaller upper deck.

All of the British Airways A380s operate out of London Heathrow airport, and its destinations include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, as well as Hong Kong, Singapore, Johannesburg, and Vancouver.

 

China Southern Airlines Airbus A380

China Southern Airlines Airbus A380

China Southern Airlines is, with just five A380s in its fleet, the second smallest A380 operator after ANA. It’s also the only Chinese airline that operates the Airbus jet. The first two of China Southern’s five airframes were delivered at the end of 2011. Another two followed in 2012, and the last one joined its fleet in 2013.

All five of the China Southern A380s are equipped with a total of 506 seats in three classes. The main deck features 8 first class seats and 352 of the aircraft’s 428 economy class seats. On the upper deck, 70 business class seats and the remaining 76 economy class seats can be found.

The China Southern A380s can be caught daily between Guangzhou and Los Angeles. They can also be flown on the domestic Guangzhou – Beijing route multiple times per day.

 

Emirates Airbus A380

Emirates Airbus A380

With more than 100 A380s in its fleet – and another 50 or so on order – Emirates is by far the world’s largest operator of the type. In fact, it operates more than four times as many A380s as the second largest operator, Singapore Airlines.

Emirates’ A380s come in a number of different configurations each of which feature solely economy class on their main deck. The upper deck features first and business class seats on the A380s configured with three classes and business and economy class seats on the two-class aircraft. All Emirates A380s have a bar and lounge on the upper deck, and aircraft equipped with first class are also equipped with showers.

With 615 seats, Emirates’ two-class A380s is the highest-density configuration of the type in service. In fact, just the 557 economy class seats installed on aircraft with this configuration by themselves offer more capacity than any other A380 configuration does in total.

Considering Emirates’ extensive route network and the fact that almost half of its fleet is made up of the A380, it’s no surprise that it is the only airline that flies the A380 to all six inhabited continents. One can fly on the superjumbo between Dubai and:

  • Africa: Casablanca, Johannesburg, etc.
  • Asia: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei, Tokyo Narita, etc.
  • Australia & Oceania: Auckland, Melbourne, Sydney, etc.
  • Europe: Frankfurt, London, Prague, Vienna, etc.
  • North America: Houston, New York, Toronto, Washington, etc.
  • South America: Sao Paulo

Separately from that, it can also be flown on a couple of fifth freedom routes including: Bangkok – Hong Kong, Christchurch – Sydney, and Milan – New York JFK.

 

Etihad Airways Airbus A380

Etihad Airways Airbus A380

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways received its first A380 at the end of 2014, more than half-a-decade after its Dubai-based rival. From that point until mid-2017, it received another nine airframes for a total of ten A380s in its fleet.

Etihad Airways’ A380s can carry up to 486 passengers in four classes. They’re equipped with 405 economy class seats on the main deck, and 70 “Business Studios” and 9 “First Apartments” on the upper deck. In addition to that, each of Etihad’s A380s also features the most luxurious travel class available on scheduled flights today – “The Residence.” It’s a three-room cabin with a bedroom, a living room, and a bathroom with a shower.

The airline was the first to configure its A380s with a single aisle in first class. It is also one of the only two airlines – together with Emirates – to offer showers to first class passenger on its A380s (or on scheduled flights in general).

If you want to fly in “The Residence” (you’ll have to splurge a “bit”) or on an Etihad A380 in general, flights between Abu Dhabi and London, New York, Paris, and Sydney are your main options.

 

Hi Fly Airbus A380

With just one A380 in its fleet at this point, the charter operator Hi Fly from Malta is the smallest operator of the type. It is also the world’s first and so far only operator to acquire a second-hand A380. It got its aircraft from Singapore Airlines back in July 2018.

The most interesting (although understandable considering how expensive reconfiguring an A380 would be) part about Hi Fly’s A380 is the fact that they kept Singapore Airlines’ seats. The airline decided to remove its premium economy class cabin, though, replacing it with economy class instead.

As such, it is currently equipped with 471 seats in what used to be Singapore Airlines’ original three-class configuration of the aircraft. The whole main deck of the aircraft is taken up by 333 economy class seats while the upper deck includes 12 first class suites (with the pairs of those in the middle section combining into double beds), 60 business class seats, and 66 economy class seats.

Since Hi Fly is a charter airline, the aircraft operates on a variety of routes for a variety of other airlines. In the past, it did some flights for Air Austral and Norwegian among others.

 

Korean Air Airbus A380

Korean Air Airbus A380

The South Korean flagship airline, Korean Air, received its first A380 from the manufacturer in mid-2011. It received four more that year, one in 2012, and two in 2013 and 2014 each for a total of ten of the superjumbos.

Korean Air’s A380s come in a three-class configuration seating a total of 407 passengers. Their upper deck is in an all-business-class configuration with 94 seats while the lower deck features 12 first class seats and 301 economy class seats.

The Korean Air A380 can be flown regularly from Seoul Incheon airport to London, Los Angeles, New York, and Paris.

 

Lufthansa Airbus A380

Lufthansa Airbus A380

Lufthansa was the second European airline to introduce the A380 into its fleet after Air France. It took delivery of its first A380 in May 2010, and later on, it went on to receive further thirteen. While currently it operates all 16 of them, earlier this year Lufthansa announced that it has plans to cut its A380 fleet down to just 8 airframes.

The Lufthansa A380s are equipped with 509 seats in four classes. All of the aircraft’s 371 economy class seats are on the main deck, and all of its 8 first and 78 business class seats are on the upper deck. The 52 premium economy class seats are spread across the two decks.

Currently, Lufthansa operates the A380 out of both of its hubs – Frankfurt and Munich – to a selection of destinations in the United States and Asia including:

  • Frankfurt: Delhi, Houston, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore
  • Munich: Beijing, Hong Kong, Los Angeles

 

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380

Malaysia Airlines received the first of its six A380s in 2012, and initially put the type on its flagship route from Kuala Lumpur to London Heathrow. Since then, having gotten into financial difficulties and not being able to utilize the aircraft efficiently, the airline tried selling their A380s off. While that did not materialize, the Malaysia Airlines A380s barely fly these days.

When they do fly, the Malaysia Airlines A380s can carry up to 486 passengers in three classes. Their main deck is equipped with 8 first class seats and 350 out of the 412 economy class seats on the aircraft. The upper decks sports 66 lie-flat business class seats and the remaining 62 economy class seats.

While until recently, the A380 used to operate to Tokyo Narita daily, nowadays it only seems to be connecting Malaysia with Saudi Arabia every now and then. As such, together with the Hi Fly one, it’s the most difficult A380 to fly on at this point.

 

Qantas Airbus A380

Qantas initially ordered twelve A380s in 2001. Then, it topped that order up by another eight airframes in 2006. However, in February 2019 – just before Airbus announced the A380 program’s cancellation – Qantas revealed that it had cancelled the top up order. With that, the airline currently operates the twelve A380s from the original order which were delivered to the airline between 2008 and 2011.

The Qantas A380s are equipped with 14 first and 341 economy class seats on the main deck. On the upper deck they feature 64 business, 35 premium economy, and 30 economy class seats. That brings the capacity of these four-class A380s to a total of 484 passengers.

To fly on the Qantas superjumbo, you can currently fly from the airline’s two hubs to the following destinations:

  • Melbourne: Los Angeles, Singapore
  • Sydney: Dallas, Los Angeles, Singapore

You can also fly it on the fifth freedom part of the “Kangaroo Routes” from Melbourne and Sydney to London – between Singapore and London.

 

Qatar Airways Airbus A380

Qatar Airways introduced the A380 into its fleet in 2014, and between then and 2018, it took delivery of a total of ten A380s. It operates all of these to date. However, like some of the other airlines in this list, it had not found as much success with the type as it had hoped to, and so, it plans to start retiring the type in 2024.

The aircraft feature a total of 517 seats in three classes. The premium cabins – including 8 first class and 48 business class seats – are located on the upper deck while economy class is split between the two decks with vast majority of the seats being on the main deck.

The Qatar Airways A380 can be flown between its hub in Doha and Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Paris, Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney.

 

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380

Having taken delivery of its first A380 all the way back in 2007, Singapore Airlines was the launch customer of the A380. While its the world’s second largest A380 operator after Emirates and its fleet peaked at 24 airframes of the type, currently, Singapore Airlines only operates 19 A380s.

Singapore Airlines operates the A380 in three different four-class configurations with:

  • 441 seats (MD: 12 first class suites, 36 premium economy and 245 economy class seats; UD: 60 business and 88 economy class seats)
  • 379 seats (MD: 12 first class suites, 36 premium economy and 245 economy class seats; UD: 86 business class seats)
  • 471 seats (MD: 44 premium economy and 343 economy class seats; UD: 6 first class suites and 78 business class seats)

It’s worth noting here that the 379-seaters are the least densely configured A380s, and that the 471-seaters which are equipped with Singapore Airlines’ new cabins are – together with Etihad’s aircraft – the only A380s to have a single aisle first class configuration.

Destinations served by the Singapore Airlines A380s out of Singapore include Beijing, Delhi, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Paris, Shanghai, Sydney, Tokyo Narita, Zurich. The aircraft can also be flown on the fifth freedom route between Frankfurt and New York.

 

Thai Airways Airbus A380

Thai Airways operates six A380s. The first of these was delivered to the airline in September 2012, and was introduced on the Bangkok to Singapore and Hong Kong routes the following month. After that, the Thai Airways A380 was put on its first long-haul route, Bangkok – Frankfurt.

The Thai Airways A380s are equipped with a total of 507 seats in three classes. The premium cabins including 12 first and 60 business class seats can be found on the upper deck while the 435 economy class seats are split across the two decks.

You can fly on Thai Airways’ A380s from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport to London, Osaka, Paris, and Tokyo.

 

Summary

Given that the A380 is a relatively new aircraft type, it comes as no surprise that all of the airlines that actually got their A380s delivered are still operating them.

However, with Singapore Airlines getting rid of their first A380s and other airlines planning to reduce their A380 fleets or to get rid of them completely, it will get more and more difficult to get on the A380 over the coming years. Especially so given that there weren’t that many A380s delivered to start with.

Without a doubt, the easiest airline to fly with if you are looking to fly the A380 is Emirates – the types world’s largest operator of the type. Depending on where you live, though, you might have better options such as Air France or Thai Airways.

Have you flown on the A380? If so, on which airline and how did you like it?

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But, I am going to introduce you to a couple of ways you can experiment with to try a business class flight without having to spend thousands of dollars.

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