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The Customization of the Airbus A380
It used to be when an airline ordered a new airplane; the options were somewhat limited. They would simply get an airliner with a few first class seats and the remaining seats would be coach. Today, with the growing popularity of business class over first class and technical innovations, airlines are customizing their fleets to fit their passenger’s needs.
The Airbus A380 is one such airliner that has the capacity to carry over 500 passengers with room to spare. Customers of the double deck jumbo jets design their interiors from the ground up from unique seating configurations for business class cabins to including on board duty free shopping. Currently, there are nine carriers that operate the A380, so which airline’s A380 has what?
Emirates Airlines has the largest fleet of A380s. They also have more than just one seating configurations on many of the aircraft. As most of the A380 operators, the lower decks of the airliners are standardly reserved for economy seating, leaving the entire upper deck to be dedicated to first and business class. For long routes, the airline flies one configuration that includes a crew rest area in the aft section of the lower deck, behind economy class. On the shorter routes they use a configuration without the crew rest on the lower deck, allowing for additional economy seating.
China Southern, which was China’s first A380 customer, utilizes a three class layout which includes eight first class seats, 70 business class and 428 seats in economy. Like many of their other counterparts, the upper class cabins are located on the upper deck of the airliner.
Malaysia Airlines, China’s other A380 carrier took delivery of their first A380 this past spring. The carrier also uses a three class configuration. On the lower deck the airline has 8 first class and 350 economy seats. The upper deck has 66 fully flat reclining seats for business class and 70 economy seats.
Recently Thai Airways became the ninth airline to operate the massive jumboliner in September. The airliner has 507 seats. The upper deck is equipped with 12 first class and 60 business class. Both classes have fully flat reclining seats. The lower deck has 435 economy seats. Every seat features seat back monitors, individual power sources, wi-fi internet and mobile phone access.
Korean Air became the first of the A380 customers to make the upper deck all business class with a total of 94 sleeper seats laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration. The upper deck also has a bar and lounge section. The airline also offers an in-flight duty free store. The lower deck has 12 first class seats and 301 economy seats. Korean Air currently has the lowest number of seats for an A380 with 407 total.
Korean Air isn’t the first airline to dedicate a space to something other than passenger seating. Emirates is equipped with showers in their first class cabin. Australia’s Qantas has a lounge area reminiscent of the early 1970’s 747 retro lounges. The lounge is for their premium passengers. The A380s in the Air France fleet have digital lounges on the upper decks and Singapore Airlines offers a double bed feature in first class.
British Airways, which has yet to take delivery of their first A380 plans to have 12 first class seats on the main deck which will be followed by 44 of their Club World seats configured in a 2-4-2 layout and the remaining space will have 199 World Traveler seats in a 3-4-3 configuration. The upper deck layout will feature an additional 53 World Club seating in a newer 2-3-2 configuration which will be followed by 55 World Traveler Plus seating in the 2-3-2 layout. The remaining upper deck space will be occupied by 104 World Traveler seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.
More and more airlines are placing orders for the massive airliner. Future customers include, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad Airways, Qatar, Asiana and Skymark Airlines. Their future layouts will go wherever the imagination and demand take them so stay tuned.