The Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, took to the skies on its maiden flight Wednesday. It is an immense plane flying through a sea of hype.
Each time I’ve seen a TV package or read an article about this plane there was always the mention of its ability to fly with a gym or casino or shops or something other than 800 of your closest friends, all with their knees pressed firmly up against their chests.
It’s true. This plane can bring these incredible amenities to the sky. It won’t happen, but it’s true.
I remember American Airlines first transcontinental flight of a Boeing 747 in 1970. There, in the piano bar, was Frank Sinatra, Jr. entertaining. Hey, you can have a lounge in a 747!
MGM Grand Air flew jets with private compartments and movie star treatment between LAX and JFK. Here’s a page showing what they offered. It’s similar to the Airbus claims. Of course MGM Grand Air went out of business years ago..
When was the last time you hopped aboard a plane and found a lounge act or a private sitting room? Hell, when was the last time you hopped aboard and found food?
Any plane can be outfitted any way. There are 737s equipped for private transportation. The one pictured on the left looks pretty comfy. Wave some cash at Boeing or Airbus or any airplane manufacturer and the world is your oyster.
Unfortunately in the real world, air travel is a commodity. People shop by price and the price of flying in an airplane filled with anything other than seats is out of the question for most of us.
Last weekend at the wedding in Atlanta, I met people who traveled from Connecticut to Atlanta via Detroit! Delta has non-stops, but Northwest via DTW was a lot cheaper¹. Price wins.
I’m not sure why Airbus has gone to such great lengths to tout a level of service few, if any, of us will ever see. Maybe it’s because they don’t want us talking about how long it will take to get on and off the A380 with 800 of your closest friends? Who wants to think about how much time it will take before 800 sets of baggage hit the carousel?
Air service is not returning to the suit and tie days of the 50s, 60s and 70s. This is going to end up a huge cattle car in the sky. Just pray it’s efficient enough to allow fares to stay as low as they are.
¹ – I find it curious that Northwest can undercut Delta’s non-stop price considering the costs involved in flying extra miles, additional crew and aircraft time plus the expense of transferring passengers and their baggage.