Magic Bus: The new Emirates Airbus A380


 Every leather seat has a built-in massage system with adjustable speed and intensity. When you want to sleep, the seat can be converted to a fully flat bed with a mattress at the push of a button.

It’s not a bird. Don’t insult it by calling it a plane. The new Emirates Airbus A380 is more like a luxury hotel with wheels, wings, and jet propulsion. After the commercial service launch of the aircraft from Dubai to New York’s JFK airport on August 1, Emirates marked the A380’s debut on the left coast by offering a two-hour familiarization flight between SFO in San Francisco and LAX in Los Angeles. It was a showcase for a flying experience no other aircraft in the sky can match.

With prescience and superior product vision, Emirates was the first to place an order for the mega-airliner, and it has become the largest A380 customer with 58 on order. Emirates is flying the A380 only on its Dubai to JFK route (fully operational since August 8), with the average first class ticket going for $14,635, $9,571 for business, and $1,477 for coach. However, it’s got two more of the behemoths on the way for its Dubai to London and Sydney/Auckland runs. And with $18.8 billion worth of A380s in the pipeline, it will only be a matter of time until Emirates brings them to other U.S. cities in the future.

At the ceremony, Emirates unveiled the spacious and unbelievably luxurious A380 cabin-two full-length decks offering 50 percent more floor surface than any other high capacity aircraft. The seats are broader and 220 windows flood the cabin with natural light. The exceptionally efficient air filters have four high-level air outlets instead of the traditional two, and the cabin air gets refreshed every three minutes. There’s more personal storage, better headroom, and wider stairs. All in all, there’s more space and better air for every passenger to relax on a flight like never before. In fact, when you lean your head back, innovative ceiling mood lighting creates a calming, starry night effect.

The cabin’s configuration features 489 seats (76 business and 399 coach), including 14 first class suites. Interestingly, it’s counter to the growing trend among many U.S.-based and foreign carriers who have completely removed first class altogether from their international flights and only offer business class as their highest level of service. So it’s a move that instantly separates Emirates from the rest of the pack.

Coach takes up the lower deck. The seats are roomy, and the in-flight entertainment system has a ton to offer. There’s in-flight email and SMS, 100 movies on-demand, 50 on-demand television channels, 350 audio channels, and 40 electronic games. Endlessly entertaining options for passengers in all classes come via the live video feeds from three cameras positioned on the exterior of the plane: a view from the top of the tail, a view forward from the nose, and a view straight down.

Yet it’s up on the second level where the Emirates A380 becomes mind-frying-the amount of premium services and on-board amenities is ridonkulous, taking flyers into a whole new dimension of commercial air travel.

Business class seats are semi-private pods that offer lie-flat seats, a large-screen video display, storage space, and a personal beverage station. The pods are very comfortable. They’re almost as swanky as those up front, but you don’t get the showers. Showers? Yes, read on.

See, the real haute living comes in the sanctuary of the first class private suites, each equipped with an electrically operated sliding door, a personal beverage station that is retractable, adjustable ambient lighting, fresh-cut flowers, and its own burlwood and gold-trimmed vanity table, mirror, and wardrobe.

Every leather seat has a built-in massage system with adjustable speed and intensity. When you want to sleep, the seat can be converted to a fully flat bed with a mattress at the push of a button. Lighting that mimics sunrise and sunset helps to keep your internal clock in sync, minimizing jet lag, so you can arrive at your destination relaxed and refreshed. Each suite has a 23-inch, high def flat screen with more than 1,000 on-demand video and audio channels of Emirates’ award winning ice Digital Widescreen entertainment system. The privacy divider separating the adjoining suites in the center row can be lowered, allowing you to share the experience with your travel companion. And when you get hungry, a dine-on-demand meal service allows you to order from an à la carte menu any time you desire. Or call before your flight and choose from one of 23 menus that suit every dietary and religious consideration.

When you want to move around and about, you can unwind in the first class social area. Located at the front of the upper deck, a unique water feature, together with mood lighting, creates a serene ambiance. If you’re hungry, you can gorge on the selection of delicacies that are prepared according to the recipes of leading international chefs. To wash it down, sidle up to the bar-yes, an actual bar replete with bartender-and try some of the finest world-class wines, carefully selected by the Emirates’ sommeliers. Then saunter over to the hopping onboard lounge that seats up to 25 and join business class socializers.

Or, try something completely unique-the shower spas. For the first time in aviation history, you can rub-a-dub it up at 43,000 feet. Found in front of the first class cabin, two exquisitely designed showers allow first classers to arrive revitalized at their destination. Emirates’ signature Timeless Spa products are available, with a choice of two shower kits, Revive or Relax. The showers offer five minutes of water and include a light that goes from green to amber to red, to indicate how much time is left. Available by appointment through your purser, a dedicated shower spa attendant cleans and freshens the private lounge after each usage. It’s really about as decadent as commercial flying can get.

What else would you expect from the largest, most modern, and innovative airliner ever to take to the skies? The formidable bling and razzle-dazzle of the Emirates A380 promises an unrivaled travel experience; higher, farther, faster, better, and, quite simply, more ostentatiously over-the-top, than ever before.