You always remember your first time and my Thai A380 first flight will not be forgotten anytime soon. The A380 is a massive, double decker plane and quite impressive from the outside. With my Australia RTW Star Alliance redemption, I purposely planned a long 18 hour layover in Bangkok from Melbourne in order to fly the plane to Paris for Thanksgiving. The fact that I could find a business class (Royal Silk) award seat on the A380 was such a thrill. The fact that I didn’t know what to expect made each facet of the experience pretty exciting even after 1 a.m., when the delayed flight would depart.
The Thai lounge was packed, I had to do a few walk-bys to find an open seat. Finding a seat with an outlet was a bonus. The lounge provided a small selection of food, fruit and drinks. A great amenity offered in the lounge is the free Thai massage but I didn’t take advantage of this or investigate further as I spent part of my day in the hotel spa during the layover.
How big is that gate?
Walking through the airport after midnight in a sleepy state, I approached the end of the shops to stand in awe and stare at the gates ahead. In front of me was this massive glass hall unlike anything I’ve seen before and I stood multiple stories above the departure gate. A big plane needs a big gate. Walking down the ramp to the gate, I didn’t quite see or feel over 500 people for the flight and was happy to find a seat to wait. Of course, once the boarding was announced, all of a sudden the people appeared and there was the normal crowds at the gates. Boarding the plane felt no different to me as the ramp led the upper deck folks right to that level.
The second level had first, business and a small coach section in back. With each business class seat, there is aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration (there are 60 seats across two sections). My seat was in row 27, the last row in the second section (a private area of three rows – 12 seats). I had chosen this seat as it was close enough to the bathroom but far away from the noise/light/disruption. While many people don’t like the last row as you may not get a food choice or be served last for drinks, I was fine with it as it was really private. The color purple, the wooden accents on the floors and throughout with the subtle lighting onboard made me feel relaxed and comfortable – a whole new experience on a plane!
My seat was it’s own contained little universe with windows on the world. Thai provided the standard blanket, noise canceling headsets, pillow and amenity kit when I arrived. Like a little kid, I started playing with buttons, switches, looking through the magazine and the safety card for the A380. There is a deep window storage compartment (I’m sure a laptop would fit) which I loved as it was able to hold my purse, Bose headsets, book/magazines, banana, etc. The seat converted to full flat with a small enclosed space for my feet.
I had high hopes that the A380 would have an awesome toiletry kit. In reality, the case was designed by Porsche and filled with standard amenities, nothing fancy in my opinion.
Drink, Eat, Sleep, Video, Repeat
It was a long flight to Paris (about 12 hours) and with the delay departing after 1am, I should have gone to sleep immediately but I was too excited to experience everything I could onboard, knowing that it might be a long time before I fly the A380 again.
The cabin crew was all business, I tried to initiate small talk but they were not that responsive – just focused on the task on hand which was a good thing. So I kept with the program, ordered drinks, accepted my food tray, hot towel and then repeated this throughout the flight in between quick naps and movies. I skipped my “special meal” as it was fish and opted for the Thai signature dish of chicken curry “massaman” (with peanuts), steamed thai hom mali rice and sauteed snow peas with garlic. I skipped the cheese but enjoyed the fruit plate and kept the orchid at my seat for the rest of the flight (every seat/flight should have fresh flowers to add some color and smiles).
After the takeoff, which felt like we floated up, and as long as my eyes could stay open, I laid my head on the window and stared out at the stars – so many stars in the sky. Stars to wish upon, stars to let me dream, stars that made me feel so small in the world. At one point, I had my nose pressed to the window trying to get closer to it all. It was a bit weird to look down and see blackness but that made the stars shine brighter. I was able to make out the Big Dipper and then realized my ignorance at the other constellations (need to research more astronomy instead of astrology). It really was magic for a city dweller like me who rarely sees the stars.
The A380 was a great plane to experience. It felt like magic for me from the beginning to the end – my private oasis in the sky full of stars taking me to the City of Lights, Paris to make new memories of firsts.