26th Oct 2007 … a date I will never forget – I flew on the inaugural A380 flight from Sydney to Singapore. This was a charity flight organised by SIA
to celebrate the launch of their new A380 as well as the new Suite product. The charity drive raised more than US$2m for 3 charities worldwide.
I must say that I was very lucky to be offered a seat on this historic journey.
Travelling to Sydney from Singapore was courtesy of Qantas Airways. Airbus A330-303 VH
operating Q72 provided the 4hr 45min journey to my former home, Perth. Spotting, shopping and dinner at Cicerallos in Fremantle was the order of the day. Transportation to Sydney was provided by Boeing 747-438 VH
-EBY operating as QF518 to Sydney. The business class seat on the upper deck was inviting and comfortable, though shuteye was limited to a mere 45 mins. Sydney weather was atrocious on the morning of the 25th. Friends Aaron, Benny and Randall (all NinerVictor admins and Airliners.net photographers btw) offered their services as tour guides and partners in crime during my very short 36 hr stay in Sydney.
Passengers on the SQ380 inaugural flight from Sydney were given some privileges. Apart from a dedicated check-in, drop off points were also cordoned off for the passengers.
A kerbside welcome for all passengers of SQ380.
A seating plan layout was provided along with more images of the SIA
Another welcome to one of the most important events in Sydney this year!
Check-in was a little slow, no doubt due to the large number of passengers who turned up early at 1230 hrs as SIA
advised that check-in would close at 1330 hrs. The early check-in was to facilitate a welcome function that SIA
had put together at gate 57. The nice Asian chap at the check-in counter was very helpful to me. He even remembered my name, and greeted me as I entered the boarding gate later on.
A corner of the terminal at Gate 57 was cordoned off for the SIA
function. Folks from all classes on this flight mingled with champagne and finger food whilst SIA
CEO Chew Choon Seng brought NSW Premier, the Hon. Morris Iemma on a tour of the A380. SIA
Chairman Stephen Lee was also present at the function.
Welcoming passengers onboard SQ380 with a miniature sized cake of the A380.
SALC is presented with a mounted image of 9V
-SKA touching down on her delivery flight to Singapore.
-SKA (also known as the Big Fella
) is waiting patiently at the gate.
A party atmosphere!
ladies posing for pictures before boarding the aircraft.
Unfortunately, an electric storm soon came about and halted all ground work on the aircraft, delaying our departure. The departure time was delayed time and time again, until 1700 when boarding was called. Finally, the moment has arrived.
Sydney’s Gate 57 has 3 aerobridges set up for the A380. Passengers were sorted according to:
- Bridge 1 – Suites
- Bridge 2 – Economy Class (Main Deck)
- Bridge 3 – Business Class and Economy Class (Upper Deck)
Boarding of the aircraft commenced at 1710 hrs. Being on the upper deck, I had the opportunity to walk through the Business class section of the aircraft. Originally, when I saw the photos of the Business class section, I thought the aisles were a tad small. In reality, they are of the same size as in a normal single decked aircraft. Walking through was a breeze, save for the “wows” and suction of breaths when you see the very inviting Business class seats. These seats are similar to those found on the 77W, but wider. In my opinion, a lot more practical than the Suites.
My seat was at the last row, and thankfully I had a window. The actual size of the A380 window is the same as that of a normal 777 aircraft. However, it is very thick, resulting in it appearing to be a lot bigger than it really is. Another thankful item was that the PTV boxes that were previously placed under the seat (as in the A345s) were now incorporated into the seat, so one would not feel as squeezed.
The window of the A380, on the upper deck. The image is slightly
distorted by the fisheye lens.
Window seats on the upper deck also come with a storage bin on the side of the seat, similar to that of the Boeing 747. The storage compartment would fit a standard briefcase or laptop bag easily.
On this charity flight, a matte black laptop bag was placed on every seat that had a passenger. This bag contained the items that SQ
has provided to commemorate the flight. Amongst the ‘goodies’ were an SQ
A380 model as well as a luggage tag commemorating the flight.
The commemorative items provided by SQ
It is interesting to note that the model and the luggage tag were customised for the flight. I understand that SQ
made 4 models to celebrate the A380 – A delivery model, the SIN
flight model, a model for visitors to the A380 in Sydney, as well as this model for the SYD
Some other collectable items on the flight!
A customised version of the KrisWorld magazine was provided.
As everybody settled down in their seats, the cabin crew started their rounds with hot towels. This crew was the same as that which operated the inaugural flight into Sydney, and they recognised a few of the passengers which came up on that flight. The crew on this flight were very relaxed and enjoyed mingling around, chatting with the passengers.
Passengers are loading up their bags into the overhead bins. The Economy class seats on the upper deck are adorned in blue and brown colours. Those found on the lower deck have a different colour.
The PTV system used on the A380 is similar to that found on the 77W. I believe this version of Krisworld is powered by Panasonic. The resolution on the screens were much better, and it did not have the irritating flicked of the Matsushita system. The PTV system is accompanied by an input jack for your laptop or DVD player, USB port as well as an Ethernet port. I’m not sure why there’s an Ethernet port on board, perhaps we may be able to MSN
onboard one way.
Yes, we’re in Sydney alright!
The PTV systems on the 2 seater.
Legroom wise – not too bad! To all those naysayers who didn’t fancy the 32” pitch on this aircraft, its a lot more comfortable than being on a 747! Being 6’ tall, I was pretty comfortable in my seat. When you do recline the seat though, the base of the seat moves forward a tad, making it pretty comfortable with your bum being supported.
Captain Robert Ting came on the PA system to welcome everybody onboard, and introduce the other pilots – DY
A380 Chief Pilot and an Airbus test pilot (Apologies I have forgotten their names). He also gave his thanks to ExxonMobil who donated the jet fuel for the flight both directions.
Push back soon came and went. It seemed so smooth to the passengers, while in fact, pushback was asked for and cancelled twice. On the 3rd push attempt, the ground crew contacted the Tower and informed them that they wanted to push us facing west so that we had an easy taxy to runway 34L.
Audio Recording of SQ380’s pushback clearance
We had the fortunate (some may say unfortunate) pleasure of having the Dreamflight
British Airways Boeing 747-436 to our starboard. I’m sure the crew had a great time watching our aircraft and waited for our taxy. Ground crew lined the apron watching the mammoth beast commence her taxy through exits Yankee, Juliet and directly onto taxiway Alpha for 34L.
Passing the beach was a great experience. Folks at the fence line were waving, taking pictures and admiring Kilo Alpha. I wonder if the crew waved back.
The line up on 34L was smooth, and takeoff power was applied without the holding. Gosh, this aircraft is really quiet on takeoff! At take off thrust, all you hear is quiet sound of air rushing by, no noise or groans whatsoever from the engine. You could hear folks on board saying ‘That’s very quiet.’ Mind you, these are aviation enthusiasts and journalists, they know what they’re talking about.
Our takeoff roll saw us pass a number of Qantas and Virgin Blue aircraft, which were holding on 25 and taxying around. A gentle rotation saw us lift off after passing the Sydney Control Tower. Applause was heard all round. It was a great feeling, being on the big bird as she gently climbed.
Singapore 380, cleared for takeoff!!
I have a video of the takeoff, but I get an error every time I try to load it onto YouTube. If anybody’s willing to host about 80mb of a video for me, please do let me know.
We climbed through the cloudy Sydney evening en route to our cruising altitude of FL340. Step climbs were given en route and we finally cruised at FL400.
Noise wise, this is quieter than an A340, hands down. You can communicate with others at normal talking volume. The engines don’t drown your voice out and you basically forget about the engines after a while.
Once the seat belt signs were turned off, the party really began. Folks started getting up and walking around, discovering the plane. Due to our delayed departure, a lot of passengers drank quite a bit, hence the toilets were all utilised soon after departure!
As I moved about the cabin, I was so reminded of my previous A380 walk around. Then, there weren’t many seats, just test equipment. It’s amazing how some nice interior can make the whole aircraft look so different.
Seats on the Economy class on the main deck are patterned differently.
I had a chance to visit my friend, Mr Sim, as he was seated at Row 31. My gosh, this is a fabulous row especially if you’re a window, engine and leg room space lover like me! Row 31 is a bulk head seat, with a nice window for those seated at 31A and 31K. The window overlooks the leading edge of the wing as well as those 2 huge Rolls Royce engines.
This is the absolutely stunning view from row 31.
Folks were running about all over the cabin, taking pictures and videos and generally having fun. The crew were also pretty relaxed, allowing everybody to go about this business.
Another view of the Economy class on the main deck.
Another bulkhead row – Row 54.
The 2-4-2 configuration of the upper deck Economy seats. The emergency exit row is row 81, and the window seats do NOT have any windows.
Another view of the emergency exit row on the upper deck. The window seats are on row 81, whilst the middle 4 seater is row 80.
The toilet – It has a set of LED
lights which come on slowly when the door is opened, looking very very cool indeed!
Since this is the inaugural flight, passengers received a certificate of flight. Premium passengers received theirs mounted, while Economy class passengers received ours in a plastic clear folder. Each certificate was individually handed to passengers by the cabin crew. Great touch by SIA
Meals were soon served. Being the charity and inaugural flight, our meals were specially catered for. Australian Chef Matthew Moran, winner of “Two Chef’s Hats’” and Singaporean Chef Sam Leong, 3 time winner of the ‘Asian Ethnic Chef’ award, provided the fillings for Economy class. The Australian selection featured Citrus Cured Salmon and Pan-Roasted Beef Steak, while the Asian selection featured Tiger Prawns and Stewed Canton Duck.
I chose the Asian selection and I must admit, I never had such good food onboard an aircraft before. The duck was so tender and the rice so fragrant, I wondered if Chef Sam cooked each serving individually! By far, this is THE best meal I’ve ever had onboard and aircraft, and probably one of the best I’ve ever had.
Chef Sam Leong posing for pictures with a fellow passenger.
Now, if you’re read my previously posting, I’ve mentioned a Coke Cannon salute. Well, this is what happened. I sat down with Mr Sim at row 31 to have dinner. As it happened, dinner was served from the front rows. Just as I was consuming my heavenly roasted duck, the trolley hit the edge of my seat, and coke can from the trolley fell onto the floor. It hit the floor, burst and rebounded. Lucky me, I caught the rebound, as well as quite a bit of Coke! I was amazed – I’d never knew Coke could shoot from the can right up onto the ceiling of the A380! Mr Sim was also wondering what happened as he felt ‘raindrops’. A very funny incident nevertheless, and the SQ
cabin crew responded marvellously! Within seconds, there were 5 crew members surrounding me, apologising and passing paper towels and wet ones. The mess was cleared quickly and I was the butt of the joke afterwards, even the folks from the Malaysian press seated behind at Row 32 were laughing and making fun of me. Very hilarious!
Also on board today, we had fellow NinerVictor forum member and Airliners.net member, MadamConcorde, who was celebrating her birthday! Not withstanding, SQ
did have a small celebration for the lady.
Marie, aka MadamConcorde, posing for pictures after receiving a birthday card and cake from SIA
Guess who sat down to have cake desert with our lovely lady!
Another thing noticed about the A380 – It’s pretty slow! We hardly broke 900kmh, and that’s with a 50kmh tailwind. Perhaps the information on FlightPath could be a little out of sync, just like the altitude readout, which was at 39917ft.
All too soon, it was time for the descent into Singapore. Captain Ting came back on the PA system to inform us of our planned approach into Singapore, as well as the fact that we will be the first passengers to experience an A380 autoland. Wow! What a feeling! I’m sure the crew would have done one in Sydney too if only Sydney was equipped with CAT 3 ILS.
As we were positioning ourselves for a 20C ILS approach, I noticed that on this plane, you cant feel the aircraft banking. Flight Path is showing the aircraft turning from downwind, to base, to final but you just don’t feel it doing the banks unless you look outside. Awesome!
The flight was smooth up to this point and it got even smoother after that. Unlike the 777, where the cabin rattles and shakes when the flaps and gears are fully lowered, the A380 hardly missed a beat. No fuss, no unruly wake up calls, no frightening sounds, nothing – ZILCH. Being on the upper deck, you cant even hear the flaps or gears lowering. You are really disconnected from the flight.
Touchdown was a greaser. It really was. I’ve been on a Boeing 777 that auto-landed once and it was no where as smooth or as non-eventful as this one. Everybody showed their appreciation for the smooth landing by applauding the computers.
A slow taxy on EP
and we were soon docked at F31, the same gate where SQ380 departed the day before. The viewing deck of T2
was full of enthusiasts, waiting to catch a glimpse of the big jet as she came into dock.
All the aerobridges (Believe its 3??) were used to unload the passengers this time round. A Malay percussion crew welcomed the passengers to Singapore and SIA
management were on hand to greet the passengers.
Immigration and customs was quick as per Singapore’s standards. However, baggage seemed to take forever to come out. It was a good 15 minute wait, surveying all the Priority tagged bags, before my 3 bags came into sight.
With this, my inaugural A380 charity flight has come to an end. Today’s Straits Times had an editorial about the luxuries onboard A380 and how useless they are. In a way, perhaps the Suites are for novelty or those very rich folks who really want their privacy. Business class would be the way to go for me. I find it a lot more comfortable and at least I’ll be in touch with my fellow passengers. Then again, I’m not rich and I’ll probably never find the need for privacy too! That said, the tagline used for the Singapore Airlines A380, “Experience travel in a new light”, is something nobody should ever doubt.
Thanks for reading.
[Edited 2007-10-27 12:14:59]