Hello & welcome!
This report will feature a trip I took on Sunday, July 25th from Paris/Charles De Gaulle (CDG) to London Heathrow (LHR) and back with Air France’s A380. Ever since the much talked about crew training flights Air France is doing this summer between CDG and LHR with their A380’s, I decided I had to get myself on one of those flights to experience this wonderful piece of aircraft engineering. And so a booking for Sat, July 24th was made about 2 months in advance, securing myself the cheapest available ticket: € 79 return; taxes included. A bargain I must say! Alas, it was literally seconds after I checked in online the day before I got a call on my cellphone from Air France customer service informing me that the A380 would not be doing the flight to LHR… We were proposed to rebook to another date/flight or to apply for a refund. Bummer… After some phone calls back & forth with Air France call centre in Belgium, I got myself rebooked at no extra cost on the Sunday flight; ie one day later. I was really happy with that and got my fingers crossed that everything would work out fine. And so it did…
That morning, an early wake up call for me at 4h30… I arrived at CDG at 8h after a long drive from home, parked the car and took a long walk to terminal 2E. The flight was to depart from gate E53, one of the newly built A380 gates at CDG.
FIDS; already a half hour delay is announced
Security was quickly cleared, the staff was friendly and courteous. The airside of terminal 2E is very spacious and airy and at the very end of the terminal you have a great runway view with a lot of traffic coming and going. But that was not the most important thing at first! Where is the A380??
Ah, here she is, being serviced inbound from JFK
Engine close up
TV monitors at the gate with lots of info; even a seat map on display
Since boarding time was still an hour away, I walked around and did some spotting.
A340 at the adjacent gate, going to Seattle
Skyteam bird to Mexico City
Another set of tails, mostly Air France
Air Austral 777 to ? entering the taxiway on its way for takeoff
A321 being marshalled into the gate
T7 riding along
BA 763 inbound, presumably from LHR
Air France has quite some T7’s, this one on tow to the gate
B747 about to leave for MIA
By now it was time to get back to the gate as boarding would start within minutes. The gate area was packed and lots of people with cameras were shooting away, including me.
The layout of the cabin on display, I was seated on the upper deck.
In full display, almost ready to go!
Load factor: nearly full
Boarding was called and the ground staff made clear announcements so everyone knew where to queue. I believe good organisation is a must when dealing with this big amount of people. Within minutes we were on our way.
A lot of jetbridges to guide everyone in
1 out of 4
Arriving at the front door of the upper deck, the crew was very welcoming
Passing through the ‘Affaires’ cabin to reach the ‘Voyageur’ cabin
The ‘Voyageur’ cabin aka Economy
Seats were comfortable with winged headreasts and of course equipped with PTV. Legroom was good, even for longhaul flights it seems.
The safety card, enough emergency exits to choose from
The inflight map
Since I was seated in a middle section (I had to give up my window seat at the boarding gate due to it being reserved by other passengers…:-( ), I made good use of the entertainment system, mostly the maps and camera.
On our way to the active runway
Crew conducting the safety procedure which was also displayed at the in-seat monitors
About to turn right
Guess which runway we used?
Starting to roll
And lift off!
Take off was very smooth and gentle, by now it became very evident how quiet the cabin is.
We cruised at 24000 feet for about 5 mins en then descent already started. The crew conducted a drink service , very fast, friendly and professional. They managed to serve everyone a drink, a biscuit and collected the rubbish in about 20 mins time; impressive! Now that is what I call crew training. I didn’t get out of my seat and walk around to not bother the crew in their duties.
Over the Channel
Of course we were put in a holding pattern on approach to LHR
Breaking through the clouds, the camera got real wet
Runway visible in the distance
The most annoying moment: everyone wanting to get off first…
We docked in a gate at terminal 4, but apparently the airbridge for the upperdeck was out of order so we had to leave via the stairs and the lower deck.
On the way out
And a last quick look out of the window
‘Classe Affaires’: seems comfortable
Here she is, parked at gate 6, terminal 4
After we disembarked, I went through security again and 5 mins later I was back at gate 6, but now from the ‘departing’ side. The first impression of terminal 4 was not good: oldfashioned & outdated. All SKYTEAM members are apparently teamed up in this terminal to ease connections.
View from the gate: Air Mauritius, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific & Qantas
Since the incoming flight was delayed, the flight back was also delayed by about half an hour. Eventually, boarding was announced bu the ground staff messed up the whole process, I will not go into detail but apparently they still need more ‘crew training’ than their colleagues at CDG…
Load factor: nearly full
Entering via the front lower deck door
We were again seated at the upperdeck, at the window this time!
Some thing at the galley
Seat 87A, hi neighbours!
During pushback this guy was at the edge of the wing, giving indications to the tug driver. Gives you an idea how massive this plane indeed is!
Some other traffic
Exotic visitor from the Seychelles, this one stops on it’s way af FCO. Maybe next time?
I like the A340-600 series, despite them being not a big success…
Virgin Atlantic assembly
Sister A380 EK parked
On the way to the active runway. On this pic you can see the actual runway in use in front of us, with a large waiting line at the other side. Take off started from the far right end so I figured we had to cross the runway and get in line. We waited some 15 mins, then started taxiing and turned immediately to the left and on the runway and went for a rolling takeoff. Impressive!!
Turning left on the active, not using the whole length
And here we go
Turning left, is that a polo game?
LHR in the distance
Cruising at 23000 feet
Then the same procedure as the inbound flight followed: 5 mins of cruise followed by descent and a quick drink/snack/rubbish tour performed by the crew
I believe this LGW
By bye UK
Flaps out on finals
And a very hard touchdown on French soil!
Flaps and airbrakes deployed
Leaving the runway
Leaving the runway looking out the window
Etihad and XL parked
Also here an A380 is used by EK
And another collection of AF tails
Arriving at the A380 gates
Airbridges ready to dock at our arrival gate
Everybody needs good neighbours
No doubt about the flown type!
Bagage claim at CDG, terminal 2E
And so my A380 experience came to an end. And what an experience it was. Is it a beauty or a beast? It is for sure a masterpiece of engineering and a joy to fly on! Thanks Air France for making this experience possible for us enthusiasts.
Thanks for reading & watching.