Today I want to talk to you about an iconic aircraft, an aircraft that quite simply makes my heart beat faster because of its majesty, comfort and refinement – the Airbus A380, one of the greatest aircraft ever conceived. And when I think of the words comfort, elegance and luxury, I cannot help but think of Emirates, a company that has made these three adjectives a trademark, a modus operandi that has made it the global standard for those seeking excellence in scheduled air travel.
Airbus A380 and Emirates, the perfect combination for customers who do not merely want to travel from one place to another but who want instead to discover a real sensory experience in-flight, a world defined by comfort, safety and those tiny, imperceptible moments of attention that make a flight an extraordinary and wondrous journey.
The in-flight experience begins on the ground, in the Emirates Lounge at Leonardo da Vinci Airport in Rome-Fiumicino, where you can appreciate the sense of timeless elegance and the dazzling smiles of the staff who are there to look after you. The lounge has generous spaces to work in comfort or simply to relax while you wait for your flight, surrounded by subtle décor chosen with superb attention to detail.
Care and courtesy are the real strengths of the lounge – staff are attentive and always available to meet the needs of even the most demanding customer, while refined palates will always find something to tempt them at the buffet, where professional chefs serve delicious dishes developed through careful, meticulous research.
Luxury and attention to detail combined with a buffet that would make a Michelin-starred kitchen envious play a key role, but the thing that strikes me most about the Emirates Lounge is the relaxed atmosphere that fills this exclusive environment. Were it not for the view of the runway and the majestic Airbus A380 docked at the airbridge, I would think I was at the entrance to a luxury spa.
And there, twenty metres below the lounge where I am sitting, is the A380, a real dream come true.
The Airbus A380 is a four-engine, double-deck airliner capable of carrying 853 people in the charter version or 525 in the standard three-class configuration. It has a length of 72.6 m, a wingspan of 79.75 m, a fuselage diameter of 7.14 m and a height of 24.27 m. The A380 made its first flight on 27 April 2005, redefining standards in its class for comfort, safety and efficiency. It is fitted with GP7200 or RR Trent 900 turbofan engines capable of giving the aircraft a thrust of 70,000 pounds, a range of 15,000 kilometres and a cruising speed of (Mach) 0.85 at an altitude of 43,100 feet.
A couple of interesting facts about this aircraft: it is as long as two blue whales and as tall as five giraffes, and is made up of 4 million parts. Emirates operates a fleet of no less than 116 aircraft (the largest in the world), and of all the airlines it is the one that has best exploited the potential of this giant of the skies by creating customised interiors that are every bit as elegant and well-appointed as those offered by private jets.
“Right! But what do the interiors of Emirates First Class actually look like?”
This is the question I have been asking myself, and which prompted me to ask Emirates for a closer look at this amazing aircraft. It was certainly a very long process and not without obstacles, but in the end, thanks above all to the incredible work of the Italian press office and the ground staff, Emirates decided to give us the chance to board the A380 so we could experience its refined, luxurious interiors.
We walk through the airbridge in awed silence. For those who love flying, the A380 is not just a plane, it is a distilled essence of engineering, technology and passion. The A380 is a dream that flies and we can finally see it up close and touch it ourselves.
We board the plane and make our way to the first floor up a luxurious staircase that seems to take us to paradise, a staircase perfect in every detail, the same carefully and meticulously curated details that I had just enjoyed in the Lounge. This is Emirates First Class, the last word in luxury, comfort and technology, where the senses are simply overwhelmed by so much beauty and sophistication. I immediately appreciate the soft lines of the partitions with their cream and bronze tones that enhance the very elegant yet understated design, the result of careful, thoughtful stylistic choices.
In the cabin there is an HD screen called ice, Emirates’ award-winning in-flight entertainment system, offering over 5,000 channels with the best movies, TV programmes, live TV, podcasts and music, ideal for relaxing during the flight. The ever-present and ever-elegant bedside lamp is displayed on the side of the screen while on top there are two convenient drawers with a notebook and a kit of amenities with several products for travel. The seat is comfortable and enveloping, the result of lengthy, meticulous stylistic and ergonomic analysis, designed to welcome and pamper the passenger throughout the flight. Here it is passenger comfort that counts above everything else.
The minibar at the side of the seat is carefully selected and conveniently positioned, and there is also a display for managing cabin entertainment or requesting assistance from the highly efficient and impeccable on-board personnel. But that’s not all. Emirates First Class has a Shower Spa that allows you to take a thermal hydromassage shower at 40,000 feet: what could be more exclusive?
There is also an on-board lounge accessable by both First and Business Class passengers, with relaxing lighting and elegant, understated finishes where you can enjoy a selection of premium drinks and canapés served by a dedicated barman or ask to sample gourmet dishes in the comfort of your seat.
Exclusive and designed with a total focus on detail, this is Business Class, which features comfortable, spacious seats in a modern design with a 20-inch ice screen and a mini bar, and of course the excellent service offered by Emirates cabin crew.
Emirates recently embarked on an ambitious retrofit programme for its A380s, a programme that envisages interior redesigns in all cabins, including 56 seats in Premium Economy on the main deck and new colour palettes in the carpeting and wall panels. On the upper deck, First and Business Class seats sport Emirates’ latest cream-coloured leather upholstery and lighter-coloured wood trim, similar to the airline’s game changer product. Emirates’ characteristic “Ghaf” tree motif is also featured prominently throughout the interior, including the hand-printed panels in the First Class Shower Spa.
Emirates has the world’s largest fleet of A380s, a fleet capable of offering some of the most exclusive services, thanks to the refined interiors and an almost obsessive attention to the needs of the customer, whether in Economy, Business or First Class. This is a focus that requires the synergistic efforts of hundreds of people, who are invisible to most but who represent the greatest asset of this airline. Passion for one’s work and a complete focus on perfection is what I found in all the environments we passed through during our visit.
The author, the editor in chief Gianluca Vannicelli and all the Aviation Report editorial staff would like to thank the Emirates team, both on the ground and on board, for the very warm welcome they received.