It's now been a decade since Qantas picked up the keys to its first Airbus A380, and eleven years since Singapore Airlines made its inaugural superjumbo flight from Singapore to Sydney.
The sheer size of this airborne behemoth offered plenty of room for airlines to get creative, especially when it came to their highest-paying passengers.
While none fully embraced Airbus' original optimistic visions for the A380, which included first class lounges surrounded by private suites (above), most airlines flying the superjumbo found ways to raise the bar for premium travellers.
The original Singapore Airlines suites were a game-changer: first class passengers now had their own 'room' with sliding doors...
... and the ability to merge two adjacent suites into a shared suite with a double bed.
Ten years on, Singapore Airlines' second-generation A380 suites are even larger and more luxurious.
Emirates followed with similarly-private cabins...
Etihad revealed a spacious Apartment as its first class offering...
... while Qantas and Qatar Airways, among others, opted for a more open suite concept.
Of course, the honour of ‘most extravagant space on a commercial airline’ is undoubtedly held by Etihad’s The Residence – an opulent three-room suite featuring a living room, a bedroom with an actual double bed, and ensuite shower.
For many business travellers, the most important feature of a good airport lounge is the presence of roomy, well-stocked shower suites.
With five minutes of hot running water allocated, taking a shower at 35,000 feet meant hitting the ground refreshed and ready for business.
Lavish inflight lounges and bars
While by no means the exclusive domain of the Airbus A380, the sheer floorspace available made it possible to create sizeable communal areas for drinking and socialising were possible.
... the cosy Lobby nook between the business and first class cabins of Etihad's A380...
... and the snaking lounge of Qatar Airways' superjumbo.
Korean Air managed to fit two lounges into its A380s: the first is towards the A380's nose...
... while at the back of the upper deck you'll find the more salubrious Celestial Bar featuring Absolut vodka cocktails.
Of course, Qantas is set to revamp its 12-strong Airbus A380 fleet with two new lounges, one at either side of the 'grand staircase' between the upper deck business class and lower deck first class cabins.
Even with priority boarding lanes, you can end up wedged in a line if there’s just one or two doors to enter through.
However, most airlines flying the A380 let you step straight into the business class cabin on the upper deck. Emirates even offers direct boarding from the lounge to the plane in Dubai, Brisbane and Perth – an innovative concept that allows you to relax for longer and not have to run for the final call.
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