Travellers tend to associate the mighty Airbus A380 with long-haul flights from one corner of the globe to another, but that’s not always the case.
Many airlines run the superjumbo on jaunts lasting just a few hours in order to rake in a little extra revenue from the twin-deck jetliner between its more conventional long-distance flights. After all, with a list price of A$380 million, every extra dollar counts.
Here are the five A380 routes where you almost certainly won’t hear the plaintive plea “Are we there yet?”...
1. Guangzhou-Shanghai (2 hours 20 minutes)
In the same amount of time as it takes to fly between Melbourne and Brisbane, you could be on one of China Southern’s daily superjumbo flights from the airline’s home base in Guangzhou to Shanghai.
China Southern squeezes in this little trip after its A380s return from their journeys to Los Angeles.
2. Bangkok-Hong Kong and Dubai-Jeddah (2 hours 40 minutes)
Emirates and Thai Airways both run a daily superjumbo shuttle service between two of Asia’s busiest and most colourful cities, which have proven popular with business travel and holiday goers alike – even if your stay in the Emirates' first class suite (below) is all too brief.
And with a twice-daily A380 service between Dubai and the Saudi Arabian metropolis of Jeddah, Emirates clearly makes the most of its massive A380 fleet, which is the world’s largest, with 31 superjumbos in the skies and 59 more on order.
3. Guangzhou-Beijing (3 hours 10 minutes)
Another of China Southern’s domestic A380 routes, with two flights each day between Guangzhou and the Chinese capital.
Three hours is barely enough time to enjoy China Southern's spacious Platinum Private Suite first class cabin... but then, it could be argued that any time in the pointy end is time well spent!
4. Sydney-Auckland (3 hours 20 minutes)
This is another short hop for Emirates’ A380, cleverly designed to press the superjumbo into trans-Tasman service during the long layover between when it reaches Sydney on the overnight flight from Dubai and before it makes the return trip. (Emirates also does a daily Melbourne-Auckland A380 service.)
A happy side-effect of this is that it delivers an international-grade experience across the pond, especially if you book on business class – it’s much better than anything Qantas, Virgin Australia or Air New Zealand offers.
We’re talking fully flat beds, a large laptop table with your own AC power socket, a personal minibar plus a business class bar (above) at the back of the upper deck if you want to stretch your legs and socialise.
5. Seoul to Hong Kong (3 hours 40 minutes)
On Korean Air’s daily superjumbo shuttle between Seoul and Hong Kong, there’s still plenty of time to browse the world’s only inflight duty-free store!
Located at the rear of the A380‘s lower deck, this walk-in duty free shop (well, more of a 'showcase' officially, as you can't actually buy the goods directly at the counter) is lined with high-end cosmetics, perfumes and liquor to catch the traveller’s eye and prise open their wallet or purse.
The world's longest Airbus A380 flight..?
If all these quick trips have left you curious as to the world’s longest Airbus A380 flight, that trophy goes to Emirates – its daily superjumbo service between Los Angeles and Dubai lasts for a potentially bum-numbing 16 hours and 20 minutes.
However, if you're counting miles instead of minutes, Qantas takes the trophy. Its QF7 service from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth remains king of the non-stops with a 13,800km trek.
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