The world

By Kinny Cheng, December 24 2013

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.

Photo gallery: inside Korean Air's Airbus A380 superjumbo

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.

Also read:  Airbus delivers the 100th A380: a very short history of a very big airplane

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Kinny

An aviation enthusiast with his eye on the passenger experience space, Kinny is an avid air traveller and photographer who also loves dining at packed eateries and squeezing into crowded computer/phone malls.

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

Interesting ... Checking quickly I found that you can flying F from HKG to BKK return for ~A$1000 on EK384/385, could be a cheap way to experience the suites, albeit for a very short time.

Any idea if this route will be codeshared with Qantas?? if so i would definitely consider trying out!

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

If it is going to be codeshared with QF you are likely to be paying double the costs to have a QF flightnumber attached to your booking!

spinoza, how does HKG/BKK $/mile compare against SYD/DXB or HKG/DXB?

I suspect you derive more value (i.e. lower $/mile) on those longer sectors, not to mention more elite qualifying miles/status credits.

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

HKG/BKK ~$1000, 2000 miles, SC180 

HKG/DXB ~$6000, 7200 miles, SC360

So it seems like BKK is better on those metrics. The reason is I think the HKG/BKK is priced as though it is on a regional short haul plane (which is what its competing with).

However those SC's are all theoretical because I don't know if they are code shared with Qantas.. But I'm guessing not

KG
KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

Correct on the SC, if you book an EK flightnumber you will not receive SC when crediting the flight to QFF.

Yes of course! You just reminded me. EK undercut like hell on their 5th freedom routes. MEL/SIN and MEL/KUL are peanuts compared to SQ,MH and QF fares on thoes sectors

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 213

Just did QF94 last week, it really doesn't feel that long! I've had flights to Perth which feel like an enternity compared

05 Jun 2011

Total posts 38

Re EK SYD-AKL "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... with fully flat beds, a large laptop table with your own AC power socket..."

Really? Remember that NZ also flies Int'll spec aircraft on these routes aswell as the all Y 320's. While NZ J lacks 'bars', Many would argue that Business Premier on the 77W is better than EK's set up.....

AlG
AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

Skyhawk, I don't think Air New Zealand regularly flies its 777-300ER across the pond. It might run on weekends but I have done quite a few Melbourne-Auckland trips with Air NZ on weekdays and never seen this option. And don't the A320s use regular economy seats but with the middle seat free?

05 Sep 2011

Total posts 66

NZ’s 300ER variants are regularly used on the Auckland to Brisbane hop, and occasionally on the Auckland to Melbourne flights. The new ‘business premier’ certainly beats the business seats on Emirates 300ERs used for AKL – BNE.

And yes, NZ’s A320s use a Euro-business style layout, middle seat free with a little extra leg room on-board and business class check-in and lounges on the ground… but otherwise very much an economy experience. Definitely worth looking for the 777 flights instead.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

For the price of Air New Zealand Business Premiere you could fly Emirates First (I just flew EK A380 F for $2K MEL-AKL rtn, and even at the higher $2.6K fare, you still have to factor in free limo rides). 

Having flown both AirNZ Business Premiere and Emirates First (on 777 and A380) on this sector, you'd have to give Emirates the gong on bang for buck - by a considerable mile (nothing wrong with Business Premiere, but not equal to Emirates F offering). 

BA are currently running the 380 on LHR-FRA (90 mins) to train crews prior to starting LHR-LAX with the beast on 24 September. Apparently when they put the 380 on that run, it's the 06:45 departure from LHR.

05 Sep 2011

Total posts 66

From December the longest A380 flight will become Emirates DXB - LAX flight. 

am
am

15 Apr 2011

Total posts 586

You need to do some updating to this list!

CAN-PVG hasn't had an A380 for months, which would mean that either SIN or KUL-HKG would join the end of the list (each being around 3hr 50min).

EK has also added an A380 from BNE to AKL.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1380

Not sure why QF7 is mentioned, given it isnt flown by an A380

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 213

QF A380 doesn't fly to Dallas, only B747-400ER

Etihad

23 Jan 2013

Total posts 175

Just completed the AKL-SYD Emirates flight. It ended up being 2 h 57 m - time really flew. Still, there was time to have a three course meal, plenty of champagne / scotch, a shower and time conversing in the bar at the back. 

A fantastic flight. The showers and the bar are definitely draw cards, especially being useful if it was a longer flight. 

Will definitely fly EM A380 F again, perhaps to NYC next year. However, the F suite on Etihad is much classier. Hopefully they will copy the lounge / spa features on their A380s. A massage room would be nice too! 

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

Apparently there's no airline that wants to trade off economy/business seats for a swimming pool or Turkish baths for F & J...

Etihad

23 Jan 2013

Total posts 175

I've heard rumours about a massage room on a future A380 for F passengers. Hopefully it happens. 

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 140

How nice for Sydney, Melbourne and the heavily over-privileged Auckland.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2014

Total posts 19

Shortest Commercial A380 flight was 8 minutes.   Ontario California to LAX.   FULL plane.   In February 2015.   Qantas Flight 11 was diverted there due to fog and then after 2 hours flew back to LAX

I think the trophy comes back to Qantas. Qantas also has the longest flying time on the A380 from Dallas DFW to Sydney, a whopping 16hours and 55mins!


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