Each week, we invite respected travel writers and bloggers to share their experiences with the Fly.com subscribers. This week, it is the turn of Johnny Jet who travels around 150,000 miles visiting over 20 countries each year and documents his experiences at JohnnyJet.com. Johnny has been featured over 2,000 times in major publications, including USA Today, Time, Fortune and The New York Times, and he has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, NBC, PBS and recently hosted “Hot Spots 2012” on the Travel Channel.
I think most travelers are fascinated with Airbus’ A380 because it’s the world’s largest commercial aircraft. For some perspective, if you dropped an A380 into a football stadium, the plane would span from one end zone to the other 20-yard-line, and the wings would overstretch the sidelines by 50 feet on each side. Oh, and it’s almost 80 feet tall too – taller than the Patriots offense standing on each other’s shoulders.
Singapore Airlines first took delivery on this monster plane in 2007, but it didn’t find its way to American runways until a year later when Emirates began service to New York from Dubai. Now travelers to and from the U.S. have multiple options from both coasts as Qantas, Emirates, Korean, Lufthansa, Air France also operate the double-decker jet on daily flights.
Just last month Singapore Airlines introduced JFK-Frankfurt-Singapore daily service on the A380 and with that travelers can now circumnavigate the globe not only on the A380 but with one carrier. That’s because in July Singapore Airlines replaced their 747 Singapore-Tokyo-Los Angeles service with the A380 and of course I had to be one of the first persons to experience it.
Growing up going around the world seemed like an impossible journey but after doing it in Singapore’s Business Class it’s as easy as can be. First of all, flight times aren’t that long: JFK to Frankfurt is 6:45; Frankfurt to Singapore 11:25; Singapore to Tokyo exactly six hours and Tokyo to Los Angeles 8:45. Of course, having a Business Class ticket makes it easier than flying thirty minutes in a regional jet.
Here’s how my dream trip went: There was no wait at JFK’s or any of the airport’s check-in. Each premium ticket gains access to the lounge which has plenty of treats (including alcohol), showers, and free Wi-Fi. The plane is so big they have three jetways to board, one for Suites passengers, economy and the last for upstairs which is a combination of both Business Class and economy.
The business class configuration is 1-2-1 which is a beautiful thing as you don’t ever have to jump over your seatmate. Singapore Airlines has the widest seats in the world at 35 inches! You could seriously seat two people in them; in fact, I did see a couple friends doing just that to watch a movie.
As I was flying business class, the “size matters” equation didn’t really come into it, but for the record according to Airbus, “Regardless of how airlines arrange their seats and services, even the economy class will be wider.”
Speaking of movies each seat has a 23-inch video screen with more than 1,000 on-demand entertainment options. There was every kind of TV and movie genre available. I could’ve played video games, made my own music list or learned another language. The only thing it didn’t have that the other A380s do, are live webcams.
Each seat has plenty of storage space and there are little things like a mirror, reading lights, USB ports and a universal electrical outlet so you will never run out of juice. To get some real sleep just pull the lever on the back and flip your seatback to turn it into a wide flat bed. An extra pillow and blanket, as well as a super-long seat belt are magically sitting there. The bed side is definitely the most comfortable side – even for eating, working and watching movies.
Every flight had the same incredible service, not surprising given Singapore Airlines’ 5-star rating from Skytrax. After boarding you are offered a pre-flight drink, then a variety of newspapers, magazines and the menu. Ten minutes after takeoff, the seatbelt sign goes off. Then the beautiful flight attendants come around with hot towels (before and after meals), the drink (which you ordered prior to takeoff) and some warm nuts. Then another attendant places an eye mask and some socks on your seat. Surprisingly, only Suites passengers get a full amenity kit, which features Kiehl’s products. But I later learned that the flight attendants carry ear plugs on them and the always-clean bathroom is stocked with toiletry supplies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors and combs. There’s also L’Occitane perfume, after shave and body lotion.
About an hour after takeoff, the food onslaught began. There’s always a chicken and lamb satay as a prelude then an appetizer, entrée, dessert, fruit and cheese. All flights but Singapore to Tokyo) have two meal services so breakfast is served prior to landing. And if by chance you’re hungry in the middle of the flight there’s snacks available then too.
Before I knew it, my journey across the globe was over. After 7 days, 18,990 miles, 7 meals, a few cocktails and plenty of sleep, I was home again in the States – coming full circle, and just a little bit spoiled after flying one of the best airlines and aircrafts in the world.
The flight was remarkably smooth and quiet, the planes are a lot quieter than the 747 and the food is really good and you don’t go hungry. This experience was a distant galaxy away from Magellan’s expedition of 1519–1522 and had the kind folks at Singapore Airlines not sponsored me I would probably be looking at a ticket worth the wager set by Phileas Fogg’s friends at the Reform Club in “Around the World in 80 Days” by French writer Jules Verne.
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