Well, the Airbus A380 tour hit Chicago today, and as a committed aviation and space nerd I’m kind of disappointed I wasn’t able to get out to O’Hare to see that big sucker come in.
As much as I’d like to see one of the superjumbos though, I’m not so sure I’m eager to travel in one. Just how much time will boarding and deplaining 555 passengers add to a trip, I wonder. And imagine the thrill of being cooped up with 555 of your closest friends on the tarmac for several hours during a snowstorm, then having to wait another 45 minutes or so to get out when they finally cancel the flight and taxi back to the gate.
Airbus contends that boarding the double-decker will take no longer than boarding existing aircraft, and that given the large number of passengers it will accommodate (potentially more than 800 in some configurations), the A380 would be more efficient than other aircraft.
Okay, imagine, then, the wait as baggage handlers have to go into the hold to identify and remove the luggage of someone who lost their passport between check-in and boarding (an experience I had a couple of years ago in Hong Kong–not the passport losing, but the waiting).
Business Insurance has also written in the past about some of the aviation insurance market issues around assembling capacity for these monsters. It will be interesting to see how that works out. And, given the economics of the U.S. commercial aviation business, it’s not clear whether any U.S. airlines are going to be standing in line to purchase A380s.
Still, despite all the questions, it seems like a pretty impressive bird.