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10 things about Singapore Airlines A380 at SFO (Photos)

 

Here’s a slideshow of the The BAT’s private tour of a Singapore Airlines A380 parked at SFO. Enjoy!

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Signs and banners all over the airport announcing the A380
Winner David Zippin and friends go through security
Checking in at the SilverKris lounge
The lounge offers a nice spread for business and first class passengers
Winner David Zippin and our guide Paul Ng, Singapore Airlines VP
Economy class boards downstairs, business and first upstairs
Singapore Air calls its first class seats "Suites"
Boarding the plane before the crew arrives
Upon entering, the first thing you see is a graceful staircase to the upper deck
First class (Suites) are downstairs, business class is up
Here's what a first class suite looks like from above
That's seat 1A-- a first class suite. Note the "murphy bed" panel behind the seat
BAT editor Chris McGinnis snuggles into a suite for a moment
Zippin checks out the side-by-side suites in the middle
View from the back of the 12-suite section
A suite for the pilots! Private rest area is located adjacent to cockpit.
Upstairs in the 60-seat business class section
34" wide biz class seats softened by two pillows. See the nice window bins?
Paul Ng demonstrates the murphy bed
Making up the bed for a nice nap!
Cuddle down cozy!
Zippin gives the bed a try
Zippin is 6'3" tall
Feet fit into a little nook. (Nice socks!)
Kicking back
He likes it!
Check out the size of that wing!
Secret spiral staircase at the back of the plane.
This is the lower deck coach section
Coach configuration is 3-4-3
An endless supply of inflight entertainment on a large screen
Knee room in coach
Secret locked door to crew rest area
Looking up from the "basement"
Plush, quiet quarters for the crew
There are eight berths in the crew rest area
BAT contest winner David Zippin on a private tour of Singapore Airlines' A380

 

While the double-decker Airbus A380 has been plying the skies around the world for five years now, it’s still a sight to see it take off or land at SFO. While you may have seen one of these big birds from the outside…only a few have been able to see what they look like on the inside.

Last week, lucky BAT contest winner David Zippin got one of those prized close-up looks when he took a private tour of a Singapore Airlines’ A380 parked at SFO. The BAT chose Zippin randomly from the hundreds of readers who helped us attract nearly 300 new subscribers in a word-of-mouth contest late last year.

BAT contest winner David Zippin on a private tour of Singapore Airlines' A380

BAT contest winner David Zippin on a private tour of Singapore Airlines’ A380

Thanks to all of you who helped turn your friends and colleagues on to The BAT! As a result, we are growing like gangbusters! And thanks to Singapore Air and other BAT sponsors- their support keeps The BAT free (and in this case, very interesting) for readers.

Now, back to that tour… BAT editor Chris McGinnis accompanied Singapore Airlines VP Paul Ng along with Zippin and three of his friends to see the plane. Here are nine interesting things we learned about Singapore’s A380 service at SFO along the way:

1-SEXY: Singapore Airlines (SIA) has a super-sexy flight number on its SFO>HKG>SIN run: SQ1, which departs SFO at 10:50 pm for Hong Kong and Singapore. SQ2 arrives back in SFO at around 8:30 pm. Ng told us that the SFO flights bear those numbers because San Francisco was Singapore Air’s first US destination 33 years ago.

2-BEST BUSINESS CLASS: There are 60 business class seats on the A380—and they are so wide (34 inches) that SIA has added a pillow and a cushion to cozy the expanse up a bit. Upstairs window seats have special storage bins. (See slideshow above.) The business class cabin in split into two sections- the section closest to the front is smaller, more intimate and likely more quiet. Business class fares on Singapore for mid-March flights run from $4,000 to $6,000.

3-BEST COACH SEATS: There are 88 coach seats at the rear of the upper deck (which are considered the best coach seats—windows in this section have the same special seat-side bins as in business class.) Upstairs, coach is configured 2-4-2 vs 3-4-3 on main deck. Due to the curvature of the fuselage, coach seats downstairs on the main deck don’t have the bins. Round trip coach fares on Singapore Air currently run around $1,200.

4-FIRST CLASS SUITES: Downstairs, there are 12 “Suites” in the first class section at the front, and then 311 coach seats in the back.  Each plush, rich leather, first class seat is enclosed in a private shell, with a sliding door to the aisle. Sleeping mattresses are 4″ thick. A seat in a first class suite to Hong Kong or Singapore runs about $12,000-$14,000 round trip. Ng said that the two pairs of adjoining suites (non-window) with collapsible walls between them are usually the first seats to sell out. (Think about that, all you Valentines Day romantics!)

5-MURPHY BEDS. Unlike other airlines, Singapore seats in both business and first class fold over, and then down, so you sleep on a separate mattress thick mattress, a different surface that what you sit on. See the slide show above for a demonstration. (On most other airlines, first and business seats recline to a flat bed-like surface for sleeping.)

6-THREE LEVELS. There’s a basement on this bird! Behind a combination-locked door in the middle of the main deck, there’s a steep staircase down to a crew rest area. The space consists of 12 bunks—with entertainment systems, mirrors and noise deadening privacy curtains. It’s a bit claustrophobic down there, but those nice flat beds look cozier than the first class suites upstairs. (Several shots of this in the slideshow above)

7-BIG BIRD.  The top of the tail of the A380 stands eight stories off the ground. According to Ng, one wing could keep a group of 2,000 people dry in the rain. We were skeptical about that claim until we peered out the window at the massive wing.

8-TWO VERSIONS: Singapore Airlines flies two different configurations of the A380. Version 1 is configured with both business and coach seats on the upper deck. Version 2 is all-business-all-the-time (86 seats) upstairs; first and coach are on the main deck.  Both versions have a grand wide staircase in the front, and a smaller curves staircase in the back.

9-SINGAPORE GIRLS. A small army of 22 flight attendants (Singapore girls and boys) staffs the flight, which takes about 13 hours to reach Hong Kong… then 3-4 hours more to Singapore. The flight departs SFO at 10:50 pm, crosses the International Date Line and then arrives in Singapore at noon—two days later. (So if you leave on a Sunday night, you get there in time for lunch on Tuesday.)

10-SAD TO SEE IT GO. Singapore Airlines’ A380 is currently scheduled for what the carrier is calling “popup” service at SFO—it started on Dec 28 and will revert back to a Boeing 777 service on March 24. But there’s hope: Ng says that the airline is always evaluating where to deploy its fleet of A380s, and it could come back.

 

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Singapore Airlines giant Airbus A380 arrives at SFO

Singapore Airlines’ giant Airbus A380-800 on a rainy Friday night at SFO preparing to depart for a midnight departure for Hong Kong (Photo: SFO)

Last  Friday (Dec 28), a giant double-decker Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 arrived at San Francisco International from Hong Kong at 7:10pm, marking the first A380 flights between SFO and Asia. (SFO has seen A380s from Lufthansa and Air France previously.) Singapore Airlines is offering this “pop-up” service on the San Francisco>Hong Kong>Singapore route between now and March 24 only- and will switch back to standard Boeing 777 service after that.)

To mark the occasion, Singapore held a reception at the gate for its flight SQ 1, departing at 11:48pm for Hong Kong and then continuing on to Singapore.  There were 438 passengers on the departing flight, with eight in the jumbo’s well-known luxury suites (first class); 45 in business class, and 385 in economy class.

The big bird departs from gate 101 at SFO’s international terminal- specially designed to accommodate passengers entering the upper and lower levels. When boarding, economy class passengers take an escalator down to the lower level for boarding. Business and first class passengers board from the terminal’s main level via a third jetway connected to the plane’s upper deck. (See photo)

Unlike other carriers, Singapore’s seat configuration on the A380-800 has its 12 first class suites at the front end of the lower deck, with 311 economy class seats behind. Upstairs, there are 60 business class seats in the front end of the deck,  then 88 economy class seats behind that. (Here’s a link to the configuration.) There are staircases at both the front and the rear of the aircraft.

**Would you be interested in a private tour of Singapore Airlines’ giant Airbus A380 double-decker? Click here for details! **

One of three jetways help speed boarding the giant aircraft which carried 438 passengers on its first flight from SFO. (Photo: SFO)

Have you signed up to get The BAT via email? If not, why not? Hope to it! Your Email in the subscription box to the right- PRONTO! or click here…

Passengers onboard Singapore’s first A380 flight from SFO saw special signage at check in and were treated to a special reception at the gate. (Photo: SFO)

 

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SFO spent millions to accomodate the A380 with three separate jetways- two for economy passengers who enter on a lower level, and one for business and first class passengers who enter from the main level. (Photo: SFO)

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The tail of this big bird soars 80 feet in the air. It’s 238 feet long, and its wings span a whopping 262 feet. (Photo: SFO)

*****

Are YOU signed up for The BAT? If not, why not? Subscribe to The BAT via e-mail!

Follow @cjmcginnis

Welcome new readers! If this information was helpful to you, please subscribe to The BAT via e-mail- and tell your friends about it, too!

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Want a private tour of Singapore’s A380 at SFO?

How would you like to see inside this big bird? (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Do you like private tours? Would you like to get a true insider’s look at Singapore Airlines’ massive new double-decker Airbus A380 when it arrives in SFO later this winter?

Would you like to feel what it’s like to snuggle into Singapore Airlines’ signature double bed in first class (and of course take photos you can post on Facebook or Twitter)?

Peer into all the planes’ nooks and crannies, like the galleys where Singapore girls prepare in-flight meals? Run up and down the big ship’s secret spiral staircase?

Singapore’s signature first class double be on the A380

Maybe you’ve always wanted to check out the first class lavatories to see if they are any different than the ones in coach?

Wondered what it’s like to enjoy a pre-flight drink or meal at Singapore Airlines’ first and business class lounge at SFO? Meet BAT editor Chris McGinnis?

Now’s your chance to win that private tour in a fun drawing!

One lucky BAT reader (plus three guests of their choice) will get to check out Singapore Airlines’ big bird, from stem to stern, in a private pre-flight tour at SFO one evening in late January.

All you have to do is help The BAT grow by telling your frequent traveling friends about it.

Just follow these three easy steps:

1> Between now and January 5, 2013 compose an email (copy and paste the one we’ve prepared below—or modify it) and send it to at least THREE frequent traveling friends recommending that they sign up for The BAT.

2> Be sure to copy The BAT on the same email: contest@thebat-sf.com

3> You can only enter once, so be sure to include as many friends as possible on the first email. (NOTE: Emails will be used for this contest only—they will not be sold or traded or used by any other party for any other purpose.)

On January 5, The BAT will draw the winner from among the emails we’ve received. Once the winner is chosen, a date for the private tour (in late January) will be set on a mutually agreeable date. The winner can bring along three guests for the tour. (Allow about 90 minutes at the airport for the tour.) On the evening of the tour, we’ll meet in the International terminal at SFO, enter the terminal via security, visit the Singapore Airlines first/business class lounge for refreshments, and then tour the plane.

Does that sound like a fun evening or what? So come on and give it a go—and help The BAT grow!

Here’s the suggested email—copy and paste or modify to your liking:

Dear ____________:

Have you ever heard about The BAT blog for Bay Area frequent travelers? It’s a free travel blog that I subscribe to.

It’s full of helpful news and advice for frequent travelers who live in the Bay Area…just like us. For example, I first learned that PreCheck was coming to SFO, or that Virgin America was matching United Premier status from The BAT.

I think it’s definitely something you could use, and get this: If I can convince you to sign up, we’ll both be eligible to take a behind-the-scenes tour of a Singapore Airlines A380 at SFO one evening in January!

So please check out The BAT and sign up by January 5.  See “Subscribe” in the upper right margin of the blog, or just sign up right here.

Thanks!

*Your signature*

IMPORTANT! Do not forget to copy The BAT  (contest@thebat-sf.com) on the email you send! It’s the only way we’ll know that you are entering the contest!

Good luck! And Happy Holidays!

-Chris McGinnis

*****

Are YOU signed up for The BAT? If not, why not? Subscribe to The BAT via e-mail!

Follow @cjmcginnis

Welcome new readers! If this information was helpful to you, please subscribe to The BAT via e-mail- and tell your friends about it, too!

*****

Sponsor:  

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world’s largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia.  Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong.  Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky.

SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you’ll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options.  SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

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For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Summer business class sale beckons bargain hunters

Lufthansa's A380 flying SFO-FRA has a whopping 98 business class seats

Economy class round trips between SFO and Europe during peak summer travel season (July/August) are now approaching $1,500 round trip- and will continue to creep up to near the $2,000 mark over the next few months.

However, airlines have a tough time selling those big business class seats on transatlantic flights because a lot of business travelers are on vacation during July and August. Due to the drop in demand for business class during summer, airlines are dropping prices- from the standard $6,000-$8,000 round trip to as little as $2,250 round trip.


For example, Lufthansa’s round-trip, all-in business class fares from SFO range from $2,250 to $3,500 depending on your final destination. (See chart below.) You must book your trip by May 31 for trips beginning June 29 and ending before September 1.

These fares are good on Lufthansa as well as its Star Alliance partners Air Canada, Swiss or United. United has matched Lufthansa’s business class sale. So have SkyTeam airlines such as Delta, KLM and Air France. Virgin Atlantic has joined in the fun. However British Airways does not appear to be joining in on the sale at this time.

Lufthansa fares from SFO:

With fares that low for business class…would you pay the premium for a big seat up front?

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Q: What is the longest flight from SFO?

Seatback screen aboard an Emirates B777 showing the route of our 15.5 hour flight from SFO to>>>

Q: What’s the longest flight from SFO?

 

A: The longest flight from San Francisco International is Emirates’ nonstop, 15.5-hour flight to Dubai on a Boeing 777.

 

Q: When flying from San Francisco to Dubai, would your heading be west or east?

 

A: Neither! The 8,100-mile flight between SFO and Dubai heads due north—right over the North Pole!

 

Last fall, Emirates invited me to take this monumental, nonstop journey to the other side of the world. Here are some notes and photos from the flights—in both directions. C’mon along for this spectacular ride- and see the North Pole…

Photo: Chris McGinnis

Emirates flies a Boeing 777-300 between SFO and Dubai in a three-class configuration: First, business and economy. Depending on time of year, economy class roundtrip nonstops cost between SFO and DXB are in the $1,000-$1,500 range; business class fares range from $5,000 to $7,000; first class roundtrip fares are $8,000+.

 

Emirates says its load factors out of SFO are very healthy- around 80% on average. It says that SFO is at the “top of the list” for deployment of one of Emirates 15 giant A380s, however, at this time the double-decker does not have the range to fly SFO-DXB with a full load during the hot summer months, so there are no set plans to switch to the A380 for now.

 

Emirates recently opened a brand new 9,500 square foot business class lounge at SFO’s International Terminal A (the southern side).

 

Forty-two business class seats are configured 2-3-2 on the B777, with a cocoon-like back shell that provides plenty of privacy. Most surfaces (such as the tray table, and even the toilet seat lid in the lavatory) are covered in a classy burled walnut veneer; there are power outlets for laptops, noise canceling headsets, and oversized inflight amenity bags- one for men, another for women- full of all sorts of goodies. While there is no in-flight internet, passengers can send and receive text messages from their seats at $1 per message. All seat functions (including recline, in-flight entertainment or IFE controls and even massage) are controlled by the hand held unit you see in the armrest pictured above.

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

After a 3:45 pm departure from SFO, we headed due north on a clear day, right over the top of Mt Shasta, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and the snow-capped peaks of British Columbia at sunset. What a view! I tried to get some work done on the laptop, but found it difficult not to watch the show unfold out the window.

 

I was particularly impressed with Emirates’ IFE system, which provided a 3-D, virtual-reality-like experience that (to me) was much more entertaining than the thousands of movies, TV shows and games from which passengers can choose. For those who don’t want to view the scenery out the window, electronic window shades raise or lower at the touch of a button.

 

Photo: Chris McGinnis

Upon boarding, flight attendants served a round a Veuve Cliquot champagne to business class passengers. After about two hours, flight attendants then proffered scented hot towels and warmed mixed nuts and then poured a nice Stag’s Leap Chardonnay, which was followed by a nice meal, briskly served, since many passengers were readying for sleep. I chose halibut, potatoes, grilled asparagus and tomatoes (my seatmate had the Lamb biryani). Food was on par with other foreign carriers I’ve flown- and head and shoulders above what’s typically found in business class on US carriers. Service was efficient, not obsequious or doting.

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

While I was hoping to stay awake long enough to peer out at the North Pole, the two glasses of Chardonnay, the meal, the melatonin and this nice linen covered mini-mattress (see above), full sized pillow  and cozy comforter convinced me otherwise. (I did see The Pole on the return, though! Keep reading…)

 

Business class seats on Emirates B777 are of the “angled lie-flat” variety (vs true lie-flat) which disappointed me at first. However, the tilt was barely detectable once the seat was fully reclined- and get this: I fell asleep somewhere over the Yukon Territory, and woke up seven hours later somewhere over Iran! By far, the longest, best night’s sleep I’ve ever experienced on a plane.

 

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

After our 15.5 hour journey, we landed in Dubai the following day at about 7:45 pm. Dubai International Airport (DXB) is simply stunning. What you see above is baggage claim- which should give you some idea of what the entire airport is like- big, bright and beautiful. It felt like a brand new Las Vegas casino- minus the gambling, which is illegal in Dubai.

 

Sixty percent of Emirates passengers use Emirate’s giant DXB hub as a connecting point to the carrier’s extensive network of flights- especially to India. As a matter of fact, 50% of all Emirates passengers from SFO end up flying onward from DXB to Indian cities such as Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.

 

India-bound passenger’s other options include flying from SFO via Asia or Europe. At one time, United and Emirates participated in a frequent flyer program partnership where Mileage Plus members could earn United miles when flying Emirates to Dubai. However, Emirates says that United decided to terminate that partnership last May.

 

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

All business and first class passengers get free transportation via a fleet of black Volvo station wagons stationed outside the airport to their hotels in Dubai (most are about 15-30 minutes away). There is also the quick, slick Dubai Metro rail system that connects the airport to the city- however, note that it has limited hours on Fridays, which are holy days in the Arab world.

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

This photo, taken from the roof of the Shangri-La hotel shows the towering Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world. In the lower right corner is a Dubai metro station. It all looked like something out of a science fiction movie.

 

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

On the day of my return flight, I arrived at the airport early to investigate and enjoy what I’d heard was one of the poshest business class lounges in the world. I was not let down- from the spray of fresh flowers at the entry, to the multiple buffets serving traditional English breakfast, full Indian meals, baked potatoes with all the toppings, salmon with capers, shrimp, endless refrigerated shelves of desserts, juices, tea, and coffee. The selection boggles the mind.

 

Morning is peak time in the Emirates business class lounge, and the place was packed- almost uncomfortably so. I was told that this enormous lounge could accommodate up to 1,600 travelers, and I think it was running pretty close to capacity that day. Seeing the crowds, and knowing that everyone in the lounge had paid several thousand dollars for their business class tickets made me wonder to myself, “What global financial crisis?” (See additional photos here.)

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Flying back to SFO took us over the North Pole once again, and this time I stayed up for the action. In the photo above, you can see our routing over the top displayed on the IFE system.

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

That’s it! The money shot! In this photo, I’m looking out the window straight down on the North Pole. (See the big striped candy cane? ;) )

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

After the excitement of seeing the North Pole, it was time for a snooze. Note how Emirates has cleverly installed thousands of tiny fiber-optic white lights (that actually twinkle) into the ceiling of the aircraft to let you know that it’s time to sleep. Nice touch.

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

For Muslims, who must face east for their daily prayers, Emirates in-flight system displays this icon several times throughout the flight in the IFE system- the arrow points east toward Mecca, no matter which direction the plane is pointed in.

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Almost home!

(Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Forward facing cameras on the B777 broadcast the view as we approach SFO and touch down at about 1 pm pacific time.

 

(Chris McGinnis publishes The BAT and The TICKET blogs for frequent travelers. He was a guest of Emirates Airline on this roundtrip flight. Do you have comments or questions about this post? Email Chris.)

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Bienvenue! Air France A380 lands at SFO (VIDEO)

Today Air France’s big new A380 touched down at SFO for the first time. I was very excited to get special access to the runways and tarmac to shoot this two-minute video.

Check out how close we were to this leviathan as it gracefully touched down. And watch the special water cannon welcome salute from the SFO fire department.

I did not have the chance to see the interior of this big bird, but you can check out interior photos of all three classes here.

Looking out over the summer, roundtrip coach fares between San Francisco and Paris are running in the $1100 to $1500 range. Business class roundtrip summer sale fares are in the $3000 range- not bad compared to standard business class fares which normally runs closer to the $6K-$8K mark.

Bienvenue!

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Planespotters: Air France A380 arrives Monday 6/6

Bonjour! Air France A380 flights between Paris and San Francisco commence with the arrival of flight 84 from Charles de Gaulle airport on MONDAY, June 6 at 12:40 pm. (Departing SFO for CDG at 4:10 pm)

While there is no formal arrival celebration planned at the airport, the city will welcome the giant new Airbus aircraft with a fire department water cannon salute as it taxis in to the gate.

Weather forecast for Monday: Currently a 40% chance of rain.

(photo credit: Air France)

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Lufthansa’s A380 comes to SFO: 6 things you should know

That's your trusty Frequent Travel Advisor underneath one of four engines that propel the A380 through the atmosphere.

That’s your trusty BATman underneath one of four engines that propel the A380 through the atmosphere.

Earlier this week I took a whirlwind 48-hour trip to Frankfurt, Germany to engage in the festivities surrounding the arrival of Lufthansa’s giant A380 to San Francisco.

Come on along and check out photos of all three classes, bathrooms, exterior cameras and several unusual touches that make this leviathan of a plane special.

1) There are 425 coach seats which fill the entire lower level of this big ship. Coach seating is tight in a 3-4-3 configuration (with 94 rows!), however due to the use of new composite materials, thinner seats provide more space, and knee room is not all that bad. Each coach passenger has a touch screen video entertainment system. Seats feel more comfortable than they look in the photos below. Current roundtrip coach fares between SFO and Frankfurt are in the $1300 range for June trips.

I’m 6’1″ and still have ample knee room in coach. Cup holder is a nice touch for those who don’t want to lower the entire tray table.

Yes, that’s right, Row 94! Last row in coach.

2) There is a distinct separation among classes on the A380- it reminded me of how classes were separated in the movie “Titanic.” For example, first and business class passengers board the plane from their own jetway which leads to the upper level. Coach passengers board from two separate jetways that lead to the lower level. While there are two stairways (in the front and back) on the A380, mixing of the classes is obstructed by gates- coach passengers are not allowed upstairs.

This is the gate blocking passage at the rear circular stairway of the A380.

3) Business class seats (all 98 of them!) are identical to those found on Lufthansa’s 747s. Seats are “angled” lie-flat versus “true” or “horizontal” lie-flat for sleeping like you’ll find on United’s flights to Frankfurt or British Airways’ flights to London. I spoke with Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr about this and he admitted that the less desirable angled seat puts them at a competitive disadvantage. Without going into specifics, he said, “It’s time for us to step up- we don’t want to fall behind in this area. We plan to invest in quality and offer the best business class seat in the world which will be a true lie-flat product. You’ll see it first on our new 747-800′s starting next year.” While Lufthansa plans to swap out the A380 for a 747 on the SFO-FRA route during the winter months, it’s not certain that it will be a new 747-800 that will have the new style seat. Spohr said that eventually the A380 will get the new true lie-flat seat, but I’m guessing that could take several years. Current roundtrip business class fares between SFO and Frankfurt are in the $7000 range for June trips.

One of the things I love about flying upstairs on a Boeing 747 are the storage bins alongside window seats. On this big bird, there are storage bins along all 28 rows in business class.

4) Lufthansa’s first class product is outstanding and offers up several unique innovations such as personal storage lockers (with combination locks), electronic window shades, mattresses, sheets and full-sized pillows placed over the fully reclined, true-flat seat for sleeping, humidified air, extra sound-reducing insulation and gorgeous finishes in leather, steel, chrome and wool. There are only eight first class seats on the A380. Current first class fares between SFO and Frankfurt are in the (gulp) $20K range, but upgrades are available from business class for super elite Lufthansa and Star Alliance fliers.

Check out the knee room on the first class seat!

A thin mattress is placed over the flattened first class seat and made into a very cozy bed.

Each first class passenger gets his/her own storage locker with a combination lock.

5) Oh, yes, the all important lavatory! Lavs in coach and business class in this ship are slightly larger than you’ll find elsewhere- some even have their own portholes. First class lavs are strikingly nice- with plenty of room to take care of business (including a urinal for men); a bench to sit down on to change clothes (pajamas provided) and a large sink and vanity area. (No showers as you’ll find on Emirates A380. But I think inflight showers are overkill. The extra room for changing clothes is a more practical use of the space.)

Business class lavatory with a view!

First class toilet and urinal- note the thoughtful handlebar to help maintain aim in turbulence.

Now that’s a first class sink.

6) The A380 has three exterior cameras with awesome views that all passengers can access from their seatback video screens. Below are images of one camera mounted in the tail of the aircraft with a view of our departure gate at Frankfurt. Below that is the view from the bottom of the plane. As we landed at SFO around noon with the sun directly overhead, there was a perfect shadow of the A380 set against the brackish brownish waters of the bay. Gorgeous!

Nice touch! Midway through the 11 hour flight between Frankfurt and SFO, flight attendants served cake and champagne to all passengers to celebrate the arrival of SFO’s first A380.

If you are interested in digging in deeper or hearing other perspectives on Lufthansa’s big bird, check out the stories from fellow travel writers and bloggers who joined me on this trip: Brett Snyder, John DiScala, Stephanie Michaels, Harriet Baskas and David Armstrong.

(Disclosure: I was a guest of Lufthansa for the inaugural A380 event in Frankfurt and SFO)

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Air France to fly giant A380 to SFO

An Air France Airbus A380 (Photo: Yakusa77 / Flickr)

SAN FRANCISCO — Officials from Air France announced today from June 6 through September 4, 2011, they will fly the Airbus A-380 between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport. The aircraft is scheduled to depart Paris at 10:30 a.m. and arrive in San Francisco at 12:40 p.m. The return flight will depart SFO at 4:10 p.m. and land in Paris at 11:35 a.m. the following calendar day.

Over the summer period, Air France is offering its customers the opportunity to discover the West Coast of the United States on board this super jumbo jet equipped with 538 seats, divided between three cabin classes (9 seats in La Premiere, 80 in Business and 449 in Voyageur). During the summer of 2011, Air France will be operating 10 weekly flights between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and San Francisco, including one daily flight of an A-380.

Air France is the second carrier to inaugurate A-380 service in to SFO. Lufthansa will begin flying the A-380 between SFO and Frankfurt of May 10, 2011. San Francisco International Airport’s International Terminal, which opened in December 2000, was designed specifically to accommodate super jumbo jet aircraft such as the A-380.

(Photo: Yakusa77 / Flickr)

For a limited period, San Francisco passengers will have the opportunity to experience spacious luxury onboard the world's largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380 on flights to Asia. Between December 28, 2012 and March 24, 2013, Singapore Airlines will pop into town with daily “Pop-Up” A380 flights between San Francisco and Singapore via Hong Kong. Flip through this slideshow to see its famous Suites and the widest Business Class seats in the sky. SQ1 departs SFO at 10:50 pm and arrives in Hong Kong at 5:50 am two days later. Flight time is about 13 hours to Hong Kong, and with another 3.5 hours to Singapore, you'll have plenty of time to soak up the luxury and explore the 1000+ onboard entertainment options. SQ2 arrives daily in SFO at 7:45 pm on the same day it departs from Singapore and Hong Kong.