Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Airbus Special Report -

Sam­sana Is­mail, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ager at Air­bus Africa Middle East, has been sum­moned to an im­por­tant meet­ing at the A380 lounge. Re­luc­tantly, she drags her­self away from the IFE where, un­be­known to her, Air­bus col­leagues and me­dia guests are hid­ing be­hind the cur­tain to wish her happy birth­day. “Sur­prise, sur­prise!”

Glasses line the bar and Emi­rates crew take Po­laroid pho­tos as Sam­sana is pre­sented with flow­ers and a gift; it’s the first time I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced a party at 38,000 feet. The fun soon eats up an hour of the sev­en­hour flight to Paris and when I re­turn to my seat, the pas­sen­ger to my left is asleep on the flatbed; an­other is on a lap­top; oth­ers sim­ply watch­ing films or lis­ten­ing to mu­sic. The space of the Emi­rates A380 pre­mium sec­tion al­lows all these dis­parate ex­pe­ri­ences si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

Re­turn­ing to Dubai, I was re­minded of a more se­ri­ous side to the A380. An Aus­tralian lady was wheeled into the Emi­rates Lounge at Paris CDG, her left leg in vel­cro plas­ter. She had been hit by a mo­tor­cy­cle at a pedes­trian cross­ing. Surgery had been a suc­cess but her leg had to be kept straight and a porter was help­ing with board­ing ar­range­ments. Ev­ery air­line may carry pas­sen­gers with med­i­cal needs but there is some­thing about the cabin space of the A380 which looks par­tic­u­larly equipped to deal with these kind of chal­lenges. More­over, thanks to the breadth of Emi­rates’ A380 net­work, the pas­sen­ger would be fly­ing the su­per­jumbo all the way home (also on the Dubai-Syd­ney sec­tor).

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