Saturday, January 22, 2011

Flying the Fancy Skies

Despite arriving two years behind schedule and some $2 billion over budget, Airbus's mammoth A380 plane has become the new icon of aviation industry stealth. Since its 2007 debut, the double-decker aircraft, the quietest and largest in the sky, have flown over 6 million passengers. Now as Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and, later this summer, Korean Air, join Air France, Qantas and Emirates with service to the United States, we take a look on board.

Emirates: Dubai-New York/JFK

There are separate snack and cocktail lounges for first and business classes, and all passengers have access to some 1,200 on-demand channels. Plus, full-size showers at 35,000 feet! But lather up fast: There's a five-minute time limit. Ticket cost: $1,200-$17,000

Air France: Paris-New York/JFK and Paris-Washington, Dulles

First-class passengers receive Christian Lacroix PJs and access to a dressing room, though with six bars (including a trio in economy), you might just call this "the party plane."Ticket cost:$704-$15,827

Qantas: Melbourne- and Sydney-Los Angeles (from Feb.)

"Premium Economy"—the only one of its kind on the A380—includes extra-wide chairs by Germany's Recaro, which manufacturers seats for Jaguar and Aston-Martin.Ticket cost: $1,034-$20,048

Lufthansa: Frankfurt-New York/JFK (from Feb. 28)
Eight first-class seats transform into the world's longest and widest in-flight flat beds. Hidden behind sound-resistant curtains, the two first-class bathrooms—servicing only eight passengers—include changing areas with banquettes and full-size sinks. The amenities kit includes pricy La Mer face cream. Ticket cost: $732-$15,617

Singapore Airlines: Singapore-Los Angeles (from Mar. 27)

The 76-inch flat-bed business-class seats are the industry's longest. Semi-private first-class "cabins" can be connected to create the world's first in-flight love shack. All classes feature Givenchy products. Ticket cost: $820-$13,586

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