Emirates places A380 on New York-Milan route

Emirates, the world’s largest international air carrier, has placed an Airbus A380, the world's largest commercial airliner, into service carrying passengers on its non-stop flights between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Milan, Italy.

An Emirates A380 in flight
Non-stop flights between JFK and Milan (MXP) began October 1, 2013 under a special authorization from ENAC (Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile), the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, as well as the United States, based on the assumption that the flights will demonstrate “significant economic benefits for the U.S. and Italian economies, exporters, tourism and airports.”

Though halted briefly in early 2014 after the Italian carrier association Assaereo filed a court challenge, the flights have proven successful enough that the carrier upgraded the aircraft from the Boeing (NYSE:BA) 777-300ER, which is capable of carrying about 425 passengers, to the Airbus A380, which can carry between 489 and 517 passengers depending on the configuration, according to SeatGuru.com. The airline will be using the 489 passenger version on the JFK-MXP route, a spokesperson indicated to TheTravelPro.

Enclosed First Class Suite
Both configurations offer 14 closed suites in First Class, with seats that are 23 inches wide, pitch (the distance from one seat back to the seat back in front of it) of 86 inches (…but you’re in your own private suite, so who cares?), and a lie-flat bed that stretches 78 inches. Emirates’ A380s also have 76 flatbed seats in Business Class that are 18.5 inches wide with a pitch of 48 inches, and that have bed lengths between 70 and 79 inches, also according to SeatGuru.

In addition, the A380 brings more upmarket touches to the route than the 777. Those include shower spas in First Class, direct aisle access for all Business Class seats, an on-board bar and lounge serving drinks as well as hot and cold canapés to First and Business Class customers, and more room for Economy Class passengers, according to Emirates’ website.

A380 Business Class cabin with ice displays
Every seat is connected to Emirate’s in-flight entertainment system. Dubbed ice, the digital wide screen display offers passengers up to 1,800 channels of multilingual entertainment including the latest movies, television programs and podcasts, international music collections including the ability for passengers to build their own playlists, and in-seat Wi-Fi for a more connected flight. Ice has received several accolades including being named The World’s Best Inflight Entertainment system for the 10th year in a row by SKYTRAX, the world’s largest airline passenger satisfaction survey.

Plus, there is Emirates service, which the airline’s PR materials describe as “impeccable.” While I haven’t experienced the carrier’s in-flight service, I can confirm that the service they provided on the ground to celebrate their first flight into Seattle on March 1, 2012 was indeed delightful. I can’t imagine it would offer anything less at 37,000 feet.

Emirates first flight arrives in Seattle
Photo by Carl Dombek
Geeking out over the A380

The A380 is currently the world’s largest civilian aircraft and has its own category of “Super,” or “Super-Jumbo.” Aircraft weighing over 300,000 pounds maximum takeoff weight are classified as “Heavy.” Heavy jets include aircraft ranging from the Airbus A400 at 311,000 pounds to the Boeing 747-8 at 987,000 pounds. The “super” category starts at one million pounds; the A380’s maximum takeoff weight is 1,270,000 pounds, or roughly the same as two McDonald-Douglas MD-11 widebody aircraft.

Cruising speed is comparable to most commercial jets: approximately Mach 0.85, or 85 percent of the speed of sound. As an aside, the speed of sound through air is almost entirely a function of temperature: the speed of sound is 45 times the square root of the air temperature in degrees Kelvin. But I digress …

The A380 is capable of flying "ultra long-haul" routes because its range is significantly greater than the next closest commercial jetliner. The A380's range of almost 8,500 nautical miles won't be tested by the JFK-MXP route but does come into play on the 6,972 nautical mile Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) - Dubai (DXB) route. Emirates also operates A380s on its DXB-Los Angeles (LAX) route which, by distance, is the fourth-longest commercial airline route at 7,246 nautical miles.

Finally, the interior of an Emirates A380 is the first – and perhaps the only – aircraft to appear on Google StreetView. This unique presentation, which provides an opportunity to take a virtual walk-through of the plane, is available on Emirates’ website.  

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Photos courtesy Emirates Airline unless otherwise noted
Click on photos to view larger images