What’s it like to Work on the A380?

Jul 7, 2018 | Cabin Crew

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(Last updated on: 28/10/2020)

So we’ve all been curious of the giant in the skies, the ultimate in luxury, in size. I was fortunate enough to have recently interviewed Jay from International Fly Guy who is Cabin Crew for a leading airline and works frequently on the Airbus A380. So lets find out what it’s actually like to me a Crew member operating flights on the huge aircraft….!

1) So you fly on the A380- wow that’s one big plane! How long have you flown on it? 

Indeed she is a beast!! The one I work holds up to 545 with crew. So that is a lot of hungry mouths to feed and look after. I have worked on the A380 for more than four years now. 

 
2) Did you get a choice to fly on the A380 at all?

I did have a choice. I used to work 777, A330 and A340’s. But I decided to apply to work the A380 at the loss of visiting hundreds of cities for the chance to be among the first crew to work on the new queen of the skies. You had to have a good record with the airline to work on their flagship aircraft. 

3) I have flown on the A380 and loved it, but what is it like to work on? 

 To be honest it’s much better to fly on than to work on. I LOVE flying on the A380 as a passenger. There is so much added comfort that comes with a plane that size. But that size is a reason I would say it’s not as enjoyable to work as say a smaller 777. It’s a popular plane so it’s always full which means loads of work and stress on the crew. Airbus seems to never develop a wide body aircraft that is crew friendly when you compare them to Boeing. I think poor design for the crew work areas results in added stress for the crew. But the fact that it’s so popular and people stop and stare and take photos and are excited to get on it makes all that added work worth it. You are proud to work on it. 

 
4) The plane is very luxurious for passengers, but what about Crew? What are the Crew rest facilities like? 

 Each airline has different crew rest areas. Each airline could choose how they wanted theirs to be. Just say if you can’t say something nice don’t say it at all. Once again Boeing is better in this department. 

 
5) Which routes do you fly on the A380 and do you like these routes? 

 I fly the A380 to over 20 major cities on five continents. The bulk of those cities tend to be located is Asia and Europe. A few in Australia and some in North America

 
6) What was the training like for this aircraft type? 

 Well when I joined the A380 we only had to learn one aircraft so it was very easy when compared to having to learn several types at once. Airbus made a lot of improvements with the A380 when you compare it to their older wide body aircraft. The hard part is having to learn all the equipment and features on a plane that large. It’s more like a ship than a boat. 

 
7) Wow- that’s one big plane! What are the key differences between working on this aircraft compared to others? 

 Well the obvious, the size. Big planes take big crews. I was used to a crew size of around 15 before this aircraft came along. Now that’s a small crew to me. Working with a team of 30 can be very rewarding and challenging. I will never know everyone’s name. I forget faces and we will land at the destination and get to the hotel and I will be like “was she on our flight?” There are times I will do a 12 hour flight and wont see the crew or passengers on the lower deck because I’m too busy to go down there. More crew and passengers mean more drama to deal with. I’ve had a month where it seems like every flight there is a medical issue on board. So a plane this size takes lots of communication and team work to make it a safe and successful flight.  

 
8) There has been some negative media coverage with regards to safety- has this given you cause for concern at all? 

 The media is the media. They need to sell news and will make a mountain out of a mole hill. Most all the media drama with the A380 came from Australia. Australia for some reason has a bad relationship with Qantas which is also an A380 operator. So whenever they had issues the media there would use that as an opportunity to smear that airline and then it would catch the global media spotlight since the A380 is the largest passenger plane in the sky, it would sell news. The first major batch of bad press came with the Qantas engines. The airline I work for uses a different brand of engine than Qantas. So we had no worries there. Then there was the whittle bitty microscopic cracks they found in the wings. This has been a major issues for Airbus to repair but safety has never been jeopardized. Every new plane will have its issues. Look at the Boeing 787. So much smaller than the A380 which should mean less room for error. But it has gotten just as much, if not more bad press. The A380 has been flying since 2005 so most of the major issues have been ironed out. 
 

9) What is your favorite aircraft type to fly on and why?  
 

My heart is torn between the A380 and the 777. I think these are the flagships of Boeing and Airbus and I get to work only those two so I’m pretty happy about that. 

10) Most of us never get to go upstairs, what is it actually like up there?! I’ve heard there are some pretty amazing facilities! 

 I work in first class and I always catch the people from the lower deck peering up the stairs in wonder of what’s behind those curtains. Well to be honest it is pretty amazing. I love seeing what each airline has done with their A380s. A selling feature of the plane was each airline could customize it as they wished. My two favorite A380s belong to Singapore and Emirates. I love the Singapore bird for the suites in first class and I think their plane just looks great all around. Their suites are pretty large as they are on the lower deck so there is more room to play with. However I like the Emirates A380 because they keep the upper deck all for their premium passengers. Emirates too has suites up there but the most amazing feature exclusive to the Emirates A380 are the showers! They are the only commercial airline to offer such a luxury and from what I’ve heard from customers, it’s pretty amazing. They also have a spa type water feature, a small first class bar and larger lounge up there that can hold around 20 people. It has sofas and a bartender that’s there for the whole flight mixing up cocktails. The A380 has brought the golden age glamour back to the sky! 

11) I’ve heard a rumor that a member of staff is employed specifically to look after the shower-is this true?!

 That is true. I know some of the girls that work the Emirates A380 and their job is the spa attendant! Pretty amazing that you get to travel the world on the nicest plane in the sky and your main job is to only stock and prepare the showers after every use. No dealing with safety and medical issues, no food service. Not a bad gig at all. 

 
12) Would you recommend flying/working on the A380? What are your highlights? 

 Of course I would! Not many airlines have them so if you have the chance you are fortunate. You do feel a bit special. I talk about the A380 so much my friend got me a shirt that says my plane is bigger than yours 🙂 It’s kind of like when you were a kid and you wanted the best bike at school. Well I feel I got the best plane on the tarmac. I’ve had so many highlights on the A380 which is why I think I have so much pride for it. I’ve had the chance to be part of iconic moments in several countries’ aviation history. When the A380 lands for the first time in a new city it’s a big deal!  I’ve been on the BBC and Sky News and my face planted on papers from Athens to Bangkok while working as crew. I remember during one inaugural flight we landed at the airport and there were more than 30,000 people that came out to see us arrive! When we turned onto the taxiway I looked out the window and I saw people in the trees trying to get a better view of my plane. I will have some stories to tell the grand kids some day 🙂 

Wow what a plane! Thanks so much to Jay for his interview here and for any Crew/ passengers due to fly on the A380…good luck and enjoy! 

Are you looking for a job as Cabin Crew? Don’t let the chance slip through your fingers… make sure you have the right resources to maximise your chances of getting the job- check out my resources for Prospective Cabin Crew now! 

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Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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