Double Decker Revolutionizing Air Travel

Q: The giant double-decker scheduled to be flying in 2006 — is it a revolution in air travel waiting to happen? Will it restore some glamour of the jet set with options such as a bar and a gym?

Many readers were curious about the new “super jumbo,” the Airbus A380, which will take its place as perhaps the ugliest widebody airliner ever built. It seems Airbus gave no real attention to aesthetics. The plane is bulbous and ungainly, without any of the elegance of the 747. And no, it’s not a revolution waiting to happen. When the 747 made its debut in 1969, it was more than twice the size of the largest existing airplane, and brought with it a whole new concept of flying — the widebody, long-range jumbo jet. The A380 will only be about a third bigger than the 747, and for the most part will rely on existing airport infrastructures and facilities. And bars (some with pianos), lounges and the like are not a new idea — they were found on upper decks of many early 747s.


This Q&A is part of a collection that originally appeared on Salon.com. Patrick Smith, 38, is an erstwhile airline pilot, retired punk rocker and air travel columnist. His book, Ask the Pilot (Riverhead) was voted “Best Travel Book of 2004” by Amazon.com. Patrick has traveled to more than 55 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives near Boston.