San Francisco International took on its fourth A380 flight on Sunday afternoon (March 29) when British Airways flight 287 touched down on a perfect spring day– and TravelSkills was there on the runway to watch the big bird touch down!
In addition to the new British Airways arrival, there are now three more A380s calling on SFO: Air France (Paris), Emirates (Dubai), and Lufthansa (Frankfurt).
BA’s A380 will operate as BA286 from SFO to London on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The same flight on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will continue to be operated by a Boeing 747, as will the carrier’s second daily flight the BA284.
A British Airways A380 carries 469 passengers– 14 in first class (on the main, or lower deck), 97 in business class (split between upstairs and downstairs), 55 in premium economy (on on the upper deck), and 303 in economy (both upper and lower decks).
BA’s A380 has 111 first or business class seats, plus a lot more room for elite level members of its Executive Club and Oneworld alliance programs. Compare that to its 747 with just 84 first/business class seats (299 seats total).
A larger plane means that the BA Terraces Lounge at SFO is barely large enough to comfortably accommodate the larger crowd. As a result, a BA spokesperson told TravelSkills that plan are currently underway add a third floor to its existing Terraces Lounge at SFO’s Boarding Area A (Int’l). Renovations should be complete within a year or so.
BA has a word of warning about A380-related crowding on its website. While I have been unable to confirm, I expect that “alternatives” mentioned here might include use of its Oneworld partner JAL or Cathay Pacific lounges nearby.
Lounge regulars should also know that when flying on BA’s new A380, there is no longer a private boarding area as there is with 747 flights. Due to its size, the A380 must dock at gate A9 at the end of the concourse, not in front of the lounge like its 747s do.
I think best business class and economy seats on BA’s A380 plane are on the upper deck. Why? In business class, the front and rear facing seats are configured 2-3-2– narrower than on the main deck where it’s 2-4-2 with two middle seats. Plus, window seats on the main deck in all classes do not get the special bins underneath windows (due to curvature of the fuselage).
The best economy class seats on the plane are at the back of the upper deck– rows 80-83, which is a small intimate cabin that feels almost private, plus it’s very quiet due to its distance from the engines. There’s also one economy seat on the main deck, 25D, that does not have a seat in front of it.
(On BA economy and business class, you can choose seats 24 hours ahead of your flight for free; otherwise you must pay a fee to reserve a specific seat. Details.)
Currently fares for May round trips between SFO and London Heathrow are $1275 in economy, $2,200 in premium economy, around $7,000 in business class and $10,000 in first class.
More good news: More premium seats on BA’s A380 mean that it could be easier to redeem miles for these trips.
Did you miss our recent Weekend Editions? No probs! Here are the links:
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