How not to stuff an A380, posed image supplied by Emirates
How not to stuff an A380, posed image supplied by Emirates

The Lufthansa A380, due for delivery to the carrier on May 19, seems to reflect the race for the bottom among European carriers.

The lower deck of their A380 is all economy seating, like the Emirates A380 plan, but with 420 seats instead of 399. Qantas, which shares that deck with first class, fits in 332 economy seats in the same space that Singapore Airlines seats 311 economy passengers (with a further 88 in the second half of the upper deck.)

Air France, the other European A380 operator to have the type in service this year, fits 327 economy seats on the main deck and a further 122 upstairs, but in the same zone where Singapore Airlines seats only 88. Clearly an attempt by Air France to make economy travellers feel like Paris metro commuters at peak hour.

On the upper deck, Lufthansa fits 8 first class sleepers and 96 business class ‘slopers’ of the type Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Emirates already decided would be uncompetitive over a long haul, which is where they deploy the big ‘bus.

The Lufthansa first class suites will apparently be spacious, as they occupy the most forward of three discrete sections of the A380 upper deck, where Emirates, the only other A380 operator to put first class in the same place has 14 suites (and two shower-spas nearby). This is the zone where Qantas and Singapore Airlines put 18 of their business class sleepers, and Air France crams in 26 of its business class slopers.

A comparison of the numbers and space show that Lufthansa will accommodate 96 slopers in that part of the top deck of the A380 which Qantas uses for 54 of its business class sleepers and 32 premium economy seats. The cram factor in the Lufthansa jet for those being flown business class should be obvious.

To recap, we now have three very different types of A380 product lineups being flown by Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Emirates on the Australian routes, and an Air France A380 operating Paris-New York. And we have the figures for the Lufthansa version, which will go into service mid year, timetable yet to be announced.

By carrier and deck this is how they have (so far) chosen to configure the A380.

Singapore Airlines (471 total)

Upper: 60 business class sleepers, 88 economy seats (8 across)

Lower: 12 first class cabins, 311 economy seats (10 across)

Qantas (450)

Upper: 72 business class sleepers, 32 premium economy

Lower: 14 first class sleepers, 332 economy (10 across)

Emirates (489)

Upper: 14 first class cabins, 76 business class sleepers, one large bar

Lower: 399 economy class (10 across)

Air France (538)

Upper: 80 business class slopers, 122 economy (8 across)

Lower: 9 first class open cabin, 327 economy (10 across)

Lufthansa (524)

Upper: 8 first class, 96 business class slopers

Lower: 420 economy (10 across)

Note that the Lufthansa figures have not been officially announced.

In the absence of any Lufthansa cabin photos, shown at the top of this article is the bar area on the upper deck of the Emirates A380, a feature that it alone has incorporated in its version of the largest passenger jet.