AF1980 AKA crossing the channel in an unreasonably oversized aircraft

Back in 2010, A380 weren’t yet a much common sight, in Europe or elsewhere. Only Singapore Airlines, the launch customer, had a few,
as well as Qantas and Emirates. The next company to join the whale club was going to be Air France. As usual with new aircraft type introductions this meant short haul training flights would be flown on short flights out of CDG.

Because we just can’t miss occasions like this, my friend Keishi Nukina and I went ahead and booked seats on the second ever AF A380 commercial flight, from London Heathrow to Paris CDG. I was then going to spend a few days with my friends Daniel, Eliska and Raphael in Paris, and head back on the double decker, to take another doubledecker in London and then off to Gatwick where an easyjet plane would take me back to France.

It unfolded something like this: that 12 june in Heathrow was
sort of an event. This was the first AF A380 visit to Heathrow, so quite a few people started gathering around the roundabout
next runway to runway 27R on the Northern Perimeter road to catch a glimpse of the brand new giant. That day, we were
part of the lucky few that we’re about to jump on that aircraft and fly it back to France!

The much awaited A380, F-HPJB, slowly passed over the road, cars and people, and as soon as it touched down we started racing back to the terminal to catch our flight.

As Keishi said himself, impersonating me: “My recollections of that day are blurry, but my friends photos are sharp. please enjoy” (i lost the first half of the photos from that day), so here is the arrival:

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Up: 2 photos by Keishi Nukina

But seriously. Back to boarding, which started around 12:10. It feels very unusual to be boarding on a 348 km flight along with 400+ passengers. By the way, did I mention this was my first ever wide body flight ever? Needless to say, my excitement was through the roof!

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Photo by Keishi Nukina

My seat on this flight, 11B, wasn’t the best, but I couldn’t care less. After a short delay, we pushed back and taxied to Runway 27L. The aircraft was as light as it could be, and the takeoff was an incredible blast, the engines roaring at full power and probably thinking “this is too easy!”. Now remember this was a 350 km flight, so about 15 seconds after liftoff (at least that’s how i like to recall it), flight attendants we’re rushing through the cabin handing out Happy Mixes and soda cans. 20c crackers? Nice treat there AF!

Photo by Keishi Nukina

As soon as seatbelt sign was off, I rejoined with Keishi to engage in some cabin exploration. For some reason, first class wasn’t available for booking on these training flights, so in our true rebel fashion we went and spent some time in the so called “Première” (where the fairies stay i’m hearing).

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Up: 2 photos by Keishi Nukina

Meanwhile back in economy, from the look on the faces of some of the passengers, especially Mr Asleeponafreaking380promoflight, and the Blues brother that might just have realized there were way too many engines on his daily commuter flight’s airplane, most passsengers almost certainly haden’t the slightest clue that they were on a special aircraft and flight.

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Landing into paris was very cool, with an aircraft land almost in parallel to us and being able watch our plane on the tail cam (picture from returning flight).

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And few last shots before leaving the beastly machine:

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Here are a few bonus pictures from the return flight:

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New windows = no “airliner” filter (company t7 at CDG)

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Oh and by the way, next time you fly on a 380, check out the ailerons (at the end of the wing) on takeoff or landing!

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