Saturday, May 18, 2013

Flight Report: Air France A380-800 Washington IAD to Paris CDG

As a part of my summer last year, I exchanged with a good friend from Versailles, France. He came for two weeks to visit my family in June. After California, in August, I was to fly over to France to visit with his family during their vacation on Noirmoutier-en-l'Île. The plan was for me to fly from IAD to CDG to NTE (Nantes). This trip was to be the first time I'd flown by myself.

Air France Flight 0039 Information
  • Flight: Washington Dulles (IAD) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
  • Flight Time: 7 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Aircraft: Air France A380-800 F-HPJG
  • Seat: 92L (window seat--Upper Deck)

Driving to Washington Dulles, I was really excited to take my first flight on an Airbus A380. As we were pulling into IAD, I decided to check my flightradar24 app on a whim to see where the plane was. Shockingly, it was about to fly right overhead as we were still on the highway. Here are images from my app and camera of the plane passing over our car:

It was nice to be back in IAD again. I rarely fly out of IAD, so it was nice to see some of the unusual airlines and larger aircraft. Here are a few images of our Air France A380 at the gate:

It was nice to board via the separate line for the A380's Upper Deck. The line for the main deck was much longer, with many more people. After a quick boarding, it was finally time to step onto the A380 for the first time. Everything felt clean and new onboard the Air France A380, a really nice aircraft. I was a but jealous of the people seated in business class, which looked quite nice. Below are images of business class, my seat (92L), and the rear-economy section: 

Air France A380 Business Class

The last few rows of the Air France A380's Business Class Cabin 

Upper Deck Premium Economy (Premium Voyageur) on the Air France A380

The Air France A380 rear-economy section

Never having been on a two-deck aircraft before, I made sure to book my seats on the Upper Deck of the A380. Seat 92L was very nice, don't worry about it being close to the galley and lavatory, you could barely notice any people moving back and forth. The farther back you go from this row, the worse off you might be. 

 My seat on the Air France A380: 92L (Upper Deck)

The PTV and remote for my seat, 92L

Window view from 92L

Here is the video from our takeoff at IAD (from my youtube MartinsAviation1). As you can see... a bug managed to hold onto the tail camera for quite awhile: 

I got really lucky on the flight over, the flight was lightly filled which meant there was no one sitting in my row, in addition to many rows of 4 in the middle completely open. I chose to stay in my row and let others who had a seatmates take the open rows. It was nice being able to make a small bed for the overnight flight over.

Overnight, first deck on the A380

One really cool feature of the A380 is the rear, spiral staircase. I saw people walking up and down for exercise and stretching, taking their kids over to play, etc. I liked that they left the stairs open for the majority of the flight. 

The meal service was good on the way over. I was really impressed by the quality of each meal and the service going along with it. Dinner was great and so was breakfast. Here is a photo of our dinner and breakfast from the next morning: 

Our route of flight took us just south of Greenland, over the Southern portion of Ireland and England, and finally over Normandy, into Paris:

The route of our flight, as seen on my PTV

We arrived after a nice flight a little after 6am into Paris CDG and taxiied to gate M5. I guess you could say once again we got a bit lucky. The Upper Deck jetway was either not in operation or non-existent, which mean that we got to de-plane by walking down the forward stairwell. This allowed me to get a view of the inflight art gallery for Business and First Class passengers, as well as a view of the First Class cabin. 

Here is a video from our rather hard landing into CDG. It was cool to see the runway lights in the early morning: 

Here is a photo of the lounge/art gallery: 

Overall, I had a great first experience flying on the Airbus A380. It was a cool thing to say that I've flown on the Upper Deck. I would recommend trying to book a seat in the rear economy section of the plane vs. downstairs... there are a lot of benefits for no extra charge. 

Thanks for reading and watching!

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 


  1. Swayne,

    I found your blog through Brads, and I love what you have going on here. My name is Justin and I will begin my training here in just a few short weeks for my PPL. I'll be following along on your journey, let us know how the lessons have been going.

    Also I see you're from the Central Virginia area, I grew up about 15 minutes from Chesterfield County Airport, so the 804 and KRIC is home for me too.

    Happy Skies


    1. Thanks for leaving the comment Justin!

      That's great that you're stating your PPL soon. Will you be doing it out of Chesterfield FCI? Flying here has been a lot of fun, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Skies are pretty much empty! You can see more about my training with some videos under the training tab of this website.

      Thanks again!

  2. Interesting post about the Airbus -- love seeing the interior. And how was that food??

    1. Thanks! And it was actually really good, best food on a plane I've had by far.

      Thanks for leaving the comment,

  3. Another beautiful post! Keep up the great work! One day you'll take pictures inside my A330. I'll wait until I retire to fly with you. :)

  4. Thanks for the very thorough review! The hubbs and I are flying the A380-800 to Paris in September and didn't have many choices for seating. We ended up with 93A and B. I'm a little terrified because of some of the other reviews I've seen about having back-of-the-plane seats, especially near the bathrooms. Can you recall if this back corner seemed like a terrible place to sit in terms of traffic, smell, leg room, head room (hubbs is 6'2"), etc.? Where are the stairs in proximity to this corner? Also, you mentioned that the upper back of the plane had a few extra benefits at no extra charge, can you elaborate? I'm really curious. Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks so much for the comment!

      93A and B looked like good seats. Even the back of the plane on the upper deck is MUCH better than downstairs. I didn't have any problem sitting back there. The noise wasn't any worse than any other part of the plane, seats were great, and no smell. The stairs are aligned with the aisle that passes by your seats (the stairwell is behind/through the galley).

      One HUGE benefit are the windowside compartments. There are 1 to 2 storage compartments on the windows of all upper deck seats. These come in very handy when you want something out of the way, but easily within reach. See this link:

      Hope this helps, have a great flight! The A380 is awesome and I'm sure you'll love it.
      -Swayne Martin

  5. Swayne, Thanks for this excellent review of the A380, it's the best I've seen. Your photos are perfect! Hoping to fly this bird next September IAD/CDG/IAD. Best of luck to you and your piloting! bts3

  6. Hi, so I will be flying the same route in the exact same seat, do you have any other comments about seat 92 that were not mentioned in the report (is it comfortable, seat pitch, etc). Also, do you recommend upper deck or lower deck for a comfort perspective?

    1. Seat 92 was great! Being on the upper deck was nice because it was a smaller environment. There are much less people, so less of a chance for a screaming baby or something. Plus, the view from up there is pretty cool. When you're on the ground, you look down and realize how high up you are!

    2. Cool, thanks for the reply. BTW, I really enjoyed reading your review.
      Thank you


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Many Thanks, Happy Flying,
Swayne Martin