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A superjumbo first impression

Airbus A380 jetliner flies 455 passengers in spacious comfort from Singapore to Sydney.

The first commercial A380 flight touches down Thursday at Sydney International Airport in Australia. The A380 is the world’s largest commercial passenger airliner, surpassing Boeing’s 747.

AP photos

Australians Tony and Julie Elwood share a romantic moment in the exclusive suite aboard the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 on Thursday. The plane made aviation history Thursday, carrying 455 passengers from Singapore to Sydney.

ON BOARD FLIGHT SQ380 — The world’s largest jetliner made aviation history Thursday, completing its first commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney with 455 passengers, some of them ensconced in luxury suites and double beds.

The Airbus superjumbo lifted off from Singapore’s Changi Airport and landed about seven hours later in Sydney. Also aboard Flight SQ380 was a crew of about 30, including four pilots.

Flight attendants handed out champagne and certificates to passengers, some of whom paid tens of thousands of dollars in an online auction for seats.

“I have never been in anything like this in the air before in my life,” said Australian Tony Elwood, reclining with his wife, Julie, on the double bed in their private first-class suite.

“It is going to make everything else after this simply awful,” he said, sipping Dom Perignon champagne after a lunch of marinated lobster and double boiled chicken soup. He paid $50,000 for the two places.

The double-decker A380 ends the nearly 37-year reign of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet as the world’s most spacious passenger plane. Its European manufacturer, Airbus SAS, also claims that the A380 is the most fuel efficient and quietest passenger jet ever built.

The A380 was delivered to Singapore Airlines on Oct. 15, nearly two years behind schedule after billions of dollars in cost overruns for Airbus. Still, the wait was worth it, says Singapore Airlines, which got the exclusivity of being the plane’s sole operator for 10 months.

“This is indeed a new milestone in the timeline of aviation,” said Chew Choon Seng, chief executive of Singapore Airlines (SIA) in a speech before the departure.

The Boeing 747 jumbo jet generally carries about 400 passengers. The A380 — as tall as a seven-story building with each wing big enough to hold 70 cars — is capable of carrying 853 passengers in an all-economy class configuration.

However, Singapore Airlines opted for 471 seats in three classes — 12 Singapore Airlines Suites, 60 business class and 399 economy class.

Each suite, enclosed by sliding doors, is fitted with a leather upholstered seat, a table, a 23-inch flat screen TV, laptop connections and a range of office software. A separate bed folds up into the wall. Two of the suites can be joined to provide double beds, one of which the Elwoods occupied.

On the upper deck, business class seats can turn into wide flat beds, while the economy class seats on both decks have more leg and knee room, the carrier says. Business class passengers also have a bar area.

SIA has ordered 19 A380s, hoping to benefit from a boom in air travel that has seen global air traffic growing 5 to 10 percent a year.

Dubai-based Emirates, Airbus’ largest A380 customer with 55 on order, will take its first delivery in August.

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