Update (Tuesday, 1:12 p.m. PDT): Lufthansa's A380 has landed at San Francisco International Airport, making the airline the first to offer regular service of the world's-largest passenger plane to SFO. But Air France is said to be ready to begin its own A380 service here on June 8.
Though I mostly write about cell phones at CNET, you may have noticed that I'm rather passionate--some would say obsessed--over commercial aviation. I was lucky enough to attend the first flights of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747-8, so I jumped at the chance to witness the arrival of the first Airbus A380 flight to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
Lufthansa will begin operating its daily flight from Frankfurt tomorrow with the world's largest commercial airplane. The A380, which will replace the Boeing 747-400 on the route, will transport up to 526 passengers in three service classes on two levels. The flight time will be about the same (a little more than 11 hours), but the sight of the huge plane landing over the San Francisco Bay will be a win for the entire region.
SFO will be Lufthansa's second A380 U.S. destination (after New York's JFK) and only the third airport in the country to get daily A380 service. Qantas flies the plane every day to Los Angeles International Airport from Sydney, and Lufthansa, Air France, and Emirates regularly serve JFK, but San Francisco beat out heavy hitters like Chicago, Houston, and Miami (the latter will start A380 flights on June 10) for the bronze medal.
Though Lufthansa and SFO will point to San Francisco's popularity with business and leisure travelers, the airport was the first in the nation to be able to accommodate the airplane (LAX, for example, had to reposition taxiways and a runway to make room for the immense 261-foot wingspan). What's more, SFO's decade-old International Terminal was specifically designed to accommodate the double-decker aircraft with jetways that could board each deck simultaneously. SFO first hosted the A380 on a "working visit" back in 2007, but this will be your first chance to actually buy a ticket.
The flight arrives at 12:05 p.m. PT. It then spends a few hours on the ground before heading back to Germany. I'll be on hand with CNET's Daniel Terdiman to witness the arrival and then crawl through all areas of the cabin, from the high-tech cockpit to the posh first class (check out SeatGuru.com for the complete seat map). Hopefully we'll get to walk under the airplane as well to capture its immense size--that alone has caused problems at the world's airports as this recent incident at JFK demonstrated--but expect lots of photos and maybe some video in any case.
Until then, though, I'll be on the edge of my seat in anticipation.