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Celebrations as superjumbo lands at Scottish airport for the first time

AIR travel has lost its lustre in recent decades.

BIG DAY: The plane travelled to Glasgow Airport.
BIG DAY: The plane travelled to Glasgow Airport.

From cuts in legroom to the rise of no-frills airlines and the post-9/11 gauntlet of security checks, glamour has all too often been replaced with stress and tedium.

But those lucky enough to be jetting out of Glasgow Airport en route to Dubai on the world's largest passenger plane, the A380, a taste of bygone luxury was available at 40,000ft. For around £3000 return, first-class passengers were offered unlimited caviar and vintage Dom Perignon champagne, an on-demand dining service and the option of a hot shower mid-flight.

Emirates, which has been operating A380s for around six years, defied the doubters to land the superjumbo in Scotland for the first time yesterday to celebrate its tenth anniversary operating the Glasgow-Dubai route.

Piloted by Captain Iain Weir, originally from Clydebank, the historic flight touched down in Glasgow at 12.40pm yesterday.

It had previously been thought no Scottish runway, besides Prestwick, would be able to accommodate the double decker aircraft's 263ft wingspan. However, after the idea was first floated in October last year some hasty remeasurements of the tarmac revealed it would be possible - albeit with a few technical shortcomings.

Since the airport is designed to accommodate only single-decker planes, only first and business class passengers on the top deck were able to disembark along the air bridge straight into the terminal building, while economy travellers disembarked onto the tarmac and made their own way inside.

Airport bosses believe this could be remedied fairly easily, but Hubert Frach, vice-president of Emirates commercial operations, said there were "no immediate plans" to launch the A380 in Scotland full-time.

Emirates doubled its Glasgow-Dubai service in 2012 and now operates two flights a day on its Boeing 777, which can carry up to 360 passengers a time compared to 517 on the A380. Mr Frach said: "It's still a pull factor for customers. Wherever it goes it turns heads because at the end of the day it's the world's only double decker and it's the biggest passenger aircraft there is. It's a superstar."

For passengers travelling in economy, the novelty is simply flying in a superjumbo. Once inside the bottom deck there is little to distinguish it from any other long-haul jet.

The real draw are its premium cabins which set the A380 apart from the rest of the Emirates fleet.

A curving staircase at the back of economy leads passengers to the business class bar lounge, unique to the A380s, where premium passengers sip Champagne and 18-year-old Chivas Regal whisky. Afternoon tea stands are stocked with finger sandwiches, scones and petit fours.

The first-class bathrooms are fitted with cubicle showers, another singular feature of the Emirates A380s, with fine dining a highlight of both cabins.

Those lucky enough to be jetting out yesterday were treated to a five-course lunch including Hebridean smoked salmon terrine, asparagus and mint soup, pan-fried beef steak, sticky toffee pudding and a luxury cheese platter, served on Royal Dalton crockery.

Four of the 14 first-class suites were sold, with another 60 passengers in business class where tickets cost around £1800 return.

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