Bigger isn’t always better …


DID you watch the world-record breaking New Year’s Eve fireworks in Dubai? I did. And the fireworks at Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building? Truly a night of record performances and a brilliant marketing campaign for brand Dubai.

Being based in Dubai and watching new, record-breaking events and developments appear almost continuously, it’s perhaps easy to think that bigger is automatically always better. But is it?

I hate the A380. There, I said it. I know, I know, it’s an awesome plane, a marvel of engineering and technology, but, please, don’t make me travel on it! No, you can’t tempt me with a complimentary business class upgrade either. The thing is just too big.

It starts with boarding. If you ever have the misfortune of flying in an A380 from an airport without dedicated superjumbo facilities, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It takes a lot of buses to chauffeur all those passengers to the plane. Just when you thought you’re finally there, you’re further delayed on the stairs boarding the aircraft, because fellow travellers stop halfway up to take a selfie(images of self) of themselves and the plane on their mobile phones. It’s a plane, for crying out loud! You board it, you fly, you’re done with it – why do you need to take a picture of it?

Once inside, things don’t get any better. Have you noticed how things (buildings, airplanes, you name it) keep getting bigger, but humans remain the same size? Welcome to the A380’s “Honey, I supersized the airplane!” conundrum! I’m not a short guy, though I’m not a giant either. I’m, you know, of average height, like most of us. Overall, I do not really have issues navigating the world around me, but the luggage stowage facilities on the A380 defeat me. I’m just not tall enough to reach them. Neither are 90 per cent of the flight attendants. Welcome to carry-on luggage hell. Did you know that it takes two people to operate one of those luggage drawers successfully? One to push on one end and the other one to pull on the other, because not only are the drawers located really high up, they are also very, very wide. Thanks to all of this, it takes about an hour to settle everybody comfortably on a full flight. Boarding starts 30 minutes prior to departure time, making everybody late by 30 minutes before the plane has even taken off.

The only things not supersized are – ‘surprise, surprise’, the seats. Perhaps I should book a luggage drawer on my next flight.

Disembarkation isn’t any easier than embarkation unless you’re landing at a dedicated A380 terminal. How many doors does an A380 have? I really don’t know, but last time in Jeddah, exactly one was used. One door. Two floors. Hundreds of passengers. It’s not pretty and it’s extremely tedious. By the time you’re out, another 30 minutes of your life are gone forever, supersized away in the world’s latest travel marvel.

I’m far from being a Luddite, but I do wish that 2014 will bring us a return of people valuing the beauty of small things. Planes with luggage containers a normal person can operate. Hotels that do not feel like somebody attempted to build a new planet. Meals that comfortably fit onto my plate and into my stomach. Let’s use technology to make our lives easier and let’s not let it outgrow us.

See you next month! I’m off to the gym for my daily stretching classes. My New Year’s resolution is that, in 10 months’ time I can reach an A380’s luggage bins unaided. Wish me luck!

Speaking Out 

By Martin Kubler