The King of the Skies

In this age of monster cars, mega mansions and super-sized burgers, it's hardly surprising that there's another giant just around the corner -- the new Airbus A380.

Unveiled with much fanfare more than two year ago, the world's biggest passenger plane will finally make its U.S. debut, with ceremonial landings in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The A380 wingspan stretches nearly the length of a football field, and the plane is as long as 10 school busses. It's 30 percent bigger than the reigning king of the jumbo's -- the Boeing 747.

The new Airbus can seat between 500 to more than 800 passengers, depending on how airlines cram them in.

It will also be a double decker.

"The customers will have, more or less, two planes in one," said Wolfgang Hayrhuber, the CEO of Lufthansa. "We will board first class and business on top, and will board economy on the lower area."

Airbus initially floated visions of shopping areas, cocktail lounges, showers -- maybe for any sheik who orders one, but not the rest of us.

"Anyone with expectations of duty-free shopping and food courts is going to be greatly disappointed," said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst for Teal Group. "On the other hand, people who think there is going to be one bathroom and they are going to have to wait in line forever, they are going to be pleasantly surprised."

The planes have 15 bathrooms, at least.

Airbus had hoped its future with the A380 would be as gargantuan as the plane, but so far it's been an $18 billion headache. The jet is years behind schedule, and both UPS and FedEX cancelled orders for cargo versions. No U.S. passenger carrier is buying the plane.

The jet is still not ready to officially take off. Airbus is has the jumbo jet in test flights right now, and says that commercial flights are months away.

But commercial airlines would have to actually buy the plane before we can fly in it.

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