Airbus A380 bar wars: Qatar, Emirates and Etihad

Airbus A380 bar wars: Qatar, Emirates and Etihad

Airbus’ early concepts for the A380 teased plenty of innovative ways to use the plane’s ample space.

But only a handful of the dozen airlines flying the double-decker jet chose to swap revenue-raising seats for a lounge where first and business class passengers can mingle at 40,000 feet.

Qatar Airways is the latest to join the superjumbo social club, alongside Gulf competitors Emirates and Etihad and, to a lesser extent, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Qantas.

Qatar’s A380 lounge

Qatar’s curvaceous combo bar/lounge sits at the rear of the business class cabin on the A380’s top deck.

The sweeping design comes incorporates sofa-style seating and elegant lighting.

The bar’s location also puts it just ahead of a small 56 seat economy cabin, where passengers will be afforded tantalising glimpses through the curtain of life at the pointy end.

Photo tour: Inside Qatar’s Airbus A380 first, business class

Emirates' A380 bar

Emirates won boasting rights as the first A380 airline to boast a stand-up bar, complete with an on-duty bartender to keep the spirits, snacks and chat flowing.

This nook at the tail-end of Emirates’ A380 upper deck has become a favourite haunt for many business travellers and frequent flyers, even if it’s just a way to stretch your legs or a change of scenery on long flights.

Etihad’s A380 Lobby

Taking its cues from the world of hotels, Etihad has christened the lounge of its forthcoming Airbus 380s as The Lobby.

This serviced lounge and bar is located between the first and business class cabins.

The design is inspired by the Arabian concept of the Majlis, which is a space where guests are met and entertained.

Etihad’s unique approach sees The Lobby as an area which offers the social qualities of a bar without looking like a bar.

It includes a semi-circular leather sofa, a marquetry table and a 32 inch TV screen on which passengers can watch live TV channels.

While no other airlines match the Gulf trio, four have at least set aside a little room for something other than seats and stand-up refreshment areas.

Korean Air’s A380 Prestige Lounge is more of a large lounge than a bar...

... although there’s a to-be-expected assortment of snacks and drinks.

The front-right corner of the A380’s nose is a popular nook for small lounges so that travellers can at least escape their seat for a sofa.

This includes Qantas…

… and Asiana Airlines.

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David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • euroboy1977


    17 Sep, 2014 12:33 am

    What about Virgin Atlantic? They have a bar too.

    The design of the Bar's on Korean and Asiana are way too sterile and hospital like, resembling bathrooms. The other airlines have got it right, going for a warmer and more welcoming tone. 

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  • R2D2


    17 Sep, 2014 02:02 am

    I don't think they own any A380's though do they?

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  • euroboy1977


    17 Sep, 2014 02:04 am

    I don't know myself. I missed that bit. Oops

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  • Robert Eden


    17 Sep, 2014 09:11 am

    Ya..But read the story.And they retain no A380 aircraft.

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  • therealqueen


    17 Sep, 2014 07:24 am

    You have the middle eastern carriers and then you have qantas. Cant stop laughing. 

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  • Alvin Tse


    17 Sep, 2014 08:43 am

    Korean Air precedes Qantas in the list...I don't think Korea (North or South) is in the Middle East, but I stand corrected. ;)

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  • smit0847


    17 Sep, 2014 09:24 am

    Many airlines ultimately find the lounge area at the front right becomes a complete waste of space (eg TG A380). With a comfortable seat, no one needs another one. For all the silliness of the EK showers, at least its a space people use.

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  • gumshoe


    17 Sep, 2014 10:56 am

    Have sampled the EK bar few times now, it's excellent, with great range of drinks on hand too plusm et many good people from all over while socialising.

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  • moa999


    17 Sep, 2014 11:57 am

    Pity Qantas never got the fishtank as shown in the picture, and instead the stylised crew logo.

    I don't mind the QF seat - and great on overnight legs if everyone else asleep for watching a movie on the large TV.

    But there is very little service in that area - you are better ordering drinks at your seat.

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  • Darkavid99


    17 Sep, 2014 06:32 pm

    Emirates bar is great, especially for a short 7 hour flight, Ive spent half the flight there chatting!

    Got to say though the Etihad 'lobby' looks the prettiest.

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  • tattyhead


    17 Jul, 2017 03:04 pm

    +1 for the Emirates bar.  I like how the staff treat it as something fun and unique.  On my last flight they were taking polaroids of us pretending to serve drinks behind the bar
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  • TomCharlie925


    22 May, 2015 03:50 pm

    Thai airways also has a mini lounge on their A380 like Asiana. But I don't really think such a huge bar on an airplane is not really that Important. A small bar like Virgin Atlantic for social and for a snack would do just fine.

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  • Darkavid99


    22 May, 2015 03:53 pm

    Wait till you spend a good amount of time there Tommy - you forget your on an plane!

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  • sgb


    11 Feb, 2016 11:33 am

    The Qantas Lounge upstairs looks very plain.

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  • Joe


    27 Oct, 2016 11:26 am

    Emirates Clearly wins here. It's not only a very pleasant space to be in, it's highly practical and simply works very well. The other bars may win  design awards but I don t feel they are as functional as EK's bar. As or Qantas it really feels like it was a space they were wondering what to do with..."Oh lets put a bench seat there a TV and call it a lounge?!" It really doesn't fit into this article at all as its by no means a bar per se.
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23 Jul, 2019 09:53 pm


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