Airline, airline, quite contrary, how does your plane look now?

Aviation/travel columnist of “Ask the Pilot,” pilot Patrick Smith may have gotten himself blacklisted. Not from flying, but from a media seat on a pre-delivery flight of Airbus’s brand-new and much hyped A380. How? By repeatedly pointing out the airplane’s supreme ugliness. Pondering the aesthetics of airplanes and the A380’s harmony-challenged design in particular in this week’s column, he admits his culpability:

Let the record show that it was Patrick Smith who, in this and other publications, described the A380 in the following terms:

“Without question the most hideous airliner ever conceived”
“The worst-looking piece of major industrial design of the past 50 years”
“A huge steroidal porpoise”
“The ponderous, beluga-headed Airbus”
“An aesthetic abomination”
“Oversized, homely, decadent”

Insult to injury, I managed to take a cultural swipe as well: “And from the French, no less, who partnered in that most haughtily unmistakable of all airborne contraptions, Concorde. At heart, this is the story of a peculiar cultural victory — the Americans as the elite, trumping those boorish, tasteless Europeans. Who knew?”

And so on. What, and no invitation? No first-class seat and VIP tour of the factory?

I have to admit I’ve never thought much about an airplane’s exterior aesthetics, although being fitted inside Concorde’s sleekness was thrilling the one time I flew it. However, I’m married to one of those people who, every time a plane flies overhead, stops to peer up to idenitify its tail colors. Whenever I fly without him, he asks me “what did you fly?” not referring to the airline but to the plane model. So I do pay some attention. And, well, looking at this picture of the A380 inclines me to the giggles, looking as it does like a cross between Sponge Bob and Shrek, without the soppy grins. “Beluga-headed” might not be kind, but it’s certainly accurate.

Smith further reviews the A380’s interior layout as conceived by Singapore Airlines, the first company to buy and fly the monstrosity, and its flight capability (not bad). For readers of his column, we’d trade in an insider’s view from a media seat for his sense of humor any day of the week.

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