DALLAS — The Dallas-sprung Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Steve Miller once sang of a "big ol' jet airliner" that he didn't want to "carry [him] too far away," but the biggest of jet airliners -- the Airbus A380 -- was built to carry large loads across vast distances.
And when the famed "superjumbo" airplane makes its long-awaited return to DFW Airport this weekend, it turns out that its presence will be -- again, in Miller's words -- "here that [it's] got to stay."
After more than two years -- or 827 days, to be exact -- without DFW Airport being visited by a single Airbus A380, a British Airways-operated version of this certified chonker was scheduled to arrive in North Texas at 4:55 p.m. on Friday, July 1. It was then slated to fuel up, and turn right back around and depart for a nonstop return flight to London's Heathrow Airport not even three hours later at 7:45 p.m. (Update: After some delays, the flight is currently slated to arrive at DFW at 6:45 p.m.)
But travelers can seemingly expect to see plenty of this big boy in the months to come. At the time of this writing, every single direct, British Airways-branded flight listed on the airline's website from DFW to LHR (and back) between July 1, 2022, and March 24, 2023, is currently slated to be handled by the A380.
And that's a very big deal. Literally!
Standing more than 79 feet tall, more than 239 feet long and with a wingspan of more than 261 feet, this double-decker plane can seat (depending on its configuration) somewhere in the vicinity of 500 passengers.
So where's it been? Well, the answer is in that capacity, actually.
When the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic brought air travel to a grinding halt in 2020, most of the nearly 250 A380s in service around the world got holed up in hangars, their massive payloads not worth incurring given the lack of demand. That explains, too, why the last time DFW Airport saw an A380 was when a Qantas-operated one departed from its runways on May 25, 2020.
But now, with demand for flights reaching "excruciating" levels in the summer of 2022, many airlines are finally busting their A380s back out of storage and getting them airborne once more.
That increase in demand, representatives with DFW Airport told WFAA, is exactly why this British Airways A380 is set to return to service at Dallas-Fort Worth.
Still, frequent a flyer as this absolute unit appears it'll be to DFW in the months to come, Friday's arrival still stands as a milestone beyond ending the airport's dry spell: It'll also mark the very first time any British Airways A380 will land at DFW Airport.
Aviation fans are welcome to witness the plane's historic arrival from the airport's Founders' Plaza viewing area. Airport officials are quick, however, to remind that potential visitors should be aware that the plane could be earlier or later than its scheduled arrival time, depending on flight conditions throughout its estimated 10-hour and 20-minute journey.
They also ask attendees use the bathroom before arriving at the airport to view the plane's arrival. Because unlike the A380 -- some models of which even boasted showers -- there are no bathrooms at Founders' Plaza.