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Some quick impressions – it is a very quiet airplane. Compared to the very quiet A380, the A350 is not quite as quiet because it has two engines closer to the cabin. The windows are simply huge (top of head to elbow) and this lets in a lot more light, making the cabin much brighter. Although the aircraft flown was still in test flight mode/configuration, Airbus’ 18 inch seats in economy were comfortable. We were light at 191 tonnes, so acceleration down the runway was very quick. A clear day ensured a nice ride from Toulouse, down to the Pyrenees, then a left turn towards Biarritz and then another left turn back to Toulouse. Total flying time was about an hour.

The surprise arrival of a French air force Rafale was a marvelous touch – Airbus assured us it was not planned; the fighter pilot apparently requested to have a closer look at the A350. For any “avgeek” this was an hour of absolute fun. Kudos to the Airbus test flight and PR teams for coming up with this idea.

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