Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Flight: EK 018
Route: Manchester, England (MAN) to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
Aircraft: Airbus A380-861 (A388)
Age: 3 years
Scheduled departure time
Jul 11, 14:10
Scheduled arrival time
Jul 12, 00:15
I was rather more excited about today's flight than most other flights I've been on. One simple reason: it was my first time on the A380.
I'd heard and read great things about the superjumbo and I was eager to sample it first hand. Also, it would be my first time flying Emirates – something else I was looking forward to. All of my long-haul flights in the past have been with either British or US carriers, namely Virgin Atlantic and US Airways. It would be good to experience one of the Gulf's legacy carriers.
I booked my flight some weeks earlier using Emirates' official website, spending £523.31 (around $822.90) on a return economy ticket to Dubai. I checked in online the evening before, which was straightforward, and then proceeded to the bag drop off point at the Emirates check-in area in Manchester's Terminal 1 a few hours before departure time.
I overheard a check-in agent telling a fellow passenger that this afternoon's flight was completely full and there was not an empty seat on the aircraft. This is obviously good news for Emirates and quite impressive, given they have three daily services to Dubai from Manchester, the other two flights being operated by the A330-200 and 777-300ER.
The boarding process was pretty swift and several of the cabin crew scattered around the aircraft greeted me warmly as I made my way to my seat. Some passengers seemed to have difficulty finding their correct seats for some reason, but the crew were extremely patient and helpful in assisting them.
The aircraft's interior was clean and very spacious, and had small touches that added an air of quality – like the chrome accents on the overhead locker handles and the wood-effect trim on each window frame. My economy seat provided 32.0" pitch and 18.0" width, and felt pretty comfortable. The crew handed us a refreshing hot towel each before departure.
The British pilot introduced himself and advised of the flight time, routing, weather, etc. and promised we would be pushing back after completing some administrative duties.
An ex-Virgin Atlantic A346 (G-VSHY) taxies for takeoff, which is ultimately heading back to Airbus for A350 certifications
We pushed back around twenty minutes late and made our way to runway 23R, escorted by one of the airport's “Follow Me” cars. We took off quietly into the sunny Manchester sky.
The A380 is certainly an impressive aircraft – it flies smoothly and feels very well built. Passengers are well shielded from noise courtesy of quiet engines and excellent soundproofing, which makes conversations less laboured and headphones easier to hear when using the airline's excellent in-flight entertainment system (ICE).
Prior to the lunch service, we were handed menus and offered a drink and a packet of savoury biscuits to whet our appetites. The crew looked very presentable and were mostly quite young.
Somewhere over Germany, lunch was served – an opportunity to “enjoy [Emirates'] award-winning cuisine, complemented by the finest beverages from a selection of wines, spirits, beers, liqueurs and soft drinks,” to quote the menu card.
I was actually very impressed with the presentation of lunch and the generous portions. Appetiser consisted of smoked trout with salad, followed by my personal choice of oriental style chicken breast, accompanied by chilli mashed potatoes and mixed grilled vegetables.
The alternative option was salmon fillet with a lemon risotto and broccoli. My dessert was morello cherry torte, followed by cheese and biscuits, tea or coffee and chocolates. In addition to all this, a snack box of Jacob's Cream Crackers and bruschetta with a delicious sweet chilli dipping sauce was included, presumably for later in the flight, as this was the only main meal service offered.
Lunch is served! As you can see, generous portions!
So how did the food taste? Very good, actually! The chicken breast was tender, a welcome change from the tough chicken I've been subjected to on other airlines; the chilli mashed potatoes were delicious too, along with the vegetables. The smoked trout and salad tasted fresh and the dessert was an indulgent treat! I washed it all down with Heineken, followed by coffee.
A nice touch was that real cutlery was provided, instead of the usual cheap plastic affair, complete with the company's logo.
The next few hours slipped by quickly and the cabin's time-sensitive mood lighting adapted to the setting sun outside. By the time we were flying over Iraq, it was pitch black outside and stars were projected on the ceiling of the cabin. According to Emirates, the stars reflect real-life constellations.
The skies were clear outside which afforded a twinkling night-time view of Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. The pilot announced we would be starting our descent into Dubai, but had been advised by ATC that there were some delays as it was a very busy time. It was a reasonably humid evening with temperatures around 35C/95F and light north-westerly winds.
Our approach would bring us over the neighbouring city of Sharjah and out towards the Dubai desert, before turning back on ourselves for the final approach to the north-westerly runway.
As forewarned, we were placed in a hold north of Dubai and circled twice. Around fifteen minutes later, we were released from the hold and proceeded to the airport.
We made a fairly smooth landing on runway 30L and proceeded to the gate, parking up next to a band of Emirates heavies.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Flight: EK 019
Route: Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB) to Manchester, England (MAN)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-31HER (B773)
Age: 6.2 years
Scheduled departure time
Jul 19, 14:35
Scheduled arrival time
Jul 19, 19:15
After a wonderful and relaxing vacation in Dubai, it was sadly time to fly home. My taxi from Jumeirah Beach dropped me off at Terminal 3, an impossibly spacious building with a characteristic dome ceiling.
Once I had checked in and passed through security, I headed up in one of the elevators to the duty free shopping area. Natural sunlight floods in through the massive windows and it's easy to forget you're in an airport as you pass tranquil gardens with lush trees and waterfalls.
The size and scale of the airport's newest terminal are truly impressive and help to provide a relaxed and pleasant passenger experience.
I boarded our aircraft and settled into seat 32K. The pilot announced we would be departing around twenty minutes late due to the late arrival of the aircraft and a passenger who didn't show up, meaning their bag had to be located and removed and the pallets reloaded.
There were quite a few empty seats on today's flight and the crew looked happy and relaxed. We pushed back in the scorching 45C/113F mid-afternoon heat and made our way to runway 30R.
Takeoff performance of the 777 was impressive and we soon reached our initial cruising altitude of 34,000ft; later, we would climb to 36,000ft. Lunch consisted of chicken galantine with salad to start, followed by my personal choice of parsley mustard chicken with tomato basil sauce, seasoned spinach spaetzle, sweetcorn and carrots. The alternative option was mutton curry. Dessert was rhubarb streusel with a cinnamon sauce (delicious!), followed by cheese and biscuits, tea or coffee and chocolates. Again, I was impressed with the quality of the food.
Around two hours before arrival, we were also served afternoon tea, a selection of sandwiches, lemon cake and warm scones.
The cabin crew were very friendly and efficient throughout the flight, and rarely disappeared from view. They offered drinks several times throughout the flight, as well as refreshing cold towels on two occasions.
Additionally, the cabin remained clean throughout the length of the light, including the restrooms, which had cologne and lotions free to use.
The pilot made up some time along the way, meaning we touched down on Manchester's runway 23R only several minutes late.
In conclusion, I was very impressed with the service I received on both Emirates flights. The cabin crew's service was extremely attentive and polite, and I got the impression they were truly happy to work for Emirates.
Both aircraft were in excellent condition and the quality and quantity of the food was excellent. The in-flight entertainment contained a veritable smorgasbord of music, movies and games to keep passengers amused for hours and hours. In short, I would certainly recommend Emirates and the service I received exceeded my expectations.