PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7094 posts, RR: 76 Posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 20779 times:
Going Down Under: MUC-DXB-SYD on Emirates (A332 & A345)
In early spring this year I decided to travel to Australia in order to visit an old school friend who moved to Brisbane some years ago. Though there are many interesting options available, it was quite clear from the very beginning I would choose Emirates. Main reason: Getting both the A340-500 and B777-300 (non-ER). When I checked all fares I even found out that Emirates was the cheapest option by far (some 1060 Euro), followed by Thai Airways (some 1200 Euro) and Qantas (some 1300 Euro).
Final itinerary: MUC-DXB (A332), DXB-SYD (A345), BNE-SIN-DXB (B773), DXB-MUC (B772).
Actually I would have preferred EK’s one-stop service to SYD (EK 418 via BKK) on the B777-300ER because of one extra flight at no additional cost – but getting the A345 was a priority.
Exactly twelve hours prior to departure I logged on EK’s website and checked in online. Many seats were still available and I chose window for the short flight and aisle for the long haul flight. More than 13 hours with an IFE box under my seat would be simply too much. I printed a confirmation and didn’t need to be concerned any more about the usual “seat stress” while checking in at the airport.
“Short of Staff”
Shortly after eight in the evening I arrived at EK’s counters and was surprised that no dedicated “Online Check-in counter” was available – though clearly advertised on the website. I had no choice but waiting in a regular row, with no progress noticeable for 15 minutes. Two large families at both counters with masses of suitcases and boxes slowed down the whole process. Finally I spotted a lady in an EK uniform and asked about the “Online Check-in”. “Oh, we are a bit short of staff today” , she answered. Though, after some more minutes she waved her hand and asked me to wait at the Business Class counter. With only one person in front, all the waiting was over soon and I got my boarding passes…
Shortly after 21:00 I went through security and overheard a conversation of two screeners, one saying that “163 passengers of the Emirates flight” would have to be checked. Boarding later confirmed that relatively low number.
First of all, I checked the aircraft’s registration: A6-EAE was parked at the gate, still wearing the World Cup titles.
Boarding was started close to 22:00 and it didn’t take very long until the light load was seated. After a very friendly welcome at the door I went down to row 33 and took my seat. First of all I noticed how hard that seat was, probably one of the hardest long haul seats I had ever experienced. Then I checked the well-known IFE box under the seat and found out there was still room for my hand luggage.
However, I could soon store my bag under the aisle seat since boarding had been completed and it turned out I would have the row for myself. Interestingly, the seats are quite high and there’s no space in between, giving travellers some more privacy. Here's a cabin shot from the database:
Very welcome feature: live pictures from the front camera.
At 22:29 we were pushed back and ten minutes later we turned in for departure at runway 26L.
We already accelerated while turning in, though the Trents weren’t really kicked. The LH Technik hangar brightly illuminated:
After flying a wide left turn we overflew the city of Munich and one could even see the “Wiesn” (Oktoberfest). Unfortunately, it was too far away for a shot without flash.
The entertainment system on the A330 is not the latest, though it offers 68 different movie/TV options, 26 radio channels and 50 games. The front and down cameras are quite useless on a night flight. Most of the time I watched the air show channel, though what I found disturbing was the frequent interruption of the airshow programming by advertising for different EK services.
”Short of chicken”
Menu cards were distributed early in the flight and I had decided to take the spicy chicken medallion. However, one row in front of me I overheard the FA saying: “Sorry, we’re short of chicken. Can we offer you fish please?” I wasn’t pleased – I usually eat fish, but the description of the chicken main course sounded better. When they came to my row I said I would still prefer to get chicken. Then the FA offered me “some food from Business Class” as an alternative. "But only after they have finished, that takes at least half an hour”, she added. Since I was hungry and didn’t want to risk of being forgotten I finally accepted the fish.
The main course was a pan-fried fillet of Tilapia with a saffron and tomato cream sauce, accompanied with broccoli flavoured mashed potato, carrots and French beans. As appetizer a “Breasola” was served, consisting of air-dried beef and a marinated grilled vegetable salad, topped with parmesan. Also on the tray: a seasonal salad, bread and butter, cheese and biscuits. The dessert was a “Morello Cherry Wedge” – a crunchy biscuit base, topped with morello cherry filling, encased in white chocolate mousse.
While the portion was very filling, the fish and the tomato sauce were quite flavourless. Best of all was the dessert. A wide range of alcoholic beverages was available free of charge – with the exception of Champagne which costs 30 Dirham.
After the meal I tried to get some sleep, though I wasn’t very successful – the hard seats didn’t help. After cabin light had been dimmed and many passengers were sleeping or trying to, the FAs frequently passed through the aisles and offered water and different juices.
When we left the Turkish airspace for Iran we flew very close alongside the Iraqi border – I’m wondering when that very airspace will be used again.
Interestingly, EK didn’t serve a breakfast prior to arrival, only drinks were offered. On Etihad last year (with identical flying times) we did get a breakfast. Though, I wasn’t hungry anyway this time.
The rest of the flight was uneventful and after only five hours in the air we already started our approach.
It was very foggy over the Persian gulf and even over Dubai’s harbour…
…and the city.
We touched down gently at 06:03 but it should take a total of 14 minutes until we reached our parking position – after taxiing around the whole terminal building. On the other side we stopped at the very last stand and even had to disembark on stairs. However, perfect opportunity for a shot:
Transit passengers had to leave the bus at the first stop and pass a security checkpoint. When I entered the large hall I was surprised by the masses of people rushing around, with a further concentration in the open duty free area. After some minutes I walked up to the departure level and found out that access to the large windows is very limited. Only passengers for their particular flights have gate access, so there are only few places where spotting is possible.
My gate wasn’t shown on the monitors yet so I simply walked around. There’s a clear lack of seats in certain terminal areas so that large groups of travellers sat on the floor and didn’t make it easy to pass. After a while I went to a restroom and the presence of several cleaning staff seemed to be a good sign – though I was disappointed when I found the fixtures and the floor covered with water. Not really encouraging…
Like at LHR, one has to wait until about an hour prior to departure before the gate number is shown on the monitors. When EK412 finally appeared on the screen I walked all the way down to the end of the terminal.
Wednesday, 20. September 2006
Dubai (DXB) - Sydney (SYD)
Flying time: 13:23 (hrs)
A6-ERJ (msn 694), delivered 09/2005
Economy, seat 36B
I was very interested to find out which A345 would operate the flight, though at around 09:00 I found the parking space at the gate still vacant. When I checked again 15 minutes later, A6-ERJ – EK’s tenth and last A345 – had arrived at the gate.
Then I saw passengers disembarking – it was obvious the aircraft had just arrived from a long haul service and for certain it would take longer than an hour to turn it around for the flight to Sydney. Though, no announcements were made. Later, after boarding had been completed, the captain explained that the aircraft had arrived late from JFK.
Boarding started at around 10:30 and - according to an announcement - should be done by seat rows in Economy, but no further calls were made. The result was a long queue because passengers destined for seats all across the cabin blocked the aisles. Not a really organized boarding process. I used the waiting time for taking another picture:
Condensation vapour was streaming out of the air conditioning slits while I went down to my row. A young lady was seated at the window and we had some small talk in English – later we found out we could have used German from the beginning because she was from Switzerland.
That’s what the cabin looks like:
The flight was packed, apparently no seat remained empty. Consequently, boarding took its time but nine minutes after 11:00 we were finally pushed back – almost an hour behind schedule. Minutes before we had received an amenity kit with socks and eye patch as well as a hot towel. The seats are much more comfortable than on the A332, but after 10 hours it’s also more than enough.
Faced with the noon heat at DXB, the four Trents started accelerating the heavy aircraft at 11:22. After a rather long takeoff roll A6-ERJ slowly lifted off, climbing towards the sea. Suddenly, while still quite low, we flew a sharp left turn and I had an amazing view of the city district below – including the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. Comfortable seating meant having no option to take pictures in that particular situation...
Shortly after takeoff crackers and drinks were served, followed by lunch some time later. Again I had decided to take the chicken while reading the menu card and this time the supply was sufficient.
The main course was a marinated chili chicken thigh, served with a sweet chili sauce, accompanied with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables. The appetizer was smoked salmon with marinated coleslaw salad. Again, a seasonal salad, bread, butter, cheese and biscuits were served. The dessert was a mango and raspberry mousse, topped with chocolate. No complaints about that meal, tasty and filling.
When we came closer and closer to Male I watched out for any islands, but all I could see was clouds and blue sea.
Now it was time to fully explore ICE – EK’s famous entertainment system. Here’s the main menu:
Control is easy, either by touchscreen or handset. The variety of channels is absolutely amazing - here’s a short overview:
Information: airshow channel, news, information about Skywards, Emirates and Dubai
Communications: seat-to-sea calling, phone, email&messaging (wireless LAN for laptops)
Entertainment (audio/video-on-demand): More than 500 different channels, including radio&CDs (over 6,000 music tracks, pod-casts), more than 140 movies (new releases, all time greats, Disney classics, Arabic & world cinema), 65 TV channels (comedy, quest, sports, drama & arts) and 41 games.
Each movie and each music track can be started, stopped, re-winded at any time. Extremely interesting features are the UK charts with every single no.1 hit since 1952 (!), the latest albums, essential albums and very best albums. I couldn’t believe it but I could leave my MP3 player in my bag…
Here’s “Stadium Arcadium” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers:
I listened to music for probably two hours and watched “16 Blocks” – even available in German (like many other movies). Then I had a look at the company profile – and discovered serious mistakes on the fleet page. They use an A332 picture for the B773s and a B772 picture for the A332…
The ICE guide is a small book with almost 60 pages – on page 2 there’s a table of contents (small size type), with a funny message:
Emirates would like to apologise for having to use such a small type size, required to list the large number of channels available.
There wasn’t really much to complain about the IFE system. However, the airshow is permanently interrupted (like on the A330) and both front and down camera weren’t available.
After the "ICE-marathon" a hot snack was very welcome – I took the beef and onion wrap: sliced beef, mixed with purple onions, tomatoes and mango chutney wrapped in Arabic bread. Several chocolate and granola bars were also available.
Finally, I tried to relax a bit in the dimmed cabin. Exclusively on EK: Dubai’s starry sky on the ceiling.
Some hours later we had almost reached the Australian west coast – though still 4950 kilometers ahead of us.
In contrast to the shorter MUC-DXB flight, FAs didn’t regularly pass through the cabin with drinks. And unlike certain other carriers, EK didn't offer a self-service bar in the galley.
I killed some more time easily by using ICE and about an hour prior to arrival a hot breakfast was served. I took the omelette with grated Gruyere cheese, accompanied with creamed spinach, tomato wedge, grilled veal sausage and roesti potatoes.
It tasted very good, though tea and coffee came followed too late and rushed. I noticed one young female FA who seemed to be new in the job – several times some items fell off the trolley when she put trash up there. Once a can even struck my shirt – fortunately it was empty.
The remaining flight was uneventful and descent into Sydney was started. Again I couldn’t take pictures from my aisle seat, but we didn’t pass the Skyline anyway. At 06:45 we touched down gently and taxied to the International terminal where we parked next to Virgin Atlantic’s A346 G-VFIZ.
With many passengers arriving at the same time, it took a while to pass all the checkpoints, including immigration and customs. Finally I reached the exit and left my luggage at a storage facility. Then I went up to the departures level and entered the observation terrace which is an excellent facility, offering great views of most parts of the airport. Wunala Dreaming with Sydney’s skyline in the background:
I met an older British spotter later and we could log a large number of interesting birds. Here’s A6-ERJ leaving again on its way to Christchurch:
In the early afternoon I finally took a bus to the hotel and finished the day – the next flight to Melbourne was already scheduled to depart at 06:30 in the morning.
In general I was absolutely satisfied with flying Emirates, despite some deficiencies – which can occur on any carrier, of course. FAs are widely professional and friendly, cabins are clean and in good shape, meal portions are enormous, the food’s quality is good. Even the regular IFE (non-AVOD) is already very advanced and better than on most other carriers. The seat quality can be limited (e.g. A332), pitch is not different from other carriers. ICE simply beats any competition, no need to elaborate further. I wouldn’t have a problem to go on a 20 hours-flight with that kind of entertainment.
Dubai airport as a transit hub needs to be improved, but I have no doubts that this will happen. I can only recommend travelling on Emirates and will fly them again in the future.
As usual, comments, opinions and questions always welcome!
9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 17
Reply 1, posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 20636 times:
Tempting. EK has been tempting me for years. But this FFP loyalty thingy which tied me up with MH doesn't allow me to fly them. I was like married to MH and they serve almost 100% of the routes I fly to. (I am FFP miles sensitive). I hope destiny will bring me somewhere where MH doesn't fly to, so that I can fly EK.
Carfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2029 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 20524 times:
Thanks for the wonderful report and I agree with you concerning the DXB transit experiences. There are just no staff to assist with many transit pax, and EK staffs are not always at hand. Even premium passengers don't have a separate transit line. Nonetheless, the DXB duty free shop is impressive.
About EK, you address the key problem of inconsistency. One flight, the flight was excellent, and then your return flight or even second flight is dull and unimpressive with lazy F/As. Then the third flight is great again.
Food is pretty good for Y class... as well as ICE entertainment system...
Parisien From France, joined Dec 2000, 836 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 20280 times:
Hi great report !
I had the same experience flying EK as you did this summer from Paris. The A332 from CDG was not the best in terms of seat comfort, but the rest of the fleet are good. They also have the smallest pitch compared to others since the 777 have 34 inches. how is the pitch in the A345, thats a long flight from DXB to SYD.
I also found it annoying the interruptions that are too often when you watch the air channel. The downward and forward cameras however are the best !
Desserts are constantly good on EK though the main meals seem to vary !
great pics you have there. Curious about the jetbridge going to QF 744 next to QF Wanula...looks like a really long jetbridge.
KL808 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1595 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (8 years 11 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 20044 times:
Fantastic report Udo. How did you like down under?
I still remember the days when flying to AMS from MNL, the flights would always stop at DXB and back then there where very little to no airbridges. This paved the way for some fantastic spotting of all types of clasics, though ilegal to take pictures at DXB it was always one of my favourite places to spot heavies. Oh well the good old days.
FLIEGER67 From UK - England, joined Sep 2003, 5238 posts, RR: 54
Reply 7, posted (8 years 11 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 19689 times:
Years ago I was also down under by SQ, interesting to read about your way to go on EK.
Waiting for the return or also some domestic report from your point of view.
Leskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 68
Reply 9, posted (8 years 11 months 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 19422 times:
good to see that you had a good flight on the way down... so I'll keep my fingers crossed that your return flight (which is taking place right now, if I'm not mistaken) is as good...
EK sounds quite good going by your description - though the inconsistency between the two flights is rather worrying; sounds as if the Europe-DXB flights seem to have the same status with EK as a MUC-FRA flight has with LH: feeder... so no necessity to have the best product on board... since it's really not the first time that I've heard someone commenting about the (longer) flight from DXB onwards having better service...
Too bad that you haven't flown on QR yet... I'd love to know how they compare to EK or EY...
Anyhow - looking forward to the report about your return flights!
BA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8703 posts, RR: 54
Reply 10, posted (8 years 11 months 6 days ago) and read 19194 times:
Good report, many thanks.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Actually I would have preferred EK’s one-stop service to SYD (EK 418 via BKK) on the B777-300ER because of one extra flight at no additional cost – but getting the A345 was a priority.
EK have never really appealed to be, the service levels seems to be too eratic for my liking. The only reason to fly EK would be to try and grab an A345 flight, though since EY has joined the operator list, oportunities are slightly enlarged.
JoeCattoli From Italy, joined Aug 2005, 577 posts, RR: 3
Reply 11, posted (8 years 11 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 19117 times:
Nice report remimds me my EK trip..... Just check my profile if interested.
I loved EK A345, and I flew this very A6-ERJ after just some days of operations... it smelled better than a newly built car... And had such a spotless wing...
Hope you enjoyed your staying in Australia
I enjoyed my visit, though the current weather is not my taste - very warm during the day and in the sun, and cold at night and in the shadow.
Quoting KL808 (Reply 4): This paved the way for some fantastic spotting of all types of clasics, though ilegal to take pictures at DXB it was always one of my favourite places to spot heavies.
Three of four flights to and from DXB during my trip included a bus transfer - there was simply not enough terminal space! I'm not sure about the pictures in these days, but I didn't face any problems. Probably too many people around so that nobody took notice. Taking pictures at AUH is definitely prohibited.
Quoting FLIEGER67 (Reply 7): Waiting for the return or also some domestic report from your point of view.
Some busy days ahead for me - but I will post reports about all sectors.
Quoting The777Man (Reply 8): You flew longer flights than I have on EK but I think they really lack in friendliness. Comment ?
FAs and ground staff were mostly friendly, I only noticed few exceptions, fortunately.
Quoting Leskova (Reply 9): so I'll keep my fingers crossed that your return flight (which is taking place right now, if I'm not mistaken) is as good...
Thanks Frank, it helped! Everything worked fine, no delays or other problems.
Quoting Leskova (Reply 9): sounds as if the Europe-DXB flights seem to have the same status with EK as a MUC-FRA flight has with LH: feeder... so no necessity to have the best product on board... since it's really not the first time that I've heard someone commenting about the (longer) flight from DXB onwards having better service...
I wouldn't say that the European legs are so much different - it rather depends on the very crew. Service on DXB-MUC was excellent and the B772 was already equipped with ICE.
Quoting Leskova (Reply 9): Too bad that you haven't flown on QR yet... I'd love to know how they compare to EK or EY...
QR is now a "priority carrier" for me (now that MUC was upgraded to the A330).
Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 10): EK have never really appealed to be, the service levels seems to be too eratic for my liking.
EK is definitely not ahead of other premium airlines and even lacks certain services which are common elsewhere (e.g. self-service bar on extreme longhauls), but the food and IFE are outstanding.
Quoting JoeCattoli (Reply 11): Nice report remimds me my EK trip..... Just check my profile if interested.
Actually I read your report again only a day or two prior to my departure, so I got some nice impressions.
Awesome album, eh? Track #10 (Especially in Michigan) is in my opinion the best song they ever made!
Quoting PlaneHunter (Thread starter): Finally I reached the exit and left my luggage at a storage facility. Then I went up to the departures level and entered the observation terrace which is an excellent facility
Did I get this right? The first thing you did after a 20+ hour journey was entering the observation deck? Hardcore spotter! The first thing I would do after such a trip is entering a bar.
I am looking forward to the reports about the other flights!
Mxp From Italy, joined Aug 2003, 465 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (8 years 11 months 4 days ago) and read 18457 times:
very good report.
U remember me last year when i took the MXP-DXB-MEL and i wait in DXB 10 hours to took the A345. Dubai transit should improved because at return we parked in a very remote parking and i was near to lose my FCO connection because we were deleted departing AKL. I run but how i run that time...
PanAm_DC10 From Australia, joined Aug 2000, 4261 posts, RR: 88
Reply 17, posted (8 years 11 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 18229 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW COMMUNITY MANAGER
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 14): Did I get this right? The first thing you did after a 20+ hour journey was entering the observation deck? Hardcore spotter! The first thing I would do after such a trip is entering a bar.
Thing is that to get to the terrace one of the entrances is through a bar, unfortunately I don't think it would have been serving drinks at that time
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 14): I am looking forward to the reports about the other flights!
As am I. Given the excellent review presented here I look forward to your assessment of the Australian carriers and domestic services which you flew PlaneHunter.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7094 posts, RR: 76
Reply 18, posted (8 years 11 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 17975 times:
Thanks for all new comments!
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 14): Did I get this right? The first thing you did after a 20+ hour journey was entering the observation deck?
Sure, there were too many interesting aircraft around which I didn't want to miss...
Quoting Mxp (Reply 15): U remember me last year when i took the MXP-DXB-MEL and i wait in DXB 10 hours to took the A345.
That's a long time - what did you do then?
Quoting Mxp (Reply 15): Dubai transit should improved because at return we parked in a very remote parking and i was near to lose my FCO connection because we were deleted departing AKL. I run but how i run that time...
I had the pleasure to enjoy a VERY remote parking position twice on my return trip - that can be a real pain if you need to get a connection.
Quoting LTU932 (Reply 16): It reminds me of what I'm missing after almost 9 years of not flying.
Nine years? How's that possible?
Quoting LTU932 (Reply 16): Hey, I would have done the same thing myself.
Quoting PanAm_DC10 (Reply 17): Given the excellent review presented here I look forward to your assessment of the Australian carriers and domestic services which you flew PlaneHunter.
One report is already online, and two more domestic trip reports will follow as soon as possible.
PlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 7094 posts, RR: 76
Reply 21, posted (8 years 11 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 17787 times:
Quoting Mxp (Reply 19):
I simply slept juts a little because the MXP flight arrive at midnight and when light come on did some spotting,carefully done, because is forbidden.
That continues to be a mystery - I haven't run into problems with taking pictures and writing down regs, a good friend and spotter hasn't either lately. Though, it's sometimes said spotting is not tolerated. However, I was stopped from taking pictures at AUH. Would be helpful to get an official statement.