Dubai to Shanghai Pudong
Airbus A340-300 A6-ERP
Flying time 8hrs 27min
I was abit excited that this flight had finally arrived. It would be my first time to visit Shanghai and also my first flight operated on A340-300 and i was curious to experience the working conditions. And after reading the report by Ryanair of his experience of flying in a former Singapore Airlines A340-300 i was curious to see how Emirates had fitted out the interiors of their recently acquired second hand aircraft. Overall, i enjoyed working on the aircraft and look forward to my next trip on it tomorrow!
Im pleased to say that there is no sign of its previous owner anywhere.. at least not that i could find. When Emirates took delivery of these aircraft they were entirely stripped down inside and several lavatories were relocated, the crew bunk rest compartment was removed, the galleys were re-equipped and reconfigured and a new air-con system was installed. Emirates First and Business class seats have been installed while in Economy class the original seat frames of the previous owner were there, they have been re-upholstered using Emirates fabrics. There were a few minor differences such as the PVS screens are much smaller then normal Emirates aircrafts, there are no drop down tv screens through the cabin but otherwise its difficult to tell that the aircraft formerly flew as 9V-SJI.
Now on with the report...
00:00 It was time to head down stairs to wait for my transport pick up to Crew Briefing Centre (CBC). Im not fond of flights leaving in these early hours because i find it difficult to sleep beforehand. Dubai operates as a hub for Emirates so most of the flights from Europe and the west will arrive in just before midnight and those connecting flights heading east to Asia and Australia will leave at around 2am to allow passengers to connect flights. So its certainly a busy time.
00:20 Our bus arrives at CBC and after storing my suitcase its time to sign on and i was instructed my a pop-up message window to hand my passport in to the duty officer. All crew are required to have a visa for flights to China so they just like to do a visual check first to make sure that a) i had remembered my passport and b) that i had the visa and it is valid. After getting this checked i was instructed to visit the cashier counter to collect my allowance before departure. Our normal procedure is for the allowance to be collected when checking into the hotel but perhaps with currency regulations, our allowance was issued in USD in Dubai.
00:30 After all of this it didnt leave me much time so i headed to briefing room 6 where my fellow crew were starting to assemble. I had not flown with any of them before so it was a table of new faces. We were making small chit chat about who had been to Shanghai before and those who had were telling us the best places to eat and shop. Our Japanese Purser arrived with the briefing folder containing all the flight details and our briefing commenced. We started off with introductions, then the Purser provided us with flight information, her expectations of us throughout the flight and those who had operated the Shanghai flight in the past informed us of their experiences and that passengers smoking in the toilets is always common so a run down of some safety and cabin fire scenarios were discussed. Our working positions were also assigned and i was allocated L3 door responsible for the first row of economy class to the L3 door. Our Captain and First Officer from Italy and South Africa respectively arrived to introduce themselves and provide some further flight information. Turbulent weather was to be expected for the second half of the flight due to storm activity in the Bay of Bengal and also because of the typhoon that had past over the Chinese coast the day before. After hearing this our Purser ran through some severe turbulence scenarios and about the actions to be taken just to make sure its all fresh in our minds.
01:00 The briefing was over and after clearing through the outward security check we were on the shuttle bus to the other side of the airport where the terminal and our waiting aircraft was. Once onboard and storing our bags away the first priority is to check that all of the safety equipment is onboard and located where it should be. Also checking the oxygen and fire extinguishers are to full capacity. Then we go about placing the blankets and headsets on every seat while the galley operators are checking all of their catering and stocks. Once these are done we gather in the aft galley for some more chit chat about Shanghai whilst going about the pre-departure preparations. These include the menus, hot towels, childrens toys/giveaways and a few other things.
01:45 "passengers boarding, crew to boarding positions" is the normal p.a. announcement to inform us all that the clearance for boarding has been given. The aircraft configuration is 12/42/213 while our final passenger figure is 01/12/127 so its certainly a light load. It makes all the difference on these night flights because most people just want some space to rest. Our Welcome Aboard smiles and greetings were not taken too warmly by the passengers and i was wondering why? But then again it is 2am, we have an 8hr30m flight ahead of us and most of these people have awake all day and possibly already flown in from a connecting flight. Oh well.. i keep trying and smiling away. The passenger profile is not what i had expected. There were a few Chinese, a few European but mostly they were single male Middle Eastern business men who were carrying brief cases and document bags. I guess Shanghai is the major commercial centre for China isnt it.
02:10 "all ground staff please leave the aircraft, this aircraft is bound for Shanghai" announced our Purser. This is an indication to all crew that boarding is now complete and also for any ground staff who may be onboard that the doors are now being closed. Us four economy class crew get to work handing out the hot towels and menus.
02:20 With our departure time now past the captains makes an announcement that the aircraft is ready to depart but due to congestion in Dubai due to construction works and heavy traffic there is a slight delay in our pushback. Never mind.. at least it gives us a few sacred extra minutes to carry out our ground duties.
02:26 "cabin crew arm all doors and cross check" as the aircraft starts to push back and we make our slow taxi to the runway.
02:38 we were lined up on the runway and after a 52sec roll we were airborne roaring over the suburb of Mirdiff in the early hours of the morning. The inflight announcements began in Arabic, then English then Mandarin. And the usual popular line "Members of the crew on todays flight speak arabic, english, mandarin, cantonese, japanese, korean, afrikaans, french and swahili". After 10min we were called by the Purser thats it ok to start duties but the seat belt sign will remain on due to some choppy weather.
02:53 seatbelt sign comes off as we were working away setting up the bar carts for our first service which was to be a savoury snack.
Asian Chicken Sandwich
large finger sandwich filled with marinated Asian chicken salad
crunchy chocolate chip cookie
tea or coffee
A few minutes later we were out in the cabin serving the snack. An English lady was joking with me that it seems such a weird time to be eating this snack but theres not much else to do during flights but eat and watch tv. We Worked in pairs on each side of the cabin. One crew was pushing the meal cart distributing the trays while the second crew was following with the bar cart offering refreshments.
03:45 With the light load and alot of sleeping passengers our service was already cleared in and the lights were switched off to allow as much sleep as possible for the passengers. As we were flying eastwards into daylight we went about closing all of the window blinds. When i return to the aft galley from completing this there were two trays of hot canapes for us to much on. This was the food from business class which was not served. YUM
! So we were munching away and getting to know each other, and finding out we had mutual friends. There were four working economy class crew and our Senior Flight Stewardess (SFS) in charge of the cabin who comes from China so we were picking from her local knowlege and planning our stay in Shanghai. With 5hours to go before the next meal service it was also time to designate the breaks of 2.5hours each which we took in turns. I was assigned to the second break so during the next 2.5hours of working time we monitored the cabin although it seems most people were taking advantage of the spare seats and spreading out for a good nights sleep. Trays of juices were taken out every 30min but we would mostly return back to the galley full or minus only one or two cups.
04:50 Flying just north of Ahmedabad in India the seatbelt sign is illuminated and the instruction announcement to fasten seatbelts is played in arabic and english. The two of us on duty had the dreaded task of waking up those sleeping passengers to fasten their seatbelt. We were greeted with a few not too friendly looks. And then as instructed by the Purser we too had to be seated and strapped in for a few minutes as we rode out the turbulent weather and kept on towards Shanghai. Our routing would take is in a direct line from Dubai over Calcutta and once reaching Mandalay in Burma we turned north-east and made what would have been a straight line for Shanghai except for a few diversions because of the weather.
06:30 Break time till 9am!
09:25 Passengers in the cabin were starting to rise so the lights were switched onto dim and it was time to start the second main service. First out into the cabin were the special meals which have been pre-ordered such as child meals, vegetarian etc which are presented by hand and then came the meal carts. On offer for Brunch today was:
Omelette with Creamy Vegetable Filling
omelette with creamy vegetable filling accompanied with grilled
Nuernberger sausage, spinach, crispy potato cubes and sauteed
onion with tomatoes
Asian style stir-fried beef with vegetables, served with
White Chocolate and Praline Truffle
served with cherry sauce
Cheese and Biscuits
Tea or Coffee
I was feeling quiet pleased with myself because i had managed to offer everybody the choice they had preferred and ended up with no spare meals left over in my carts. Phew! The perfect balance.
10:20 By this time the trays were cleared from the cabin. Two crew went about distributing the landing cards for China while myself and other completed the required paperwork for the liquor bars. Because the alcohol carried onboard is duty free when ever we land into a foreign country we are required to do a so-called stock take of the remaining alcohol which we have in each bar cart and document it. This information is then passed onto the local customs authorities.
10:25 Captain comes over the p.a to wish everybody a good morning, an update with time and weather in Shanghai and to inform us that we will soon be starting to descent. "Oh no".. i still havent finished counting the stocks in my bars and there still alot of work to be done... 1,2,3,4....
10:29 Our Purser announces the completion of the inflight entertainment and requests for the headsets to be available for collection just as the nose of the aircraft dips down and we start our descent... 5,6,7,8....
After finally counting the stocks, i make a round through my section of the aircraft to collect the headsets and also to secure the cabin for landing. Making sure the seatbelts are fastened, seats upright etc.
10:51 Finally with everything complete, my cabin secured and the galley all cleared up it was time to take my seat for the landing.
11:00 Touchdown in Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 3pm local time.
11:05 After a short taxi we docked at the terminal building after after a few "zai jian" "goodbye" "auf wiedersehen" and alot of "shukran, masalama" all the passengers had disembarked. Before any of the ground crew can enter the aircraft we take a sweep through the cabin looking for any items left behind before taking our things and disembarking. It was a humid 31deg in Shanghai at the time and it was even very muggy inside the terminal. It seems the air-con system does not function that well... or maybe im used to the blasting air-con of the desert countries!
12:20 Following a 50min bus ride in Shanghai we finally reach the hotel concluding a 12hr20min journey from door to door.
Again.. suggestions/feedback most welcome!
[Edited 2004-08-17 15:33:09]
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