The purpose of this trip was to use up a portion of my 3 weeks off for vacation, and to visit a place I had wanted to visit for a long time, Dubai. My friend and fellow contrails website member Youri Thonon and I also wanted to catch an Emirates A340-500 flight somewhere in the itinerary. We decided to fly westbound, around the world, and catch the EK
A345 in Osaka.
Routing/Flight No: Winnipeg-Toronto AC254 Seat 20A
Aircraft: Air Canada A319 C-FYJB
Load Factor: 60 Percent
Cruise Level: FL390
Flight Duration: 2hours 14mins
We planned on meeting up in Toronto, to connect to Air Canada flight 1, leaving Toronto around 1pm, so I caught an early morning A319 flight to Toronto. An A319 that I have flown quite frequently, C-FYJB was scheduled to make the trip. We departed off RWY 13 at Winnipeg, and landed on RWY 24R at Toronto. Flying time was about 15-20 minutes more than usual due to unusual upper level winds. Service was your typical buy-on-board.
Routing/Flight No: Toronto-Tokyo AC1 Seat 5A
Aircraft: Air Canada A340-300 C-FYLG
Load Factor: 45 Percent
Cruise Level: FL320 to 380
Flight Duration: 12hours 16mins
We had purchased priority Business Class (staff) tickets for the flight because we knew that Executive First was booked only about 1/3 full. The ticket was about $100usd, and well worth it. With all the upgrades, the cabin was only about 1/2 full in the end. We had 2 seats to ourselves on the left side window.
When we took our seats, the incharge flight attendant came around with a menu of the after takeoff lunch, and meal options for the prior to arrival dinner. There were different food options available, you just checked off which items you wanted prior to arrival, and they arranged to serve them to you at the time of your choice. It was similar to Virgin Atlantic's Freedom dining service. Meal service began shortly after departure, and the food was fantastic. The PTVs on this A343 were kind of outdated though. The video games were ones I were addicted to as a young child about 15 years ago. They actually brought back memories.... Super Mario World, F-Zero, Vegas Stakes... stuff like that. The resolution on the screen wasn't that great either... photos are attached.
I ended up sleeping for about 7-8 hours. It was a really comfortable flight. Departure from Toronto was off RWY 23, and we arrived on 34L at Narita, and taxied all the way around to the east side of the airport for parking. Videos are attached.
After landing at Narita, we went to the spotting decks where I took a few videos, but the weather was crap... low overcast and light rain, so we called it a day, and went to the hotel nearby.
The next morning the weather cleared up perfectly, so we took the bus over to Haneda, and spotted there for the whole day. Our hotel was in downtown Tokyo close to the Prime Minister's residence. The next day we went back to Haneda... did a little bit of spotting, then flew JAL's super-high domestic 777-300 to Osaka Itami.
Routing/Flight No: Tokyo Haneda-Osaka Itami JL1511 Seat 59A
Aircraft: JAL 777-300 Domestic JA752J
Load Factor: 25 Percent
Cruise Level: unknown
Flight Duration: 42mins
We had planned to fly Haneda-Sapporo-Haneda on a few 747-400 domestics (both ANA and JAL), but all flights up to Sapporo were packed because it was Golden Week... a holiday week in Japan. But for some reason, the JAL 773 flight we picked to Itami was completely empty. It was a nice treat. Most window seats were taken up front though, so I sat way in the back, while Youri sat up front somewhere.
We departed off RWY 16R and landed on a runway number I'm not familiar with, at Itami. Service was basic... just beverage service. It was a quick flight.
When we landed, we were gonna spend some time on the Observation Deck at Itami, but it didn't seem busy and exciting (at least compared to Haneda), so we just took a few photos of the airplane that brought us in, and high-tailed it over to Kansai for an afternoon of spotting.
The bus trip over there took about 50 minutes. We had to catch another bus from the Kansai terminal, over to the observation area, which costs about 100 yen each way. The obs deck at Kansai was crazy busy... tonnes of spotters up there. I'm surprised there aren't more photos from that day up on a.net, cause as each plane landed there was like collectively 500 shots taken from all the photogs. As the day progressed the sunlight only became better. We had all afternoon to spot there, as our A345 flight to Dubai was around a 23:15 departure. So we took photos all afternoon... and after the 345 landed, we went to the terminal, checked in, and left for Dubai.
Routing/Flight No: Osaka-Dubai EK317 Seat 34G
Aircraft: Emirates A340-500 A6-ERF
Load Factor: 95 Percent
Cruise Level: FL280 initially
Flight Duration: 10hours 15mins
This flight was really full, and as we checked in, they gave us like the last seats in Economy, as we were flying staff as always. The boarding gate was quiet, cause it was so late. We boarded ontime, and pushed 1 min early. The Emirates A340-500 seemed like a fantastic aircraft. The entertainment offerings via the PTV were incredible... 500 channels of audio and video on demand. Very impressive. The mood lighting in the cabin with the fake stars is really a great idea. And as we were approaching Dubai, instead of turning the lights on to wake everyone up, they have this tweeting bird (soundbyte) recording that goes over the P/A system that slowly wakes people up. It was really interesting.
As nice as the aircraft is, I did not find the seats comfortable at all. In fact, they were among the worst I have experienced flying long-haul Y-class. First of all, the seat recline is fairly decent on Emirates, but that only means the passenger in front of you is pretty much right in your face when they fully recline. Seat pitch was minimal too. Hardly much legroom to contend with. The seat itself, the base of it was horribly uncomfortable. You could feel sort of a frame around the seat, kind of like the frame of a bed. The front and sides felt like a wooden frame or something. It's very hard to describe. But it was almost like sleeping on a bed frame without the mattress. I was really shocked to feel such discomfort on what is claimed to be such a reputable aircraft.
In any case, the flight was purely a night flight, so everyone just ate the food, and went to sleep. I ate, watched an episode or two of Family Guy that I've seen probably 1000 times before, but it was just interesting to be watching it on a PTV somewhere over India or something.
We landed early and taxied to a remote stand where we deplaned onto buses and took a long drive to customs. For some reason it seemed like about 90 percent of the other passengers got off at the stop for onward connections, and only a handful of us were actually terminating in Dubai.
We spent the morning driving around Dubai, then overnighted in Bur Dubai, where the next morning, we went back to DXB
to catch Emirates again, this time to London.
Routing/Flight No: Dubai-London Heathrow EK29 Seat 17K
Aircraft: Emirates A330-200 A6-EKX
Load Factor: 90 Percent
Cruise Level: FL380 - 400
Flight Duration: 6hours 49mins
This flight was booked quite full. We were directed to a staff checkin counter, and were asked to come back to the counter 45 mins prior to departure for our seat assignments. We ended up getting prime Y-class seats... windows behind each other in the forward cabin, on the right side of the aircraft.
We departed from RWY 30R, and headed north-northwest over Iran. It was very interesting to see the cities/land we were flying over... as we were far/far from home and had never been to this area of the globe before. The A330-200 seats were a lot more comfortable than the A340-500, but entertainment options weren't quite as plentiful. But they were still good. Seat pitch was horrible, and again, with the pax in front of you fully reclined, you could hardly get out of your seat.
We landed on RWY 27R at Heathrow. The nose cam and belly cam were really interesting. The A345 had this too, but because it was a night flight you really couldn't see what they had to offer. On this flight, I took a video of the arrival, as seen from my PTV with the belly and nose cam on. Video is attached. In London it was raining, and we had to wait for the company B773/ER to vacate the gate before we could proceed towards it. We taxied all the way around the terminal to the new A380 gates at T3
, and deplaned.
After clearing customs we didn't do any spotting really cause the weather was such crap. The next morning Youri decided to take the 8:30am Air Canada B763 flight to Toronto, while I said good-bye and went to Hatton Cross, Myrtle Ave as I thought that was the arrival RWY. Turns out, only Speedbird and T4
-carriers were landing there for convenience, when all the action was over at 27R. So I went over to the appch to 27R, took some videos, and decided I didn't want to continue spotting if 27R was the designated arrival RWY. So I caught a bus back to the Central Bus Station, and ran as fast as I could to try to get on the same 08:30 flight to Toronto. It was wide open, and I managed to get from 27R to my B763 seat in like 40 minutes.
Routing/Flight No: London-Toronto AC869 Seat 13K (moved back after takeoff)
Aircraft: Air Canada 767-300 C-FMXC (freshly painted into full new colours)
Load Factor: 30 Percent
Cruise Level: FL340 initially
Flight Duration: 7hours 8mins
We pushed back extremely early, and taxied to 27R for an early departure. I took video of the departure. Shortly after takeoff breakfast was served. I tried to sleep throughout the flight but wasn't very successful in doing so. So I just read a few newspapers. Our arrival into Toronto was like 50 mins early. I was surprised they actually had a crew to park and unload us. Customs was a breeze, as I clear customs back into Canada using an automated kiosk via a registered frequent traveller card. Best 50 bucks I've spent in a long time. I said good-bye to Youri and caught a flight back up to Winnipeg.
Routing/Flight No: Toronto-Winnipeg AC257 Seat 3F
Aircraft: Air Canada A319 C-GBHM
Load Factor: 99 Percent
Cruise Level: unknown
Flight Duration: 2hours 18mins
It was nice to finally be back in Business Class after practically encompassing the globe in Y-class. I read the Gulf Newspaper I had grabbed from Dubai, and then listened to my ipod for the rest of the flight. Departure was off RWY 23, and we landed in Winnipeg on RWY 18.
Another great trip, and my 3rd round-the-world trip... and easily the best of the 3. Emirates was nice to experience. Economy Class has good food and entertainment, but seat pitch is ludicrous. That really surprised me. The uncomfortable A345 seat was a surprise too. The J-class service on AC1 Toronto-Tokyo was incredible, and definitely the best portion of the flying.
Thanks for reading.
Again, I've got hundreds more videos on this website here: