This is the 3rd leg of an ATW trip I made last April:
This leg was 2 flights and written in two parts (both below)
ALL comments welcome...
HKG-DXB Emirates #381 Airbus A330-200
Business Class (3 class configuration)
depart 12:35am - arrive 5:20am
Duration: 8hrs 45min
Terminal 2 at Hong Kong's airport is immaculate and modern with plenty of space to spread out. In addition, it was not terribly crowded at 7 (I had a 4+ hour layover) in the evening. As I entered the Emirates business class lounge, both attendants stood up from the desk to greet me. Most of the lounges in this terminal are suspended above the 1st floor, enabling passengers an open air view of the inside of Terminal 2, while seated at the lounge. It appeared as though this lounge was brand new; even the bathrooms (very small) were spotless and had their own attendant. One of the lounge attendants graciously added my United Airlines frequent flier number to my itinerary (I could have used Continental also) in order to earn the miles with United.
The first thing that caught my eye was the spread of food and drinks; everything you could possibly want or expect was available: a variety of cheeses (labeled accordingly). several types of breads, nuts, figs, olives, hummus and traditional, hot middle eastern cuisine. Beer, liquor and champagne were self service and plentiful. Unfortunately, I happened to be in the bathroom with one of the kitchen attendants who merely splashed some water on his hands after using the restroom, before returning to service! It was then that I recalled that my hepatitis vaccinations were up to date and I was damn glad they were!
The first thing I noticed is how old this Airbus was, but I have seen worse. The business class cabin is in a 2-3-2 configuration and the seats have a ton of legroom and plenty of recline, but not completely flat. The personal video screens are in the seat back in front of you, which puts the TV at your knees when the person in front of you is reclined; in one instance, my feet got crushed because the guy in front of me reclined and I was in full recline position. Aside from this issue, the seats are very comfortable, given their age. The entertainment was streaming (as opposed to on-demand) and the entertainment guide did not correspond to the channels on the TV, so it was any body's guess as to what was available for viewing. In addition, the music channels were nothing short of terrible; it seemed the only choices were sound effects, classical and some form of music in Arabic (which sounded more like chanting). I found the cameras mounted on the front and bottom of the plane and then projected to our personal televisions, to be the most entertaining channels (and it was dark for 90% of the flight!)
The cabin crew were friendly and courteous, always approaching passengers with a smile. After warm, gourmet nuts were distributed, the flight attendants wheeled around a cart with open faced sandwiches; choices included beef pastrami, curried shrimp and duck. I passed on the shrimp, but the duck and pastrami were of the finest quality.
About two hours before landing, his and hers amenity kits were distributed. A leather case with a zipper contained razors, shaving cream Bvlgari skin products, kleenex, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, comb and brush. I headed to the bathroom to utilize my new toiletries and found more lotions and cloth towels there; an unexpected touch.
Breakfast (served with a fresh flower) consisted of yogurt, fresh fruit, rolls and croissants. In addition, a choice of mushroom omelet with veal sausage (it looked just like a hot dog), Chinese rice with white fish, prawns and scallops or Chinese noodles with chili sauce. I opted for the omelet which was quite satisfying.
All connecting passengers in Dubai are required to pass through a security screening area on the level above departures. The problem was that this process was somewhat a of a free for all, in fact "process" is probably too generous of a description. It was just a bunch of people trying to squeeze through 3 metal detectors without much direction or control from the security personnel. Leave plenty of time to attend this circus.
This particular plane's older interior is not the product that Emirates is famous for, however the service was still impressive, the seats very comfortable and although the entertainment system needs an upgrade, the food was delectable.
DXB-LHR Emirates #1; Boeing 777-300ER
Business Class (3 class configuration)
depart 7:45am arrive 12:45pm
Duration 7hrs 30minutes
The only way I can describe the Dubai airport is: a zoo without the cages. I started by trying to enter the Emirates business class lounge (there is a separate lounge for first class) where I found a line out the door, even though there were 5 attendants at the desk checking passes. Upon entering, I saw people sprawled out everywhere, some occupying up to as many as four chairs to form a makeshift bed for sleeping; in fact 50% of the people were sleeping. I walked all around the lounge, almost getting caught in a stampede that was headed to the enormous spread of food, but the food was hardly accessible because of the crowd. I walked up to an attendant and asked if there had been major flight delays or cancellations, to which she replied no and she inquired why I had asked. I let her know, as politely as I could, that there was not a seat to be had, at which point she expressed her desire to start waking some of the passengers up. As I stood in awe of the utter chaos, the lounge attendant told me she had found me a seat (next to a Mom and her there toddlers) and if I did not like the seat, to try the other Emirates Business Class lounge at the opposite end of the terminal (at gate 22) which was larger than the one we were in (even though the one we were in was as big I had ever seen). Knowing the crowd for food was too dangerous for my liking and without a place to sit, I grabbed a bottle of water and was on my way to the other lounge.
The other lounge was incrementally better, due to the additional space in the 2nd floor smoking section, and I was able to wash my face and change my shirt. This lounge offered all the same amenities, but was just as crowded. I headed to general population to have a look around and wait for my flight.
I passed the Emirates First class lounge which appeared orderly and not nearly as crowded.
If you have more than a four hour layover in Dubai (which, thankfully, I did not) Emirates issues you a voucher for a complimentary meal in a sit down restaurant; I believe the restaurant is dedicated to this meal service-quite a nice gesture indeed. I had forgotten about this service, until I saw (you guessed it) a giant line at the hostess stand.
As I approached the gate, I realized the main source of chaos at the Dubai airport; the gate areas do not open until 1 hour before the flight, which is fine, except foe the fact that all the seating is in the gate area!!!! Hence, all the people laying and sitting on the floors all over the terminal. When the gate areas do open, a giant line is formed (no separate line for business or 1st class) and attendants check passports and boarding passes. I asked the gate attendant if there was a separate line for business class, he said no and suggest that I go sit in the Emirates business Class lounge until it was closer to boarding time. Not a chance!
Business and 1st class passengers enjoyed priority boarding after a second check of boarding passes. I may have been the first one on the plane in an effort to escape the zoo that was the Dubai airport.
When I boarded the plane, I knew all the chaos I endured was WELL worth it. If cabin interiors are your hot button; book a trip on an Emirates 777 immediately. I would be surprised if there is a better business class. The plane's interior was immaculate and the 2-3-2 pod seat configuration allowed passengers to enjoy their space because the seats in front of you do not move towards you when someone reclines. The entertainment system was most impressive, with a jumbo flat screen television and touch screen remote. One could spend two days on this plane and not experience all of the movies, video games and music offered. All one had to do was pick their favorite artist and a whole library of the artist's music came up. You could even create your own play lists. Early in the flight, my entertainment system stopped working, but the FA graciously reset it and it was working within 10 minutes.
Passengers in business class were served a light breakfast of yogurt, fruit, pastries and rolls. After a nap, the flight attendant had no problem serving me lunch, even though the actual lunch service was winding down. The fist course was a choice of Arabic mezze or grilled scallops followed by a salad. For the main course, I had a choice of seafood ragout, chicken mughlai (chicken in a creamy spicy sauce), grilled lamb cutlet or turkey escalope. I chose the chicken and was quite pleased; flavorful, juicy and filling.
Customs at Heathrow was seamless, although a long walk and lots of turns, all one needs to do is just follow the signs. Emirates provided me with a "fast track" pass which allows you to use the fast track lane at customs, however, there was not much of a line in the regular lane anyway. Most of the hotels have shuttles running to/from the airport which cost 4pounds; be sure to exchange your money inside the airport.
Despite the over crowding at the Emirates lounges in Dubai, Emirates provides an exceptional business class product that I will definitely use again!
THANK YOU FOR READING! NEXT TIME....PICS!