7. EK 201: DXB-JFK: THE FLIGHT
I. The Aircraft
Emirates operates the largest all widebody fleet in the world with 123 aircraft. The Airbus A380-800 is the newest addition to the Emirates fleet and there are currently 4 of these aircraft in service. So far, the A380-800 has been used on high yield routes to North America, Europe and Australasia, but the aircraft will soon be used on flights to Asia and Canada as well. One of the daily flights between DXB
is operated by a 777-300ER and the other will be operated by the A380-800 until the 31st of May before it is substituted by another 777-300ER. Emirates’ A380-800s seat 489 passengers in a low density three class configuration with Economy Class on the lower level and Business and First Class in the upper deck.
My aircraft today, A6-EDC, was the third Airbus A380-800 delivered to Emirates. The cabin was massive and very spacious. It was also impeccably clean and it looked as if the aircraft had just been delivered yesterday. The Economy Class cabin was configured in a 3-4-3 layout with a seat pitch of 32 inches and width of 18 inches. Overall, the seat comfort was impressive for an Economy Class product and I was still comfortable after my long 13 hour flight.
This Airbus A380-861 had its maiden flight in May 2008 and it was delivered to Emirates in November of the same year. The aircraft is wholly owned by Emirates Airline.
A6-EDC standing at Gate 201 at DXB.
My boarding pass for EK201 from DXB to JFK.
As I entered the cabin, the very friendly and courteous purser welcomed me onboard and thanked me for flying with Emirates again. She then took me to my seat, 47A.
My first impressions of the Emirates A380 were very positive. The Economy Class cabin was very roomy and the colours of the seats were soothing. Furthermore, I found the overhead bins to be very large and easy to handle.
The forward Economy Class cabin.
The spacious Economy Class cabin on the EK A380-800.
The soothing colours of the great seats.
The new Economy Class seats onboard the A380 were also impressive. With a seat pitch of 18 inches, there was more space than I really needed and the legroom was also sufficient. In addition, the seat covers were nice and soft, making the seat very comfortable overall. I could definitely see carriers installing a 3-5-3 configuration on their A380s, because there was still more than enough space left in the cabin.
Seats A-C in rows 43 to 47.
The generous legroom for Economy Class standards.
The beautiful widescreen PTVs and handsets on the back of the seats.
As the other passengers slowly began boarding the aircraft, I walked around the front of the cabin to take some pictures of the stairs leading up to the second deck. While I was doing this, I bumped into the one of pilots mingling with the crew and some Airbus employees. As he saw me taking pictures, he asked if I wanted to quick shot of the cockpit.
I was over the moon and thanked him profusely for his kindness. The A380 flight deck was massive and the pilots and first officers were all extremely friendly.
The wide staircase leading to the First Class section of the upper deck.
The massive Airbus A380-800 flight deck.
The unique curvature of the aircraft.
At 8:25am, boarding had been completed and the doors were shut. Even though the load in Economy was barely 50%, the forward cabin was completely packed to the brim. At 8:30am sharp, EK201 was pushed back from Gate 201 and the safety video was shown first in Arabic and then in English. Soon after, the four GP7270 were turned on one by one.
The very nice tail view as boarding had been completed.
The relatively small A380 window.
The start of the In-flight Safety Video.
Five minutes after pushback, A6-EDC was cleared to taxi to runway 12R. As the engines spooled up to move the 550 tonne aircraft, I was amazed at how quiet the cabin was. All I could hear was a swoosh behind me – this was by far the quietest aircraft I had ever been on. By 8:40am, A6-EDC was holding short of runway 12R.
The outside of the new Concourse 2.
The Dubai International Airport control tower.
An Emirates 777-300ER giving way to A6-EDC.
After an Emirates 777-300ER and A330-200 took off, A6-EDC taxied onto runway 12R. At 8:45am, the GP7270 engines were powered to full thrust and the heavy A380 slowly began moving forward. Even though the load on today’s flight was quite light, the aircraft was packed full of fuel for the 13 hour flight to JFK
, which made for a very long roll down runway 12R. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, EK201 lifted off from Dubai International Airport at 8:46am.
An A330-200 waiting for clearance to takeoff.
Runway 12R as seen through the forward camera.
The large Emirates maintenance hangers as EK201 sped down the runway.
III. In the Air
A6-EDC climbed out of Dubai at a very slow rate. Another observation I made as soon as we hit some rough air was how well the A380 handled turbulence. The massive behemoth barely shook as it hit some light clouds; I guess size does matter! After more than ten minutes, the seatbelt sign was turned off and an information video about the new Emirates A380 was shown.
EK201 lifting off from runway 12R.
The outskirts of Dubai on this foggy morning.
The two port side GP7270 engines working hard.
Greenery in the middle of the desert.
As I had heard that there was still plenty of space at the back of the Economy Class cabin, I decided to move seat so that I had some more space. Sadly, many passengers had already done the same and I could no longer find a row that I could have all to myself. The crew were very proactive when they saw me looking for a new seat and they helped me find a nice place. I settled for seat 81A in the end, because it had unlimited legroom and there was no one else sitting the in the seats around me.
My new seat at the rear of the Economy Class cabin: 81A.
The stunning Emirates welcome screen on the widescreen PTV.
The huge port side A380 wing.
The endless legroom at seat 81A.
About one hour after takeoff, the breakfast service began. Emirates has a special menu designed for the A380, which complimented the new sleek product the airline offers on its new aircraft. I liked all three breakfast options, but I went for the Breakfast Grill in the end.
The new Emirates A380 menu.
The breakfast selection after takeoff from Dubai.
“Mr. Globetraveller, what would you like to have for breakfast this morning?”
“I would like to have the Breakfast Grill please.”
“Certainly. Would you also like something else to drink?”
“No. I’m fine for now. Thanks”
“Sure. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you would like something later on.”
The Irish stewardess had obviously remembered my name after I had been scouting around for some free seats, but I was still very impressed by the service she provided. The breakfast tray was very cluttered and even smaller than the trays on the Emirates 777-300ERs. However, the food tasted very good once again. I especially liked the herb cream egg roll, which was odd, because I usually hate eggs from in-flight catering.
The very cluttered breakfast tray.
The very tasty Breakfast Grill.
In the meantime, EK201 was flying over Iran and the views of the landscape below were breathtaking. One of the positive aspects of the A380 flight to New York is that it is a 13 hour day flight. This allows passengers to see the changing scenery below, which varies from desserts to arctic tundra.
The dramatic landscape after the breakfast service had come to an end.
The snow covered mountains over central Iran.
The rugged Iranian landscape below.
The Flight Path Information Channel as EK201 approached Tehran.
After admiring the landscape below for some time, my crazy schedule and lack of sleep over the past few days started to catch up with me. Thankfully, seat 81A was perfect for sleeping. The seat’s recline was generous for Economy Class standards and the huge legroom allowed me to stretch forward as much as I wanted.
Tehran, Iran's capital, at the foot of the Alborz Mountains.
A postcard shot of the port side A380-800 wing over the Alborz Mountains.
The amazing landscape below.
Apls? Rocky Mountains? Alborz Mountains? It could any of them.
After sleeping for a good four hours, I woke up over Scandinavia and needed to use the bathroom. As with everything on the A380, the bathroom was impressive. It was bigger than the usual toilets and there were plenty of amenities available. Furthermore, Emirates also provided a very nice amenity kit to all passengers, which was better than some Business Class amenity kits I had seen from other carriers.
The very empty rear Economy Class cabin when I woke up.
EK201 making its way over Scandinavia.
The stylish Emirates A380 bathroom.
The new nice wooden panels and spacious layout.
I then decided to take a little stroll around the lower deck of the A380. As I was walking around the cabin, I found it very hard to comprehend that there was another whole level above me. If it were not for the two staircases, there is no hint of the sheer size of the aircraft. On this flight, as on all my previous flights, Emirates once again made very good use of the mood lighting, by using it to create a very calm and peaceful atmosphere in the cabin.
The large Emirates logo at the back of the aircraft.
The rear staircase to the Business Class cabin.
The expanse of the lower deck on this A380.
The small rear Economy Class cabin.
Shortly after breakfast, the crew had set up a small snack tray next to the galleys. It was filled with fruits and sweets, and water and orange juice was laid out beside it. There was also a small snack service about halfway into the flight. Most passengers were sleeping at this time, so with a little encouragement from the steward serving the snacks, I decided to take two Spinach Tortillas.
The small snack tray outside the galley.
My small snack six hours into the flight.
The small food selection midway through the flight.
One of the very tasty Spinach Tortillas.
With plenty of flight time left, I decided to take another, closer look at the incredible ICE IFE system. Other than the amazing flight path channel and the staggering film and music selection, I also really liked the system’s iPod and USB compatibility. Furthermore, the numerous outside cameras, especially the new tail camera, were also nice additions to the IFE. After exploring every possible program on the ICE system, I decided to settle for another few episodes of Top Gear.
The Information section on the ICE entertainment system.
The Communications section on the ICE entertainment system.
The live newsfeed onboard A6-EDC.
Four great episodes of my favourite TV show.
More than 8 hours of flight time had now passed and EK201 was now passing over Greenland. The views outside were simply stunning, as the sun’s rays were reflected on the vast, snow covered landscape. It was almost unthinkable that merely six hours ago, A6-EDC was flying over deserts.
The barren, snow covered arctic landscape.
Some of the dazzling sights of Greenland.
The tail camera as EK201 continued its journey over the North Atlantic.
Where the ice meets the sea...
Just before the lunch service began, a video on arriving in the United States was shown on the PTVs. It outlined the basic visa requirements for passengers and it went on for what seemed like hours. Thankfully, the lunch service was there to distract me. To begin with, passengers were offered a choice of drinks and the usual Emirates Savoury Biscuits.
The never-ending US Arrival video.
The astonishing Arctic ice-sheets.
The pre-lunch service.
The standard Emirates savoury biscuits.
About 15 minutes after the biscuits, the excellent Irish stewardess came around with the Lunch trays. I opted for the Porcini Mushroom Tortellini and, once again, I was not disappointed.
The neat ICE cockpit view as A6-EDC was approaching Northern Cananda.
The lunch selection before touchdown in New York.
The very cluttered lunch tray.
The views outside as EK201 made landfall in Canada.
The Salmon and vegetable terrine starter tasted very fresh and the Tortellini was very tasty as well. However, the highlights of the meal were the two desserts. Both the chocolate brownie and the cream cake were delicious and I was very tempted to ask for seconds.
The snow covered landscape in Northern Canada.
My Salmon and vegetable terrine.
The delicious Porcini Mushroom Tortellini.
One of the tasty desserts.
With just under an hour to go, EK201 was following the Hudson River down to New York at 40500 feet. I spent much of the end of the flight chatting to the delightful crew and sharing weird and wonderful flight experiences with them. With such a low load, the flight attendants had very little to do, but instead of sitting back and relaxing, they made sure that every single passenger was well looked after. I was very impressed.
Almost there after almost 13 hours in the air.
EK201 flying down the Hudson river towards New York.
The first sights of Connecticut below.
After spending more than 13 hours in the air, EK201 started its descent into New York John F. Kennedy International Airport. The weather on the East Coast was very poor and thick layers of clouds and mist covered the land. The descent was quite rough and the speedbrakes were deployed several times. At 14:05, New York Time, the flaps were extended and the landing gear was deployed.
The huge deployed A380 speedbrakes during EK201’s descent towards JFK.
Ice forming around the tail camera.
The oversized extended flaps.
A6-EDC losing altitude over Long Island.
As EK201 continued to lose altitude, we made a series of sharp turns to line up with runway 4R. Funnily enough, the largest commercial aircraft in the world was landing on the shortest runway at JFK
. At 14:11, after spending 13 hours and 25 minutes in the air, EK201 landed on runway 4R at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
EK201’s zigzagging route into New York.
Entering the JFK airport perimeter.
Seconds before touchdown on runway 4R.
Touchdown on runway 4R at John F Kennedy International Airport.
was very busy as usual when EK201 arrived just after 2pm. Numerous aircraft were taking off from runway 4L, so we had to wait between runway 4R and 4L until there was a gap for us to cross. Nonetheless, A6-EDC reached Terminal 4 at 2:25pm. The disembarkation process was surprisingly orderly and by 2:30pm, I was inside the terminal building.
EK201 holding position between active runways 4R and 4L.
The New York JFK Control Tower.