Date: August 23, 2006
Airline: Air Canada
Flight No: AC
Route: Toronto to New York - (LGA
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Duration: 1hr 30 mins
My flight to La Guardia was delayed due to Hydraulics problems and I worried about my connection with Emirates as I had to travel from LGA
by local transit.. The security check earlier delayed things with a passenger in front of me with every possible banned item in his hand carry, from toothpaste, hair gel to shoe polish. Do they not read the large signs and events in the newspapers….Very frustrating. Fortunately our A320 left just 50 minutes late and watching some tarmac activity taking off from runway 6R on a wet evening with scattered clouds passing a taxing KLM 744 en route to Amsterdam. The A320 banked to the right and then continued on an almost straight route to LGA
. An uneventful flight with service of a packet of sesame seeds snacks and a can of pop.
We reached sunnier skies over New York and the sun was slowly setting in the west, but with enough light to enjoy the view that was to come. We turned right and just under the wing the Manhattan skyline took shape, and I wondered if we would pass close by. On the other side of Manhattan, I noticed a 737 flying quite low over some buildings and when I looked straight down I realized it was turning sharply to the left to land onto the runway at LGA
, which actually lay right below our aircraft . I could only see the end of the runway before it passed under. I could not believe what was to happen, we were going to go right over the Manhattan skyline, the northern part which had the Empire State building. Fortunately for me the view of the entire skyline which stretched south from where the Twin Towers stood to the end which had the Empire State Building was visible from my window. We started to pass close to the buildings.
We had barely gone over them when the aircraft banked to the left again and we were now heading south, probably over the Hudson River, with the tall skyscrapers just below my aircraft window . It was a sight to behold, all of Manhattan lay below me. We passed a couple of buildings including the Empire State Building building which definitely looked taller than the rest of them, and then the jet banked left again, now with only the Northern side visible. Passengers on the right would have had the best view of the Twin Towers if they were still standing. I clicked away furiously making the most of the picturesque view below before it all disappeared in a blink of an eye .
We continued in the direction from where we had just come before the little spin over Manhattan, and at which point we started that sharp bend to the left, the ruway at LGA
clearly visible ahead, with a stadium. in view as well, which we later passed.
Never had I ever had to land so close to the runway at the angle that this tiny bird was performing. However, before long the wheels of the jet slammed onto the runway, the spoilers deployed and the jet taxied to the terminal like it had done so many times before. Leaving the terminal in a hurry after collecting my bags, I found the ground transportation which was an Express bus to JFK
. I had some other passengers on board and we left after short stops on the way, before leaving the terminal area completely.
The last of the sun's rays were setting in the west and when on the highway the silhouttes of the mid sized jets landing at LGA
could be seen in the skies above . We passed the stadium I had viewed from the air and a Continental 737 passed close to it, disappearing briefly behind and then as we raced ahead, it banked to the left and before long was right in front of us, passing us and touching down onto the runway at LGA
. Before long and with not much traffic to delay, we passed many signs indicating John F. Kennedy was slowly approaching . However nothing could have alerted me more that were close to JFK
, than a departing South African 744 which appeared from behind some trees, its lights blinking in excitement and it’s sheer size so clearly visible as it banked sharply to the left like a wave of goodbye from the terminal it had just left. Very soon, the many terminals of JFK
appeared and before long I was leaving the bus to walk in the large revolving doors with some very pretty Aer Lingus flight attendants who looked very sharp in their green outfits .
Date: August 23, 2006
Flight No: EK
Route: New York (JFK
) to Dubai
Aircraft: Airbus A340-500
Duration: 12 hrs 30 mins
The Emirates counter seemed quite empty and I wondered if the twice daily flights were actually good for the airline. Check in was a breeze and so was security. I went down into the shopping areas and with not much to see I decided to pass security and try and get a view of the action at JFK
from the boarding gates. Security was as tight here as YYZ
, with shoes being removed and scanned, and some having to walk barefoot. That all done, I was happy I decided to come into the boarding areas as the large windows offered views of the many jets around, including the Aer Lingus A330 heading back to Dublin. I walked right to the end where the Emirates flight was to depart and could see some flights landing and some taking off. A Lufthansa 744, Air France 744 were some take offs, while a TAM A330 landed. It was hard to see it all with the glare of the terminal lights shining on the glass. I had to push my face into the window like a child to get a glimpse of the activity in the distance. A KLM 777 was parked close by getting ready to leave for Amsterdam.
I tried to get a good shot of our Emirates Airbus A340-500 but only the nose section and part of the starboard side of the aircraft was visible behind the boarding gate attached to it. Soon the boarding call for EK
202 was announced and we started to board the A340-500 . I was hoping the 12 hours 30 mins flight was going to be a pleasant one. We were welcomed on board by very friendly flight attendants, who actually briefly lost their smile in amazement when I asked to photograph them . They beamed even more when I clicked away.
The aircraft was clean and we boarded directly into the Economy section of the aircraft. I was assigned seat 35A and I was soon settling into it. The space on the jet I loved so much was terrible. The seat in front of me was almost touching my knees if I slid lower into my seat. I tried to sit back but it didn’t help. I looked around to see what was causing this and I realized the lower back rest in the seat was activated. I pressed the button on the arm rest and the portion pushing outwards on my lower back moved back into the seat allowing me sit back properly. I decided not to use that option again on the flight. The ICE entertainment system standing for Information, Communication and Entertainment was on the fairly large screen on the seat back video in front of me. I pushed some buttons and the forward camera came on and I could see some vans mover around in the front of the plane, and it was very clear. The fact I would be seeing the take off through these very cameras excited me tremendously .
I decided until that happened to explore what other options were available. The Entertainment option just blew my mind over 500 channels of the latest blockbuster movies, music albums, TV
shows, comedies the choices were endless, that I actually put the entertainment guide away . I had +12 hours to decide what to watch. The passengers had now boarded and the announcement for ground staff to leave the plane was made by the captain. The winglet of the Emirates A340-500 with the logo in Arabic shone in the bathing lights of the terminal building and the last of the vehicles around the aircraft left as the beast was pushed back out of the terminal area. We soon taxied out of the terminal areathe aircraft lights dimming as we approached the runway for our take off which was to be on 4R. A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 stood eerily still in the darkness and then began its take off roll, only its thunderous boom audible it disappearing from view as we pushed down the tarmac.We turned left and the lights of the CX
744 blinked as it climbed up into the night sky , becoming one with the stars on this beautiful evening at JFK
. We turned onto the runway and within minutes were racing ourselves down the length of 4R.
The video on the screen showed us zooming down the runway, and soon the nose lifted and the letters 22L moved quickly under it and within seconds the runway could be seen no more on the screen, only the lights that lay ahead of us. I looked out of the main window and the winglets of the A345 moved upwards as the jet banked to the right to climb out of the busy JFK
area. We continued to climb straight ahead and then banked right again heading out towards the Ocean, from where after a while we would travel along Long Island, which would disappear into a blur in the distance as the cabin lights came on later as we climbed higher, though at a very low rate of climb. The cabin bustled with activity as the meal service began. Hot towels were distributed before we had even taken off from New York. The mood lighting was set on, which was set to dusk I think.
What was surprising the meal service was delivered under these conditions . The meal was relatively nothing much to talk about, though what impressed me is the way the meal service was delivered. Each flight attendant took a cart to the front, a total of three carts. The first delivered the meal trays minus the main choice , which was delivered by the second, and the third poured the drinks . So the meal was served relatively fast, even though there was no hurry as we still had +11 hours out of the total flying time. After the meal trays were cleared, the mood lighting turned to stars on the ceiling, which was the most beautiful thing I have even seen in an aircraft cabin. It almost seemed like the captain opened the aircraft ceiling to expose the stars above. That did not last too long, and before long the entire cabin plunged into the usual dark cabin, with some reading lights and the glaring seat back video screens throwing pools of light here and there. A flight attendant walked down and asked all to shut down their window screens. I could not understand why, considering it was still dark outside …I decided to test the ICE system and it was a breeze to use and before long King Kong was playing on the screen in front of me. The passenger at the side of me slept with his reading light on, and the guy behind kicked furiously into the back of my seat to settle into his cramped one. This was going to be fun all the way to Dubai . However I tried all the albums, movies available. We had passed way south of St' John's tracking down towards the British coastline at which point I fell asleep.
I later woke up over Bucharest where it was already daylight. I decided to test out the forward camera and the downward camera in daylight. It was fun and fortuntely we had some nice weather allowing us to see what we were flying over. I thought the view outside the cabin was better .
We continued over most of the middle of Turkey before we entered Iraqi airspace and we served breakfast by a very friendly crew. I later needed a stretch so I got to the back and after talking with them again, I got another photo of the crew.
With some 1:30 mins left in the flight people began to start preparing to freshen up.Soon the Zagros Mountains lay below us, the last light of the sun’s rays shone on the tops of it’s peaks, the ruggedness of the mountain preparing us for the harsh climate and weather of the Middle East. Soon the Iranian coastline lay behind us as we began our descent into Dubai airspace . The last of the evening light shone in the reflection of the huge engines of the Airbus A340-500. We progressed closer to Dubai.
It had now gone dark and the approaching lights of the city of Dubai shone outside the cabin window. Soon we were over the city itself, the cabin lights had now dimmed and the lights of the city were the only bright ones outside the window. We continued eastwards leaving the bright lights behind before we U-turned and headed back to the coast, landing on Runway 20L which slowly started to take shape in the seatbackvideo.
We landed shortly and the long journey from New York had now come to an end. We taxied to the terminal and parked close to an Emirates B777-300 and behind it stood two SQ
777’s. The Sheikh Rashid Terminal looked elegant and the famous control tower gleamed in the bathing lights of the terminal building. Dubai Airport was amazing, huge, bright and just past customs and Immigration a troupe of dancing arab local men welcomed passengers to the United Arab Emirates and Dubai.
Date: August 28, 2006
Flight No: EK
Route: Dubai to Karachi
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300
Duration: 1hr 45 mins
After spending a really fantastic night at a bar in Dubai , I decided to stay awake, shower and head to the airport for my flight to Karachi. There was no point sleeping for just two hours. I got a cab, and was soon heading to Dubai Airport in the early morning hours. I checked in really fast, after first going through the security check. The agent at the gate informed me the flight was wide open, and I could sit wherever I liked, when I asked to get a seat further behind. I was terribly excited as this was my first time on a Boeing 777-300. It was also a first for me on the A340-500 which I had flown from New York to Dubai . I proceeded to another security check passing some tarmac activity and the control tower, where I clicked some photos. Finally down a long passage, a glass separating the arriving and departing passengers, the former looking more weary than the latter. Up some stairs again, and we were in the Dubai Duty Free area of the Sheikh Rashid Terminal. The shopping was endless there but the prices were not necessarily the best. The Liquor store seemed to be the busiest. The Duty Free shops are on the lower level and the departure gates upstairs. Flight departure announcements could be heard every minute, both in Arabic and English. Some Emirates ground staff frantically searched for some departing passengers, yelling their names out loudly and their flight number as they tried to get them to the plane on time. At the far end of the terminal indoor palm trees lined each side of the departure gates, and a large mosaic of horses lined the wall on one side. Other Middle Eastern themes lined the other side.
Finally at the gate, I handed my boarding pass to the ground crew , who later made the announcement to start boarding the aircraft via a bus that would take us to it. I waited for the first bus to fill up, so I could be one of the first in the second one, getting the best seat to photograph planes on the way to ours. We passed a large number of A330’s, B777-300s including A340-500s, but the bus moved too fast and my pictures basically were very blurry. We finally reached our own aircraft, and I quickly photographed it, as well as passengers climbing the stairs, from the bus itself, being cautious photography is sometimes not allowed, with one of the front of the beast, and one of the nose from the bus, and with the passengers climbing up the stairway, As I climbed up I clicked one of the nose again and the large 777 engines. I got ready to click the cabin crew, and the flight attendant put her hand out and shook her head saying it was not allowed while I was still outside the aircraft.. I had a similar experience in Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways last year , so it was basically déjà vu.
I settled into my seat and was just amazed by the sheer size of this baby. I was in the last compartment which was one of three in the Economy Section . The load was indeed very light and I decided to remain in the seat I was assigned. After an announcement for Ground staff to leave the aircraft we pulled out of the terminal area, and I watched a few early morning Emirates departures climb into the sky departing to the East. Unfortunately we would not be taking off to the West which would have given excellent views of the city, passing the section of the city called the Deira, which had some buildings and where I had basically spent the evening before watching the jets climb into the evening sky, including a Sri Lankan A330 and a Cathay all silver Boeing 747 freighter . I switched on the forward camera and used the seat back video in the seat next to me to view the downward camera, which now showed a yellow streak moving rapidly down the length of the screen as the Boeing 777-300 taxied to the active runway. We passed the famous control tower having passed it earlier on the way to the plane as well as the new terminal being constructed. I wondered how those construction workers must cope with the torturing heat of Dubai to go about their jobs building the next phase of this airport. The forward camera showed another Boeing 777 in front of us, and until we had turned on some taxiway did I realize another A330 was following us. It was a march of the EK
We waited for the 777-300 to depart a faint boom filling the cabin as the huge jet climbed the skies out of Dubai. We were next and now I carefully took my camera and started to record the view in the seat back video of the runway racing towards us, getting the last few seconds of the runway before it disappeared all together from view as we now climbed out into the morning sun. The scenery of the city of Dubai and the blinding morning sunshine blended into one and gave a hue of brown to the view outside the window. We banked to the left and I turned back to look at the city of Dubai which now stood in the distance the skyline almost disappearing into the sands of time. We then banked to the right heading east , where somewhere close to Gawdar we would begin a straight course into Karachi. The flight of 1:30 mins was too short to even decide what to do. I browsed through the magazines and spent most of my time looking out of the window into the now blue skies with the Arabian sea below us. We were served breakfast without the usual service, the trays being brought directly from the galleys. There was no choice on this flight just a great Pakistani breakfast , which I ate rather quickly. I wondered what the group of Britishers who were more than the locals on this flight, were going to do or had they ordered a special meal. The trays were soon cleared and we were soon descending into Karachi.
The skies were fairly overcast and the the city appeared and disappeared from under the clouds. We passed due south of the city over flying the Port of Karachi on the downwind leaving the main areas behind before turning left on the base leg from where our final leg would align us with the runway. It had rained really heavily in the past month and the city had more water than it needed to cope with. This however gave it some greenery which is otherwise a brown hue on approach like Dubai. We descended lower into the clouds and experienced some momentary turbulence . The same time the flaps descended slowing down the aircraft. We finally broke through cloud cover and the city was now clearly visible outside my window. I focused on the screen of my seat back video and captured the perfect landing on runway 25R at KHI
. We taxied to the terminal and an A310 came into view of the seat back video . It was heading to the runway as another jet landed on it. I was the last to leave the plane and asked some of the crew at the back I wanted a photo, they said someone at the front would help , shyly walking away from me. I finally reached the front after passing through all three compartments and asked some other startled cabin crew members about my interests and they posed unexpectedly and very surprised, I think none of them ever having anyone ask them this before. (What is more as this was a turnaround they had relaxed a bit, also thinking all passengers had deplaned, which is why they had that informal look in their uniforms) I clicked a photograph and then left the plane. The FA
in the middle would be on my retun flight some weeks later. She was one of the nicest and hard working FA
I joined the line of Britishers in the Foreign passport queue at the Jinnah Terminal. My little rendezvous with the staff would result in my actually getting to my bags a whole hour later as the queue took a long time to move, some being asked to move to the local passport line up to lessen the waiting time. I was reprimanded by my family when I told them on the delay on board to get a photo of the crew, and for keeping them waiting since most of the other passengers had cleared and walked out much earlier, but then they welcomed me warmly for being with them again .