Welcome to Part 2 of my Emirates experience. This Trip Report covers the return journey from Dubai to Mumbai.
You can read the first part here: Discovering Emirates - BOM-DXB - 777-300ER
Out of the five daily flights to Mumbai, Emirates was operating the ultra long-haul Airbus A340-500 on the evening flight – EK 508 for a limited period of time. Given that only a handful of airlines around the world operate this aircraft, this was going to be my best chance of flying on the type.
Since Emirates was offering pretty good fares at the time, I decided to book myself in Business Class on the return flight. Having read mixed reviews about the Business Class experience on Emirates, I was keeping my fingers crossed. Would EK let me down badly or will it delight me? I couldn’t wait to find out!
One of the perks of flying Business Class on EK is the pick-up and drop service in a chauffeur driven car. This service is available at both the origin and destination and has to be booked in advance on either the EK website or through their call centers.
So, my journey began when the phone in my hotel room rang. It was the Reception informing me that my “limo” had arrived. I went downstairs and met the chauffeur in the lobby, who took me to the waiting vehicle outside.
The “limo” was actually a Volvo!
We encountered some traffic on the way to the airport. The drive from my hotel in Deira to DXB Terminal 3 took around 25-30 minutes.
Air India office at DXB
Directions to the three terminals
We arrived at the premium passenger drop off area, and an Emirates porter put my bag on a trolley and escorted me inside.
The Emirates Premium Check-In Terminal. Note the porter with my bag on the trolley.
It was a walk of roughly 50 meters to the Business Class check-in counters.
The massive FIDS showing wave after wave of EK departures
The porter ushered me to one of the empty check-in counters, placed my bag on the conveyor and walked away.
I was given a half-greeting by an Arab EK check-in lady who was talking on the phone. She took my ticket and passport and worked away on her computer, while continuing to talk on the phone.
I asked her about the aircraft type (to dispel any doubts about last minute equipment changes)
Me: Hi! Could you please tell me what is the aircraft type for my flight?
EK lady: One minute.
After 20 seconds of typing…
EK lady: It is an Airbus A340 jet
Me: Thank you so much!
After which she went back to talking on the phone!
I asked her about the load on today’s flight and she replied saying that it was full in all three classes!
She handed me the boarding pass and passport along with a “Baggage claim card”. There was no separate lounge invite given; the boarding pass doubled up as a lounge invite.
My Boarding Pass
The Immigration counters were just a couple of travellator rides away. I found an empty counter and got my passport stamped quickly. Next was security check after which was an elevator ride to the main section of the terminal. This is where the premium experience pauses for a while, as you mingle with hordes of people waiting for their flights.
It looks more like a shopping mall with Duty Free stores everywhere.
After doing my bit of the Duty Free shopping, I headed upstairs towards the lounge area.
The Emirates First Class Lounge
Boarding gate no. 232 for an LHR bound flight
Entrance to the Emirates Business Class Lounge
The lounge is huge and divided into different sections each with its own style of décor. It looks more like a gigantic coffee shop in a five star hotel.
The lounge is divided into different subsections, each with their own style of décor and seating arrangements.
As it was past my usual lunch time, I was extremely hungry. I opted for a glass of champagne along with some hors d'oeuvres to start with.
After I was through with the first course, I decided to explore the lounge.
This is the main dining counter.
My “main course”
I had spent almost two hours at the lounge, when I heard the boarding announcement for our flight. After freshening up, I rode the escalator one level down to the departure gates.
EK 508 to BOM would be departing today from Gate 213.
Flight: EK 508
Aircraft: Airbus A340-541
Scheduled Departure: 1620 Actual Departure: 1616
Scheduled Arrival: 2025 Actual Arrival: 2045
Photo © Chaity
Photo © Vivek Manvi
There was hardly any queue at the boarding gate, as most of the people had already boarded.
As I rode the escalator down to the holding area, I saw the beautiful A340-500 with my own eyes. It would be Echo Roger Bravo doing duty today.
The aerobridge. I’ll be taking the one on the right.
A smiling male FA welcomed me at the door, and after looking at my boarding pass, ushered me towards the Business Class cabin on the left.
The Business Class cabin was almost 80% full when I boarded whereas the First Class was almost completely full.
The view forward from my seat
And the view outside
Soon both J & F cabins were completely full. The class-wise load on today’s flight as confirmed later with the flight crew was: 12F, 42J & 204Y.
As people settled down in their seats, pre-departure drinks were offered. I chose a glass of champagne (Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial)
The IFE screen showed our current position & distance to BOM
The legroom with the seat in the upright position.
The EK A340-500 features sleeperette seats and not lie-flat seats.
The EK safety video was shown on the IFE screens as we were ready for departure.
We began our pushback right on time. One by one the four Rolls Royce Trent 500s came to life. The sound inside the cabin – with all four engines running was extremely low. Let’s see how quiet it is during cruise!
The Emirates building as we began our taxi run.
This little guy was waiting to line-up behind us.
We lined up on Runway 30R and the four RR Trents spooled up to take-off power. It was a longish take-off roll – typical of the A340 series and we rotated right in front of the cargo bays.
DXB Terminal 2 with an AIX and Flydubai 737.
It was a leisurely climb through the hazy afternoon sky. We headed out towards the sea in the north-westerly direction, before banking right and heading eastwards.
We flew north of Sharjah. The Sharjah airport could be seen out my window.
After the fasten seat-belt signs were switched off, I got up to freshen myself. I had to wait for a bit near the galley for a washroom to become available.
An FA taking note of my photo taking asked me whether I worked for a magazine or something. When I told her that I was an aviation enthusiast, she asked me whether I had flown on their A380 yet. She told me that EK now operated the A380 on the DXB-JED route, and I could try that route to experience the aircraft.
This was neat – I just love it when the crew just adds that personal touch to an otherwise routine service. Positive impressions about the EK crew so far.
As I returned to my seat, ICE along with the 17 inch screen beckoned me, and I decided to explore it.
The wired IFE controller is showing signs of ageing.
It still did a good job of controlling ICE as well as other stuff like adjusting the seat recline.
The seat recline and massage feature.
The in-seat massage was not so effective, but I assume it would be really beneficial on ultra long-haul flights to get the blood circulation going.
The ICE Home screen.
Our position and heading.
EK’s active noise canceling headphones.
We soon left the UAE coast and headed out over the Arabian Sea.
The crew then passed around the menus for today’s drink and dinner service.
The Menu for this flight was in three languages – English, Hindi & Arabic.
I chose the “Lobster & Potato salad with asparagus” as the appetizer, and “Murg lababdar” for the main course.
As I had already downed two glasses of champagne so far, I decided to opt for an orange juice. This was served with a bowl of mixed nuts.
A steward laid a fresh table cloth on my table and asked me if he could get the appetizer. I gave him the go ahead.
Nice presentation. The lobster was perfectly cooked and tender.
The main course. The chicken was mildly spicy and very tasty.
The dessert – Rasmalai. Yummy!
It was a sumptuous and absolutely delicious meal. All the courses were freshly made and did not taste like a typical airline meal. I was quite impressed with EK’s catering on this flight.
I was totally stuffed and had no space left at all for tea or coffee!
With not enough flying time left to watch a movie, I decided to watch “Friends” instead.
The sky outside had changed into a shade of deep orange.
The lead steward then appeared with a tray of Godiva chocolates. There’s always room for some Godiva chocolate!
We were now approaching the coast of India.
The F/O announced our descent and arrival details into Mumbai. The cabin lights were then dimmed.
“Stars” on the ceiling.
We made landfall over the northern suburbs of Mumbai.
After making a 180 degree turn, we lined up with Runway 27.
It was now time to switch on the forward looking nose-wheel camera.
It was spectacular to see us approaching the fully-lit runway and touch down.
After a long taxi, we docked at Terminal 2C.
A view of my seat prior to deplaning.
As usual, I was one of the last passengers to exit the aircraft, after clicking a few cabin shots.
The long walk towards Arrival Immigration.
Immigration was quick and my passport was stamped within five minutes. I then made my way through the Duty Free area to the baggage reclaim area.
There was a huge crowd there already, and the first set of bags had just started arriving on the belt.
Inspite of the Priority tagging, it took around 20 minutes for my bag to arrive. After collecting it, I cleared Customs within five minutes.
I then searched for Emirates ground staff to assist me with the Chauffeur Drive pick-up, but they were nowhere to be seen.
This was really bad on EK’s part. With five daily flights into BOM, and a significant amount of premium passengers, one would expect them to set up a proper counter for their chauffeur drive service.
Finally, I asked one of the money change agents about this, and he asked me to head outside the terminal to an area where the EK chauffeurs would be waiting with name placards.
Soon enough, I found a guy with a placard bearing my name, and he kindly took my trolley. We walked to the parking lot opposite the terminal where my ride home – A Mercedes C220 was waiting!
The chauffeur was quite nice and I learnt quite a bit about the EK chauffer drive service as we drove home.
Overall, it was a good experience on Emirates Business Class – much better than what I had expected and read about earlier. There were mostly highs but a few lows as well – like the unprofessional EK Check-In agent, and the lack of proper arrangements for the Chauffeur Drive at BOM.
The in-flight crew and service was superb and just what you would expect in a premium cabin. Again, it all boils down to the crew you get on a particular day. Hardware being the same, it is the crew that makes or breaks the whole experience.
Hope you enjoyed reading this Trip Report!
My Previous Trip Reports:
Discovering Emirates - BOM-DXB - 777-300ER
Flying The Good Times: BLR-BOM On Kingfisher A320
To Bangalore on Jet Airways B737-800
The Kingfisher Experience: BOM-SIN-BOM A330-200
BOM-HKG-BOM Cathay Pacific B744/A333
Voyage To Nepal: Nepal Airlines/Buddha Air
BOM-HYD-BOM On Kingfisher + Spotting At HYD
BOM-DEL On Air India, Brand New A321
BOM-GOI-BOM On IC. A320/A300B4
BOM-DEL-BOM On IC A320/AI 743 Combi DEL Fog
BOM-KUL-PEN-KUL-BOM On MH/Air Asia
BOM-AMD On Air India 743 Combi Upper Deck
BOM-CMB-BKK-CMB-BOM On SriLankan Airlines