comorin
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Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:44 pm

Continued from India Beckons: JFK-DXB-BLR on EK:


I had ten glorious days lazing around Bangalore, spending precious time with my aging dad, and with heavy heart, had to bid goodbye and leave.

Third leg: BLR-DXB EK565 A332

Booked a Meru cab at 7am for a 10.35am flight to Dubai. Cab was on time, and after gassing up en route (why?) arrived at BIAL six hundred rupees ($12) later. Check in was amazingly efficient and quick, less than 10 minutes. Passed through security with no lines and was in the Departures area within 15 minutes of arrival. Impressive, but we wre the only international flight at that time.

I stopped by the Kingfisher Sports Bar for a quick breakfast, and the place was adorned with emblems of speed, like F1 cars and sports figures. However, the service was very, very slow as most staff had not yet shown up. I eventually managed to get a Masala Omelette and Coffee and ambled over to the bookstand, where the books were not even stacked properly. Not a good impression, my friends!

Eventually the flight was called and we boarded. The 330 has a nice 2-4-2 layout and I had a window seat. Once again, however, we had a delay. The freight palette had become stuck in the belly and it took over an hour of banging noises in the belly before we pushed back. Got a lemonade and hot towel pre-takeoff and soon we climbed out of BLR. We took off to the East, and it was quite some time before we banked around due W towards Mangalore. It was a beautiful day and we flow over Coorg and the Western Ghats (home of the dreaded 'ghaaties'), quite a sight in the morning. I resolved some day to overcome my fear of the lack of public sanitation and visit these places. We then took a turn to the left and headed on course to DXB.

Lunch was served - mutton korma and rice - and the time just flew by. I just love watching the clouds go by and day dreaming, especially having been ravished by the need to work in my younger days. Eventually we reached DXB and hour late, parked at a very remote stand and were bussed to Arrivals.

At arrivals, there were various lines, and a tall officious man in a dishdash was herding the various lines to the booths. He was pretty gruff pushing around some of the Indian workers from the villages and that was sad to see.

Given the overnight stay, I opted for the Holiday Inn Express across on Airport Road, and it was a good choice. The nice thing about hotel bars in Dubai is that they tend to have ladies of the evening hanging out, so it gives it a colorful atmosphere like a Chicago speakeasy. Too tired to indulge in wine, women or song, I went upstairs and flopped out for the night.

Impressions: I liked the flight and the 2-4-2 seating. Plane could use refrurbing but not bad. Good service at the right price. Good crew, unobtrusive and not pushing 'good service' in your face.


Fourth Leg: DXB-JFK EK201 A380 A6-EDA

Got up at the crack of dawn and took the Airport Shuttle form the Holiday Inn. Went through Passport Control and headed to the shopping and departure area. I was craving a coffee and croissant and headed over to a Costa Coffee, where they actually serve you at the table. Alas, they had microwaved my croissant and I could see how hard it is to import an entire culture and place in in the middle of nowhere.

The flight was eventually called and there was a very long line waiting to check in at the gate. Again, I was surprised at this - BA boards a 744 routinely in 20 minutes flat, tops 30 minutes. After you check in , you are sent to a holding area below - more waiting! You finally board the aircraft and the separate bridge for premium pax makes sure you don't annoy them on the way in. Trouble is, you don't get to see the lavish digs they have upstairs and they don't have the satisfaction of gloating as you pass by humbly to the rear of the plane.

I managed to get a window seat this time 72A right above the wing. The windows are small, and the wall space between the bulkhead and the glass in quite thick - like a porthole on a ship ( or Concorde). The cross section is also odd because of the two decks - the sidewalls curve out so you are not at the widest point of the aircraft.

The wings are HUGE, and the control surfaces are massive. If you are over the wing, it does dominate your view (like in a L1011). It was nice to have the space between the seat and the side wall and there was plenty of leg room.

We took off late because of ATC restrictions but soon enough we were flying. It was a very smooth takeoff, like a flying living room, headed over the Bandar Abbas area and on over Kuwait on our 14 hour journey.

Again, there was no refreshment service to get us started, and they jumped in to meal service right away. I do hope someone from EK is reading this - guys - lets have the refreshments first, please!

We had breakfast ( Mixed Griil, Omelette or Paneer Tikka) and lunch (Butter Chicken, Fish or Veg Curry) - all very nice.

Our routing took us over the Caspian Sea, Black Sea, Baltic, North Sea, Iceland, Greenland and then down the airways to JFK. It was a long wait for luggage - par for the 380, said the baggage handler. It was back to winter, reality and dreaming of my next trip.

Impressions: Very good experience on EK - friendly and helpful FAs. They don't stare you down if you approach them on break in the galley - more like join the party. The A380 - mixed feelings. The cabin is OK but wish it had been bigger. The seats were so hard it made the long trip miserable ( but it could just be me). The A380 also means long check in queues and long waits for baggage. I think Boeing still has the best interiors - clean, uncluttered spaces.

If BA is my gold standard, I'd say that EK is a different animal, and what they lose in perfection they make up in friendliness. I think EK is slightly ahead of AI and more cosmopolitan than IT or 9W. All in all, EK has built a major, game changing airline that blankets the world, and the end-to-end execution is impressive.
 
Quokka
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:00 am

Thanks for bringing us your impression of flying with EK, Comorin.

I am amazed that there was no refreshment service on the A380! On every flight that I have taken with EK, travelling in Y there has been a drinks service before the meal and another to accompany it, with tea or coffee to follow. Crew were also willing to bring replenishment if requested. When travelling in J and F a welcome aboard drink was also offered. I hope that your experience does not herald a new trend of cost cutting.

Agreed, the 2-4-2 seating on the A332 is preferable to the 3-4-3 on the 777s but some of the aircraft are beginning to show their age. Did you try out the ICE system? If so, what were your impressions?
 
comorin
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:50 am

Quoting Quokka (Reply 1):
Agreed, the 2-4-2 seating on the A332 is preferable to the 3-4-3 on the 777s but some of the aircraft are beginning to show their age. Did you try out the ICE system? If so, what were your impressions?

Quokka, The A332 I was on was definitely a very old bird, badly in need of a redo. It was on an India route, and all the Indian carriers are now plying tip top aircraft, AI especially so.

I tried out the ICE system on the A380 and it is head and shoulders above anything else I've seen. For starters, the moving map display is better animated, and more fun to watch for the non-geek. It is also well integrated with the various cameras which work really well during flight. The screens are nice and big (9:16) and great for watching movies and video. There is a ton of stuff to watch - sufficient depth so you can always find something interesting. I ended up watching a fascinating documentary on boys entering a UK prep school (Sunningdale). You can also call other seats, plug in your video output to the USB port, really state of the art.

ICE is also much easier to navigate than VS' and other offerings.


Thanks for reading the TR!
 
Nimish
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:09 am

Comorin - once again - thanks for posting. BLR airport is quite brilliant due to the operational efficiencies there - they are about the fastest to go from taxi to boarding gate, and again from plane to taxi. I was talking to someone at BIAL the other day - and their biggest bottleneck on the international arrivals side is that customs insists on screening every incoming bag before it reaches the belt - and they take their own sweet time to do the screening, which is something BIAL has no control over...

Were you able to collect your miles on Continental for the entire journey and did you get 100% or 50% miles?
Latest Trip Report - GoAir BLR-BOM-BLR
 
comorin
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:24 am

Nimish, I do like BIAL (BLR) a lot, especially as a low-hassle point to get in/out of India. Looks like there will be HS Rail on its way soon, will make a big difference for day-trippers.

I did get 100% credit on mt CO miles. I would have preferred EK miles so that I can upgrade next time!
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Fri Jan 21, 2011 8:54 am

the only hassle point at BLR is the security...why do they insist you take EVERYTHING out of your carry on..even books? I had to take every single metalic thing or wire out of my bag, in addition to the books i had in my backpack....come on, even the TSA isnt this bad.
 
Nimish
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:30 pm

Quoting CaliAtenza (Reply 5):
the only hassle point at BLR is the security...why do they insist you take EVERYTHING out of your carry on..even books? I had to take every single metalic thing or wire out of my bag, in addition to the books i had in my backpack....come on, even the TSA isnt this bad.

Either you were there on a "bad day" (independence/ republic etc.) or your bag triggered something in the scanner. I've never had this issue here at BLR as yet...
Latest Trip Report - GoAir BLR-BOM-BLR
 
caleb1
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:53 pm

Excuse me, but where are the photos of your Emirates experience?
 
comorin
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:47 pm

Quoting caleb1 (Reply 7):
Excuse me, but where are the photos of your Emirates experience?

Sorry, I only had a Blackberry on me, and couldn't switch it on. Adityashankar has an excellent thread on his Emirates trip btw. I know its a bit lame but I'll try taking pics next time.
 
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AirIndia
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:55 am

Quoting Quokka (Reply 1):
am amazed that there was no refreshment service on the A380

I think it was a one-off time. Drinks wil most certainly precede any meal.

Quoting comorin (Thread starter):
Too tired to indulge in wine, women or song, I went upstairs and flopped out for the night

Hopefully next time you give yourself more time for indulgence
 
comorin
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:30 pm

Quoting AirIndia (Reply 9):
Quoting Quokka (Reply 1):
am amazed that there was no refreshment service on the A380

I think it was a one-off time. Drinks wil most certainly precede any meal.

Alas, it happened both inbound and outbound on the 380  
Quoting AirIndia (Reply 9):
Quoting comorin (Thread starter):
Too tired to indulge in wine, women or song, I went upstairs and flopped out for the night

Hopefully next time you give yourself more time for indulgence

Thanks! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak...
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Tue Jan 25, 2011 3:55 am

Quoting Nimish (Reply 6):

Either you were there on a "bad day" (independence/ republic etc.) or your bag triggered something in the scanner. I've never had this issue here at BLR as yet...

nope..wasnt a bad day..and it happened to not just me, but a ton of people. I dont think computer wires, headphones, and pens are something to trigger the scanner (it seems they dont want anything metallic in your carry-on bag when going through the machine). Either the screeners at BLR dont know what they are doing or something has changed. I thought taking out my laptop was enough..but i had to take out 2 books for god sakes...
 
comorin
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:11 am

Quoting CaliAtenza (Reply 11):
nope..wasnt a bad day..and it happened to not just me, but a ton of people. I dont think computer wires, headphones, and pens are something to trigger the scanner (it seems they dont want anything metallic in your carry-on bag when going through the machine). Either the screeners at BLR dont know what they are doing or something has changed. I thought taking out my laptop was enough..but i had to take out 2 books for god sakes...

Hmm...Didn't happen to me and I've been thru BLR twice now. I wonder if some kind of alert was on the day you traveled?
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: Return FromIndia BLR-DXB-JFK On EK 2/2

Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:38 am

Quoting comorin (Reply 12):


Hmm...Didn't happen to me and I've been thru BLR twice now. I wonder if some kind of alert was on the day you traveled?

it happened to me last time as well, but they just took out my computer wires/accessories and headphones....not as extensive as this time. Who knows, maybe there was an alert...

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