Hello fellow a.netters. During my life I have taken hundreds of air trips throughout the world, most of them in economy class. I have decided to complete my first trip reports for two reasons:
- I was flying in business class with Emirates (my only previous long-trip flights in Business class have been with Etihad and Lufthansa);
- Due to a motorbike accident I was walking with crutches and I needed assistance from the airlines and airports.
I apologise if I haven't taken any pictures but I wasn't in the mood of taking pictures.
I booked my one-way flight from Sydney to Milan about 2 weeks before the departure date using Emirates website. The booking process was easy and without any problems. I decided to book business class as I wasn't able to bend my knee completely and such a long trip in economy class would have been unbearable. The flight was operated with an A380 and with a 77W. Since I was travelling with my mum I reserved the couple seats on the A380. The cost of the ticket was about 2500 AUS$. Just to compare, my mother booked a return ticket through Expedia.it and she paid 2500 Euro. She was able to change the return date for a fee of 100 Euro. This ticket was bought at the very last minute. She booked the flight in the morning and she flew the same day in the evening.
a) A call to Emirates help line
- About one week before flying out I called Emirates to sort out few things and to inform them about my situation. When I was talking with them, I found out that I wouldn't have been able to fly if I was wearing a cast, but this was not my case as my fractures were internally fixed and I was only wearing a leg brace. I was also informed that my crutches needed to be less than a meter to bring them in the cabin, so I had to buy a new type of collapsible crutches;
- During this phone called I also booked the complementary transfer and I was informed that since the trip was longer than 40 Km I needed to pay the difference to the driver. Of course this was not a problem;
- The operator suggested to change my seat with an aisle one but since those seats are smaller and since I was travelling with a companion I decided to keep my seats.
b) Confirming the car
- Few days before flying out the limo operator called to confirm the car. We explained them we were travelling with 80 Kg of luggage (luggage allowance in C with EK was 40 Kg each), plus carry-ons, plus my crutches and with me unable to bend completely my leg. Since we had two business class tickets we could have asked for two cars buy they said that they could send a large minivan without any additional charge, so we opted for it.
c) The trip to the airport
- The car arrived on time at 1630 on 30 December. It was a large Mercedes van very comfortable and with enough space for all our luggage. The trip to the airport took almost an hour and it was a very sad trip for me as I had great time in Australia. After arriving at the airport (and after tipping the driver), the driver went to the terminal to call an EK representative with a wheelchair. Even if the trip was slightly more than 40 Km they didn't ask us to pay anything extra.
3) AT THE AIRPORT
a) Check-in and security
- Check-in was very quick and without ant issues. Shortly after a guy from the airport arrived and escorted us to the business class lounge;
- Security check was surprisingly easy. I have some metal plates and nails in my leg and I was carrying loads of medication, including some injections to prevent DVT and some very powerful opium-based pain killers. Of course I had a letter from the hospital explaining this but they didn't want to see anything. I had to take my laptop out of my bag and then a security guard did a very quick pat-down while I was seated on the chair. I told them that I could stand and walk with crutches but they were happy like that.
b) EK business class lounge
- Sydney EK business class lounge is a very nice lounge with a very nice view of the apron. Shortly after I arrived there, the Etihad A340-600 "special F1 livery" pulled-in right in front of my chair. I was happy to see one of my favourite planes. The lounge is large and not crowded, even if when I arrived passengers from the SYD-BKK-DXB were still there. There was a very good selection of food, both hot and cold, and taste was OK, but nothing exceptional. There was also a wide range of alcoholic drinks which I couldn't touch due to the amount of medications and pain killers I had in my body. I used the free WiFi in the lounge and the speed was very good. Toilets were clean and the personnel nice. Overall, it has been a very pleasant experience.
- About 30 minutes before departure another guy from the airport arrived and he escorted me to the A380. I had been on an EK A380 before but it was my first time on the upper deck.
4) FIRST LEG: SYD-DXB
Flight number: EK413
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Departure Time: 21:45
Arrival Time: 05:30
Seat: 9F (my travel companion had 9E)
a) The seat
Reaching my seat wasn't the easiest thing as the space to reach the seat from the aisle is very narrow (but the guy from Emirates informed me about this, so no complaints at all). In the up-right position, the seat was not very comfortable for me since the foot rest was protruding a lot and I didn't have enough space for my leg. But immediately after take-off I was able to recline the seat and I found it very good. I'm just over 6-foot tall, about 90 Kg (well, 80Kg now after a month in hospital and three surgeries), and with broad shoulder, but I found the seat in the bed position extremely comfortable, more comfortable then the one on Etihad. I was able to get about 8 hours of sleep. The IFE system on EK is great, one of the best, and the video quality on the large screen is good.
They served a dinner after take-off and a breakfast before landing and I ordered some items from the a-la-carte menu during the night. The presentation of the food was very good and the meal service was synchronized with the one of my mum, even if they were serving from two different aisles (this didn't happened with Etihad). However the taste was just OK, nothing memorable and I enjoyed more the food and a-la-carte service offered by the Abu-Dhabi airline.
The business class on the A380 was almost fully booked, with maybe one or two seats free. I found the service very robotic and impersonal but this is probably due to the size of the business class (76 seats). Service was much more personal on Etihad but there were only 24 business class seats there
d) The business class bar
I decided I wanted to see the lounge at the back of the plane. Getting there was not very easy for me as the aisles are very narrow and I had to walk sideways with my crutches. The lounge was very quiet and I enjoyed a juice with some of the food they were offering there (again, no alcohol for me).
5) TRASFER AT DUBAI
a) Transfer and security
Immediately outside the aircraft a wheelchair was waiting for me. The trip to the lounge was very long (about 20 minutes). We went to a special security check point for people requiring assistance and I was very surprised again. My carry-on went through the x-ray machine but they didn't question the syringe inside the bag or anything else. I was even more surprised when they let me go without any security check on my person (to be honest I was curious to see if the metal inside my leg was triggering the x-ray machine).
b) Business class lounge
Before this trip I read many bad comments about this lounge. The lounge is massive and crowded, but it wasn't as bad as I read in many reports. Because of my conditions, I asked to be left in the area between the food court and the toilets, and even this area was not overcrowded or noisy. Food selection and food quality was good. I couldn't see the entire lounge but I'm sure there are plenty quiet spots. I used WiFi here too, and even if the speed was lower than the one in Sydney, pages loaded without any problems. About half hour before my flight to Milan was due to depart, another guy came and escorted me to my next plane.
6) SECOND LEG: DXB-MXP
Flight number: EK093
Aircraft: Airbus B777-300ER
Departure Time: 08:55
Arrival Time: 12:50
Seat: 9D (my travel companion had 9E)
a) The seat
The older business class seat was much better for me as there was plenty space in front of it. However the bed was nowhere near as comfortable as the one on the A380. The IFE was very similar and good as usual. Also the aisles were wider and it was easier for me to move around.
A larger and a smaller meal were served on this flight. Food and presentation were good, slightly better than the previous one.
The business class was half-full on this flight so service was more personal.
7) ARRIVAL IN MILAN
Outside the aircraft another wheelchair was waiting for us. All our luggage arrived and the guy escorted us to the car park where my dad was waiting for us (I live just over 200 Km from Milan, so it was too much for the complementary transfer).
The flight experience was very good even if I wasn't able to enjoy the trip as I would have liked. The assistance provided was excellent and very well organised. If I have to chose, I would probably go with Etihad for a long-haul business class trip, even if Emirates hardware on the A380 is very difficult to beat. Service was more personal on EY and food quality and taste was much better.
I apologise if there are no pictures in this report and I hope this first report is good and can provide useful information to my fellow a.netters.