So when I decided to go to South Africa I knew I had a lot of airlines to choose from. I could have gone direct with VS, BA (who I collect miles with) or SA. But then there was also the option of going via Frankfurt, Paris or Dubai and adding the A380 to my list. It turned out being a no brainer, I have always loved the look of Emirates and to fly on an A380 was such a big thing for me, there was no chance I was missing out!
My routing would be EK002 to Dubai on the A380, and then EK761 on what was meant to be an A380 but changed to the 77W a month prior to my trip. On the way back it would be EK764 to Dubai on the 77W and EK001 on the A380 again.
Aircraft: A380-861 (A6-EDR)
I arrived in very good time at Heathrow’s T3 which turned out to be very lucky considering there was an accident on the M25 only an hour later which caused serious delays. Check in was very simple, it was also cool to get an Emirates baggage tag made from hard plastic, whereas most airlines only provide flimsy card tags.
I knew which gate the flight would be from even before the flight had arrived so I wondered over and to my surprise the whole Chelsea football squad were walking straight towards me heading to the gate for their American tour in Seattle. I thought it was funny seeing the VS flight to Vancouver going via Seattle!
Once I got to the gate area I saw the brand new Malaysian A380 take off, she sure does look beautiful in that livery. Luckily EK001 arrived on time so I knew there would be no doubt in making my connecting flight in Dubai. It was also nice to see A6-EDR pull up to the gate as she is one of the newer 380s in the Emirates fleet.
Emirates’ efficient boarding commenced 45 minutes before the flight was due to depart. Emirates call passengers up by zone numbers which makes the boarding process far more efficient and means there are less queues, ideal! I boarded the aircraft and although I knew how big the A380 is, I was so surprised at the size, I could stand up straight in my seat area without my head hitting the seatbelt sign! Impressive considering there is another floor above, this took a while to get used to, especially since I could hear nothing from above.
We taxied towards 09R which annoyed me as I wanted 27R because I had purposely sat myself on the left so I could film the typical left turn out over the M25 from the 27 runways in the hope over getting an overview of Heathrow; it was not to be though. We took off 10 minutes late; even behind the wing the A380 is so quiet.
Video of take off: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_WuG_m0h9I
The crew quickly came round with drinks to offer, you only get 1 little coke unless you ask for more! I presumed the meal service would quickly follow the drinks, but this was not to be. We were at least 2.5 hours into the flight before we were service any sort of food, it was annoying because I was hungry but wanted to settle down and get some sleep! When the meal did eventually come I was really impressed, it was a lovely chicken dish but you also get a snack box with cheese and crackers and bread pieces with chilli sauce, delicious!
Our arrival in Dubai was fairly un-eventful; we flew past DXB before a right turn and over the desert and our final approach. After landing I managed to get in the cockpit and had a long chat with the pilot from South Africa, he happily let me take some photos and gave me good advice to get to be a pilot!
I then had a 4 hour layover in DXB before taking my final leg to JNB, transferring was really easy and took only a couple of minutes. I had looked forward to visiting DXB as I had heard how great it was. It was awful! I think I had arrived at rush hour because you could hardly move in the long strip of Duty Free stores without hitting into someone, and then when I wanted to get food there was nowhere to sit at all and to finish it off the AC was not set to a low enough setting for the high numbers of people therefore meaning everyone was sweating! It was not a great experience and I couldn’t wait to get onto the next flight!
Aircraft: 777-31H/ER (A6-EGJ)
I went downstairs and sat at the gate until boarding. Annoyingly I couldn’t take any pictures of the aircraft because for some reason there are stickers all over the windows, maybe to make it look prettier? Also due to the curvature of the windows it is hard to hear the announcements because the sound goes all over the place and does just stay in the gate.
I can’t tell you much about this flight because I fell asleep as soon as we reached our altitude until the captain gave his pre-approach announcement. Seats 21A (and K) are brilliant! There are no seats behind just the wall of the toilet and there is a wall which you can lean on to get comfy and get a good night sleep! Also being seated at the front of the wing the 77W is much quieter because behind the wing it is very loud.
Our landing was very smooth, I also noticed after landing there were a few ex Airtours/ My Travel DC10s still parked at JNB, anyone know why they went there and if they will ever do anything again?
Video of landing in JNB: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEx-JuH1HuU
Aircraft: 777-36N/ER (A6-ECN)
Johannesburg airport is really nice, despite all the staff members appearing to be very grumpy the shops and restaurants on offer are really good. To board our flight we had to take a bus, and Emirates efficient boarding in zones went out the window. The staff weren’t employed by Emirates and just said ‘we are now boarding’ and everyone rushed to the buses!
When I boarded the plane via the stairs I was welcomed by the unpleasant smell of urine throughout the whole plane! I wasn’t sure if they had problems with the system but it really was bad. Thankfully when the engines started the AC fired up properly and the smell went away.
This crew were making the most of the mood lights which were really cool! I also liked the stars which are in the ceiling of the plane, really adds to the atmosphere. I tried to sleep for a while but didn’t manage it because I found the engine noise really loud. There was a dinner served on the flight as well as a breakfast, both of which were really nice again!
We flew downwind to DXB right over the city and I got a glimpse of the Burj Khalifa which we flew almost directly over before turning onto finals to DXB.
Video landing in Dubai: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BmRsnznvkg
After landing I asked to visit the cockpit which was accepted! I was really excited because I had never been in a 777 cockpit. Whilst waiting the stewardess was holding a business class amenity kit and asked if I wanted it for my onward journey! Awesome! I knew these contained really good products but I was disappointed to see the Taylor Bond St. Of London razor had been replaced with a look alike version. The captain had left the lights on in the cockpit for me to take photos which was another little thing which made me love Emirates so much. Both pilots were Boeing lovers and kept saying how much better the 77W is compared to the A380, I chose not to agree or disagree!
Aircraft: A380-861 (A6-EDK)
After my bad experience in Dubai last time I was very excited to only spend 2 hours in the airport. I thought I would go straight to the gate and sit and read a paper to catch up with some news. Whilst I was waiting I looked at our A380 which was A6-EDG and thought ‘hmm where are the people at??’ there were no people loading her with food or the baggage, it was at that point the announcement came on and they said the flight would be delayed until 10am, 2 ¼ later than planned. Emirates were very accommodating and offered free breakfast and snacks.
I ended up boarding the flight at 10.15, and once again the efficient boarding system went out the window, I think they just wanted everyone on! When I boarded the plane was boiling, she had been sitting outside the hanger after her last flight in the Dubai heat waiting to be used if necessary. It was only when I was on board I decided to ask the stewardess what happened to EDG, she said that they had damaged the fuselage whilst loading the cargo which made it unsafe to fly. Of all things that could have been wrong!
49A was a superb seat though, I felt as if I was a business class passenger as I was looking into the front of the engines (sad I know!). We eventually took off towards the desert and made a right turn before flying over Dubai. I got a great view of one of the Palms.
Take off Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTzgnsAwW70
After being very tired I decided to sleep on the silent beast and missed breakfast service in the process, I wasn’t bothered, just happy to get some rest for a while. I woke up over Europe for the next meal service. Once again I opted for the chicken dish which was delicious again, why change if what you’ve had before is nice!
We started our decent at the coast of England quite rapidly before joining a stack over central London. I got some views of the Olympic park, a BA 77E also in a stack and London City airport.
We landed 3 ½ hours late on runway 27L, it was cool seeing the spotters at Myrtle Avenue, the amount of times I have been there in hunt of an A380!
Landing Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WscWX6gCk3w
We parked next to the earlier Emirates flight a 77W which had arrived before us. The good thing about being seated at the front is you get off first and can rush to the queues of immigration. Oh wait there weren’t any queues! None what so ever and I was welcomed by a smiling immigration officer! I joked with him and asked where the queues were! He smiled and laughed. Special Olympic service eh!
Overall I thought Emirates were fantastic, all the crew were really friendly and were really kind to let me visit the cockpit a couple of times. Although DXB was a pain and not as nice as I had imagined I would definitely fly with Emirates again and on the A380 which is an incredible plane!
Thanks for reading!