Its kinda crazy how much things have evolved for me over the past five years alone!
I had just moved in to Sri Lanka after many months of delay, in October 2011. I was excited for the next few years I'd be spending there. With new opportunities, came great prospects. We had been planning a big trip out of Sri Lanka during the Lent term break. This would include some of the longest flights for me. Prior to this, my longest flight was a medium haul 6hr20min flight from Hong Kong to Mumbai on Jet Airways' A330-200. Without further ado, here is a trip report from April 2012, my first flight on the Boeing 777!INTRODUCTION
Following my father's visit to South Africa in early 2011, he was convinced that was the country we would have our big trip to. I was excited by this prospect. A couple of long flights, new airlines perhaps! SELECTION AND BOOKING
Our initial plan was just to visit Kruger National Park, that meant a 5 hour drive out of Johannesburg. Being based in Colombo, the Middle East Big 3 carriers and Jet Airways were the top contenders. Qatar Airways (via Doha on an A321 and A330-200) and Etihad Airways (via Abu Dhabi, A320 and A330-200) had some pretty high fares relative to the other two airlines. Jet Airways (B737-800W and A330-200, via BOM) was the cheapest, followed by Emirates (B777-300, B777-300ER, A380-800
). The A380-800 and B777-300ER in one trip?! Why not! This was enough to sell me, while my father's many trips with Emirates were solid reasons to book with them.
We eventually decided to do a core South Africa tour, which meant a multi-city booking in to Cape Town and departure out of Johannesburg was in order.
April 6th 2012: EK349 Colombo to Dubai (Seat 29K) (4hr15min, Boeing 777-300) [my first flight on the B777!]
April 6th 2012: EK770 Dubai to Cape Town (seat 30K) (9hr35min, Boeing 777-300ER) [about time on the B77W, and my longest flight]
17APR2012: EK762 Johannesburg to Dubai (Seat 75K) (8hr00min, Airbus A380-800)
20APR2012: EK348 Dubai to Colombo (Seat 19A) (4hr15min, Boeing 777-300)
Booking for a domestic flight within South Africa was in order too, Kulula.com flight MN910 from George to Johannesburg. DISAPPOINTMENT ALREADY!
It struck me hard. Checking the services for the flights online on Emirates' fantastic website, I learnt that the Johannesburg - Dubai had in fact been downgraded from an A380-800 to a B777-300ER! This made me really sad. I was really looking forward to my first flight on the world's largest commercial aircraft. I had to wait for another time for a flight on the A380. I was not too downbeat, however. Four flights on the B777 was plenty of reason to be happy! DEPARTURE DAY
5th April, I woke up at 3 in the morning, just to web check in for the flights. 100% loads for both flights! Final day in school, and every one was looking forward to their breaks in Australia, Europe, Far East, etc., I was the odd one out. South Africa for me. I was starting to feel real excited! That evening, I did a quick check on FR24, in hope to catch our aircraft on the CMB-SIN sector of EK348. Luck was with me! It showed A6-EMP, a 11 year old B777-300
would be taking me to Dubai.
That night, we headed for the airport. Roads were empty, so we reached the airport pretty soon. Flight information displays showed everything more or less in order. The Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong via Singapore was delayed by 1hr10min, while the flydubai flight to.....Dubai was delayed too. We had to wait another ten minutes before check in opened.
Passengers who were caught out by Cathay's delaysPRE-BOARDING STUFF
Emirates, like in all airports, have their dedicated counters, such as the ropes, boards, etc. We joined the online check in baggage drop line, however this was full. Some folk were sent to regular economy class check in lines. Our check in took 9m14sec...quite long!
Heading towards emigration, we caught up with a couple of family friends who were heading to Shanghai....which meant the Cathay Pacific flight. Now over two hours late, they had missed their connection out of HKG.
Palm Strip Restaurant had become a favorite place for me to eat and spot. While my parents ordered food, I had my camera out and started clicking away! It was the start of a new adventure. Apologies for the quality of images. I was still learning!
MH B737-800 departing for KUL.
SriLankan Airlines planes had ruled the roost!
Boarding passes for the day
A few minutes later, one of the A332s, 4R-ALD, was being pushed back for its departure to CDG.
Followed by that, its sibling, 4R-ALA was pushed back…and towed back
beside its larger family member, the A340.
In the meantime, I quickly checked the status of EK-349 on its way from SIN. My fears were confirmed. Estimated time of arrival changed from 0155 to 0237, and departure from 0315 to 0355. Unsure of how long we'd be able to make the connection, we wondered if 2 hours would be enough to transit in Dubai....
Just then, 4R-ALD took off into the night sky after a long take off, followed by a longer take off show by a Star Alliance liveried Boeing 777-300 to Singapore. The airport became silent. I had no idea on what was there on the other side of the terminal. There was only movement of ground vehicles (a few with EK and CX cargo crates) moving in the airport, which was followed another UL A343 departure to BKK and PEK, at 0219 hours. As our departure gate (No.10, the one at end of the terminal) opened, the airport became dead silent. Not even a single ground vehicle moving.
Later, Mum and I heard a faint ‘whoosh’ behind us. I knew it was something massive. I thought it was the CX aircraft. But there it was: An Emirates Boeing 777-300! A6-EMP just landed. 0224 hours arrival, a delay of 29 minutes. I was hoping the ground staff at CMB would make a quick turnaround!
My first B777!
Two minutes later, VT-JGM (B737-800) operating flight 9W254 from Chennai arrived.
We headed for the departure gate, where Dad bought some stuff in duty free, as the CX crew members walked towards the gates. No sign of the CX a/c, though. As we walked towards our gate, there was a long twisty line blocking the way in front of gate 7, the departure gate of the CX
The quieter part of the airport: just EK-349 from there.
This was marked, finally, by the arrival of the CX aircraft, a Boeing 777-300, most certainly more than three hours late now! After going through security, Dad realized his phone had been misplaced at duty free. Worried and tensed, he was assisted back to the duty free by a UL agent. Our friends called up from Gate 7 (who must have been relieved to see their aircraft come in!), asking what was wrong.
I simply can't believe it! My time board a Boeing 777!BOARDING THE BOEING 777
At 0320, boarding was underway, zone wise. My father returned from an unsuccessful hunt for his lost phone. The ground staff duly took our arrival details. They were very helpful, promising they would take this up with security. We were some of the last folk to board the B777-300.
It finally dawned on me that I was boarding my first B777! Passengers were divided in to the jetways based on which side they were seated in - starboard for us, door 1 for us! Emirates didn't offer Private suites on this flight, but the older 2-2-2 configuration of first class was there. Most passengers were asleep - they had probably been onboard from Singapore. Announcements began even before I got to my seat! They were in a hurry to get us going!
Seat 30K. I sat down and said to myself, 'This is it! The Boeing 777’! A passenger left her stuff on the aisle seat and headed straight for the lavatory. The passenger who was supposed to be seated in the aisle seat, called the flight attendant who just shoved everything on to the middle seat. The window was blurry due to condensation. No!
There was a menu card, 2 pairs of headphones, 2 pillows and 2 blankets. Legroom was compromised by the massive IFE box.
The Captain came over the P/A system, apologizing for the delay. This was caused by traffic in SIN, and headwind in flight. He also gave details of the morning’s flight, in which he said more head wind was expected, a flight time of 4hr14min (1 minute lesser than block time!), and a smooth flight, except for some turbulence over the Gulf. Finally, he also mentioned that we’d be over DXB airspace by 0630 LT, and expected to arrive then, unless there was traffic, which was expected. This did not sound good for our short connection!
Headset, pillow, blanket
I.C.E!! Lets see what you got!
Push back was just 6 minutes after I boarded the Boeing 777. As the safety video began, the RR Trent 800’s were fired up. It was pretty silent. Oh boy was I waiting for the start on the CPT flight! While taxiing towards the runway, the crew distributed the menu cards, and the lights were dimmed throughout the cabin.
Not too good of quality because of the window condensation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5cffj2CNyw
Front view camera..
Cabin lights dimmed, we're ready to go!
After a powerful take off (I under estimated the power of the Trent 800s), we were up into the night sky, with no sign of dawn yet. The crew then
informed the passengers about the languages spoken; two which included Hindi and Bengali, two of my home languages! Continuing with the slow climb, we flew over southern India.
Take off (THAT SOUND!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjKt4vne2OY
We are on our way!INFLIGHT
I saw the first part of The Dark Knight, since I saw part of it on TV a few days prior. The Simpsons followed. Before starting the food service, the crew distributed cold towels, which they must have forgotten due to the busy departure sequence!
My first wing photo of the 777! Not too bad, considering the fact that there was ZERO light!
We are getting there!
Towels given out..
Still in Lankan airspace!
India! (apologies for the terrible images...)
Breakfast started, and I took the western option. The Sri Lankan option was a fish curry and rice affair. Having had that quite a bit during my stay, I gave it up. My mother said that it was quite good, however. Lights were turned off since taxiing! At that point of time, we were cruising at 34000 feet, at 795kmph ground speed, and a headwind of about 115kmph.
Sponge cake was a bit of a downer to an otherwise fantastic meal onboard. Good job, Emirates!
The trays were cleared. After breakfast, I went through the music in ICE. A fantastic collection there! However, there was some horrible crackling sound, which prevented me from listening to anything clearly. Signs of the aging B773? Perhaps. Both my parents reported the same from their seats all the way at the back.
Main lights still off!
More than half way! A 1000 miles to go!
I was starting to feel quite sleepy. However, I did not want to miss an opportunity to miss out on seeing the sunrise from onboard my plane - I missed out on such an opportunity just 2 years ago when I flew from BOM to HKG. I turned off my reading light, and saw an orange line in the horizon. Ah ha! Success!
The sun is finally shining on a day which started frantically!
Yup, the south-western most route is my final destination for the day!
As the sunlight kept pouring in, more and more passengers started to wake up, and the cabin was alive.
Not bad for a 11 year old!
I followed the airshow, which showed the EK connecting flights departure and gate numbers. It showed flights which were departing as early as
0735 hours. Therefore, we had nothing to worry about missing the flight! Our flight to Cape Town was to depart from Gate 210.
Ah, the wing!
What's this?! DESCENT AND ARRIVAL
Just then, as expected, we hit turbulence. However, no one seemed to care and kept going to the wash room one after the other. Announcements of arrival started just about 40 minutes prior to landing, so the cabin looked like a rush hour scene! Descent started a few minutes later, and Dubai welcomed us not only by its deserts, but a large number of planes criss-crossing each other!
Yup, we certainly are descending.
I missed all of this in BOM, because the arrivals were ALWAYS at night..
During the rather bumpy approach, the over head bins of the 11 year old 777 started to open. 3 of them. One passenger tried to get up and fix it, but the flight attendant sitting requested her to sit down, as the runway was in sight.
After a pretty smooth landing, we taxied to the gates.
In every TR I have read all of them had one line: ‘What is DXB without an Emirates A380?’ I didn’t see just one, there were no less than NINE A380’s in the airport at point of time! 6 of them were undergoing service. (All in the video
) After announcements in 3 languages (English, Arabic and Sinhala!), we docked right next to an EK 77W at Gate B26.
Thin but comfy!
Looking back at the T7..
I also saw the construction of another terminal in the airport. This would be Course A of Terminal 3.
Old F class.
As we got off the aircraft, I finally noted the registration A6-EMP, as I had managed to figure out over 13 hours ago.
At the transit check in areas, there weren’t too many people, because obviously, everyone was through checked in. We went through the pretty silent security check area, entered the elevator and arrived at the departure level, aka, Dubai Duty Free............
Wow. This was something amazing from Emirates. This really was the first time I had the opportunity to be onboard one of the world's leading carriers, and I was left very satisfied. Being a red eye, I guess the crew were not all that interactive, but when it came to service they were spot on. The multi-lingual crew is an ace up Emirates' sleeve, for sure. Food was great, the old I.C.E was quite nice. I did not have too much of an issue with with the 3-4-3 seating, it was just fine.
With this in mind, I was very excited for my next flight on Emirates, the longest flight I'd ever be on, from Dubai to Cape Town on the B777-300ER!My other trip reports: 2016Summer '16 trek back home - Part 5: Air India's domestic Dream)liner (DEL-CCU May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 4: Nearly First Class - stories of the empty A380! (LH FRA-DEL May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 3: World's longest jet, Lufthansa's B748i! (ORD-FRA May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 2: ChicaGO on United's A319! (MSP-ORD, May '16) (video trip report)Summer '16 trek back home - Part 1: Sun rise onboard the long range CRJ (DL GFK-MSP CRJ-900, May '16) (video trip report)The pencil jet(s) for spring break! (+ Iron Maiden bonus): Delta MSP-FLL-MSP, March '16
(DL1608 video trip report
, DL2027 video trip report)De-iced & Delayed, cold onboard a CRJ! (ORD-MSP-GFK on Delta, Jan '16) (ORD-MSP video report) (MSP-GFK video report)Delta's aged B767-300ER across the Atlantic! (CDG-ORD in Y, Jan '16)
)Air France's NEW Economy (B777-200ER, Bengaluru to Paris, Jan '16)
)Delays and despair: stressed out in the middle seat! (Jet Airways B737 Mumbai - Bengaluru, Jan '16)Air India's hybrid babybus from Kolkata to Mumbai (Jan '16, Y)
)2011International transit with Jet Airways (BOM-MAA-CMB, Oct. '11)Konnecting to Bhubaneswar (9W BOM-BBI-BOM, Jul '11)Three trips between India and Sri Lanka (9W BOM-CMB-BOM: Jun '11, Jul '11, Oct. 11)To India's Orange City: Mumbai - Nagpur - Mumbai on Jetlite & Tadoba National Park (May 2011)My last flight on Kingfisher Airlines (and 2 other Jet flights, May '11)