The Netherlands, to some its known for it flowers, to others the country of cheese, and yet again to others, it's known as the country below sea level. For me, The Netherlands, is my second home. I spent the later part of my childhood, till my mid teens in The Netherlands. I was brought up in a small City in the north east known as Assen. If you follow motorbike racing, you'll know that Assen is where the TT-Circuit racing track is for motorbikes.
My last visit was on 2015, when my partner and I visited my friends. It was her first visit to the country and the first time meeting my Dutch friends.
My mum and step dad however, visit often, usually once a year. The airline is usually KLM, and they often fly on KLMs 737s and Embraer family.
My mum Recommended that my now fiancé and me to have a break in Valkenburg, the south of The Netherlands. All we needed to do was find flights.
I would love to have flown with KLM again, and perhaps on one of their Embraers, but on our budget, There was no chance that I would be seeing the likes of KLM services anytime soon. Well not for the next year, as my fiancé and me are investing all our time and money in the wedding.
Around this time, EasyJet had started to operate it's new A320-251Neo out of Luton. Perhaps , I would manage to have a flight on the NEO. The journey from Derby to Luton only required one change by train at Leicester... Hmmm... this could be doable.
A few weeks later, we were looking at flights and found something surprising...
A flight to Dubai, with a hotel and transfers, was the same price as our trip to The Netherlands. My fiancé checked the hotel out, and began to ask if we could perhaps change our destination to Dubai?
I decided to ring my mum and ask her opinion. My mum was skeptical at first but agreed in the end. Cool!
I asked for flight details. The first flight she told me about was the one from LHR which was slightly more expensive. It departed at 17.45 and arrived at 03.45am in Dubai. Straight away I knew that this was a Royal Brunei flight, operated by their 787. This would be another chance to fly one of my favourite aircrafts again. But before I could agree, I wanted to hear about the other flight. It was from Gatwick to Dubai. As I heard this, I realised it was Emirates and an A380! Another type I had yet to fly on! A380 or 787? I asked myself. Sod it, A380!
So as we began to book our holiday, I became excited about flying on an A380, till my bubble was burst...
'Oh... Erm, Kayz, the flight is via Istanbul.' My fiancé responded, (my friends refer to me as Kayz.)
After looking up the details of the flight I was not impressed. I didn't really fancy stopping in Istanbul and dealing with the stress of worrying about catching connecting flights. The airline would have been Turkish Airlines, who I personally have no issues with what so ever, but as said before, I couldn't be dealing with the stress of changing planes at Istanbul. Okay, Royal Brunei it was to be then.
After a few months, the long awaited day arrived. We called a taxi and started our Journey to the Derby midland station.
We made it in time for the 10.01 train to London, making one call at Leicester, and then contiuing straight into London St Pancras. This part of the journey was far from exciting, as I make it on a daily basis for work. Class 222 meridian trains are used on intercity high speed services between London, Derby and Sheffield, although Intercity 125/HSTs are known to appear on these services during the rush hour and evening peakThe seats on the Class 222s are very comfortable
Soon we were speeding towards London, through the fields of the East Midlands, before passing through Hertfordshire and the outskirts of North London. We would make a "fuelling stop" at Kings Cross before continuing on the tube to London Heathrow.Speeding through the East Midlands countryside
By the the time we reached london, we had around 4-5 Hours before check in, which gave us plenty of time to get to the airport. But I was hungry, and seeing as I had to collect something from my office at Kings Cross, it would have been rude not to stop for "fuel". So my fiancé and I made a stop at Giraffe for Breakfast. A traditional English breakfast for me! No complaints at all!
My fiancé decided to go for panackaes and bacon, whilst I went for something which would fill me till dinner time. A
After breakfast, we topped our Oyster cards up and got the Piccadilly line straight through to Heathrow Terminal 4.
If you have ever used the Piccadilly line to Heathrow from central London, you will know the horrors of just how busy that particular tube line can be. The Piccadilly line connects North east London to the West of London, but in doing so, crosses through the heart of London, making stops at a few stations with famous landmarks and attractions. This makes the line very busy with tourists travelling around London, so it's wise to ensure that you don't have too much luggage or huge luggage which may hinder you, or those boarding the train in central London, due to crowding. There are alternative ways to Heathrow, but I'll cover this another time.
After a long and surprisingly quiet journey, we arrived at Heathrow terminal 4. As my fiance and I are usually very early, this trip was no different. We arrived with around 2-3 hours before check in opened, giving us the chance to relax, look in the few shops on the land side of the terminal, grab a drink and charge our phones.
It also gave me the chance to watch some aircraft's arriving at LHR, although it was a very quiet afternoon at Terminal 4. Located across the other side of the airfield, away from the other terminals Such as 2,3 and Terminal 5, Terminal 4 is on the southern edge of the airfield and is a relatively small and quiet terminal compared to the other terminals. Terminal 4 sees the majority of Middle eastern carriers, and carriers from the South Asia, along with the majority of Skyteam members, except Delta airlines who use terminal three.A busy Piccadilly line tube carriage passing through Central London Arrival at London Heathrow Terminal 4The main entrance to Terminal 4 from the drop of zone.The interior of terminal 4's check in/departures hall, with a few shops dotted aroundCome on, you know you'd buy one to read during or after the flight!
After a two to three hour wait, we could finally check in. The queue's were not too long, and it wasn't long before we were passig through security, and on the airside.Royal Brunei Check in deskMy ticket
As I stated earlier, terminal four isn't the biggest of terminals, but there are an impressive array of duty free shops, and some high end shops. For people such as myself, spotters, Terminal four also offers a great view of the airfield. You can see across the air field, looking at terminal 2/3 and the Southern runway.
You can get some decent shots from gates 10-12 I believe. These gates frequently see the likes of 787's, A380s, A350s and of course the infamous 777-300ER's.
It was another two hours till boarding started, so I decided that I would watch the activity on the airfield and get some pictures. By this point my fiance had looked at all the shops she wanted to and joined me.An Air Algeria A330-200 arrives at Terminal 4. This view is offered to the left of the main entrance.Some of the views of the field and equipment you can see from selected gates at terminal 4. You can also see my fiance sitting in front of a China Southern Airlines Boeing 787
It's true what they say, time flies when you're having fun, as it wasn't long before we had to make our way to our gate. Royal Brunei, land in the early hours and then their 787 is taxiied to a remote stand where it remains until the early evening hours before operating BI098 London Heathrow to Brunei Via Dubai. At the time of writing this, there was a stop over in Dubai, but this is soon to cease and Royal Brunei will fly direct from London Heathrow to Brunei.
Upon reaching our assigned gate, we had a little wait until we boarded our flight, and personally, I could not wait! The boeing 787 is one of my favourite airliners, so to be flying my fourth one was a real treat for me. But nothing could prepare me for what the flight would hold...Waiting to board at Gate 2Our chariot of fire at the gate, Boeing 787-8 V8-DLC
Gate 2, did not have the best views, and getting views of our aircraft was virtually impossible. However I managed to get one as we board. If you've never flown or looked at the interior of a Royal Brunei 787, you'll notice a stark contrast between the colors of the exterior, and the colors of the interior. Having an almost white fuselage, with a yellow tale, and greyish black skirt around the bottom of the fuselage, one would not expect to see aqua light blue seats in Economy.
My fiance and I have a rule, and that is, she get's the window seat no matter what. On this occasion none of us got the window seat, but none of us wanted the aisle seat, however I still ended up with the aisle seat as I got distracted by the interior taking pictures of it. BoardingThe interior of Royal Brunei 787-8 V8-DLC. You can just about catch a glimpse of my smiling wife as she claims victory on the middle seat leaving me on the aisle!Some more internal views of the 787-8
It was't long before boarding was complete, and push back had started. This was my first time on a 787 with Rolls Royces engines, and in all honesty, they did seem a lot louder than the GENx engines. If I fly on a 787, I usually pick seats above the wings as I quite like the high pitch sounds of the hyrdaulic pumps as they kick in, and the growling fans as they started up.
The airline, like many other airlines, has an on screen safety demonstration whilst the cabin crew point out the direction. What was new to me, and a lot of western airlines don't have, is a pre-flight prayer.
Brunei is a country where Islam is the dominant religion, along with The United Arab Emirates, so there was an Islamic prayer, translated in English. Whilst I myself am not of The Islamic faith, it was a nice touch for those who follow Islam, and I can imagine somewhat relaxing for nervous flyers after their flight has been blessed.
This evenings departure runway was 27 L, so it was a short taxi to the runway, although there was a long queue of airliners waiting to depart, however, we seemed to jump the queue and were second to take off.
It was a beautiful evening with the sun shining, but it was somewhat turbulent as we climbed out of Heathrow, over Southwest London, before swinging back round, crossing the North sea and flying over Belgium.
The inflight entertainment was very good. There was a good choice of recent films, popular sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory, and Surprisingly Family guy. There was also a music library and some games to play. As with most modern IFE systems, this one was touch screen. Midway through the flight, I did have to request to have my IFE system restarted as it crashed, leaving my screen with a frozen image.
The cabin crew happily reset it and checked to make sure it was working well. There no further issues.
Quite often, you hear the horror stories of just how vile airline food can be, with food which looks and smells disgusting. Where do I begin here?
Okay so there were two choices of meals. Beef in a sort of Soya sauce with rice, and Shepherds Pie. My fiance ordered the shepherd pie, and I went for the beef.
Wow... just wow!
What a meal. Not only did it look and smell nice, but it also taste the part! My fiance kindly let me try some of her meal which she too thoroughly enjoyed. I would give Royal Brunei top marks here!Climbing out of HeathrowIFE at the start of the JourneyMy Rice and beef dish. A lovely meal!My Fiance's meal, Shepherds PieIn flight magazine and Headphones for my IFE system. They were great! Very good noise cancelling headsets
Around an hour and a half to two hours into the flight, the sun began to set, as we headed east, over eastern europe and crossing into the middle east. The mood lighting didn't really seem to have many settings as it stayed the same throughout most of the flight until just before landing, when we were presented with a really pretty rainbow show. It was actually timed really well, as we hit some heavy turbulence, so for nervous flyers, this would have been a nice little distraction.No long before touchdown, the rainbow mood lighting passed through the cabin which was nice especially as we had hit some heavy turbulenceDubai
Our scheduled arrival was 3.45am in DXB, but we arrived exactly 30 minutes earlier. We taxied to the new terminal one gates and parked up besides an Ethiopian 777-200LR. When disembarking its worth mentioning that there are two exits once you leave the aircraft, one for those who will transfer to another airline or finish their journey in Dubai,and another one for passengers who are stopping over in Dubai.
Once we arrived in terminal one, we had to get a shuttle to the old terminal building, pass through security and get our bags, which was pretty fast. My first impression of terminal 1 was, it was quite clean, but it was definitely showing it's age.
We were met by our transfer, who lead us through a dark, and very hot car park. Terminal 1 was not as Glamourous as I thought it would be, but there again, that's where most international airlines land.Terminal 3 is the famous terminal which is used by Emirtates and Qantas and perhaps a few other airlines, so that's where all the luxury would be found.
Our Transfer took us to Downtown Dubai, which was only 20-25 minutes.
Now let's talk a little about Dubai. You may have heard how strict Dubai is with certain things such as being drunk in public, clothing and PDA.
Dubai isn't as strict as some people make out, but I do recommend refraining from drinking alcohol till the point of being drunk, kissing, swearing, fighting, and provoking locals. Seeing as my fiance and me were not married at the time, we called each other husband and wife at all times, at hotels, and when someone asked about our relationship status. I don't believe there would have been an issue if I said my fiance, but as we were sharing a room, we didn't want to risk any potential trouble.
Now I said to refrain from PDA, Kissing, and anything else considered too intimate,but I did see a number of locals holding hands, even though this is apparently forbidden. It's just a case of behaving sensibly, and abiding by their laws. But all should be okay.
Dubai, not only has a beautiful airport, but it is a beautiful city! Here are some of the sights we saw:Dubai Mall, one of the biggest malls in the worldDubai Creek, just outside the Dubai Mall, and at the foot of The Burj Khalifa skyscraperThe dancing fountains, on the Dubai CreekThe Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the worldDubai MarinaThe Burj Al Arab hotel, with my fiance posing next to itDubai Aquairum, found in The Dubai MallThe Ritz Carlton resort, DubaiDubai CreekThe Hotel foud at the edge of "The palm" island
As you can see, there is a fair bit to do and see in Dubai. The best way to get around is by taxi, or the metro and Tram system which also connects you to the airport terminals, 1 and 3.A ticket which allows all day travel on buses, metro and tramsA Dubai TramPublic transport in Dubai does have seats allocated for women and children nonly, Men may not enter this area. There is also a first class on the trams and metro trains.
On our final day in Dubai, my fiance kindly agreed to let me have a look around Dubai terminal 3. The home of the world famous emirates airlines. One of the most luxurious airlines in the world.DXB Terminal 3, home of Emirates
We took the train from Dubai Marina direct to Terminal which was around 40-60 minutes. Terminal 3's station is directly opposite the terminal and access to the terminal from the station is simple and step free. Terminal 3 itself, was massive! I've never seen such a spacious check in hall, although the terminal was a lot quieter than I had anticipated. Once I'd had a look around terminal 3, we made our way to terminal 1 on the train which is around 2-3 minutes away and also has easy acces to the the airport terminal.
To my surprise terminal 1 was far busier than terminal 3, or at least it seemed that way.DXB, T3dxb t3, Check in/departue hallVarious images of DXB terminal 3DXB Terminal 3 StationView of terminal 1 from the railway stationTerminal 1 Entrance to DeparturesTerminal 1 Check in/Departures Hall
There is a terminal 2 at DXB, but this is located to the North of the airfield and used by domestic carriers. I can't recall if there was a connection by rail to terminal 2, but in any case we did not have enough time to visit.
We visited some more landmarks in Dubai before returning to the airport around 22.30pm. We found our check in desk, checked our bags in, passed through security checks and then boarded the shuttle train to the new gates at terminal one. Again, security was fast, and we were soon in the duty free section of terminal 1, with plenty of shops and places to eat.
There were not many places good enough to capture decent shots, but you could view aircrafts on the field from selected restaurants. Around midnight, we made our way to our gate, D21. We waited around 45 minutes, by which point we should have started boarding. Our aircraft was already on the ground, but there seemed to be some delay. After a further hour and a half, an annoucement was made that there was a fault with our plane, so we were offered vouchers and sent to back to the duty free area, to grab a bite to eat.
Finally, after nearly 3 hours of delay, we boarded our aircraft, pushed back, and made the long taxi to the runway. By the time we were 2 hous into the flght, the sun had already appeared on the eastern Horizon, somewhere over Iran. Our main meal was served around breakfast time, before the cabin lights were set to night mode allowing some passengers to have a sleep.
Our aircraft back was V8-DLD, having come from Brunei before picking us up and contiuing onto LHR. We arrived at a Bright and Sunny Heathorw 2 and half hours late, but other than that the flight was smooth.Back at terminal 2, this time in the late evening in the humid heatCheck in at DXB T2
[imghttps://imageshack.com/i/pmEiP1VRj][/img]T2 Check in deskNew terminal 1 after passing security and taking the shuttle trainTerminal 1, Duty free areaA view of the duty free shops at DXB T2Another view DXB T2 duty free and shopsGate D21 waiting to board BI097V8-DLD at Gate D21, T2, DXBFinally on the plane!Pizza snack shortly after departureThe night lighting was switched on as some prepared for a few hours sleepIFE ScreenSunrise over IranEarly morning over Germany!Morning on the 787, night lighting having been switched to day mode, around an hour earlierFlying over Thames Estuary, the mouth of the river ThamesCircling over London and KentBack home! Baggage hall LHR, T4
Despite the late departure, the flight was very smooth, and continued without incident. After touch down, we taxied past two UAE, Goverment 747-400S, and a Qatar Amiri A340-200, a nice touch to finish a wonderful break and great journey.Verdict
Would I fly with Royal Brunei again? After a great flight to Dubai, but arriving 2.5 hours late back in The UK due to a technical fault, I can say that, YES, I would certainly fly with Royal Brunei again.
The entertainment was good, the food was great, and the service was very good. Despite the majority of female cabin crew not even cracking a smile, unlike their male colleagues, they provided a good service. Delays happen, and can be annoying, but they looked after us with vouchers where we could get some food and drink whilst we waited.
All in all, it was an enjoyable trip, and I'd happily repeat it in future!