The New Emirates Perth Lounge: A380 to Dubai
There are other options for getting to Hamburg from Perth but these are two-stop journeys. They often involve a lengthy layover at the first, followed by a mad dash at the next where a non-Schengen to Schengen transfer is required. Far simpler is the one-stop offered by Emirates. Besides, they have recently opened a new lounge in Perth and I really want to try it out.
A search of the Emirates website shows that on my preferred travel dates there are seats available on the Perth departure but only one on the connecting flight. No shilly-shallying, make a booking. During selection, the number of Air miles and Tier miles each option will earn is indicated.
When the confirmation arrives, I notice that if you are logged into Skywards when making the reservation, the background colour of the area showing check-in times changes according to tier status.
Emirates is a bit different to some other airlines: they only permit you to make a seat selection once you have a confirmed reservation but they charge no extra. The seat selection part of Manage a Booking shows that on the A380 out of Perth all seats in rows 1 and 2 are occupied or blocked. I decide upon 3K, mindful that on a previous occasion the wi-fi controller in that suite was faulty. Surely by now, it would be fixed if the same aircraft were to operate the flight. For the connecting flight only one seat is available and is automatically assigned — 1A. Good news for Emirates that the cabin is full. Paid fares or Airmiles upgrades, I wonder?
Having sorted out the seats, the next step is booking the complimentary chauffeur-drive transfers to and from the airports. This is done by following a link under Manage A Booking and entering details for pick time and place for each sector.
Also under Manage A Booking, passengers requiring a special meal for health, moral conviction or religious reasons can make requests for each sector travelled. If you wish to be vegetarian-lacto-ova on the first sector or convert to another religion for the last, you can. Those who wish to can always download the standard menu for the flight a few days before departure.
Prior to a previous flight with Emirates I received an email telling me that my flight would arrive in Dubai five minutes early. This time an email comes apologising for any inconvenience that might result from my arriving back home five minutes early. I guess that I'll have to spend less time in the shower.
Two days before departure there is a call from Hughes Limousines. It is Kirstin who wishes to confirm the pick up time and address for the transfer to the airport. We agree a 19:00 pick up and shortly after an email confirmation arrives.
The following morning a problem arises. Although used only a few days before, when packing the camera a quick test reveals that it has gone to that great camera warehouse in the sky. Despite going through all the trouble-shooting steps, it can not be brought back to life. Some internet research and visits to a number of outlets results in the purchase of a replacement.
After receiving an SMS reminder that check-in is open, I go online. The boarding passes can be printed directly, or a link sent to a mobile device or emailed. I just print them to pdf and save them as I will need to drop off a suitcase and new boarding passes will be printed anyway.
The car arrives at the appointed time and soon is pulling up outside the International Terminal. The driver is Cameron and he is kind enough to discuss how the transfer bookings are organised, all being booked through Hughes, with the drivers being owner-drivers and franchisees.
Queues have formed at the Emirates desks and also at the adjacent Qatar Airways desks for the daily flight to Doha. Once my bag is checked, the agent informs me that the new lounge is open, saying that to reach it one must walk to Gate 51 and down the stairs.
But I go up to the observation deck on Level 3 first. On Stand 152 there is an Air Asia Flight, QZ537 boarding passengers for Denpasar-Bali.
Also present and painted in OneWorld livery is a Boeing 777-3DZER operating for Qatar Airways, A7-BAG. It will be leaving for Doha about 20 minutes after the EK flight departs.
Back on the Departures Level and through the duty free area, another opportunity to view the aircraft. At a remote stand behind the Air Asia Airbus A320-200, PK-AZD, is an Airbus A340-313 from South African Airways.
At Stand 151 the Emirates Airbus A380 is being loaded for tonight's flight. In the distance are some Qantas and Virgin tails over at the domestic terminal.
The new Emirates Lounge is now open. Promised to be available for the commencement of A380 services in May, there were the inevitable delays that saw the opening put back until late early October. Situated below the old lounge, the new will offer direct access to the aircraft. The old lounge looks desolate as I pass it to reach the stairs down to the departure gate seating area.
Chia welcomes me to the lounge and apologises for Michael Canton, the mâitre d'hôtel, not being here tonight. In his place, Chia is happy to give me a guided tour.
The lounge is tastefully furnished and despite being much larger than the old one, still maintains a sense of calm. Of course there are defined seating and dining areas, as well as a small Business Centre offering PCs with Internet access, a printer, fax and telephones. One minor difference, or maybe just an oversight this evening, there are only paper towels in the Gents in place of the cotton ones normally seen.
But what food and drink offerings are there? The team have put on a splendid spread when one considers that only passengers on Emirates flights travelling in First and Business, or those with Gold or Platinum tier status, have access. There is a selection that provides both hot and cold meals. Choices include hors-d'oeuvres, salads, cheeses and desserts.
Wines, beers, spirits and a range of soft drinks are available, together with nuts, olives and dates. Self-serve teas and coffees are also on hand. Another self-serve bar is available in the general seating area of the lounge.
A plate of Steamed Salmon with soy, lemon, ginger and onion dressing and a glass of wine from Cape Mentelle will do before boarding. I'm sure the cabin crew won't let me starve during the flight.
After the snack I move to another part of the lounge. Chia appears saying, "There you are. Have you hidden yourself away?" We chat for a while about developments before Chia asks, "Can I get you something to drink?"
The coffee - a long black - is real, not muggefug.
A pre-boarding announcement is made, inviting "those who require assistance to board now. First and Business Class passengers and those with Platinum or Gold Tier status are free to board at any time."
This is followed later with a general call. Saying goodbye to the friendly and welcoming staff, I make my way from the lounge to the gate, through a dedicated lane for premium passengers and along the jet-bridge to the upper deck. The direct access from the lounge is not yet in operation.