Scenic Route to Hamburg: Emirates Boeing 777-300ER
“Marhaban bikum fi Dubayy, where the time is ...”
As the aircraft decelerates and taxis away from the runway, I wonder which terminal it will park at. Arrival gates are always a guessing game. Will I need to use the train between concourses?
Finally, the Airbus A380 pulls into a contact stand F22. The cabin crew are in place at the door, the curtain to the Business Class cabin has been closed to allow passengers in First to alight first. I thank the crew for making the journey so pleasant and step out onto the jetbridge.
Parking at stand F22 proves to be quite convenient. A check of the departures board indicates that boarding for the connecting flight will be from gate B1. No need to change Concourse and no need to use the train, although another form of ground transport will be used later.
I make may way to the Emirates First Class Lounge where my boarding pass is scanned, the gate number is written on it and I am reminded that I will need to “down the stairs” (I already know what that means) and that no boarding announcements are made.
Making my way through, I find a seat and no sooner am I settled a young man comes to ask if he can bring me something. I rarely eat in the lounge in Dubai, preferring to dine in flight as it helps to pass the time and affords the opportunity to have a chat with the crew. I request some freshly squeezed orange juice and some still water. After the drinks are brought and I have checked my email, I settle to watch Hillary Clinton making her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on the large screen. "Don’t boo. Vote."
The time for boarding approaches so I make my way to gate B1. Now this gate, along with B2 through B6 have no jet bridges because they do not lead to contact stands. They are bus gates and are used to ferry passengers to aircraft parked on remote stands. When I arrive, I see a lane for First and Business, Gold and Platinum tier members, but it is not manned. I am directed to jump the queue by the agent handling enquiries and a young woman directs her mother to let me through. However, they are part of a group and I feel it would be churlish to split them and indicate that they should go first.
The queue moves slowly because the young woman scanning boarding passes needs to reissue some because the ones passengers have printed themselves for some reason don’t register. Never kind: the flight won’t leave without the passengers. When my pass is scanned I am wished a pleasant trip, accompanied by a very pleasant smile.
I make my way down the escalator to the departure lounge. Boarding of passengers travelling in Economy has already commenced but First and Business Class passengers are advised to take a seat as the biblical prophesy is fulfilled: the first shall be last. I have already experienced this method of boarding on previous trips and it does make things easier. First and business passengers are actually advised a later boarding time so they can spend longer in the lounge or doing essential shopping if they wish. Once all or most of the Economy cabin has boarded a call goes out for First and Business. Down another escalator we go and at the kerb are separate busses. I am directed to the second bus, fitted with its club chairs. Another four passengers will join me before we set out to stands near the Dubai Logistics Centre.
As the bus makes its way to the stand, I use the opportunity to photograph a few of the aircraft along the way. Let's start with a venerable Airbus A330-200, first flown with the test registration F-WWYX on the 7th March, 2000 and with Emirates as A6-EKY since 21st March of the same year. It's recently been doing extra rotations to Riyadh and Medina.
There doesn’t appear to be much happening on the visible side of Concourse D but I am able to snap a couple if Speedbirds, a pair from Qatar, a visitor from Saudi Arabia and just manage to see the tail of a Virgin. The first Speedbird is in the shape of G-VIIP, a Boeing 777-236(ER), with British Airways since 18th July, 1997. It is powered by 2 GE90-85B engines and configured F14 C48 W40 Y122.
Ferried from Finkenwerder on the 6th February, 2013 is an Airbus A321-211, now flying with Saudia. It has CFM56-5B3/3 engines and is configured for C12 and Y165.
Alongside her bigger sister is an Airbus A321-231 with Qatar since 9th December, 2010. It first lew with the test registration D-AVZJ and is powered by two IAE V2533-A5 engines.
Flight: Emirates EK059 Dubai-Hamburg
Aircraft ID: A6-EGO
Type: Boeing 777-300ER Seat 2K
STD/ ATD 09:00/ 09:02
STA/ ATA 13:45/ 13:40
When the bus pulls up alongside A6-EGO, the front door is closed. One of the ground staff climbs the stairs a knocks. A couple of minutes later the door is opened and we are invited to board. As usual I use any opportunity to snap a couple of more shots of the aircraft around us.
Many aviation buffs will know that there is something special about Golf Oscar. This Boeing 777-300ER was first unveiled on 27th February 2012 as the 1000th Boeing 777 manufactured. It made its first flight as BOE193 on 6th March before being delivered and flown to Dubai on the 20th of the same month. Like the A380 that I had arrived into Dubai on, this aircraft commenced service flying to Australia. The route was EK432 DXB-SIN-BNE on 23rd March.
What a pleasant surprise it is when I am recognised and welcomed aboard by Joanna. We had first met on a previous flight, when I flew to Hamburg last year in May. On finding my suite Izzam comes to introduce herself and offers the usual amenities for day light flights and I discover the she too prefers the dates with the almonds. On a couple of past flights, the towels were cold, apparently because feedback suggested that many passengers prefer the that way in the heat of Dubai. On today’s flight they are hot.
Push-back is on time after the Captain had introduced himself and his colleague on the flight deck. Before commencing taxi, the safety video is shown and I follow my usual habit of reading the safety card.
The flight is expected to take 6 hours and 20 minutes and arrival on time, the Hamburg the weather is expected to be fine, though there is a chance of a shower. Push-back may be on time but after we taxi along Kilo to a holding point at Kilo 1 what seems an eternity passes.
Still, this does afford the opportunity to spot one of the Speedbirds that is ahead of us in the queue - G-YMMP a Boeing 777-236(ER) powered by 2 Rolls Royce Trent 895 engines;
... an Emirates Airbus A380 with the special Wildlife livery;
... and the world’s other favourite airline: one of the two Qantas morning departures. This one appears to be VH-OQI operating as QF9 from DXB to LHR.
Before it is "our turn" I spot an aircraft ID'd EK but it isn't with Emirates though from the Emirate. A6-FEK is a Boeing 737-8KN(WL) that was delivered to flydubai on the 20th December, 2013 having first flown on the 14th. It is powered by 2 CFM-7B27E engines.
Our Captain is given clearance to enter active. Once the order us given to the crew to “prepare for take off” and we begin the roll, pass the ATC Tower and begin to lift, I am lucky enough to capture the other Qantas flight. This is flight QF2 en route from LHR via DXB to SYD. Unfortunately, I am unable to make out the aircraft ID.
AS the Boeing passes over the City, Joanne announces that on today’s flight crew come from 15 countries and speak 17 languages. Once upon a time it used to be fun listening to all the languages being recited. These days I guess you need to enquire if someone among the crew speaks your language. On thing is guaranteed: Arabic and English are always spoken.
Once in the air, the ICE and Skywards video is played and I notice that it is the older version that I am familiar with. On the flight into Dubai there had been a newer version, probably aimed at a younger audience but very dark.
Joanna comes back to the suite and we catch up on the latest gossip. With her she has the wine list and menu for today’s flight. She asks whether she can bring anything and I quickly check to see if what is on the menu and wine list match what was stated on the Emirates web site. I decide upon the Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, together with some canapés. Izzam brings the wine and upon sampling it I find that it is agreeable. But the true test of a wine might be how it tastes once you’ve had something to eat. I try the canapés and then a swig of wine to find it is still very agreeable. Outside the views show that we are over the mountains of north-western Iran.