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Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sun Nov 15, 2015 4:17 pm

India has fascinated me for many years, and so when the need to visit Bangalore for work presented itself a couple of months ago, I jumped at the chance to experience a slice of the country.

Here’s what’s coming up over the next few posts:
  • The Emirates Lounge, LGW
  • LGW-DXB Emirates Business Class, A380
  • Emirates Business Class Lounge (Concourse B), DXB
  • DXB-BLR Emirates Business Class, B772
  • The Lalit Ashok, Bangalore
  • Views of Bangalore
  • Plaza Premium Lounge (International), BLR
  • BLR-DXB Emirates Business Class, B77W
  • Emirates Business Class Lounge (Concourse A), DXB
  • DXB-LGW Emirates Business Class, A380
The Emirates Lounge, LGW

Whilst Emirates offer a complimentary chauffeur service for all First and Business Class passengers, our corporate travel agent had arranged their own service. With my apartment being much closer to Heathrow than London’s second airport, it was an early start on the day of departure, but the Mercedes S Class transported me in short order to Gatwick’s rather dated North Terminal, where I arrived around three hours before departure and met with my colleagues.

EK check-in in Zone B, opposite BA in Zone A. The BA main bag drop queue was snaking around the tensabarriers almost to the EK desks, but thankfully the EK area had no such queues, with two desks open for Business, and one for First. With both of the other desks occupied, I was called over to the First desk, where boarding passes were issues and bags tagged all the way through to Bangalore. EK have clear colour-coded branding for their three classes of travel (green for Economy, blue for Business and red for First), and this extends to the bag tags, including rather pretentious little tags that had to be applied to hand luggage, clashing somewhat concerningly with the brown leather of my carry-on.

Premium Gatwick offers a separate security search area for first and business class passengers, although the area has all the ambience of a doctor’s waiting room, and I suspect hasn’t been far modified from what I presume was a staff search area in the not too distant past. Security took around 10 minutes, the majority of which time was spent queuing behind some inept individuals who didn’t understand the concept of removing everything from their pockets and consequently had to make several attempts at passing through the metal detector.

Once finally through security, it was a short walk through the 1980s departure lounge/retail area to the lounge pavilion, a three-floor complex comprising the BA First and Terraces lounges at the top, the No.1 pay-in lounge in the middle, and the EK lounge at the bottom. The lift in the pavilion is famed for being slower than a tortoise, so we opted for the stairs down to the friendly welcome by name from the EK receptionist.

The Emirates Lounge is essentially a square with the back of house kitchen space and washrooms/showers in the centre (with Timeless Spa amenities), and lounge space around the edges. The lounge has been refurbished fairly recently into EK’s latest concept to align with their new DXB Concourse A lounges, but the seating felt a little regimented, the lighting quite harsh, and many of the seats were more style than comfort. There was, however, a comprehensive breakfast selection at this early hour, with everything beautifully presented and kept replenished.

The lounge never got too crowded, even as the departure time of the flight grew closer, and some parts of the lounge such as the quiet area on the opposite side to the bar/buffet were completely deserted throughout our stay.

I enjoyed a light breakfast of fruit, yogurt and juice, before deciding it would be remiss of me (for completeness of this report, naturally) not to sample at least a small portion of hot items. Everything was of decent quality, and the next couple of hours flew by in a mix of coffee, internet browsing and magazine reading.

Gatwick only has one A380-capable gate at the North Terminal (bless), which is at the furthest point of Pier 6, meaning quite a trek from the main terminal building over the taxiway bridge. Boarding was announced in the lounge at the perfect time to ensure we arrived at the gate with the majority of Economy having already boarded the main deck through two airbridges at M1L and M2L, leaving the gate area free for us to board the upper deck at U1L through the clearly marked First/Business lane with no waiting.

LGW-DXB Emirates Business Class, A380

Emirates have configured their vast fleet of A380s with two Business cabins on the upper deck behind First, and an all-Economy main deck. The Business cabin features a bar at the rear, just ahead of the four toilets that are shared by all Business passengers. For this reason, the rear cabin is to be avoided when selecting seats (which can be done for free at the time of booking regardless of status). With a 1-2-1 staggered configuration, all seats benefit from aisle access, but the window and ‘middle’ seats have slightly more legroom than the aisle seats.

I was lucky to select 11A, a very private window seat with oodles of personal space, two good-sized window storage compartments, and a large shelf/side table adjacent to my personal minibar, the latter featuring a decent selection of soft drinks. On the seat when I arrived were a blanket, pillow and EK-branded noise-cancelling headphones, whilst the minibar shelf held the menu and a small plastic cheapy-looking pouch containing an eyeshade, socks and ‘wake me’ stickers. EK don’t offer full amenity kits on day flights, but the basics are provided either in the form of the small pouch at the seat, or with the dental/shaving kits in the well-stocked washrooms, which also include Bvlgari fragrances. Incidentally, the washrooms were kept virtually immaculate throughout the flight, and were quite spacious, two of the four having windows, always a nice touch on an aircraft.

As boarding of one-year old A6-EOA progressed, the cabin crew member who would (supposedly) be looking after the window seats in the left hand aisle introduced himself, and offered a choice of Veuve Cliquot champagne, concentrated orange juice or apple juice. I naturally opted for a glass of champagne, which was served with the wine list for the flight. Our British captain announced a flight time to Dubai of 6h30m, cruising at up to 41,000ft. A satisfyingly large hot towel was offered just prior to a virtually on-time pushback, and I watched the subsequent takeoff roll on the large IFE screen, part of the gate-to-gate impressive ICE offering delivered on these A380s through a combination of personal large wide/touch screen, small hand-held wireless tablet, and pull-out remote.

After takeoff the mood lighting was changed to a warmer tone, and our cabin crew were introduced as being from 18 different countries, speaking 15 different languages. These are no doubt quite impressive statistics, but unfortunately that’s about the limit to how impressed I was when it came to the service. The young crew were quite frankly disorganised, seemingly unable to deliver the service with any amount of pace or continuity, sometimes forgetting requests and other times being downright unprofessional – more on that later. For now, it was time to make my lunch selection, accompanied by an excellent movie – The Water Diviner – and an apple spritzer with delicious warmed nuts.

Here’s the fairly extensive menu for this flight:

The presentation element of the meal services was very good – no trolleys were used at any time in the cabin, and my large table was first laid with a tablecloth before I was presented with a tray pre-laid with my choice of starter (the pleasant and slightly spicy smoked tomato soup), alongside some bread and the rather average salad to which the olive oil could not add any interest.

Next up (after a significant delay) was my main course of seared lamb loin, not as pink as I would have liked but still flavoursome, let down by the bland carrots and the garlic bread that was not at all garlicy. This was accompanied by a glass of the pleasant Chateau Laroze 2005. My knife had been taken away with the salad bowl before the main course was delivered, but alas the requested replacement didn’t arrive until the main course was being cleared, by which time I had of course used the bread knife. Little annoyances like this can let an otherwise good product down, and it was this sort of theme that recurred across all four flights this trip.

Another significant (and by now predictable) delay later, and finally my desert of the rather nice mango mousse arrived, accompanied by a green tea. The fresh seasonal fruit plate finished an overall satisfying meal.

At the conclusion of the lunch service, some 3 hours into the flight, I opted for the mattress for use in recline mode (rather than flat bed at this time of the day), which turned an already very comfortable seat into a thing of luxury. I passed the next couple of hours watching some Family Guy and Top Gear episodes, initially with a cappuccino, biscotti and Godiva chocolates to keep me company.

Just ahead of the light bites (afternoon tea) service, I joined my colleagues in the bar for a drink (purely for the novelty factor), where the most bizarre cabin crew interaction of the trip occurred. My colleague requested an apple spritzer (non-alcoholic cocktail, or mocktail), an alien concept to the aloof young lady behind the bar despite it being an item on the menu. Initially she attempted to put vodka in it, before having to refer to the manual as to what the drink actually was after being stopped mid-pour. She then spent the next several minutes attempting to locate the apple juice, before giving up entirely on serving and passing over to a colleague with all the air of a schoolgirl who’s just been given a detention. Totally unprofessional and downright rude, making for a not particularly pleasant 15 minutes at the bar – a space which I feel is far more questionable blingy style over substance, particularly for those unfortunate passengers in the rear Business cabin which is rather vulnerable to noise even with the curtains drawn.

On returning to my seat, the light bites orders had already been taken from the front half of the cabin, so I had to use the call bell to place my order of the afternoon tea selection (sans sandwiches) and English breakfast tea. The flustered crewmember delivered the service without a table cloth as there was ‘very little time’ and I’d ‘have to eat quickly I’m afraid’, despite being well over an hour from Dubai. If BA can manage an afternoon tea service on a 45 minute flight to Paris, EK can manage it with 90 minutes to go, and indeed I enjoyed the tea in good time, finishing with a good 20 minutes to go before the descent announcement came.

We landed on time into Dubai, docking at the older Concourse B, handy for our connecting flight to Bangalore that would be leaving from the same concourse. Connections security was clearly signed, although the First/Business lane was not actually separated from the main lines and totally un-policed. Despite this, there was virtually no wait and within 15 minutes of leaving our A380 we were heading towards the entrance of the Concourse B Business lounge.

Emirates Business Class Lounge (Concourse B), DXB

The Emirates Business Class Lounge in Concourse B is undergoing extensive refurbishment at present, with about half of the lounge hoarded off, a quarter still to be refurbished, and the other quarter refurbished into the latest concept. Because so much of the lounge is closed, many of the areas (particularly the dining area) were busy, but certainly not to the extent of some other lounges I’ve been in (I’m looking at you, BA…). Despite the ongoing work, it’s clear this lounge is large and spacious, and would usually have numerous quiet seating areas and other nooks such as bars, dining areas, business centres, play areas and smoking rooms. The lounge is arranged around a central atrium, looking down to the main concourse below – everything is typically Emirates in style, and whilst not to my personal taste, is certainly modern and well considered, although I wouldn’t describe it as luxurious.

The pictures of the lounge I’ve included here only show the refurbished spaces – the older spaces really are very dated – think early 1990s styling. We had only around 45 minutes to spend in the lounge – I took the opportunity to stretch my legs walking around the atrium.

DXB-BLR Emirates Business Class, B772

As with most decent lounges, there were no boarding announcements, and so we left in good time to reach our gate, located just a short walk away through the retail area. Whilst there was no queue to have our boarding passes checked, once we’d descended to the gate holding room, a very long line had formed at the desk signed for First/Business. It was clear that not all of these passengers were destined for those cabins (judging by the sheer number of people), and assuming we had left it rather late to board and had missed the priority call, we politely bypassed the queue and were waved through to board through 1L at this dual-airbridge gate.

Stepping onto A6-EMI, an almost 20-year-old 777-200ER, we were welcomed onboard and I made my way to 9A, my seat in the second row of the main Business Class cabin behind Doors 2. This aircraft was configured with two rows of the older flat bed SkyCruiser First Class seats in 2-2-2 configuration, followed by two rows of Business Class in the mini cabin ahead of Doors 2, ahead of the four rows in the main Business Class cabin. All Business Class seats on Emirates’ 777s are essentially the same slightly angled seats configured 2-3-2, the difference with these older aircraft being that they have a different IFE system to the latest deliveries.

I arrived at my seat to find a pillow, blanket and headphones on it, with a menu and local Emirates-branded water bottle in the pocket below the IFE screen. These 777 seats don’t have nearly as much personal or storage space when compared to the A380s, and naturally have much less privacy. That said, they are perfectly comfortable for short sectors of less than 5 hours (with the little privacy screen tactically deployed!).

Cold towels were offered prior to pushback, and wine lists were handed out along with PDBs – I opted for some refreshing apple juice rather than orange or a glass of the Moet.

Our captain announced a flight time of 3h30m, flying at up to 37,000ft, shortly before the cabin crew sprayed the cabin to comply with Indian regulations. Dinner orders were taken from the menu just before pushback, with the choices being:

Wheels up, and the cabin crew jumped into action with the dinner service. First up was an orange spritzer and warm nuts, shortly followed by a tray with both my chosen starter of the traditional Arabic mezze, and my main course of the Thai yellow chicken curry presented together. Usually, combined courses on a tray are unwelcome, however, it makes sense to do this on a short sector, and I appreciated the continued lack of trolleys in the cabin. The presentation of the mezze was nice, but sadly everything was rather bland and not very appealing. A number of condiments were offered to accompany the mezze, which I didn’t take – perhaps if I had done so, they would’ve helped spice things up a little. The curry was pleasant enough, but the chicken wasn’t great quality and was a little pink for my liking, resulting in most of it being left. Multiple bread runs were made throughout the service, which was much pacier than that delivered by the crew on the A380. Dessert was the overpowering milk chocolate and mango cake, which I of course managed to finish completely. A green tea and Godiva chocolates completed the meal service.

During the flight I watched True Story, an uncompelling film that got me right in the mood for sleep (although with no mattress or amenity kit/pouch available and not long left of the flight, I didn’t opt for this option, however enticing it was). As mentioned previously, the IFE (or ICE as Emirates term it) system on these older 777s is much less responsive or extensive than on the A380s and newer 777s. The main screen isn’t touch or wide, and the tablet is smaller, heavier and tethered to the side of the seat – in fact, it’s virtually unusable. Picture quality is naturally inferior, although once a programme has started, it is at least watchable.

Hot towels ended a very comfortable short sector, and we docked in a dark Bangalore on time, next to a Lufthansa 747-800. Passport control and baggage reclaim were both quick, despite having to be security screened before entering the baggage hall. Our driver met us in the arrivals hall and escorted us to a waiting Toyota minivan for the transfer to our hotel.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sun Nov 15, 2015 4:20 pm

The Lalit Ashok, Bangalore

The Lalit Ashok, part of an Indian chain of business hotels, is located in the embassy district of Bangalore, around 45 minutes’ drive from the airport. Our driver got us there in short order in the early hours of the morning, with light (but suitably interesting looking) traffic. Highlights included the tiny pickup truck loaded in the back with (naturally completely unsecured) people and animals, and the numerous vehicles travelling either without any lights at all, or with lights on full beam continuously.

The Lalit is set in attractive grounds, and features a swimming pool in front of a spacious and luxurious spa complex, a tennis court and some nicely landscaped garden areas. Whilst the building is an unattractive 1970s-ish block, inside is for the most part understated semi-luxury. We were welcomed through the door (after the obligatory baggage x-ray and walk through the metal detector) and escorted to check-in where formalities were quickly completed. My bags were offered to be taken but I opted to wheel them myself up to my room to save time, as I was in increasing need of sleep by this point in the journey.

My spacious standard room on the 5th floor had a nice view over the entrance drive, part of the hotel’s gardens, and the Bangalore skyline beyond, and was decorated in the same understated tones that featured throughout much of the hotel. All the usual comforts of a five star hotel were present, with robes and slippers reassuringly in the wardrobe. A standard selection of complimentary tea, coffee and bottled water was available and replenished daily, with complimentary fruit being available on request. I flopped into bed within 15 minutes of arriving in the room, lasting just long enough to receive the free wifi code hand-delivered to the room, and to check that the aircon was working (which it was, very quietly and very efficiently).

After a comfortable part-night part-day sleep (disturbed only in the daytime hours with some furniture being moved around above my room), it was time to freshen up in the spacious bathroom, which featured a nice walk-in shower and amenities by Kronokare. The standard of cleanliness and attention to detail in the room and throughout the hotel was very good, with only one slight annoyance being that the corridors to the rooms weren’t air conditioned, which meant some city noise (including the nearby trains) from the open windows crept into the building. Another slight negative was the lack of iron and ironing board in the room, and although this was naturally available on request, I prefer it to be on-hand as and when required.

Breakfast was taken each morning in 24/7, the hotel’s main restaurant, unsurprisingly offering a 24-hour buffet selection. The breakfast presentation was extensive, with a good range of both Indian and Western options, whilst the lunch selection (sampled on two separate occasions) was an equally extensive but solely Indian affair. I played it quite safe with my selections, and wasn’t blown away with anything, but equally nothing could be described as unpleasant. I’m confident if I’d been a little more adventurous that I would have found some star dishes, as everything was of decent quality. Service in 24/7 was average, and not quite up to the standard of the rest of the hotel, whilst the restaurant décor (which included an outdoor terrace) was a little dated for my taste. With a little upgrading the restaurant would be a much more inviting experience.

On two occasions we enjoyed dinner at Oko, the hotel’s Asian fusion restaurant, located right at the top of the building and furnished in contemporary tones with an extensive rooftop terrace with views across the city. On our first night we had a choice from the excellent à la carte menu with equally excellent service, whilst on our second visit a special event meant that purely a buffet was on offer. This was no less excellent, despite the self-service nature of the experience.

The third of the hotel’s three restaurants, Baluchi, is the Lalit’s signature Indian dining experience. On the one evening we dined here, I opted for the vegetarian tasting menu, which was on the whole exceptional, with many of the selections being like nothing I’d ever eaten before. The desserts, whilst paired well with the overall menu, weren’t quite to my taste, but the multiple courses that preceded them were so good as to make this a minor niggle. As with 24/7, service was a little impersonal, and the restaurant lacked atmosphere despite the semi-open kitchen. That being said, the cuisine was so delightful I was prepared to overlook the non-food related side of things.

The Lalit Ashok in Bangalore is a solid business hotel. Whilst it doesn’t offer the true luxury of an international five star experience, it does provide every comfort one could wish for on a business trip to the city, and I would have little hesitation staying there again on a return visit.

Views of Bangalore

Whilst much of our time in the city was unfortunately, but necessarily, spent several floors above the bustle in an office, we were lucky enough to be able to explore a small slice of what Bangalore had to offer on a number of chauffeur-driven excursions. Highlights included the crumbling Bangalore Palace, historical Tipu Sultan Palace, unusual Big Bull Temple, modern ISKCON Temple, and expansive and slightly overgrown Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. At the entrance to the latter of these locations it was apparent it was polling day in Bangalore (or at least, in that particular district), which made for some interesting photography. As usual with my reports, my destination photography featured here is just a small selection of the images captured.

On one of our full days in the office, our Indian-based colleagues invited us to dinner at Banjara Melting Pot, a sumptuous local restaurant that rivalled our earlier experience at Baluchi in terms of excellence of cuisine. Our local colleagues chose most of the dishes for us, and they did indeed have great taste.

Bangalore offered a fascinating first taste of India. I was struck by the all too evident contrast between rich and poor, amused by the ingenious ways in which locals overcame the crumbling infrastructure, and slightly alarmed every time I ventured onto the roads. I’m looking forward to returning to the country, and hopefully getting the chance to explore some of rural India in the not too distant future.

Plaza Premium Lounge (International), BLR

The closer we got to the airport from the city, the greener the landscape became, and once inside the airport boundary the sides of the road were positively overflowing with lush, well planted, perfectly manicured banks of colour. There was something rather sad about the obvious amount of money spent on landscaping the area around the airport, given the crumbling infrastructure of the city.

There was no queue for the customary Indian ID check before entering the check-in hall, and there was also nobody in front at the single EK First Class desk to which I was called over from the queue for the two occupied Business Class desks. I changed my seat at check-in from 7J to 6K, the forward bulkhead row of the mini J cabin immediately behind F on this 777-300ER. After formalities were complete, we ascended to the upper level of the terminal for immigration and security, where there was no priority line but equally no queue. Security insisted that I applied the stamped EK tag to my hand luggage.

EK use the third party Plaza Premium Lounge (in the international side of the terminal) at Bangalore. Plaza Premium market themselves as an upmarket pay-in service provider, and tend to have lounges with fairly high-end interiors – indeed, better than some airline lounges. The Bangalore lounge interior was slightly less opulent than other Plaza Premium lounges I’ve visited, however, was still pleasant, with an internal view of the shopping area that still had enough natural light from the windows beyond the mall to make the space feel airy. The lounge is broken into distinct seating areas, with two smaller seating areas behind the tended bar, and an eating area with live cooking stations. I made do with some cereal from the buffet at what was a fairly early time of the day. There are washrooms and showers within the lounge to the right of reception, although I believe the showers are chargeable (but perhaps not for premium airline passengers), along with the massage service. Wifi was free via a scratch-card code from reception, although as usual with code-based services, it was a complete faff to connect to.

Upon returning from the washroom I found my colleagues sitting in a different spot in the lounge, due to first a mouse, and then a rat, having been spotted scuttling behind the bar. Remarkably this was taken as our cue to leave the lounge and stroll to the gate, just under 10 minutes’ walk away at the end of a modern pier.

BLR-DXB Emirates Business Class, B77W

As with boarding the outbound flight at DXB, two airbridges were used to board this much newer two-year-old 77W, A6-ENJ, through Door 1L. The First Class cabin on Emirates’ 77Ws feature very similar flat bed suites to those on the A380 configured in just two rows of 1-2-1 (pictured immediately below), followed by two Business Class cabins with the same angled lie flat seats as on the rest of the 777 fleet in 2-3-2 configuration, only with an updated IFE/ICE system to match the A380.

On my seat was a pillow, blanket and headphones, with the menu and Emirates-branded water within the seat pocket attached to the bulkhead. There was no amenity kit, pouch or mattress available on this daytime medium-haul flight. Our Scottish cabin crew member introduced herself and offered a choice of orange or apple juice PDB (interestingly with no champagne option offered). I opted for the apple juice, which was brought along with the wine list for the flight, at roughly the same time as my seatmate arrived.

Continuing the British complement of the crew for today’s flight, our English captain announced a flight time of 3h20m, cruising at up to 36,000ft. After takeoff, service commenced with a hot towel, drinks and warm mixed nuts. My apple spritzer (which was becoming a bit of a theme on this trip) was delivered without the mint garnish of previous flights. Savoury mix was available in lieu of the nuts. Lunch orders were taken by name shortly after the bar service – here's what was on offer on today’s flight:

I wasn’t in the mood for the fish roulade, so went with the traditional Arabic mezze for my starter, which was disappointingly as bland as the outbound flight to BLR. This was presented on a tray with my main course of the lamb ragout, which really was very nice – the tender lamb and sharp (but slightly hard) beetroot worked particularly well together taste-wise. I would’ve preferred the main course to be delivered separately to the starter, although I understand time can be a factor on these shorter flights. I continued to enjoy EK’s lack of trollies in J, and their elegant table service.

Lunch concluded with the chocolate and saffron cake (sickly sweet after a couple of mouthfuls), and Godiva chocolates with a cappuccino. Service on this sector was more akin to that experienced on the other shorter flight this trip, and was significantly better than both A380 sectors.

During this flight I watched San Andreas, an enjoyable romp of a disaster movie with typically terrible acting. The A380-style ICE system is really light-years ahead of the previous offering on older aircraft in the EK fleet, although I found the main screen mounted slightly too high on the bulkhead when compared with the seat-back screen position of other seats.

The washroom featured the usual Bvlgari amenities and an orchid.

Further hot towels were offered as we descended across the desert. We docked at Concourse B, and disembarked through Door 2L, as there was some delay opening Door 1L. Connections security had just the one lane open, and consequently wasn’t as quick as I’d have liked. Security was surprisingly lax, with some passengers setting off the metal detector simply being waved through without search, or with only the most cursory of searches. For all the bling of Dubai airport, it seems security is not top of the priority list, which is very poor indeed. I abandoned my duty free-browsing colleagues at this point, and took the TTS (track transit system) across to Concourse A, where the huge Emirates Business Class Lounge awaited.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sun Nov 15, 2015 4:22 pm

Emirates Business Class Lounge (Concourse A), DXB

The Emirates Business Class Lounge in Dubai’s massive Concourse A is as massive as the concourse itself. The lounge runs the full length of the concourse, suspended two levels above the main gate seating level, above the First Class Lounge that also runs (almost) the full length of the concourse. The two lounges offer direct boarding to the aircraft with lifts taking passengers down to boarding level. I was welcomed by name at reception, and then did a run around the lounge (which takes around 15 minutes to walk from end to end) to capture some photographs, before settling in a quiet and almost completely deserted spot near our gate with a glass of Moet.

The scale of the space is simply staggering – the lounge is effectively two identical spaces either side of the reception, both offering numerous seating areas, both tended and untended bars, a dining area with extensive self-service buffet, business areas, smoking rooms, play areas and napping areas. Both spaces also feature a quiet area at the same level as the F lounge, with these areas also having their own bar. Interestingly there is a fire exit to the right of the bar in the quiet area through which the First Class Lounge could be viewed. The doors weren’t obviously locked or access controlled, but I didn’t try them to see if an illegal entry into the F lounge could be achieved.

The lounges feature a Timeless Spa, located before the main reception, which I believe is a chargeable service for Business Class passengers (but complimentary for First Class). My one and only experience of a lounge spa (at the Elemis Travel Spa in BA’s LHR T5 lounges) ended in bruising at the grip of the massage chair, so I gave the Timeless Spa a wide berth on this occasion, not being in any hurry to repeat the experience.

Whilst the interior design of the lounge (like most things Emirates design-wise) is not to my personal taste, and some of the seating areas are a little regimented in layout, the sheer airiness of the lounge is undeniably impressive. The size of the lounge means that nowhere gets very busy, but this also works to the lounge’s detriment as staff seemed to congregate in the dining and bar areas, rather than walking around the lounge to see whether passengers required anything. I appreciated thoughtful little touches dotted around the lounge such as blankets and eyeshades on the reclining chairs, and dental and shaving kits in the immaculate washrooms.

We boarded through Gate A9 (which was showing as ‘Gate Closed’ when it certainly wasn’t), taking the lift down to the gate directly from the lounge, and boarding our only few months old A380, A6-EOJ, through Door U1L.

DXB-LGW Emirates Business Class, A380

I was welcomed by name at the door and found my way to 9A, where a pillow, blanket and headphones were waiting for me on the seat, with a menu and amenity pouch (containing socks, eyeshades and instructional stickers) on the side adjacent to the minibar. Once again, there was no amenity kit available on this flight, one of the few negative points of the overall Emirates Business Class experience.

Cold towels were brought around shortly before PDBs of orange or apple juice, or Veuve Clicquot champagne – I went with the apple juice as I was all Moet-ed out from the lounge. Our Australian captain announced a very precise flight time of 6h54m during the short delay to take our position on the active takeoff runway, during which time a number of EK aircraft and a very loud FedEx Express MD-11F took to the skies before us.

Post takeoff drinks orders were taken (again, by name) and wine lists offered. My apple spritzer (why not make it four out of four flights, I thought) was brought along with those delicious warm nuts in an equally delicious looking ramekin – certainly no bags here on Emirates.

Here’s the menu for this flight:

Lunch service commenced with my chosen starter of tomato and thyme soup, which was presented on the tray alongside some pre-plated bread and the seasonal salad. The bread was a little soggy on the bottom, and with the EK crew going their usual glacial pace during the service, I made do with the aromatic soup sans-bread. The salad was average. My main course of roast chicken was by far the highlight of this meal despite its simplicity – nicely presented and pleasingly flavoursome accompanied by some garlic bread and a glass of the excellent Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay 2013. Lunch concluded with the slightly bland banana mousse, a cappuccino and the by now predictable Godiva chocolates.

During the meal I watched Survivor, an enjoyable action/thriller starring a less thrilling Pierce Brosnan, some episodes of Top Gear, and later in the flight the surprisingly watchable Kingsman: The Secret Service, the latter made more comfortable with the help of the mattress topper to the seat. I remain firmly impressed by EK’s ICE system – main screen quality was excellent, and the detachable tablet means no faffing about with the pull-out traditional controller.

For the afternoon tea service, I opted for the vanilla mascarpone tart (as bland as the banana mousse), followed as usual by the refreshing seasonal fruit from the lunch menu, both accompanied by a green tea. As bland as the two desserts on this flight were, I much prefer this than the overly sweet desserts of the previous few EK flights this trip.

As the mood lighting changed to signify our impending arrival into Gatwick, the last remnants of the afternoon tea service were cleared away and hot towels were offered to conclude the service on this flight. We landed around 45 minutes behind schedule after doing multiple loops in the hold. Docking at the end of Pier 6 at LGW’s sole A380-capable stand meant a long walk over the bridge to the immigration hall, but once through there was no wait for baggage reclaim, with premium bags already having been removed from the carousel and stood adjacent to the belt – a very thoughtful touch.

Looking back across the four Emirates flights this trip, I was impressed by the A380 seats, DXB Concourse A lounge and inflight table service, disappointed by the lack of amenity kits, and frustrated by the indifferent to poor crew, particularly noticeable on the A380 sectors. Overall, Emirates offers a solid Business Class product that, with a few tweaks, could be truly excellent.

That’s all for this Indian trip. Thank you for reading – your comments and questions are really appreciated.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:57 pm

Thank you for your trip report. It was very impressive and thoughtfully presented. I look forward to reading more from you.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sun Nov 15, 2015 9:51 pm

Thanks for taking the time to share your Emirates & Bangalore experiences. Much appreciated, as it must have been quite the effort to put together, but the result is a 5* report.

Regards from San Francisco,
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sun Nov 15, 2015 11:24 pm

Nice trip report. Thanks for sharing.

Quoting Genius12 (Reply 1):
There was no amenity kit, pouch or mattress available on this daytime medium-haul flight. Our Scottish cabin crew member introduced herself and offered a choice of orange or apple juice PDB (interestingly with no champagne option offered).

I believe the airlines cannot open alcohol on ground in India, due to some custom rules. So they offer alcohol only in the air for international carriers.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:23 am

Hi Genius.

I do like a well-written trip report and yours is certainly of a high standard.

You had me fooled for a second when I saw the photo of the suite: I thought that you had scored an upgrade but no such luck.

Thanks for your description if the Business Class Lounge in Concourse A. I'm familiar with the old lounge in Concourse B and have not visited that in A.

It's a shame that the cabin service on the A380 flights wasn't as warm, proactive or professional as you would have liked.

Thanks for sharing your impressions of Bangalore too.

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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sun Nov 29, 2015 11:42 am

Nice report, looks like you had a good time.

Surprised about your review of the food on the BLR sectors - EK are usually good in this area.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sat Dec 05, 2015 5:23 pm

Thanks for all of the comments, they are much appreciated!

Quoting blrsea (Reply 5):
I believe the airlines cannot open alcohol on ground in India, due to some custom rules. So they offer alcohol only in the air for international carriers.

That would certainly explain it, thank you.

Quoting WearyDrover (Reply 6):
Thanks for your description if the Business Class Lounge in Concourse A. I'm familiar with the old lounge in Concourse B and have not visited that in A.

The Concourse A lounge is streets ahead of the Concourse B lounge (as you'd expect). It's more spacious and has a much more logical layout.

Quoting Spiderguy252 (Reply 7):
Surprised about your review of the food on the BLR sectors - EK are usually good in this area.

BLR-DXB wasn't bad, but the DXB-BLR sector main course was not great at all. The starters weren't pleasant on either of those sectors. Hopefully it wasn't typical and was just a one off.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Sat Dec 05, 2015 6:31 pm

Great report, thanks!

EK seem to deploy the B-Team cabin crew in J out of LGW.

A couple of years ago I asked for a Bloody Mary just after take-off. "Spicy?" asked the crew member, "Not TOO spicy," I stipulated. Needless to say the first sip blew my socks off. I settled for a G&T instead...

How long does the walk from the lounge to the A380 gate in LGW take? Travelling in just under two weeks with a somewhat slow companion.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Wed Jan 13, 2016 9:34 pm

Quoting blooBirdie (Reply 9):
How long does the walk from the lounge to the A380 gate in LGW take? Travelling in just under two weeks with a somewhat slow companion.

Thanks for your comments! Sorry I didn't see your comment until just now. As you'll know by now, it takes around 10-15 minutes depending on speed to go from main terminal building to the A380 gate over the bridge. Hope you had a good trip.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Thu Jan 14, 2016 6:19 am

Hi Genius12,

Thank you for a wonderfully written report, I really enjoyed it. I travel to BLR every summer and have flown the DXB-BLR route with EK twice now, albeit in Y both times   I loved your pics from Bangalore, India is indeed a very interesting place to visit.

Sad to hear about the poor EK service in business, as they say it's hit or miss with EK crew. Did the beds on the A380 lie flat 180 degrees or were they angled?

Thanks for sharing,
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Fri Jan 15, 2016 2:42 am

Hi @Genius12.

I throughly enjoyed your report. The quality of your images are fantastic - they make me very jealous.
I was intrigued to see your images of the seat offerings. It made me realise that over my last few EK flights, that I'm yet to experience the fully latest offering and incarnation of their J hardware. From the old fashioned A332 recliner, to the "clunky" tethered controller offering on B773 and B77W, and then the next gen offering with removable controller on the B772LR and first gen A380 - but still not the version you got on 3 of your sectors... Looks like I'll need to fly some more.

I really liked the look of the scones on your flight from LGW - was it as nice as it looked? Although I feel like I would have wanted an extra one or two to satisfy me.

Great report - thank you.
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RE: Bustling Bangalore - EK Business Class Via DXB

Fri Jan 15, 2016 9:49 pm


This may be one of the best reports I have ever read on this site. Your commentary is as if I am walking beside you, and the picture quality is excellent. I feel like I have experienced Ek business class service without flying them.

One question: I couldn't help but notice your watch in a photo on your final flight. May I inquire which it is?

Well done; hope to see more.

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