Route: DUBAI (DXB) to LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT (LHR)
Departure date and time of flight: February 2011, 14:30pm local time (Dubai)
Flight number: EK003 (ICAO callsign “Emirates 003”)
Flight duration: 7 Hours 30 minutes
Class: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: Airbus A380-800 (SUPERJUMBO)
The Airbus A380-800, dubbed the super-jumbo, is just sensational compared to; say the (now former) jumbo-jet of the skies, the legendary Boeing 747-400 aircraft. Emirates was the second airline to operate the A380-800 aircraft with 14 aircraft currently in service and 76 aircraft on order. As a keen aviation enthusiast I still find it hard to swallow that such a huge piece of metal tube can run along for 2 miles and fly half way across the world while carrying so much luggage, so many people, so much food, so much garbage and tons of fuel. It’s a shame that even in today’s day in age the vast majority of passengers have no idea what kind of aircraft they are flying on. All they want is plenty of legroom, excellent quality of food while they get from A to B in comfort. This aircraft had 535 seats in a 3 class configuration (First, Business and Economy), though the plane has the ability to accommodate a staggering 853 passengers in an all Economy Class configuration (though no airline has ordered this yet).
Punctuality of the flight: Departed on time and landed on time as well.
Any baggage issues:
None. On Emirates Business Class passengers can carry a maximum of two luggage bags totalling 40KG in the hold.
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
At Dubai international airport Emirates Airlines have a separate part of the terminal building allocated specifically for their First and Business Class passengers. This comes complete with a separated security control channel only for those travelling on Emirates Airlines First and Business class compartments'. I was driven straight from my hotel to the Emirates Business Class check-in area by the special Emirates Airlines chauffeur driven car. The smooth and efficient journey from downtown Dubai to the airport terminal took only around 20 minutes.
Comments on the Emirates Lounge:
At Dubai airport's terminal 3, Emirates have a whole floor dedicated to HUGE lounges for passengers that are travelling on either First Class or Business Class. There are separate lounges for First and Business Class passengers. Just the sheer scale of each of the lounge is enough to make you give the “WOW!” factor. With a seating area for over a thousand passengers, and a round the clock catering facility that enables passengers to enjoy almost every kind of food and drink under the sun (depending on the time of the day), the Emirates lounge is a bit on an adventurous place. Sitting on the top floor, one can get excellent views of the airfield as well as the city’s skyline in the background with the signature building, Burj Khalifa sticking out into the sky like a sore thumb. The entire cutlery in the lounge is made from bone china in the U.A.E. by the R.A.K group.
After passing security, Dubai airport looks a bit more like a huge shopping mall. Unlike most airports around the world where you have just a few “Duty-free” shops selling the usual perfumes, liqueurs and other tax-free goods, at Dubai airport, however, there are various shops where you can effectively do your weekly shopping if you like because they sell everything including fresh fruit & vegetables, general household goods and even luxury cars.
There are plenty of washrooms, showers provided with complimentary toiletries and towels, as well as baby changing facilities. Emirates have really made the flying experience a memorable one, and this is exactly what the industry needs in the 21st century. With the high quality of service that Emirates have offered to its passengers (irrespective of the cabin they are travelling in), its quite clear that flying should still be seen as a luxurious way to travel as opposed to just getting you from A to B.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Drinks of Champagne (Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV), freshly squeezed orange juice and apple juice were offered. Hot towels for refreshment were offered prior to take-off. A selection of cold canapés that included filled mini red bell peppers, marinated feta cheese and mixed olives. Priceless at 40,000 feet!
A selection of white and red wines were offered. I went for the red wine (Chateau Olivier 2003 Pessac Leognan). There was also the Calera Pinot Noir 2007 from California. The texture is rich, smooth and savoury with a nice firm tannix structure that expresses accents of bright cherry, berry fruit while rewarding us a clean, smooth lively finish.
Comments regarding the first meal:
There was a selection of appetisers for this flight including:
· Selection of authentic Arabic mezze included shanklish and vegetable salad, moutabl, stuffed vine leaves, bamia bil zeit and kibbeh al rahib, tomato and zaatar fatayar, with an assortment of Arabic pickles and garnishes;
· Honey and ginger salmon with cured salmon, served on a bed of rocca leaves, topped with roasted shredded ginger, accompanied with a ginger dressing;
· Seasonal salad- a seasonal salad served with a choice of dressings’.
I went for the honey and ginger salmon. Very brightly coloured and a wonderfully presented dish. The decorated plate came with freshly cut slices of cured Scottish salmon absorbed with the sweet flavour of lemon blended in with honey. The blend between the honey and lemon is one to die for because not only is it a healthy option, but it brings out the juices of the fish, the ginger and the rocca leaves. The neatly cut slices of lemon make it easier for passengers to squeeze the juice onto the dish without squirting the lemon juice all over the place. Now, that’s what I call a healthy salad dish.
For the main course there was a choice of:
· Roast rack of lamb served with mustard and herd crust, and simmered lamb jus, accompanied with a potato ragout and an assortment of roasted vegetables;
· Chicken teriyaki that included a teriyaki glazed chicken served with steamed onigiri rice, stir fried kai-lan, shiitake mushroom and carrot;
· Truffle ravioli including pasta casings with a truffle flavouring filling, tossed in fresh basil pesto, topped with a mild mushroom and parmesan cheese veloute and mixed grilled capsicums);
· Baked tilapia consisting of a slow baked fillet of white fish served with fennel cooked in a thyme broth, provencal style vegetables and wild rice pilau.
I went for the chicken teriyaki option. Given that a Business Class in-flight meal is meant to resemble a similar feel and touch to that of a five star restaurant experience, I must say that the freshness, as well as the high quality of the chicken meat was the key to the success of this dish. Equally attractive and providing enough colours were the correctly boiled carrots and shiitake rice.
The salad accompanying the main meal consisted of topped tikka marinated prawns, crumbled feta cheese, quail eggs, croutons and marinated olives served with a creamy Caesar dressing. A lovely selection of hot soft and hard breads’ was offered along with the main meal.
Choices for the dessert included:
· The blueberry crumble cake served with a cinnamon cream sauce.
· The yoghurt raspberry terrine (a low fat yoghurt raspberry terrine topped with shortbread wafer, and served with raspberry coulis).
I opted for the blueberry crumble cake served with a generous helping of cinnamon cream sauce. Now, if there was ever a competition on this flight, then this would be the dish of the flight without a doubt. Lovely crunchy feel to the crumble cake, and as one takes a spoonful they can easily absorb the strong flavours of the blueberry and the cinnamon. Oh, and as the crumble cake melts in your mouth, only then can you start to smell the cinnamon. This dish was so good that it reminded me of those large American style cinnamon bagels that you can get in the bakeries back in London.
Comments regarding the in-flight snacks (if any):
The on-board lounge: a sensational Airbus A380 experience on EMIRATES
Hot and cold snacks offered in the on-board lounge included:
· Feuillete of parmesan cheese straws
· Marinated kalamata olives
· Salty nut selection
· Assorted cocktail sandwiches of mini salmon bagel, laugen pretzel with air dried beef and cheese mille-feuille
· Japanese crisps
· Nachos and cheese dips
· Hot snacks offered:
· Tandoori chicken pizza
· Prawn satey skewes
· Mediterranean vegetable quiche
· A free flow of drinks and appetisers, snacks were available in the social bar.
· Fresh fruit slices.
International cheese selection (always a favourite), chocolates by Godiva accompanied with tea or coffee (freshly brewed at 37,000 feet!). There was also a wide range selection of hot and cold drinks, liqueurs, cognacs, cocktails and whiskies.
On the Airbus A380-800, Emirates provide every Business Class and First Class seat with a personal mini-bar consisting of the following drinks: tomato juice, coca-cola can, cranberry juice, sprite can and mineral water (sparkling).
Comments regarding the second meal (if any):
Afternoon tea on the EMIRATES Airbus A380 aircraft (BUSINESS CLASS)
A traditional English afternoon tea was served with a selection of classic reception sandwiches, delicate mini pastries, banana chocolate chip cake, freshly baked scones served with a rich clotted cream and strawberry preserve. Tea and coffee was also free flow! So, sit back in your Business Class seat, watch a lovely movie or listen to some golden oldies on the audio system, absorb the ambiance of flying with one of the world’s five star airlines on the most advanced and largest aircraft in the world. Enjoy all of this while feeling like royalty in a genuine place at 40,000 feet.
Emirates feed you like there is no tomorrow. I mean they really do feed you. So you don’t have to run down to MacDonald’s once you land at your destination!
Comments on the in-flight system (if any):
The Emirates ICE (Information, Communication and Entertainment) touch screen system is the main platform used for providing a truly amazing in-flight entertainment to passengers with over 1,200 channels which YOU control with the flick of a button. Effectively there are enough movies and music to keep one busy throughout the flight and in actual fact there is something for everyone. The ICE programme is perhaps one of the best I have seen on any flight and far more efficient and sophisticated then some other airline companies have to offer. In the First Class and Business Class cabins, 17-inch flat screens are used. With the communication programme you can send an e-mail, SMS and use the phone anywhere around the world.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
Quite possibly the best flight I have ever taken in my entire life (so far). The A380 experience is just sensational. It is definitely the future of flying and I can say that as a frequent flyer, I can confidently say that even the Boeing 747-400 is no match to this outstanding aircraft (really, it isn’t). One of the key things that fascinated me, as much as it would fascinate you as well, was that while cruising at 40,000 feet it’s remarkably quiet. There is no confusion or clutter and it feels as if you have never left the ground. I have to give kudos to the amazing crew and the pilots of this brilliant flight. On the whole everything has just that little bit more space and legroom, and this includes the Economy Class seats, the windows, the toilets and the wider aisles.
The flight experience was even made better that my friend was in the right hand seat of the aircraft. Senior First Officer James Nixon took some awesome photos from the cockpit. It's always nice to know who is sitting in the cockpit! James, an Aussie, is a fine example of what hard work, sheer dedication and perseverance can achieve in life. He has been flying all kinds of aircraft for over 28 YEARS and has even written a book about- go and buy a copy - it's worth it for long haul flights.
If this article makes you feel as if there was nothing wrong with this flight then you are not quite off the mark because everything was just perfect as one would wish for in any flight.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The Airbus A380-800 has a 1-2-1 configuration for the First Class cabins (known as suites, each of which comes with an 86-inch flat bed), 2-2-2 configuration for the Business Class cabins (each seat with a 79-inch flat-bed), and 3-4-3 configuration for the Economy Class cabins (each with an 6-inch recline). All of the Business Class seats can be turned into a 79-inch flat bed. In the Business Class cabin, the added feature of a mini-bar for all business and First Class seats in the Airbus A380-800 aircraft brings along a nice touch, but tends to take up some of the space that could be used to make the seat a bit wider. In essence a Business Class seat on Emirates is effectively equal to one that may be ranked as a First Class seat on some other airlines (no names mentioned!). Though this was a rather short flight but the electronic in-seat built massage system is very helpful to help with blood circulation and also with fighting fatigue.
On the Airbus A380-800 each seat has an independent access to the aisle, an in-seat power supply for laptop or mobile phones (which you can use on-board on some flights), and a personal storage area. This is useful especially for those passengers who would be, say for example, going straight back to the office after they arrive at their destination (like me!). After all, Business Class is made essentially for those on a business trip (“business is for business” as they say!). The first class cabin only had one passenger aboard on this flight (just another young Arab prince going to London on a shopping spree- he had his Lamborghini waiting upon arrival at Terminal 3!).
The A380 features a bulb less illumination system, which is known as “mood-lighting” in non-technical terms. LEDs are deployed in the cabin, cockpit and cargo areas. The cabin lighting features programmable multi-spectral LEDs capable of creating a cabin ambiance that simulates daylight, night, or the various levels in between depending on the time of the day/night. On the outside of the aircraft, HID lighting is used for brighter, whiter illumination. The mood lighting displayed by Emirates inside all of their cabins during the various phases of the flight (bright orange during sunrise and dusk, and dark shades of blue during the cruise at night-time) is a sensational piece of art and not just technology being applied.
Added luxury- the Emirates chauffeur driven service
Emirates provide a complimentary chauffeur driven service for passengers travelling on their Business Class or First Class cabins. Only a handful of other airlines offer this very welcoming, handy and unique service. In Dubai I was whisked from my hotel straight to the special Emirates business class check-in building in a comfortable Mercedes complete with neat leather seats, in-car TV and plenty of drinks and refreshments on offer.
Similarly when I arrived at Heathrow, I was met by my driver at the Emirates arrivals desk at terminal 3. I can tell you with my hand on my heart that once someone lands in London, especially London Heathrow at the rush hour because it looks and feels like a funfair rather than an airport; this service is very much welcomed with more than a smile. I suppose, when it comes to transportation in London, the worst thing is getting in the hellhole that is the London Underground or being stuck in a horrendous traffic jam on the M4 while on the way back to the city. But rest assured that the Emirates chauffeur driven service will take you straight to your door in a smooth and comfortable way without the hustle or bustle.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 10
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