Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 345,636
2013: 330,818

Champagne, Caviar, and a Shower at 40,000FT – Emirates A380 First Class Review Part 1

Emirates A380 short final at Sydney Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Emirates A380 short final at Sydney – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

EMIRATES AIRLINE FIRST CLASS REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Emirates Airline
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Departed: Sydney (SYD)
Arrived: Dubai (DXB)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: First Class
Seat: 2A
Length: About 14 hours

Not many people I know get too excited at the prospect of a 14-hour flight that leaves at 6:00 AM.  But when travelling in first class, even the 4:00 AM wake-up call is cause for excitement. I was recently fortunate enough to experience the first class product on-board Emirates’ A380 from Sydney to Dubai.

Most Emirates’ departures from Australia to Dubai are timed to leave at night; this did not appeal very much to me as when traveling first class I like to make the most of the experience, rather than just sleep though it. Luckily, Emirates had recently introduced the A380 product on their EK415 service, which departs Sydney at 6:00 AM with a 1:20 PM arrival to Dubai. This service is primarily targeted at connecting traffic onto the afternoon European services, which allow for a same-day evening arrival into Europe.

Emirates A380 first class suite, not a bad place to spend 14 hours Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Emirates A380 first class suite; not a bad place to spend 14 hours – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

I was happy to be staying at an airport hotel, meaning that I could afford to sleep in a little longer. Check-in at Sydney was completed with minimal fuss, and I was on my way to security within five minutes of entering the terminal.

Given the Qantas Emirates partnership, first class passengers traveling on Emirates flights have access to the Qantas First Class Lounge at Sydney. Sadly, the lounge was still closed at this hour of the morning. I had to make do with the Emirates lounge – while it is still of a very high standard, it is not as good as the Qantas’ first lounge.

On board, I was welcomed by the purser and escorted to my seat. As this was my first time flying Emirates First Class, I was given a very comprehensive walk-through of all of the seat and cabin features. At this time, I also received my bvlgari amenity kit along with pajamas and slippers; all of this was very nicely presented in an Emirates-branded tote bag. This is probably the best and highest quality of in-flight amenities I have received on any carrier.

Continue reading Champagne, Caviar, and a Shower at 40,000FT – Emirates A380 First Class Review Part 1

Emirates Shows Off Lounges in New Airbus A380 Concourse

An Emirates Airbus A380 at the new concourse in Dubai.

An Emirates Airbus A380 at the new concourse in Dubai.

An excerpt from David Parker Brown’s story on APEX Editor’s Blog

DUBAI: How does one go about making the world’s largest airliner, the Airbus A380, look small? Park it at the new Concourse A at Dubai International Airport, which was designed to handle the giant aircraft and all the high-end passengers who will fly in its premium cabins.

Earlier this year Emirates and Dubai International Airport opened the new concourse. David Parker Brown, a contributor to the APEX editor’s blog was invited for a tour of the Emirates Airline first and business class lounges.

Concourse A opened on 2 January 2013 and is the world’s only dedicated and purpose built concourse for the Airbus A380. The rest of the airport is able to handle the aircraft, but the new concourse was purpose-built with the A380 in mind. A formidable undertaking for the airport and airline, US$3.3 billion terminal required 159,572,880 man-hours to build.

Continue reading Emirates Shows Off Lounges in New Airbus A380 Concourse on APEX

See more photos of the Concourse A in Dubai

APEX BLOG: Inside the Emirates Flight Catering facility in Dubai

Emirates Catering Facility in Dubai.

Emirates Catering Facility in Dubai.

While visiting Dubai recently, I had the opportunity to check out the Emirates Catering Facility. It is the largest catering facility in the world and very impressive. I was asked to write up a story for APEX Editor’s Blog and wanted to share the story with you as well…

DUBAI: Many people do not stop and think about the effort it takes for an airline to prepare multiple meals for long-haul flights; it is complex operation and just one of the many aspects that airlines need to concentrate on to be successful.

The largest airline catering facility in the world is the Emirates Flight Catering in Dubai. Each day, the 50,000 sq m facility produces 110,000 meal trays. It operates 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, and employs 6,600 people.

Continue reading the the story on the APEX Editor’s Blog and also check out all 52 photos of the facility. 

Only in Dubai: Tour of the World’s Seven Star Hotel — The Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab is hard to miss and is beautiful, even on the outside.

The Burj Al Arab is hard to miss and is beautiful, even on the outside.

Dubai is known for going to the extreme. Just being there feels like a big enough adventure, but if you want to take it to the next level, then you have to stay at the Burj Al Arab. You might know this hotel better as, “the only seven star hotel in the world.”

Actually, no official guide or rating agency has given the hotel its famous “seven star rating.” While taking the tour, I was told that the hotel has never advertised that, nor do they actually support its usage. It was a journalist who coined the phrase a long time ago and it has stuck. Surely, the saying can’t hurt the Burj Al Arab’s reputation.

Once entering the The Burj Al Arab, be sure to look up for an amazingly rainbow view.

Once entering the The Burj Al Arab, be sure to look up for an amazingly rainbow view.

Not just anyone can get in the front door. There is a security gate, probably about a quarter of a mile from the hotel’s front door, and you need to show you have a room reservation to get through. If you want exclusive — this is it.

Luckily for me, when I recently visited Dubai, I was given a tour of the Burj Al Arab and just had to share what I experienced.

Al Muntaha Restaurant at the Burj Al Arab has an amazing view of the Palm Islands.

Al Muntaha Restaurant at the Burj Al Arab has an amazing view of the Palm Islands.

Construction on the Burj Al Arab started in 1994 and was completed in 1999. It is the fourth largest hotel in the world, at 1,053 feet. The design of the building was meant to mimic a sail and it has become an iconic symbol for Dubai.

When first walking inside, you are greeted by dancing fountains and escalators that have large fish takes for walls. Make sure to look up and check out the 590 foot atrium that is in the lobby (maybe don’t do that if you have vertigo).

The Al Mahara Restaurant at Burj Al Arab might has the coolest view I have ever seen.

The Al Mahara Restaurant at Burj Al Arab might has the coolest view I have ever seen.

The hotel might be large, but there are not that many rooms — only 202. That is because each room is its own two-story suite, ranging in size from 1,800 square feet to 8,400 square feet.

There are two restaurants in the hotel; one up high and one down low. The Al Muntaha restaurant is found up top and provides amazing views of the Persian Golf and the Palm Islands.

I figured that view would be hard to beat, but in my opinion, the Al Mahara (which has no windows to the outside) has a more impressive view.

If you are afraid of heights -- do not look down from the top floor.

If you are afraid of heights — do not look down from the top floor. There are 25 floors down and three main levels you can see.

That is because every table has a view of the 350,000 cu feet of water aquarium with a wide variety of fish swimming around. No, you can’t point to a fish and order it, but you are able to enjoy the free show of fish swimming around during your meal.

When heading to the rooms, each floor has its own concierge desk. Help is always close at hand to assist with anything that you might need. There are even butlers available 24 hours if you need one.

The big mistake I made was first looking at the Royal Suite before looking at one of the smaller ones. If I had looked at one of the smaller ones first, I most likely would have been blown away, but after viewing one of the largest and extravagant hotel rooms I have ever seen, anything else was going to pale in comparison.

What a sight. A main stair case when you first walk into the Royal Suite.

What a sight. A main stair case when you first walk into the Royal Suite.

The Royal Suite is just ridiculous. I couldn’t help but think how anyone could ever need to stay in a room like that. Although at the same time, I really wanted to stay in a room like that.

The colors, the decor, pretty much everything was over the top — including the price of about $20,000.00 per night. That probably sounds like too much money for mostof us, but realize that a first class ticket from Seattle to Dubai on Emirates is going to cost you about $15,000.00. If you are bringing someone to enjoy Dubai with you, that is $30,000.00. Now, a $20,000.00 per night room doesn’t sound so crazy does it? (okay, it still does to me).

I am pretty sure the dining room has more square footage than my first apartment in college.

The Royal Suite has a very large (and colorful) dining room.

When walking into one of the two Royal Suites, located on the top floor, you are welcomed by a staircase — to go up or down? Or heck, if you don’t feel like taking the stairs, the room has its own elevator to go between floors.

The first floor has a huge dining room, study, living room, and a large Arabic majlis style lounge.

The office in the Burj Al Arab Royal Suite.

The office in the Burj Al Arab Royal Suite.

If you are color blind, you are missing out on seeing all the vibrant pinks and yellows and gold (lots and lots of gold) that is in the room. Heck, even the TV is painted in gold — boo ya (see the photo gallery below)!

There is also a kitchen downstairs and if you want to have a cook come in to fix you something, no worries about them having to use the front door, the “help” have their own private entrance directly into the kitchen.

One of two master beds in the suite.

One of two master beds in the suite.

Upstairs are two very spacious master bedrooms. Each with their own sitting area and enormous bathroom. I am pretty sure that the bathroom (with full walk in shower and jetted tub with columns) was bigger than my first apartment.

One of the master baths.

One of the master baths.

My eyes were hurting a little bit after leaving the Royal Suite. I could see where some might like the color scheme, but I am not much of a pink/yellow/gold guy and those colors were quite popular.

I have been in many nice hotels and settings, but this one actually made me feel a bit out of place, being so large and costly. Not that I wouldn’t be willing to try and get used to such accommodations.

Probably my favorite sitting area in the Royal Suite.

Probably my favorite sitting area in the Royal Suite.

Honestly, after leaving the Royal Suite and looking at a smaller room, I forgot to take photos. I was pretty much like it just didn’t matter anymore after seeing the larger room.

Although the suite can set you back $20,000.00 per night, the smallest rooms start at about $1000.00 per night, which isn’t totally unreasonable.

Cigar and scotch bar in the Burj Al Arab.

Cigar and scotch bar in the Burj Al Arab.

At a hotel like this, you can expect some high-end service. They offer a fleet of Rolls-Royce cars to take you around town, but that might be too “common” for some folks. They also offer helicopter transfers, as well as scenic tours from the air. More common is the access to the Assawan Spa and Health club, a private beach, a kid’s room and much more.

Much like Dubai itself, the Burj Al Arab is a unique experience that is hard to find anywhere else. I was not able to have the opportunity to stay the night in the hotel (only the tour), but I would imagine with the number of hotel employees I saw everywhere, the customer service experience would match up well with the product.

VIEW ADDITIONAL PHOTOS OF THE BURJ AL ARAB HOTEL IN THE GALLERY BELOW OR ON MY FLICKR

We Aren’t In Kansas Anymore: Emirates First Class Lounge Review in Dubai

One of the many attractive views in-side Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai.

One of the many attractive views inside Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai

Dubai is known for having impressive and large things. It makes sense then that Emirates Airlines would have a huge, and impressive, First Class Lounge at their main hub in Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport (DXB).

Getting access to any lounge is a nice benefit — but not all lounges are created equal. Most of the time, those paying $20,000 for their First Class international ticket do not want to mingle with those who paid a mere $7,000, and they do not have to. We aren’t in Kansas anymore folks.

The First Class Lounge seems to go on forever in Dubai.

The First Class Lounge seems to go on forever in Dubai

First of all, the lounge is frek’n huge. It took a good ten minutes for me to do a lap around the place and I am convinced I still did not see everything. There are some things you would hope to find in any lounge; comfortable seating, easy access to quick food and drink, high-end service, and even showers. But there was more at this lounge that you do not find often.

I almost wish there was a play are like this for adults.

I almost wish there was a play are like this for adults

If you have kids and want to have some time away from them before hopping on a plane for 14 hours, the lounge has its own kids play area. Not only does this allow you the chance to enjoy the rest of the lounge’s amenities with some peace, but it also allows your children to tire themselves out a bit before the flight.

There might not be a real play area for adults, but there is a free spa — called the Timeless Spa. Get a quick massage or facial and it is all complimentary. You just have to add you name to the list, wait your turn, and relax. I wanted to test these services for myself (you know, for the story), but I unfortunately ran out of time.

Take a seat at a table or one of the booths inside the restaurant, in the lounge, in the airport, in Dubai.

Take a seat at a table or one of the booths inside the restaurant, in the lounge, in the airport, in Dubai.

There are quite a few food options in the lounge — the most impressive being a sit-down restaurant. From snacks to full meals, you surely shouldn’t be leaving the lounge hungry. No matter what you order or get, leave your wallet in place, because there is no additional charge.

If you are more in the mood for some alcohol, no worries, you have lots to choose from. Want to take some wine home with you? No problem —  there is a shop in the lounge, where a wine connoisseur will help you pick out that perfect bottle.

One could easily visit the lounge and have a different seating experience each time. From comfy, large seats to a faux living room to working areas, whatever you are looking to do, there is a seat for you.

If you are hoping to plane spot from the lounge, or even from Terminal 3, you might be disapointed.

If you are hoping to plane spot from the lounge, or even from Terminal 3, you might be disappointed.

Overall, the lounge was outstanding. However, there were two things that I did not find appealing; one which most people will share in my pain and the other only AvGeeks will.

The biggest disappointment was the Wi-Fi — which was slow. When I say slow… I mean S L O W.  It was borderline useless to get any work done. Reading online, I found this was not an isolated experience and seems to be a constant problem.

The second issue I had was the view to the airplanes outside. There are large windows, but they all had markings on them to help keep the interior cool. I was told that the airport also designed the windows in this fashion so that passengers do not feel that they are in an airport. Of course, I like to feel that I am in an airport — oh well.

SEE ALL 13 PHOTOS FROM MY VISIT OF EMIRATES FIRST CLASS LOUNGE IN DUBAI