Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 137,829
2013: 330,818

Buy Wholesale products for your airline business on DHgate.com

The unique 2014 Cheap Wedding Gowns under $200 at Wedding Shop

Time Lapse Video of Emirates 777-300 Being Re-Painted

Running an airline is anything but easy. One thing that needs to be completed is re-painting of aircraft – even if there is not a change of livery. Peeling paint doesn’t give passengers a sense of confidence when boarding.

Obviously, airlines want to limit the time an aircraft is taken out of service to be re-painted (every minute down is money lost). This pretty rad time-lapse video shows the re-painting of a Emirates Airline Boeing 777-300. In the video, it looks like a piece of cake, but obviously takes quite a bit of skill and good timing.

This is just one of 21 aircraft that Emirates re-painted in 2013. Expect that number to increase in the coming years – the airline already has about 200 planes in service and another 500 (yes five hundred) on order and/or options.

Hat tip to Victor T for pointing this video out to us!

Interview with an Emirates Airline’s Vice President on Wi-Fi

Line of Emirate's tails in Dubai.

Line of Emirate’s tails in Dubai.

Recently, I had the ability to ask Patrick Brannelly, Emirates Airline Vice President – Corporate Communications, Product, Publishing, Digital & Events, some questions about Wi-Fi and the future of entertainment on the airline. Here is our discussion:

AirlineReporter.com (AR) How many Emirates aircraft currently have Wi-Fi available?
Patrick Brannelly (PB): The whole A380 fleet (currently 21 aircraft) has Wi-Fi. We’ll be getting another 10 A380s before the end of 2012 and they’ll all have Wi-Fi as well. We’ll also be introducing the ability to use your own mobile phone next month on our A380s – a service that we already have on over 90 of our other aircraft (we launched that service in 2008).

AR: What is the schedule for the entire fleet to be fitted?
PB: Going forward, all A380s will have the service and we aim to start fitting the rest of the fleet with internet before the year end. It will take some time to equip the entire fleet but we are working on accomplishing this as quickly as possible.

AR: Are new Airbus/Boeing aircraft equipped with the Wi-Fi?
PB: Yes for our A380s and we hope to have our Boeing 777s equipped from mid-2013.

Why did Emirates choose OnAir?
OnAir was the only option offered by Airbus for equipping the A380 fleet straight out of the factory – they have provided a good service and we are happy with them.

Emirates plans to install Wi-Fi to their 777 fleet in the future.

Emirates plans to install Wi-Fi to their 777 fleet in the future.

AR: Currently, Wi-Fi pricing is set up based on the amount of data used and how do passengers patrol/control the amount of data used?
PB: Customers buy a package of data, either 5MB or 30MB for mobile or 30MB/100MB for laptops. They can see their current usage and decide whether to buy extra MB or cut off at the limit.

AR: Is Emirates looking at offering an unlimited plan?
PB: The above packages are often more than most people need during their flights. Over two thirds of passengers use less than 20MB and only 1.6% of passengers use more than 100MB.

AR: A recent APEX story shows the record being at 680MB, has that been broken yet?
PB: It’s still a record – 680.51MB was used on our New York flight on Valentine’s Day. Someone in love perhaps!

AR: What is the current pricing structure?
PB: We may tweak this pricing in time, but currently users can connect a mobile from as little as $2.75 for 5MB of data. This is more data than most will need to connect socially throughout even a long flight. We also have a heavy (30MB) mobile package available for $15 but few opt for it. Laptops can connect from as little as $5, and there is a heavy user package for $15 for 100MB. These prices are low for satellite connectivity, but we see this as a service to our customers rather than a profit centre (in fact we lose money).

AR: What are the usage statistics? Is there growth?
PB: Yes – we are still seeing growth. This is probably because awareness is still growing about the service and because increasing numbers of people are carrying on devices that can connect. We see over 4% of passengers connect on the very long flights of over 12 hours (such as New York / Sydney etc.) but much less on flights under 5 hours (less than 1.5%).

Emirates already offers a pretty slick product. Adding Wi-Fi will only make it better. This is First Class seen on a Boeing 777.

Emirates already offers a pretty slick product. Adding Wi-Fi will only make it better. This is First Class seen on a Boeing 777.

AR: Are there any plans to offer on-board Wi-Fi entertainment options (where passengers can access Emirates entertainment from their personal devices via Wi-Fi)?
PB: We are looking at all options – but with over 1,300 channels of the latest and greatest entertainment available on your large screen personal TV for every Emirates customer, the need to play media on your own device is reduced.

AR: Will passengers be able to access the internet through ice (the name for the entertainment system)?
PB: We hope so but not at the moment. There are some technical issues, largely to do with the seatback’s light-browser’s capability to connect to the internet for a good experience. You really need a mouse and a keyboard at the moment and that’s not practical. However, we are working on it.

AR: Are there dark spots where passengers will not be able to have internet?
PB: The OnAir service uses Inmarsat’s geo-stationary I4 satellites which cover the entire globe except for the extreme poles (above about 80 degrees). There are also a few countries that are yet to provide approval to use the service in their airspace, so we have to block it… but these are reducing.

AR: What digital “wonders” from Emirates can passengers expect for the future?
PB: Emirates has led technology in the air for 20 years or more. From being the first airline to install TVs on every seat on the entire fleet in 1992 to today, when we’ve introduced services such as mobile phones and internet inflight, as well as large HD capacitive touch screens onboard our latest 777s. Rest assured we have a lot more innovation coming, but we tend to talk about it when it’s ready to launch rather than before…

RELATED EMIRATES AIRLINE STORIES:
* Inside the Emirates Flight Catering facility in Dubai
* Emirates First Class Lounge Review in Dubai
* My Review: Flying Emirates Airline Business Class to 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. 

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

Destination Blog: How to Travel to Dubai and Rock It

It is crazy to think that this was all dirt not that long ago.

It is crazy to think that this was all dirt not that long ago. We arrived during a minor sand storm.

Getting there is half the fun — especially when you are flying in Emirates Airline business class. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dubai after my 14 hour non-stop flight from Seattle. Sure, I read the websites and literature I was given, but it is hard to get an accurate feel for a place, like Dubai, until you have visited it yourself.

I have to say I was shocked — but in a good way. It was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would be a hot desert with many locals in traditional garb with some English here and there. I think the best way to describe Dubai as being like if Las Vegas and Singapore hooked up and had a child — and named it Dubai. There is no shortage of glitz and glamor that one might find in Vegas, but with the heat and subtle culture that one would find in Singapore.

I was only able to spend about four days in Dubai, but found some things that you might find interesting if you ever decide to make it out there. I very much enjoyed my trip and I look forward to returning soon. Here are some of the things you might want to consider, if you are able to vacation in Dubai:

it wasn't too difficult being in the middle of the desert. After sunset, the temperature became very nice.

It wasn't too difficult being in the middle of the desert. After sunset, the temperature became very nice.

It Can Be Hot!

Duh right? Well, I think the bigger shock is it wasn’t that bad during my visit at the end of April. I was told by more than one person that it would only be a bit longer until it got hot. During the summer months, the average temperature stays above 100 degrees F, where I had it around 80-90 degrees during my visit during the end of April.

Very few people do anything outside during the hot months of the year, where during the cooler months, it is still quite tolerable for a Seattle native, like myself. Just make sure to bring your sunscreen, hats and some sun glasses — you will want to use them.

Although Dubai barely sees a few inches of rain per year, I was lucky enough to experience a few short minutes of Dubai rain. Travel so far away from rainy Seattle for Dubai rain? Yee-haw!

I can never get away from Starbucks, no matter where I travel.

I can never get away from Starbucks, no matter where I travel.

English is Everywhere

It is hard to tell that you are in a country half way around the world when English is so common. There were quite a few times where if I was placed in Dubai without knowing it, I would have a hard time thinking I was outside the US. I was kind of hoping for a bit more Arabic culture, but it sure makes it easier to get around.

I got to go to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to learn more about the local culture.

I got to go to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to learn more about the local culture.

The Population is Diverse

I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting Dubai, but I can surely say I was not expecting what I found — a huge melting pot of people and culture. Only about 20% of the population are native citizens, where the rest are from other countries around the world. Many people living in Dubai are from India, the UK and even the US.

Notice the lack of bars or security. Shops are rarely robbed, even in the Gold Souk.

Notice the lack of bars or security. Shops are rarely robbed, even in the Gold Souk.

Do Not Plan on Becoming a Citizen – Crime is Low

It pretty much boils down to you cannot become a citizen of the UAE. Even if you work in the country for years and have kids in Dubai, neither you nor your kids are able to become citizens. To stay in the country, as a non-citizen, you have to be employed. Those who are not employed are deported (you do have some time to find a new job if you are fired).

Because there are not many people wandering around without jobs, plus the possible punishment of being deported if you commit a crime, Dubai is very safe and crime is low.

When completed later this year, the Infinity Tower will be the world's tallest high rise building with a twist of 90˚.

When completed later this year, the Infinity Tower will be the world's tallest high rise building with a twist of 90˚.

The Town is New

Talk about growth. Dubai has pretty much gone from dirt and nothing to a large metropolis in about 12 years. And Dubai just keeps on growing; there are cranes everywhere you look. Many people think it is all from oil money, but Dubai really does not have that much money from oil. They have been building their infrastructure and have become very business and tourist friendly. Many world-wide companies have set up offices in Dubai and have pulled people from around the world to work there.

Ski Dubai is so unbelievable -- you just have to go do it.

Ski Dubai is so unbelievable -- you just have to go do it.

Snow Ski in Dubai — Seriously

If you need to ask how much it costs to ski inside a mall in the middle of the desert, you are not living life! Okay, don’t worry, it is not that costly and what an epic experience. Ski Dubai is a must see (if you have the skills). The facility sets you up with everything you need to ski: heavy jacket, ski pants (because who would be bringing those to Dubai?) and either a set of skis or a snowboard.

There is only one lift and not too much variants in the routes you can take, but who cares, you are in frek’n Dubai! I haven’t skied in a few years, so it took a run or two to remember how to do it, then after that, it was a total thrill.

It was a little nerve wrecking skiing while being filmed for a segment of the Seattle based show Evening Magazine. Luckily I was able to make it work and somewhat look like I know what I am doing.

WATCH THE EVENING MAGAZINE STORY ON SKI DUBAI

One of the amazing views from the top of The Burj Khalifa.

One of the amazing views from the top of The Burj Khalifa.

Visit the World’s Tallest Building – The Burj Khalifa

It makes total sense that Dubai would be home to the world’s tallest building. I am willing to make bets that if some other building is taller someday, Dubai will just build another. That is just the attitude there — bigger and better. Anyhow, making the quick trip up to the observation deck on the Burj Khalifa provides amazing views of Dubai and the surrounding area.

The Burj Khalifa almost looks unreal and the views show how much construction has already taken place and how much room that Dubai has to still grow. Oddly, I did not get the great sense of height that I was expecting to have on the world’s tallest building — but the view more than made up for it.

You will only find alcohol in bars in hotels. Good thing there are a lot of nice hotels, like the Park Hyatt Dubai seen here.

You will only find alcohol in bars in hotels. Good thing there are a lot of nice hotels, like the Park Hyatt Dubai seen here.

Alcohol is Limited, But Exists

The country is not dry, but one is quite limited in where someone can drink alcohol. Unless you have a special drinking license, the only place one can drink is at a hotel. Do not worry, there are plenty of restaurants in and connected to hotels that will let you get your buzz on. Just don’t wander off too far from you hotel and make sure to read the next section before you decide to drive anywhere.

You can drink and let peole drive you over sand dunes.

You can drink and let people drive you over sand dunes.

Do Not Drink and Drive

This is probably a pretty good rule to have no matter where you are . But at least countries like the US will let you have a bit of alcohol in your system legally (0.08%), but in Dubai there is a 0.0% tolerance. You will cut your trip very short if you drink anything and then drive, so just take a cab, public transportation or do not leave your hotel.

Gold Machine on Top of The Burj Khalifa.

Gold Machine on Top of The Burj Khalifa.

Get Your Souvenir Gold

You know those machines where you put a penny in, turn a crank and get a souvenir coin? Well, that is for amateurs. Why would you want a souvenir penny, when you get get a souvenir gold bar? Starting at just $800.00, you can get your very own gold memento.

The machine shown above was found at the top of the largest building, The Burj Khalifa. I was tempted, but stuck to a few cheaper souvenir options.

You can take a classic water taxi across Dubai Creek.

You can take a classic water taxi across Dubai Creek.

Take a Water Taxi Across Dubai Creek

Even though Dubai is quite westernized, there are a few things you can do to get the cultural feeling. One of those activities is taking a water taxi, called an abra, across Dubai Creek. An old wooden boat (that looks like it maybe should have been retired a while ago) will take you on the creek and to a large street shopping area, called a souk. The fresh air (as long as you sit in front of the exhaust) feels good while watching aircraft take off and other people on their boats floating by.

The Meydan Hotel offers a unique feature; a horse track right outside your room. Only in Dubai.

The Meydan Hotel offers a unique feature; a horse track right outside your room. Only in Dubai.

Great Hotels to Choose From

I had the opportunity to stay in two hotels and view a few more during my visit. One of the most interesting was The Meydan, which has a horse track right outside your room. That’s right, a legit horse track (with high-end grass) in the middle of the desert — only in Dubai right? The race season was completed and I didn’t get to see any horses running around, but still the fact that I could wake up to a horse track was quite surreal.

The most impressive hotel was the Burj Al Arab (the world’s only 7-star hotel). Due to how exclusive the hotel is, only guests are able to get access to the hotel — no lookie-loos. I plan to write a separate story on this hotel in the future.

Sit down, shut up and hold on! Okay, it was hard to stay quiet during the sand dunes four wheeling.

Sit down, shut up and hold on! Okay, it was hard to stay quiet during the sand dunes four wheeling.

Take a Safari Ride in the Desert

Make sure you have a strong stomach before embarking into the sand dunes in a Toyota Land Cruiser. We used the group Arabian Adventures (which is owned by the Emirates Group) and they did a great job of not only giving us an adventure on the dunes, but also a dinner and a show in the middle of the desert after our ride.

Rolling dunes and camels are a must-see located just outside of Dubai.

Rolling dunes and camels are a must-see located just outside of Dubai.

Make Sure You Ride a Camel

You can’t go all the way to Dubai without riding a camel. As part of my desert dune riding (see above), I also had the chance to ride a camel. They are a little bumpy when they stand up or sit down to let you on and off and a word of warning — when the guy tells you to lean back — do yourself a favor and lean back. There are certain parts of your body that will thank you later.

Water Fountains by the Burj Khalifa

Water Fountains by the Burj Khalifa

Watch the Fountains

If you have never been to Las Vegas to watch the Fountains of Bellagio, make sure to go do that first. Because the ones in Dubai put the ones in Vegas to shame. Going every 30 minutes and synchronized to music, it is a wonderful (and free) experience. If you are looking for a bigger treat, make restaurant reservations along the fountain, get a few drinks, enjoy some food and get a free show.

The Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Island.

The Atlantis Hotel on the Palm Island.

Head to the Palm Island and The Atlantis

Checking out the Palm Islands is a must, but don’t expect some crazy and unique experience. I had to bring up my map function on my phone to really understand where I was . While on the palm, it is not easy to tell that you are on a man-made sand structure, out in the water, that is shaped like a palm tree. Really, to get the full effect of the Palm, you need to view it from the air. That being said, it is worth the trip to check out The Atlantis Hotel.

Walking into the lobby, our guide was excited to show our group a wonderful glass sculpture. It was very impressive, but little did he realize that it was a piece by Dale Chihuly and since he is based in Seattle, I have seen quite a bit of his work.

The hotel also has a decently sized aquarium that you can check out for a few extra bucks.

From all angles, the world's tallest building, The Burj Khalifa, looks unreal.

From all angles, the world's tallest building, The Burj Khalifa, looks unreal.

In Conclusion About Dubai

You have to try and make it to Dubai someday. It is really hard to explain the energy and how unreal everything is there. In one day, I woke up beside a horse race track, then by noon I had already visited the largest building in the world. That was before putting on snow gear to check out penguins, throw some snow balls and then do a few ski runs. Finally, heading out into the desert to 4×4 on some sand dunes and ride a camel. This was all just one day. Where the heck else can you do that in the world? Only in Dubai — that is something you will find yourself constantly saying and that is not a bad thing.

ALL 94 PHOTOS FROM DUBAI

My Other Related Dubai Stories:
* Photo Tour of Emirates Airline Crew Training in Dubai
* My Review: Flying Emirates Airline Business Class to Dubai