Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 360,327
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

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