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EPIC PHOTOS: Emirates and Qantas Airbus A380′s Fly in Formation

A Qantas and Emirates A380 Fly in Formation over the Sydney Opera House - Photo: Qantas Aiways

A Qantas and Emirates A380 Fly in Formation over the Sydney Opera House – Photo: Qantas Airways

On Easter Sunday in Sydney, many families spent time to calm down the sugar loaded children while the sun hides amongst the clouds in the southern autumn (fall).  Yet in the sky, a unique event happened, never seen before.

To commemorate the start of the partnership between Qantas & Emirates the two airlines decided to hold a special event.  At 10:30am, at 1500ft above the Sydney Harbor Bridge an A380 from Qantas, flew in formation with a second A380 from Emirates.  This is the first time in aviation history that not only did two A380s flew in formation, but also two from different airlines.

An Emirates A380 flies High and to the Right of the Qantas A380 - Photo: Bernard Proctor

An Emirates A380 flies High and to the Right of the Qantas A380 – Photo: Bernard Proctor

“The sight of two of the world’s great airlines flying two of the world’s largest aircraft so close together over Sydney Harbor is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Captain Green Chief pilot for Qantas.

Pilots from both airlines have conducted dozens of special simulator training sessions since January this year. Emirates pilots came to Australia earlier this month to conduct joint sessions in Qantas’ A380 simulator in Sydney and conducted several more practice runs over the past few days.

As VH-OQF (from Qantas) & A6-EDY (from Emirates) flew over Sydney Harbor they used the call sign “Seismic” because Emirates President Tim Clark said “the partnership between Qantas and Emirates will cause a seismic shift in global aviation.”

The two A380s fly over the Iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge - Photo: Bernard Proctor

The two A380s fly over the Iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge – Photo: Bernard Proctor

The Qantas & Emirates partnership is game changing, as it sees the end of the dominant force on the “Kangaroo Route” from London to Australia via Singapore.  That traditional route was maintained by an agreement between British Airways (IAG) and Qantas for over 15 years.  Although Qantas & British Airways are oneworld partner airlines the joint agreement allowed them to coordinate pricing, services and flights between the UK & Australia.  However when that agreement ended on the 31st of March, the Emirates partnership began.

With Qantas flying their A380s to London via Dubai, it allows Qantas customers access to 70 destinations in Europe with only one stop over the previous two.  Emirates doesn’t come out of the deal empty handed, as they get access to the Qantas domestic network, which is by far the most comprehensive in Australia.  Frequent flyer benefits and some on-board services have been aligned between the two carriers making this a true powerhouse to contend with.

The First time two Different Airlines have flown in Formation - Emirates & Qantas - Photo: Bernard Proctor

The First time two Different Airlines have flown in Formation – Emirates & Qantas – Photo: Bernard Proctor

I can just imagine standing by the shoreline on Sydney Harbor seeing these two large aircraft flying in formation and being surrounded by a stunned crowd of AvGeeks, tourists & locals. It is only too bad that the sun and blue sky were not out.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.

Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

Emirates Airline Announces New Skywards Tier: Platinum

Emirates announces a new tier for the Skywards program. Photo taken at Dubai Airport yesterday by AirlineReporter.com.

Emirates Airline announces a new tier for the Skywards program. Photo taken at Dubai Airport yesterday by AirlineReporter.com.

Today, Emirates Airlines will announce a new elite tier in their Skywards program: Platinum. Just before the announcement, I was able to sit down with Brian LaBelle, Senior Vice President of Emirates Rewards in Dubai to ask some questions and learn more about the airline’s program.

Previously, Emirates had three rewards tiers: Blue: just register, Silver: earned at 25,000 miles and Gold: earned at 50,000 miles. Starting April 1st, 2013, passengers will be able to attain Platinum status flying over 150,000 miles. That is quite the upgrade from 50,000 miles of Gold status, so what will the premium get you? Here are the main benefits:

  • Access for the cardholder and one guest to the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai and Emirates Lounges across the network
  • Complimentary Emirates Skywards Gold card for each member’s partner, giving them the benefits of Gold status, even when flying on their own.
  • ‘Last Seat’ Flex reward, enabling Skywards Miles to be utilised on any flight, as long as there is an open seat.
  • Additional 20kg luggage allowance.
  • ‘Guaranteed Business Class‘ revenue seat, meaning you will not be bumped if you use cash or rewards for a business class seat.
  • 75% bonus Skywards Miles

LaBelle explained to AirlineReporter.com that Emirates wants to reward their top fliers and make sure they keep flying on Emirates. He wasn’t able to confirm how many current Gold level members will automatically earn Platinum status on April 1st, but he was able to say that out of the 8.6 million who have signed up for Skywards, about 110,000 are currently Gold members.

Although status will not transfer between most other airlines that Emirates has partnerships with (Alaska Airlines, jetBlue and easyJet), the new status will be shared with Qantas Airlines Frequent Flyer Program. This makes sense since both airlines will be entering a larger alliance starting also on April 1st.

This story written by…David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder.

David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube

My Review: Flying Emirates Airline Business Class to Dubai

I couldn't get any good shots of my 777-200LR in Seattle or Dubai, so I am using this photo of another Emirates Boeing 777-300ER.

I couldn't get any good shots of my 777-200LR in Seattle or Dubai, so I am using this photo of another Emirates Boeing 777-300ER that I took from my aircraft.

EMIRATES AIRLINE REVIEW BASICS:
Airline: Emirates Airline
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200LR
Departed: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
Arrived: Dubai International Airport (DXB)
tops: Non-stop flight Class: Business Class
Seat: 8D to DXB (center, aisle, bulkhead) and 11A to SEA (window)
Length: About 14 hours

Cheers: Great combination of service and product.
Jeers:
If you have wide shoulders, avoid the center seat — even in business class.
Overall: Emirates makes a 14 hour flight easy.

With the wood panneling, the Business Class really has a warm atmosphere. Notice the real flowers on the bulkhead.

With the wood paneling, the Business Class really has a warm atmosphere. Notice the real flowers on the bulkhead.

THE FULL EMIRATES BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW:

On March 1st, Emirates started flying from Seattle to Dubai non-stop. I was invited to try out Emirates Business Class product on one of their recent flights (the airline covered the costs of the flight). This review will be a mixture of both my flight to and from Dubai — although I slept most of the way home.

The benefits of sitting in a premium cabin starts well before you get to the gate, but only once you arrive to the airport. With Emirates, the benefits of flying in Business Class starts at home. If you fly in either Business or First class you have access to a free chauffeured car within 60 miles of your arriving or departing airport.  Unfortunately I did not do my homework before leaving and did not find out about that service until I was in Dubai (thanks Ben for the ride to the airport by the way).

However, I was able to make use of the service when coming home and it is always great having someone greeting you with your name on a sign that escorts you right to your front door in a Town Car. Having a Business Class ticket normally gives you access to a lounge at the airport and flying Emirates out of Seattle is no different. Passengers who have either first or business class tickets are able to use the new Club International lounge before their flight.

Emirate's Business Class seats offer quite a bit of room and one gianormous remote.

Emirate's Business Class seats offer quite a bit of room and one ginormous remote.

Since I stayed in the lounge for a while, my flight was almost fully loaded by the time I arrived at the gate and I was able to just walk on the plane. I messed up and forgot to check myself in online (I know, what kind of airline reporter am I?), so I ended up in a middle seat: 8E. Emirates has their 777-200LR configured in a 2-3-2 layout in business.

Even though the seats are larger, I was not looking forward to being in the center for 14 hours, but at least I wasn’t in economy. When I found my seat and sat down, I became a little worried — my shoulders touched both sides of the hard plastic walls — not good. Luckily for me the lovely (and smaller) Harriet Baskas, who was in my media travel group, had the aisle seat next to me and offered to swap. I gladly took her up on her offer and never had any problems with the seat width with the open aisle.

I think I would have managed just fine in the center seat, but if you have wider shoulders, I would surely advice checking in earlier to claim a non-center seat.

If you like technology and gadgets, you will love Emirates ice entertainment system. Each seat in first and business gets this large, removable remote.

If you like technology and gadgets, you will love Emirates ice entertainment system. Each seat in first and business gets this large, removable remote.

Emirates entertainment system, called ice, was amazing, but a bit overwhelming. First off, you have three options on how to control the system: touching the screen, using the removable touch screen remote or use the smaller wired remote. When sitting in a bulkhead seat, even at 6’1″, I was unable to touch the screen. When I flew back to Seattle I was not at the bulkhead and was able to touch, but it wasn’t easy and I would imagine near impossible if you measuring in at less than 5’10″.

I am normally not very slow when it comes to technology or in-flight entertainment systems, but it seemed like I could only do some things with one remote and I had to do other things with the smaller one. I am sure I just wasn’t able to figure it out, but if I had trouble, I am sure most other people did too. It is worth trying to get past the control issues, because once you do, there are many options — 1200 to be exact.

Emirates, by far, has the largest selection of movies and entertainment I have experienced. After flying a total of 27 hours to Dubai and back, I still had not explored everything it had to offer. For a frequent flier on the airline, this would be a huge perk. No matter what class you are flying in, you get access to the same ice entertainment system (just not the fancy large remote if you are in economy).

Emirates configures their Boeing 777s with a 2-3-2 layout in Business Class. Notice how the windows have buttons to move the shades.

Emirates configures their Boeing 777s with a 2-3-2 layout in Business Class. Notice how the windows have buttons to move the shades.

One on my favorite things, on systems that offer it, are the outside cameras you can access on your screen. The Emirates 777 has one facing forward and once facing straight down. Being in the center section during take off, it was handy watching the aircraft take off via the cameras. We took off to the north and just kept going — almost in a straight line over the north pole and back down to Dubai. Because of this, it never got dark outside.

Passengers also have the option to make a phone call at $5 per minute or send text messages for $1 per message. Every time I tried to access the service, it said it was unavailable, which was okay by me. I was planning on trying it out for the story, but was not motivated to ask one of the flight attendants, since I did not mind saving my money. Although Emirates does have Wi-Fi up and running on all their Airbus A380s, they do not have it on the rest of their main fleet (777, A330, A340) — yet.

When the lights go down, the stars come up. Emirates offers a special StarLight feature providing a great sleeping atmoshphere.

When the lights go down, the stars come up. Emirates offers a special StarLight feature providing a great sleeping atmosphere.

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is touted as being unique for its ambient lighting and electronic sunshades. The Emirates product in business and in first is almost as close as you can get to the 787 interior.

First, they have the ambient lighting; going from a soft white/yellow to pinks to purple for the different light cycles. Then you have the windows up front that do not have manual shades, but two buttons that make the shades go up and down. The flight attendants have the ability to to put up or down all the shades, similar to the 787.

What Emirate’s 777 has that no 787 has (yet) are the stars that come out on the ceiling. Called StarLight, this amazing feature is unique to Emirates and really sets the mood. It is hard to describe, laying flat on a bed at 35,000 feet, opening your eyes and seeing stars.

It is too bad that Emirates doesn’t have any 787′s on order; it would be amazing what they could (and probably would) do with that cabin.

Steak and redwine at 30,000 feet. Yea, I can handle that.

Steak, potatoes I cannot pronounce and red wine at 30,000 feet? Yea, I can handle that.

After settling in, it was time for meal service. My dinner started with a traditional mezze platter with hummus, smoky moutabal, muhammara, vine leaves and a spinach fatayer. Yea, I don’t know what half of that means either, but I can tell you that it was great. Then I was served roasted tomato and thyme soup and salad, followed by the main course of beef fillet with shallots and dauphionouse style potatoes. I decided to skip the dessert option and have a bit more red wine — nice call.

Economy class still provides large screens, amenities and food. Eh, I will stick to Business Class.

Economy class still provides large screens, amenities and food. Eh, I will stick to Business Class.

I feel very lucky that I get these opportunities to fly in the front of the plane on long flights, but there is no doubt that I have put my time in economy. During the ride over to Dubai, I made an effort to make a lap around the plane and check out economy. During my tour, most people were sleeping and there were so many feet, arms, shoulders, etc out in the aisle — it was a challenge to get through without bumping into people.

With the 3-4-3 layout in economy, it is a bit tight, but doable with the large screens and same ice entertainment system. That being said, I was happy to return to the business class cabin.

Business Class is nice, but First Class is better. Each seat is like its own cubical, with closing doors.

Business Class is nice, but First Class is better. Each seat is like its own cubicle, with closing doors.

When I complete flight reviews, I try to stay anonymous as long as I can. Typically a flight attendant will start asking questions (not suspiciously, but out of curiosity) when I am taking photos of my remote, food, etc. One of the benefits of being known as media is getting access to the aircraft that others might not.

On the flight back to Seattle, I was given the opportunity to spend some time up in First Class. Luckily for me, there were no passengers in the front cabin, which gave me time to check it out and talk to the flight crew. There are four crew members assigned to first class, including the pursuer. They normally work in shifts of two, but when there are no passengers in first, they are able to enjoy a relaxing flight and also will help the rest of the cabin crew, if needed.

Where business felt so much better than economy, similarly first class felt so much better than business. There are only eight first class suites, where each has a large seat, own mini-bar, large tv screen, similar controls to business class and doors that can be closed to give ultimate privacy.

Taking off from Dubai I could see the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in the background.

Taking off from Dubai I could see the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in the background.

One indicator on how good a product is on an airline is how well I am able to sleep. The fact that I slept five hours to Dubai and about 10 hours back to Seattle is a positive sign for sure. Another indicator is how happy I am that I was able to sleep so much. In this case, I was upset that I slept so much and wasn’t able to enjoy my experience a bit better. Emirates has lived up to its reputation for providing a fabulous flying experience.

Next is to try and test out their newer business product on the Airbus A380 — stay tuned.

See all 52 photos from my Emirates Airline flight

MORE STORIES ON MY DUBAI TRIP:
* Photo Tour of Emirates Airline Crew Training in Dubai
* Airline Lounge Review: Club International at Sea-Tac Airport

Photo Tour of Emirates Airline Crew Training in Dubai

Yes. The building is designed to look like an airliner. Only in Dubai.

Yes. The building is designed to look like an airliner. Only in Dubai.

It was surreal pulling up to the Emirates Airline training facility in Dubai to find that part of the building was designed to look like an airliner — engines and all. In retrospect, it shouldn’t be too surprising, since this is the land of bigger and better and Emirates Airline seems to fit right in.

Emirates currently has a fleet of over 175 aircraft, flying to 120 destinations and they have no plans to slow down their growth. The airline hopes to hire around 4,000 additional cabin crew by the end of 2012.

Emirates is not an airline that cares only about the number of employees, but also the quality. They hire people from around the world to train to be some of the best flight crew in the world and Emirates Aviation College in Dubai is where every new hire will start.

A Majlis, where students learn about the Emirates culture and the cultures of others.

A Majlis, where students learn about the Emirates culture and the cultures of others.

Each week, about 80-120 near new trainees will start their seven week long educational journey. Each class is comprised of people from around the world, making Emirate’s employees some of the most diverse. At any given time, there are about 130 nationalities represented among the trainees and about 70 among the the trainers.

One of the first steps of every trainee is learning about Arabic hospitality and about the other cultures represented among the company and passengers in a themed roomed call the Majlis room. The crew’s diversity helps them easily interact with many of the passengers that will be flying on the airline.

Flight Stewardesses train how to properly serve passengers in this Airbus A380 mock interior trainer.

Flight Stewardesses train how to properly serve passengers in this Airbus A380 mock interior trainer.

One can only learn so much by reading out of a book or being lectured to. That is why each trainee is given hands on experience in one of the interior cabin mock-ups. From greeting passengers to learning what order to serve them food, to pointing out how to operate the on-board showers, the mock ups provide opportunities for students to learn new ways of doing things and to learn from their mistakes.

Each trainee is taught how each cabin is designed to give their passengers a unique experience. Emirates tries to make first class passengers feel like they are on a private jet, where business class passengers will receive a “my retreat” experience and finally a “surprising treat” type encounter for economy.

Part-time Emirates Trainer and Senior Flight Stewardess Lisa Williamson works the bar in the Airbus A380 trainer.

Part-time Emirates Trainer and Senior Flight Stewardess Lisa Williamson works the bar in the Airbus A380 trainer.

One part of the training is learning when it might be best to start weaning a passenger off alcohol, when they have had one too many. This can be more of a challenge when that passenger is in a public space, like the business and first class bar on board an Emirates Airbus A380. Unlike a bar on the ground, a drunk person cannot be kicked out. It takes a certain skill level to cut a person’s alcohol without insulting them. Lisa Williamson, part-time Emirates Trainer and Senior Flight Stewardess, explained how Emirates follows a delay, distract, dilute and then, deny strategy.

Every flight stewardess learns how to properly wear their uniform and wear make-up.

Every flight stewardess learns how to properly wear their uniform and wear make-up.

A group of Emirates flight crew walking in an airport garners attention — and for good reason. Their outfit is one that stands out and each trainee must go through training on how to wear their uniform, style their hair, apply their make up  and of course on how to properly wear their signature red hat.

Emirates Boeing 777 safety trainer is able to move on three axis, providing realistic scenarios inside the cabin.

Emirates Boeing 777 safety trainer is able to move on three axis, providing realistic scenarios inside the cabin.

Although learning how flight crew should properly wear make up is interesting enough, getting to the training pool with a mock up for the Boeing 777, Airbus A380 and A330/A340 is much more aligned with my interests.

Unlike other safety training mock-ups I have seen, both the 777 and A340/A330 trainers are able to move on 3-axis. Due to the size of the larger A380 trainer, it did not move and was stationary.

New trainees practice helping a passenger who is passed out down the slide.

New trainees practice helping a passenger who is passed out down the slide.

In the aircraft training room there is a pool that is surrounded by all three aircraft mock-ups. On one side, crew are able to practice water evacuations, where on the the other side, slides allow trainees the ability to practice sliding to the ground. This can be a mentally and physically challenging part of training and those flight crew that are not able (or un-willing) to go down the slide, are unable to continue the overall training program.

Emirates Airbus A380 and A340/A330 Safety Trainer

Emirates Airbus A380 and A340/A330 Safety Trainer.

Like most other things in Dubai, the aircraft training room was huge — it has to be. There was no shortage of eye candy watching both the A330/340 and Boeing 777 trainers rocking and rolling, hearing trainees yell for their training and seeing them jump out of the slides. I probably could have stayed in that room all day — heck probably all week.

Unfortunately during out visit, there was no one who jumped into the pool.

Who needs Disney Land, when you can take a ride on an Airbus A380 upper-deck slide.

Who needs Disney Land, when you can take a ride on an Airbus A380 upper-deck slide.

The photo above does not accurately convey how steep and long the upper deck slide on the Airbus A380 is from the top to the ground. It made me feel a bit nervous just standing on the ground and I could imagine that some trainees would have some hesitation sliding down for the first time. At first glance, the facility might seem like fun and games, but crews are practicing worse case scenarios on how to keep passengers safe and how to save lives.

From providing the best customer service as possible, to helping passengers in a disastrous situation, the Emirates Airline Crew Training facility prepares everyone to have a successful career with the airline.

SEE ALL 35 PHOTOS OF EMIRATES TRAINING FACILITY

Boeing and Emirates Celebrates the 1000th 777

EVERETT, Wash., March 2, 2012 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] and more than 5,000 employees, suppliers, customers and government officials celebrated the 1,000th 777 at a special event today. The 1,000th 777 jetliner will be delivered to Dubai-based Emirates later this month.

EVERETT, Wash., March 2, 2012 – Boeing and more than 5,000 employees, suppliers, customers and government officials celebrated the 1,000th 777 (A6-EGO) at a special event. Click for larger. Photo by Boeing.

Yesterday, Boeing celebrated building the 1000th 777 airliner, a 777-300ER registered A6-EGO, which is set to be delivered to Emirates Airlines later in the month. The celebration took place in the Boeing Factory and the 1000th aircraft was revealed to have a special “1000th” livery.

“As the largest 777 customer, it’s very appropriate that Emirates is the recipient of our milestone 1,000th 777,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Emirates has set an industry high bar in providing excellent customer service and we’re honored that the 777 is central to its efforts to be a global airline leader.”

Emirates is the world’s largest operator of 777 aircraft, with 102 already in its fleet and another 93 on order.

Almost a year ago Boeing celebrated building the 1000th 767, which was first produced in 1982 and took almost 30 years to reach the 1000 mark. It has taken the Boeing 777 less than 20 years to reach the same accomplishment. “The 777 program reached this milestone faster than any other twin-aisle airplane because of the 777′s proven performance, exceptional value, continuous innovation and progressive environmental performance,” said Larry Loftis, who until recently was vice president and general manager of the 777 program.

To date, Boeing has recorded orders for 1,361 777s to 64 customers around the globe.

In my experience, I think I have heard someone say, “I prefer not to fly on that aircraft,” about every type of airliner except the Boeing 777. She is an unassuming workhorse that has never caused any fatalities to any passenger or crew since her first flight on June 12, 1994. Huge cheers to Boeing and those who have helped to make all 1000 of these planes.

Here are additional photos of the event from the Seattle PI and from Randy Tinseth’s Boeing Blog. Also check out these 777 videos from Boeing