A surprise anniversary party at 40,000 feet! Karen got to wear Emirates’ signature uniform hat. Maybe I should have too, to cut the glare.
’œMr. Slutsken, would you and your wife please join us in the lounge at the back of the cabin?’ asked the Purser, our flight’s senior cabin representative. She had a big smile on her face as she stood beside my business class seat in the Emirates A380 on our flight from Dubai (DXB) to Rome (FCO). I looked back at my wife; we both wanted to be right beside a window, so I was in seat 9K and Karen was in 11K on the remarkably quiet upper deck of the Airbus.
This was the second leg of our special anniversary trip. We always try to do something new for every fifth year, and this was our 35th anniversary. It doesn’t really matter when in the year it happens, so we had planned a trip to Italy in October, months after our actual anniversary date. We wanted to fly business class, and after much research and expert help, we decided to go the long way to Italy. We cashed in a whack of Alaska Airlines and hotel points for reward seats on Emirates. It would be our first time flying the airline, and also our first time in Dubai. Using Emirates’ Dubai Stopover Program, we were able to break our itinerary to spend a few nights before continuing to Rome.
It seems like over the last few years, there have been almost weekly announcements of new routes from one of the ME3, the three major middle east airlines (Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad), to the United States. As of now, these three airlines fly, or have announced, routes from the middle east to the thirteen U.S. cities.
As a Denver-based flyer, I have heard a lot of talk about whether we can expect to see some exciting new liveries at Denver International Airport in the near future. I keep finding myself going back and forth between thinking, “yes, we’ll hear an announcement any day now” and “nope, it’s never going to happen.”
Warning: lots of analysis and numbers below. If you want the short version, skip down to the bottom. Otherwise, settle in and let’s look at some numbers.
The geographic reach of the ME3 airlines in the U.S. – Image: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter
As an engineer, I decided to do what I do best – start analyzing things and putting some numbers on paper. The first thing I did was chart the geographic reach of the ME3 within the United States. That resulted in the map above. The green areas are within 100 miles of an ME3-serviced airport, the yellow areas are 100-to-250 miles out, orange areas are 250-to-500 miles out, and the red areas are more than 500 miles away from any ME3-serviced airport.
Combining this information with the 2010 U.S. Census data gives us some interesting numbers. Of the U.S. population in the lower 48 states, approximately 44% live within 100 miles of an ME3-serviced airport, 64% live within 200 miles, and 95% live within 500 miles.
Emirates A380 Bar/Lounge – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
In part one of my review, I covered the standard features of the first class suite and product on-board the Emirates A380. In part two, I will cover the unique features of the Emirates A380 available to premium class passengers including the Business Class bar/lounge.
For first and business class passengers, the bar at the rear of the main deck is the place to be and be seen on any A380 flight. It is truly a unique experience and comes complete with a dedicated bartender who will mix up your favorite drink.
Whilst first class passengers get their own bar at the front of the cabin, it tends to be a bit lonely and there is no where to sit; thus, I recommend the business class bar at the back. While the business bar does not have the same high-end beverages as at the first class bar, the crew will happily bring these premium beverages to you when you are in the business bar.
While the first class bar has a wide range of premium beverages, it lacks the atmosphere of the business class bar – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
The bar is set up in a fashion akin to what I have seen on many private jets. There is the central bar with lounge seating on either side; this can accommodate up to five passengers on each lounge. In addition to the lounge seating, there is also ample space at the exits which have a standing bar arrangement with a table affixed to the exit which is quite handy when the lounge seating is occupied.
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
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.
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!