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I recently flew on Emirates airlines to Dubai from Birmingham International, and then back again obviously, 12 days later!
Emirates bill themselves as an award winning airline, having won 190 awards for excellence, including Airline of the Year in 2000. These awards certainly reflect the standard of service I experienced.
Emirates are based out of Dubai airport, and with their fleet of Boeing 777’s and various Airbus planes they serve many locations around the world, including the UK. Middle East, Asia and Australia.
The check-in procedure at both ends was very swift with friendly staff. Baggage allowance was, I believe, 20Kg, which is pretty standard for Economy. Unfortunately as these flights were encompassed with another 10 around the Gulf region in 12 days, my company could not stretch to business class I’m sad to say. Then again, I doubt I’d have got business class anyway!
On both occasions the plane began to board to the allocated time, and take off was within 30 minutes of the advertised time. This was acceptable to me, and obviously take-off times cannot be influenced whoever you fly with! Upon boarding I found the crew to be genuinely pleased to meet the passengers, and point out the quickest route to the seats!
For a seven-hour flight it’s important to be entertained and occupied, and to this end, Emirates provide seat-back Entertainment for all passengers. The screen is touch controlled, and provides a wide choice of films, comedy, sport, and local destination programming. By this I mean that since I was travelling to the Middle East, a number of Arabic language programmes and films were also available. The Hollywood movies were multi-lingual as well, so if English isn’t your main language you can still enjoy a movie or two! You can also check the progress of your flight on the Airshow channel, which details how far to your destination, where you are at the moment, and other useful flight facts. You can also watch the plane’s progress via the camera’s, which give you a pilot’s eye view and a view down below! Interesting on take off, but a bit boring to watch the clouds!
In addition to the visual stuff, you can also choose from around 20 audio channels, or play a variety of games, such as Tetrix (yeah tetris!), connect 4, backgammon and chess, along with some other classics. Interestingly, you can play Chess with another passenger, and there is also a Trivia challenge, where you answer questions for points, and try to beat the other passengers who may be playing! I had a good go with this one, and at one point there were 10 of us playing. I managed a 2nd place, which was good for me! Oh, sterilised, packaged headphones are provided for use, which is essential really!
Anyway, shortly after take-off the cabin crew begin their service, and for me as an economy passenger I was very impressed! Two meals were provided throughout the flight, a light sandwich snack, and then a main meal later on. For the main meal, choices were offered, i.e. lamb or chicken, along with vegetarian if you ask for it. A complimentary bar service is offered throughout the flight, apart from Champagne, which is only free for those privileged to ride up-front. Meal quality was very good, and whilst airline food generally seems to have improved of late, the Emirates meal was very substantial and tasty. On the way out to Dubai I chose the Chicken Biriyani, very tasty and authentic. On the return leg, well I had the same, as I don’t go for lamb too much!! I suppose they could have changed the menu a little for the return?
The plane I travelled of the Airbus variety, and seemed to be quite modern in style. Importantly the plane on both legs was very clean, that is apart from the fact that on my return leg my nearest toilet did smell a little like baby sick! Needless to say I used a different one the next time I needed to go…
In terms of space, in Economy the leg room was certainly more than I expected, and definatley offered a good few inches more than your bog-standard package holiday operators. Additionally there was a foot-rest to use, which helped in-flight comfort.
The Emirates website is a superb design, and compliments the service they offer very well. Some of the features – book flights online, check flight arrivals, view the Emirates network, check out the fleet and how the seats are configured, I could go on and on!
In terms of cost, I am not sure how the prices of Emirates tickets compare to other operators, as I have never flown to Dubai before, and also had never been so far away from the UK before. I understand my company paid around £600 for an economy return to Dubai.
Truly Emirates is a superb example of how a leading Airline should operate, I look forward to travelling with them again, and would not hesitate to book with them for business or personal travel!