Newest Review: ... uncomfortable. If that wasn't enough, you could use your mobile phone due to the Emirates network which was also handy. Apart from the ob... more
An excellent airline for longhaul through Dubai
Member Name: Morgenhund
Advantages: Excellent in-board experience, reliable, competitively priced
Disadvantages: Stopover time in Dubai can sometimes be quite long.
I first flew Emirates through chance rather than out and out through design. Of course I knew about them, had heard all the rave reviews etc. but as they only are an option for long haul through Dubai from Vienna, I'd not had much opportunity to try them out. That changed when I wanted to have a week in Hong Kong - and Emirates were doing a EUR 520 return ticket from Vienna - which was considerably cheaper than the competition.
For my second longhaul trip of the year, to South Africa, I spurned the EUR 600 tickets with Lufthansa via Frankfurt for the EUR 820 ticket with Emirates - because of the better longhaul comfort, and also because of the fact that the flight timings were more convenient - especially for the return leg - where I was able to get a flight at 22:20 from JNB - more than four hours later than the flights I could take with Lufthansa, and I was still able to get an earlier connecting flight from Dubai (I was only there for just over an hour) onto Vienna.
Bearing in mind that I had just spent EUR 900 getting to London and back in under a day to get a new biometric passport after mine was stolen and you'll understand why I don't think the extra outlay to be excessive. Similarly after experiencing air rage on a flight from JNB to Madrid two years ago, and finding Iberia economy class to only be acceptable if you were under about 5' 6" (I am a healthy 7" taller than that!) you can understand why I enjoy not wanting to spend the entire flight in immediate proximity with my knees.
There was also the added advantage that I didn't have to do the whole trip in one go and as I was undergoing light therapy, being in Dubai for sunrise was also a very good thing to ensure I got my light therapy. Another very positive reason was I wanted to limit the impact of jetlag - by using the stopovers in Dubai to get my body clock back in sync at least to Dubai time (GMT +4) from Hong Kong time (GMT +8) I was at least going to have less of a problem when I got back from my whistlestop trip to the Far East. I pamper myself on the the longhaul trips - when I am in the airport for 6-8 hours for the connecting flight I take advantage of the airport hotel in the terminal - admittedly a luxury at approx EUR 130 or 160 for a standard or deluxe room - but again worth it for my own personal comfort.
Booking the trip online, and then signing up to Skywards - their frequent flyer programme immediately - was definitely the thing to do. I was able to check in early - so all that I had to do was the baggage drops at Vienna and then get my baggage in Hong Kong. It also meant that I was able to select my seat - and on a couple of legs I got that done early enough ahead that I was able to get an emergency exit row seat - worth it for the leg room alone.
Additionally there was such a wide range of special dietary options, and although I have no special dietary requirements, going for the "fruit platter" option has become my established choice (I did this to Hong Kong and back and also to Johannesburg and back). One extra perk of Skywards through Emirates is that I can have fast-track immigration set up for me - so I am through passport control when transferring in seconds.
The in-cabin baggage allowance is a lot more generous - no remarks were made about me travelling with a rucksack and a camera bag - and the overhead locker space is very generous. Similarly, boarding by sectors (so not everyone scrambled into the plane at the same time, and separate boarding for first and business class) means that the boarding experience is a lot more pleasant than the usual scrum with everyone charging to the gate desk the second the mention of boarding is made.
The in-flight entertainment (ICE) is exception - with screens in the back of every seat on the routes I have taken (usually in a 777). For a cricket and comedy fan, the flights fly by, although I did spend one flight playing the incredibly addictive "Bejeweled Blitz" game - as the console is also a games system. The choice of programmes is excellent - I watched several episodes of Flight of the Conchords, The US Office and Fawlty Towers and from the second series of Benidorm on the way back from Johannesburg when I wasn't sleeping. If you don't own an mp3 player, there is also a very adequate selection of music to enjoy.
There is also another reason for why I am intending to fly with Emirates more frequently. Currently a trip to Japan in the spring is planned - hopefully in April for the cherry blossom and by then flying to Tokyo through Dubai, although again not quite the cheapest flights, I will have collected enough miles on the trips from Vienna (Hong Kong return, Johannesburg return and Tokyo return) to then fly business class with upgrades for a planned trip to Australia for the Ashes.
Additionally my five internal flights in South Africa on South African Airways also netted me miles - and because I had already reached silver status (25,000 miles) I get increased miles for those flights. Indeed, within ten days of getting back from South Africa, my cards and baggage tags for silver Skywards membership and a leather travel picture frame had already arrived.
Additionally one very nice touch at Dubai airport (DXB) is that they provide free baby buggies for those travelling with babies - so it means that your buggy can go in the hold and you can use theirs through the airport. This is however, typical of the exemplary level of customer service that Emirates has.
All in all, Emirates is an airline that I will be flying with again - hopefully very frequently. While friends have chosen Qatar Airways for similar routes to the above mentioned due to the cheaper price, I'd rather pay a bit more and enjoy the extra level of comfort that a trip on Emirates offers over its competitors. Granted it might not be a viable choice for a family travelling together, but for a solo traveller or a couple - I'd advocate the splurge.
Summary: Well worth the bit extra.