Of all the airlines in the Middle East, Emirates has been the leader and a trend setter. All other major middle-eastern airlines, Qatar, Etihad, Oman Air, Air Jordan, to name a few, tend to follow where Emirates leads. It has an extremely large international route network, a very new fleet of aircraft, upscale amenities and a world class Frequent Flier program.
I had the opportunity to fly on Emirates last year. I flew between Dubai and Bangalore (DXB-BLR) on the inbound and Mumbai to Dubai (BOM-DXB) on the outbound. Here are a few highlights that felt I could write home about (or at least write on my blog about):
The aircraft were brand spanking new. The DXB-BLR flight was on an Airbus 330-300 and the return on a beautiful Boeing 777-300ER. The seats were extremely comfortable (I was in economy). On the 777-300ER, which is their flagship long-haul ship, they had their world renowned In-flight Entertainment system (IFE). It had over 1200 programs – video, audio, games, you name it. The IFE also had channels that showed video from cameras mounted on the outside of the plane, showing four different views. Unfortunately my flights were both night time flights, so not much to see once we got off the runway.
The meals were unbelievable. As they had the beverage service, we were handed the menu card. It was a three course meal with three choices for the main course. I chose the indian chicken dish on both flight and I was impressed. The desserts were out of this world. It was like eating in a good restaurant. No one could put down this meal as a typical ‘airline food’ no one wants to eat.
The young men and ladies servicing the cabin were first of all – young. I am not being politically incorrect or insensitive here, but one could not but notice the young folks on the plane, with the youthful enthusiasm to go with it. For someone who primarily flies domestically in the US and overseas on US or European airlines, the enthusiastic and friendly service was a breath of fresh air for me. They also pointed out that between the all the staff on the plane, they spoke 15 languages. A truly international class of service.
Dubai International is a unique airport. A mini-shopping paradise. I visited two different duty-free malls in the two terminals I went thru. There were multiple lounges and restaurants that were great. I spent some time in the Star Alliance lounge, that is a common lounge for all Star Alliance airlines. I wish I had more time to explore between my flights. The only downside was that the airport is huge and there are no trains or shuttles. The walk between the Emirates terminal and the terminal for all the international airlines was way too long.
In my next article, I continue with talking about Skywards, Emirates’ Frequent Flier program. Like almost all other middle eastern airlines, Emirates Skywards is not a part of any Airline Alliance. They have a great list of partners. All that and more in the next post.