I actually came back from Australia three weeks ago but have been so busy since returning that I haven’t had chance to sit and write until now. I have included several pictures in this post. Most are self explanatory but to see the titles/captions simply hover your mouse over them!
Australia was amazing. I had a wonderful time and loved being with my sister. We simply did too much to write about in one hit so I am going to break it into instalments. I thought today, that I would start with the flights. I already explained in a previous post why I had chosen to fly with Emirates on the A380 airbus and you can find that post here:
I cannot speak highly enough of either Emirates service or the actual aircraft. Check-in at Heathrow was easy and straightforward. Heathrow as an airport I found quite hectic. Once inside the terminal it just didn’t feel big enough to deal with the number of people using it. There were long security queues and restaurants and bars were very full once through. Still, by then I was so exited about the flight that it didn’t really matter! Eventually we were called to the gate. It wasn’t a long walk and the gate was actually another lounge! We entered via another mini-check in point and were offered a selection of complimentary newspapers once inside. As soon as we entered I could see our aircraft right outside and felt like a child at Christmas! It was huge. Boarding was easy – there are something like ten boarding points between the two floors of the aircraft so despite carrying around five hundred passengers boarding doesn’t take long. You don’t really appreciate the sheer size of the aircraft until inside. It was nice, really nice. Very clean, good amount of leg room, nice amenity packs, blankets, pillows and the entertainment system was the best I have encountered.
Take off was quiet and so smooth!! For something so big, that has four massive engines and wings that can flex over four metres on take-off its unbelievably quiet. Officially it generates 50% less noise on take-off than its nearest competitor and is three to four times quieter on landing – all while carrying and average of 40% more passengers. It is a wide bodied craft and the inside cabin feels high and spacious. Seating was in a 3-4-3 configuration. I liked the lighting – especially the “stars” on the ceiling when the cabin lights were dimmed. We had generous leg room for economy and found the seats very comfortable. Sam and I sat in the front cabin section on each journey in the window and middle seat of three. We were very fortunate on our return flight from Sydney to Dubai to have the third seat in our row free giving us even more room! I can’t deny that I did wonder what upstairs was like – with the legendary Emirates A380 first class suites, business class section and bar! Having said that we were very comfortable.
Our flight each way was via Dubai where on each leg we had just a two hour stopover. Dubai has recently opened an A380 hub dedicated to the A380 fleet. Heathrow to Dubai was approximately seven hours and Dubai to Sydney was around fourteen hours. It sounds hellishly long but it really didn’t feel that bad. The longest part to me was the last few hours coming home. Jet lag wise it took us a few days to adjust once in Australia. We landed at seven o clock in the morning having already been pretty much awake for some 36 hours. By tea-time we were beyond exhausted and had no choice but to sleep. For about four days we were up very early and sleeping by 7-8pm! Coming back was much easier. We landed at lunchtime and aside from an earlier night than usual the first night and an early morning the next day were back to normal almost immediately. You really can get off these long flights without really knowing what way up you are! You fly through days, nights and meals and end up with no idea what time of day it is or what meal you should be eating!
The service from Emirates staff was at all times exceptional. Between the staff that were on our flights home there were no less than twenty two languages spoken. The meals were surprisingly nice and tasty. If you wanted anything in addition to the regular trolley services then you just walked up to the galley to ask or pushed your call button. The staff were more than happy to assist. There is room to walk and stretch out and at the front of the aircraft and the back of our section there was always a small group chatting to pass the time while having a stretch. You certainly aren’t confined to your seat for all of those hours.
Then there is the entertainment system or ICE as it is called – Information, communication and Entertainment. 1200 channels of film, TV, music, communications and of course duty free! Seat back, touch screen TV’s with so much choice that there really is something for everyone. You even have external flight cameras giving different flight views. In addition there are power points and USB connections for connection your own personal media to watch. I watched several good films. I had had some recommendations but chose as follows: Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, The Impossible and Hope Springs on the way there, Fire with Fire, Lincoln and Django Unchained on the way back. There were so many more films that I could happily of watched. Between the stop-over, films, food services, reading and a few naps the flights each way were manageable. Then on the way home, I decided to try out the wifi service. It was $10 for 30mb of wifi. I didn’t expect it to work but hey presto. There I was at 31,000 feet, flying at 570 mph updating my facebook status and using E mail. Incredible. We experienced very little turbulence across all flights, most of the time you don’t even realise that you are in the sky.
The landings followed suit with the rest of the experience. Smooth, quiet and nothing but a gentle bump to let you know that you were on the ground. Maximum take off weight is 560 tonnes with a maximum landing weight of 360 tonnes and yet the grace and elegance of these super-jumbos is immense. As you can probably tell – I was very impressed by the whole experience! It was by far the best flight experience that I could have imagined and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again 🙂