Thursday, July 19, 2012

Onboard Emirates A380 And Then Some

It has been an interesting business trip for the past one week after my PD Tri race. First, i get to ride on the Emirates A380-800, which was a "massive piece of metal that could fly".
BigBird. 489 people in one sitting and full house.
Secondly, the travel earned me close to 20,000 miles point on Emirates, 5K short of an upgrade to some privileges one could use at Emirates lounges worldwide. 
All the EK's ticket stubs. I am EK289643395 on the Emirates frequent flyer program known as Skywards
Third, an opportunity to see myself what i have been working on the past six(6) months and that allowed me to appreciate all the effort that has been put in to "make this project bloody works".
Renfrew, Canada
Above all that, it was an opportunity to travel to another country which I might not had a chance of visiting if i were to pay for it myself. As with my Milan trip back in 2008 (which was a "perk" for delivering above and beyond my job scope), I knew i had to make use of all the time outside of official business matters to breathe and absorb local cultures of the place I am visiting. 
Hell yeah i will!
And so, the journey started on Monday, July 9 at 10am when i checked in at KL Sentral Emirate's counter. It was an easy task compared to bidding wifey "bye-bye for a week". Since I am married and with kids, the toughest part has always been being away from the family. But as this is for work, there is not much choices and bringing the spouse and/or family along would not be ideal or (ethically) right thing to do.
Translate to 4hours check in+7hours Flight+5hours layby+13hours flight+2hours layby+1hours flight =32hours  of End-to-End KUL-YYZ
For those of you going to Canada using Toronto as the transit point, bear in mind that your luggage will need to be cleared at Toronto before checking it in at Toronto (outbound) again to your final port of disembarkation - in this case for me, to Ottawa. Security clearance will need to be performed at KLIA, Dubai and Toronto - and the "no liquid" rules still applies.
The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai took me about 7hours, of which i failed to sleep despite the tiredness from racing earlier in the morning. This was due to two passengers that could not and do not respect spaces. I was seated near a man that has a friend (seated somewhere else) that constantly came to speak with him throughout the flight. The foreign language of African origin coupled with the elbowing and laughter from the man sitting next to me caused much discomfort - but i did not retaliate as i do not want to make a scene. Thinking back, i should had.
Mountain People Mountain Sea
Reaching Dubai in the middle of the night (Dubai time), it was a new experience as well. Having landed in Terminal 3 which is purely an Emirates terminal (with maybe one other airline using), it get distressing as fatigue sink in big time. There was minimal place to sit or to lay down. Worse is the constant movement of people from all over the world and suddenly you feel it is a more "multinational LCCT".
Red = Emirates. I counted only 4 other separate flights from Philippines on the board.
We found two chairs nearby some boarding gate and sat. It did not take long before I angled my body in a semi laying down position to sleep. Due to tiredness, I dozed off for about an hour and woke up with a painful neck. I already dread the 9hours lay by on the return journey. Dubai Terminal 3 is over-capacity!
Dubai waiting Lounge before boarding to Toronto
One hour before the flight, the boarding gate opened and i checked in to much relief that there were more seats available, but fast filling up. Outside the boarding gate were the A380.
And..what's the hype again?
First impression of the A380-800 was nothing impressive. I then realised that there were two more A380 on the left and right to the one we are boarding. No wonder it did not look huge! We boarded the plane soon after (yes, that early as the plane is huge, it takes a long time to fill her up!). The Entertainment system has a function that allows the passengers to view 3-cameras. The best was the camera located at the tail of the plane. Panoramic view of what was in front!
Big Mutha with 80m wingspan
The A380-800 is a huge plane. And by huge is an understatement. At 79.75m wingspan and 72.73m length, this plane requires an airport that is ready to take it in. 
Huge. Comparison to the engineer at between the two engines filling up Jet-A1 fuel into the wing.
The one side of the 35m of metal wing and flight flaps
Emirates has planned for 90 of these aircraft and the A380-800 series is the newest of the lot with upgrades to the power to weight ratio. Emirates has taken delivery of 21 of this aircraft with Singapore coming close at 17. Malaysia Airline has received 2 unit as of July 1, 2012.
Taken from Ishsal's FB. Comparison of the MH Boeing 747 against the MH Airbus A380. 
The plane could take in 489 passengers with 3 different classes (Economy, Business and First Class). One would think that the leg room would be compromised due to the sheer number of passengers. My experience on board the plane three times (once to Toronto, once from Toronto to Dubai and once Dubai to Kuala Lumpur) allowed me come to the conclusion that it has good space for both legs and shoulder. The next thing i noticed on the flight was that the Flight Attendance (FA) were very multi-racial. No photos here to show it as it did not dawn to me to take their pics!
Definitely not from UAE ;-)
The online entertainment was known as ICE or Information, Communication and Entertainment. In fact, they even has WiFi services at USD10 per 5mb as an option to use your smart devices to surf the net! How is that as a bargain at 40,000 feet?
But of course...
As the plane are meant for long flight, it comes equipped with all possible comfort at the seat. For example, there were the USB port for charging, 110V-240V power output at the arm rest, the movable headrest with side flaps (pretty standard on long flights), reclining seats, pillow, blankets and meals with free flow of anything you want to drink. The PD Tri report was written on board the plane en route to Toronto!
Top Gear Season 8, Flight Info and a whole blog to write while on flight - somewhere over Atlantic ocean, were bliss.
The Business and First Class passengers had more privileges being premium paying passengers. It is unbelievable what they experienced flying on the upper deck. Unfortunately, the lower deck or economy class passengers are not allowed upstairs. I was told there were a bar, a spa shower, flat bed, and covered bunk even. For more features, you can surf on here
Do notice that the only representation of the whole URL had one Economy class photo only. But of course, the blogger in me capture some images of the Economy cabin :)
Mood lighting to help passengers feel at ease. This is the Purple Phase.
Then it turns Angry Orange
You can see the space and seat configuration on the Emirates A380 Economy. Many on the flight would agree that it was sufficient and comfortable. 
Ethan Hunt staring down my crotch. Notice the ample leg room and the seat infront was fully reclined.
F&B onboard was not much different from any other airline. Only thing was that i found the menu to be very influenced by Indian and/or Punjabi. Not that i have any issues, but it then occurs to me that 90% of the passengers were from the Indian sub-continents! 
Can't see? Wait, i will take the trouble to crop the menu for you 
Mutton Curry, Rajma Masala, Pindi Chole...
I went for the Rajma Masala - basically basmati rice with red kidney bean curry served with panna or cottage cheese. Frankly, after a while, all meals served onboard will taste the same.
Do not waste food.
One thing i like was the usage of real cutleries. Nothing plastic. Everything was metal when it comes to the fork, spoon and knife. I do not get or understand airlines that uses plastic cutleries and/or disposble boxes. These will add on to more carbon footprint when they are disposed.
Finishing the good meal with a shot of Irish Cream - hopefully i will doze off...
For the record, my tix for the whole trip cost my company close to RM11k. I can't thank the office enough for the opportunity. Business, i was told, will be close to RM25K and I've no idea how much the First Class would cost. I guess if you need to know, you can't afford it! Here are some images from the Emirates A380 website.
A Bar in the Sky. Photo from Emirates webpage.

First Class Bunk. You won't have problem with rude passengers. You can shut them out and ask them to STFU. Photo from Emirates Website.

The whole flight was pleasant except one or two incidents. I managed to sleep for a couple of hours before being rudely woken up by a passenger sitting behind that wanted to get out to go to the toilet. Many times i had to remind myself not to pick a fight as this middle aged ca from the Indian Subcontinent has no manners and was rude, loud and harsh. Imagine sleeping and then he tapped hard on the seat, right next to your head and say "I want to get out!". I wish i could help open the door and push him out.
Or maybe opening a shaken can of Arab Coca-Cola at him would be more...satisfying
For your info, the EK(or Emirates) flights to North America is always full. I could not get to choose my seat even when i checked in earlier and found myself sitting in the middle between people every time. Again, luckily for the larger shoulder and leg space, else, it will be a nightmare (which it was to a certain extend no thanks to the passenger above) flight.
After what seems like half a day sitting, I finally reached Toronto. It was late afternoon and I am to catch another flight to Ottawa. Being able to get out of the confined space (even though it is a huge plane), was a relief of sort.
Long immigration line at Toronto Airport.
There was a lot of procedural process that i took to obtain the permission to enter Canada on business. The process were really meant to vet out real visitors from those that will land and not leave Canada. It is easy to see why as the plane i was in was 90% emigrants. Think Russell Peter but not the funny type. 
Air Canada eh?
I have completed a blog entry dedicated just to the Visa application but decided to put it on hold in case i infringe the Canadian law of reproducing (even though it is my own words) items belonging to the country. Will see how it goes. I believe the guidance i wrote will help tremendously anyone applying legitimately to enter Canada as business visitors.
Air Canada.
And for all it's worth, after close to 30hours, i arrived and allowed entry into Canada. The week's adventure begins in the next blog post (and possibly in a few installments!). Stay tuned.
Post Note on A380:
For those of you in Malaysia wanting to ride on the A380, Malaysian Airline now has two units of the plane and will ply the Kuala Lumpur-London route. While i wasn't as privileged as some bloggers able to have a first look into the National Carrier's A380, this entry serves as a good benchmark and should allow anyone interested to consider taking their flight on this big bird. 
Sheer size of the plane is hard to comprehend that it can (and did) fly.
From my own experience on board EK's A380, here are the Pros and Cons
- Novelty to be on the largest plane built
- You can claim that the plane you are in had up to 88 rows of seats (and i sat right at the end once).
- Multinational and lingual EK FA.
- Quieter than other planes due to ability to cruise higher
- If you are an environmentalist, A380 has lesser carbon footprint and because it carry more people per trip, lessen the level of pollution comparable to 7 smaller planes.
- comfortable and spacious economy class - provided you aren't seated around or next to rude people.
- As the plane is huge, boarding time is long and a bit stressful with people jostling for luggage space
- Slower service due to the sheer area for the FA to cover; even though the flights i was on has at least 30 FAs. I counted as they were coming out from the bus that ferried them to the plane.
- A leg rest that flaps out to support the calf would be great. I was told by a friend that they used to have this. Should had brought it back!
- Longer wait at the toilet, again, due to more people on board.
- Inability to choose your seats due to flight that is always full. EK really packed their flights to the brim!
- Wish they are more like Thai Airway where they allow the passengers to use the headphone and/or blanket until the plane taxi-ed and parked. The last 30mins can get a bit boring and cold.


  1. Aiyooo so kesian your face there haha *hugs*. Anyways, I've been on Emirates for as long as I can remember and I've even memorized Dubai airport's shops, every single one. Emirates' services aren't that bad BUT the kind of people that goes via Emirates are one of the most obnoxious, rude, inconsiderate or in short - kampung. I've been shoved by trolleys, knocked in the head when i tilted my head at the aisle, and even my dad was shouted at by the airport concierge when he asked for the new smoking zone location. That's why I'm still thankful that our KLIA is much better. Even our flight attendants are so much nicer compared to many airlines who doesn't give a shit if they smiled or asked you nicely or not. Next time, you should try Egypt Air - worst airline ever.

  2. Hanie - LOL. I agree. EK is not bad of an airline, in fact, i am pretty happy onboard, just that the monkeys i encountered onboard that made them less than pleasant. :)

    The new smoking lounge is on the other end near Gate 230. I passed it and wondered why would anyone need to light up in there, the second hand smoke were sufficient to give anyone the nicotine kick!

    Likewise, i had my passport thrown at me at immigration, stood there for a few minutes as they attended to their sms...haha.

    I guess i am not that well a bit ulu also ;-)

    thanks for the hug!

  3. If you wanna hv bad experience, try take flight into countries like Pakistan. During my trip to Islamabad on board Thai Airways, a bugger sitting behind my seat took off his shoes and then stretched his legs before putting his smelly feet on my shoulder. I felt like wanna punch his face.

  4. Kam - you said it best. I had bad experiences in Toronto itself with those Paki teksi drivers. It seems that there is a whole community of these people in Toronto.

  5. memorized? or mesmerized?

  6. Irwan - memorized the mesmerized?

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