Aircraft Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800
Route Dubai DXB to Hong Kong HKG, via Bangkok
Class economy, seat 65G
Seat pitch and width 32 inches and a whopping 19.5 inches seat width between arm rests
Seat configuration three-four-three
Luggage allowance Total weight of 30kg checked-in luggage and 10kg total hand luggage
Lounge access The lounge access at Dubai international airport terminal 3 is only accessible if you’re flying business or first class or are a Skywards loyalty card member with gold or silver status access – this won’t get you into the first class lounge though. This is all pretty much the same as Etihad operates.
There are inevitably going to be comparisons between Emirates and Etihad, since they are directly competing airlines. But there are in fact very few similarities. Dubai airport for instance is enormous, clean, modern and offers 24-hour shopping, bars and restaurants. Yes, bars. Yes, 24 hours. So, the exact opposite to Abu Dhabi international airport, which is positively Stone Age in comparison.
Scheduled flight time 10 hours 25 minutes
Punctuality The aircraft was 45 minutes late leaving due to another passenger aircraft aborting its take off just ahead if us, resulting in support vehicles having to clear the runaway. However, our aircraft made up 20 minutes arriving into Bangkok and ultimately we arrived in Hong Kong on time.
Condition of the aircraft The A380 has allowed Emirates to install it’s very latest interior designs for each respective class – the almost legendary first class on the A380 has two showers and a bar/lounge area. And its economy class has also benefited from the most modern aircraft in the fleet – to the extent that this is best economy class we’ve ever flown.
The design is modern, there’s an unprecedented amount of space and little things like the wall-mounted lights that indicate whether a bathroom is free so you can stay in your seat until the light’s green, all make a world of difference. And what was surprising was that the cleanliness and hygiene of the bathrooms didn’t deteriorate into a something that resembled a communal hole in the ground in a POW prison cell at any point during the journey.
In-flight entertainment This was pretty special. The 10.5 inch widescreen display is sharp and clear. However, the touchscreen UI was a little fiddly and sometimes unresponsive, so it was often necessary to guide the cursor by using the remote control – located under the screen in the seat back. The screen can be tilted quite considerably by simply pulling it forward from the bottom enabling you to clearly see the display even if the seat in front is in a fully reclined position, something Etihad has tried, but really only with a half-hearted attempt.
The on-demand choice of viewing offered a great selection of films and TV episodes. To be honest, there wasn’t enough time to watch everything. However, the Emirate’s ICE (Information Communication and Entertainment) navigation system wasn’t perhaps as effective as it could be. In fact, this is actually one area that Etihad has got spot on. But with a little patience, and very gentle and precise taps on the screen it can soon be mastered.
Yet another small, but oh-so-welcome difference was that the VoD was fully accessible while the aircraft was still taxiing along the runways, none of this having-to-wait-until-we’re-airborne nonsense here. This is so refreshing, especially if it takes an absolute age to trundle along to take off like it does flying from London to Abu Dhabi and probably goes a very long way to keeping passengers happy if the flight is running late.
The exterior camera views that be accessed through the IFE are great. The one mounted high up on the tail looking forward over the whole of the aircraft gives the best view.
Comfort Way above average. The seat back in front contains the IFE display, fold-out table, remote control and a USB port; power points are located on the seat backs of every other seat, so you might have to share. It’s all well ergonomically designed and combined with the large amount of leg room and seat width make this a very comfortable journey.
An announcement was made over the PA system saying that mobile phones could be used on “some” Emirates flights. We asked four different members of the cabin crew about this and got four different answers and after we were “officially” told that they couldn’t be used on this particular flight – on the most up-to-date aircraft in the entire fleet – we suspect it’s nothing more than some ill-placed, misleading promotional nonsense referring to something that may or may not come along sooner or later.
+ UPDATE + + The announcement proudly states to all on-board that you can use your mobile “just like you can on the ground” enabling you to “stay in touch with family and friends” while you’re in the air. And since this review was originally written back in November of last year for an Emirates flight on an Airbus A380, Travel Snitch writers the world over have flown with Emirates airlines including ultra long haul from Dubai to Los Angeles – one of the longest commercial airline routes currently undertaken…and not one had the system in place that the airline boasts.
We contacted Emirates in an attempt to clarify the situation. Here’s what they said, make of it what you will.
“Currently Emirates has 85 aircraft installed with the AeroMobile system, representing over half of our fleet. During the onboard welcome video passengers are advised that the AeroMobile service is available on most of our flights, not all. If the service is available on a particular flight a cabin crew member will make an announcement advising passengers that they may use their own mobile phones onboard.
“At present the AeroMobile service is not available on our A380 fleet. An average of two Emirates aircraft are fitted with the system each month.”
Service Extremely polite and efficient. Pillows and blankets were already on the seats, but eye shades and ear plugs had to be asked for.
Food and beverages Further evidence that Etihad is letting its economy class slip is that some months ago it began serving instant, powdered coffee. Frankly, this is the most heinous crime imaginable and should be punishable by dragging the offending member of the cabin crew along behind the aircraft during take off. And landing.
Granted, there’s a possibility that the coffee served here was also instant – but it didn’t taste like it. And the fact that it was actually poured from a coffee jug and not made right in front of me, goes a long way, again demonstrating how much more attentive this airline is to the little details.
The scrambled egg breakfast with savoury pancake, sautéed mushrooms and veal sausage was very tasty, but the wait between the food trolley and the drinks trolley was quite a long time, so you couldn’t enjoy a drink with your meal ’cause the food would’ve long since gone cold.
Flight frequency Just recently, on October 1st, Hong Kong became the 11th Emirates A380 destination. Emirates operates a double daily service between Dubai and Hong Kong, with one flight non-stop and one via Bangkok.
Cost of ticket £635 return from Dubai to Hong Kong
Website Emirates Airlines
• Flight Test: Etihad Airways economy class
• Flight Test: Qatar Airways – economy class
• Flight Test: Cathay Pacific – economy class
• Flight Test: Eithad Airways – first class
• Long-haul Economy Class survival guide