Emirates | Boeing 777-200LR | GIG-EZE

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

The third part of this series will see me leave Brazil and move onwards into my 42nd country – Argentina. But first off, a few pics from a very enjoyable time in Rio de Janeiro.

Copacabana Beach:

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And then taking the cable car up to Morro da Urca and Sugar loaf mountain:

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One of the locals hanging around.

The best part of the two mountains though was the view of the arrivals into SDU. Sunshine, warmth and a great overview of an airport – perfect!

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This one seems to be a regular at SDU

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Next on the list was Christ the Redeemer. It involved quite an eventful mini bus ride from the Copacabana area though the favelas and up the mountain.

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Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t brilliant and within around ten minutes of arriving the top of the mountain was engulfed in cloud – therefore reducing the visibility of pretty much everything to zero. I only stayed around fifteen minutes or so before taking the hours journey back down the mountain again.

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Once it was time to leave, there were a few options for getting between Rio and Buenos Aires, although the most interesting one, and by far the best priced, was on Emirates.

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I logged on to the EK website to book, however it needed some sort of Brazilian ID number to proceed.

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Being a Brit, I didn’t have the required number. A bit of Googling later and I discovered that if I booked through an agent I wouldn’t need the number. So I logged on to Expedia instead and was all set.

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By inputting my locator on to the EK website, everything was in order – unlike with AV. More on that in the next part though.

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I checked in online the day before and was sent my mobile boarding pass.

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When it came to leaving, it turns out I’d picked the right moment – the weather had taken a turn for the worse.

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I did consider getting a taxi to the airport, but as I had plenty of time to spare, I took a bus instead.

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Upon arrival I made my way over to the EK check in area where there was a bit of a line.

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However as I’d checked in online I was able to jump the queue and head to a web check in desk instead.

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Once I was done, I made my way through a pretty quick security and immigration check and into the pretty basic departure lounge.

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Brazil’s exit stamp is just as dull as the entry one.

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Luckily, I was able to access the one and only lounge in this part of the terminal (the GOL lounge) via my Airport Angel card. I can’t say it was that brilliant – dark and pretty basic food and drink selections. However the wifi was pretty decent.

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I stayed here until around an hour before departure. As I reached the gate, the aircraft was on stand and the crew were waiting to board.

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I took a walk around to see if there was anywhere to change my last few Brazilian Reai’s into Argentine Pesos, but I was out of luck. So instead I took a look at what was around. The airport wasnt that busy – in fact the only other flight that was even showing signs of life was the TAP departure back to Lisbon.

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Boarding got underway around 20 minutes before departure. It was reasonably well organised, although for some reason the ground crew decided to put all the passengers who came from Dubai into a queue on one side of the gate area and all those originating in Rio into a queue on another. Once everything was in place they lifted the barriers and had four or five ground agents scanning boarding passes. It seemed to stay pretty civilised but I’m not sure it it worked out any quicker or not.

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Next to the aircraft door, there was a pile of newspapers.

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April 2015
Boeing 777-200LR / A6-EWF
Seat: 34K / Economy
Scheduled: 16:18/19:45
Off Stand: 16:27
On Stand: 19:44

I made my way onboard what seemed to be a pretty full flight. My two seat mates were firmly planted in place and the girl in 34J had already decided the arm rest was hers… As well as having the seat reclined.

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The captain announced a 2h50 flying time, during which hot towels and menus were handed out. Much like on my very first flight with Emirates back in 2013, neither of the options appealed to me.

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We made a very long pushback – at the end of which I got to hear the best noise in aviation – those massive GE90’s firing into life.

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Following this came a reasonably long taxi over to the active.

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Once there we hit the brakes pretty sharply and held for a minute or so before lifting off into the rain.

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Unsurprisingly we were in the clouds for quite a while – during which time the crew had to shout from the rear galley no less than three time for people to sit down due to the seat belt signs still being on.

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Around 45 minutes after departure, the meal service began. As mentioned, I wasn’t a fan of either of the choices but I went for the lamb. It was surprisingly good actually.

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During the meal I put horrible bosses 2 on – not too bad for wasting a couple of hours.

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All the while watching the sun slowly set outside.

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And the stars come out inside. A lot of people had their phones out and were taking pictures of this.

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By the time the film had finished, descent was near.

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We passed over what I assume was a perfectly clear Buenos Aires.

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After which we turned out towards the wilderness and touched down. A brief taxi followed and we pulled on to stand alongside and AA 772 shortly to depart to MIA.

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There was a bit of a wait to leave but I was soon in my way through the surprisingly modern terminal.

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Once I reached immigration there was a bit of a wait but I was processed quickly and out into another country. Somewhat surprisingly, there were no landing cards to fill out – and the only question that was asked was where I’d be staying. I reached baggage claim and my bag was already on its way around – meaning I was waiting no more than about thirty seconds. Yet with all the times my bag has had priority handling with OneWorld I’ve had to wait for longer.

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Once I reached customs, there were three separate lanes: one for crew, one for hand baggage and the third, which was packed for everybody else. I quickly disposed of the tags on my bag and headed for the empty hand baggage lane – and was through pretty quickly. After this, it was past all the taxi agencies. As time was getting on – and I couldn’t be bothered to mess about with the buses I pre paid for a taxi for the thirty minute or so journey to my hotel, the NH Latino. A little on the pricey side – and despite being advertised an executive transfer, I ended up in a clapped out Fiesta but I couldn’t fault the door to door service. Far less hassle than trying to figure out the buses, then figuring out where my hotel was in relation to the bus station – probably a thirty minute walk as I later found out.

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And with that, I’ll leave this somewhat brief report.

Emirates weren’t too bad I suppose. The ground staff I encountered were all pretty good but the cabin crew seemed a little robotic. This was also the first time I’d experienced the 10 abreast Y seating on the 777 with somebody in the seat next to me. And I must admit I’m not a fan – in fact I’m pretty sure I would have had more room if I’d taken an AR flight on a 737 on the same route. Its also the reason why quite a few of the on board photos are phone pics – there just wasn’t enough room to get my SLR out when the meal trans were down. As experienced on my previous flights with EK the food was of pretty high quality too. Considering I’m not a fan of lamb at all, I did enjoy it on this occasion.

Stay tuned for part 4 which will follow my journey from Argentina up to Colombia with Avianca.

Emirates | Airbus A380 | DXB-LHR |Economy

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

This is the final part of my trip to Bangkok, Phuket, Muscat and Dubai, which actually took place a few months back now.

After a warm few days in Dubai, it was time to leave. As my flight wasn’t due to depart until 15:45, it was a relaxed start. I headed downstairs to grab one of the cakes I had seen in the hotel coffee shop around 10 am.

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This cake was GOOD. A very moist stick to the roof of your mouth type!

After this, I went upstairs to get a bit of sun by the pool for an hour or so.

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Views from the roof

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Around 11:50, I checked out of the hotel, and made my way to the airport, stopping once again at Deira city centre along the way for a bit of a wander and to spend my last few Dirhams on a burger.

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Overview of the Flora Grand

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Heading on to the Metro

A few moments later I arrived at the mall:

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Once I was done, I headed off to the airport on the metro.

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Approaching DXB

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Upon arrival, it was off to check in to grab my boarding pass.

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It seemed like most of the self serve machines had problems, but I eventually found one that was working.

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I decided to have a look to see if there were any free rows further forward:

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Looks to be a full flight, so I made do with my pre assigned seat.

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Following this, with not much landside, I headed through passport control. This was pretty slow mainly due to people waving goodbye to their families until the very last second.

Once through, I went for a wander to the end of the terminal I didn’t see the other day.

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EK merchandise in the Emirates store

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As I hadn’t really brought anything for myself on this trip, picked up a souvenir from the official Emirates store along the way.

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I then thought it would be a good idea to catch the train over to the gate after this.

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Once at the A380 (and 777 and A340 terminal it seems), I headed off in the opposite direction of my gate to see as much of this area as I could. Although there wasn’t as much to be seen in this part as there was the B gates.

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Once I had completed a lap, my gate was open, so headed in.

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Once downstairs, I found A6-EDL waiting, in service with EK since August 2010. Due to the layout of the terminal and this particular gate, it was impossible to get a picture though.

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Boarding was called at 15:05 for business passengers and families, shortly followed by the various boarding zones.

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I finally managed to grab a couple of semi decent pics

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11th May 2013
A380-861 / A6-EDL
Seat: 85K / Economy
Scheduled: 15:45/20:15
Off Stand: 15:45
On Stand: 20:01

I made my way onboard and was welcomed back by the crew at the door and directed to my seat. Once I reached my seat, I overheard one of the crew say this would be a pretty full flight.

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Legroom was decent, as on the flight from London

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I noticed there was a slight difference to the seatback to the previous EK A380 that I went on. Most noticibly the headphone socket was now in the seat back, and there was a USB and power socket.

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Most people in the rear section at least seemed to be Australian.

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This one made quite a bit of noise on start up

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IFE set for departure.

After a while, two people came and sat next to me, however somebody else came along and claimed the aisle seat. Turns out they were in 85F and G. Then, a few moments later an Indian guy claimed the middle seat.

Mr 85H (anybody know what happened to 85I?) was talking on his phone pretty much from boarding to takeoff, and the only reason why the call ended was because I suspect he lost signal – hope he had a UAE SIM card, otherwise that call would have cost him a fortune!

Shortly after, the French captain was over the PA saying that the flight time would be 6hours and 45minutes, saying that we would be flying at 38,000ft and that we would be flying over Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey before heading over Europe.

Once boarding was complete, the hot towels were handed out.

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As expected, this flight was pretty full.

Pushback came exactly on schedule, and the safety briefing was played, followed by the introduction to the ICE IFE.

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During the taxi out to the runway, the cabin crew came and said to the guy in the middle seat that they had found him another seat up front, so got up and moved – at which point both me and the guy in the aisle seat said to each other thank god for that – as he was a bit on the large side!

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There was quite a wait at the end of the runway for some unknown reason, but around five minutes later we lined up and made a very quiet amble into the air, at just past 4pm local.

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Shortly after departure, the mood lighting was set to the orange mode.

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As there wasn’t much to be seen outside, I decided to carry on where I’d left off with Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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And todays’s dinner choice would be:

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Around an hour after takeoff, the drinks service was started.

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Following this, and an episode of Family Guy, I decided to see what movies I fancied. I went with Looper.

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I didn’t get on with it though, and switched it off after a few minutes. I went with Robot and Frank instead, which was much easier to watch.

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Around two and a quarter hours after takeoff the meal service began. I chose the chicken (again).

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EK cutlery in Economy.

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During the meal service, there was some light turbulence and the seatbelt sign was switched on. However not many people chose to take notice if this and despite further announcements over the PA people just didn’t seem to listen. This must be so frustrating for the crew.

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I noticed quite a few other movements outside during the flight – a couple of freighters, an EK 777 and an LH A330 passing very close by indeed. Times like that I wish I had my camera to hand, but they pass by just too quickly. There were some nice mountains to photograph instead though.

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Following this, I was starting to feel the effects of my session by the pool earlier. I went to the galley and asked for some water and explained that I’d had too much Dubai sun, and the attractive young French flight attendant gave me plenty to keep me going, along with a reassuring stroke to the arm and said if I needed any more, ring the call button and she would shower me with drinks, although not literally I hope!

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Following this, it was another movie.

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I’m a big kid really! That and the fact I wasn’t in the mood for anything too complicated.

Shortly after the film began, I noticed a young couple head down to the toilets at the rear with mischievous grins on their faces… And then return together more than a few minutes later. Hmmm! I’ll say no more!!

As we passed Romania, there were some great views. However as my camera still wasn’t behaving, as it should – and the battery was now dying too, there weren’t any decent pictures to be had.

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With just over two hours before arrival, afternoon tea was served. Very good it was too! Not too little, not too much and keeping consistency with my other EK flights on this trip, it was of high quality. The Scones were nice and warm too and they also had their own dish – take note BA! Fed up with having to balance their bread rolls on the cheese plate…

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Catching up with the news mid flight.

Following this, once the film had finished, I just sat and watched the skymap for the final hour or so of the flight. At this point my SLR battery died, so it was on to the slightly rubbish pocket cam from that point onwards. Luckily, there wasn’t any more service to report on and as we passed Germany, it clouded over so no views to be had either.

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Something’s not quite right here?

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Heading across the English Channel as the flight was drawing to an end.

Just before we started our approach, the South African first officer updated us with the progress. it sounded like a typical British spring evening – wind, hail and a possibility of a couple of storms that we might have to avoid – fun! He also gave us a couple of technical details, saying we would be landing on 27L and we had a landing weight of 386,000 kgs.

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Descent into London started at 19:13, and almost immediately the turbulence started, although the approach wasn’t as bad as the flight crew made out really.

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Slowing a little.

During descent, one of the crew members (the same French one from earlier) told the guy a few rows in front to put his seat upright. He did – for about 3 seconds. And the crew member spotted this. She once again told him to put his seat upright, and they ended up in quite a discussion about it that lasted a good five minutes about how the guy felt it was his right to be able to recline his seat, and he cant see why its such an issue. Once that was done, she then spotted somebody wondering around the cabin – and firmly told them to ‘sit down now were landing’. She walked off rolling her eyes and letting out a big sigh. And I can understand why! That’s something I had noticed about all my flights to/from DXB actually – the passengers just don’t seem to pay any attention to the crew.

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Slightly iced up tail view on final.

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Touchdown was made just before 20:00, we made quite a long rollout as experienced in DXB, then made the very short taxi over to T3 pier 6.

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We pulled in alongside our sistership that departed DXB pretty much as our flight was boarding and two more A380’s about to head off on their long journeys into the night.

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Once on stand there was a good fifteen minute wait before anybody was let off – in which time the heavens had really opened outside.

On the way out, I noticed the first officer stood at the door, and I asked for a flightdeck visit that was happily granted. No sign of the captain though – guess he had a bus to catch. The first officer was a very nice guy however and he was very happy to show me pretty much everything that was different on the A380 compared to the A320 and answer all my questions. I also noticed a plaque on the rear wall saying who this aircraft was leased from and that it was operated by Emirates airlines of Dubai. I commented on this and the first officer said that the amount Emirates are giving the mentioned leasing company, the chances are they pretty much own that too!

Unfortunately as my camera battery had long died, this was the best picture I could get

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After this, it was out through T3. Amusingly, on the way out a girl saw me and asked if I had just come out of the ‘pilot area’ – I replied I had, and she asked me what it was like. I replied mostly computer screens and she thanked me for the smooth flight anyway!! Well, ok thanks. How the general public thinks! I’ve Never seen a pilot wear jeans, T Shirt, trainers and generally looking bit hot and bothered before!

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On to the central bus station.

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Once back into the UK, I realized I had a bit of a wait for the next coach home, so I grabbed a bit to eat from boots and made my way to the coach station, arriving home at around 10PM – which I think is a pretty good time to arrive home from a long flight actually, as you can get in, shower, settle and then get to bed at pretty much your normal time without having to worry about staying awake for as long as possible like on the flights that arrive early in the morning.

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So what did I think?


I actually thought they were pretty good, however after reading some reviews before departure maybe I was expecting a little much – meaning it was a bit of an anticlimax. However, I still think they were one of the better airlines I have been on, and I would definitely fly with them again. Their A380 is great, as are their 777’s, although my opinion may have been slightly tainted by the fact I had free seats next to me on all my flights.


Thai were also pretty good, despite the issue with the original aircraft on the BKK-HKT sector. I thought it was a good move by the flight crew to find us another aircraft rather than persevere with a plane that clearly had an issue. The aircraft swap over was relatively painless despite the language barrier.

The real star of the show that day though was the refurbished 747 on the HKT-BKK sector. Clean, modern, decent legroom and I wouldn’t be against spending a few hours on it, despite the full load.

The meal service on both flights were fairly decent too, as were the crew. I was impressed that a fully loaded 747 managed to get a fed and watered with a flight time of just an hour.

Oman Air

Despite having two sectors with Oman Air, it was really only the one as the DXB-MCT sector was effectively operated by Smart Wings / Travel Service. The hot meal service was impressive though, which is generally more than what you get on European sectors of twice the length.

The actual Oman Air flight I went on was also good – the IFE and dedicated business class cabin, despite being on a regional jet was impressive.

Next up are a few Euro-Trips, seeing me head to a wet Denmark, a baking Germany to meet a fellow a.netter, a last second trip to Stockholm and a frustrating trip to Edinburgh.

Emirates / Oman Air | B77W/E175 | BKK-DXB-MCT

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

The second of my two day trips whilst on my first Asian adventure was booked in January 2013. Having wanted to try out Oman Air (mainly due to their great livery) it seemed crazy not to take a short hop across to Oman whilst in Dubai. My decision was also helped along by not only seeing PalmJets photos, but also somebody from work having recently returned from there and sharing a few pictures and stories of his own. Booking was made via the Oman Air website for the relatively cheap price of around £100. The 737 operated nearly all flights, however one departure from MCT in the evening was operated by the E175. This was the most tempting option as if I chose this, it would mean I would have logged all variants of the E-Jet in just 14 months. The main downside being that it wouldn’t leave me a huge amount of time in Muscat. But an A.netter has to do what an A.netter has to do!

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But first of all, I needed to get back from Bangkok to Dubai. This was achieved via the LHR-DXB-BKK-DXB-LHR ticket I booked back in November 2012. I was also hoping that this day trip would go a lot more smoothly than the first I had booked down to Phuket! If you missed that part of the story, or indeed the first part, you can catch up via these links:

Arabia & Thailand 2013 1: LHR-DXB-BKK EK A380/77W
Arabia & Thailand 2013 2: Two TG Classic’s to Phuket

Check in for the Emirates sector was made via the EK website pretty much as soon as I arrived back from Phuket, late on Tuesday night.

According to the online check in, the originally scheduled vanilla 777-300 had now been switched for the –ER version. Annoying! Although admittedly, it wasn’t completely un expected.

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My morning started much like the last – alarm off at 6AM, down for breakfast, probably the blandest cheese omelet I’ve eaten, and then onto the train to the airport.

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Arrival was around 50 minutes later.

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FID in Thai…

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…And English

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I wonder if TG205 will go to plan today?

It was through to zone T today to get my boarding pass. I asked the check in agent if the flight was busy, and she replied it wasn’t. Yet the check in seat map showed something different? So who was right?

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After this, it was a brief look landside.

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Before heading through security and passport control. Again, it was painless and I was through both in seconds.

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After this I went for a walk air side – very big airport with plenty to look at!

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I happened to look up at the FID and noticed my flight was boarding – some twenty minutes earlier than advertised, which was a first. So I made my way down to gate E1 to find A6-EGA waiting, delivered in March 2010 and in service with Emirates throughout – confirmation that the originally planned -300 had been subbed for the -300ER.

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Upon entering the gate area, it was only around five minutes before boarding was called – all very early again.

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8th May 2013
777-31HER / A6-EGA
Seat: 40A / Economy
Scheduled: 09:55/13:00
Off Stand: 09:49
On Stand: 13:14

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Once onboard, I made my way down the aisle, being welcomed by a very attractive blonde flight attendant along the way, and took my assigned seat of 40A.

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It turned out the flight was pretty busy – so I guess the EK seat map at check in was right! Most of the rear section of economy seemed to be German. Or at least speaking German. However despite OLCI showing I had a seat mate, only the aisle seat was occupied.

This aircraft had the newer style ICE system, as found on the A380.

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The hot towels were then distributed. Still not used to getting these in economy – they disappeared from the cheap seats on UK airlines a long time ago!

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Slowly but surely the flow of people on to the aircraft stopped, and the middle seat of row 40 remained free.

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It was still half an hour until our departure time though. During which time, the menus were handed out.

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I was more than happy to sit and wait on this jet, unlike yesterday. I had some IFE to look at, more elbow room due to not having a seat mate, and these made much more comfortable:

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Shortly before departure, the captain was over the PA saying that we had a flight time of six hours and ten minutes and a cruising altitude of 36,000ft. He also mentioned he would speak to us again before descent into ‘the beautiful Emirate of Dubai’.

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Pushback was a good few minutes ahead of schedule, and we made our way over to the runway.

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Although we were held up a little by a Shanghai Airlines 737 pulling out in front of us and then going pretty slowly.

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We made it into the air at 10:10. After departure, we made a 180 degree turn, heading out over the city.

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Just after departure, I watched a bit of tv.

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Followed shortly after by the drinks service

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Around ninety minutes after departure, lunch was served. I chose the chicken.

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I also watched a film during lunch – Searching for Sugar Man. Well worth a watch – a true story about a musician who released two albums in the US, neither sold all that well so he went back to being a builder. Unknown to him however, he sold millions in South Africa and because he had retired from the music business, everybody assumed he was dead!

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During which time, we crossed into India

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As I watched the film, the stars came out almost unnoticed.

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And a bit later, we passed out of India again.

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I noticed on both my flights to and from Bangkok the cabin crew coming around the cabin and taking Polaroid pictures of certain passengers, putting them into cards and presenting them to the passengers. Seemed to only be certain passengers though? At first i thought it was just for kids, but then noticed adults getting the same thing. Not sure what the requirements for this? I hadn’t seen it before either.

The crew on this sector were pretty good with the Juice runs.

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Following this, it was another film – Parental Guidance, a bit of iPod (listening to Rodriguez’ album after watching the film earlier) and watching the minutes tick down on the sky map. It was around this time I could have done with a toilet break and a visit to the galley for a chat, but as the guy in the aisle was fast asleep this was a no go, so settled for a bit of Family Guy instead.

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Once I finally was released, we had started our descent so no way to have a chat really.

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Once our descent had started it got a little bumpy, and the seatbelt sign was turned on a little earlier than expected.

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Shortly afterwards the arrival video was played.

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During descent, I noticed on the skymap that we appeared to be heading back to Bangkok – so figured we were probably in a hold, although it wasn’t actually announced.

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On approach, the Frank Sinatra song was played – I noticed this on both approaches to DXB, but not to the foreign destinations. Although considering the lyrics, I guess it wouldn’t make all that much sense if they played it on the outward flights.

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We touched down and made our way over to the new terminal, arriving a few moments later, and a few minutes behind schedule.

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I disembarked a few moments later.

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After this, it was out through to arrivals. It seemed that the rest of the arriving passengers were connecting, so therefore I was the only person for quite a while – a bit of a strange experience in such a big international airport!

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Where is everybody?!

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Eventually, some more people did turn up, at passport control. Again, it took quite a while to get through. And again, I couldn’t seem open my eyes wide enough for the automated gates to work – or indeed for the manual system to work all that well either. How wide do you have to open them exactly??

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Once through to baggage claim, I headed off to the duty free shop to change my remaining Thai Baht into UAE Dirhams to return the headphone adaptor I’d brought previously. Although this wasn’t possible due to the departures and arrivals shops being different companies, despite having the same name, logo etc. Confusing.

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Then heading through customs, I was stopped asked if I had any drugs, alcohol or tobacco – I responded no, but he decided to search me anyway. Well why ask if you were just going to search me anyway? Just say you want to search me! The officer found it easy enough to unpack my bag, however packing it up seemed more difficult and he just wondered off.

After this it was upstairs to the metro, and on to Al Rigga station, just a couple of stops down to where my hotel, the Flora Grand, was just a short walk away,

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Upon arrival, I was welcomed, given a glass of apple juice, told all about the services the hotel offered and given the key to my room. And it turned out to be a pretty spacious room – if a little dated. But good enough.

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Once at the hotel, I used the free wifi to check in for tomorrow’s flight.

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Later that evening, I headed down to the mall of the Emirates to grab some dinner and a bit of a window shop.

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Looks like your standard UK shopping center with those shops!

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Ticket stand for the Abu Dhabi GP

Skiing anybody?

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Pretty decent selection of guitars in the Virgin megastore – I don’t play though, I just think they look cool.

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Followed up by an easy dinner.

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Despite having major chain shops from both the UK an the US, there were still a couple of more traditional shops.

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On my way back to the metro, I grabbed an ice cream from Cold Stone creamery. I’d had one on my recent trip to Washington, so figured I’d try the UAE version too!

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Back at the hotel – overview from outside my room.

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The following morning, after a very good sleep, I left the hotel at around 09:30 and made the short journey to DXB terminal 1.

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Upon arrival, it was obvious that T1 is nowhere near as impressive as T3 – at least not land side anyway. I headed over to grab my boarding pass from an empty Oman Air desk.

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Followed by a couple of pictures – although I had heard a rumor that this sort of thing could be a little troublesome, so I only managed a couple, at least in this smaller part of the terminal. This wasn’t helped by a member of the public seeing me take a pic of the check in area earlier and warning me that there was a police officer nearby.

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After this it was through to a busy passport control – mainly full of people heading for the VS and BA flights it seemed. I noticed a young couple stood to the side with a VS ground staff member and a few members of immigration.

Once through, it was then the long walk underneath the apron over to the much more impressive airside area.

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This was much more impressive! First port of call was to change my headphone adaptor – which was finally granted, and then off for a wander.

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Stopping for some breakfast when I reached my assigned gate, C28.

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After this I went to walk off breakfast, seeing the VS flight about to depart back to LHR. VS seem to use a mix of all their Airbus fleet on the DXB route. In the last year they have used the A346, the new A333 and now it seems the much unloved (at least by VS frequent fliers) A343. As I passed through the food court, I noticed the young couple having issues at immigration earlier casually sat eating a McDonalds, despite the fact the VS holding pen was now completely empty and the final call for boarding had gone out. Admittedly I don’t know any of the story, but the fact they were with VS staff (identified by the bright red uniform), and were now airside meant surely they should be on that flight? I guess some people are just always late.

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The one and only VS A343 with AVOD.

And taking in the impressive terminal.

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I also saw a QR Dreamliner about to head back to Doha, but getting a picture was pretty impossible.

Once reaching the end of the terminal, I headed back down to the gate. It said it was open, yet there wasn’t anybody around.

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At 11:25, the gate was opened and I was the first into the holding pen – being welcomed with a “thank you Mr James”.

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At 11:40 a 738 pulled on to stand, however I was unable to see the reg at this point. Boarding was then called at 12:05.

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9th Mat 2013
737-86N / OK-TVU
Seat: 27F / Economy
Scheduled: 12:35/13:30
Off Stand: 12:23
On Stand: 13:30

Once heading down the jetway, I could finally see the reg – and noticed that the flight would be operated by OK-TVU – on lease from smart wings, delivered new to them in early 2012 before heading out on lease to Oman Air in early 2013. I’m assuming it is a wet lease due to the Eastern European crew.

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This aircraft also had Boeings latest sky interior – the first time I had experienced this.

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Pushback came a couple of minutes ahead of schedule and we made the long taxi over to the runway.

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The newly returned to service 787 heading back to DOH

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Departure came at around 12:40, and we were then into some pretty murky skies and across the desert.

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The entertainment was similar to what I had experienced on TAP back in February – a tv show was playing – the same one by the look of it, but nowhere to plug in any headphones – so a skymap throughout would have been better. What we got was still better than nothing though.

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After this the meal service began – much better than expected actually. Improvement over the European, US and even the Thai offerings from the previous day trip.

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The captain was also on briefly, stating that we were due to arrive at 13:30.

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A few moments later – just as descent started actually, we passed through some pretty heavy turbulence – so much so that the captain came on and asked the crew to suspend service and to remain seated for the rest of the flight.

More clues to this jets real identity

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There wasn’t too much to be seen on descent due to the haze and the fact most of the approach was over the sea.

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Touchdown was at 13:25, and we made the quick taxi over to the parking position.

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The new MCT taking shape

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There aren’t any jetways at MCT, so it was on to a bus.

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Once at arrivals, nobody seemed sure if I needed a visa. The guy selling them at the Travelex stand said no (as I had come from Dubai), but the immigration officers seemed to think that everybody needed one regardless. In the end they gave in and let everybody pass without one – which I thought was a little bit of an odd way of doing things, but It suited me. It still wasted a few minutes, that I was pretty short of as it was.

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It was then to the taxi stand to buy a ticket for a brief visit to Muttrah Corniche, arriving around thirty minutes later. I was glad that at least one of my day excursions on this trip had gone to plan!

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Muttrah Fort

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Pretty unimpressive really…

And that’s pretty much where I’ll leave things for now – my return to Dubai, again with Oman Air, will be covered in part 4!

Emirates | A380/B77W | LHR-DXB-BKK

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Maps generated by theGreat Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

No sooner had I returned from my trip to the USA, I was in holiday mode again – except this time I would be heading East for the first time.

Due to the fact that this trip was taking place just three weeks after my fortnight in the USA (where I’d bagged the Easter weekend), and that this trip would also take place over a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK meant I was taking a bit of a gamble as to weather I would be able to get the time off work. The first day back after Christmas I made sure I was the first to hand both of my holiday forms in and luckily they were both approved.

This trip initially was planned as three nights in Dubai, however things ended up getting more elaborate as the weeks and months went on. First off, I decided to tag on a trip to Bangkok at the beginning – bringing the total length of the trip to seven days. Despite both VS and BA having far cheaper fares to Dubai, there was only ever on way I wanted to get there – with Emirates so I could log an A380 for the first time. Further investigation showed that for around £50 more than the LHR-DXB-LHR sector, I could fly LHR-DXB-BKK-DXB-LHR with stopovers in Dubai on both legs. Booking was made through the Emirates website – and there were plenty of flight options to choose from. Not being a fan of night flights. I chose all daytime sectors.

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Following payment, the next most important part of the process was selecting seats!

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As I had four sectors with EK, I basically selected seats in each corner of the economy cabin. Best of all was that EK operate their A380’s with an all economy lower deck, therefore being able to grab a seat in front of the wing for the initial sector.

Later on, I added a daytrip to Muscat in Oman and just a few weeks prior to departure another daytrip to Phuket in Thailand was added – more about those in future parts though! So the final journey looked like this:

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This series will be split into five parts, basically following the same template as my USA series – Each destination having its own part.

Arabia & Thailand 2013 1: LHR-DXB-BKK EK A380/77W (this part)
Arabia & Thailand 2013 2: Two TG Classic’s to Phuket – BKK-HKT-BKK A300/744
Arabia & Thailand 2013 3: BKK-DXB-MCT with EK/WY – 77W/738
Arabia & Thailand 2013 4: Across the desert with WY – MCT-DXB E175
Arabia & Thailand 2013 5: Catching a whale to LHR DXB-LHR EK A380

This part will cover my journey to Bangkok on an Emirates A380 from London to Dubai, following on to Bangkok on an Emirates 777-300ER the following morning. I’ll apologize now for there being quite a few pictures.

Just prior to departure, I took a look at Gabriel’s report to Bangkok, ( http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/216756/ ) and the following line really stuck in my mind:

I couldn’t imagine being so new to Asia…I did envy her I must say, it must be so amazing your first time out here with all the sights and sounds and smells and food and shopping…

I guess the same logic can apply to me, as the furthest East I had been was my trip to Larnaca back in December. But would it really be any different to going to any other new country for the first time? That’s something I’ve had the privilege of quite a bit over the last eighteen months. Lets find out…

Due to the National Express coach not getting me into Heathrow until 07:00, that meant things were a bit too tight for my liking as my flight departed at 08:30. Therefore I enlisted the help of a friend to get me to the airport. We set off at 05:45 arriving just twenty-five minutes later, some ten minutes before the first coach of the day even set off!

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Once at terminal 3 I headed off to the Emirates check in to grab my boarding passes.

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After which, I headed upstairs to grab some breakfast from the pub.

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Once finished, it was security.

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Despite being second in the queue the family in front didn’t seem to want to wake their child up in order to put the pushchair through the X-ray, therefore holding things up. Even once they made it through they still had to be searched. They were still faffing once I had been processed.

Once on my way it was a brief wonder through the departure lounge, grabbing a bottle of water from Boots, before heading to the window near gate 23, although there wasn’t much of a view to be had as something was blocking most of it out.

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Not being able to see an awful lot, took a slow walk down to the A380 pier. Interestingly, there were quite a few pianos around.

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Upon arriving at gate 7, I found A6-EDG waiting, one of the older examples in the EK fleet having entered service in May 2009 and having an MSN of just 23.

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The gate wasn’t open, but a few moments later after the crew had finished their briefing, I was called forward – before boarding had even been announced on the displays. Upon having my boarding pass scanned, it beeped. I was hoping (but not too much as I have no status with EK) it would be an upgrade but it just meant they had to check I had no baggage – the second time in as many flights this had happened.

Upon entering the gate, I grabbed a newspaper and headed down to the cafe style seating, followed by watching what was going on outside.

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Better view from inside the holding pen
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One of the newer additions to the VS fleet, having entered service in Nov. 2012
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Boarding was called at 08:10, and unusually it was pretty organized. Due to being in the forward cabin, I was one of the few directed to door A and also one of the last to board. Must admit boarding by zones seems to make the whole process a lot more organized than by seat number.

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4th May 2013
A380-861 / A6-EDG
Seat: 50A / Economy
Scheduled: 08:40/18:45
Off Stand: 08:38
On Stand: 18:42

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Once on board, I found the A380 to be pretty much as expected – very roomy.

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Bad view while the jet bridge was attached.
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Generous legroom
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Once everybody was on board, the captain welcomed everybody and gave a very detailed speech about the flight, the route and much more. Unfortunately, the PA wasn’t too loud so it was difficult to hear most of it although I managed to just about hear that our flight time would be six hours thirty minutes, cruising altitude would be 39,000ft. And that we would be flying over Dover.

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Looks good to me!
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Once boarding had been completed, the hot towels were handed out – not experienced this in economy for many years!

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Pushback was actually a couple of minutes ahead if schedule. There was somebody sat in the aisle seat, however the middle seat remained free. Great! The safety video was played during this time.

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We then made the taxi out to 27R.

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It started raining along the way
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Something a little smaller blocking our path
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Waiting for something ahead to move, then it’s our turn.
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Passing the BA farm
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Annoyingly, the person sat in front was the type of passenger who just didn’t care for the rules of the air. As soon as he sat down, he put his seat into recline, then he was up fiddling with something in his bag in the overhead locker during taxi and then finally taking on his phone during the takeoff roll. He also spent almost the entire flight snorting and clearing his throat – lovely.

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Better legroom shot now I have some light.
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After departure the menus were handed out. Being neither a fan of lamb or anything curry related, I was slightly out of luck today.

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Busy in the Channel today!
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Once we had reached our cruising altitude, breakfast was served. It consisted of a croissant, fresh fruit and a Danish pastry. Also much better than previous flights that I’ve been on at this time of day where they just dish up lunch at 10:30am – yes I’m talking about you VS!

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Can I have some tea with this milk?

Very good it was too. Much better than any of the breakfast offerings I had been given in Y in a very long time!

After this, I explored the ICE IFE system. The system itself wasn’t too bad, however the very poor headsets let the system down a bit. Due to the two-pronged type of plug there wasn’t any option to use my own either. I later asked if there was an adaptor available however. The crew said there was although I never actually got it.

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Once again I put the latest Bond movie on – as the last time I watched it on the way back from Atlanta, I fell asleep half way through!

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Window detail
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About the only thing that interests me in inflight mags.
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Not much of a view today

The crew were pretty good with the drink runs – coming through the cabin a good few times throughout the flight.

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Later on I went for a wander down to the back.

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Again, something normally reserved for premium cabins
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Rear cabin overview
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The forbidden stairway
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On the way back, I felt the crew let themselves down a bit. The drinks run was in progress, and despite them being at the front of the rear cabin, I had to wait until they had served the entire section. I did ask twice if I could pass, but it was met with “can you wait until we’ve finished”. After waiting in the galley for a good fifteen minutes, one of the other crew members mentioned to them that I had been waiting for quite a while, and yet it was still met with “we’re nearly done”. I was eventually allowed to pass after about twenty or so minutes. Luckily I didn’t have anywhere important to be.

I arrived back at my seat just in time to catch the drink service for my section.

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Around thirty minutes later lunch was served.

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It was ok, however as I mentioned earlier I’m not a huge fan of lamb so didn’t enjoy it too much.

The rest of the flight was spent watching top gear on the IFE and then following the sky map for the final hour.

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And finally, the stars came out.

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Descent started at just before 6pm local. As had been the case for most of the flight, the conditions were quite cloudy and hazy so there wasn’t much to be seen until at a relatively low altitude. During the descent Mr. 49A was told no less than four times to put his seat upright. He made the movements as if he was going to, waited until the crew walked off and then didn’t bother on each occasion.

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Morning came around pretty quickly again
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Passing Sharjah

Descent was made out over the desert, turning 180 degrees to the right and then back in the direction of DXB

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Touchdown was made as just before 18:40 – with a reasonable bump and quite a long rollout.

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We made our way over to the new A380 terminal, however we were the only A380 around.

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As usual, as soon as the parking brakes were applied everybody was eager to disembark. And as usual, there was a bit of a wait. However moment later we were off and I was into a new continent.

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Transfer over to immigration in the main terminal was via an underground transit. It was a bit of a queue for the train, so I logged on to the Wi-Fi just long enough to receive and reply to an email from a friend who had just arrived in the Cayman Islands. Once at the main terminal, there was around a twenty-minute wait at passport control. It wasn’t too busy, just badly organized. A few others and myself were moved into different queues at least three times, yet the queue we were in originally ended up clearing long before us.

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Oh well. Eventually I was processed by one of the officers, who were dressed in the traditional Arab attire.

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Once through security (again?) I could bypass baggage claim and head out to find the shuttle bus over to the premier inn for the night. Not all that well signposted and I had to double back on myself a couple of times but I found it in the end.

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I was checked in quickly and made my way up to my comfortable room.

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I grabbed some room service, used the free Wi-Fi, took a walk up to the roof, listened to some music and then got an early night after popping a couple of sleeping pills (due to it being around 7:30PM in the UK) as I had to be up early in the morning.

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The following morning, my wake up call came at 6am – or 3am UK time. I made my way down stairs and waited for the busy shuttle to the airport at 06:30. Most passengers seemed to get off at the Emirates HQ.

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Once at the airport, I went for a bit of a wonder as I arrived a little earlier than anticipated.

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I eventually headed to grab my boarding pass.

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Looks good to me
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It was then through security.

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I was stamped out of the UAE a little over twelve hours after arriving. It was then a bite to eat at Costa and a wonder through the B gates.

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Upon checking the fids, I noticed there was a gate change, so caught the train over to the much quieter A gates.

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Upon arriving, I brought an adapter so I didn’t have to use emirates’ awful headphones again and then waited at gate A2. I attempted to use DXB’s free Wi-Fi, but it didn’t work all that well.

I sat and watched the various arrivals in front of me, but due to the design of the terminal, taking photos was impossible. I saw the VS and BA flights arrive plus many EK 777’s including the 1000th delivered.

The gate opened at just after 08:30. I made my way downstairs and grabbed a paper.

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I flicked through the paper and boarding was called at 08:55. Again there want the mass stampede towards the gate and at 09:10, I made my way on board.

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Impressive size

I was soon aboard my second 777, and my first 777-300ER in the log.

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5th May 2013
777-300ER / A6-EBC
Seat: 32K / Economy
Scheduled: 09:40 /19:05
Off Stand: 09:55
On Stand: 18:43

I was welcomed on board by the crew all along the aisle and asked how I was doing by all. The crew seemed a lot more welcoming and friendly than yesterdays.

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I settled in to my assigned seat of 32K.

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Not bad legroom, but not as good as yesterday

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Plus the IFE box was slightly in the way.

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This jet had the older ICE system. Still served its purpose well though.

As boarding was completed, it was obvious this flight would be pretty empty – as I had the whole of row 32 to myself. Can’t say I’ve ever had 10 seats to myself before!

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Most of the passengers that were onboard seemed to be French

Menus and landing cards were handed out, shortly followed by the hot towels. Glad that they had something I liked on the flight today.

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The British captain came over the PA shortly before departure and again gave a very detailed description of the route and flight info. We were given a reasonable flying time of five and a half hours. He also mentioned a slight delay to departure as five passengers hadn’t turned up.

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Push back was made behind schedule and after a quick taxi out to the runway, we took off at around 10:10. After departure we made two right hand turns to fly back past DXB and head for Bangkok.

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Around thirty minutes after departure the crew started their service however it was stopped soon after due to hitting some turbulence as we passed Muscat.

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Not long after, the drinks service resumed.

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I also watched a bit of family guy. Annoyingly the headphone adaptor I brought made everything sound like it was underwater – so back to the cheap airline stock it was.

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Almost as soon as the drinks service had finished, the lunch service began. I chose the Chicken – and very good it was too!

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Followed by Curb Your Enthusiasm

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After this all the window shades were asked to be shut and the stars came out.

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Never really understand why the crew feel the need to do this on a daytime flight. Especially as it was the morning in both Dubai and Bangkok.

I then decided to watch a film, the guilt trip. And true to form, I fell asleep before I got to see the end due to being in complete darkness and my body clock not quite knowing which time zone it was in. Although due to only missing around fifteen minutes I was able to rewind and catch the end.

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Overflying India. About as close as I want to get to it!
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After this, there wasn’t a huge amount of time left.

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I decided to head to the rear galley – and once again ended up being stranded due to the drinks service commencing – although at least this time they offered me one!

Upon arriving back at my seat there was just over an hour to go.

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Around ten minutes before descent, the American first officer came on with a very brief update – saying it was a beautiful evening in Bangkok and welcoming everybody to Thailand.

Shortly before descent, it got pretty cloudy outside – didn’t look like a beautiful evening from where I was sat…

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As we neared Bangkok though, the weather cleared up and we were treated to a great sunset. There were quite a few turns and the speed brakes were deployed for most of it – so guessing we were a little fast.

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Passing Don Muang
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Touchdown was at around 18:40 and we made a speedy taxi over to the terminal, passing the TG A380 along the way.

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Something familiar
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Once on stand, it was quite a long walk to immigration. I stopped to pick up a Wi-Fi card along the way, but it didn’t work.

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Once at immigration, there was hardly anybody there and I was handled with no fuss or barely a word said in a minute or two. Why can’t everywhere be this easy?!

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After that it was out to the train station to the city, stopping at Subway for a bite to eat along the way.

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It took a little longer than expected due to the train breaking down along the way and having to wait for another in a very bland looking Makkasan station.

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Upon finally reaching the Phaya Thai station, staring up at the Baiyoke building , down at the endless traffic, in unforgiving heat, looking at an unfamiliar alphabet whilst getting the odd waft of the street food with only Asian faces around, Gabriel’s quote finally hit home. Yes, this was a true culture shock! Never experienced anything quite like it.

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I made the short journey on the busy, but welcome air-conditioned skytrain to the Asok station.

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Upon arrival at the Asok station, there was a reminder of home. Mad after travelling 6000odd miles, taking 36 hours and the first thing you see upon arrival is this:

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The final leg of my journey was made on foot.

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I eventually arrived at my hotel, the Ramada suites at around 21:15 and was welcomed in with a friendly bow. Again, something I wasn’t used to.

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I spent the rest of the evening down by the pool making an update to the trip report, although this didn’t last all that long due to the uncomfortable heat.

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I went back upstairs, grabbed a cool shower, sat in the aircon and watched a bit of HBO – just for a bit of familiarity in this seemingly crazy city.

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The following morning I headed down for some breakfast by the pool.

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After which, I went for a walk around the local area for a bit. Once again the heat took a little getting used to – within about 30 seconds of being out, I had an unhealthy shine going on! After around thirty minutes, I headed back to check in for tomorrows flight.

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After this, I went to check out the reclining Buddha. As I didn’t want to burn myself out too early, I hopped on the hotels complimentary tuktuk to the end of the road, although it didn’t help all that much.

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Bangkok is the sort of place where you break out into a sweat standing still!

I went via the river, as had been recommended by a few people.

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Wat Arun

Upon arrival, it was out through an interesting marketplace – so much different to anywhere else!

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The reclining Buddha was very interesting and there were some picturesque buildings around.

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Before long though, it got just a little bit too hot for my liking, so I headed back into town along the river to check out some of the shopping malls.

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The MBK Centre especially was very interesting. Much like a giant flea market, full of questionable goods!

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Stolen from…

I spent a good couple of hours wondering around, and trying to see how low one of the vendors would go on a set of Bose headphones – around £50 in the end. If they sell for £250+ in the shops how on earth can they be genuine?! On the way out, I did see a shop that sold some more genuine articles however – and the prices reflected that.

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At around 16:00, I headed back to the hotel to cool off and shower.

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Later that evening I met up with local a.netter win1290, and we had a very good meal at the new Terminal 21 shopping Centre, which is themed like an airport.

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Followed up with some ice cream – great to meet you and have a chat Win!

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Following this, we walked back to the hotel, I bid farewell to Win, and headed off to bed, as I had an early start the following morning – but that will have to wait for part 2!