As I searched for a return ticket from Cape Town to Boston for the second time in six months, I faced an awful reality. Even though it was winter in the southern hemisphere, I was going to pay summertime prices. I searched and searched but was unable to find any prices below the 1k mark to Boston. Thus, I chose to buy a ticket to NYC into one my least favorite airports JFK. JFK in the summertime is always a disaster and add customs to the mix and you are in for a real treat. I purchased the ticket on Emirates for $725 with a total travel time of 30hrs and a 7 hour layover in Dubai. To find out how to spend a 7 hour layover in Dubai you can check out my Dubai layover blog and look for Dubai International on tripchi airport app beta. I picked this flight based on the price and the fact I would get to fly on the Airbus A380-800. This would be my second time on the A380, first was on Singapore Airlines and even though the flight was 13hrs, I was genuinely excited for it.
Flight DetailsFlight: Emirates 201 Aircraft: A380-800 Seat: 70H Gate: B15 Departure : Scheduled for 8:30amGST; Actual 9:00am) Arrival: 2:15pm (On time)
Musical Seats at Check In
At check-in I was greeted by the fact my original seat of 58C had been taken, not that shocking since I booked on Expedia. I was then given 65D. When I looked it up on Seatguru, it had a poor rating due to proximity to the lavatories and reduced recline. This was no good for a long flight so I returned to the counter to request a seat change and was given 70H, over the wing on the starboard side (due to future events, I should have begged for an upgrade). On flights longer than ten hours I prefer the aisle seat because I will have a few beverages requiring me to visit the lav on a number of occasions.
Boarding: How to get 500 people on a Plane in 1hr
Emirates A380-800 holds around 500 hundred passengers with an all economy class bottom level and first and business on the second level. Boarding started an hour from takeoff time and much like my other Emirates flight, it was chaotic. Based on how full economy was, I very much wished to be on the exclusive second level, one day perhaps.
I had Zone D, but I have come learn zones mean nothing to Emirates passengers. I was inclined to wait and board more towards the end because I only had my small backpack as a carry on and wasn’t to concerned about finding space to stow it. I was alarmed by the amount of small children on the flight and had no doubt I would be surrounded by them in my section. I waited 20 minutes before jumping in line and it took 15 minutes to make it to my seat. There is no easy way to board 500 passengers, but kudos to Emirates everyone was seated by 8:20am.
The pilot came on to inform us that we would have smooth skies for most of the trip and that our flying time was 13hrs. He also informed us that 90 bags were missing and that we wouldn’t be able to push back for another 20 minutes. After the delay we taxied around for a while and waited in some traffic before we were cleared for takeoff. Luckily we caught favorable tail winds over the Atlantic to make up the time
It is astounding how powerful the A380 is with its four Rolls Royce engines. This plane was 95% full in ecomy and very heavy with all the luggage and fuel. As we lined up for takeoff and the captain slammed the engines to full throttle, I was taken back by how quiet the engines were. I should have counted but the takeoff roll was very long, eventually we lumbered into the sky. It’s amazing to feel such a heavy machine glide gently into the sky. As a feat of engineering the A380 is simply an amazing aircraft. For an aviation geek it’s a treat to experience the raw power and ability of such a well designed plane.
The interior of the A380 is very inviting. It has purple mood lighting during cruising and the ceiling is very high which made the cabin feel more spacious even with the full load. Economy seats on the A380 have 18″ of width and 32″-34″ of pitch. I found the seat to be much more spacious than the Emirates A340 or 777ER. For a 13hr fight that extra inch of width and pitch makes a world of difference in the comfort department. Every seat was equipped with Emirates ICE entertainment system with a 10″ screen. I was disappointed at the lack of recent movies (warning movie buffs, don’t waste your time with Snowpiercer) but there was plenty of TV shows and various other programming to keep me occupied. Each seat also has a USB outlet and some seats have 110v power outlet. My seat did not have a 110v outlet, so I couldn’t charge my laptop. Overall I liked the seat better than the 777ER. The only drawbacks are if you have an aisle seat you cannot reach the air flow nozzle, its to high and to far away. To adjust it you have to stand up and reach across the middle seat passenger, slightly trivial but slightly annoying all the same.
Emirates Flight 201 Service Motto: No Rush We Have 13hrs to Kill
No matter how you cut it 13hrs is a long time to on an airplane. One thing that can make or break a long flight is the quality of service from the crew. Unfortunately on Emirates flight 201 the service was not up to the previous standards I had experienced with Emirates. There would be a breakfast, a lunch and a light snack served during the flight. The first issue I had was no drink service before breakfast was served which I found odd. Breakfast was served 1.5hrs into the flight with the drink cart to follow behind. The meal cart moved insanely slow and didn’t reach me until 2hrs after takeoff. I was informed that no eggs or omelets remained, so I was forced to have the veggie offering. I understand this happens but was disappointed to find the veggie meal tasteless and flat-out gross. The drink cart reached me thirty minutes later well after I had given up on the meal. It was crazy that I had to wait until 2.5 hours into the flight before I got a drink. The lunch course was then served with 8hrs remaining in the flight, not that long after breakfast. I thought they would have waited until the flight was half over before serving the lunch. This time the cart reached me much quicker as the attendants had switched sides of the aircraft. I went with the lamb offering and found it dry and void of flavor. It was disappointed to me that the worst meals I have eaten on Emirates were on the A380. The drink cart reached me faster and I decided to enjoy a whisky and ginger to dull my senses. It still makes no sense to me that the drinks cart lagged behind the food cart. The light meal before landing was pizza, which was the most enjoyable offering so far. You could also get fruit and snacks upon request. On two occasions I ordered a drink and both times the drink never got to me. I ended up getting up and going to the galley to get it (a slight perk of the aisle seat). Sadly overall I was disappointed by the lack of attention and slowness of the crew. I have come to expect a much higher level of service on Emirates flights. The large amount of young children might have taken away from the attention of other passengers but the service severally suffered and was not the highlight off the flight.
The Total Experience
Emirates flight 201 was punctuated with a large amount of unruly children under the age of five. I can’t even begin to imagine being a parent and trying to entertain a child for that long. That being said, I have never been on a flight with so many rowdy children. I witnessed a child from a family of five repeatedly kicking a woman’s seat back throughout the entirety of flight and did no cease even when spoken to by the attendants. The mother slept most of the flight and let the kids roam free. Another child from said family decided he wasn’t feeling wearing pants and shed them to do some wind sprints up and down the aisle. I saw children throwing food, screaming at each other, climbing across sleeping passengers and plenty of crying. Needless to say I didn’t sleep a lot on the flight and wished I had begged the desk agent for an upgrade.
I watched the landing at JFK on the Airshow camera mounted to the tail section of the aircraft. The A380 handled the turns and drops in altitude with grace and smoothness. It still amazes me such a large aircraft can be so agile. We landed thankfully on time and proceeded the absolute nightmare that is JFK customs in the summertime which I could write a whole blog on. I used the automated kiosks, which turned out to be the least painful part of the process. The best part was the takeoff and rest of the flight was a combination of letdowns, annoyances and lack of sleep. I do love the A380 and the sheer power it posses but having that many people on one aircraft to serve with efficiency is a tall order and Emirates fell short in my eyes. For that reason and a few others I give the flight a 2 out of 5 stars. Safe Travels Everyone!