Flight Back Wednesday, 23 April 2014 Melbourne (MEL) to Singapore (SIN), Emirates EK405, This FR
Hello! Welcome to the flight report of my April 2014 Melbourne Trip’s return flight.
Melbourne Airport is about 50km away from where I stay when I visit Melbourne and there are quite a few ways to get to the airport. Usually, I will choose the most economical way, travelling by public buses and metro for the whole journey – and this will take extremely long. Alternatively, it is also possible to travel to the city by train before transferring to the SkyBus, which I have mentioned about in my previous flight report.
My 7th Flight with Emirates – Trying the Special Meal for the First Time
This report was completed on 11 May 2014, in Taipei, Taiwan. Note: All the time stated in this report are UTC+10:00 (Before Take Off) and UTC+08:00 (After Take Off).
Note For my previous reports, I stated the ATD and ATA as the actual time of take off and touch down. However, from this report onwards I will amend this to be the time taken from gate to gate.
1340h (UTC+10:00) Status: Left Clayton 03:20 to Boarding Time 04:20 to ETD
This time, however, I did not choose any of the methods (i.e. by public transports all the way, or transferring to SkyBus in the city) above to get to the airport. I picked the fastest method, which also happens to be one of the more expensive one. AUD25 – from Clayton, where I stay in Melbourne, through to Melbourne Airport in about an hour; well worth the money!
If you happen to be visiting areas outside of Melbourne’s city area when you visit Victoria, Australia, do remember to check out the suburban buses. These are buses that will take you (almost) directly to your final destination and most of the time, the ticket fares are very reasonable (I believe).
The bus I took was “Airport Bus Dandenong”.
And there are many other choices heading to different destinations to and fro Melbourne Airport.
I was scheduled to depart from Clayton (a suburb in Melbourne) on a 1345h bus. It came slightly late at about 1350h.
Most of the suburban buses use small- to medium-sized vehicles because of the relatively small demand. For this one that I took, it was a Mercedes Sprinter.
1452h Status: Arrived at Melbourne Airport 01:12 from Leaving Clayton 02:08 to Boarding Time 03:08 to ETD
The entire journey took about 1h 2mins – a relatively quick one as the bus continued picking up passengers along the way before turning on to the freeway after the city to head direct to the airport. If you compare this to the duration of 2h 30mins or more, travelling by public buses and metro to Melbourne Airport, it really does seem much, much faster!
Before entering the terminal, let me show you where to find these suburban buses – it isn’t exactly easy to find them if you are arriving into Melbourne for the first time. Once you head out of the terminal, follow the signs that say “Direct Buses”. After you hit a crossing, get over to the other side of the road and just continue walking towards the bays for “Direct Buses”. Then, you would have to search through all the buses and somehow try and “recognise” which is the one you are looking for. And the last thing to do before you set off comfortably – locate the driver and buy a ticket from him. Make sure you ASK and CONFIRM your destination with him / her. Personally, I found the entire layout rather confusing.
If I am not wrong, it’s easier to find your way if you exit from Terminal 1 – Qantas and Jetstar’s Domestic Terminal.
Alright, let’s head inside.
I haven’t been to Tiger’s Terminal before. However, the departure halls for the other two domestic terminals used by the Qantas Group and Virgin Australia / REX are extremely spacious. This is quite a huge contrast with the International departures’ terminal.
Here’s Terminal 1 used by Qantas and Jetstar…
… And Terminal 3 – where Virgin Australia and REX’s flights depart and arrive.
1457h After looking around the airport for five minutes, I walked towards the international terminal via the link-way between T1 and T2.
The following two photos clearly show how the check-in area of T2 is much less spacious than the domestic terminals.
1459h Status: Checking In 01:19 from Leaving Clayton 02:01 to Boarding Time 03:01 to ETD
At Melbourne Airport, check-in counters are labelled by English alphabet. This will be my fourth time travelling by EK405 – check-in is always at Area G and boarding will be at Gate 11 always. This is the benefit of travelling many times on a same flight – I don’t really need to check the screens to know where I should head.
1523h Status: Cleared Departure Formalities 01:43 from Leaving Clayton 01:37 to Boarding Time 02:37 to ETD
As I arrived very early the counters (it probably just opened), I was done with check-in very quickly and was already preparing for security screening and immigration clearance.
Let’s see… Am I right that EK405 is departing from Gate 11 once again?
After immigration clearance, departing passengers will be greeted with an entire area of duty free shops – a section that I will usually give it a miss.
The departure information screens at Melbourne Airport are one of the aspects at the airport that I like. The screens are big and the font and colour used for the words are very clear and tidy. However, it does seem like the “current time” on the screens aren’t exactly synchronised?
Also, if you observe the departing flights clearly – you’d realise Melbourne’s Terminal 2 isn’t a really busy terminal. Even with all the departing flights for the rest of the day displayed on the screen, there aren’t enough flights to fill up both screens.
1525h Finding my way to some restaurant where I can have a quick snack and continue my revision for the upcoming examination at university. (Definitely not a nice way to travel… But I have no choice and I’ve to bring along all my textbooks and revision materials.)
Eventually, I settled down at Hungry Jacks and took a seat overseeing the apron area of Terminal 3 – the land of Virgin Australia.
These white aircrafts were definitely a distraction to my revision. Haha! I am guessing that this should be VA277 departing for a short hop to Canberra.
Virgin Australia / VH-ZPB / ERJ190-100
Finally, as I was trying hard to focus on my textbooks and notes… SQ228 operated by an A380 appeared! If you read the previous report of my flight from Singapore to Melbourne, an A380 also taxied passed me – I’ll definitely find a chance to fly to Melbourne with SIA!
Let’s have one last photo of the apron before I really begin to focus on my revision. Melbourne Airport definitely did not look very busy.
1645h Status: Walking to Gate 03:05 from Leaving Clayton 00:15 to Boarding Time 01:15 to ETD
15 minutes to the stipulated boarding time, I decided to make my way to the gate – despite knowing that boarding will most probably NOT commence on time. Doesn’t matter… I shall just chill at the boarding lounge while waiting for boarding to commence.
I managed to snap a photo of my aircraft while it was taxiing to the gate. If only I reached the gate a little later, I probably won’t be able to take this photo because there seemed to be no possible angle where I can take a proper photo of the aircraft after that! (This is the same photograph as the one I posted at the start of this report.)
With about 5 minutes to spare before the boarding time (provided that the gate actually opens on time), I arrived at the gate and wondered around a little before I sat down and waited.
It is commendable that seats are abundant at Melbourne Airport for passengers! They are almost everywhere.
As the sun was setting, it was basically not a very good timing for taking photos because of the bad lighting. I wasn’t really in the mood either, I guess! (I was returning to Singapore, and examinations were beginning in two days…)
I still tried to take some more pictures despite half of the aircraft being blocked by the bridge.
But I guess I gave up after a while…
At Melbourne Airport, Emirates conduct boarding by zones as well. They will call for passengers seated at specific zones to move to a separate area first, before being finally allowing them to board – I must say that it is a really complicated, confusing and “kind-of-redundant” system. However, they have always managed to prove the efficiency of this system by completing the boarding of an entire 777 in less than twenty minutes! It has always been successful, so far.
After your zone has been called out, this is where you will wait. Subsequently, they will open the gate at the escalator (look at the centre right of the photo) where passengers can finally head downstairs for boarding via the aerobridge.
My boarding pass.
1725h Status: Gate Opens / Boarding 03:45 from Leaving Clayton 00:25 after Stipulated Boarding Time 00:35 to ETD
Finally, after a wait of about 25 minutes, boarding began. I am guessing that Emirates schedules boarding time to be an hour before the ETD so that passengers will make their way to the gates earlier thinking that boarding has commenced – giving everyone more than enough buffer duration to accommodate the “real latecomers”. Well, that’s just my guess. But, no matter what the true intention is, they seem to always leave on time from Melbourne, which is the most important point – good job Emirates!
No announcements were made for first, business and platinum/gold/silver members. So, I just took the initiative to ask if I could board first. And of course, the answer was a yes. (Sorry for the blurred image, there were a lot of people behind and I was walking.)
I headed straight to my seat – 36G, and the welcome screens were shown on the individual IFEs.
Since I boarded relatively early, I just spent the rest of the time on the ground snapping pictures.
People were boarding relatively quickly, after having waited for about 40 minutes (suppose most of them arrived at the gate on time).
Pillow, blanket and earpiece were provided on every seat.
And as usual, I stuck with my habit of taking an aisle seat – for the convenience.
As the boarding process approached its final stage, I suddenly thought of checking out if there will be anyone beside me. Using my iPhone, I accessed Emirates’ website to “manage my booking” from my aircraft…
Awesome! At 1741h, before boarding was completed, I already knew that I have an empty seat beside me.
For this flight, the 4.9 years old A6-ECR flew both sectors – MEL-SIN and SIN-DXB.
And as usual, the air show was extremely nice, informative and easy-to-use!
1758h Hot towels were distributed 2 minutes before ETD, after boarding was completed.
1800h Status: Push Back 04:20 from Leaving Clayton 07:50 to ETA
This is the estimated flight path for EK405.
1619h (UTC+08:00) Status: Take Off 04:39 from Leaving Clayton 00:19 from ATD 07:31 to ETA
The aircraft taxied for quite a while before taking off 19 minutes after push back. I watched the take off on the air show and by the time, it was dark outside already so the view was pretty awesome – only before the aircraft left the ground; after that, it was just darkness everywhere.
1719h Snacks were given out approximately an hour later. Emirates distributes “Savoury Biscuits” instead of peanuts, and the biscuits are nice!
And then, the menu was given out very soon after. Oh no… “Beef and Mushroom Stew” and “Thai Chicken Curry” both sounded super awesome.
However, as I have mentioned in my previous report, I decided to try the special meals on Emirates flights for this trip and thus ordered for a seafood meal on my flight out, and an oriental vegetarian meal on my flight back. Therefore, I didn’t have to pick from the menu on this flight – I had to make do with anything they gave me.
1753h Status: Cruising – Meal Service Begin 06:13 from Leaving Clayton 01:53 from ATD 05:57 to ETA
Very quickly after snacks were given out, I received my special meal – to be frank, I was looking forward to it because catering on Emirates have always been rather decent.
However, my first impression of the meal… Weren’t exactly that good.
The starters were okay! Quite nice actually, but I am not sure what it is.
Here’s the main course, with some vegetables, bean curd and mushrooms. Some parts of the rice were overcooked and thus extremely dry. No good.
And then, the dessert. (Oh really? Dessert?)
Well… It wasn’t exactly that bad. But, I was seriously craving for some proper cakes, or something equivalent.
Alright, it was my own choice. Let’s just finish up the bread and let them clear the tray.
Akin to all other Emirates flights, drinks came after the meal service and were not served simultaneously. It doesn’t matter however because I preferred the water after finishing the sultanas and dried apricots…
After the meal, I have to say that the flight was rather uneventful (for myself) because I was just busy reading my textbooks and notes.
Allow me to “steal” some photos from my previous report so as to show you the lavatory.
1946h Status: Cruising 08:06 from Leaving Clayton 03:46 from ATD 04:04 to ETA
We were about half way into the flight when I looked at the air show again – the aircraft was about to leave Australia.
At this time, the lights in the cabin were already dimmed. (See the stars?)
With the cabin lights dimmed, I could only rely on my overhead lighting to continue reading my chapters. The light wasn't exactly 100% helpful, making it rather tiring for my eyes, but I had to finish whatever I got to read. Sigh.
2113h Looking around the cabin, it’s about 2113h in Singapore and 2313h in Melbourne. Many people on-board were just watching movies or also reading.
Another 1000 miles or so to Singapore…
2140h Status: Cruising – Supper Service 10:00 from Leaving Clayton 05:40 from ATD 02:10 to ETA
When supper was served, I decided that I would go with a non-vegetarian choice instead. Thus, I picked the beef & onion pie, which tasted great! Especially since I felt very hungry even after the meal. I haven’t tried to ask for cup noodles on Emirates before even though I know they're available. Maybe I should try it one day!
2213h Now, it’s almost time for arrival and most people seemed to be awake.
2306h Status: Descending – Landing Preparation 11:26 from Leaving Clayton 07:26 from ATD 00:44 to ETA
Initial descend began quite a while before the ETA because we were scheduled to land earlier.
The aircraft crossed Bintan Island, before turning left towards Batam, and finally turning right to line up with Changi Airport’s runway for its final approach. (Both Bintan and Batam are popular holiday destinations for Singapore!)
2325h Status: Touch Down 11:45 from Leaving Clayton 07:25 from ATD 00:25 to ETA
The aircraft touched down 25 minutes before scheduled arrival time and took just a few minutes to taxi to the gate. By 2330h, we were already at the gate preparing to disembark the aircraft.
I departed from Gate C20 last week and arrived back at the same gate again! Looks like Emirates flights are frequently scheduled at this extremely convenient gate!
2340h Status: Clearing Arrival Formalities 12:00 from Leaving Clayton 00:10 from ATA
Why do I say that C20 is an “extremely convenient gate”? Well… It took me just a 1-minute walk from the gate to the arrival immigration counters!
2343h Status: Baggage Collection 12:03 from Leaving Clayton 00:13 from ATA
Just a recap – last week when I flew to Melbourne from Singapore, I reached the baggage carousel 1h 4mins after the Actual Time of Arrival; today, it took me just 13 minutes. Security and immigration efficiency at Changi Airport will again get 10 marks from me!
Duty free shops can be seen even at the baggage carousel area!
These are the ways that you can get to town from Changi Airport.
Hmmm… You see here that two Qantas flights were using Belt 14 that night. But, one of them is actually EK405.
And… Is there even a Qantas flight from Penang to Singapore? Well it’s actually a Qantas codeshare flight operated by Jetstar Asia – be very careful if you happen to book yourself onto such codeshare flights because ALL the LCC rules apply regardless of whether your air ticket reflects a QF or EK flight number!
A view of the baggage carousel area.
2358h Status: Flight Completed / Setting Off for Home 12:18 from Leaving Clayton 00:28 from ATA
Less than 30 minutes after arriving in Singapore on EK405, I am on my way back home! Getting my bottle refilled before that; my throat always feels dry when flying so I make it a point to drink enough water!
Flight Statistics Flights travelling between Singapore and Melbourne have quite a direct route as seen below. The only time a flight from Melbourne back to Singapore took me slightly more than 8 hours (YES, 8 hours) was on a Jetstar flight that made some significant detour while cruising in Indonesian airspace because of congestion.
The actual time of touch down was 2325h and we were at the gate at 2330h. I still find this pretty amazing. (FlightAware’s timing probably isn’t every accurate given that it did not have coverage for the final section of the flight.)
Thank you for reading the report of my return trip from Melbourne to Singapore! See you around! (:
- End of Report for Emirates EK405 -
9 May 2014: Malaysia MH602, SIN-KUL (A Short Route on Malaysia Airlines for the First Time) Coming Soon…
Melbourne - MEL
Singapore - SIN
Thank you for reading my 3rd report on Flight-Report!
The cabin comfort for Emirates is rated rather high on this flight because of the empty seat! (: Temperature of the cabin was also set at an appropriate level, which I found to be pretty comfortable. The cabin crew on this leg of the flight were nice and friendly! It was a good effort by the crew member who greeted every passenger by our last name. The vegetarian meal was terrible. (Never trying it again.) Entertainment is great! There were huge varieties to choose from, and basically, if you ever used Emirates' IFE, called ICE, you'd know how it felt like to be spoilt for choices. Lastly, I am deducting 0.5 mark for on-time performance because of the very inaccurate boarding time; I can accept if gate opens 10-15 minutes later, but 30 minutes is just a little bit too long. However, as I have said, it is very commendable how the flight always departs on-time despite only having about 20 minutes to get everyone on-board.
At Melbourne Airport, departure formalities were much better than those you go through during arrival. There will still be queues, though, if you are not as early as I was. I believe I will rate the accessibility of the airport by how I actually travelled there this time - and, with a direct bus, how bad can it get? (Well, maybe the price?) Food choices within the airport were however rather limited, but Hungry Jacks provided a great view of the apron area, which was great!
Allow me to summarise some of the timings that I have stated above: - 10 minutes from ATA, clearing arrival formalities - 13 minutes from ATA, arrived at baggage carousel area - 28 minutes from ATA, heading home!
So... You can't say I am biased when I rate 10/10 for Changi's security/immigration efficiency, yeah? However, as for the accessibility of the airport - arriving on such a late-night flight means that your only option available is the taxi (unless someone else can fetch you). This is unlike SkyBus in Melbourne, which operates 24 hours a day. The abundance of duty-free shop at Changi gives it its high rating for services and activities.
That's all for now, thank you for reading and see you next time! (:
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