And the video trip report. One of my more popular ones on YouTube, while also being on the most anticipated ones:
Alarm bells rang. 2 on the phone, one wake up call. 0530 am. Four hours just flew by. Through the curtains I saw the first rays of sunshine come through, it was a new day in Dubai. Not for me though, I had landed in Dubai not long before the stroke of midnight, it was time to head for yet another flight, and this was going to be a big one.
After a quick shower (which was a bad idea since I nearly fell asleep there), it was on to wait for a shuttle. Not long a drive and a few Emirates plane landings later, we reached Dubai's huge Terminal 3.
Flew through the check in area since I had a boarding pass in my hand already. I only needed to find out the gate number. Immigration and security were both quick. I glanced at the departure gates FIDs: Gate B15 for EK225 to San Francisco. B? And here I was thinking only A concourse gates are used for A380s! I headed up the escaltors towards the main Duty Free area, and it was bustling with people! The morning bank was well and truly underway. People lined up at restaurants, retail outlets, restroom, you name it! The first plane I saw was an Airbus A380. In fact, that was parked at B15, meaning that was A6-EOC, my ride to San Francisco!! A6-EOC had operated a Dubai - Toronto - Dubai sector prior to my flight.
I took a seat in front of the WhaleBus. My parents had just landed, A6-EGK (B777-300ER) was parked in a remote bay and so my parents were on a bus. I told them its the old concourse, and so no need to worry about going to the new concourse (A). It wasn't long before I saw my groggy eyed parents! It was great to reunite with them at the Dubai International Airport.
While they came in, I headed for breakfast at an Italian joint. Exchanged some USD for AED, the line for the cafe was quite long! Just when I was about to tuck in to a lovely quick breakfast, I got a message from Dad: boarding for EK225 was underway. A quick look at the wristwatch: it was already 0730, 55 minutes to departure!
The (commercially) impressive terminal 3:
Some pictures of the gate area:
I packed the pepperoni pizza slice and the lovely warm chocolate muffin and pretty much rushed back towards gate B15. While approaching, I signaled my parents to head for boarding, while I'd join in later. The line grew pretty long, of course. A full flight, not too many seats empty. The ground staff did a document check before we headed onboard.
Another A380 close to A6-EOC…sadly, Dubai's Terminal 3 is not a very spotter friendly terminal :(
Heading down the escalator, it was mostly empty, some people were selected for a secondary screening. I sat around the strangely empty holding area, just staring at A6-EOC: what a magnificent (yet ugly, this might be a bit of an unpopular comment! :P ) plane the A380 is!
The star of the show, with a star on its head (thanks to the windows…) A6-EOC, a pretty new 0.9 year old bird!
Headed towards EOC, only to receive a warm welcome from the crew! Seated on seat 49A was Mum and on 49C was Dad. 'Here's the middle seat for coming in late, son', said Dad. Really Dad? Anyway, I got my seat 49A, somehow. The cabin crew members were quite friendly, and kept checking on the passengers, and we didn't even take off! Nationalities included: Swiss, British, Thai, Japanese, Egyptian, Venezuelan, Indian…to name a few who showed up in the front part of the cabin during the flight, there was still the rest of the long A380 to go!
Hot towels were distributed as I noticed the number of kids running around, or just not sitting tight. A quick glance at the passengers around, and no wonder they call Emirates India’s unofficial national airline! Passengers from Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad…you name it! (I peeked at their boarding passes..) And then there were three…from Kolkata. Myself and an elderly couple. An announcement was made that the Asian Vegetarian option (or something like that) won’t be served as a special meal and instead the vegetarian option on the menu would be served.
Dubai is notorious for all its delays involved with the management of so many planes departing in a very short span of time. A look at the time. 0818 hours. Seven minutes to departure. One of the jet bridges were pulled back. How exciting it was to see this happen!
The Captain came over the PA system at 0821 hours, and perhaps the clearest flight announcement ever (in terms of sound quality, that is). He announced a delay of fifteen minutes because of a failure in the baggage loading system. 'ULTIMATE AIRPORT DUBAI!', a TV show that is broadcasted with the operations of Dubai Airport, is what popped up in my head the minute I heard the announcement! (….or maybe its Ultimate Airline Emirates? :P )
0845 hours. Twenty minutes late. Pushback. I found it absolutely astounding to believe the fact that a fully loaded A380 with luggage, food, passengers, fuel and some more cargo was being pushed back so effortlessly by a tug! The four EA GP7200 engines were brought into life as A6-EOC was a beast woken up, a whale that was ready to fly. Now I won’t deny the fact that I have tracked this right from pushback to take off on many occasions. I remembered how long the plane had to taxi when I was on my way to Cape Town (back in 2012). I feared a similarly long delay. Two A380s held short of Runway 12R. One of them was us, however, the other A380 alongside arrived at the hold-short point before us.
Some pictures of the activity around:
0900 hours, and we slowly started taxiing on to the active. 0901 hours, a haunted howl was followed by the mighty roar of four GP7200 engines as EOC thundered down the runway. A take off roll that lasted 45 seconds, and my God was it impressive! What made it more awesome was the fact that we were pretty much racing an AeroLogic Boeing 777-200LRF!
Love the tail view/nose view camera!
Yep, finally a cabin shot!
Climbing out..slow and steady!
Moonlighting already in effect!
It wasn’t a very long time that we had spent over the Arabian Sea because we quickly flew over into Iran. A lovely treat of dessert dunes and a very Middle Eastern scene followed. We set in our initial cruising altitude of 36,000 feet as another treat followed: breakfast! Lovely Emirates food, but of course!
Breakfast started off with the distribution of special meals that were pre-ordered. That meant, a seafood meal for Mum, with her name and seat number printed on it, rather nicely. It was a while before the main meal service started, but that’s alright, considering the size of this aircraft!
Breakfast was followed by a drinks run. This included tea and coffee, juices and soft drinks. The three of us tucked into various movies, Penguins of Madagascar for me. However, with that came sleep. While most of you would say ‘sleep was interrupted,’ I say that the sleep interrupted the movie hehe
‘Once you wake up after a nice long nap, you have the energy to get up and punch through every overhead bins, but then you realize there’s still eleven hours to arrival….’ , a friend described the life on an ultra long haul rather well. I woke up. It felt like a refreshingly long nap! However, I wasn’t getting ahead of myself. I checked the huge IFE screen. 13:16 to destination. Just about an hour and a half had passed. I kept calm, but a little part of me was in tatters. Dramatic much? :P
Just another 13hr06min to go!
I went around for a quick walk to the front of the cabin. I sat down. And then I went around for a walk towards the rear of the cabin. Walking around during a long haul flight may seem annoying, but there are somethings that you’ve just got to do to get through these almost day long flights! The galleys had plentiful of snacks in baskets. Granola bars, apples, bananas and chocolate bars.
At the very end of this massive jet!
A word on the crew, as usual. Very nice, mostly. When the turbulence came (I was right at the end of the long fuselage), they did ensure (rather strictly) that all passengers had their seatbelts fastened (and like me, to be seated). Other than that, over the duration of the 15 hours, they were mostly muted, but served passengers and went about their jobs. A nice ‘Cheers!’ or ‘Enjoy!’ followed after the passengers were served a drink, didn't hurt them very much. When they talked amongst themselves and someone approached them, they’d look professional and serve the passengers. Pretty neat! Oh and to add, they kept going around the cabin with juices (mango, pineapple, orange, tomato) and water. That kept them busy..
Pretty neat wooden finishing!
Now, the in flight entertainment system. I have no words to describe this, at all! Massive screen that had HD resolution, responsive to gentle touches (as opposed to hammer-screens I've found on other airlines), a huge variety of TV shows, music, movies, games, from all around the world. Also, most important for us avgeeks - the flight information: various renditions of the view of the scenery from parts of the plane (cockpit, window, outside. etc). There also is a handheld device (not a remote) with a touchscreen, and you can program it to show whatever you like: flight information, camera view, etc. It kept the three of us very entertained. No wonder Emirates’ I.C.E has won awards for over a decade now!
The last row in the forward section of the A380 had a bit of space between the seats and the wall, giving passengers a place to stand and stretch. Very nice from Emirates, in my opinion. They could have fit four seats here (and a total of sixteen along the whole Economy section), which would’ve given them more revenue, but with passenger comfort in mind, they played their cards correctly. I walked around again. I asked the Swiss flight attendant when the next meal would be served. She said in about forty minutes. True to her word, trolleys were rolled out and placed just behind the last row of my economy section.
Moonlighting geeks would go bonkers on an ultra long haul flight!
1331GST, 0101PDT, lunch time. Around five hours into the flight, lunch service started. As usual, the special meals were handed out first. Mum was now a bit tired of the seafood meals, and so she asked if she could have something else instead. However, this was politely declined and she’d have to wait after everyone onboard was served. Dad and I asked her to take it anyway, and we’d share the lamb later on.
The seafood meal
And yet again, it was a meal that had more than delivered! The lamb gravy was tasty, the rice was nice and warm with full of flavor, the dessert was delectable! Drinks followed next. I went for tea (it was Dilmah tea…and bit of Sri Lanka was on this flight, other than your’s truly, a pseudo-Sri Lankan!) and a Tia Maria liquor. Amazing stuff.
I tucked into the Grand Budapest Hotel, after I swapped seats with Mum (gave her the window seat so she had the walls to lean against). I loved that movie! nd at times Mum would look at us boys and ask us to sleep: she was following the long haul flight tips properly, and here I was with barely half an hour of sleep down. Mind you, for the three of us, the longest flight we were ever on was DXB-CPT, a flight of 9hr45min. And we were in pretty bad shape after that! here still was eight hours of flying time to go. It was just half way!!!
Iron Maiden fans? Anyone? :)
Live news (BBC)
Some of the bites that was distributed with lunch:
Back at it again with the walking around :P
6hr45min to go!!
Formula 1 fans? Anyone? :) (This was my own IFE…I had missed the 2015 Hungarian GP, and that was some race with a lot of drama!)
Stairway to heaven….
And this is where stuff got interesting. I developed a bad bad headache and trying to sleep was tricky. I put on something on the I.C.E system and just counted down to arrival. The flight was getting longer and longer it seemed. We were almost flying over the north pole at this stage of the flight. I tried to sleep it off for most of the flight, with minimal success. About five hours from arrival, a miniature cheese pizza was served, which had to be warmed up. Not a full meal of course, but a reasonably filling snack before arrival.
I wasn't a fan of this mood lighting, to be honest. This was quite painful to see….
And it was at this point, the ultra-long haul hallucinations kicked in - San Francisco seemed to be getting further and further away when actually we weren’t too far off, and getting closer (but of course). We were now nearing Canada - the other side of the world!
A man with a British accent narrated this entire video. I'm going to leave this one here….
I spent my time dealing with the headache and just listening to some songs (not thrash or heavy metal, sucks to say those kinda counted towards the headache!) Four hours, three hours, two hours, one hour. The final fourth of the flight got kinda boring and uninteresting as I mostly stayed put. Before I knew it, I felt EOC’s nose dip a little bit. The end of the flight was near! The crew came out once again to give us more warm towels, and to refresh after the very long flight.
And soon, looking out of the window, I saw patches of land, all of which became blatantly obvious when we descended down the clouds towards California. Patches of land, ohh was it beautiful to see! The cabin crew came around securing the cabin for arrival.
One child was crying a lot due to ear pain possibly, and one of the crew members tried her best to calm her down. Again, showing what a great crew team we had on this ultra long haul flight! Soon, we were over San Francisco airspace. I spotted Oakland International Airport, that is bang opposite the main city of San Francisco, the other side of the 'Bay Area' .
And soon, I saw them all. PLANES! They were everywhere! Landing into Oakland, entering formation to land in to San Francisco, taking off from the other two runways towards the east (28L/28R), flying under EOC, etc. It was so much fun looking at those fly around…every where! And soon, the heavy EOC made its final bank and lined up with Runway 28L. On final approach, one the many kids predicted a hard landing.
And well, for the most part, the kid was wrong. A pretty nice (but not feather like) landing was made on to Mother Earth's surface. Oh it felt absolutely amazing to be back on land. Quite a few planes around obviously, as EOC taxied out of the active runway at a snail's pace. 'Poor plane. After flying for fifteen hours it can barely move around to get to the gate!' said Mum, as EOC took forever to get to the gate at the international terminal.
I finally spot a plane with split scimitar winglets!!
American, Delta, United. American, Delta, United every where I see! And Southwest. However, things got a bit more diverse towards the international terminal. The very old KLM B747 PH-BFA, a Cathay Pacific plane, an Air France A380.. It was all pretty epic! We docked at the gate after about 15 minutes from touching down.
I'm going to throw this one right at you: my flights back home in December was already booked. Would you like to guess the aircraft and airline taking me home then? :)
A jet bridge was attached to door L1. Hilarity ensued as the upper deck's aerobridge failed to align properly and hence all first and business class passengers had to deplane from the one door on the main deck. This took a while, but oh well. Seated in the front of the economy section had its benefits as it did mean we were some of the first to get off.
I thanked the crew for a wonderful flight. Immigration wasn't too far luckily and we joined the line. Took a while, very nice immigration person who served the three of us in a very friendly manner, contrary to all beliefs. That took in total, about half an hour. Baggage claim is what took all the bloody time. It took about 50 minutes! No surprises though, full A380 with generous baggage allowance? Oh yeah. Forever it'd take. The stuff from Colombo came in early, however, my Kolkata stuff took much longer. Sigh. Anyway, we asked some of the helpful people as to how to get to the hotel, they informed us of various hotel shuttles. That took another good twenty minutes.
A dream that was shattered five years ago, finally true! I am in the United States of America!
A couple of concluding thoughts before signing off of this flight report. You will see quite a few negative comments about the children onboard this flight, how loud they were, etc. It really was sad to see some very bizarre comments such as 'the kids should be shot first and then the parents..', and the like. Its a great deal of stress for the parents to handle the kids, and I know its not easy. To be honest, this did not bother me as much. The answer: headphones. I wasn't bothered by the screams and shouts of the children, but the cameras recorded much more of that sound, making it feel like I had a nightmare of a flight. And furthermore, like I said, I was supposed to be in the United States of America long before this. In 2010, I signed up for a trip to Orlando, looking at the operations of NASA. However, I was gutted to find out that this fell through and nothing happened. Scheduled to be on a nice 15 hour journey on a Continental Airlines B777-200ER from Mumbai to Newark, it was a long wait. My longest flight (in terms of duration) went up from 5hr50min (Mumbai - Hong Kong on a Jet Airways A330-200), to 9hr45min (Dubai - Cape Town on an Emirates B777-300ER), and finally a 11 hour encounter (Colombo - Paris on a SriLankan Airlines A330-200), to finally this ultra long haul flight! Its been quite a journey. And now that I had reached the United States of America, it was time to begin a new chapter in my life….starting off with some plane spotting and tourist-y pictures of San Francisco!
We had a long USA domestic itinerary to get through, so do stay tuned!! :D
Dubai - DXB
San Francisco - SFO
My first ultra long haul flight was nearly perfect. Of course, the headache in the end was not ideal, but I probably did that to myself, due to a lack of sleep and drinking water. I was quite impressed with Emirates on this long haul journey. The food, IFE, aircraft itself was wondering. The IFE especially had a plethora of options and it makes sure no one is bored onboard! The crew did their job. The smiles were appreciated, but at times it did feel it was quite robotic. Mind you, they were very efficient, however. Would I fly Emirates on an ultra long haul? Possibly. If its an A380? Absolutely! The 3-4-3 configuration felt pretty nice onboard the A380, but it might feel very cramped on a B777-200LR or B777-300ER.
Dubai Airport was pretty wonderful, my only gripe being the lack of spotting opportunities from within the terminal itself. I guess, some things cannot be changed!
I found nothing wrong with San Francisco, it is a pretty decent airport. I did remove quite a few points for efficiency because of completely messing up the jet bridge attachment on the upper deck, and the very slow baggage delivery.
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Thank you very much very this very loooooong but good report, very nicely written!
Wow 16 hours that's huge. It would have seemed even longer, and definitely painful on a 777. Especially with a 10-abreast 777. Hopefully the A380 made it enjoyable!
The IFE is huge and very nice looking. Good point it offers a lot to see for such a long flight. You could watch almost six times Avatar or Interstellar haha.
Good to see Formula 1 Budapest Grand on an aircraft IFE!
Really, thumbs up for Emirates' ICE Entertainement system. Excellent.
Emirates A380. What else ?
Thanks for your feedback, fernousdu972!
I am so glad Emirates upgraded this route to an Airbus A380, because this flight had started out with a Boeing 777!
These long haul flights are the best place to catch up on movies that had been missed out :D Especially the long ones, hehe
I'm sorry if this confused you - but the F1 race was actually on laptop, not on Emirates' ICE system. A few weeks before this flight, I flew on Jet Airways' Boeing 737-800, and they had the highlights of the 2015 Australian Grand Prix. Neat!
I have quite a few transatlantic flights to report, but a few USA domestic flights before that!
Thanks for sharing this report of your flight with Emirates. The longest flight I've ever been on, was from LAX-AKL, and that was around 12 hours. I can't even imagine 16 hours ... That's a long time on a plane!! Emirates Economy Class looks pretty nice though; food looks pretty tasty!
Thank you so much for your reply, 757fan!
On a 16 hour flight, even the best of avgeeks feel the pain, and really want to step out for some fresh air...but that doesn't happen for a long long time! But as you say - Emirates' economy class product was quite decent, especially for such a long flight.
And do stay tuned for my future flight reports - I would be writing about a few Boeing 757 experiences, too! :D
Thanks so much for comment, 757fan!
On these Ultra Long encounters, even the avgeeks feel the strain, and some kind of fresh air is always appreciated...but that won't happen for long!
But just as you mention, Emirates' economy class is more than decent for such long flights, and it sure does help!
Do stay tuned for some of my future flight reports - I have a couple on the Boeing 757, too! :D
So great to see another FR on DXB-SFO and on A6-EOC. I was on EOC for my EK226 flight on 12/17, SFO-DXB in seat 45C. It wass so cool to see my seat from your inflight pics! So glad you finnally got to seee the USA!!!!
Oh wow, those are a lot of coincidences! I am quite a fan of the front section of the A380 as it is quieter than the already quiet A380 aircraft!
The USA so far has been awesome! There's a lot that will be coming so do stay tuned! :)
If you want another coincidence.. this flight was only a few days after I booked my flight on EOC and it was also my birthday!
What better gift on a birthday than knowing you're booked on a flight? :D
Thank you for sharing this FR with us!
Wow, that's a LONG flight haha.
EK has really gotten a big market share on the South Asia - North America market.
Nice spotting shots at DXB!
I'm glad you got one of the birds with the 12,1 inch screens in economy, the cabin looks lovely.
Quality in the catering department looks good.
I'm sorry to hear about your headache later on in the flight.
I'm glad EK could provide you with a good flight experience on such a long flight, their hard product is always on-top.
Wow! Absolutely fantastic bonus from San Francisco! Great spotting shots as well.
Have a good one, see you!
Thanks so much, RI 777!
EK's first priority is, quite clearly to target the India/South Asia market, and then schedule flights to other destinations accordingly.. I have heard people giving the ditch to SQ to fly to Australia...they go via DXB instead!
All of the flights to the United States get the new 12.1 inch PTV screens. Passengers do need something impressive to be entertained! And Emirates delivers.
Thanks so much for another one of your very detailed replies! :D
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