Background I think this is the most interesting part of my flight journey to Adelaide as I will get the opportunity to sample an inflight experience on one of the world's best airlines. Why I chose Emirates (EK)? Maybe, I didn't explain thorough enough in the previous report. Like SQ, EK branding has impressed me for quite some time now. I actually started to be introduced to the airline way back in 1999, while I came across a two-page advertisement in a magazine my parents brought home from their short trip to Perth, Western Australia.
It depicts an EK male cabin crew holding a glass of drink (more like champagne I guess) smiling, superimposed with a huge expanse of EK's Boeing 777, showing the Economy Class seats with PTV screens. Of course, back then those screens were small in comparison with today's large-sized, interactive touchscreen IFEs you find today on all EK's latest fleets. But back then, still it blew me away. Just last year, Emirates was voted the Best Airline in the World in 2013 by Skytrax. Though, some quarters believed that Skytrax ratings are somewhat exaggerated, but a host of awards received by the airline confirms everyone's perception of the airline.
My further exposure to Emirates branding intensified when my family and I lived for a few years at Brisbane from 2002 to 2004. So, TV channels at our house sometimes aired all those great airline adverts with catchy branding (Singapore Girl, Keep Discovering, etc…). I mean SQ and EK came out strongly in their branding strategy towards Australian household audience. So, my opportunity finally arrives. Anyway, I purposely reserved myself seat 46A in my booking. The reason was that since I travelled alone, it was best to just have less rows of seat as possible to maintain privacy as possible and also that particular seat has more legroom than standard seats in other parts of the aircraft. Over the course of years I learned about EK being excellent in every possible way in treating their customers with high quality service. However, there are also not-so-good things that I heard about this airline. One of the most commonly talked about in the online forums and previous trip reports are the seating arrangements.
EK is among a few (perhaps, increasing no. of airlines) to have the seats arranged in 10-abreast inside their Boeing 777. Other airlines such as MH and SQ have their seats arranged in 9-abreast. So, a cattle class already become cattlerer (OK, it's a self-made-up word). Another point of concern is the inconsistency of soft product (i.e. cabin crew service). Some reported that they got very good service while others said that these cabin crews in their flights were just merely doing their job. That said I put my expectation highly on their hard products which are IFE and meal offerings. I heard very positive notes about these things. So, this is a huge excuse for me for choosing this airline.
The Journey Continues… After disembarking from my previous flight (MH2605) and went to the toilet to refresh, I immediately proceeded to Emirates transfer counter which is also located inside the main terminal building. Upon reaching the counter, I saw an Emirates staff sitting there alone, while two maybe three other airlines' staffs were serving passengers quite a distance away at their airlines' respective counters. The first thing I did was to say hello, then informed the EK staff that I am booked in EK408. So, as usual I gave my boarding pass (which was issued by MH) to her along with my passport. Additionally, she asked for my debit card to check and ensure that I was the one who bought the ticket.
However, remember I told you all about the issue with my visa. Well, I just went there to the transfer counter without even mentioning a thing about that since I don't want to make things more difficult. So, I just kept quiet. But, then as she processed my transfer to EK408, she noticed something amiss. She started to get bewildered by some sort of anomaly in my flight details that I myself hoping was not going to be that visa issue again. So, she made a phone call to her supervisor asking for advice on what to do with that unbeknownst problem to me.
After that phone call, she then tried fixing that problem again, but then it persisted. So, she made another call. The second call finally yielded a solution. So, I asked her what the problem was (without mentioning my visa issue). Honestly, I still didn't understand what the issue was even after she explained it to me. The important thing is, she issued me a new boarding pass (with EK logo in it), and that was such a relief. She also confirmed that my baggage will be checked-in to MEL. So, my belonging was secure.
My proper EK boarding pass…
I left the transfer counter with a sigh of relief (though, not fully relieved yet since my visa issue still clinging in my mind, but as usual I calmed down and just looking forward to enjoy the flight). So, I proceeded to immigration counter by handing over my passport for clearance. The immigration officer on duty had this stone-cold facial expression, with not even slightest of smile. Well, at the end of the day they just need to maintain strict composure for security reasons, so, yeah, I understand that. After that, I took the Aerotrain to go to Satellite terminal where all medium and long haul flights are assigned.
Scene after arriving at Satellite building. The main feature of this building is the rainforest park in the middle of the building.
I don't know, is it me or the air-conditioning temperature inside the Satellite terminal wasn't cool enough. There were lots of people in the building and more shopping areas. And talking about people, the scene with people from all walks of life, races and religion converge in what I call as 'Pasar Malam' (literally, night market in Bahasa Malaysia). There are just so many people with their behaviours and characters. That is truly a travelling experience in itself.
The rainforest park: Passengers can actually access the park, judging from the number of people I saw entering that area.
Look, it is the Emirates sign!
Lots of shopping areas and eateries. This image can pass as a shopping centre.
Went for a little aircraft spotting from inside the Satellite building. Note the JetStar Asia aircraft, an off-shoot of JetStar Australia. My next flight would be on the JetStar airline from MEL to ADL.
For Muslim passengers, two Muslim praying areas where one each is for male and female respectively are provided at upper level of the Satellite building. Just follow the sign provided at the terminal.
As my flight was assigned at gate C27, which is located at the other wing of the Satellite building, I purposely went to Gate C1 for one particular reason. It is to remember the gate that was assigned to that ill-fated MH370 flight that still went missing (presumed crashed) more than a month ago.
I managed to walk just outside the rainforest park perimeter. I didn't remember they have this walkway before during my last visit here back in 2005.
Oh, I saw EK crews with the female crews' signature red hats about to take the Aerotrain to Main Terminal Building. So, that means my EK408 flight already arrived from Dubai (DXB)!
I immediately proceeded to gate C27 for my boarding.
On my way to gate C27…
Upon reaching the entrance to the waiting area at gate C27, long queue started to form. I immediately realised that another security check was conducted.
After security clearance, all passengers including myself were waiting at the boarding lounge. Based from my visual observation, there seemed to be not so many passengers originating from KUL. And it seemed that passengers comprising Malaysians weren't that many in the flight.
Our flight that day was operated using one of EK's newest aircrafts (registered A6-EGY).
To be frank, I was mildly hoping that the flight would be operated by A6-EGO (Yep, the 1000th Boeing 777 > turned out 9 days after my EK408 flight, the same route was operated by -EGO). This would be my first time onboard Boeing 777-300ER. At around 2.50PM, boarding was called. First and Business class passengers were first to board, followed by passengers that accompanied small children. The rest of the passengers were then let in.
I did a quick snapshot on one of the aircraft's two massive and powerful turbofan jet engines (in fact it is the most powerful jet engine in the world), the General electric GE90-115B that would power the aircraft to Melbourne.
We entered the aircraft via Business Class. The EK cabin crews welcomed us onboard and checked our boarding passes and showed us our seating. As expected of EK, the crews for this flight leg were of different nationalities and races. On my flight, the crews consisted of Lebanese, Irish, African, Indian, Filipino, etc… (can't really remember their nationalities, but it was a truly multiracial crews).
As you can see here, it turned out that I will be accompanied by Australian school students, one group confirmed to be returning from Europe after some event
My seat is 46A. I found out in a forum that seats 46-48A/B or J/K are considered good seats as these seats have extra legroom compared with normal seats. The seat reviews in that forum influenced my decision to reserve a seat at 46A. Yep, it was roomy.
Huge screen greeted me at my seat. Notice that USB port and universal plug switch are provided at each seat.
View towards the tarmac. Mahan Air Airbus A310 parked nearby. The aerobridge seen here is for the A380 upper deck boarding I think.
Emirates called their passenger inflight entertainment as I.C.E.. The moment I explore the contents of it, I was impressed with what are available in there. The screen is receptive, and compared with MH's IFE touchscreen, the ones on EK are akin to using an iPad - very fluid and responsive. The flight information page not only shows the aircraft speed, altitude and distance but also the aircraft registration. EK even equipped their Boeing 777 fleets with two external cameras in which passengers can view the scenery at the front and below the aircraft as shown on the bottom photo here.
EK even equipped their Boeing 777 fleets with two external cameras in which passengers can view the scenery at the front and below the aircraft as shown on the bottom photo here.
Headphone, pillow and blanket were already put at every seat by the time we reached our seats.
Welcome announcements were made in Arabic, and then English. Soon afterwards, flight safety video was shown in both languages, with Arabic version being shown first. Menu cards and hot towels were distributed to all passengers.
EK menu card…
The menu card is designed specifically for this flight route…
We started our pushback for take-off at Runway 32R which is just a brief distance away from where we parked. As our aircraft was being pushed back, the engines were started. There were a brief high pitched sound emanating from the engines that can be heard in the cabin as the engines heated-up, but then it spooled down. We taxied towards Runway 32R along with other aircrafts. Our aircraft is the biggest to taxi at the time, so I personally felt an aura of ego of some sort, hehehe. After a short hold at Runway 32R, the engines began to roar into life and as the thrust becoming more intensified, the aircraft moved faster and faster down the runway until it lifted off the ground at around 3.45PM.
Soon after take-off, we turned sharply to the south which took us over parts of southern Selangor and northern Negeri Sembilan.
We reached the Strait of Malacca after exiting Malay Peninsula airspace as we ascended towards our cruising altitude
We flew along the strait. Soon afterwards, Singapore came into view.
I watched Thor: The Dark World. Actually, I had been planning to watch this movie, and since the movie was shown in cinemas last year, I purposely want to watch the movie on this flight. Now, my desire has come into fruition.
We then entered Indonesian airspace over some islands just off the coast of Sumatera.
With the external cameras, one of the views passengers can see is directly down what is below the aircraft.
We cruised at our initial cruising altitude of 33,000 feet…
Complimentary drink and snack were served before our main meal. Immigration cards as you can see here were distributed to all passengers which were to be filled upon arriving at MEL.
Despite being almost a full flight, the seat next to me was actually empty. Before takeoff, one of the cabin crews came to me and asked whether there was someone seated next to me in which I replied no. She later said that there was a girl who wished to move to a different seat because her I.C.E. got technical issues. Upon hearing it, my first impression was that of a little girl who might cause a nuisance (OK, I was a bit annoyed at first). To my surprise, the 'girl' the cabin crew mentioned about is actually a high school student. So, that's OK.
We were just about to cross Java.
As we crossed above Java, we were greeted with landscapes flushed with populated places and farmlands - which is to be expected at the world's most populous island.
Beautiful mushroom cloud above Java.
I had a small chat with the person seated beside me who just moved from her original seat. Turned out, she was part of a group of an all girls school in Victoria that just came back from conducting musical performances in Europe. I asked her why can't they just take a direct flight from DXB to MEL without stopping in-between as it would save on time (She actually complaint of exhaustion as a result from long flight from Europe). She also had no idea as the trip was planned by their teachers. 50% of the cost were bore by them, while the rest were sponsored by the school. She didn't do pretty much in the flight. She was just busy listening to music from the I.C.E. and drawing on her notebook (She was drawing a figure of a person which even attracted the attention of one of the cabin crews as the drawing was kind of artistic).
I think it only took us roughly several minutes to cross Java. We entered the Indian Ocean as soon as we exited Indonesia.
Dinner was about to be served as we about to enter the Indian Ocean. Based on the menu card, I opted for Pan-Fried Chicken with Chilli Sauce, served with Rice and Green Vegetables. The cabin crews started serving passengers starting from the front. By the time the meal cart arrived our row, I requested for the meal I mentioned just now. However, the nice cabin crew manning the cart said the main meal (the Pan-Fried Chicken) was not immediately available (in the cart), but further said she would check at the galley to see if there is any main meal left that I requested.
She gave me the full dinner set without the main meal as she went looking for it in the galley…
So, I waited and waited until my neighbours almost finished their meals. OK, that wasn't expected. Then, I saw the cabin crew who were supposed to search for the main meal I requested went to the front economy cabin. I was hoping that she might find a meal there that I requested. But, then it had been several minutes, and I thought she must have forgotten my request. My neighbour, knowing that I had yet to received my main meal, managed to get another cabin crew to get me my requested meal. Soon afterwards, problem solved and the cabin crew apologised. She then asked me whether I want any hot drinks in which I politely declined.
Now, dinner set was complete. So I not only being served with the main meal. There was also a bread (as you can see here), a packet of cracker breads, a chicken tikka slice (served with mixed bean salad and lettuce), a Mediterranean vegetable spread, a packet of margarine, a packet of chili sauce, one slice of Tiramisu cake and a bar of chocolate. The meal was very satisfying. Even before I managed to finished all the food, I already felt almost full. The portion was pretty much adequate.
The ride was bumpier due to turbulence as we cruised above the Indian Ocean.
I must be the last person to finish my dinner. The cabin crew that gave me my main meal came to me to put away my dinner tray. She then asked me again whether I want any hot drink. This time I opt for plain hot tea. Surprisingly, the same thing happened again. I didn't received my requested beverage. And this involved a different cabin crew. So, I finally press the call button (which is located at the I.C.E. console player), but to no avail. Then, a male cabin crew passed by my seat. I immediately stopped him and requested a hot tea. Later on, he came back to me with a hot tea.
Nice set of hot tea…
The I.C.E. also offers entertainment from different countries. So, I went to search for any Malaysian made movies (For the sake of the fans of Malay movies) in which I found only 3. I reckon Arabic, Chinese and Indian entertainment options are more plentiful but I have no complaints. Hollywood movies are more than enough.
We reached the coast of Western Australia (WA) during nightfall. As I looked through the window, I can see rather strange glowing lights at around the northwest coast of WA. I said it was strange because, the more you staring at it, it seemed that it wasn't the lights of urban areas, but more like flames. Does it have to do with the mining activity down there?
Cabin lights were dimmed, and artificial stars started appearing on the ceiling. Pretty creative…
We were about two hours from MEL at a final cruising altitude at 37,000 feet. I watched a second movie titled 'Saving Mr. Banks' starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. We were above South Australia at this point and will overflew Adelaide, my intended destination.
We had our light meal in the form of sandwich (a Sundried tomato baguette - served with chicken slices and mixed lettuce), and a banana cake as dessert. Funnily, I thought this was our 'breakfast'. Turned out, I misinterpreted the breakfast section at the menu card. That breakfast was for the earlier DXB-KUL leg of this half the world journey.
As we got nearer to MEL, cabin lights were slowly brighted to different colour hues to simulate morning lights.
Around 30 minutes to destination, we started our descent over western Victoria. It was still dark outside as the plane descended towards the airport with little sign of civilisation outside. Then…
…Australia's second largest city came into view. The plane slowly flew above parts of the city's outer suburban areas to land at Runway 34. Seemed like everyone onboard upon seeing the view were amazed by how sprawled Melbourne is.
Runway 34 came into view via external camera.
As soon as the wheels touched the runway, several people onboard were clapping their hands including my neighbour. Curious, I asked her why they did that and the reply was simple, it was a very smooth landing. I actually agree, the landing was smooth.
We exited the runway and taxied towards Terminal 2. The ground temperature was 12 degree celcius. JetStar aircrafts were parked for the night.
Seemed like only our flight arrived that night.
As usual, everyone got off their seats and took their belongings for disembarking. I made sure everything was at hand including passport and immigration card (which I filled prior to landing). Upon at arrival hall, I picked up my bag at the baggage carousel and off to the immigration counter for passport and visa clearance. Well, remember I told about an issue of me purportedly having two visas under my name? Well, this was it. As my turn came, as usual my passport was checked by immigration officer on duty that night. Then, suddenly, the officer turned around and called her supervisor which stood just nearby. She then handed over my passport to the supervisor. Soon after that, the supervisor asked me to meet him. He explained to me that I had actually two visas under my name simultaneously. One visa has my surname with single name while the other had two separate names. Basically, the spelling of my surname never change, it just that text spacing can cause a whole lot of trouble. For example:
JOHN DOE JOHNDOE
So, I was actually faced with that situation. The immigration supervisor finally gave the option by which I had to choose which surname I wished to use. Logically, whatever my full name stated in my passport that would be the one that is correct. He cancelled the other name and problem solved. Phew! Yay! I finally set foot on Australia! _ _ _ _ _
*I finally traced the source of my visa problem. We did our visa application via a travel agent at Kota Kinabalu. Basically, Malaysia is one of the few countries in which visa issued by Australian government can be applied online. This is called Electronic Travel Authority (or simply ETA). I realised that after completing and confirmed my visa at the travel agent, I was issued with two paper slips as a written proof that I obtain an approval to enter Australia as a tourist. The visa itself does not need to be pasted onto your passport page as a chip embedded in the passport already contain such visa information. _________________________
That's all for now. Stay tuned for my first ever domestic flight in a foreign country from Melbourne to Adelaide onboard JetStar Airways.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES…
Kuala Lumpur - KUL
Melbourne - MEL
This is my very first time taking an international flight using an airline that is neither based in the origin (KUL) or destination (MEL) city. A '5th freedom' flights like this can truly be a unique experience. So, being a first timer onboard Emirates, how do I think about the services? The meal was superb (for an economy class) and the inflight entertainment was just amazing as it kept me entertained and made me forget that this is a long haul flight.
However, same thing cannot be said of the cabin crews. Don't get me wrong, the crews were good in their job. I even saw one of them became happy upon seeing a mother and her infant and treating them with a joyful mood. But based on my experience with them so far, they need to improve and focus on their response to passenger request as swift as possible (literally, another way of saying don't be forgetful). Perhaps, there exist a language barrier between them and I? Or the crews were too busy serving other passengers until they forget my main meal or tea? I am not sure.
Overall, it was a very satisfying flight and despite my minor criticism of the crew, I am looking forward to fly Emirates in the future.
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