What’s Emirates Like? Dubai to Hong Kong, EK380

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At the Airport

I had arrived at the airport from an inbound flight before midnight, tired and jetlagged. I had an onward boarding pass but it did not show a boarding gate. Boarding for the HK flight was to be at 2.30 a.m. Disembarking, there were multiple buses and one had a sign for various cities including Hong Kong (not flight numbers, just the city names). It took me to terminal area A and I saw a Hong Kong flight on the monitor. As the monitor was scrolling through pages and pages, I just closed my eyes to nap until boarding. I woke up on time but was confused to see that the Hong Kong flight was listed in terminal area C. I found some staff to ask about this and they confirmed that the gate was in C.

Dubai airport being so cavernous, even at a fast clip it took over half an hour to get from where I was to the boarding gate and it was too late. Rebooking was a faff. Emirates wanted to charge me a no show fee for the first flight. I felt that was unreasonable as I had been in the wrong terminal by dint of following their signs. In the end they waived the fee but it further damaged my view of Emirates. Standing at the ticketing counter I was next to a stream of unhappy passengers whose diatribes began “I am unhappy and angry” or “I am tired and angry”.

In future I would double check the gate number in advance and not rely on Emirates’ bus signage, now that I have experienced how misleading it can be. But I also feel that this is a risk which typifies what I dislike about the big Middle Eastern airlines: one arrives in a cavernous airport and has to change, invariably it is late at night and one is tired, and the gates are so distant that if one is in the wrong place there is no way to get to the right place in time.

EK380 boarded from B17 – the monitors showed no status but I went to the gate forty five minutes before departure and already the monitors there showed “final call”. The departure lounge was mobbed with hundreds of passengers, well over ninety per cent of whom were mainland Chinese as far as I could tell, which I had not expected. We all had to form into single file for a ticket check, so the experience was boisterous.

Equipment

This was operated by an A380 (A6-EUV). I had come in on an Emirates Boeing 777 with its ten abreast configuration and the 380 felt a lot more spacious to me for some reason.

There was a USB in the seatback and a power point in alternate seats. The entertainment system is excellent, with a huge array of titles in different languages and live sports. It also has decent headphones for economy class. If one was travelling with children, I think Emirates’ entertainment system could be a helpful way to keep them occupied. Wifi inflight is not important to me but Emirates offers free wifi for a couple of hours up to a data cap. I used it and it worked well, which for a lot of Asian passengers would be pretty attractive. The ear socket is on the seatback, which gets in the way of meals, drinks and moving about.

Flight

We were delayed by twenty minutes or so to offload some passenger baggage but made it into Hong Kong ten minutes ahead of schedule, where immigration officers were at the end of the jet bridge to interview some passengers.

There was only a little light turbulence en route and the 380’s size means it pretty much glides through it. I think it is better in handling turbulence than any other plane, including the 747 by some way.

Service

The crew was composed, helpful and charming. They came through with towels, then menus, and launched straight into a meal service. I would have liked a drinks run first, but that didn’t happen. A couple of hours before landing there was a light snack.

In between times, the crew were in the cabin often and seemed eager to help passengers.

Food and Drink

The menu was as follows.

For the main meal I had chicken. That and the other dishes served in the meal were adequate though nothing special.

The snack was a filled roll and a tasty biscuit.

Conclusion

I was pretty unhappy that I had followed Emirates’ signage and missed my flight, and then had to convince them not to charge me to get the next flight. So, I came into the flight feeling pretty unhappy about Emirates. But it was a decent flight, between the good cabin crew, entertainment and alright food.

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2 Comments

  1. Christopher R. on

    My criticism of Emirates is that their bus signage was wrong. Given the size of the airport, that matters more there than it may in other airports. In future I will know to watch out for that. I think it’s a shoddy approach but don’t have a particular axe to grind. Your own experience may vary.

  2. You fell asleep, woke up too late to recheck departure gate, and get mad at Emirates for that? Then you go into lots of generalised criticisms. What a joke, sounds like you have an axe to grind.

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