THE FUTURE OF FLYING

Emirates EK383 Hong Kong-Dubai

Maggie Chooi finds innovation and comfort in equal measure on a recent flight from Hong Kong to Dubai on Emirates’ flagship Airbus A380.

The Lounge

Emirates has its own signature lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, located near gate 40. I was warmly welcomed by staff in Emirates’ striking uniform and guided into the lounge, which features sofas, a dedicated business centre, and café-style seating around an extensive hot and cold buffet. A full bar service offered chilled Veuve Clicquot champagne, and a good selection of spirits and mixers and as I enjoyed my Bloody Mary, staff regularly reminded guests of the updated boarding time of the Emirates flights to Bangkok and Dubai. My only niggle with the space is that it isn’t enclosed like many other lounges at HKIA, meaning it can be a little hot and bright, with ambient noise from the concourse and food court below.

Boarding

The boarding process for the three-class Airbus A380-800 was very efficient for such an extraordinarily large aircraft. After finding my seat I was greeted by a friendly cabin crew (Emirates is always very proud of its international cabin crew and on our flight the team represented 16 nationalities and spoke 17 languages) with a glass of Moët & Chandon Champagne, a wine list, and a stylish amenity kit that features miniature Bulgari products.

The Flight

The business class cabin on the Emirates flagship A380 is located on the upper deck and features a 1-2-1 configuration that offers each passenger direct aisle access. My fully lie-flat seat was superbly comfortable and offered plenty of storage space as well as easily accessed USB and AC ports power. There is also a personal minibar, stocked with mineral water and soft drinks, but as it’s not chilled most passengers preferred to order a drink or visit the bar (more on that in a moment). The seat also features Emirates’ award-winning ICE entertainment system, with 2,000 channels accessed through two controllers – a conventional remote and a tablet that also controls seat position. I found the window seats to offer more privacy than the central seats.

Emirates also offer 10MB of free wifi per passenger, and 600MB for just US$1, across all classes (the service isn’t available over China or India). I connected my Android mobile phone with the wifi and the speed was decent, with enough bandwidth to send out emails, Whatsapp messages and also check Facebook.

I also made time to visit signature Onboard Lounge, located at the rear of the upper deck, and featuring a fully stocked and serviced bar with a great selection of premium spirits. A resident bartender will even shake you up a bespoke cocktail.

Dining

Approximately 45 minutes after takeoff the crew started the dinner service. On the appetizer menu, we had a choice of sliced roast lamb loin with mango chutney; smoked salmon and caviar; and creamy tomato soup, followed by a choice of rack of lamb with tomato and olive sauce; steamed ling fillet with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables; and roast chicken with fried egg noodles for the main course. I matched my roast chicken with a dirty martini, my first on a plane, and decided to skip dessert even though there were some brilliant selections on offer. During the meal, crew patrolled the cabin with a wine and champagne sling to ensure speedy service at all times.

Summary

Emirates obviously put a lot of thought into the comfort of their premium passengers, and the high consistency of the service, paired with an extensive network, gourmet dining, free wifi service and innovations like the Onboard Lounge ensures the airline will remain a stiff competitor to any other carrier globally. www.emirates.com

Note: The author was travelling on an upgraded ticket as a guest of the airline

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