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Old Sep 14, 09, 12:56 pm
  #1  
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Index to my trip reports

If you like this report, you may be interested in some of my other trip reports.
  1. AKL-YYZ with NZ/AC in F & C - my first trip report
  2. Europe to Iceland & return on Icelandair (FI) - somewhere different
  3. Some FTers DO the Inaugural Worlds Longest Flight SIN-EWR vv 28 June 2004 - 2 long flights back to back
  4. 7 Crazy Days - includes an almost inaugural flight
  5. Champagne and figure eights on ice - Antarctica flightseeing
  6. a Lit.tle sPRinG.Ly JoUrney (BUDding KiwiS Can zig-ZAG around Europe) - mostly central and eastern Europe
  7. Big DO DOs - or a Kiwi Flyer's Month of Madness - lots of flights
  8. Another Manic Month for Kiwi - again lots of flights
  9. Mini Tour of NZ - over 100 domestic flights in New Zealand covering all domestic routes (ongoing)
  10. Across the Globe in 5 Continents - criss-crossing the globe
  11. Auckland to National Park by Train - train in New Zealand's North Island
  12. Across the Globe in 5 Continents Again - criss-crossing the globe, but this time mainly on One World
  13. A Warm Embrace of the Tropics - short trips to the tropical South Pacific
  14. Singapore (SQ) new first and business class, plus a medley of 12 F & C SQ flights - name says it all really
  15. Across the Globe in 4 Continents - around the world on star alliance, including some unusual flights
  16. Queensland And Northern Territory Aerial Sampler - a sampling of Qantas flights, domestic and international, in economy and business (ongoing)
  17. Around the World in Under 60 Hours - around the world in a weekend
  18. The Heat is On - another longhaul economy trip in under 60 hours - what a contrast, Asia and Qantas' new first class lounges
  19. Fast on the ground and in the air - it must be Shanghai – a flying visit to Shanghai + Maglev
  20. It's a Fine Line Between Pleasure & Pain: 4 wacky weeks 2 RTW C, inaugural longhaul Y – mostly One World
  21. Back and forth across the Pacific on a variety of airlines in a selection of classes - 16 crossings of the Pacific plus some other related flights
  22. It isn't every day that you witness a hijacking attempt + NZ's forgotten 4th island - a visit to Chatham Islands coincides with New Zealand's first hijacking attempt
  23. There and back - first day Air NZ flies to Coolangatta (Gold Coast)
  24. A Run Around (part of) The Axis of Evil: A Perfect *A RTW in C? - Axis of Evil 0 US Immigration 1
  25. Wellington to Auckland by train - self-explanatory title
  26. A mad couple of days flying, including domestic international flights - a double longhaul inaugural, domestic international shuttle and domestic leg of an international flight
  27. Regional C *A RTW & (hopefully) finishing flying every route (100+) for an airline - featuring new QF First on A380 special flight, "you have to get off now", and 105th different current route with NZ
  28. One World Revolutions - Around Mostly the Southern Hemisphere - mostly Southern Hemisphere and mostly on One World on a mix of products
  29. Cris-cros the Med & the Globe on Emirates, Qantas & Star Alliance in mix of F/C/Y+/Y – starting with EK First on A380 and ending with Qantas economy, with a lot of travel mostly on *A in between
  30. An FTer flies to a Do (or Why take the nonstop when you can fly 10 flights instead?) - combining an FT Do with an aerial tour of northern Queensland
  31. The Ultimate Qantas Flight - short report on the ultimate flight
  32. Premium Flying Across the Ditch (Between New Zealand and Australia) - experiencing the forward cabins on Trans-Tasman flights (ongoing)
  33. 5 Boeings Straight to the Airbus Do - FTer feasts in first, business & economy - my journey to & from the *A / Airbus Mega Do
  34. NZ route oddities & One World turns by night (redeye special) - an odd collection of flight routes & schedules around the world
  35. From my first low cost redeye to a first class trifecta - an insane fortnight - some firsts of all types
  36. G'day, kia orana - it's another inaugural flight in Air New Zealand business class - a day & night tripping around the South Pacific on Air NZ
  37. A Feast of First Class Flying on British Airways, Qantas and Emirates - long distance in style
  38. A Weekend of Old and New - Lufthansa first & business, Air New Zealand business - a quick longhaul trip featuring some old and new products
  39. Star Alliance tres primo, and tres biz - a trio of first and business on Star Alliance
  40. A few flights to end 2011 - a quick trip around the world + more
  41. Five Continents in 3 Days and Some Other Mad Trips in 2012 - a selection of my 2012 travels
  42. Sky Team madness - 14 weeks, 200k miles, 5 continents, CI brand new business – mostly Sky Team
  43. Off to Star megado on Oneworld - mostly business incl brand new AA 787
  44. A Glutton for Punishment: red eye, new world's longest flight & more, in comfort?

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Apr 1, 16 at 3:47 pm
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Old Sep 14, 09, 1:32 pm
  #2  
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Index to this trip report
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updated to post #58

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INTRO

There is a wide range of premium products (first and business class) flying across the Tasman, and I've been fortunate enough to fly most of them.

It is a good route to try out longhaul hard products on a number of airlines, although service is normally much less than on longhaul flights. After all, these flights are generally of 2-4 hour duration, not 10+ hours.

I'll start with a recent trip on a new (to me) product, but I'll add others from time to time. I hope you enjoy the ride - I certainly have.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Apr 1, 16 at 3:47 pm
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Old Sep 14, 09, 7:10 pm
  #3  
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EK C A380 dinner | Auckland to Sydney (Emirates business class on A380, evening flight)

Pre-flight

I like trying out new products and so when a nice mileage promotion came up I cashed in a ridiculously small number of miles (less than Qantas charges for economy on the same route) for a business class award on Emirates A380. At the time I made the booking there was still uncertainty on when the flight would be daily so I booked a long way ahead to minimise my chances of disappointment. I travel regularly across the Tasman (a few times a month) and so getting suitable dates to fly was not a problem.

Emirates supply airport transfers (subject to certain conditions) on all flights between New Zealand and Australia, Dubai or elsewhere, for all passengers in first and business class. Yes this includes awards! ^ It's great value for me, saving hundreds of $ in cabs each round trip. I've always had problems booking the airport transfers online so I tried a different tack and arranged it by email. This was much easier and I printed the confirmation in case of any problems.

My pick-up arrived at the time I'd selected, right to the minute. The traffic was good today so we reached the airport only 40 minutes later. Before I headed off the driver checked I knew where the EK counters are, and I assured him that I did.

As usual, there was a huge queue at check in for there are 3 Emirates flights departing Auckland within a space of 45 minutes, and Sydney is the last of the 3. Quite incredible really, that a smallish city at the end of the world has 3 widebody flights to Dubai (one each via Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne). As a tag leg with fifth freedom rights, the load across to Australia varies considerably from flight to flight - some days there are few passengers and others there are lots. Today the Sydney flight is not too full.

Premium check in lines for First, Business, Skywards Gold and Skywards Silver passengers are empty and I have a choice of desks. The agent asked to weigh my carry-on, and since it is very light I am not asked to check it. I am soon handed a boarding pass & lounge invite card, and asked if I know the way to the lounge. Yes I think I can find it, thanks, I've only been down the corridor to all the international lounges a few hundred times.

There is a brief wait at the premium immigration desk against the wall closest to the domestic terminal before it is my turn. The officer recognises me and we have a brief chat while he works. Once done I walked the entire length of the check in area to reach the escalator for departures. Upstairs they are still doing renovations around the immigration area and so currently we have to walk through the food court, dodging many groups of people seeing off friends and family as well as those trying to eat & drink, and then through a little maze to the preclearance lane.

A quick check by immigration that I match the picture on my passport and the boarding pass and passport are in the same name, then security. I duck right as I see the far lane has no queue and all the other open lines are at least 10 deep. I'm quickly through WTMD & x-ray, and manage to avoid the random explosives check. There is the usual zig-zag course to the Emirates lounge which I can do in my sleep. I hand over invite card and boarding pass and I'm welcomed back.

I grab a computer to do some work, with the odd drink of a very nice sauvignon blanc and nibbles also. The drink selection looks as good as it always has been (puts Qantas and Air NZ lounges to shame, other than in the beer department), but the food has been cut back a bit since my previous visit a few months ago. There is still a reasonable selection by most lounge standards - a few different hot nibbles, some soup, a moderate spread of cold food (and real food no nonsense crisps biscuits or pretzels here).

A little while later I get a message that serfty has arrived so I packed up and headed upstairs to the Qantas lounge. While I have open doors access the rules changed a while back to limit this to business lounge, but I'm invited into the first side anyway. ^ It is fairly quiet and we have a wee chat before it is time to leave to board. The A380 always uses the B pier (gates 15 L&R and 16 L&R), which is a long walk. Usually one of the other Emirates flights also uses the B pier with the third flight on the main pier. Today, however, the other airline to regularly use the B gates, Pacific Blue, has an aircraft there and so the Emirates A340 and 777 are both hidden from view on the far side of the main pier.

I'd been told in the Emirates lounge that Sydney now has smartgate immigration for Australian & New Zealanders (with chipped passports) at Sydney's non-oneworld pier, so I made a visit to the machine outside the Qantas lounge to save time on arrival.

Onboard

By the time we reached the gate boarding was underway. It is difficult to know when boarding starts for flights at this pier because the boarding call is made very early to allow for the time to walk from shops or lounge to the gate. Indeed we had several "last call" announcements while en route and yet it was clear these were false - for example on arriving particular rows were invited to board now. For premium there was no specific call and no queue so I took the right hand desk to get my boarding pass checked and walked along the airbridge. Being a dual purpose airbridge the layout is a bit odd - first you walk down to the junction and then uphill to the upper level. This arrangement allows the airbridge to be used by two narrowbody aircraft simultaneously (separated by glass wall down the middle) or bigger aircraft such as A380 with certain passengers down each side.

When I got to the top I realised boarding had not yet commenced for first and business class. There was still a rope across the airbridge. An FA untethered it and welcomed me aboard, indicating the general direction I should head. As first to board I had no problem with storage of my carry on. The window overhead bins seemed a bit too small for rollaboards, but the centre bins are fine.

The Emirates A380 business class layout is unusual. It is in a 1-1-1-1 layout providing aisle access for every seat. This is a relatively new phenomonen in business class which seems to be spreading. However, it is not a herringbone layout (seats angled towards the aisle instead of facing forward). Instead the seats all face forward but each row is offset to the seats in front. The small diagram below illustrates.

Code:
| X X  X X |
|Z   ZZ   Z|
| X X  X X |
|Z   ZZ   Z|
| X X  X X |
The legs go into a cubby from the seat in front, a little like SQ's "new" longhaul business class seat (on A345, 77W & A380 aircraft). However instead of having lots of seat width it is narrow (for business class) with a rather solid drinks table and minibar on top of the feet of the person behind you. In this way the rows can be placed much closer together than most other longhaul business class products. The aisle is fairly narrow, as is the space to get in and out of middle seats and window seats (Z's in the diagram above).

I'm only moderately tall but I found it very uncomfortable in the sitting position due to lack of legroom. The aisle seats (X's) have less legroom than the middle and window seats (Zs), by several inches. The window seats feel like a squashed up budget version of a suite - the walls of the seat provide a reasonable amount of privacy, you aren't sitting close to anyone else, and there is lots of space to put things (table plus bonus side locker). However the seat feels cramped. I'm not sure I'd want to sit or sleep in one for a long flight. The middle seats are not as private and would be ideal for couples. These are a bit like a squished version of the middle club world seats on BA, but facing forwards. The aisle seats are more open, and thus better for claustrophobes, but the penalty is even less space.

Overall the new seat is an interesting experiment but I hope it doesn't catch on, or at least gets expanded to give a bit more room and legroom. I think the new Swiss seat is in the same kind of staggered layout. Is that one any better?

While boarding was underway I checked out the magazine rack at the bulkhead, but the selection was poor. A pre-departure drink came by quickly - a choice of water, orange juice or champagne. Also offered a newspaper, but I already had one.

I switched on the IFE. With Emirates the ICE system is already on when you board so can start watching a movie immediately. This is a big plus on the trans-Tasman flights which are relatively short duration. It isn't quite as good as Air New Zealand's gate to gate IFE system for 2 reasons - (1) shortly after take-off the system is paused to play a welcome to Emirates "video", twice (once in Arabic and again in English), and (2) in business class the headphones are removed at top of descent (but first class passengers are allowed to keep theirs). Unfortunately I hadn't appreciated this subtlety (it has been a while since I've flown Emirates other than in first) and so I hadn't brought my own headphones to compensate. Still, I managed to watch 1 full movie and half of another during the flight.

After the initial climb we were asked for drink orders and food selection for all courses. A little bowl of nuts and some bubbly soon followed. There were frequent top-ups and about an hour into the flight dinner was served. The service was great and they seemed to know whenever my glass was emptied. I enjoyed having the meal at my own pace and timed it just right finishing up just before they needed to pack everything away.

We were not handed express cards, and when I enquired I was told there were none loaded. Amenity was limited to eye shades and socks, tucked away next to the mini-bar. The mini-bar had water, juice and cola - all in tiny bottles.

It didn't seem long and we were touching down at Sydney and taxiing into our gate.

Post-flight

As is often the case in Sydney there was a long wait for the airbridge to be connected. I bolted for immigration, was first to use the smartgate and quickly through. Customs had long queues. I first tried express lane but without an Emirates express card I was denied (my other express cards offered up were rejected). I scouted for a roving officer to see if I could get a stamp on the arrivals card to bypass queues and quarantine x-ray but there were none. So I traipsed to the back of a very long slow-moving queue. The usual two checks of the arrivals card before even getting close to x-ray machines. Would tonight be the first time in many flights that I'd have to do quarantine x-ray at Sydney? It was looking likely.

As I slowly moved forward with the queue I came to another officer who'd let out a few low risk people to bypass x-ray due to the lengthy queues. She closed the barrier just before I reached the gap. Foiled. The queues apparently are now not "too long". Luckily for me she reacted to my body language, checked my arrival card, and decided to let me through. Yay. But I was a bit ticked off that I'd spent over 30 minutes queueing and being checked by 3 others, any of whom could have let me through, to then be let through by the 4th person checking.

Arriving landside I passed the throng of waiting friends and families of other travellers and hunted for the pre-booked transfer people. There wasn't many. Oh oh - no sign of my name. I wandered over to one guy who looked like he was picking up an Emirates passenger to enquire. He didn't know what happened but made a call to the office and after a few minutes waiting I was told the driver was still en route to the terminal That is twice this year this has happened to me at Sydney flying Emirates - not a very professional service. A short while later my ride arrived. At Sydney the money-grubbing airport does not allow pick-up from directly in front of the terminal even if you are already waiting and so we had a walk across to a special parking lot (naturally with charges by the airport company). Fortunately it wasn't raining tonight so I didn't get wet.

My mind drifted off during the drive to my hotel and when I looked up after what felt like ages we were still only on O'Riordan Street. By the time we reached the hotel it was an hour later than I expected, although of course much of that delay was waiting for the airbridge and customs.

Summary

The service was good as expected on Emirates, if less polished and not as fawning as in first class. I felt it was a good balance. The food was okay without being stunning - better than average for a short flight, not as good as the best longhaul food (but much better than say United). The drink was very good.

The big let-down for me was the seat. I hate it. The concept is good but for me it is very uncomfortable. Unlike some airlines there is a chasm between business and first class seat comfort on Emirates.

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Sep 15, 09 at 12:31 am
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Old Sep 15, 09, 12:33 am
  #4  
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menu | EK C A380 dinner | Auckland to Sydney (Emirates business class on A380, evening flight)

Bar Service

Aperitifs

A selection of fruit juices and soft drinks

Bacardi Rum, Campari, Gin, Jack Daniels, Rye, Sweet or Dry Sherry, Sweet or Dry Vermouth, Vodka, Scotch Whisky, Malt Whisky

A selection of international beers

Cocktails

Black Russian, Bloody Mary, Bucks Fizz, Champagne Cocktail, Cosmopolitan (US routes), Fantasy Island, Jumeirah Delight (non alcoholic), Kir Royal, Manhattan, Martini Cocktail Classic, Screwdriver, Vodka Martini

Wines

A selection of fine wines from internationally renowned vineyards of the old and new world

Champagne Brut

Liqueuers

Baileys Irish Cream, premium Cognac, Cointreau, Drambuie, Late Bottled Vintage Port, Tia Maria


Dinner

Appetiser

Char siew duck
a semarinated and roast duck in char siew spices, served on a bed of citrus fennel salad and accompanied by a tomato and pepper salsa

Nori rolls
seaweed sheets filled with a salmon and red snapper mousse, served with a sweet apricot chutney and fresh seasonal greens

Main Course

Moroccan lamb salad
mesclun salad leaves topped with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, toasted pine nuts and grilled lamb

Pan-seared snapper fillet
topped with a creamy lemon grass sauce, accompanied with steamed jasmine rice with shredded coconut and sauteed vegetables

Pumpkin pansoti
tossed in a fresh basil and plum tomato sauce, with grilled courgette and aubergine slices and herb marinated cherry tomatoes

Deli platter
a selection of thinly sliced cold cuts such as bresaola, smoked turkey breast, light duck liver mousse on brioche bread and a variety of cheeses including blue cheese, cheddar and brie, served with a savoury leek and mushroom tartlet

Dessert

Chocolate mousse
a smooth and rich chocolate mousse served with a sweet berry compote

Bread

Bread basket
a variety of freshly baked rolls and garlic bread

Cheese

International cheese selection
specially selected international cheeses, matured to perfection and served with a selection of crudites, crackers and dried fruits

Fruit

Fresh seasonal fruit

Beverages

Tea
Ceylon, China, Earl Grey, Camomile

Coffee
freshly brewed, decaffeinated, espresso and cappuccino

Chocolates
to accompany a freshly brewed cup of tea or coffee


EK413-AKLSYDDXB-J-C_A380


Business Class Wine List

Champagne

Moet & Chandon, Brut Imperial NV
A harmonious blend of the three Champagne grape varieties - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, from the most expressive crus of the Champagne region. Brut Imperial embodies the Moet & Chandon style. It is a complete, generous and dynamic champagne. The wine has matured on the leaves for several years until considered ready for drinking by the Chef de Cave.

White Wine

Craggy Range Yacht Club Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Marlborough New Zealand
Pale and green tinged in appearance. Bright aromas of lemongrass, lime, herbs, grapefruit and spring flowers. The palate is juicy yet elegant in structure, with an ultra fine texture and a beautiful array of citrus and sweet herb flavours, and delicate floral notes. This crunchy single vineyard wine finishes vibrant, mouth-watering and flavour filled.

Leeuwin Estate, Chardonnay 2007, Margaret River Western Australia
Western Australia's Margaret River makes very elegant and restrained styles of wine. Leeuwin Estate is the regions leading proponent of this approach. The nose has aromas and showing ripe pears, cashew nuts, creme brulee and hints of toasty French oak. The palate displays the typical sweet fruit from Leeuwin's low cropping vineyards of dried pear, toasty creamy custard tart and nutty nuances of almond and cashew, with lingering stone fruit and a fresh clean finish.

Red Wine

Chteau Cantemerle, 2000 Haut Medoc
Punching well above its weight, the Cantemerle from the great '00 vintage is drinking magnificently today. An opulent plum ruby red with a moderately intense bouquet of black fruits, liquorice, vanilla and slight hints of cigar tobacco. It is full bodied yet elegant, with silky tannins, has a rounded mouth feel and is nicely structured. Very accessible and long on the finish.

Wither Hills, Pinot Noir 2007, Marlborough New Zealand
The Wairau Valley in the heart of Marlborough is home to the Wither Hills vineyards. A wonderful deep garnet hue sets the tone for this classic Pinot Noir. The aromas are youthful, complex and ever evolving in the glass. Look for aromas of ripe black cherry and rich plum surrounded by blueberry fruit. On the palate the wine just melts with enchanting fresh forest red fruit flavours and leaves you looking for a second sip.

Port

Quinta do Noval, 2002 Late Bottled Vintage
This delicious rich LBV is aged for four and a half years in large wooden vats in the deep cellars of the Quinta in the demarcated region of the Duoro Valley before bottling. Dark brick ruby colour, with a vigorous ripe red fruity nose. Smooth and silky, with a solid tannic structure and a long harmonious finish. Ideally served as an accompaniment to cheese, dessert, or on its own at the end of a meal.
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Old Sep 15, 09, 12:58 am
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Glad to be reading another KF TR

Just thinking yesterday that it had been a while. If there are better TR writers I am not sure who they are. The lack of pix does not worry me - the words paint them anyway.

Keep em coming KF.
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Old Sep 15, 09, 1:15 am
  #6  
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HOLIDAY INN not so good

Arriving to check in and I was in a rush. I was supposed to be helping Noelene & co raid the mini-bar, and I was late. First there was a queue at the desk. There were only a couple of people on duty on the desk and they seemed to be slowly working their way through some issues for guests. Eventually it was my turn.

Check in got off to a bad start when I got a little lecture about the credit card fee before I'd even given my name or card. Yes, IHG in Australia has implemented a 1.5% credit card fee with little warning. Too bad if you booked before the new "rule" came into effect for subsequent stays. I asked if it applied to me given I had prepaid the room and there was no mention of this charge when I did so. I was told it would be waived if I had no further charges to the room, or if I opted to pay them in cash. They seemed unsure about this and were unconvincing, but I resolved to get check in over with and deal with it in the morning when I check out.

I was given a key-card with a "congrats we've upgraded you", and asked if I knew the way to the room. Having stayed at this hotel several times before I knew my way. I asked for a wake up call and left. A wait for the elevator, then up several levels, along to my room, open the door, put keycard in the slot and turn on the lights. Hmm that is odd they aren't working. I tried a few other switches and the room remained dark. While I could have called for maintenance to deal with it, I wanted to change before heading out and was really in a hurry so I decided to try and get a new room instead.

Back along the corridor, wait at the lift, down several levels and rejoin the queue for checking in. Another moderate wait until it is my turn. I explain the problem. They are sympathetic and arrange for another room. The keycard is recoded, the wakeup call transferred across and I head back to the lift. Another wait. Up. Into the refurbished room. This time the lights work. But there was only 2 small bulbs in the bathroom, both rather dim. The bedroom wasn't much better. What is it with refurbishments that take away basic amenities like sufficient lighting? It is all very well having a room that looks good, but it needs to be functional foremost, I reckon.

After an internal debate (which I won) I headed out, again, to complain, again. I'm not normally a complainer, really. Another wait in the queue. I get a different person so this time it takes longer to tell what is the problem. I sense a stiffened backbone as the attitude slowly changes. Is it really a problem I'm asked? When I insisted it was I am told the hotel is almost full and the only option is to downgrade me. I don't know if that is a line, or perhaps something they just do for "complainers", or perhaps it is the truth. I really didn't care. I would take it, if that is what it takes to get a properly equipped room.

My key card was re-swiped and I trudge back. Another wait for the elevator, up a couple of levels and walk along the corridor to the room. I dump my carry-on and realise with shock it has taken me over an hour to get checked in.

I realise that I'm both tired and grumpy. Not a good combination, and not the best for socialising. Particularly when I only had a few short hours before my wake-up call. So I relucantly opted out of the mini-bar party.

I had a short sleep and awoke while it was still dark. Oh crud - I've long overshot my wakeup time. A quick shower. As I wake up I realise the wakeup call didn't get transferred across to this room. I hope there was no one in the room I previously had, and if there was sorry about the OMG wakeup. Just as I hop out I'm called about my ride - they are waiting for me. I quickly dress. I'm already packed so I'm out the door within 10 minutes of waking up. In contrast to checking in the check out is speedy - nothing to pay, have a nice day.

As mentioned before I've stayed at this hotel several times with never a problem, and usually a nice upgrade, no wait in checking in, no problems with wakeup calls, etc. The experience was uncharacteristic and hopefully a one-off. I haven't made a complaint about the room quality (or lack of) or poor service. I probably should, at least in respect of the inadequate lighting, as how else but through feedback will they know of such problems?
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Old Sep 15, 09, 1:17 am
  #7  
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Why thank you dragonman, for such kind words. I do have a few other interesting flights to write up, but have been too busy lately. As for the boring flights (I have plenty of these too), I think they are best not written up.
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Old Sep 15, 09, 2:17 am
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Thanks for the review of the EK A380 J, Kiwi Flyer. Odd that it doesn't hit the mark on the seat. Perhaps they should just go back to conventional layouts.

The seating and spacing looks similar to 8-across, which is the same for BA CW, of which the seats are also kinda narrow (well, at least compared to QF Millennium J).

I think many people really like EK premium for the limo service though - invaluable, especially in AKL and MEL where the airport is much more than a cooee away from the city.


Which HI did you stay in? Is that a fair question or is it not right to name and shame? There are a handful of HIs in SYD; I only know of one HI that has been renovated, i.e. Potts Point. In saying that, some of the others may have followed suit by now.

Also, I have no idea how low lighting is the low you experienced, but I find that low level lighting in rooms is becoming more common (not say very common, but it is cropping up more and more). Energy saving focus???
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Old Sep 15, 09, 12:20 pm
  #9  
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No it is not 8 across. Apologies if I gave that impression. This picture may help.

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Old Sep 15, 09, 12:40 pm
  #10  
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Thanks for a very interesting report Kiwi Flyer.

I had thought of using the EK AKL-SYD for the chance of flying the A380 but decided just to stick to the CHC-SYD 777 service instead......maybe I chose right?
We arrived into SYD at a very quiet time of day and on a Sunday so we had no problem finding our driver who was waiting for us. I was very impressed with EK that day in fact it was one of the most enjoyable flights we have ever had. ^
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Old Sep 15, 09, 2:51 pm
  #11  
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EK C A380 brunch | Sydney to Auckland (Emirates business class on A380, morning flight)

Pre-flight

I slept during the drive to the airport and so we got there very quickly. The driver made sure I knew where the Emirates check-in was, parking fairly close to the nearest door.

The check-in area was devoid of passengers so I had a choice of desks. I then found out why there were no passengers - the flight had been delayed "about an hour". Apparently they'd tried calling me last night & left a message at the hotel for me. I was given an express immigration card along with my boarding pass. No lounge invite card this time. I was asked if I knew where the lounge is - yes I do, I walk past it every time I have an international transit at SYD other than on Oneworld.

Immigration was closed, probably because the Emirates flight was late (for it is the first of the day from this pier). So I read some papers while I waited. Half an hour later the doors were opened. I pocketed my express card for another time - being the first person through means no need to waste the card. I was quickly processed, this time stamped on a full page (yay) and through security very quickly. The person doing the random explosives checks wasn't quite ready so I sped through before they had the chance to pick me.

The duty-free store was closed but you can walk around it by turning right for gate 52 (IIRC) immediately in front of the store. On reaching the lounge I was informed it would be empty for a while (apparently I was the only premium passenger originating in Sydney they had not been able to contact, thus the lounge opened when it did just for me ). I felt a bit guilty and so resolved to use at least some of the facilities so that it was worthwhile for the lounge being open.

I had some juice and did some work while I waited. The lounge slowly filled up and became quite full. Evidently today's flight will be almost full.

Onboard

I left the lounge 15 minutes before I expected boarding to commence so I could do some shopping. I hadn't even got 2 steps away when I heard the boarding call. So the shopping was rushed. By the time I reached the gate boarding was almost completed, or so I thought.

It seemed we might only be 30 minutes late, or even less. As I walked along the airbridge the flight from Bangkok pulled into the adjacent gate - that aircraft continues on to Christchurch.

I'd selected a different seat deliberately so I could check out any seating differences. The post (above) on the flight to Sydney explains that yes there is a distinct difference in legroom, storage and privacy between the various seats.

Again the magazine rack had a poor selection and this time there was no offer of a newspaper or a pre-departure drink. Poor form. I did, however, get handed a Sydney express arrivals card. Oh dear.

Meal orders were taken while we were on the ground. I'm not sure if that is normal, or if it was the crew taking the initiative for the unexplained delay in pushing back. We ended up leaving rather later than I thought at the time of boarding for reasons not made clear to the passengers. So I managed to finish off the rest of the movie which I'd half-seen on the flight over, and start on another movie all before we left.

The first drink took an age to arrive, and was soon followed by setting my table for the meal. However the food took even longer. It was about 90 minutes into the flight before starter was served. With an expected flight time of just 2 1/2 hours I was just about ready to push the call button and ask where it had gotten to.

A long time elapsed and the main course didn't turn up. I did end up using the call button to enquire after I saw crew walking past with desserts while I still had the empty starter plate on my tray. The main was inedible - it had obviously been sitting on a bench somewhere and was a cold congealed mass. I also struggled to get any drink, even water. The service was as bad as it gets on USA domestic flights, and certainly the worst I've had on Emirates and a major contrast to the flight to Sydney.

At top of descent I asked for the main and my tray to be cleared away. There was no sign of any afters for me. I also got missed with the post meal hot towel service.

Headphones were taken away and so I watched the nose cam. Unfortunately not much of a view today due to low cloud and showers. We flew over the central city, turned over Hauraki Gulf to land back to the west, but land was sighted only over Manukau City.

Post-flight

We got the gate at end of pier B as expected. It seemed to take a long time for the airbridge to connect, followed by a long wait for all first class passengers to disembark before we were allowed to leave. This means lots of economy passengers have also left, and long queues at immigration.

I was through immigration quickly. I took the right hand lane for customs because everyone seems to use the left one and ignore the other 2 lanes. As the lanes curve around behind a wall it is impossible to see how long each lane is, unless the queues are excessive. That trick saved me 10 minutes waiting. At x-ray I went for the left hand open machine because there was only 2 people in that queue, compared with about 30 at the other machines.

This time the driver was waiting for me and I was out very quickly. Indeed he recognised me as a frequent international flyer. There were huge numbers of pre-booked transfer cars, it seemed all three Emirates flights today were rather full. So we had a long walk to the car.

Post-flight

This flight was very disappointing. Other than having the lounge to myself for a while and the airport transfers, I would have been better off in economy flying Air NZ - better seat comfort, food, drink & especially service.
Kiwi Flyer is offline  
Old Sep 15, 09, 2:52 pm
  #12  
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Join Date: Nov 2003
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menu | EK C A380 brunch | Sydney to Auckland (Emirates business class on A380, morning flight)

Bar Service

Aperitifs

A selection of fruit juices and soft drinks

Bacardi Rum, Campari, Gin, Jack Daniels, Rye, Sweet or Dry Sherry, Sweet or Dry Vermouth, Vodka, Scotch Whisky, Malt Whisky

A selection of international beers

Cocktails

Black Russian, Bloody Mary, Bucks Fizz, Champagne Cocktail, Cosmopolitan (US routes), Fantasy Island, Jumeirah Delight (non alcoholic), Kir Royal, Manhattan, Martini Cocktail Classic, Screwdriver, Vodka Martini

Wines

A selection of fine wines from internationally renowned vineyards of the old and new world

Champagne Brut

Liqueuers

Baileys Irish Cream, premium Cognac, Cointreau, Drambuie, Late Bottled Vintage Port, Tia Maria


Brunch

Juice

Fruit juices
freshly squeezed orange, grapefruit juice or a refreshing detox drink, made of fresh beetroot, celery, apple and ginger

Fruit

Fresh seasonal fruit

Main Course

Cheese and chives scrambled eggs
creamy scrambled eggs served with melted Swiss cheese and chives, served with a tangy tomato and onion relish, grilled veal sausages, roasted potatoes, sauteed spinach, mushrooms and grilled capsicum

Mushroom ravioli
tossed in a creamy mushroom sauce, garnished with red cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan cheese

Tuna nicoise
classic nicoise salad, served with tuna medallions, potatoes, marinated beans and olives, offered with a lemon vinaigrette

Cheese selection
which includes goat's cheese, cheddar and brie, served with dried apricots

Dessert

Lemon curd tart
sweet and tangy lemon curd tart, topped with a quenelle of double cream

Bread

Bread basket
a variety of freshly baked breads, croissants and breakfast pastries, served with butter and preserves

Beverages

Tea
Ceylon, China, Earl Grey, Camomile

Coffee
freshly brewed, decaffeinated, espresso and cappuccino

Chocolates
to accompany a freshly brewed cup of tea or coffee


EK412-DXBSYDAKL-J-C_A380


Business Class Wine List

Champagne

Moet & Chandon, Brut Imperial NV
A harmonious blend of the three Champagne grape varieties - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, from the most expressive crus of the Champagne region. Brut Imperial embodies the Moet & Chandon style. It is a complete, generous and dynamic champagne. The wine has matured on the leaves for several years until considered ready for drinking by the Chef de Cave.

White Wine

Craggy Range Yacht Club Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Marlborough New Zealand
Pale and green tinged in appearance. Bright aromas of lemongrass, lime, herbs, grapefruit and spring flowers. The palate is juicy yet elegant in structure, with an ultra fine texture and a beautiful array of citrus and sweet herb flavours, and delicate floral notes. This crunchy single vineyard wine finishes vibrant, mouth-watering and flavour filled.

Leeuwin Estate, Chardonnay 2007, Margaret River Western Australia
Western Australia's Margaret River makes very elegant and restrained styles of wine. Leeuwin Estate is the regions leading proponent of this approach. The nose has aromas and showing ripe pears, cashew nuts, creme brulee and hints of toasty French oak. The palate displays the typical sweet fruit from Leeuwin's low cropping vineyards of dried pear, toasty creamy custard tart and nutty nuances of almond and cashew, with lingering stone fruit and a fresh clean finish.

Red Wine

Chteau Cantemerle, 2000 Haut Medoc
Punching well above its weight, the Cantemerle from the great '00 vintage is drinking magnificently today. An opulent plum ruby red with a moderately intense bouquet of black fruits, liquorice, vanilla and slight hints of cigar tobacco. It is full bodied yet elegant, with silky tannins, has a rounded mouth feel and is nicely structured. Very accessible and long on the finish.

Wither Hills, Pinot Noir 2007, Marlborough New Zealand
The Wairau Valley in the heart of Marlborough is home to the Wither Hills vineyards. A wonderful deep garnet hue sets the tone for this classic Pinot Noir. The aromas are youthful, complex and ever evolving in the glass. Look for aromas of ripe black cherry and rich plum surrounded by blueberry fruit. On the palate the wine just melts with enchanting fresh forest red fruit flavours and leaves you looking for a second sip.

Port

Quinta do Noval, 2002 Late Bottled Vintage
This delicious rich LBV is aged for four and a half years in large wooden vats in the deep cellars of the Quinta in the demarcated region of the Duoro Valley before bottling. Dark brick ruby colour, with a vigorous ripe red fruity nose. Smooth and silky, with a solid tannic structure and a long harmonious finish. Ideally served as an accompaniment to cheese, dessert, or on its own at the end of a meal.
Kiwi Flyer is offline  
Old Sep 15, 09, 5:28 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Paris 04me, France
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Thanks for another very comprehensive report.

Which Holiday Inn was this?
SYDguy is offline  
Old Sep 15, 09, 8:32 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 1,930
EK not delivering the goods in premium class? This is most unusual.


Although the SYD-AKL J menu looks pretty pedestrian in terms of the food, admittedly it looks better than what is offered on QF, LA and NZ J menus (with the possible exception of NZ Business Premier).

In saying that, the difference between what seems delicious when visualising a printed menu and what the food actually tastes like in reality are two very, very different things; i.e. this trip report.
anat0l is offline  
Old Sep 15, 09, 10:58 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: TSV, Australia
Posts: 2,394
Originally Posted by SYDguy View Post
Thanks for another very comprehensive report.

Which Holiday Inn was this?
+1. Couldn't have said either thing better myself.
camsean is offline  

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