When I was a travel agent, before I had experienced Emirates myself, clients used to rave about it, some refused to fly to Europe with any other airline. One of my fellow co-workers was even a flight attendant with them for around 5 years, so I had heard a lot about their company and had a pretty high expectation.
I knew Dad had a frequent flyer membership with Emirates so when it came time to plan my trip, fortune was on my side as he had points that were about to expire. I paid him instead of buying a ticket (using the points to get a flexible ticket which meant being able to change my return date whenever and however much I liked) and got very excited to be finally trying out their service as a passenger!
The following is a recount of my experience with Emirates, I have no doubt from hearing about my clients experiences and undertaking training on the airline that their business and first class product is wonderful, but unfortunately I can only speak about my economy class journey.
I flew return to Europe with Emirates from Perth, which meant four flights in total. Perth – Dubai -Istanbul and Prague- Dubai -Perth, all on Boeing 777’s and equating to around 17 hours flying time, not including stopovers (which in my experience are generally pretty short to and from Australia with the airline) in each direction. The joys of living in Australia.
On all of my flights, the service by the flight attendants was great. As a nervous flyer I walk around a lot to kill some time and stretch my legs, especially on the horror leg of Perth to Dubai (or return) which is almost 11 hours on one flight. A particular lovely attendant on my first flight was Greek and taking pictures of some passengers on a polaroid camera and then giving it to them to keep. Apparently this is something that is done on board sometimes! We started chatting in the galley/kitchen area and she even gave me tips of stuff to do in Athens, where she was from.
The quality of the food on Emirates is very good. There was always a choice for all meals between two selections and they serve you with metal cutlery which just feels nicer than using plastic. The serving size was fair, often I couldn’t eat all the components of it at once and saved the snack items like crackers for in between meals. Alcohol is served on board and the selection of beverages is wide.
Entertainment is a strong point on this airline, and there’s a lot to choose from in both Arabic and English. There was all the new release movies you could want plus a decent selection of TV shows. The music selection was really extensive too and if you’re into games there’s also some available.
Only one out of my four flights didn’t arrive on schedule, but it wasn’t late by much and this was due to delays at Prague airport. Otherwise, my three other flights were even earlier than schedule.
In Dubai, there are so many runways it’s more than likely you’ll be on a shuttle bus to the terminal to transfer to your next flight for a good 20 minutes. The process is organised most efficiently and once you’re inside Dubai airport there is clear signage everywhere to get you where you need to be, including a frequent train between terminals. I found all the terminals to be extremely modern and clean.
For my flight home Prague-Perth via Dubai, the check in staff in Prague informed me that my preference for the aisle would only be available until Dubai but they would see what they could do. After calling someone for me on the phone, they managed to get me an exit row from Dubai to Perth. Exit row for an almost 11 hour flight?? I might as well have won the lottery!
From my agency experience when booking flights for my clients, you can’t pre-purchase exit row seats with Emirates but can ask for them upon check-in at the airport and they’re generally given on a first come basis, provided you meet their conditions for sitting in the exit row.
Regular economy seats are as comfortable as you can get for long haul flights. Emirates is clearly popular since all of my flights were almost – if not at – full capacity so there was really no chance of ever getting lucky enough to stretch out.
Since I had a flexi ticket I ended up changing my return date a couple of times. The reservations staff that I contacted through their Australian office by phone was always helpful and fast. It was a bonus to never have to wait too long on the phone either in the first place when calling.
On the way over to Europe I spent a couple of days in Dubai as a stopover. Emirates can assist in organising accommodation and day tours, which I booked through their reservations team. It was an easy process, my hotel was nice and all of my activities and transfers were great and arrived on time.
I would definitely fly with Emirates again, I feel that they run a seamless product and offer a value for money service but its not necessarily a standout. A few years ago I flew with Singapore Airlines to France and it was a very similar experience to that I received this year with Emirates.
I think before Qatar and Etihad started flying out of Perth, Emirates may have had more of a wow factor, which is why many clients in the past favoured them so much. However, now with these airlines offering a similar product, flying through the Middle East with short connection times to Europe, I think there’s going to be a lot more competition to be had for the airline.
Emirates flies to over a hundred destinations worldwide, encompassing the Middle East, the Americas, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and more.