Flying Emirates is totally worth it

Last New Years Eve when I was in Paris with my friend T, we both discussed how cool it would be to fly Emirates and that it was on our bucket lists. However, that bucket list item was far down the list because there was no immediate plans to be in that part of the world. Little did I know that 30 days later, India would be on my radar and Emirates would be our airline.

Recreational travelers, like myself, read about these award winning airlines and the luxury seating of the International and First Class service. For me, there were no frequent flyer point upgrades available, this chick was paying out of pocket for two seats so economy it would be. Business class level of service would have to remain on the bucket list and I had to be content with just checking the airline off my list.

Off we went.  San Francisco to Mumbai (via Dubai) was roughly a 23 hour excursion.  16 hours alone to go over the North Pole to Dubai. This would be a record length of time for me to sit on an airplane (previous is around 13 hours). Normally the anticipation of that many hours in flight would stress me out. However both the kid and I were keyed up to get on that plane.

It turned out to be a fortunate flight as the coach section was fairly empty. We had the row of three to ourselves and all around there were complete empty rows of seats. The screens on the back of the seats were enormous! I’ve never seen anything like it. Their in-flight entertainment selection even larger and included every episode of Star Wars. I knew it would be difficult to regulate sleep with so much programming. Another plus was in-flight wi-fi for $1. That’s it, 100 cents got you into the internet for the entire flight!

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Discovering Star Wars


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BIG SCREEN

The flight attendants came through with our little “in-flight” kit with eye mask.

 

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In flight pouch that came with eye shades. Clearly usable again for music player

I think we spent way too much time indulging in the delights that we missed our opportunity to score one of the empty rows for sleeping.  Oh well. Thankfully Ben and I were small enough that we could still manage 2 people in a row for 3.  On this flight, the entire bottom is coach seating.  First and business were up the stairs far from our prying eyes.

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Coach meal. It was ok.

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Minnesota butter

When the meal was over and time for the lights to go down, the ceiling illuminated like a starry sky.  If you looked long enough you could even see constellations!  I tried to sleep as much as I could but I got caught up in at least 10 hours of Ultimate Airport – Dubai.   If Dubai is in your future, it’s worth watching.

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The flight from Dubai to Mumbai was uneventful.  It’s only a 3 hour trips and the plane was not as fancy.  Same for the return flight from Mumbai to Dubai. Being short distance i didn’t expect it to be noteworthy.  If it was, I missed it because I was likely napping in preparation for our stop-over in Dubai. I wanted to rest up before the marathon runaround town began. After the tour we checked into our Dubai hotel for the night. Checking messages I received an email offering a discounted rate of $1,012.00 to upgrade our Dubai to San Francisco flight to business class. Had I been traveling alone it would have been a no brainer.  However, “single-mom with kid” means cost x2 and that was a bit painful to think about.  I thought about our current seats on the return flight. They were not next to each other and both were in middle seats on a full-coach flight.  If there needed to be a right time to spend my hard earned dollars on a luxury like business class, this was the time to do it. YOLO. In Ben’s world his dream was coming true.  No longer was he waking past a cushy business class section on his way to steerage.  This time, the seat was for him….and me.  I gotta say, it was darn well worth it.

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One happy kid

The last time I few business was back in 2011 to Manila.  Even then seats were more or less reclining seats.  They were not the individual pods they have now.  It was pretty amazing, like a mini bedroom.  Just to have somewhere to elevate your feet made all the difference in the world. The screens were larger than the TV I have in my kitchen.

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I can live with a narrow seat. Elevating legs makes all the difference

There was even a iPad which seemed the only purpose was to control the TV…even though the TV was touch screen and there was a small remote connected to the seat.  The flight attendants came around and put cushy pads like mattresses on our seats so they would be extra comfy when we went flat and then handed us little “in-flight” toiletries by Bvlgari!

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What was most shocking is in this whole back section of business class (there was another section in front of us along with First Class) had only 6 passengers! It was crazy!

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Empty

For a good couple of hours we got cozy in our seats, I put on the last season of Downton Abby and just let it run as I went in and out of sleep.  Later when I woke, I went to the back of the plane to find a full bar with a handful of passengers standing around and chatting with the flight-attendant bartender.  Of course, minus the flight attendant, myself and one other passenger, they were all men and the conversation was crude.  This is the conversation I walked into:

Big Dude:  Hey we are having an argument.  Should a wife make her husband happy or should a husband make his wife happy?

Me: Well effort goes both ways but let me ask you this, do you want to get laid?

Laughter and a high-five from the guy next to me.   Let me just say one thing… *boom*

Turns out big dude was some famous Bollywood music producer. Another passenger told me this and was making a big deal of it.  I just shrugged my shoulders and said that doesn’t mean anything to me.  Around the bar and buffet were small plates of sandwiches, snacks, nuts, and pastries.  I had a few bites, grabbed a handful of full-sized candy bars inside the galley and then returned to my pod.  Downtown Abby was far more interesting than the vulgar boys club at the bar.

And just like that, 16 hours was over. We were home.  I have to say this was the first time I was ever bummed to get off a plane.  Ben was too.  Flying will never be the same. I really, really wanted to take pictures of it all but I know it would have screamed “tourist.”  I resisted. All I can do is tell you the story best I can.

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Tips:

When flying an airline where you may need to use your credit card for in-flight entertainment (or even purchasing food or duty free), carry a pre-paid debit card with you. Generally it’s safe to use your credit card but I figure if somehow my number is stolen, at least it’s on a low value pre-paid card. I usually receive an occasional card for a birthday or something at work. If there is a low balance, I carry it around for in-flight moments like this.

For currency, I discovered the exchange rate for Rupees was better at the Dubai airport than it was making the currency exchange at Bank of America at home.

Happy travel everyone!

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