Saturday, March 5, 2016

Emirates


Early morning flights are much more pleasant when
there are citrus infused hot towels waiting for you.
Like many Americans these days, I am constantly on the look out for viable places to refuge should Donald Trump gain entry into the White House.  I am happy to report I have added a new locale to this list - namely Seat 22E on Emirates flight EK228 with service to Dubai.

This being my first international flight (and a daunting 17 hour flight time) I didn't
know what to expect but I wasn't particularly looking forward to the forced downtime in cramped quarters.  I shouldn't have worried.  Frankly, I didn't know airline experiences like this existed outside of an episode of Mad Men - minus the misogyny and cigar smoke of course.

First off, let me assure you I did not splurge on this flight.  I chose a seat firmly in the Economy class, and the round trip ticket only set me back about $1,000 - not too shabby considering I am literally traveling half way around the world.

I think it's important to talk about this, because it's easy to believe travel - especially international travel - is unattainable due to cost, inconvenience or even risk.  I know, because I was squarely in this camp until about a year ago. But I've found if you want to do something big - travel the world, write a book, change careers or whatever your quiet dream happens to be - it will not happen until you decide to make it happen.  It will never be the "right" time, you will never have "enough" money and it will never feel less scary.  But I promise you, it can be done and it will be worth it.  I'll save the Zen talks for India, but in my experience, if you start walking, the way will open up.

Now, back to what's happening in seat 22E.
Text message convo with my sister in law -
because I'm classy like that.

So, what exactly does the "Economy" experience with Emirates look like?  Glad you asked.  Really glad.  Because right now I'm watching the sun rise somewhere far, far above Russia and trying hard not to make loud exclamations about how amazing this freaking airline is.  But, as none of the other passengers seem to even be raising an eyebrow, I'll play it cool on my tiny laptop instead.

Emirates clearly strives for a "wow" factor right away and the boarding process was punctuated with pilots, copilots and staff waiting to greet passengers.  (As a side note, in typical Heather form, when a pilot held out his hand to take my ticket and tell me where to sit, I thought he was trying to shake my hand - and so I awkwardly did.  Thank goodness he didn't "air kiss" my cheek or there could have been an international incident right off the bat).  Finally, I was directed to my seat which was stuffed with a blanket, pillow and headphones.  Each seat has its own television with retractable remote as well as USB and plug in - a must for such a long flight.  Free WiFi is available but it's spotty at best though the television and movie options are phenomenal (I'm watching the new Star Wars movie right now - Teague was right,
The Menu. *sigh*
BB8 is pretty cute). They also have a huge international selection, music and podcasts.

We were still waiting to exit the Tarmac when we were provided with the first of three hot towels that smelled like lemons, a gift bag with fuzzy socks, eye mask and a travel tooth brush as well as the menu which included multi-course options with specialty selections for dietary or religious restrictions.  Once up in the air, the service was continued with frequent food and drink offerings by the stewardesses. Meals are very good, plentiful and actually nutritious but should you want an extra snack all you have to do is ask. There is a small kitchenette at the back of the plane where you can request fresh fruit, sandwiches and candy bars.  Beer and wine are also gratis and champagne is available for a small fee.  Just watching a staff member walk down the isle induces a Pavlovian effect and I've probably gained five pounds over the duration of the flight.
My favorite part of the trip was being able to watch our
progress in real time. I had a glass of wine above the North Pole.
You also have the option of changing the screen to view from
cameras beneath the plane.
Should you have slightly deeper pockets, an upgrade to Business Class (visible through a crack in the drawn curtains separating the front of the plane) would earn twice the space, bigger television screens and a "bed" that completely reclines.  The meal choices are more elaborate, champagne is included and if you ask for a glass of wine they bring out an entire bottle (According to my seat mate who had the great "misfortune" of being upgraded on his first flight with Emirates and is now spoiled for life).

First Class passengers board separately through a mysterious hallway where they are seated in individual rooms and enjoy services I can only imagine must include a personal chef, mani/pedi and a hand job.  For $5,000 a ticket I would certainly hope so.

Dubai from the sky.
To round it out, thus far my adventure is off to a luxurious start which may turn me into an unbearable wench on my next flight with Southwest. But for now I'm enjoying being spoiled before the culture shock waiting at my destination and placing my breakfast order of fresh fruit, potato frittata, croissant and hot tea.

Heck, it's a long flight - might as well be comfortable.