Emirates flight review Gatwick to Dubai
Gatwick has convenient and regular rail links to London (£14.20 / 40 minutes) and other destinations in the UK. Coaches connect the airport to UK cities and Heathrow Airport. Arriving by rail tends to be the least stressful option as traffic can be very heavy. There are two terminals, linked by a people carrier. Branding and directions towards the Emirates check-in are clear throughout, and this is located at North Terminal, Zone E.
The check-in area is quiet when visited, and branding is very clear with large signs marking premium check-in area, online check in and standard economy check-in. Having completed the straightforward process of online check in, I head to these counters.
Check-in is completed swiftly although there is not much conversation with the agent. Despite this, she is friendly, and all staff are dressed in the full Emirates uniform. Gate is confirmed and due to a full flight, a window seat request cannot be accommodated.
Emirates assigned gate is quite far from the check-in area, and takes a 20-minute walk to reach. Security takes around 10 minutes and Gatwick appears to be becoming more efficient and capable of handling the crowds of customers.
Boarding begins on time, is organised and all staff were very friendly at the gate.
Airplane & Cabin flown
This morning’s flight is an Emirates A380. Some commentators have been surprised at Emirate’s ambitious plans and orders for the A380. Yet despite this, it has become an integral part of the fleet and can be seen not only on major trunk routes (Heathrow / New York), but also on secondary routes (Mauritius / Birmingham) due to Emirates excellent hub connectivity. A scheduled flight time of 6 hours and 55 minutes. Cabin flown is Economy Class which occupies the entire lower deck of the A380.
Emirates offers a baggage allowance of up to 35kg in Economy Class, with 7 kg of hand luggage in addition to Duty Free purchases.
The seat in Economy is large and spacious, and offers plenty of legroom over a longer sector. Seats are all slim and overall there feels like a lot of room to move within the cabin. Each seat is also enhanced by the extra-large PTV screen and controller, USB charger and outlet all conveniently located in the seatback area.
The seat is comfortable, and headrest adjusts and is easy to achieve some rest in. Upholstery throughout aircraft is a light cream colour, though cabin made more appealing through use of mood lighting. The seatback has a cup holder, and a larger tray table unfolds as two parts. Unfortunately, my tray table had not been cleaned since the previous flight and had obvious food debris on it.
Cabin & Toilets
The cabin has a light, pastel theme throughout. The A380 feels spacious, light and appealing in the entirely Economy lower deck. There are spaces in which customers may congregate and stretch if desired.
There are multiple washrooms, with the highest density at the rear of the aircraft with a bank of 6 available. Queues are never too long. Towards the end of the flight, the washrooms do become poorly maintained and seem not to get the anticipated checks from crew members. Washrooms have an appealing wood effect finish to all fixtures and fittings, and White Company amenities are offered here.
Boarding is completed on time and the crew distribute menus at this time. All departure procedures are very prompt, and take-off occurs just 5 minutes after scheduled time.
This results in the aircraft landing 10 minutes early in Dubai, and affording customers with tight connections a little more time.
Food & Drink
An appealing menu is given out upon boarding. The first meal service commences around 80 minutes after departure, and despite being morning, lunch is offered (which is welcome). Emirates catering is quite excellent and established, with much of it cooked in house to achieve a consistent and high-quality product.
Emirates has slightly altered its previously angular meal trays so that it packs together more conventionally. Cutlery is metal and quite solid for economy. A nice touch is the side plate which slots between the plates and includes cheese, butter, a refreshing wipe and some Jacobs crackers.
The starter is a simple potato salad which was not very exciting and had a bland taste. It would have been nicely complimented by a dressing. Due to the volume of dietary requirements of Middle East airlines, the starter can often be a bland compromise to speed service up.
The main course was beef in a peppercorn sauce with mash and cabbage. This was very delicious, well heated and have an enjoyable, rich flavour to the sauce. Vegetables were not overcooked, and the mash was creamy and smooth.
An in-house branded berry crumble was a very appealing way to finish the meal.
After 4-hours rest, and excellent entertainment, the pre-arrival snack was served – some 90 minutes prior to landing so does not disturb customers too much.
The pre-arrival snack tray offers an English High Tea.
The scone was warmed and brimming with currents and pleasantly crumbly, served alongside clotted cream and raspberry jam. In addition, 2 sandwiches (without crusts) are served – it is a very complete and tasty tray.
All seats have personal TVs, and Emirates brand this as their ICE system (Information, Communications, Entertainment). The inflight entertainment has won many plaudits and awards and from the flight, this is entirely justified.
The library of films, music, TV shows, activities, interactive maps and cameras would make even the longest flight pass in relative ease. The system is quite unmatched in its breadth of media available which befits a very international airline.
Emirates is an airline still using the code search function where each media has a code listed in the entertainment brochure and so can be located with the minimum of searching around folders. Headsets were large enough so that they sit over most of the ear. They are comfortable to wear and offer a good quality of sound. Personal headsets also plug in with ease.
Free WiFi (20mbs) is available to all customers, and this worked without issue.
No specific comforts are available on this mid-haul flight. Technically it is also a day flight, so items such as toothbrush and eyeshades were not required.
Blanket product was quite thin and small. I had to request a second one of these. It is somewhat irritating that all these items are gathered in prior to arrival as some customers may still require their blankets and for those without personal headsets, they may wish to continue watching the entertainment.
The staff service onboard is very middle of the road, and depending on the crew member in your section, can be quite forthright and unfriendly. However, there are good members who show their personality and do work hard during the audit. Emirates staff often ignore call bells to the extent that a routine of any customer wishing a second drink must come to the galley. This is obviously inconvenient for customers without direct aisle access.
Staff availability in the cabin could be better overall, including a slower pace of passing through the cabin and paying more attention to customer needs. The dialogue for the meal is good overall and staff demonstrate a good level of knowledge and skills, although some show a very poor attitude.
Lights in the cabin are brought up around 80 minutes prior to arrival into Dubai. By this time the cabin had been dimmed and was easy to achieve a short rest in the comfortable seat. The pre-arrival procedure is onerous and affects the overall enjoyment of the flight. First crew collect used blankets, then packaged blankets, used headphones and then packaged headphones. At this time, they curtly refuse rubbish items and are terse with customers for handing the wrong item.
All washrooms are crammed with these items even before all customers have finished using washrooms. Seatbelt sign is put on around 20 minutes prior to arrival.
The Emirates ground operation and handling all worked very efficiently, as did the flight itself. However, it lacked any distinctiveness or warmth from staff members at any stage.
The redeeming aspects of the flight were the excellent Economy Class seat and very wide, high definition entertainment. The food was also high quality onboard with appealing flavours, a nice menu product and a great pre-arrival snack. Emirates IFE still continues to trump the competition in all fields, and the offering of a small free WiFi allowance was also good.
This flight report is based on fully paid tickets, not airline discounted or complimentary tickets.