The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

FIRST promo: My first Emirates experience

First Magazine Wednesday, 12 September 2018, 00:23 Last update: about 3 months ago

Joanna Demarco writes about her first experience as an Emirates passanger

I am a frequent airplane passanger, so upon being given the opportunity to experience and write about Emirates, a service with a reputation of prioritising quality above everything else, I was curious to compare it to my customary means of flight.

Normally, I perceive the traveling and airport part of a trip as somewhat of a compromise, a never-ending succession of waiting and lack of personal space before I get to my destination. I place hope in the possibility of being able to teleport within my lifetime. If that is not achievable, though, airlines such as Emirates may very well be the next best thing.

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My first experience on Emirates consisted of two flights - the first one in Economy Class and the second in Business Class - both approximately two and a half hours between Malta and Cyprus. Getting to Cyprus is today fairly easy given that Emirates Airlines has a daily direct flight thereby avoiding the hassle of having to stop in another country along the way. Cyprus as a holiday destination goes beyond Ayia Napa. It is a destination appreciated for its idyllic beaches in their pristine state, the Troodos mountains and of course its intriguing history, amongst others. (Also, from my own personal experience, I would definitely add in 'friendly taxi drivers' as reasons to visit).

First impressions

Perhaps it is something about the air hostesses' uniforms, or the prim and clean airplane interiors, but upon stepping into the doorway of the plane flight you know you will be comfortable and well-cared for, a feeling that is always welcome on a flight, where many value the feeling of safety.

Waiting for you on your 17.5 inch-wide economy class seat is a pillow and a pair of headphones - the latter a key to the Emirates ICE screen of wonder. You can even control your own personal 13.3 inch LCD screen in front of you without budging from that position, with the help of a detachable controller.

In no time at all, I was set for my first flight, with the pillow perched under my neck and my legs stretched out without worrying that I was kicking the person in front of me.

 

As cool as ICE

The ICE screen in front of your seat opens up to a world of entertainment at the touch of the screen. It officially stands for 'Information, Communication and Entertainment', but I think the name 'Incredible Culmination of Everything' also fits aptly.  The 'Information' section offers you global news, details about your flight and even the option to see what the plane is seeing through live cameras.

The 'Communication' section allows for free wifi, giving you the options to make calls or send emails whilst mid-air. All Emirates passengers are provided with up to 20mb of free Wi-Fi, whilst Emirates Skywards members in First Class and Business Class enjoy unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi and discounted plans in Economy Class.

Meanwhile, the Entertainment section is a culmination of movies, music, games and puzzles. The choice of films, (the whole 750 of them) varies from some of the newest releases, to bollywood films, to options I didn't even know existed, such as 'Disneynature' - a series of documentary films about nature by Disney. If that is not enough of a choice for you, there are over 1,000 hours of TV programmes, 3,500 channels of on-demand entertainment, eight channels of live TV including major sports events on selected aircraft, over 2000 music and podcast channels and over 100 video games.

You can pump up the mood with Baroque era music, watch live sports, take a nostalgic dip into memory lane by challenging yourself to a game of tetris or test your knowledge in a trivia quiz. In my two and a half hour trip, I watched Toy Story 2 and embarassed myself in front of my fellow passengers upon losing a Trivia Quiz a couple of times in a row.

Be it in business class or economy class, breaking down the entertainment time are multi-course meals, with menus which are updated on a monthly basis. Following the meal are individual servings of coffee and liquers. The wine, which is included in the list of complimentary drinks, are notably award-winning wines which are specially selected every year by Emirates' own wine-tasters.

 

Skipping the irksome parts with Business Class

Business class travel, as I experienced on my journey from Cyprus back to Malta, literally gets everything that is irksome about flying and turns it into something the polar opposite - fun, and enjoyable which kind of makes you want to stay in your chair, even after landing.

The business class experience started with a chauffer service from my hotel, which immediately negated the 'can I depend on public transport to arrive on time?' concerns. Upon arrival at the airport I was handed an 'express pass' - one of the business class perks - which was a free pass to avoiding all the queues when it came to passing through security and passport control at the gate.

I then made my way to the private lounge where I could relax for about an hour before the flight, and have a coffee and read a variety of newspapers. The lounge was peaceful. This made a difference to my airport experience, where I would usually be struggling to find somewhere to sit and hoping my bags are not in anyone's way.

The massage chair and unlimited Mojitos

What other differences are there between Economy Class and Business Class? I would say that whilst the former is rather enjoyable, the latter is a luxury (on this note I wonder whether the First Class experience would denote some form of heaven floating midair).

Your seat in business class is not merely a seat, but can double, or triple, into a massage chair and a bed. All this, without the person behind you even noticing that you have moved your seat an inch.

The massage chair has a variety of intensities and speed, and the types of massages offered opened my mind to types of massages I never even knew existed; 'pulses', 'waves' and 'zigzags'.

A menu found in your seat allows you to choose an espresso martini, a cognac, a scotch whiskey, a mojito, or numerous cocktails, to sip as you are being massaged by your chair whilst watching a film of choice on the ICE screen, tucked under your fleece blanket.

The food menu, which also varies monthly and boasts inspiration from a number of international cuisines, offered me a choice of braised lamb shank, pan-fried duck or prawns with garlic and coriander, (I opted for the latter), followed by a dessert you would never imagine would be plane food: raspberry pistacchio feuilletine, a change from airplane food that is usually not only pronouncable, but also on the boring side.

 

The difference is (also) in the detail

The business class toilets have hot and cold water options, fresh flowers and perfume. During the flight you are given warm nuts to snack on and a warm face cloth after your meal. Tiny salt and pepper shakers are placed on your tray alongside your meal and your earphones are cushioned with a leather covering. When it comes to business class, the difference is not only in the treatment and the services offered, but also in the detail.

This experience got me thinking, although there are multiple airline choices with various price ranges, it is a breathe of fresh air to experience a service where quality is at the forefront, both for your enjoyment, practicality and your peace of mind. It is not every day that you are slightly reluctant to leave the plane upon landing, and that is something.

 

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