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Review: Cathay Pacific B777 Business Class, HKG – DPS!

Cathay Pacific B777-300 Regional Business Class, Hong Kong – Denpasar/ Bali.

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Following a fun week in Hong Kong, we had a few days to spend in Bali, Indonesia. We arrived at Hong Kong’s Airport at 7:50AM for our 10:10AM departure to Denpasar/ Bali on Cathay Pacific. There was a queue at the business class check-in area, it only took about ten minutes though. After that we were through security which took about 15 minutes. At about 8:30AM we headed to the Cabin Lounge located near gate 23.

The scheduled departure time was 10:10AM with boarding starting at 9:30AM and the gate closing at 10AM sharp. By 9:15AM, we headed to the gate. The departure gate was gate 25 which was only a couple of minutes away from the lounge. At this point, the aircraft was not in the gate yet. A few minutes later it was announced that their will be a 20 minute delay and the new scheduled departure time was 10:30AM.

Scheduled Departure: 10:10AM.

Scheduled Arrival: 3:00PM.

Flight Duration: 4 Hours and 50 minutes.

Flight Number: CX 785.

The four-hour fifty minute flight from Hong Kong to Bali on Cathay Pacific is operated by a regional B777-300 with 42 recliner business class seats and 356 economy class seats. These are primarily used for flights within Asia like Bangkok, Singapore, and Shanghai. This flight was operated by the 18-year-old B-HNJ. This was a short daytime flight, so recliner seats in business class seemed comfortably fine.

Boarding finally started at 10:10AM with business class passengers, one world emeralds, and passengers who needed assistance. I boarded through door L1 where I was greeted by the inflight service manager who was Filipino. She pointed me towards the right aisle where my seat was located.

For this flight, I selected seat 12A which is a window seat on the second row of business class. Cathay Pacific B777-300’s are configured in a pretty dense configuration with 42 seats in business class in the 2-3-2 configuration. The 42 recliner seats are located exclusively between doors L1/ R1 and L2/  R2. From there on, there are 356 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration which seems spacious compared to the cramped 3-4-3 with many airlines.

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Fortunately, Cathay Pacific will change their regional business class cabins to staggered seats which are a lot better. On the other hand, all Cathay Pacific B777’s economy class cabins will be configured into the 3-4-3 configuration.

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Business class starts with row 11, which only has three center seats, so seated on a window seat in row 12, allows you to have three windows all to yourself. Also note that there is no row 13. To the right of the seat were the controls and the inflight entertainment controller. There was also a small storage area, were you could put you sunglasses, passport, or wallet.

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The inflight entertainment screen was a bit high, so it maybe tiring to look at it for longer periods. A USB port is located beside, along with a phone storage place.

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A few minutes after settling into the seat, Iris, one of the lovely business class flight attendants came by to offer me a beverage, I went with water. Refills were offered. A few minutes later, she passed hot towels to the passengers. At 10:30AM, Captain Steve came on the PA to welcome us onboard CX785 to Bali, apologized for the delay, and informed us that the flight time for today will be four hours and fifteen minutes. At 10:35AM sharp, the aircraft doors were closed with nine empty seats in business class and a full house in economy. At 10:40AM we began our pushback and the safety video demonstration was screened. Five minutes later, we began our fifteen minute taxi to runway 7R. We were number two for takeoff behind a Delta Airlines A330 heading to Seattle. We had 45 second takeoff roll before we were airborne and on our way to Bali.

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The lunch service began 25 minutes after departure, Patricia came by my seat to offer me some mixed nuts and a beverage.

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It was not until 12:00PM, that the appetizers were served. The appetizer consisted of tabouleh with some shrimp. There was a side salad, and bread was offered from the bread basket. The tabouleh was certainly different from the ones in the Middle East, and the shrimps were tasty.

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As soon as the appetizers were cleared, the main course cart was rolled into the aisle, there was a choice between lamb, chicken, and fish. I went with the cod with some jasmine rice, which was pretty good as well.

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The fruit and cheese cart was rolled through the cabin but I skipped since I wanted to have dessert which was basically ice-cream, I went with some Belgian Chocolate which was, as always, delicious.

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The flight attendants on the sector were friendly and attentive. The service though did not feel personalized, as passengers weren’t addressed by name and the flight attendants focused on finishing the meal service as soon as possible, which was done about two hours into the flight. I decided to take a look at the lavatory which was pretty basic and felt a bit outdated.

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At this point, I felt a bit dizzy.  I reclined the seat and requested a blanket which was soft. I slept for a good hour, and surprisingly, the seat was extremely comfortable. Thirty minutes out of Denpasar, the captain came on the PA to inform us that we began our descent and updated us with the time of arrival.

At 3:05PM, the Captain once again came on the PA to inform us that we’ve been put into a holding pattern which will delay our arrival by 10 minutes. Sure enough, at 3:35PM, we touched down at Denpasar’s runway 09, from there we taxied for a couple of minutes to our gate. At 3:40PM, the doors were opened, and we were through to immigration. Unfortunately, immigration took over an hour. So we left the airport shortly after 5:00PM.

Cathay Pacific Regional B777 Business Class Bottom Line

This was a fun short flight between Hong Kong and Indonesia. The seats were fine, though not amazing. The flight attendants were friendly, the food was pretty good though not memorable. Do keep in mind, Cathay Pacific’s flight to Bali is a direct turnaround for the crew and pilots.

Seat Comfort: 8.5/ 10.

Amenities: 7.5/ 10.

Service: 9.5/ 10.

Food: 8.5/ 10.

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Review: Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class, DXB – HKG!

Cathay Pacific A330-300 Business Class, Dubai International – Hong Kong.

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For this trip, we were looking for business class tickets from Dubai to Hong Kong and Bali. We had two choices, the first being flying from Dubai to Hong Kong on the Emirates B777-300ER, Hong Kong to Bali on the Garuda Indonesia A330-300, and lastly Denpasar/ Bali to Dubai on the Emirates B777-300ER. These days a 2-3-2 configuration is not what you’re expecting for business class. The other choice was flying from Dubai to Hong Kong on the Cathay Pacific A330-300 with the excellent reverse herringbone seats in business class, Hong Kong to Bali and back on the regional B777-300 with shell seats which seem fine for a short daytime flight, and finally from Hong Kong to Dubai on the A330-300.

The Cathay Pacific experience began from the chauffeur service they offer for passengers from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Dubai to Dubai International Airport. Please note, this service is only eligible for passengers flying to and from Hong Kong in business class. Passengers flying Dubai to Bahrain and Bahrain to Dubai (The fifth freedom flight Cathay Pacific flies) do not get the service. A GMC Denali was offered for the 90 minute drive to Dubai. The driver was fine, just wish he had better driving skills. Cathay Pacific operates out of Terminal 1 (Concourse D) at Dubai International Airport.

We arrived at 2:40PM for our 5:05PM departure to Hong Kong. So the drama began here, we were traveling in a group of four. The friendly agent checked two of us in and printed their boarding passes. When she tried to print the other two, the system broke down. Apparently the system had issues with Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong as all airlines seemed to handle passengers smoothly. The employees working for Cathay Pacific tried to smooth things down by calming the passengers. Thirty minutes later, there was no response from Hong Kong. After a few calls, agents were allowed to do manual boarding passes for business class passengers which included writing all the information on an empty boarding pass. Finally at 3:50PM we got our manually written boarding passes to Hong Kong and our lounge invitations. At this point I knew that the flight would be delayed since boarding was scheduled at 4:15PM and by the time we got out boarding passes, there were about 75+ passengers queuing for check-in. We cleared security within 15 minutes and were on the train to Concourse D a few minutes later.

Cathay Pacific business class passengers are invited to use the Lufthansa Lounge at Dubai. The Lufthansa lounge was okay, there are showers which is pretty good for an out station business class lounge. The food quality was fine as well. The spread included salads, cold cuts, finger sandwiches, a pasta dish, white rice, and Thai curry.  Drinks are also available. My complain about the lounge is that it is really small, but it seemed like a good place to spend thirty minutes or so.

Following the system failure, departure was delayed to 6:05PM instead. We showed up at the gate at 5:30PM since the agent who checked us in said she’ll give us our baggage tags at the gate. Boarding did not start until 6:20PM, starting with business class passengers. It was not until 6:30PM when the agent showed up at the gate with our baggage tags. Oh well, she seemed exhausted.

Scheduled Departure: 5:05PM.

Scheduled Arrival: 5:05AM.

Flight Duration: 8 Hours.

Flight Number: CX 746.

The eight-hour flight from Dubai to Hong Kong is operated by a 2-class A330-300 configured with 39 business class seats and 223 economy class seats. This flight was operated with the 5-year-old B-LAN which was the first aircraft in the Cathay Pacific fleet to have the new cabins installed.

I boarded through door L1 where the inflight service manager Clavel from the Philippines and Ching from Cambodia, one of the business class flight attendants welcomed us onboard and pointed me towards the left aisle. The 39 business class seats are spread across two cabins. The first cabin with 28 (7 rows) seats is between doors L1 and L2, and the other cabin with 11 (3 rows) seats is behind door L2.

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Cathay Pacific has reverse herringbone seats on long haul configured A330s. These seats can also be found on the B777-300ER. The seats are configured in a 1-2-1 configuration which is perfect for a business class product.

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Each seat turns into a fully flat-bed. Also, each seat has direct aisle access. For this flight I selected seat 18G which is in the last row of the first business class cabin.

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Already waiting at the seat was a soft pillow and an extremely comfortable blanket. The seat controls were on the left with a controller for the personal television, a light bulb, the seat controls which were easy to use, a power socket, and a USB port. There is also a small cabinet to store things like your passport along with a mirror and the headphones inside. The tray table can be folded from the left hand side, there is also an exposed storage compartment.

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Down to the right was the rack which had a magazine, duty-free magazine, and the safety card. Below the seat to the right is also a shoe storage area.

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There were five flight attendants serving business class. Clavel and Norene from the Philippines, Ching and Joyce from Cambodia, and Kris who was Mandarin. All five were true gems, seriously better than all the flight attendants I previously had, be that on Emirates or Etihad. As soon as I settled into my seat, Joyce offered me a beverage. Choices included apple juice, orange juice, and water. I went with the orange which I spilled a few seconds later, oh well at least I drank a bit and it was refreshing. Refills were also offered though I passed. Hong Kong landing cards were also passed to passengers.  At 6:40PM, Captain Jason who was British came on the PA to welcome us onboard, he apologized for the delay and stated that today’s flight shall take approximately seven hours and forty minutes and that we’ll be pushing back in the next thirty to forty minutes. A few minutes later, the flight attendants passed around the amenity kits which included an eye mask, socks, earplugs, a mouthwash, a tooth-brush, a tooth paste, a lip balm, an herbal recovery advanced serum, and rosewater balancing mist. Not bad for an eight-hour flight!

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Finally at 7:10PM, the aircraft doors were closed with two empty seats in business class, and a full economy cabin. At this point, passengers were already reclining their seats. The safety demonstration was screened in both English and Mandarin. At 7:15PM we began our pushback out of gate D3 and 5 minutes later we commenced our 10 minute taxi to runway 30R were the cabin lights were dimmed. During the taxi, the traffic was really interesting with two Kuwaiti B777s one arriving and the other departing, a Saudi B777, the Singapore B777, Korean Air and China Eastern A330s, and finally the Thai Airways A350. At 7:30PM were number two at runway 30R for takeoff behind the Kuwaiti B777-300ER bound to Kuwait City. At 7:35PM, we were finally cleared for takeoff with a 45 second roll to Hong Kong.

Fifteen minutes after takeoff, Norene came to my seat, adressed me by my name, and presented me with the menu of today’s flight. From that point on, each of the five flight attendants adressed me by “Mister ________”. The dinner service started 25 minutes after takeoff when Kris presented with the appetizer which was a smoked salmon tartar, grilled prawn and chive creme fraiche. There was a small mixed side salad as well. A minute later, Ching came with the bread basket which I choose the garlic bread from and served me the drink, I went with a Coke.

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The grilled prawns were light and perfectly cooked, the salmon remained untouched as I never ate smoked salmon. The flight attendants were extremely engaging. The one thing I appreciated was how fast were they in doing their service. As soon as I finished my appetizer, Joyce cleared it within seconds. I have to note that Cathay Pacific’s garlic bread is delicious. The main course cart was rolled on the aisle so passengers can choose whatever they want, and there were four options. Stir fried chicken with jasmine rice, slow cooked beef with mash potato, hamour machbous, and ravioli with tomato sauce. I went with the chicken which was literally the best dish I had in an airplane.

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I also had the chance to try to ravioli which was very good as well.

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The flight attendants then rolled a cart with fruit and cheese. I had a fruit plate which was refreshing.

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Lastly it was time for some dessert, the dessert served was a pistachio and chocolate cake which was spectacular. I asked for some Hong Kong Style Milk Tea which was a bit different from the Milk Tea in the UAE.

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The meal service was finally done at 9:20PM, just under two hours after departure. At this point, I decided to check out the lavatory which was pretty basic. There are two lavatories in front of the forward business class cabin and another between the two cabins.

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I needed to get some sleep since it has already been a long day. As I mentioned above, the blanket was amazing that made it easy to sleep; however, a guy sitting in the middle of the cabin was snoring in an intense way which made it hard to sleep so I decided to put on the earplugs and got a solid three hour sleep. I woke two hours out of Hong Kong, just over Kunming, China.

Joyce approached me to see if I wanted to have breakfast, and what would I want to drink. I decided to have some orange juice. The continental breakfast consisted of a fresh bowl of fruit, bircher muesli and raspberry, and cinnamon raisin danish. There was also a breadbasket to choose from, I had a croissant.

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At 6:35AM Hong Kong time, the Captain came on the PA to update us with the arrival time and the weather in Hong Kong. About 20 minutes out of Hong Kong, the cabin was prepared for landing where we began to hit some chop as it was a windy day in Hong Kong. At 7:05AM sharp we had a hard touchdown at Hong Kong International Airport’s runway 7L as the aircraft was swinging in both directions on approach. Upon touchdown, it was a five-minute taxi to the gate. At 7:15AM doors were opened having finally arrived after a two-hour delay, I thanked the crew for the amazing flight and there were many employees waiting outside the gate area for passengers connecting to Manila since 60% of the passengers seemed to be connecting to Manila. Actually, there were some passengers connecting all the way to Los Angles! There were also some Cathay Pacific employees with 100$ vouchers to all the passengers as an apology for the delay. It was a short walk to immigration, and our bags were the first ones out, we were at the taxi stand within 20 minutes of disembarking the aircraft, amazing!

Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Bottom Line

 Cathay Pacific offers the best business class seats from the UAE to Hong Kong. It easily beats Emirates and Etihad. The service was exceptional, the food was great, and the flight attendants were proud in doing their job. This maybe my new favorite business class product, and yes I do think it’s better than the Emirates business class.

Seat Comfort: 10/10.

Amenities: 8.5/10.

Service: 10/ 10.

Food: 9.5/ 10.

Emirates Service Changes!

For 2017/ 2018, Emirates has a few service changes.

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Madrid, Spain: EK143/ 144 – aircraft upgrade to the A380. Madrid and Spain will become an all-A380 destination/ country for the carrier.

Melbourne, Australia: EK408/409 service will be operated by a 3-class A380, instead of  the 777-300ER. Melbourne will become an all-A380 destination for the carrier.

Beijing, China: Currently this route is served by the 777-300ER and the A380, 1 daily each. EK309/ 309 flight will be upgraded to the A380. Beijing will become an all-A380 destination for the carrier.

Shanghai, China: Currently this route is served by the 777-300ER and the A380, 1 daily each; however, the airline moves to all-A380 operation for this market.  EK304/305 will be operated by a 3-Class 519-seater A380, replacing the current 777-300ER.

Birmingham, United Kingdom: EK41/ 42 operated by the B777-300ER will be cancelled as EK37/ 38 service gets upgraded to a 2-Class A380. Birmingham will become an all-A380 destination for the carrier.

Emirates Reductions!

I’m back to share a few Emirates operational changes. Service increases, upgrades, and reductions will be included in this post.

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Emirates Reductions:

Dubai – Los Angles, reduced to a single daily flight. EK217, 218 flight is cancelled while EK215/ 216 continues to operate on a daily basis.

Dubai – Seattle Tacoma, reduced to a single daily flight. EK227/ 228 is no longer available for booking; however, EK229/ 230 continues to operate seven days a week.

Dubai – Boston, reduced to a single daily flight. EK239/ 240 is cancelled  from the Second of June. EK237/ 238 continues to operate everyday.

Dubai – Orlando, the seven weekly flights are down to five weekly flights. Tuesday and Thursday flights are cancelled.

Dubai – Fort Lauderdale, reduced from a daily flight to five flights a week. Flights on Mondays and Wednesdays are cancelled.

Dubai – Athens, reduced to a single daily flight. EK103/ 104 cancelled while EK209/ 210 which continues on to Newark operates on a daily basis.

Dubai – Birmingham, reduced from three to two daily flights. EK41/ 42 is discontinued. EK37/ 38 and EK39/ 40 continue to operate everyday.

Dubai – Bangkok, down to six flights a day from seven. EK384/ 385, EK376/ 377, EK418/419, EK372/ 373, EK370/ 371, and EK374/ 375 continue operating on a daily basis.

Heathrow Plane Spotting!

My Heathrow Plane Spotting Experience

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I’ve been to London a couple of times now, and Heathrow was one of the airports that I wanted to spot at. My trips to London were in April 2016 and January 2017. In this post I’ll be sharing my all three experiences.

My first time spotting at Heathrow was in April 2016, on my way back to Dubai. Since Emirates operates out of Terminal 3, I figured it’ll be great for terminal spotting. I tried a few different places by simply walking around the terminal.

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Here are the shots from this exact location, a lens with the focal length of 250mm would be great for departures out of runway 27R. This spot also has great views of the control tower.

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Here is another spot, right beside the Emirates First and Business Class Lounge.

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A lens with the focal length of 300mm is perfect for this location, as you get to see all the taxiway action.

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The spot that has been on my list since my April 2016 visit was Myrtle Avenue. I took a taxi to the avenue itself. You can also get off at Hatton Cross Station and walk for a few minutes to Myrtle Avenue.

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This spot is good for the 27L arrivals or 9R departures. A lens with the focal length of 100mm should be enough for the arrivals.

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For my flight back, I was flying on Etihad Airways that operates out of Terminal 4.  Terminal 4 features a view deck at the right end side of the terminal. You’ll find both an elevator or you can take the stairs to it.

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This spot is ideal for runway 27L departures or arrivals. A lens with the focal length of 400mm is perfect to catch all the action.

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Hello Zagreb!

From the 1st of June, Emirates will start flying to Zagreb, Croatia.

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Presently, the only middle eastern carrier that flies into Zagreb is Qatar Airways with 10 weekly A320 flights to Doha. Fly Dubai also used to fly into Zagreb twice a week with the B737 but the flights are cancelled due to poor loads.

It is a risk for Emirates to start flying to Zagreb as Fly Dubai failed to continue with 2 weekly B737 flights. Well Emirates will fly a daily B777-300 configured with 12 first class seats, 42 seats in business class, and another 310 economy class seats.

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With the addition of Zagreb, Emirates will now fly to two east european cities which are Budapest and Zagreb. Kiev, Ukraine was also once served by Emirates but that was cancelled after a short period of time because of the problems in Ukraine.

The Schedule:

EK 129 Departs Dubai at 8:15AM arrives in Zagreb at 12:20PM.
EK130 Departs Zagreb at 3:35PM and arrives in Dubai at 11:05PM.

The flight is blocked at 6 hours and 5 minutes west bound, and at 5 hours and 30 minutes east bound.

Ola Sao Paulo!

Emirates announces A380 services to Sao Paulo effective March 26th.

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From the 27th of March, Emirates will deploy the A380-800 on the Dubai – Sao Paulo route. It is actually the same day where Etihad will stop flying into Sao Paulo. Emirates first started flying the B777-200LR into Sao Paulo, and after a short period of time the service was upgraded to the B777-300ER.

The flight is blocked at 14 hours and 55 minutes westbound, and at 14 hours and 30 minutes east bound. This will be the first ever scheduled daily A380 flight into South America.

On the same day, Emirates will downgrade EK217/218, the Los Angles afternoon flight, to the B777-200LR. And on the same day as well, the Dubai – Rio de Janeiro Galeao – Buenos Aires Ezeiza will be upgraded to the B777-300ER from the B777-200LR.

Get Ready Casablanca!

Emirates will begin A380 operations to Casablanca from March 26th, 2017.

Emirates will deploy its superjumbo double deck aircraft on the Dubai – Casablanca route beginning March 26th, 2017. This is the first ever A380 service into Northern Africa.

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The Schedule:

EK 751 Departs Dubai at 7:25AM and Arrives in Casablanca at 12:55PM.
EK752 Departs Casablanca at 2:55PM and Arrives in Dubai at 1:25AM of the following day.

Emirates will operate a Three Class A380 on this route, replacing the current Three Class B777-300ER. The Three Class A380 is configured with 14 first class suites and 76 fully flat business class seats. On the lower deck are another 429 comfortable economy class seats. As usual, first class passengers can shower in the first class shower spa, and both first class and business class passengers can have a drink in the onboard lounge located behind the business class cabin.

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The A340-300 Retirement!

At 7:35 A.M. Dubai local time, the final Emirates flight 863 touched down on Dubai International’s RWY 30L from Muscat operating the Final Emirates A340-300 Flight.

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Emirates A340-300 Taxiing for Departure.

The first A340-300 entered service with Emirates in 2004, after Emirates bought eight of them from Singapore Airlines. The A340-300 used to fly to numerous destinations like Cape Town, Perth, and Dusseldorf. The final A340-300 (A6-ERN) was withdrawn from the fleet in October, 2016.

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A6-ERM seen arriving from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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