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United Arab Emirates

New B777 Configuration!

Emirates is the largest B777 Operator, with over 150  B777 aircraft in fleet.

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On December 19th of 2016, Emirates took delivery of the first B777-300ER with the new business class product and there has been a slight change in the configuration. Perviously, the airline operates the three class B777-300ER with either 360 seats or 354 seats.

The B777-300ER’s with the new business class feature 8 first class suites, 42 business class seats, and 306 economy class seats. That makes a total of 356 seats.

Etihad B787-9 Business Class, Abu Dhabi UAE to Dusseldorf!

Etihad B787-9 Business Class!

Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and is surely a fast growing airline. The airline is based at Abu Dhabi and operates a fleet from the A320 family, the A330/A340 family, the A380, the B777, and the B787.

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The airline operates to numerous destinations across six continents. In 2014, the airline took delivery of the A380 Super Jumbo and the B787-9 Dreamliner. As of 2017, the airline operates the A380 to New York JFK, London Heathrow, Mumbai, Sydney, and Melbourne. Whereas the B787-9 currently flies to Washington, Dusseldorf, Zurich, Riyadh, Johannesburg, Singapore, Tokyo Narita, Perth, and Brisbane.

In mid December 2016, I got to experience the new business class on the B787-9 from Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf. The airline currently operates five daily flights into Germany, two to Munich, another two to Frankfurt, and a single daily flight to Dusseldorf.

I arrived at the airport at 11:00PM for my 2:10AM flight to Dusseldorf. Etihad first and business class passengers have a dedicated check in area which is fairly nice. Check in took about ten minutes and within a few minutes we were in the departures area. I headed to the business class lounge towards the center of Terminal 3.

The airlines that operate out of Terminal 3 include Etihad Airways, Air Berlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, and Virgin Australia. After spending about an hour in the lounge, we decided to head to the gate as we figured it will be busy. Numerous Etihad flights depart at that time including flights to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Paris, Munich, and much more. As you might expect, the flight was in fact departing from a remote stand, works for me as there is nothing like seeing the aircraft you’re flying up close!

Boarding was scheduled at 1:10AM, a full hour before departure. Thankfully, there was a dedicated business class bus though about four economy class passengers managed to hop in. The bus ride took about five minutes, as we pulled next to the aircraft, I noticed how beautiful the B787-9 actually is.

Etihad operates the B787-9 in both the 3-Class and 2-Class Configurations. The 3-Class Version has eight first class suites, 28 business class studios, and 235 economy class seats. The 3-Class B787-9 presently flies to Washington, Zurich, Riyadh, Singapore, Tokyo Narita, and Brisbane. However, the 2-Class B787-9 is configured with only 28 business class studios and 272 economy class seats and flies to Dusseldorf,  Johannesburg, and Perth.

At the aircraft door, we were welcomed onboard by the cabin manager Brigitta and Monica, one of the business class flight attendants. The business class cabin is exclusively located between doors L1 and L2, so the cabin felt really private. The business class studios are configured in the 1-2-1 configuration with forward and rear facing seats of which all feature direct aisle access. Odd numbered window seats and even numbered center seats are rear facing. However, even numbered window seats and odd numbered center seats are forward facing. If you’re traveling with someone, I’d recommend selecting seats 5E/5F, 7E/7F, 9E/9F, or 11E/11F. If you’re traveling alone and needed privacy, I’d recommend choosing seats numbers ending with either A or K.

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For this flight, I selected seat 11H, a window seat closer to the aisle on the last row business class. Your can already guess how stylish the cabin looks.

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Here are the center seats as well, which I think will be great if you have a travel companion  but if a stranger is seated next to you, you can easily rise the privacy shield between seats to maximize privacy.

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Moments after settling in, the cabin manager, Brigitta welcomed me onboard with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and presented me the menu of today’s flight. A few minutes later the Food and Beverage Manager, Fu explained to me that I could have my meal whenever I wanted and also gave me a hot towel. I requested to have the snack right after take off, and my breakfast almost an hour before landing.

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At 2:00AM, Captain Ashtrul came on the PA and added his announcement, he explained that today’s flight will take six hours and forty minutes and that we’ll be initially cruising to 34,000 feet and to 39,000 later in the flight.

There were four crew members serving business class. Cabin Manager Brigitta, the Food and Beverage Manager Fu, Monica, and another crew member working in the galley.

At 2:05AM, boarding was complete and we started our pushback. Five minutes later we started our ten minute taxi to RWY 31L. As we made it to the runway, we were immediately cleared for take off, and after a sixty second take off roll, we were airborne and on our way to Dusseldorf. Five minutes after takeoff, the seatbelt sign was turned off the curtains between the cabins were closed. Since this was an overnight flight, everyone onboard seemed to sleep right after take off.

Ten minutes later, Monica came to my seat with my snack. For the snack service I had the Steak Sandwich and the Potato Crisps on the side. The Steak Sandwich was extremely delicious and flavorful.

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After having my snack, I decided to sleep as much as I can since it was already a long day. The pillows on Etihad are pretty plush, I also appreciated how comfortable and soft the blanket was. It was actually one of my best overnight flights as I slept for almost five hours.

About 90 minutes before our scheduled arrival, everyone in the business class cabin started to wake up in preparation for the breakfast service. Breakfast was served 75 minutes before landing, I had the selection of bread and pastries on the side which included a plain croissant, a chocolate croissant, and a Cinnabon roll. Everything was delicious.

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For the main course, I had the chive omelette with beef sausage, tomato, and hash brow. For my drink, I had a hot chocolate. Again, the meal was top notch.

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Forty five minutes before arrival, the Captain came back on the PA announcing that the weather at Dusseldorf is five degrees celsius and that we’ll be touching down at 6:00AM sharp.

The seat belt sign was turned on 10 minutes before arrival, and at exactly at 6:00AM the B787-9 made an extremely hard touchdown on Dusseldorf’s RWY 23L, exactly 30 minutes ahead of schedule. From there it was a five minute taxi to gate C1 in Terminal C.  As the doors opened, I was the first passenger to disembark the aircraft ready for a much needed vacation.

The crew on the flight were engaging, the one that stood up the most for me was Monica, she was extremely professional in what she’s doing.

Bottom Line

Aircraft Information: Etihad Airways Two Class B787-9, A6-BLF, nine months old.

Flight Information: EY 23, Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf.

Load: 100% full.

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In conclusion, this was an extremely pleasant flight with Etihad Airways. I got to experience their new business class hard product. Unfortunately, I have noticed that their soft product is not as it used to be.

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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Papa Victor is Home!

On the afternoon of October 19th, A6-EPV was delivered.

As of the beginning of December, Emirates operates a total of 125 B777-300ER aircraft. Back in April 2016, Emirates announced to install new generation business class seats onboard the B777-300ER.

Apparently the first B777-300ER with the new business class seats was scheduled for delievery in November 2016; however, it looks like it has been deferred till December.

The new seats are spread across six rows in a 2-3-2 configuration. Each seat includes a 72 inch pitch and converts into a fully flat bed. Each seat is also equipped with a personal mininar. Most importantly, each seat has a 23 inch TV screen, there is also a touch screen controller that looks like an iPad in which a passenger can control his or her seat and television screen.

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The first aircraft to have this a prodcuct is A6-EPV, Emirates’ 126th B777-300ER in service, it is configured with eight first class suites, 42 fully flat business class seats, and 306 economy seats. These B777-300ER’s are capable of flying to destinations like Houston, Tokyo, and Adelaide.

Saudia B777-200ER Business Class, Jeddah to Dubai UAE!

Saudia B777-200ER Business Class

Saudia is the national airline of Saudi Arabia, it operates a total of 160 aircraft for commercial service. The airline operates a fleet from the A320 Family, the A330-300, both the B777-200ER and B777-300ER, the B787-9, and the baby Embraer ERJ-170.

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There is no doubt that Dubai is the airline’s busiest destination outside of Saudi Arabia. The airline operates a total of fourteen daily flights into Dubai. Five from each of Jeddah and Riyadh, two from Dammam, and a single flight each out of Medina and Gassim.

In early December, I took a flight with Saudia from Jeddah to Dubai. Now, Saudia is an airline that operates different types of aircraft into Dubai based on the demand.

The flight was scheduled to depart at 5:50PM; so boarding was called at 5:05 PM, 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time. The bus ride to the aircraft took about five minutes. As we pulled up next to the aircraft, I was happy to know that today’s flight is operated by the B777-200ER as these birds will be leaving the fleet in 2017.

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I boarded through door L1 where the first class cabin was located. The first class cabin is spread across four rows, with a total of 24 seats, six seats per row.

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Behind the first class cabin is the business class cabin with 38 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration spread across six rows, the last row has only three center seats. I initially settled in seat 15A, a window seat in the first row of business class.

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Behind the Business Class Cabin are another 170 economy class seats in the 3-4-3 Configuration.

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View out of Seat 15A.

A few minutes later, one of the ground service crew members approached me telling me that a father wanted my seat so that all his family can be seated on one row. I happily agreed, but it’s annoying how you do favors and you don’t even get a “thank you”. Anyways, everyone onboard the flight seemed to be Emarati, Saudi, or Indian, with the exception of an elder French guy with his children. I later switched seats to seat 16L, a window seat on the opposite side.

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Seat 16L.

I should note that two out of the 38 business class seats were broken. Out of 38 business class seats, 37 were booked. One of the lucky passengers was moved to the completely empty first class cabin because his seat was one of  the broken ones, now that’s an upgrade! The boarding was completed at 5:35PM, with one passenger in first class, 36 in business class, and a full economy class cabin.

At this point, the Captain made his announcement in both Arabic and English, announcing the flight time of two hours and fifteen minutes and a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet. At 5:45PM sharp, we pushed back and 5 minutes later we started the taxi right on schedule.

During taxi, the flight safety video was displayed. It was a ten minute taxi to Runway 34L, and at 6:05PM the aircraft started to roll down the runway for about 45 seconds before we were airborne.  Few minutes after take off, the crew members sprang into action to take meal orders. The purser on today’s flight did not disappoint with showing how he hates his job, the annoying part is that he’s only taking care of the sole first class passenger. There were three crew members taking care of business class, a Saudi guy, and two Tunisian women and all three were friendly and constantly smiling and they all seemed to love what they’re doing. Since this is a short flight, there were fairly limited options. Twenty minutes after takeoff, dinner was served. The appetizer, salad, and main course were all served on the tray.

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The fresh seasonal salad was good with the dressing but it was on the small side. What was described the appetizer of the day actually consisted of three mini appetizers. It included smoked salmon, hummus, and achar. All of which were really good specially the achar. Bread was also offered from a bread basket which the crew members passed by, I had garlic bread which was hard as a rock. For the main course, I had the grilled chicken, which was pretty bland; the anna potatoes on the side was tasteless as well.

After 25 minutes, trays were cleared and dessert was served. What was described as the dessert of the day was actually some sort of fruit cake, which was incredibly delicious and was probably the highlight of the entire meal. The crew members also served coffee and tea.

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Dinner service was complete an hour after take off, and I should again note that the crew members were constantly smiling and took pride in their job.I spent the rest of the flight chatting with my seat mate.

I tried to recline the seat to see how comfortable the seat is. The seats on the B777-200ER are actually angled flat seats which are pretty good for such a short flight. It is worth to note that Saudia used to operate the B777-200ER to New York and Washington a few years ago.

Thirty five minutes before landing, the seat belt sign was surprisingly turned on as we were flying over the city of Al Ain, 150 kilometers south of Dubai. Ten minutes before landing, the cabin lights were switched off.

We had a smooth touch down at 9:25PM on Dubai’s Runway 30L, five minutes ahead of schedule. From there it was a ten minute taxi to Concourse D, at the far end of the airport. The doors were opened at 9:40PM, just five minutes after pulling in. I thanked the crew members for the enjoyable flight and wished them a safe flight back to Jeddah.

Bottom Line

Aircraft Information: Saudia 3 Class B777-200ER, HZA-AKE, 18 years old.

Flight Information: SV 594, Jeddah to Dubai.

Load: 89% Full.

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HZ-AKA, a B777-200ER in the Sky Team Livery.

Overall, this was an extremely pleasant flight, it was my first Saudia flight in Business Class and it was exactly what I expected. The B777-200ER’s are really showing their age; however, the airline still flies them around to Dubai and also on longer flights to Guangzhou, Madrid, and Johannesburg.

Hope you guys enjoyed!

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.

The A330 Retirement!

On the morning of October 29th, at 6:50A.M. Dubai Local Time, the final A330-200 (A6-EAK) Emirates flight 523 from Thiruvananthapuram touched down on Dubai International’s RWY30L ending a three hour forty minute flight.

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The last Emirates A330-200 in service, A6-EAK.

The first Emirates A330-200 with emirates started flying in 2009. With 29 examples in the fleet and also being the smallest aircraft with the airline. Emirates used the A330-200 on many medium haul routes like Dubai – Hong Kong.

At a single point, Emirates operated a total of 29 A330-200’s. Destinations like Nice, Prague, Manchester, Frankfurt were just a few that had Emirates A330-200 services. The A330-200 helped Emirates launch nonstop flights to cities like Dublin, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Budapest, and Algiers.

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A6-EKW see arriving in 2015.

Many of the newer A330-200’s found new homes with airlines like Air Transat and Onur Air.

A380 to Doha!

Emirates will start flying the A380 to Doha, Qatar as of December 1st!

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One of Emirates’ shortest flights is to Doha, Qatar. Emirates currently flies to Doha nine times a day on board different B777 variants. Starting December 2016, Emirates will fly the  flagship A380 to Doha on daily basis, under the following schedule:

EK841 Dubai to Doha, departing at 7:45 A.M. and arriving at 8:05 A.M.
EK842 Doha to Dubai, departing at 9:50 A.M. arriving at 12:00 P.M.

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Ek841/842 will be operated on board a 3-Class A380 with 12 first class suites, 76 business class seats, and 429 economy seats. As usual, passengers in first and business class will have the opportunity to enjoy the onboard lounge for a few minutes since the flight is blocked at 1 hour and 20 minutes west bound and at 70 minutes east bound. Economy Class fares on the inaugural flight start at 755 DHS (205 USD), business class fares start at 2,315 DHS (630 USD), while first class fares start at 3,445 DHS (940 USD). It is a great opportunity for many aviation enthusiasts to fly on an A380 inagural.

Hello Fort Lauderdale!

Emirates is going to start flying to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Fort Lauderdale becomes Emirates’ 11th destination in the United States after New York JFK, Houston, Los Angles, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, Washington Dulles, Boston, Chicago, and Orlando. The flight is going to be operated daily on the B777-200LR.

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 The B777-200LR features 8 fully enclosed suites, 42 business class seats, and 216 economy seats. Most of the B777-200LR’s now feature free onboard wifi.

The Schedule:

EK213 Dubai to Fort Lauderdale departing 3:00 A.M. arriving 10:25 A.M.
EK214 Fort Lauderdale to Dubai departing 8:20 P.M. arriving 7:40 P.M. (+1 day).

Now that’s almost a 10 hour turnaround, the reason behind that is to allow many connecting passengers from JetBlue to connect on to Emirates’ evening departure. Passengers can easily connect to cities like Lima, Mexico City, Nassau, and Havana.

Many people wonder, why Fort Lauderdale and not Miami? Qatar Airways already serves a daily flight into Miami so it seems logical for Emirates to fly into Fort Lauderdale instead.

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