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Trip Reports Forum | The Big Bang
Roll on three years and we had to eat our words, a combination of flight availability and price meant we would once again be spending an extra ten hours plus in the air compared to the likes of going with KL, AF or LH.
Thursday 19th August was my day to go, bright and sunny, motorways clear - things were looking good.
Picked up some currency and went up to the car park to get some numbers before I checked in, made a few of the regulars and in addition Canadian registered Viking 738 C-FYLC was very nice to see. Mint sent in EC-LHL but I'd already seen it as C-FXOF a few years ago.
Things continued to look good at check-in, I'd done the online bit so only had to bag drop, case was very light, well below the 30k limit though this would change on the way home. Whizzed through security as there was no queue and I was soon in departures. Having not been here since 2007 things have changed...for the worse in my opinion, T1 now resembles a shopping centre with cafÃ©'s hogging most of the window space, the small bit I could find that wasn't taken over by Costa Lotta Coffee or some other caffeine hostelry had seats that were so dirty I can only imagine them being clean when Sir Freddy Laker was flying 1-11's out of here.
Soon it was time to board and compared to last time when I got down to the gate we were actually boarding rather than sitting around waiting for buses to take us to a remote stand somewhere near Oldham.
This also looked good particularly as we departed more or less on time (rather than almost two hours late in 07). Aircraft was B773 A6-EBZ one of the Manchester regulars and one of EK's more well worn examples.
That mattered not, my special meal soon arrived and with a 100 mph tailwind we were due to arrive in DXB ahead of schedule.
This time I would be experiencing the new T3, whoop-de-doo! Not before a long taxi though not 40 minutes like in 07 - I kid you not!, due to being remote parked. Bloody great I thought, but actually this turned out to be good - really good as the bus took us past lines of parked aircraft. Whatever your opinion of Dubai you have to marvel at how important this place is on the world stage, it was midnight but both BA and LH had B747's in, loads of large aircraft over on cargo and of course shed loads of EK heavies - well they don't do anything less do they! I made 12 EK's a Palmir 738, Austrian 763 and the pick of the bunch Air India A320.
Compared to last time, the extra security check was very much more professionally done and I was soon free to go to departures, the journey though I found odd, everyone had to go down a floor then we had to go straight back up again, almost as if we were doubling back on ourselves, still it didn't take long to get into departures and since I couldn't bag anything due to the darkness I had a chance to take it easy & wander about the place for the next couple of hours.
My overall opinion of the new terminal echoes what you can read elsewhere on the internet - not enough toilets, and personally I don't like the design. It seems like some gaudy over the top incarnation that would probably come out of the mind of some overpaid Premier League footballer who if he weren't playing football would be on a street corner wearing a Burberry baseball cap sipping White Lightning.
Fast forward a couple of hours and it was time to board EK316, another B773 but this time one of the newer ones A6-ECS, the difference between this and the shedlike one out of MAN was like night and day, interior was seemed brighter, certainly the slightly different colour scheme on the seats was better and cleaner and the newer gen IFE was a real step up, each seat had a power point and a USB port so you could connect a USB device and view JPG/PDF files on your personal screen, the centre seat also had a network socket - though I'm not sure what that was for.
In 2007 the KIX run was done with the A345's which I have to say is one of the nicest airliners to fly on as far as economy class goes. Compared to the ten abreast on the B773 (which I think only the Japanese domestic ones have - everyone else goes nine abreast) the eight abreast seats on the Airbus are really spacious - even though the Boeing may have more girth.
So, with the mind settled that my case this time had to have made it I sat back and relaxed. Next stop Kansai!
So nine hours later I was there, beautiful sunny afternoon, the EK arrives about 1700, it was still over 30 degrees, not as hot as Dubai but much more humid. Not much on the ground, only picked up a couple of JAL B767's though I did cop the Air Hong Kong A300F which is usually there at that time.
I've had a whinge at Dubai now it's the turn of Kansai, normally you can get through immigration quick smart but now all foreigners have to have a photo taken and fingerprints done. This took about 45 mins compared to the less than 5 mins normally though to be fair to the Japanese they have a guy managing the queues to each immigration officer to speed things up - he was also pre-checking everyone's arrival cards to ensure correctness.
Thankfully my bag had arrived and that was me sorted for the next couple and a half weeks. Whilst in Japan we took a flight on one of these;
Right then, lets get to 5th September and our departure date. As I mentioned in the forum, below is a screen grab of the BBC site available in Japan and the CPA advert below the video. What made it even funnier was that before the news item a CPA advert was played within the video section.
We arrived at KIX well in time for the 2045 opening of check-in, the flight was showing a ten minute earlier departure, so they opened check-in at 2005!
Before we checked in I took a walk to the dropping off area as you can see some stands, managed to bag a Delta A330, ANA B737 (700) and my first ever Cathay B772, KIX normally gets A330/B773/A340 from them.
KIX have now done something very good at check-in - they've made it like everywhere else! For years and years you had to put your bags through a scanner before going to the desk, every check-in area had their own setup and I know other countries do similar but for some reason it seemed a really tedious way of doing things, but now you just queue to get to the desk - great!
Easy peasy though immigration and into departures. KIX isn't big but it's my favourite airport, really compact, coming into the country (ignoring the new immigration procedure) the baggage hall is huge with customs right in the same area and if your bag doesn't arrive the authorities are proactive, you don't have to go looking for someone as they will have noticed you are sans luggage and will approach you and complete the forms for you on the spot. All you need for getting out of the airport complex is literally just a few yards from arrivals, about ten paces and you are outside were the intercity buses stop, go upstairs in a lift and you are in the railway station, go across the road and you are in the airport hotel.
Leaving the country is also painless, once into departures it's an oasis of calm and spaciousness, and spotlessly clean. They've had free wifi since 2005, oh and there's loads of toilets!
Departure time is scheduled for 2345 but we were due a little earlier as mentioned, time for a bit of duty free shopping and reg collecting before going to the gate which for us meant a short monorail ride. Ride to DXB was to be on B773 A6-ECA, another one of the newer ones. I managed to log a few more, a PAL is usually parked next to the EK, this time it was an A330 though they do send in A320's too.
KIX is definitely getting busier - at last, normally you'd only see a few local machines, the Philippine and a Chinese B738 at that time at night, this time apart from lots more Japanese metal I noted two Air China B738's a China Eastern A321 and the ANA Fly Panda B763, others in attendance I couldn't get were a Korean B747 and Qatar A330.
Flight time to DXB was also going to be a bit quicker than the normal 10 hours and was largely uneventful apart from some turbulence over Korea and the non-edible meals I was served.
So, into Dubai more or less a full hour earlier meaning four hours in transit rather than three. Being dark meant I couldn't grab anything for a couple of hours so we just went to the gate after spending what was left of our stopover money from 2007 on small gifts for the daughter's schoolfriends.
Now, one advantage of having a young daughter I've found is that if you use enough bribery to get her to accompany you whilst you go on a spotting walkaround you don't get much hassle, in fact the security personnel are all smiles.
And so it was that EmmasDad and whatshername went on a little walk around the gates where I managed to bag a few new numbers, amongst the few EK machines were an Omani B738, KLM A330, Kuwait A320 and an Ariana B727.
0700 soon came and time to board, now it's the second time we've done this and the second time that in our opinion the Dubai authorities do this, well, just wrongly. In Dubai each gate has its own security point where you do the passport check before being allowed into the gate area. By the time the gate is open the queue is stretching past the next gate and by the time they are about halfway through the red 'final call' signs are on, now I appreciate that you won't miss the flight if you are in the queue and indeed both flights to MAN we've been on have departed on time but it just seems an odd way of doing things rather than arrive at gate and then show passport when actually boarding the craft.
Anyway whinge over, time to get on A6-EDL the latest microlight in the Emirates fleet. Managed to bag another few EK plus a FlyDubai B738, Qatar A300 and a lovely looking Jade cargo B744F - there were two of these in but missed the other.
Impressions of the A380 are really all good, it's ten abreast similar to the B777 but wider so seats are more comfy, also seems to be more legroom too. The IFE is the same version as the Japan bound B773's except the A380 has three cameras, in addition to the front and down looking cameras you can also select one on top of the tail - nice! One of the seats on my row was missing a power point and the middle seat didn't have the network port.
Toilets seem similar sized but at last some common sense from the real world - autosensing taps with a touch control for temperature.
The biggest improvement for me was how quiet this thing is, when we were doing the take off run it seemed like we were taxiing, just no engine noise at all - incredible experience and full marks to Airbus and of course RR.
Even on the go around at Manchester there was no spooling up noise, it was just like going up in a lift. As much as I adored the EK A345, the A380 experience for the passenger has to be the future of air travel.
I won't go on about the landing as I've commented in the forum though I will add that after reading on the internet that others on the flight thought it was a hard landing I'd say I've had far, far worse including a Singapore A310 that I thought the undercarriage must have been inside the fuselage after the heaving landing with a real 'bang', making most of the bins open in fact only a couple of them were still closed.
Regarding the gate at Manchester I'd say that the airbridge seemed too narrow when getting off the plane, be interested to hear if it really is narrower than the average one or I'm just imagining it.
Managed to get through immigration without too much of wait for the wife as she was virtually sprinting to get as far up the 'others' queue as possible.
Overall, EK were better than last time but DXB is still poor at doing transit, EK's ten abreast B773's are just too cramped and the flights are just too long so "never again"!
...meaning we'll probably fly EK next time and I'll have another moan at them!
Thanks for reading, now some pics;
Boarding at Dubai;
Seatback, you can just make out USB and power-point;
Just incase you don't think the A380 is big, they eat BMI A321's as an inflight meal!
Welcoming committee, a few of them were taking pictures themselves moments before;
Must have taken you an age to compile. Well worth it. Thanks for sharing.
Anyway thanks again for all the kind words.
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