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Old 7th March 2020, 09:57 AM   #1
yflyer
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Default Barcelona, Emirates, and the End of the A380 (EK Y SIN-DXB-BCN-DXB-SIN)

How quickly things change. At the start of the year, I had not one but two trips to Barcelona planned. One at the end of February, flying on SQ, and another in March, on BA via LHR. At that time, there were news reports of a mysterious illness that had appeared in Wuhan, China. Just a few cases, and all in that part of the world, relatively far away.

But both trips were cancelled, as concerns around an escalating Covid-19 situation took hold.

As I write this in early March, business travel has ground to a complete halt for me. Life, and work goes on in Singapore, with temperature checks entering the office, and many meetings done via video calls on my computer. A very different way of working -- productive in it's own way: not getting stuck in Bangkok, Jakarta or Delhi traffic is a plus, and I've only shaken hands with one person in recent weeks (With a colleague looking on in mock horror...or maybe real horror...).

But I am starting to miss life on the road, even in Economy.

So instead of a TR about a trip or two to Spain this year, I am posting a TR on my trip to Barcelona last February, on Emirates, a TR which has been in my backlog for 12 months (Yes I have a TR backlog ).

I've covered Barcelona in several TR's previously, but Gaudi's Sagrada Familia looks different every time I go there...



...and there are so many memorable places to revisit...



Barcelona is also one of the nicest places to head out for a run...


Last edited by yflyer; 7th March 2020 at 08:56 PM..
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Old 7th March 2020, 10:12 AM   #2
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As I embarked on my EK flights to Barcelona via Dubai in late February 2019, I could not help feeling, at the time, that this was the beginning of the end of an era.

A few days prior, on Valentine's Day, 14 February 2019, Airbus had announced that they would be ending production of the A380 in 2021 after delivering the last of the A380's ordered by Emirates Airline.

While EK's A380's would be in the fleet for years to come, these magnificent Whalejets would be the last of the superjumbos, now that long range twin jets like the 787 (And future 777X) and the A350 appear to have decisively won the debate over very large aircraft (VLA's) flying between major hubs vs efficient twin jets flying point to point.

I personally like the A380 very much. Whatever the economic argument, in terms of passenger experience, the space available on the A380 makes air travel much more comfortable, whatever the class of service.

So in this TR, I'll share some reflections on the EK A380 experience in Y: what I'll miss, and perhaps what I won't miss so much, both about flying EK and also about transiting through their megahub, DXB.

Last edited by yflyer; 9th March 2020 at 10:34 AM..
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Old 7th March 2020, 10:42 AM   #3
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While 3 out of my 4 flights on this trip were on EK's A380 aircraft, my first sector, SIN-DXB, was on EK's 777-300ER, which only accentuated the difference in comfort level between the spacious A380 and other jets, especially EK's 777, which was configured in a cramped 10-abreast configuration.

As I entered T1, I took a few moments to admire "Kinetic Rain", which is still my favourite installation art piece at Changi Airport...



Self service check-in for Y...



At that point in time, I was only QF/EK Silver, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that EK offers priority check-in for Silver...



Similarly, at the boarding gate, a priority line was available, which even Silver FF's were eligible to use.



At the gate: Emirates' Boeing 777-300ER, rego a6-EGN, which was 7 years old at that point in time.





The J cabin, laid out 2-3-2...

Window side 2-seaters...





Middle bank of 3 J seats...


Last edited by yflyer; 7th March 2020 at 08:57 PM..
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Old 7th March 2020, 10:44 AM   #4
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The 10-abreast Y cabin...





Emex row...



Quite a few rows of 2-seaters at the rear of the plane...



Pillow, blanket and headphones at each seat...



Headphones were the headband variety...best to use your own headphones with an airline adapter...



Large IFE screen...





A/C power...



Individual air vents...



The bathroom...

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Old 7th March 2020, 10:54 AM   #5
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Impressions of the EK 777-300ER Y cabin?

The biggest issue I have, of course, is the 10-abreast Y seating, which makes for fairly narrow seats. This has practically become the new normal for 777's for many airlines, although many premium carriers, like SQ, have admirably retained the 9-abreast layout for their 777's.

Once you have 10-abreast 3-4-3 on a 777, it is not a question of how comfortable your flight will be, but how to mitigate the seat narrowness and make it a less uncomfortable flight. The only foolproof way of doing this is to ensure the seat next to you is empty, but that's easier said than done.

At least I took comfort in the fact that my remaining sectors would be on A380's, which were much more spacious and pleasant in Y.

This probably won't be the last time on SQTalk that I will be ranting about 10-abreast Y seating on a 777, or 9-abreast on a 787 for that matter!

All that said, seating aside, the usual EK strong points of great IFE, tasty catering, and young, energetic and mostly wonderful cabin crew, were still very apparent.

Last edited by yflyer; 7th March 2020 at 08:59 PM..
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Old 7th March 2020, 10:57 AM   #6
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As mentioned, IFE on this flight was comprehensive...





Lots of information on flight progress, and also the aircraft (including rego) on the IFE...



There was also inflight wifi, at more reasonable prices than on SQ...

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Old 7th March 2020, 11:02 AM   #7
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As this was a late night flight, a light snack was served after take-off...



The chicken sandwich was quite tasty...



I ordered a G&T...



The lights were dimmed...I quite liked the "starry night sky" effect on the ceiling...



Prior to landing, breakfast was served (I believe there was a choice of 2 courses...)...



I opted for the noodles...



Cabin ambience was so-so...

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Old 7th March 2020, 11:10 AM   #8
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I watched the landing on the IFE...





Shortly after touch down, a pop-up appeared on the screen appeared for feedback...



I dutifully checked one of the boxes...and wondered what EK would do with the feedback received. Also, as the pop-up appeared almost immediately after touchdown on the runway, I wondered how many people ended up rating the quality of the landing (Silky smooth, rather than bone-crunching on this occasion) rather than the whole flight...

We parked at one of DXB's dreaded remote gates...



...and disembarked through the rear door...



It was a long ride to the terminal...



I had always been curious about just how far this was, so I actually took out my fitness tracker to record the journey...



This ride from the far end of DXB to the terminal turned out to be a 20 minute bus ride (Enough time to fly you half way from Singapore to KL!) covering 5+ km...

On the bright side, once inside, you didn't have to walk along endless corridors to reach the main transit and shopping areas...



I spent a few minutes staring at the departure board, checking out the amazing number of destinations that DXB was connected to...

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Old 7th March 2020, 11:21 AM   #9
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Lots of shopping options at DXB...





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Old 7th March 2020, 11:24 AM   #10
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I wandered through the terminal in search of food...



At that point in time, I was QF Silver, having been dropped down from QF Gold the previous year. I would requalify for Gold a few months later, but in the mean time, I would have to do without the perks of Gold status.

QF/EK Silver were not eligible to enter EK's wonderful lounges in DXB, but on this occasion I found a great alternative...Shake Shack!



An extensive menu...



...although unlike Shack outlets elsewhere, no beer or wine was served...





I settled on a Shackburger and a thick chocolate milk shake...



The burger really hit the spot...delicious. The milk shake was sinfully satisfying too...

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Old 7th March 2020, 11:34 AM   #11
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It was dawn as I prepared to board my flight EK185 from DXB to BCN...



A6-EDK was taking us to Barcelona this morning. This was a 9 year old aircraft at the time, first delivered in 2010.





The main Y cabin on the main deck was laid out 10-abreast 3-4-3 but how spacious this was, compared to my earlier 777 sector...



There was simply no comparison. Wide, comfortable seats in a cavernous cabin...



My seat was the aisle seat in the row behind the emex row 2-seater...



On this aircraft, the window seat was the most desirable, as you had unobstructed legroom and aisle access ahead of you...



But the aisle seat was fine too. Recline was good...



Pillow, blanket, headphones...



Adjustable air vents...


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Old 7th March 2020, 11:37 AM   #12
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Large touchscreen IFE (Similar to the 777)...







Camera views...

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Old 7th March 2020, 11:40 AM   #13
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6+ hour flight to Barcelona today...



Today's menu...



A continental breakfast after take-off, with lunch later in the flight...



First a light breakfast...



...served in a basket...



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Old 7th March 2020, 11:44 AM   #14
yflyer
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Our flight took us over Kuwait and Iraq...



...before crossing over into Turkey, just east of Syria...



Snow-capped mountains over Turkey, close to the town of Sirnak...



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Old 7th March 2020, 11:49 AM   #15
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Lunch was served. I chose the fish course...



Elegant metal cutlery...



White wine...



A very tasty pasta salad...



...and a delicious creamy fish with cous-cous...

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