Trip Report – Part 1 – Winter Trip 2012 (AC and EK)
Hello all and welcome to another two-part trip report!
After a year and a half of continuous university lectures (no, I didn’t take a break in the summer, I opted to do summer classes), I desperately needed a break. I was tempted to fly to India to visit my cousins but I didn’t meet my parents since 2010. So, my choice was simple, I decided to go to Dubai and meet my parents. Like previous years, my tickets were staff tickets.
Leg 1 – YOW – YYZ
I arrived at YOW three hours before the scheduled time and checked-in. After clearing security, I sat down at the allotted gate. Since I was using a staff ticket, I wasn’t given a seat. The airline staff would read out my name if there was an empty seat on the aircraft. If the flight was full, my name along with the rest of the other passengers travelling with a staff ticket who didn’t get on the aircraft, is automatically bumped to the next flight, and if that was full too, then on to the next. Waiting for the ‘next flight’ is not really an issue as Air Canada operates a flight between Toronto – Ottawa every hour.
I got to my gate and realised that I have about an hour untill they start boarding. So I decided to walk around the airport. YOW has a really small terminal and walking around didn’t take too long. I got back to my gate and started taking pictures of the aircrafts in the ramp.
After watching two packed flights to YYZ go by, I proceeded to the gate where the next flight to YYZ was scheduled. They called out my name at noon, I happily collected my boarding pass and made my way to the jet bridge. Apart from the fact that I was flying, I was all the more excited for this leg as this is the first time I would be travelling on an Embraer 190.
AC 453 12 December 2012
Boarding time: 1225
Embraer 190 C-FHKA
As I got to the aircraft, I was greeted by an elderly male flight attendant who welcomed me and directed me to my seat.
Once I got to my seat, I took a few pictures in and around my seat, and of course of the view out of my window. Just before pushback started, I switched on my camcorder and started recording the pushback, taxi and take-off.
Video: Pushback and taxi to the runway (Opens in a new tab)
Video: Take-off (Opens in a new tab)
As we reached the cruising altitude, the captain welcomed the passengers on board again and updated us on the weather in Toronto. The snack service soon commenced. Being a short hop, only a drink (non-alcoholic) and a bag of pretzels were served. Soon enough, the crew announced that we had started our descent into YYZ. I started recording again.
Video: Descent into YYZ (Opens in a new tab)
Video: Landing and taxing at YYZ (Opens in a new tab)
Delay at the gate
Once at the gate, I collected my belongings and expected to be out soon. But we were delayed. The captain announced that there was a problem with the jet way that was being rectified. After 10 minutes, the captain informed us that the team is taking longer than expected to fix the jet way and so we have been allotted another gate.
The pushback started, during which the captain switched on the left engine. With the left engine’s power we taxi to another gate. The new gate was about 3-4 gates to the left of the original gate. As we were deboarding, I asked the crew if I could visit the flight deck. They agreed! 🙂 I introduced myself to the first officer and I told him that it was my first time on an Embraer. He asked how I liked it, to which I replied that I actually enjoyed it. We also got into a discussion about the Boeing 787 and how their flight deck is quite similar to that of the Embraer 190. I then asked him If I could take a few pics, to which he replied ‘Yeah…be my guest!’. While I was taking pictures he also switched on the ‘fire alarm test’.
I thank the first officer and exit the aircraft. At the terminal, I made my way to the baggage carousel and in my mind, based on my past few experiences, I was not expecting my bag to fly with me at all (Links: 2010 Summer Trip, 2011 Summer Trip (links open in a new tab)). Surprise! Surprise! my bag was the fourth bag out on the belt. I happily collected my bag and made my way out. Once out, I walked to the other side of the terminal to the international departures.
Leg 2 – YYZ – DXB
As I enter the International departures area, I realised that the Emirates check-in counters wouldn’t open for a few hours. So I made my way to the ‘Q Lounge’. The check-in counters at YYZ are organised by letters and the Q lounge is an open lounge (i.e. can be used by anyone) at the end of the terminal. At the lounge, I updated my folks about my travels and then spent the rest of the time alternating between reading and watching airplanes land.
After a long wait in the ‘Q Lounge’, I made my way to the Emirates First/Business Class check-in counters a few minutes before they opened it. There was already a huge queue at the Economy class counters. My check-in was quick, I obtained my boarding pass along with my luggage tag and then made my way to the security check. The last time I flew Emirates in the Economy Class, the security were… let’s say… being a pain. Unnecessary questions and a ‘random’ pat down (the metal detector didn’t even go off). This time, being a Business Class passenger, security was a breeze. I then made my way down to the departures area. As I approached my gate, I saw my ride – An Airbus A380-800 being prepped for her trip to DXB.
Being an Emirates flight, boarding was well organized. First, it was passengers who needed assistance, followed by passengers with young children, then the first class (F), business class (J) and skywards members were invited for boarding. Finally the economy class passengers were invited to board zone wise. As soon as the announcement for F & J passengers were made, I made my way to the queue. At the front, the airline staff cross-checked my name, gave me the boarding pass stub and wished me a pleasant flight. I thanked him and made my way to the aircraft.
EK242 12 December 2012
Boarding time: 2140
Seat 26J (business class) Zone B
I was greeted by a female flight attendant who directed me to my seat. My seat was at the end of the aircraft. Behind me there was a divider, behind which was the onboard lounge and bar. A flight attendant (from the UK) approached me, introduced herself and asked me if I had flown on an A380 before and if I was familiar with the onboard product. I too introduced myself and told her that I had flown on EK’s A380 multiple times before and I was familiar with the features in my seat. She then offered to take my coat. I handed her my coat and settled down in my seat.
As the cabin filled up, a flight attendant started serving the welcome drink, the choice was champagne and orange juice. I chose champagne. The captain introduced himself and announced a 10 minute delay at the gate. He gave us information about the journey like how we would be de-iced before proceeding to the runway for take-off, the duration of our journey (~13 hours) and our approximate arrival time at DXB. He also mentioned that we would be experiencing turbulence as fly toward the East Coast of Canada on to the Atlantic Ocean.
Push-back and Take-Off
After the 10minute delay, the aircraft pushed back and slowly taxied to the de-icing bay. During the taxi, a flight attendant was asking and noting down the passenger’s choice for dinner. The captain announced that we were at the de-icing bay and the cabin might smell due to the de-icing fluid which is completely normal. At this point, the flight attendant was at my seat and we got into a conversation about de-icing. She said her last flight was to Manchester and she recalled being delayed a great deal at the de-icing bay. After about 20 minutes or so, we were de-iced and finally taxied to the runway for take-off. After almost a whole day at the airport, I was exhausted and being a night flight, my camera didn’t give me the ‘best’ results. So, I decided to put my camera aside and enjoy the flight.
Soon after take-off, I decided to watch ‘The Amazing Spiderman’. The flight was fairly uneventful..that is until we reached the east coast of Canada. The captain had announced before push-back that we would be experiencing turbulence…and we did. I actually enjoy turbulence but this was a little too shaky for my comfort. I presumed the dinner service would be delayed until after we clear the weather. Boy was I wrong, they carried on with the dinner service. Sitting in the last row, I could hear what’s going on in the galley behind the onboard bar. Here’s the best part, not one tray, nor bottle or a food cart fell despite the constant ‘shaking’ of the aircraft…it was an amazing feat.
The dinner service started out with drinks and snacks. This was followed by the meals. The meals had three courses, an appetizer, main course and dessert. The appetizer was a choice between a butternut carrot soup, fiore di latte and spicy saffron prawns (please refer to the pictures of the menu below for details on each meal). I chose spicy saffron prawns. The main course was a choice between grilled veal chop, chicken kadhai and poached fillet of salmon. I opted for chicken kadhai. The dessert was a choice between maple mousse charlotte, banana strudel, cheese board and a selection of fruit. I chose the selction of fruit. As passengers were eating, the crew walked around serving a fresh selection of bread and non alcoholic drinks. After the trays were collected back, the cabin crew walked around serving digestive drinks, and tea and coffee. The service was done with a smile.
An hour or so after the meal service, we had cleared the weather and it was back to a smooth flight. I decided to head to the onboard bar to have a drink and take a few pictures. The last time I flew business class (Link: DXB – YYZ September 2009), I didn’t take a picture of the on-board bar as I was shy about taking pictures when a lot of people were present. I regretted that descision…until now. I took my camera and made my way to the on-board bar. I requested a vodka martini and as the flight attendant at the bar (Danielle) was preparing it, I got into a conversation with her. I told her I was really impressed with the dinner service specially at how no one dropped anything despite the heavy turbulence. She smiled and thanked me. I then took a picture of the bar and Danielle offered to take a picture of me, I happily agreed.
I must have spent a good two-to-three hours at the bar during which Danielle had to take her break. She was replaced by another flight attendant from Canada (Ethiopian descent) and we start discussing the Airbus A380, the Boeing 777, how she got her job at EK and what she plans to do this new year’s day. At this point, I finished my drink and I asked for a cup of tea. After I finised my tea, I thanked the flight attendant for the drinks and went back to my seat for a nap.
As we flew over Saudi Arabia, the sun had started to set and the crew started the breakfast service. This again was started off with the service of fresh juice. The main course consisted of a choice between scrambled eggs, Spanish omelette, Chana chole and New York bagel. I opted for the Spanish omelette. While the passengers were eating, the crew were serving a selection of fresh bread and croissants. The breakfast service was concluded by the service of tea and coffee.
At the end of the service, the captain announced that we had started our descent into DXB. He updated us on the flight, the hours we have been in the air and the temperature in DXB. By now it was dark outside, so I put my camera aside and enjoyed the rest of the flight.
The descent was a little bumpy due to the clouds above Dubai. The flight attendant approached me and returned my coat. She then asked me if I had enjoyed my flight, to which I replied “Yes”. We approached the Coast of the U.A.E. from the North West, flew inland and then turned around to land at DXB. The landing was smooth and taxi to the gate was short. We docked at Terminal 3.
On my way out, I thanked the flight attendants for a wonderful flight. As I enter the terminal, I switched on my mobile phone and called my friend to let him know that I’m in Dubai. The queues at the immigration were long. Good thing the F and J passengers are given the ‘fast track’ pass, using which we get to use a more ‘exclusive’ immigration counter. Thanks to the ‘fast track’ pass, I was able to clear immigration quickly. I then collected my bag and exited to the arrivals hall to meet my mom who had come to receive me.
There you have it folks – Part 1 of my 2012 winter trip. Stay tuned for part 2, where I’ll talk about my trip back to Canada. Remember comments are welcome and until my next post… Happy Landings!!!