Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Emirates growing at a seriously rapid rate

As someone who travels a lot, one of the questions I am asked the most often is: Which is your favourite airline?

If I'm travelling economy to Asia, I have a definite preference for Thai Airways. I like the food and the service is invariably gracious. 

When it comes to business class, Singapore Airlines has long been the benchmark but now the two Middle Eastern carriers; Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and Emirates from Dubai are serious contenders. 

There is a lot of interest in Emirates, particularly given its new code share arrangement with Qantas and on four recent long-haul legs I had very little to complain about (a couple of the crew on one leg were decidedly snotty and a lot seemed to vanish overnight) - but found the lay-flat beds and lounges, in particular,  to be excellent. 



For those who have not yet sampled Emirates do not expect an alcohol-free carrier featuring bizarre Middle Eastern cuisine. Emirates is as up to date as its gets, including multilingual crews; menus designed by leading chefs and complemented by palatable wines and an award-winning in-flight entertainment system with up to 1,500 channels. 

I particularly enjoyed being able to use wifi while flying - and it only cost around $2.50 to check emails and send a couple of Tweets. Expect more carriers to follow suite. 

The fleet of 198 wide-bodied aircraft is among the youngest in the skies and if you think this is not an airline on the move consider this: Emirates has currently has orders placed for an additional 200 aircraft, worth nearly USD$73 billion.

That's pretty amazing when you recall Emirates was launched just 18 years ago with two leased aircraft. In the last financial year it flew 34 million passengers.

Earlier this year the world’s first purpose-built A380 facility, Concourse A, opened at Dubai International Airport for the exclusive use of Emirates and its global aviation partner Qantas, connecting to more than 20 Emirates A380 destinations around the world.

And Australia is very much at the forefront with 84 flights per week to Dubai from Australia – from Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. One service daily from Sydney operates via Bangkok. One service daily from Brisbane operates via Singapore. One Melbourne service daily operates via Singapore, with another daily service operating via Kuala Lumpur.

Emirates also operates 28 flights per week to New Zealand – daily to Christchurch from Sydney, and daily to Auckland from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

And good news for those who find it impossible to travel lightly. Emirates economy class customers can check in 30kg, business class travellers 40kg and first class passengers can travel with 50kg of checked baggage.

The A380s between Australia and Dubai, are, by the way, more comfortable than the flights between Dubai and Europe - with a lot more room in business class.  

For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777 or go to www.emirates.com/au.

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